Rome and Tuscany outfits review

Rome Italy sightseeing fontana Di Trevi

Sorry for the long delay to write this review. I had a wedding to plan, my wedding dress to make and moving house! (Which also means I’ll be writing a post on my dress.)

While the weather is still cold it’s rather nice to think about holidays abroad in the sun. Maybe you’re about to go on a winter break somewhere sunny or need packing inspiration for your summer holiday. Here I review my holiday outfits from my 2018 summer holiday in Rome and Tuscany.

The weather was hot and we even had a couple of stormy days, which while in Rome wasn’t the best experience because of the mosquitos coming out to play and not so glamorously getting drenched in a downpour while at the Trevi fountain. Long sleeves and long baggy trousers would be ideal to protect yourself against the blighters.

As usual, getting full length photos of good quality was non-existent, as the group of us was fairly big, and by the time we’re all in a photo, we look quite far away!

I wore the striped cotton blouse I made based on a photo of Marilyn Monroe ( in a striped shirt dress) with a reproduction of a favourite linen skirt I owned that fell apart. I co-ordinated a true vintage square scarf. This outfit was my Roman Holiday homage. It was light and cool except for the belt because of the extreme heat in the colleseum.

A vintage outfit with comfortable footwear is always a good idea if you are going to do a fair amount of walking. I added gel soles to my flat sandals which made them really comfortable.

Leaning tower of Pisa cream Palazzo pants thirties repro striped blouse
Taking inspiration from Phryne Fisher

On our trip to Pisa I wore cream high waisted Palazzo pants from La Reroute, which I altered to fit. These were cool and easy, with no apparent creasing, unlike the linen. The blouse, made from the same remnant of fabric as the other blouse, was made using an original Thirties pattern. It wraps t the back and ties at the front. The shaping works well with What Katie Did bras. In this case, it’s the CC09 1940’s bra. I wore comfortable wedge sandals to keep my cream trousers off the floor!

I packed a cotton shirt dress which I could button over swimwear or shorts and was a flattering shape without a belt, although I did wear one to smarten it up.

Apart from a couple of days sightseeing, I spent time by the pool in swimwear and high waisted shorts. I didn’t stay vintage all the time, but there’s a good selection of vintage style and retro swimwear around. It all repeats eventually! For example, do a good selection, some similar to styles worn by Marilyn Monroe.

There’s no reason why vintage can’t be comfortable if you keep your destination needs in mind, like weather, walking and activities you have planned.

Rome and Tuscany

I am busy planning for a summer holiday to Rome and Tuscany. While I lately go more towards the Fifties, I felt like going for a Thirties theme for my sightseeing and going out clothes. While most of it is from memory from hours of ‘research’ throughout my life (I think I should probably have a degree by now in my specialised field), I refreshed my memory on a few of the summer holiday episodes of Poirot.

Here are a few of the best.

While I still haven’t made any beach pyjamas, I do have some wide leg Palazzo pants. I can wear a number of different blouses, including a wrap blouse from an original Thirties pattern I have.

A couple of exceptions are a Roman Holiday ensemble and my Marilyn inspired Niagara dress, in case we go out in the evening.

Marilyn Monroe Niagara dress
Marilyn Monroe Niagara dress

I’ll post my holiday outfits and see how well they worked in practice.

Marilyn’s Niagara dress


This is an amazing summer dress from the film Niagara, that Marilyn’s character Rose wears on a supposedly romantic holiday with her husband. The story is great too, with a definite Hitchcockian feel to it. Marilyn gets to play a darker role and pulls it off with flying colours.

I needed help to draw up the pattern for this, and my Mum did an amazing job. I’m a hard taskmaster for accuracy! I’m not too keen on wearing hot pink, although the colour looks good on Marilyn with her bottle blonde hair. I chose a teal cotton, which I think looks better with dark hair and pale skin.


Unlike similar reproductions you Ind online I kept the skirt looser from the hips down by cutting it straight, and also putting the split at the back. As there are no pintucks at the front, the curve of the waist to hip was sewn in the side seam. The fastening is a front zip, with the gathers stitched in place.

Niagara Jpeg
Detail on Niagara dress

For a smooth look, I sew bullet bra pads into the top. Marilyn didn’t need to do this, but I think it gives a better shape and makes me feel like I am wearing something underneath! This is a good trick for tops or dresses with cutouts in awkward places. Multilayer bras aren’t always hidden, and stick ons don’t give an authentic vintage silouette. You can buy these from What Katie Did in black or white.


The sandals have been the closest similar to the original photos as I have found so far. See more about these sandals here. I have accessorised with gold hoops and heart charm bangles. I think Marilyn’s bracelet is a chain with a single charm.

In the film, she accessorises with a pale, possibly white, floaty scarf and a white clutch.

I’ve worn this dress to, among other things, a summer wedding abroad and a surfer/ Hawaiian themed party. Red or hot pink go well with teal.

I hope to recreate some of her other outfits from this film in the future. The wool jackets are beautiful.

Here is a true colour commission of this dress worn by model @xxruffdyamondxx

Fifties pinup old Hollywood glamour vintage reproduction dress


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.

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

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

Lace and stripes

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

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.

Fifties pin up half pinned back curls with flower.
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)

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

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

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.


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 .


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


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


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

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

There’s No Business Like Show Business

One of the dresses Marilyn Monroe wears in this film is a smart day dress in pale blue. You can find copies of this dress to buy online now, but when I watched the film and wanted the dress there weren’t any! With the help of my amazing mum, we worked out a pattern to make it.

The bottons are plastic covered with the fabric and also slighty padded. It’s comfortable to sit down in! The belt is made from the same fabric and I just used a pull through buckle. I starch the bows so they don’t droop. As you can see, the fabric creases, but they also fall out easily.

I have to use bra extander straps to lower the back of my What Katie Did bra, so I get a smooth line at the back without underwear showing, but keeping the vintage shape. My seamed stocking’s are also from WKD.

I’d love some triangle earrings like Vicky. The closest I’ve seen so far are some gold ones at H&M.



Bottega Veneta style Dress

Bottega Veneta S/S 07

I was so happy when I found a dress like this. It had a tie neck, so I folded the straps back to make a wider band at the join and added two large old bronze poppers at the nape of the neck. I reinforced the cotton with some leather where the poppers were added.

Twisted halter neck deail
Twisted halter neck deail


Pleats and gathering
Pleats and gathering
I saw this advert in Vogue and added it to my mental wishlist. It’s amazing what you can find when you know what you’re looking for.
Rocky photobombing

BVdressfull4 BVdressfull2