Posts by Nicole :

The Costumes of Miss Potter: Film Fashion Inspiration

miss potter standing by the lake

When I published this post about personal style a few months ago, one of the inspirations I listed was Beatrix Potter from the 2006 film Miss Potter. Not only are the costumes of Miss Potter some of my favourites, but the movie itself is also high on my list of favourite period films. Starring Renee Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, Emily Watson and others, with costumes by Anthony Powell, this movie tells the story of Beatrix Potter, the author of Peter Rabbit and other children’s books. I shan’t spoil the story it if you don’t know it, but definitely recommend that you watch it yourself, not only for the story, but also for the cinematography, the beautiful English scenery and of course the costumes!

When I watch historical films, I don’t usually mind if things aren’t “100% historically accurate” down to the very last buttonhole, as long as the costumes fit the story, are well researched and they don’t jolt you out of the timeline. If the costume designer displays expertise of the era that the film was set in, I’m not too picky if they have chosen to interpret and tweak history in a creative way for the purpose of story telling- please just don’t use any zippers or incorrect underpinnings! Thus, today, I’m not going to go over whether this film is historically accurate, or even accurate to Beatrix Potter’s real life, but rather, I’m sharing what some of my favourite inspirations are from the costumes in this film and how I have integrated those into my own personal wardrobe.

Costumes are such an important part of a movie, as clothing gives insight into how people present themselves and interact with the world and what message they are sending. Even in fictional movies, costumes can still demonstrate how people wear and move in their clothing and can give more understanding than a static photograph can.

miss potter reviewing her book in London

The film is set in the early years of the Edwardian era, from 1902- 1906, and is full of high collared blouses, peplum jackets with puffed sleeves and elegant walking skirts, but one thing I love is how wearable the costumes look.

miss potter sketching in the woods wearing a blue shirtwaist and brown skirt

One key feature of Beatrix’s wardrobe is her subdued, earthy colour palette. My own wardrobe consists of these colours- shades of brown and tan, earthy greens, smoky blues and creams. I think that these colours are specifically used to show Beatrix’s love of the countryside and connection to nature, especially the Lake District, which is reflected in her oft repeated colour blue. These colours all blend together extremely well too.

miss potter wearing a striped shirtwaist blouse

Beatrix’s costumes in this film are tiny bit Victorian, (mainly her small London hats) which I think reflects that her character doesn’t chase the latest trends, but is instead absorbed with her work. She also wears a very plain style of clothing, which is used to juxtapose her style against her mother’s which is a much fussier, ornate style. Other ladies are also shown wearing much more glamorous pieces, yet Beatrix is always bit pared back. Her clothing choices are far from boring though! There are so many subtle details that you miss upon first glance, but stand out with a second look.

miss potter in london wearing a jacket with contrast cuffs and collar and a bowler hat

I have realized, over time, that my favourite looks from the past are ones that are more traditional and classic, rather than the opulent, “fashionable” ones and I often find myself wanting to pare things back in my own wardrobe too. I am always drawn to classic styles over trends. Beatrix’s costumes are a great example of a character whose clothing has intricacy and detail, but is still rather minimal in ornamentation compared to the popular fashions of the time period.

cuff and sleeve details

Her clothing choices display many details; from extra long shirt cuffs, to contrast collars, to shaped waistbands, to unique buttons- there’s so much to take note of when you take a closer look. There’s so much inspiration for future sewing projects too! Using details like this adds interest and depth to your wardrobe.

I also appreciate that Beatrix has what would today be considered a “capsule wardrobe”; which is what a standard wardrobe for any time period before the modern era would have been. She is consistently seen repeating key pieces and mixing and matching them to create new looks. Her blue shirtwaist is a common repeat, as well as her brown blazer and walking skirt. Because each of her pieces coordinate with each other, she is able to create an infinite amount of combinations. This is such a useful way to curate your own wardrobe- one I am still perfecting myself!

miss potter wearing a pleated white blouse

Almost every outfit she wears consists of the tried and true skirt + shirt combination. She has a couple beautiful wool A-line skirts that coordinate well with her blouses. While I probably wouldn’t personally wear a floor length wool skirt like this, shortening this style to knee length suddenly modernizes the look, while retaining that classic look.

miss potter wearing a cream embroidered blouse

She also proves the value and versatility of a good white or cream basic blouse. She has several that she rotates through- each slightly different- featuring lace insertion, embroidery or pleating. While each individual blouse is different, they all coordinate well with the other pieces in her wardrobe, as well as providing a background for brooches and jewelry.

miss potter movie film stills

Speaking of jewelry, I absolutely love this long necklace she wears. Is it a watch? A key? A locket? I can’t tell and haven’t found any answers…what do you think it is?

miss potter reviewing her book

I really like how it clasps to her waist almost like a chatelaine or something. Long pendant necklaces are one item that I absolutely love to wear in my own wardrobe.

movie long necklace detail

There is just something so elegant about them, and I think they work quite well to add some jewelry without the flashiness of a statement necklace. Brooches are also an under utilized piece of jewelry today, I think. I have several vintage brooches, but don’t wear them nearly as often as I should!

miss potter in the lake district wearing her blue shirtwaist

Another wonderful part of Beatrix’s wardrobe are the straw hats that she wears while visiting the Lake District! This is the epitome of the cottagecore look- and I love it! I’m not a big fan of the tiny Victorian hats she wears in London, and I interpret the large informal sun hats that she wears while in the country as shedding the stuffy London rules and expectations and becoming her true self.

miss potter in london wearing a fitted wool jacket with a peplum

Her clothing evolves when she leaves London, becoming softer and more rugged. For example, she eschews her fitted, structured jackets for casual knitwear. I think this reflects her love of nature as a key component of her character, and shows that she has fully adopted the country as her own. She takes advantage of layering to create visual interest, as well as warmth!

miss potter in the country wearing knitted vests and sweaters

One final detail that I love from her costumes, are her aprons. You just can’t go wrong with a good apron when you’re doing some messy work around the house. I love historical aprons, because not only were they were designed to protect your clothing, but they look pretty at the same time!

miss potter wearing aprons over her daywear

Well, these are some of my favourite details from the costumes of Miss Potter. Have you seen Miss Potter? What are your favourite parts of her wardrobe? Are there any films that you draw fashion inspiration from?

miss potter unpacking her art supplies

Social Saturday | July 31

stack of books with a cup of tea on top

Here we are already at the end of July and beginning of August! The summer seems to be going past very quickly- how about for you?

This has been the Year of Reading for me- I’ve just finished book #33. I’ve been trying to spend my evenings reading, rather than browsing the internet. It’s been nice to get through quite a few of the books on my list, although of course, as soon as I cross one off, I find several more to add to the bottom!

vintage copy of Mistress Pat book

I requested Mistress Pat by L.M Montgomery from the library (review: not my favourite of her books, but still enjoyable) and the copy I received was this beautiful first edition from 1935! I love it when they keep older editions of books in circulation, rather than replacing them all with new copies.

mallard duckling

We had some exciting visitors to our place; my sister walked out the back door, and spotted two lost Mallard ducklings in the flower bed! When their mom never showed up, we brought them inside and put them in a brooder, and then my mom brought them to the wildlife rescue shelter a couple days later. They were so tiny and cute, and actually very quiet as well. (At least compared to the chick we’ve got inside; we named him Mortimer, because he never stops cheeping!) They were hard to photograph and got a little bit panicked when my sister picked them up, but I’m glad I got a couple of pictures to remember them by.

three tiny paintings of potted plants

I’ve been working on some more watercolour illustrations; this time houseplants. I’ve been trying out this mini format- just 4″ x 4″ and I quite like it. So far I’ve done a Kalanchoe, a grouping of Cacti and a Pothos.

I’ve added them to my Society 6 shop as greeting cards or mini prints. There are “hello”, “happy birthday” and “thank-you” cards as well as blank ones available. I will also be listing these original paintings in my shop here, but am waiting for some mats I ordered to arrive first (hopefully they arrive soon!).

card with pothos on front

Ps: I’ve also added some more photography prints to my shop, and am slowly adding more as I have the time.

How has your summer been going so far? I hope you have a great weekend!

two card designs with plants on the front

10 Tips for How to Start Writing Letters

a desk with stationery in front of a bouquet of sweet clover and a cup of tea

Letter writing has been around for nearly as long as people have been on this earth. It’s a way to communicate with people if you aren’t able to be there in person and for much of history writing letters has been the only channel of long distance communication. At least until the advent of the telegram, telephone, and internet. As wonderful as those advancements in technology are, though, there’s still something so special about receiving a handwritten note in the mail. I love writing letters, and while I’m not always consistent, I do try to write a few times a year to my friends and family who live far away. I inherited my love of writing letters from my Grandma. She was an excellent letter writer and it was always such a joy to receive one from her in the mailbox! If you aren’t used to writing, here are my tips on how to start writing letters.

a paper pad with a nib pen on top of it and a cup of tea beside it

Of course my first tip is to make yourself a lovely cup of tea (or other beverage) and find a comfortable spot to sit at. Perhaps even light a candle to make the experience more enjoyable. I wouldn’t suggest playing music, though, as I find that I get distracted and start to listen to the music instead of writing! Try to think letter writing as an elegant ritual.

Choose who you will write your letter to and consider your audience. From there, decide if it is to be a formal or casual letter. What you write to your grandmother might not be what you write to a friend. My Grandma often used to leave her writing paper out on the table for a week or more, adding bits and pieces to the letter as she thought of them. They were quite newsy and a joy to read since she’d include tidbits in her letter that you wouldn’t always think to say on a telephone visit. She’d include information about what the weather was like at the time of writing, where she was sitting in the house or about the chickadee she was watching out the window. Details like that really did make reading her letters feel like you were there with her.

If you aren’t used to writing, and don’t quite know where to start, then start slow by sending a greeting card with a heartfelt note written inside. A “thinking of you” card is nice to receive in the mail and it’s not as much pressure to send as a long letter is. Since there are only two pages on the inside of a card, it gives you a boundary to write a quick note without feeling the need to write an entire epistle.

a lovely cup of tea beside a bouquet of clover

Get some good writing paper. It doesn’t have to be stationery, though that is a nice thing to invest in. I often use lined paper that I trimmed out of a journal. It’s a perfect size to fit in an envelope, and the lines help me to stay tidy. Once you’ve gotten the rhythm of writing letters, and perhaps found a pen pal, then getting some dedicated stationery or writing paper is a nice touch. You can find all sorts of beautiful stationery including monogrammed and letterpresses, all the way down to simple plain paper. Keep an eye out for sets of stationery that have matching envelopes in the correct size, so that you don’t have to origami your letter to fit in an envelope for mailing. That being said, I have received letters that were written on construction or copy paper and I never cared, since it was the words on the paper that were of much more importance!

Letter seals or stickers are a fun touch to add to your envelopes- some stationery sets even include matching stickers. Wax seals are another gorgeous touch, that hearken back to the days when security was of utmost importance for top secret correspondence. Another way that letters were kept confidential was through the art of “Letterlocking”. This is a fascinating article from the BBC about how letters in the past used ingenious methods of folding and cutting to ensure that they couldn’t be tampered with. I want to get some heavy writing paper and try out this technique- wouldn’t it be fun to receive a letter like that in the mail?

Another nice touch, is to use a pen that writes really well; I personally prefer liquid ink pens to ballpoint pens. I don’t use a pen with a nib, though I would like to learn how. Right now, I use the Uni-Ball Vision Needle pens in black and I like how they write. I’ve found that when I have a nice smooth pen, my writing is neater. If my pen is scratchy or dry, then my writing gets progressively worse!

writing a letter at a desk with a cup of tea beside the pen and paper

On that note, letter writing is a great way to practice your handwriting. Cursive is another lost art, sadly, and while I don’t have the best handwriting myself, I do like to practice while writing letters. I’ve been trying to slow down when I write, because when I write fast, I might as well write in shorthand considering how illegible it can become!

If you plan to start sending letters often, then buy your stamps in bulk. They aren’t cheaper the more you buy but (at least here in Canada) if you buy a single stamp at the mail counter it is more expensive than buying a pack. Also in Canada, we have “permanent stamps” which means that when the price goes up next time, we can still use the stamps we already own. So buying a roll of stamps might save you money in the future.

Always include a return address, either in the top left hand corner or back of the envelope. Once I mailed a letter but forgot to put on a stamp- oops! At least because I had included a return address, the postal worker just placed it back in my box. Otherwise that letter would have been lost into the abyss! Also, make sure that your letter is clearly and neatly addressed. Some postal services are quite excellent (yay England!) while others can be rather abysmal (looking at you Canada Post).

As for receiving letters in return, if someone does send you a letter back, make sure to answer it in a timely fashion, or you’ll forget what you wanted to say. As I read a letter I’ve received, I find myself thinking of all kinds of things to write back in return but, if I put it off, then I find that I’ve forgotten all of those bits of “news” and have to rack my brain to find something to write down!

Well, those are my tips to start writing letters. Of course, letters can’t replace other forms of communication in our lives, but I think that there is a special art in letter writing, and that it is a lovely way to add a bit of elegance to your everyday life. Oh, and of course I can’t finish off this post without mentioning that if you’re looking for some greeting cards to send, you can check out my shop here or here.

How about you- do you enjoy writing letters? Or do you prefer instant communication instead? If you haven’t in the past, do you think you’ll start writing letters?

writing a letter at a desk with a cup of tea and a bouquet of flowers

Some New Old Artwork

starry sky painting in a mat

Well, I vanished there for a little bit…but I have been busy while I’ve been gone! I rediscovered some of my watercolour pieces from a couple of years ago that I never completed or developed and decided that now was a good time to finish them up.

I’ve also been taking new product photos for my shop and have slowly been adding and updating the pieces in both my Poshmark and Artyologist Shops.

straw hat and mountains original paintings

These two originals are now available here or here. They come with an 8×10 white mat, so they are ready to pop into a frame. I think that the straw hat illustration would be perfect for a dressing room/area or a little girls’ room!

I’ve also got four new card designs in my Society 6 shop.

hello and many thanks cards

A simple “Hello” card for any occasion. And I liked the hearts from my Valentine collection, and thought that a thank-you card would be another nice option.

hat and sunglasses cards

The straw hat also makes a cute little “thinking of you” card. And finally these retro white sunglasses! I painted this for a “summer” prompt on Instagram a few years ago, and thought it would be a perfect “congratulations” card. I can see this one being good for a graduation or maybe even a wedding.

That’s all for today. I hope to be back with some more new posts, but we’ve had such a heat wave lately, and now smoke from the forest fires, so it makes taking photos rather difficult, unfortunately. I hope you have been enjoying your summer and that you have a great weekend!

Social Saturday | July 3

Siberian Irises

Lately…

Reading- Just finished Pat of Silver Bush by LM Montgomery. I enjoyed it, but it’s definitely not one of my favourites of hers. It had a rather slow start, and took a while to get into the story. But, I did request the second one in the series from my library, so I’ll see if I like it better.

two pink peonies

Loving- Taking photos of all the flowers in my mom’s garden. So many beautiful blooms, and the camera really doesn’t do justice to them!

Watching- The Closet Historian channel on YouTube- mostly her tutorials! I especially enjoyed Bianca’s Victorian bonnet video, and am planning on seeing if I can use some of her techniques to mash up a few hats for myself.

pink daisy and white yarrow
Making- A crazy patchwork purse in a 1970’s style. It’s going to be quite wonky by the time it’s done, with nary a straight seam to be seen, but that will add “character” right?

Eating- Lemon Almond Crinkle Cookies from The Iron You blog. Just rediscovered his recipes lately, and have been saving almost every single one!

pink rose

Thankful For- Cool summer days. We’ve been going through an extreme heat wave (a “heat dome”) in Western Canada lately, and that makes me appreciate the mild summer days all the more. After a week of extremely hot temperatures, we finally have one in the mid twenties today, and are all breathing a sigh of relief!

purple and yellow violas

pink rose and white peony

pale pink peony bloom

What are some fun things you’ve been doing lately, dear Reader? I hope you have a wonderful weekend, however you spend it!

dark pink japanese peony