Vintage dressing always looks best finished with accessories. Generally, I plan jewellery with my clothes, but with sunny weather here, sunglasses are picked up as I rush out the door. I try to make it simple by having a few pairs (not too many!) that cover the decades I like.
For the Twenties, Thirties and Forties small round glasses were popular. There are some fun frame designs from the Forties, like petals around the eyes to create flowers! Watch Agatha Christie’s Evil Under the Sun (film or ITV) for some great Thirties summer outfits and sunglasses. I love the colourised photo of a young blonde Bette Davis with an icecream.
Cat eye glasses epitomised the Fifties, from bookish to pin-up. Marilyn Monroe wore a thinner black design that won’t flatter everyone, but I like the wider frames that go to the edge of the face, and up to the eyebrow. Classic black or tortoiseshell goes with everything, but there is plenty of scope for fun. Coloured frames to match lipstick, dresses or accessories were popular, as were diamante details and shapes on the upper edge. Ray-Ban wayferers were worn by Marilyn too, and these are a classic style that’s still popular.
Marilyn wearing cat eye sunglasses
Marilyn in Ray-Ban wayferers
Going into the Sixties, sunglasses got bigger and any shape and design imaginable show up. Generally, bug-eye and soft edged square shapes were popular. Grace Kelly had a huge selection of sunglasses, and that might be a good place to start if you want to have a reference to shapes and styles before you shop round.
My dream pair of sunglasses are the pair Audrey Hepburn wears as Holly Golighty in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. They have a tortoiseshell framework greenish lenses. These were designed by Oliver Goldsmith. It’s worth checking out some of his other designs too. There are lots of similar designs out there, but if you want the real thing, Oliver Goldsmith reissued a line!
This style covers the Seventies owl eyes and modern styles currently popular.
They are well worth it, they met all my expectations. Now I’m scared of scratching them, so I am learning to be glasses conscious, not wearing them on top of my head and always putting them in a hard case when I’m not wearing them.
Here’s my line-up of necessary styles to have a pair for any outfit from the Twenties to the Sixties.
All these eras are covered by modern styles available to buy on the high street. Now you know what to look for, I hope you find a style you like.
I love the fit of vintage clothes, that high street brands rarely match. Trousers that fit snug on the waist but actually fit over my hips are difficult to find.
Grace Kelly in patterned pedal pushers
Grace Kelly in jeans
Audrey Hepburn in striped cropped trousers
Audrey Hepburn in black cropped trousers
See how nicely Fifties trousers fit, and you’ll be glad to know there are replica vintage brands that fill the need. For example, Collectif, Bernie Dexter, Pinup Girl Clothing, Heyday and Vivien of Holloway.
Marilyn in checked trousers
Marilyn in cigarette pants
Marilyn in striped pedal pushers
However, the price tag isn’t always level with the high street because of the work that goes into shaping. Still, they may not match the difference between your waist and hips as they have to size ready-to-wear with an ‘average’ difference. Vintage clothing generally gives a 10″ difference between hips and waist for an hourglass figure, or 12″ appears on my vintage patterns. Let me know if you’re lucky enough to find high waisted trousers with this difference in a high street brand!
Vivien of Holloway jeans
Channelling Mrs Peel
I love my replica vintage ladies jeans from Vivien of Holloway. The fit is perfect at the waist and over my hips. This makes them so comfortable, as they just stay put, and don’t require me pulling them up as they stretch. The leg is pretty much a classic straight cut and and the seams don’t twist. The belt loops are fairly big, over an inch, so a belt can be worn. They were sold as rolled up jeans, but i do unroll mine and they come to my ankles. I’m 5’2″, so no supermodel. I guess if you have long legs, they’d be 7/8th length? Still perfect pin up jeans, good with flats or heels, a really flattering fit with a slight stretch to the fabric.
The other trousers I love wearing because they fit well, are a pair I made from a vintage replica sewing pattern. I bought some black and white gingham for making Miss Winter’s skirt The Assassination Bureau, and had plenty left over for making a pair of cropped trousers inspired by Marilyn Monroe.
My gingham check trousers
Marilyn Monroe wearing her checked trousers
From Marilyn Monroe’s estate
My gingham cropped trousers
A friend asked me to make her a pair, and here she is channelling Audrey Hepburn, modelling them.
Photo credit: Gina Walbridge
Here’s what to wear with vintage style trousers;
A lightweight knit with heels like Marilyn
Boat neck top and ballet flats like Audrey
Shirt and loafers like Grace
Notice the details too;
The decorated flats Audrey wears or the laces on Grace’s flats
a scarf as a belt
The variety of patterns used for the trousers, while keeping the top plain.
While Diana Rigg as Mrs Peel is my favourite (and her clothes), a few things from Tara King’s wardrobe have been on my wish list. The late Sixties fashion Tara wears generally have a Seventies feel, with garish colour combinations, brown, mini skirts and wide collars, which I don’t wear. I like the purple Palazzo pants and the mustard pair Tara wears with a purple wrapover top.
Channelling Tara King
Big sparkly studs and false eyelashes
Blue and navy wrapover top and Palazzo pants
Tie at back wrapover top
The evening dresses are pretty, and also the Edwardian outfits in the episode Pandora. For similar inspiration see my post on The Assassination Bureau.
Before the Sixties were over, however, there was one brief moment where thigh high boots were set to replace the need for stockings and tights. Tights reigned supreme though, easy to change, cheap to buy multiple colours and patterns, with the added bonus of modesty with ever decreasing hemlines.
Possibly designed by David Evins
Vicky Hodge in thigh high boots, 1968
Sixties pop culture
Now some features of this era are back on the high street, like playsuits and over-the-knee boots, I redoubled my efforts to find thigh high boots. Only, I had specifications. They must fit well like Tara’s.
So many of the boots on offer are suede or suede effect, which living in a rainy country, reduces wearability drastically. I don’t want to wear boots in the Summer, but in the Winter! Also, because they are high street, the average fit is larger of ankle and narrower above the knee, which is no good for a shapely pair of pins.
My first pair I bought are over-the-knee brown suede look boots. I was so pleased to find an affordable pair I actually liked, even though they were suede. You can see them on How to Wear (Faux) Fur.
However, I am now ecstatic at finding a leather pair of thigh high boots that meet the other specs too. Now I’ll have to make the playsuit.
So, A-line cut shorts are the flattering and modest way to go with this look. I’ve tried leggings under a tunic/ mini dress, but the leg slips slowly down. Jeans have little more friction. Bare legs are no good for keeping these boots up, either. There must be a trick to it. Hairspray à la Miss Congeniality?
Fur coat and thigh high boots
Backless playsuit and thigh high boots
Playsuit and thigh high boots
Tara King inspired playsuit and thigh high boots
A few of my favourite outfits. Find a definitive breakdown of all The Avengers clothes at dissolute.au.
In England, Queen Victoria wore the first white wedding dress, and due to her celebrity status, they became popular. Before that, brides would wear their Sunday best. White has remained popular ever since.
Here are two true vintage wedding dresses I have on loan from a friend. They are roughly from the Thirties. The What Katie Did CC09 bra is perfect for creating the right shape for the cut of the dresses. Both dresses look home-made from the finishing on the inside.
The lace dress has a square, slightly sweetheart neckline and fits close to the body, with a sweeping train. There is piping on the bodice to add shape. The mutton sleeves have ruching and piping with stuffed shoulder pads stitched into the shoulder seams to hold the lace up and out. The lower part of the sleeves have a row of buttons and a point over the back of the hand. The fastening is under the arm, so the waist is fitted. There is a row of metal poppers (snap fastening) and a hook and eye under the sash.
Vintage shoulder pads
Button detail on sleeve
Thirties dress popper fastening
There is no lining, so I assume, like many dresses of the era, it was made to wear over a slip already owned by the wearer. I am wearing a vintage, probably Fifties midi- length slip. The lace bodice and wide pleated border of lace blend well with the lace of the dress.
Thirties wedding dress train
Thirties wedding dress with T-bar heels
Button and sash detail on back
The back has a row of decorative covered buttons down the spine, to where the satin sash ties. The lace has only a few holes that need mending, mostly on the fitted part of the sleeves. The hem has suffered some wear and tear and the buttons have discoloured in places. I think this adds to the charm of finding vintage clothes that others have loved and treasured.
Ginger Rogers evening dress
Decorative buttons and big shoulders
Claudette Colbert in ‘It Happened One Night’ – wedding dress
The satin wedding dress has the same fluid shaped skirt and mutton sleeves with pointed cuffs. The V-neck and gathers from the shoulders to under the bust. The seamstress has inserted a modesty panel in the deep V. This dress has no fastening on the body except the sash and poppers in the front panel. The cuffs also have a popper each, with slight wear around one of them.
Gathers and modesty panel
Gathers and buttons on front
Mutton sleeve shoulder gathers
V insert for skirt shaping
The front seam was unpicked when I was given this dress. It was only tacked and looked like there were some threads through the front. This makes me think there were buttons that were used again on another dress. I used some satin covered buttons to finish the dress.
Wallis Simpson’s wedding dress
Wallis Simpson sports the high neck, buttons and gathers, with the body skimming skirt. The neckline, shoulders and gathers on the dress worn by Ginger Rogers are heading into the Forties, but are echoed in the vintage dresses I have shared with you.
For Fifties and Sixties inspiration, search Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor. White wasn’t always the choice, and the styles vary dramatically. Some have stood the test of time, while others are of their time.
The stylist and costume department must have had a great time dressing the female characters in Bladerunner. I think I could live in this collective wardrobe, but would perhaps cause undue comment grocery shopping in a few of them. Iridescent scales for one.
The mix of 80’s futuristic sci-fi and Forties film noir is spot on and works so well. Forties and Eighties cross over a lot. Think big hairdos, shoulder pads, empowering tailoring for women and even the transparent coat!
Following are my favourite looks from the film, and what I have used from my wardrobe to emulate the most wearable and stylish outfits – those worn by replicant Rachael.
Rachael has a classic femme fatale Forties hairstyle and make-up, which echo the film noir style of filming this futuristic sci-fi story. Her make-up seems to change slightly through the film, but the basic features remain – strong eyebrows and cheekbones, smoky eyes, red lips, with red nails.
The colour palette for Rachael’s wardrobe are muted shades of grey and blues and greens (just about visible on her blouse), that work well with the film noir lighting and photography.
The grey suit with horizontal stripes of tonal fabric is straight out of the Forties, even Marilyn Monroe owned one similar to this, before she was famous. The crossover detail on the neck is also a detail used on clothes in the Forties, as is the matching thin belt. The straight cut and just below the knee length skirts are Forties too.
Under this suit, Rachael has a long sleeved V-neck blouse with pintucks of various colours. This is seen when in Dekkard’s flat, sitting at the piano.
The black suit, in futuristic fabric with a sheen, has a high neck again. The collar looks like a shirt collar, with a diamond shape Art Deco style brooch centrally placed, instead of a bow or tie. At one point she has a clutch with an Art Deco pattern too.
Notice the heeled court shoes too, if you can. The pair with the grey suit have an interesting two-tone design.
On Pinterest I’ve saved more photo’s of Rachael’s outfits.
Button back Eighties skirt
Eighties does Forties skirt suit
The grey suit above is from Vintage Guru. It is an Eighties does Forties skirt suit, with a high waisted pencil skirt and a collarless box jacket. The buttons at the back are a lovely detail and are actually used as the fastening. The buttons around the waist and hips needed moving slightly to give me room to move, and the skirt was shortened from ankle grazing up to below the knee.
Navy jacket and pencil skirt
Mandarin collar military style jacket
Art Deco pattern vintage heels
These navy separates go well as a suit, with the skirt I made and the vintage heels echo the Art Deco detailing featured in Rachael’s outfits.
Peplum blouse/ jacket with waterfall collar
Peplum and pencil skirt
Grey waterfall blouse
Art Deco shapes on modern heels
Here are some other outfits from my wardrobe, inspired by Rachael.
Spray paint futuristic make-up – Pris
Blade runner Pris clothes
The spray paint futuristic make-up is one I want to use for a party. Chokers are back in vogue,and something I wear anyway, but my stocking’s stay under my clothes. It looks like Pris is wearing a playsuit.
This clear PVC swing coat is something I’m still looking for. I was surprised when researching this to find that clear plastic raincoats were fashionable as early as the Forties. The swing shape makes this unusual, as most available now are trench coats or hooded poncho’s.
I love the stand up mandarin style collar and the large oval top stitched pockets. The piping around the yoke and the small pockets on the chest are fairly traditional, but I like that the edges of the sleeves and hem are not outlined, but you can only see them when the light catches them.
Anyone out there able to make this? Get in touch, please!
Over-the-knee boots are finally back in fashion. Not that if they weren’t it would stop me wearing them, but to be fashionable means one is able to buy a pair easily. The spikes are less practical, and I like the thigh cuff, which reminds me of Princess Leah’s slave outfit, with the intricate metalwork.
See my posts about The Avengers and Mrs Peel for more on over-the-knee and thigh high boots.
The show ‘outfit’ (I use the term very loosely) of iridescent scales or body gems looks amazing, and could be nodded to with a sequined flesh tone top or body, worn with more conventional skinnies or would even look good with a fluid silk skirt.
For the dark winter months. Not vintage, I know, but I’ve included some vintage styling of the jumpers.
I couldn’t justify buying an authentic (by Gudrun & Gudrun) Sara Lund jumper (or three), so I had a Plan B. None of the imitations on offer looked like the original, but more ‘inspired by’, so they couldn’t be accused of plagiarising, which is fair enough. If you want a job done properly…
I started with various photos and screen shots from Forbrydelsen (original Danish The Killing) and the official website selling the jumpers. Based in the Faroe islands, and knitted with natural, untreated wool from local sheep, led me to look for a similar wool that would knit up to the correct tension. My search led me to a Faroese site selling their local wool, probably from the same sheep! Others had come before me, in search of the same thing. A very useful post said the yarn weight and needle size that produced good results similar to the original. This saved lots of time knitting tension squares!
Using the photos, I laboriously counted the stitches and pattern repeats. I drew up the pattern, and bought a set of double ended needles. Although the wool looks thin compared to the chunky needles, it really worked!
Home knitted version of Sarah Lund’s jumper
Fairisle detail of my jumper
I love the wool too, because it should rarely need washing, it keeps me warm like only real wool can and the jumper is like a second skin to peel on and off, so it’s now my size and shape.
The Killing series 2 version of the jumper
My version of The Killing series 2 jumper
Pattern detail of my series 2 jumper
It was so successful, I knitted a second one, and I think the blue one may be possible, now the colour is available.
Diamond Forbrydelsen jumper
Red Forbrydelsen jumper
Chevron Forbrydelsen jumper
Blue Forbrydelsen jumper
If you’ve seen Sarah Lund’s jumper collection, which are your favourite? There’s the diamond, chevron and red jumpers too!
Here are some vintage styling ideas for lovers of Nordic Noir. And for those no nonsense days, I’ve thrown in Saga’s look from The Bridge.
Mixing vintage and Nordic noir
Jumper with pencil skirt
Dark jumper with checked skirt and frills
Saga and her classic Porsche
Khaki military style coat, dark top, wax coated black trousers and leather biker boots
This amazing dress or tabbard is original Sixties and it’s so much fun to wear. It reminds me of the original Star Trek costumes for the beautiful alien princesses. Amazing interstellar designers, obviously.
Sixties true vintage
Floaty psychedelic dress
I was given this by a friend who wore it the first time round, and I’m so glad she kept her favourite things. The pattern and colours remind me of vintage Pucci.
Blue sandals – La Redoute
Gold slingbacks – Clarks
I have a nude coloured slip and a cream shift that I can wear under this dress, as it is sheer and has long slits up both sides. The neckline is sequinned and the only thing that stops me wearing this more, as it looks dressy.
I wore this first to a fancy dress party, which broke it in, and got me used to the brightness and sparkles. I’d love to make or find a catsuit/ unitard to wear underneath for a more comfortable, lounging outfit.
Any ideas where I could find one? I think I’ve seen a dress pattern for a unitard, but it would be so much easier to buy one. Any Emma Peelers out there?
Here are two pairs of beautiful sandals I found in the Dune sale. I always look out for styles I like from old films. These are Fifties style, but I especially noticed these styles while watching Marilyn Monroe films.
Black strappy sandals – Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell on the set of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
As part of the 400th Shakespeare anniversary, the staff at work (public library) dressed as characters from Shakespeare’s plays. The costume I wore is courtesy of Swan Theatre, a local amateur dramatic society. It was a great excuse to dress as Katerina from The Taming of the Shrew.
I am wearing the same white maxi dress underneath this as the red Jamaica Inn dress. It was a good find on Topshop.com.
What I used for a Sixties set
I went for a messy undone beehive. Big rollers, setting lotion and hairspray! I brushed out the curls but didn’t comb into a flick, separating waves out. If only my hair was a bit longer.