The Avengers – Tara King’s thigh high boots

 

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.

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.

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.

  • Snug on the ankle
  • Stretch pull-on
  • Thigh high
  • Preferably leather shoe uppers (for longer lasting wear)
  • Mid block heel
  • Round to square toes

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.

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Bowler hat and thigh high boots Tara King style

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?

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A few of my favourite outfits. Find a definitive breakdown of all The Avengers clothes at dissolute.au.

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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?

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

The Taming of the Shrew – Elizabeth Taylor

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Elizabeth Taylor as Katerina

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.

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Shakespearean theatre costume

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.

 

 

 

How to Wear (Faux) Fur Now

The glamour and prestige of wearing a fur coat of the past looks out of place and over the top for the modern dresser. However the proliferation of faux fur options this season shows we still find something alluring about them. I have been hunting for a beautiful animal print but fear looking like Dorian from Birds of a Feather. As a lover of vintage fashion styles, I looked for examples of the everyday style.

The Hollywood glamour of actors and actresses of the twenties and thirties in opulent eveningwear accessorised by the coat is perhaps how we copy wearing our faux fur coats for parties and evenings out. However they were fond of casually wearing full length fur coats with daywear (even the actors). This was emulated by the masses, with wives and mistresses often receiving a fur stole or coat as a gift. While the Forties brought more austerity to dressing due to World War II, fur coats and accessories didn’t lose their charm, being paired with crisp tailoring. The ladylike Fifties saw a continuation of the ladylike look with fur coats for day or night. The slim silhouette of sheath dresses and pencil skirts balanced the volume that often comes with fur. I love this look but feel overdressed for day. The rebellion in fashion by the young during this decade meant not looking like you wanted to be grown up in mothers fur coat and dresses.

 

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This carried on through to the Sixties when youth culture became mainstream and fashion reflected the freedom from previous norms. This is where I found examples of fun fur coats aimed at young fashionable people for everyday wear. As with fashion now, not everything wears carries down to the high street or is embraced by the majority, but I began to see how I could wear my faux fur happily to the supermarket or to work.

One of the British icons of the last century, Diana Rigg looked effortlessly cool, epitomising the modern style of the sixties for grown women. One example, is a John Bates coat she  as Emma Peel in the cult British spy series The Avengers. Giant monochrome zigzags over full body and arms, Knee length, it is not for wall flowers. She wears it in one instance with white hipster bootleg trousers, with a black stripe down each leg, matching Chelsea boots and wide patent belt low on the hips with a white boat neck vest top. For a photoshoot Diana Rigg models this with low heel lace up shoes, and a similar coat with some diagonal stripes and a chequerboard band of black and white with low block heels, which have come around again for 2016.

I saw the coat I wanted while watching The Avengers. A plush giant animal spot print which sort of blurred because of the length of the fur with a wide collar and wrist grazing sleeves. This was nonchalantly worn by Mrs Peel over a block colour jumpsuit and Chelsea boots made for the practicality high kicks and fighting bad guys, while being an example of cutting edge fashion.

 

A crisp white T-shirt and jeans or slim fit coloured trousers with block heels or flats keep the fur coat firmly in the real world. Brogue, lace-up, Mary Jane, Chelsea styles are all available. As are A-line minis and shift dresses. Even the casual jumpsuit has been successfully revived.  The idea  I took away from this was that if the basics are kept simple and smart, you shouldn’t have to plan your clothes around the coat, but just grab it as you leave the house. I was thrilled to find a faux fur coat similar in Topshop. Now I have to work on a minimalist daytime look.

Barefoot in the Park

I love all of Jane Fonda’s outfits in Barefoot in the Park. These are two I’m able to dowith my wardrobe (and Mum’s). I’m still looking for some slim fit brown cords that aren’t low rise. However, skinnies are everywhere, so I’m wearing my black H&M jeans. The boots are gorgeous and really practical,so I’m glad Chelsea boots are fashionable at the moment, as it gave me more chance of finding a pair I like. These leather ones from Next should last longer than the cheap fake leather pair I had last year. They started peeling, whereas you can care for leather. The toes are elegant and the heel not too western. The ankle isn’t too wide so they look more streamlined.

The accessories are simple for the day look and the going out look. Gold hoops, and a bangle with the dress. My nude kitten heels from Next go with so much, and if you watch the film, you’ll see she wears a similar pair with a matching clutch (still to find). I let the hem down on this Next shift so it’s more mid-Sixties than mini/ dolly look.

 

The Assassination Bureau (Miss Winter)

Diana Rigg as Miss Winter in The Assassination Bureau has a beautiful and practical wardrobe as the Modern Woman of the turn of the (last) century. In aspiring to this look, which is great working in a library, I have made a skirt, restyled a hat and hunted down a round collared white shirt (Madamoiselle R).

I bought a large straw boater and unravelled it to the base size I needed. Then I hand stitched around, bending the straw at the beginning of the side edge and the brim. Once the brim was the desired width, I tied it off and flattened the front brim with heavy books while turning the back up. It can be dressed with different ribbons.

The blouse with the round collar is good for 1920-30’s (Peaky Blinders) dressing too.

The skirt is an A-line cut, and the elasticated wide belt nips in the waist without wearing a corset underneath!

Here is an outfit not yet attempted. I do have a steam punk pattern for a skirt with a deep pleated hem, and my mum has made an outfit with a matching jacket, which I’ll post soon.

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Accesssories

The Prisoner

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Portmeirion Village

A few days in Snowdonia, North Wales, but not mountain climbing! I went with my family to Portmeirion, where the cult British series The Prisoner was filmed. My choice of outfits hopefully reflect the era and were inspired by the series. As a seaside village, stripes and summer blazers feature quite heavily. As I visited in February, when I went exploring I wore a boxy wool coat. Block colours are also obvious in The Prisoner, keeping lines clean and simple too.

It was filmed around the same time as The Avengers (with Steed and Emma Peel). I think the orange boat neck and baker-boy cap are very Emma Peel.

Striped roll-neck, Blazer and bright blue courdroy A-line skirt.

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Day 2- With a similar jacket to The Prisoner and a badge!

Breton stripes, A-line skirt and Chelsea boots and Baker boy cap keep the Sixties in mind. All from the high street recently.

For a meal out at the castle (which is used as the hospital in The Prisoner) I wore a mint A-line dress with low heeled pointed Mary Janes (Kurt Geiger). I made the dress from an original Sixties pattern, in thin sweatshirt fabric.

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I made the boat neck orange top based on a Marilyn Monroe photo shoot from 1962, and this style is easy to wear. I’ll have to make it in more colours.

We stayed in the Toll House, Portmeirion. The photos were taken here.

Audrey Hepburn orange summer dress

The Fashion of Audrey — The actress Audrey Hepburn photographed by Bob...:

This dress is worn by Audrey Hepburn as Gaby in ‘Paris When it Sizzles’. I have only watched this film again because of the dress. The interest is at the back, but the collar, tulip skirt and front bow keep the front from being plain. I have yet to find cream kitten heels, but my camel pair from Next go well. My straw hat was from Primark! The pearl earrings are from a vintage market.

Audrey Hepburn:

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Collar
Collar

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I made this with some light cotton fabric I was given. I immediately thought of the dress from Paris When it Sizzles. I used a fitted shift dress pattern. I had to figure out how to get the drape at the back and the shoulder strap shape. I cut the skirt half wider at the top then gathered it to get the tulip effect. The collar was only just successful but I’m happy with it.

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Drape at Back
Drape at Back
Bow belt
Bow belt