Vintage and Retro Sunglasses

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.

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Round Thirties sunglasses

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.

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.

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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!

Breakfast at Tiffany's - Oliver Goldsmith sunglasses

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.

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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.

 

Modern earrings into vintage

Drop earrings are seen in old photos, and you can still find them. I like wearing this style with Victorian and Edwardian styles. The Sherlock Holmes series and other period dramas are a good reference.

The Forties, Fifties and Sixties saw the rise and continued popularity of large earrings. This was revisited in the Eighties, which are seeing a revival for SS17.

Heavy earrings with hooks can leave unsightly stretched earlobes  visible. By modifying earrings to hide hooks, to look like clip-ons, will give a modern pair a vintage look.

You will need:

  • Earrings
  • Tweezers
  • Small/ fine ended pliers
  • Needle and matching thread or superglue & felt
  • Scissors

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1) If you cannot twist the hook around to sit it behind the earring design, follow this step. Alternatively, skip to step 5.

Remove the hook and link. These didn’t have links, so I just had to pry open the fastened end of the hook. You can use old tweezers, small pliers or if it’s soft metal, even your nails (beware chipping nail varnish!)

Loosen the spiral of wire, to push it up the hook, as if you’re going to slide it off. This reveals the fastened end.

2) Stick your nail in the gap where the wire is pressed together. The gap you create should be big enough to slide the hook off the earring. (I also removed the tassle in the same way.)

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Join hook lower on the earring

3) If the earring has something on the back you can loop the hook around, be sure you can lay the hook against the back ready to afix.

4) Close the loop end with the pliers. Push the spiral back over the join.

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Afix the hook to the back of the earring

5) Check the hook won’t show from the front. Using a needle and thread, sew the hook from top to bottom, to hold it in place.

If there is nothing to stitch through, but you have a solid surface on the back, flatten the lower part of the hook against the back and glue.

Cut a small square or circle of felt to glue over the glued part of the hook. You may need to use something to hold the hook up while the glue dries, like blue tack.

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Modified hook backed earrings

Is this useful? Are there other types of earrings you want to modify?

Fifties sari dress

This slightly irridescent silk sari fabric was a remnant given to me as a gift. I don’t feel like orange is a colour I naturally choose to wear, but I thought this was beautiful with the gold embroidery, so I’ve spent years just admiring it draped over a mannequin. My first idea had been a Regency  dress. However, as I never got around that, I eventually looked for some vintage ideas of how to style it into a Fifties dress. My impetus was finding an outfit for a friend’s wedding.

As the fabric is patterned and beautiful standing  alone, I kept to a pattern without making alterations to it. The simple fitted shift dress is accessorised with a detachable sash. This is a nod to the sari. The dress needs little added, so I kept my jewellery classic with a vintage pearl necklace, gold hoops and my gold heels (bought because I love Marilyn’s shoes in Bus Stop).

Indian fabric was used in the Fifties for Western style dresses. The pictures I found made good use of the gold panel of embroidery often found on saris. My first choice was to copy the one shouldered Dior dress with a stitched wrap of gold edging used for the bodice, and a full skirt. The sari I had was only a remnant, and I didn’t have enough. Less fabric meant a pencil skirt and and no gathers. I did get my sash though.

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At the wedding

On the day, I did require some dress first aid when I ripped the back seam of the skirt getting in the car. The trouble was climbing in instead of sitting and swivelling like a lady. I think that’s something you learnt at finishing school. Thanks to my mum’s first aid kit ( for clothes, naturally) I was able to enjoy the rest of the evening without embarrassment!

I think if I get the opportunity to buy a whole sari, I’ll make the Dior dress. Then I’ll just need something to wear it to.

Summer Going Out Dresses

I recently had the chance to dress up for a weekend in Devon. I took my orange ‘Paris When it Sizzles’ Audrey Hepburn dress and a floaty peach dress. I also made a new dress with some vintage lace fabric.

Wearing with pearl clip on earrings from a vintage fair, Next kitten heels and underpinnings all from What Katie Did.

Worn with matching flower headband, coral chandelier earrings (matching No.7 nail polish), pink rose ring and belt from another dress. The box jacket is more Sixties but the colours go perfectly. I think the tailoring grounds all the floatiness! I’m wearing my gold Marilyn Monroe heels, from ‘Bus Stop’. I got these from Topshop.

As I don’t have a bob like Shirley Maclaine in ‘Gambit’, I wore my hair in a big bun instead of a beehive. I’m really pleased how this project turned out, even though I’m sure the original doesn’t have a zip up the back. I couldn’t see how to get my head through the mandarin collar without it! Worn with Marilyn style sandals from Dune, in place of white slingbacks, which I’m still hunting. See my Marilyn Monroe Sandals post for close-ups of them.

Watch the films and see what you think of the original dresses. I ‘researched’ these films to draw out my patterns and make the dresses. How did I do?

 

 

English countryside

 

Translating Summer 2016 into vintage and retro styles.

I love this bucolic/ pastoral theme as it makes me think of the rare sunny days we get here in England. It brings back looks from history and inspiration can be found in literature and costume dramas. Imagine roaming the green hills and wild flower meadows.

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Sixties Edwardian maxi gingham

Flowers in my hair and natural curls. Although I love the perfectly done look of the Fifties, I’ll always include some costume drama! It’s amazing how even vintage eras cross over, and the teddy girls of the Fifties and the costume films of the Sixties give a good mix of old and new.

Embroidered daisy headband – a gift

Black ribbon choker  home-made

Mini dress worn as blouse – George at Asda

Gingham skirt – home-made (film reference The Assassination Bureau)

Buckle sandals – La Redoute

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Vintage floral maxi dress

This dress is wonderful to wear, and is a typical Thirties style (watch Katherine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby). From the label I think this is a Seventies dress in the popular original Laura Ashley style.

Dress – eBay

Mini straw boater – check out my post on The Assassination Bureau

Parasol – Irish craft shop

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Lace and stripes

Vintage earrings, and grosgrin ribbon tied at waist. All clothes La Redoute.

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Country checks and gingham

Red checked blouse made from a vintage pattern, and gingham skirt as before. Red gingham tie from another dress.

Embroidered cream waistcoat – H&M

Lace and pintuck detail skirt – Primark (altered to fit at waist and panel added along bottom to get length.)

Knitted waistcoat – from my childhood

Blue floral and crochet detail blouse – Dorothy Perkins

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Victorian look corset and petticoat

One of my favourite summer outfits, but not the most practical, being all white. Phantom of the Opera is one the references here. Blouse, skirt and Turkish slippers all La Redoute. Broderie Anglaise corset top from New Look.

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Lilies and roses

I changed the plain buttons on the back of the blouse for some painted buttons. The printed fabric has been embroidered over in matching thread. I think it was from New Look. My Mum made the skirt. It’s cut double the width of the front, so it gathers into a bustle. Platforms from Matalan.

Broderie Anglaise blouse and coral peep toe heels from La Redoute

Dress and socks – Matalan

Blouse – La Redoute

Belt – vintage

Skirt – made using an old skirt as a pattern

Wedges – Clarks

Lemon bag – Avon

Red cropped top – vintage

Gingham cropped trousers – made from vintage pattern in the style of Marilyn Monroe.

 

Which outfit do you like best?

 

 

 

Summer Stripes

Translating Summer 2016 into vintage and retro styles. Let’s look at stripes.

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Nautical stripes

Going for a nautical or school girl theme. References are Gigi going to school or Agatha Christie’s Poirot ‘Cat Among the Pigeons’ and Endeavour episode ‘Nocturne’.

Mini straw boater/ tilt or perch hat altered from a large boater. I explain how I did this in my ‘Assassination Bureau’ post.

Vintage white lace gloves

White peacoat style jacket – Matalan

Stripe dress and belt – La Redoute

Red Seamed stockings – What Katie Did

Cut out lace-up shoes – Clarks

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Nautical stripes

Some Like it Hot and Thoroughly Modern Millie are great films set in the roaring Twenties. This dress is actually from the Eighties, but the drop waist and knee length lend itself nicely to the flapper style. I sometimes wear this dress with a Sixties twist, as both decades share similar styles.

Mauve straw hat (cloche) – Liz Claiborne

Earrings – Matalan

Dress – ebay vintage

Sandals – Avon

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Fifties style summer stripes

Instead of wearing the dress like a pinafore, I am wearing the blouse over the top, so it looks like it’s worn with a skirt. Tied at the waist, it gives definition without the need for a belt. The stripes are all vertical, and navy and white, but different thicknesses. The pinstripe on the shirt is so fine it blurs in the photo. I’m wearing a tulle skirt as a petticoat to give the skirt volume. For this shape and style, look at photos of Brigitte Bardot for inspiration.

Shirt & dress – Primark

Grey tulle skirt – Mademoiselle R from La Redoute

Black peep toe heels – George at Asda

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My Marilyn style blue stripe dress

There are some beautiful photos of Marilyn Monroe when she was married to Arthur Miller, wearing a blue and white tiered sundress. I was thrilled when I found this similar dress from Joe Browns.

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Fifties pin up half pinned back curls with flower.
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Sixties style office stripes

I think the suede look A-line wrap skirt is a key look for the Sixties, as are block heels. They have both come round again, so it’s easy to find interpretations of these on the high street. Although my skirt is longer, it’s surprising to see photos of Marianne Faithful and Anita Pallenburg, both girlfriends of various Rolling Stones in more modest ensembles than the minis of the late Sixties and early Seventies. Jane Fonda wears a brown suede A-line in Barefoot in the Park, too. Check out my post on this film and her outfits.

Skirt –  Gok Wan for Tu Sainsbury

Block heel sandals – La Redoute

I love these candy stripes. All I need is a retro diner! I made this blouse based on a photo of Marilyn Monroe wearing a similar shirt. It’s a pretty classic shape, so it works for different decades. Watching Miss Marple, especially the newer Marple episode ‘The Moving Finger’ with Emilia Fox, is great for Fifties inspiration. Her outfits are colourful and the overall look is striking.

Beaded fascinator/ hat – similar from Accesorize

Blouse – from vintage pattern

Skirt – ASOS

Petticoat (not seen) – Pinup Girl Clothing

Nude Seamed stockings and other underpinnings – What Katie Did

Mint stilettoes – Dune

Handbag – River Island ( like a Louis Vuitton bag with the metal V at the fastening, but in my price range)

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Edwardian style summer maxi with 70’s belt

I’ll write more on costume drama dressing in a post about this summer’s bucolic fashion theme.

Tunic worn as blouse – George at Asda

Vintage suede belt with hand painted wooden buckle

Stripe maxi skirt – La Redoute

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Regency dress/ late Sixties maxi

Changing accessories can update a dress… from Jane Austen to the Sixties. My mum made this dress for me. Wearing it with a pink lipstick and blue eyeshadow, I still got Jane Austen related comments!

I’m not sure which decade I meant this to be, because I started with a Fifties look, but I think Alex Drake could wear this in Ashes to Ashes, set in the Eighties.

Breton stripe boat neck T-shirt – La Redoute

Pencil skirt and belt – Primark

Patterned jacket – La Redoute

Pointed striped kitten heels – Next

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Vintage Seventies blouse – Edwardian style

When summer comes round, I love to wear Victorian and Edwardian looking clothes. This blouse made by my aunty sneaks into the Stripes category. I always struggle to find a skirt to wear with this blouse, but I recently got this rust coloured skirt at a clothes swap. The lace peeking out is a vintage slip.

How are you wearing your stripes this summer? Any favourite themes?

Rainbow colours

Translating Summer 2016 into Vintage

I love going through Vogue and picking out the trends or photo shoots I like. Then I  select pieces I already own that fit with the key themes. Firstly, wearing rainbow colours.

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It’s amazing how colourful make-up in the Fifties could be, and magazine covers from that era are good references. I bravely tried coral lips and green eye shadow. I should have used more powder later in the day to even out my complexion. I know for next time.

Sunglasses – ‘Amy’ by Boots

Dress – Love Label

Shoes – H&M

Gloves – Vintage, and belt home-made .

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Pink and yellow! The shapes are more early Sixties. Think Brigitte Bardot.

Earrings and crochet top – Vintage

Pink and yellow vest top – Joe Browns

Skirt – Mademoiselle R from La Redoute

Peep toe heels – George at Asda

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This is a mix of eras! Thirties with the round sunglasses and wedges, and Fifties with the pencil skirt. I just need an Agatha Christie setting. I was given the shoes and they go so well with my new top.

Bracelets and possibly earings, top – H&M

Headband – Primark

Sunglasses and skirt – Topshop

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Picking out the turquoise with my vintage earrings.

Floral blouse – Next (altered from a child’s playsuit)

Vest top – Joe Browns

Cardigan – hand knitted from a Rowan pattern

Skirt – home-made using an old favourite as the pattern

Shoes – Clarks

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Marilyn style top

This looks a bit Debbie Harry with the paint print jeans and white heels, but I started with Marilyn Monroe as my inspiration! Hence, rolling my hair up into a Bob, and the Sixties make-up.

Orange Pucci style top – Home-made with Jersey

Jeans- H&M

White heels – Dune

Velcro roller wet set -Short Vintage Hairstyle

My mum let me try out a wet set vintage hairstyle on her short hair. Think Maggie the Cat/ Elizabeth Taylor and Leslie Caron in An American in Paris. Short curls are brought round to frame the face in both.

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Wet set with Velcro rollers

You will need; Velcro rollers, hair pins, comb, setting lotion, hairspray

Hair should be damp, with a spray of setting lotion brushed through.

1) Start with smaller rollers around the front and sides. Work out from your parting. Mum has a side parting.

2) Use bigger rollers at the back where you want to brush the curls together. The set them, the more volume you get, so this could be used for a Sixties set as well. If you want curls at the nape of the neck, use small rollers or pincurl.

3) Time to paint nails, do make-up, watch a film… Use a diffuser if you want to finish off the drying. I find letting it dry naturally works best for a smoother finish.

4) Take out rollers without pulling the curl out. Comb through with hairspray where you want the hair to lie flat.

5) Use the comb and your fingers to style the curls around your face. Use pomade or styling cream if you need to. Hairspray to hold. A natural hold hairspray works well, so you don’t get crunchy hair.

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Fifties hair and make-up

With thanks to Mum for modelling.

Springtime Outfits

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There were still cold days in April, so there’s that awkward trasition between bulky winter dressing and light summer dresses.

Jasmine Guinness skirt and jacket

Red fine knit sweater (with What Katie Did cone bra)

Dune heels (nice Fifties shape to the heel and toe)

Vintage earrings  from a vintage fair

I haggled for the earrings because there were one or two beads missing. It’s always a good idea to check vintage jewellery carefully before agreeing a price with the seller. With earrings, compare the two, because sometimes the imperfections won’t be noticeable when you’re wearing them, but it might save you a couple of pounds.

Other times, jewellery can be mended. Beads can be redistributed if they look uneven.

Checked wriggle dress – charity shop

Seamed hold-ups – Primark

I took the dress in at the waist, by removing the buttons on the tabs, and stitching them further into the middle. Wearing this dress like a pinafore means I don’t cover the details with a cardi or jumper.

This was a vintage dress from eBay that I modified. I loved the pale green print and the piecrust collar, decorative button placket and mutton sleeves. It was a maxi dress supposedly my measurements, but it looked frumpy and shapeless when I got it.

I chopped the middle section of the skirt out, sewing the bottom edging on at knee-length. I took in the side seams around the bust, which completely changed the look. I also changed the generic small shirt buttons for some vintage ones from our button box.

Emma Peel Chelsea boots – Dune

Cardigan – I knittedbfrom a Rowan pattern in Rowan Tweed

Dress – Vintage. From my Nanna’s unfinished projects. I finished it by adding the buttons and finishing the placket detail with some thin ribbon.

Elasticated belt – Nanna’s, vintage

Stockings – What Katie Did (as well as all my underpinnings in Peach)

Shoes – La Redoute

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Grace Kelly style suit

Earrings – H&M

Jacket & skirt – Matalan. As with most modern clothes I buy, the fit of the waist and hips is cut too straight. I had the skirt waist taken in. As I got this in the sale, the jacket was one size too big, but by moving the buttons over, it looks okay. The boxy fit is in keeping with some Fifties and early Sixties styles, like Grace Kelly in Rear Window and vintage Vogue shoots.

Cropped jumper – designed and knitted myself. Colours and stripes inspired by watching Poirot and Thirties photos.

Bra – What Katie Did padded bullet bra

Shoes – Next

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Vintage scarf, Next shoes, polo shirt: Mademoiselle R from La Redoute.

While always going back in time for my style, I like to incorporate some current fashion themes. The last two include a slight sporty reference with the stripes and polo shirt. – Spring/ Summer 2016 Chanel

Everyday Dressing

If you have found me on Instagram, you’ll see I usually post What I’m Wearing, but I haven’t put them on my blog. So here are some outfits I’ve been wearing recently. Where I can,I’ll list where items are from.

I started out with the dress, from Monsoon, to do a Forties look. However, when I’d put it together it came out with a more Parisian feel.

Seamed hold-ups – Primark

Gloves & belt – vintage

Scarf – La Redoute

Jacket – George at Asda

Dress – Monsoon

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Teddy girl workwear

Coat – Soft Grey, La Redoute

Blouse – Madamoiselle R, La Redoute

Trousers – H&M

Loafers – Dune

Ring – Matalan (like Dior joaillerie)

Blouse & pumps – La Redoute

Bustier – New Look

Jeans – Vivien of Holloway

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Librarian chic

Glasses – Muriel, Dsquared2

Hoops – I hunted for a pair like this for ages, like Marilyn’s in Niagara. I got them in a last chance to buy sale. Moschino did a pair like this last season.

Dress & belt – La Redoute

Cardigan – H&M

 

Jumper – I knitted this, inspired watching Poirot, set in the 1930’s.

Skirt – My original Soft Grey skirt wore out, so I used it as a pattern to make a new one.

Bag – River Island

Shoes – La Redoute

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Blue

Not really a vintage look, but everything went together so well. Everything except the bag is from La Redoute.

Jumper – Next

Belt – Vintage

Shoes – Dune

All underpinnings for a vintage shape are from What Katie Did, unless otherwise stated.