A few years ago I found this little video, Mode en France on Youtube, which goes through the history of European fashion from the end of the Victorian Era, up until the 1980’s. (Click over and watch it, as it is pretty great. I can’t understand a word of French, but fortunately fashion is universal!) After watching it, I wanted to do a photoshoot with my sister and best friend, of the fashions featured in the video- only since I do not have video talents, I was going to do photos instead. Well, the years have gone by, and we’ve still not managed to do a complete overview of all the eras, but we have done a few separate ones. We once dressed up in the styles of the 1940’s (and when I say “dressed up” I mean they dressed up, considering that all the clothes came from my closet!), another time was the Victorian era, and once we dressed up in assorted wedding dresses, which was rather fun.
So, when my friend Chantelle came for a visit last month, one of the things we made sure to do, was another photoshoot. This time, we chose the 1950’s, and donned full skirts, petticoats, hats and gloves. It was rather fun to put all the pieces of the outfit together, as I don’t usually do a whole hat and glove ensemble. I love putting together a period perfect ensemble, but I rarely wear it as such.
Here are the pictures we ended up with. It was a fun time spent together, posing as though we were supermodels, but mostly giggling and being generally silly. I am glad to have these pictures, some of which turned out great- others not so much, but the memories of the afternoon are what I will remember the most. 🙂
Do you ever “dress to the nines” just for fun? Have you ever done a photoshoot with your friends?
(The image above is our Prada sunglasses advertisement, don’t you think? I was testing out the height of the tripod, and it turned out it was a bit off, so the top of my head is cut out of the frame, but nevertheless- it is a hilariously serious looking picture and I love it!)
(This is the prettiest crocheted dress I’ve ever seen, and it is by far my favourite of all the knitted and crocheted dresses today. It is made out of a “Morell Woven-Edge Silk Organdy Ribbon No. 192”. I am not familiar with this material, but it sounds heavenly, and the dress is beautiful as a cocktail dress, paired with some lovely sparkly jewelry.)
A while back I introduced the “Fashion Moment” series I am going to have here on the blog, (until I run out of magazines, books and publications from which to share pictures, that is!) I still have plenty of pictures to share from this wonderful book, “McCall’s Treasury of Needlecraft”, though, which was published in 1955. Last time I shared pictures of knitted and crocheted hats and accessories sets. This time, I have gathered pictures of knitted and crocheted dresses and skirts. I am not a knitter or a crocheter, so I cannot imagine the work that must go into creating these amazing garments!
I love these pictures, as they offer not only a glimpse into the fashions of the era, but also what the average woman in the 1950’s was wearing, and creating herself. Coco Chanel once famously said, “A fashion that does not reach the streets, is not a fashion.” These pictures show that the styles we associate with the era: a full skirt, cinched waist, hats and gloves, were not only runway styles, but indeed did trickle down to the garments that everyday women were making for themselves. I hope you enjoy this peek into the year 1955!
A lovely classic skirt on the left, and a perfect ensemble of hat, gloves and pleated dress on the right.
A trio of “The Beautiful Basic(s)” that can be made as a dress or as separates. I can only imagine the time it would take to create pleats! These would be a beautiful addition to any wardrobe.
A stunning dress and bolero set of flaming red, accented with a lovely green scarf. (Which also appears to be modelled by a member of the walking dead, or perhaps a wax sculpture?)
And let’s take a closer look at it. . . the ribbing adds some lovely texture. I also have a feeling that some shapewear is at play here. . . 😉
This lovely dress is longer in length and I think it could play well as both the 1950’s or even the 1930’s if it was paired with a halo hat, gauntlet gloves and soft curls. Knitted / crocheted dresses were very popular in the 1930’s as well.
Another pretty dress, on the left, accented with pearls on the bodice. I love the unique fuller skirts of these, as usually they are more fitted in shape. Also, the black pumps on the right are what I have been searching for my entire life.
Another colour photo, and this time in a lovely shade of blue. This one is accented with ribbon and glitter to create a distinctly pretty cocktail dress. Paired with classic pearls, this is definitely an amazing evening outfit! Bouffant hairstyle optional. 🙂
Would you wear, or do you if you are so lucky as to own, a knitted or crocheted dress? Which of these dresses and skirts is your favourite?
(Also, if any of my readers are knitters or crocheters, and would like the patterns for these, I would love to share!)
At first, brown, mustard yellow and cream do not seem to be a summer colour palette, but then I looked out into my garden and saw a patch of daisies blooming. It turns out that it is a summer palette after all! 🙂
This is the new dress that I mentioned last week, and it is my first vintage reproduction dress! Living in Alberta, which isn’t exactly a major centre for vintage style boutiques, I had never come across a shop that sold vintage reproduction. I have never had much luck shopping online either, and for things like dresses, which need to fit well, it was always just too much of a gamble. Then, a few weeks ago, while shopping on Edmonton’s Whyte Avenue, I discovered this little shop called Rowena. Rowena is a “clothing, accessory & household item store specializing in pinup, rockabilly, psychobilly, tattoo and alternative cultures.” As soon as I walked in the door, I was in heaven. Seriously, my mom and sister who were with me, can attest that I was like a kid in a candy store. Never have I ever seen such a large and fabulous selection of vintage reproduction in one place. All of the items they have in store, are available in their amazing online store Retro Glam, if you would like to check it out. Anyways. I did find a few lovely items, and actually it is amazing that I came home with my bank account intact! I’ll be back for sure, though.
I was so excited to wear this dress; I wore it the very next Sunday. It is the Nostalgia dress by Retrolicious. I had never heard of Retrolicious before: it is a sub brand of Folter clothing “made in the USA”.
I can’t really attest to the quality of the dress, as I have only had it for a couple of weeks, and I haven’t washed it yet or anything, but I love it so far. When we were in a different shop that same day, the salesperson told me that the dresses they were selling were “couture dressmaker’s fabrics, not just regular old cottons”. When I looked at the tag, they were 57% polyester/ 43% cotton blends. I’ll take the cotton please. Thus, I love that this dress is 100% cotton, and cut on the bias, which gives it a comfortable amount of stretch without containing any spandex/polyester/nylon. I don’t know about you, but I just hate synthetic fabrics. I mean, sometimes they are fine for certain garments, and I do own some myself, but I just hate the fact that there is such an abundance of synthetics in every piece of clothing you find, it seems. Maybe this is just an irrational fear I have of synthetics, tracing back to the time when I was a child and my mother told me that nylon melts. I was scared to wear my nylon pants for years. Anyways, that was a bit of an aside. . . where were we. . .
The dress! It is lovely, comfortable and breathable (it was a hot day, when I wore it) and it has pockets too; I never think to put pockets in my dresses, but really they are the best! Basically this dress is a winner, it is my new favourite, and now that I know where Rowena is, and I know what size I am in several other repro brands, I may never have any money ever again. . .
(PS: After I had finished dressing, I realized that the accessories in this outfit are exactly what I paired with my outfit for Easter Sunday- the straw purse, brown sandals, and cream coloured hat. Even the pearls are the same. What can I say? If you’ve got a good thing going. . . )
(PPS: Another quick note: I do know that cotton, unless it is organic, contains a whole host of other environmental problems, 🙁 but as it is difficult to find organic cotton material and clothing, when faced with a choice, I will choose cotton, as it is still a natural and biodegradable fibre, rather than a man made fibre.)
Edited a couple of years later to add a review on how this dress held up:
I wore this dress quite a few times, but one thing I did notice is that the circle skirt ended up stretching out of shape. This happens when a bias-cut skirt hasn’t been hung for long enough before being hemmed. Often modern garments aren’t hung at all, but are hemmed right as the garment is being assembled, without allowing for drooping. I had hoped that, for the price tag of this one, that wouldn’t be the case but sadly it did end up a bit out of shape. Since the dress was on the short side for me (I’m 5′ 6″ and it hit at the knee, and I prefer below the knee) I decided against re-hemming it, and ended up selling it at a discount. In case you are interested in purchasing from Retrolicious, keep this in mind if the style you are looking for is a circle skirt. Other than that, the dress was very well made and held up well in the wash (I washed on cold, and hung to dry).
Dress- Retrolicious, Nostalgia Dress (not available any more it seems, but they have many others!)
On this most momentous Canadian holiday, I am marking the day by posting. . . nothing to do with Canada. Whoops! Oh well, I’ll be celebrating the day in some patriotic way I suppose (though I will NOT be dressed in Red and White- as the colour red makes me look ill!) Last week I realized that exactly one year ago, I was in England on summer holidays with my family. And, I actually spent Canada Day last year in Stratford-Upon-Avon, doing nothing patriotic either. As much as I love Canada, I guess I am just not a patriotic celebration kind of person.
Anyways, time does really seem to fly by, as it really doesn’t seem like a year ago, and yet the calendar says so . . . Sigh, at least I have these pictures to remember the trip by.
I was looking through all the pictures again, and I thought- why not share some of them here on the blog? I didn’t before, because I wasn’t blogging last year! I have these and tons of other photographs that I’ve never shared or done anything with, so I’ve decided that I’m going to start a little column here called “photographic memory” where I’ll periodically share old photographs of mine. (get it. . . photographic memory? hahaha. . . ) They might not necessarily be related to anything, but it’ll be nice to do something with them 🙂
So today, in anniversary of that trip one year ago- I present to you “The Doors of England”. Obviously this is not an exhaustive directory, it’s more like “The Doors of Stow-on-the-Wold”, the village where we stayed for 10 days in a little cottage. It was a lovely area, in the Cotswold region of England, and the loveliest thing about it is that because it is an “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty” (so classified by the British government) it attracts a lot of tourists, and so everything in the area is quite historic and photogenic 🙂 The majority of the buildings are made of “Cotswold limestone” and even the new construction is built to suit the same style. Pretty much everywhere you look there is another beautiful photo opportunity! As a lover of history, I absolutely adored Stow, and the whole Cheltenham area, and I would definitely recommend it to everyone. Coming from western Canada, where we are lucky to find a building that is 100 years old and not fallen to the ground, it was so fantastic to see all of these ancient buildings that are still in use, and still being lived in. The front doors were such a fabulous part of the town as each one was so different and unique.
Can you imagine walking out your front door each day if it looked like these?
I loved the one above, which was the front door to the cottage across the road from where we stayed. It reminded me of a face, and it was so short that the man who lived there had to stoop to walk through it! I also love the ones covered in vines, but really I couldn’t choose . . .
This could also be titled as “The World’s Easiest Skirt Pattern”. 🙂 When I sewed up my dutch wax print skirt, and refashioned my black floral, I realized just how much I love pleated skirts. After completing Me Made May, I decided that I needed more of these skirts in my life as they are so easy to wear, and are comfortable and practical for everyday. When I was deciding what fabric to use, I remembered this vintage sheet I picked up a a flea market a couple of months ago, so I decided to recycle the fabric into a skirt. I absolutely love the pattern on the fabric- is it just me or were vintage linens so much nicer than today’s?
I used the same easy method as the other skirts, which pretty much involves creating a curved waistband to fit your waist measurement, plus seam allowances. I have found that a slightly curved band is better than a straight rectangle, as bodies are typically not straight, so if it is curved in, the waistband will not gape on you. I didn’t use a pattern for this, I seriously just “eyeballed” the curve for this band and traced to create a mirror image for both sides. To this, I cut a front and back rectangle, and pleated it into the waist circumference (no real math at play, just pleating and fiddling until it fit!) To create something different, so all of the garments in my wardrobe are not exactly the same, I decided to add ties to the waistband this time. I think they give a bit of a fun twist. I sewed the two ties separately, and then inserted them between the zipper (which I had saved off another garment, hence the title of this post) and the waistband when sewing them together. Thus, the raw edges were encased, and the ties wrap around to the front. The skirt took me only about 4 hours start to finish. Well, not including the time that it took to cut the material, I guess. When I went to lay out the fabric, I discovered that somewhere along the way someone had used this sheet as a dropcloth or something, and there was orange paint splattered across it! I had to do some strategic measuring and cutting to avoid all the splatters- but it was successful, as none of the paint shows on the final garment! The joys of vintage material I guess. 😉 I actually love projects like this as they recycle something that would otherwise be discarded. The skirt turned out nicely and qualifies as a Make do and Mend garment, I think, as well as almost being vintage, as the materials to make it were. . .
So, onto the outfit! The skirts debut, the very next day, was for an afternoon of shopping on Edmonton’s Whyte Ave. My best friend came for a visit (as I already mentioned before), so we took the opportunity to go shopping, and Whyte Ave is a pretty fun place filled with lots of lovely little shops and restaurants. (I also found the best little store called Rowena, which carries a whole host of vintage reproduction brands I’ve never been able to find in a brick-and-mortar store! I was like a kid in a candy shop- and I have an outfit post with the dress I bought, next week!)
We had a lovely time shopping, but I didn’t get any outfit photos while we were there, which is too bad as there are so many historical brick buildings that would’ve served as a nice backdrop. I was too busy catching up with my friend, though, to stop for pictures, so we got these pictures later. I paired the skirt with a modern ruffled blouse, and my lovely vintage straw boater I got at an antique sale a few years ago. The lining in this hat is so shredded I can barely pick out any of the label, the only words left read “Knox New York”. I did a google search and came up with this article about the Knox hat company, but as it appears they made men’s hats, I’m not sure of the history of this piece. It is lovely though, and in very good shape too, despite the label being in disrepair. I would’ve liked to have paired this outfit with my cognac kiltie loafers, but as they are not broken in yet, I thought an afternoon spent walking would be better suited to my tried and true brown flats. Sometimes style must be sacrificed for comfort, as much as I hate to admit it 🙁
Anyways, I’ve already worn this skirt several times since I made it, and it is quickly becoming a favourite in my wardrobe. Do you ever find yourself gravitating towards sewing or wearing the same things over and over again?
Hat- vintage from an antique sale
Skirt- made by me out of a sheet from a flea market