style

Using Accessories to Change Up Your Look

1970's inspired summer look

I rediscovered this guest post that I wrote for Jessica of Zella Maybe back in 2016, and decided that I would like for it to have a home here too. Someday it would be nice to do an updated version of this post with new outfits and photos, but in the meantime here is the post from nearly five years ago!

One of the things that I love most about vintage style dressing is that it really is as varied as the people who lived before us. Within the vintage subculture there are so many vastly different and wonderful styles- from pinup, to rockabilly, to 60’s mod and so on. . . I have never been able to choose one signature style for myself though. There are just too many styles and eras to choose from! Seldom a week goes by where I am not being inspired by something different and deciding I need to dress more like a 20’s flapper or a 40’s land girl, then the next week it is the 1950’s movie-star or a 60’s housewife. . . (Maybe this is really just a clue into how indecisive I am?) However, with something as fun as fashion- why choose only one style?

The best way to wear all of the unique and different vintage styles you encounter would be to have a wardrobe the size of Barbie’s, with dresses and outfits and accessories for each occasion. Unfortunately, I do not have a wardrobe to rival Barbie’s, and I doubt that you do either. However, accessories are a great secret weapon! Some garments lend themselves well to being styled as different eras, and it is amazing what changing your hat, scarf, shoes, makeup or purse can do for completely transforming an ensemble. So today I will show you how I took three different outfits as starting points, and by switching a few pieces was able to create an outfit with a completely different look and mood.

The first outfit is this one, consisting of wide legged navy trousers and a hip length mustard yellow cardigan.

1920's inspired outfit

The wide legged trousers are a great starting point for a 1920’s inspired look as trousers first really came into fashion for women in the 1920’s. (They were quite a scandalous style for the “modern woman”!) I don’t have the figure for the straight willowy 1920’s ideal, but by pairing the trousers with a long cardigan I get the illusion of that silhouette. Tucking in my silk top shows that I do, in fact, have a waist, while the blowsy fabric gives softness. A pile of sparkly necklaces, earrings and an exotically wrapped turban results in the classic 1920’s feel. Of course no 1920’s look is complete without makeup, so I added a dark burgundy lip, smudgy eyeliner and gold eye shadow.

1940's WWII style outfit

Keeping the trousers and the sweater, but switching out the top for a collared cotton patterned shirt instantly turns the look into a 1940’s style. Here I have tied a turban from back to front with a large bow, for a Rosie the Riveter/ working-girl look. (See- I even have a massive wrench!) Lace up boots, minimal jewelry (just ear studs), and a natural makeup look with a hint of pink lipstick gives a softer, minimal look perfect for the era. I have curled my bangs here as well, for a more 40’s style hairdo- as my hair is quite short and that is pretty much all of it I can style! It is amazing how simply switching out the accessories takes this trousers and sweater set from “flapper” to “make do and mend”.

1940's ladylike styled outfit

For the next set I have a navy crepe dress with pearl buttons at the neck. This is a 1940’s reproduction pattern (Simplicity 1777), but it is really one of the most versatile garments I own, as almost everything goes with navy.

I first styled the dress as 1940’s, by adding a black straw saucer hat. Tilt hats were quite popular in the 1940’s, and if you have long hair, curling it or adding a victory roll would be the perfect touch. I can’t do that, so I tucked my hair back to make it look a bit more styled, and again curled the bangs. A small black patent handbag, and black suede pumps with a classic cuban heel, coordinate nicely with the hat, and for a ladylike look like this, gloves are a must. (No lady in the 1940’s would consider an outfit complete without her gloves!) For makeup, a natural face, with a sophisticated red lipstick gives a classic 40’s look.

1960's inspired outfit

Now I have opted for an early 1960’s take on the dress. The early 1960’s is one of my favourite periods as it was so fun, yet still elegant. It retained much of the style of the 1950’s New Look, while losing a lot of the stuffiness. I mean, what is not fun (or funny?) about this ridiculous 1960’s hat? It is like wearing a tulle cake on your head. The bodice on this dress is a bit more fitted than would have been popular in the 1960’s, but by adding a boxy cashmere coat, the silhouette suddenly becomes straighter with a more secretary/twinset look. Classic peep-toe pumps in navy, and a navy “Kelly Bag inspired” structured purse are a perfect match. By teasing my hair into round shape, adding lots of mascara, blue eyeshadow and a paler coral lip, I get that iconic 1960’s look. (Although you can’t really see my makeup in the picture.) A bouffant or beehive hairstyle would also be classic 1960’s, and false eyelashes would be perfect touch for the wide-open eye makeup style of the era.

1940's style picnic outfit

For the last set I have this navy gingham pinafore dress. (Originally this dress was a horrific 1980’s baggy housedress that I refashioned into a pinafore.)

Pinafore dresses were quite a popular style in the 1940’s and the slimmer gathered dirndl skirt on this one suits the style of the 40’s “make do and mend” better than the 50’s pinafores, which usually had fuller skirts. Peasant style tops were also very popular in the 40’s, or as an alternative, you could wear a short sleeved collared shirt. A large stiff-brimmed straw sunhat, a small straw handbag, and white peep toe heels coordinate perfectly. Again, I have rather minimal eye makeup and a tawny coloured lipstick. All ready to go on a summer picnic; 1940’s style!

1970's inspired sundress outfit

And now for something completely different, I have this 1970’s outfit. Gingham was very popular in the 1970’s too, and pinafores swung back into style, with the resurgence of the romantic, prairie girl look. Pairing the pinafore with a sleeveless tie-neck blouse makes the pinafore looks like a summer sundress. As headscarves were another popular style of the era, I have tied a scarf on my hair, and topped it with a floppy sunhat. The floppy soft brim of this hat makes this outfit so different than the 40’s look with the straight brimmed hat. Large hoop earrings, a patchwork bag with wooden handles, and a stack of gold bracelets give a boho look. And of course no 1970’s look would be complete without platforms- chunky wooden heels are perfect for the 70’s!  For makeup, I have switched to a lighter pink lipstick, darker eyeliner and soft light blue eyeshadow.

So, there you can see how I took three different starting points, and simply by switching the accessories, was able to turn three outfits into six different vintage style outfits. (You can also see that the 1940’s is a very easy era to replicate, as I ended up with three different 1940’s looks!)

Obviously we restyle our pieces all the time , but it is easy to fall into a style rut and always grab the same things over and over. I hope this has given you some inspiration, and that you can look at your wardrobe with fresh eyes to see what you can do to switch it up. If you are just really bored with your wardrobe, because you have worn everything in it a million times, then perhaps all you need to do is change your hat, add some gloves, or try a new makeup style. And, if you want to play with your style, the next time you think, “I wish I could do the 20’s or the 40’s or the 60’s etc”, all you might need to do is pair different accessories with the clothes you already own.

There is no need to commit to only one era. Fashion is really so much fun, and there are so many great vintage styles out there, so I hope this can inspire you to have fun choosing what to wear, and accessorize with each day!

1920's Inspired outfit

Strawberries and Sundresses

strawberry season, feature image

Summer is out in full force, which means that the garden is growing nicely, we’re beginning to harvest already… and I am ready for falltime! I am definitely not a summer person; when the temperatures start rising, I start looking for a cool, dark place to hide.

picking strawberries

Anyways, I mentioned in one of my previous posts, that I was really starting to run out of clothing to wear for casual days at home, and with the advent of summer, I was really lacking on clothes to wear for these hot summer days. This fabric has been sitting in the stash literally ever since I was a child-  my mom received it from my aunt when I was little. I had always planned on making a long, dirndl style dress with it. I envisioned something like Molly’s blue dress from “Wives & Daughters”. Well, after about five years of that plan, I decided it was about time to sew the fabric up, and into something I could actually use and wear “now”. A peasant style dress is one of the easiest styles of dresses to make, and is so perfect for hot days, especially when it’s made out a lightweight chambray like this, so after managing to squeeze all of the pattern pieces onto the fabric I had (with only a few small scraps left over) I went ahead with the plan.

vintage colander filled with berries

harvesting strawberries

This dress is made off of a pattern from an old dress I had.  I have made it before like this, but this time around I wanted to try and make it similar in style to this dress I used to have (sadly the fabric on that one wore out). I at first sewed up the dress with a drawstring waistband, with the idea that it could be loosened or tightened for comfort. Well…that didn’t turn out so well. It ended up veeerrry frumpy, and the shape it gave was certainly not an elegant “Jane Austen heroine” one. So, I had to take it back apart and then, after tossing about several ideas, settled on putting in a waistband, but sewing elastic channels in the back to give it a shirred look. This ended up with exactly the shape I wanted. It fits perfectly and the little bit of elastic makes it super comfortable! The dress pulls on over the head, and the neckline is gathered with a drawstring, rather than elastic, for a more historical look. I’m quite pleased with how it turned out, and I definitely plan on making up another version of this dress. I’ll just plan to put a waistband in rather than try something new, next time. If it works, don’t try to reinvent it right?

back detail of peasant dress

Of course, when your new dress is covered with a pattern of strawberry vines, you have to take photos of it in the strawberry patch!

We’ve had a lovely abundance of berries this year, though we’ve lost some some to the voles, and some to mould (because we’ve had so much rain this year). But, there have definitely been enough for treats and fresh eating, and even some to freeze for winter- aren’t fresh strawberries in July the best?

How has your summer been so far? Do you have a garden; either a plot or a pot? What do you like to wear during the summer?

holding vintage colander of berries in the garden

handful of strawberries

strawberry picking

in the strawberry garden

picking berries

walking in the garden

bowl of berries

Days Like These

sitting and looking out of the window

I think we can all agree that 2020 hasn’t really turned out the way any of us thought it would. When we celebrated the return of the “Roaring 20’s”, on New Year’s Eve, I don’t think this was quite the kind of turbulence we were anticipating.

It’s been a rather strange year so far for me in other ways too; losing one of my jobs (before the pandemic even came into view), switching to working only at my work-from-home job, moving out of my apartment and back to the country with my family, and then, of course, the pandemic which put a stop to everything else….and here we are already in June. My lifestyle has dramatically changed in the past six months.

It’s been a bit of a strange time fashion wise too, switching from a job where I worked in a boutique and wanted to look put together every day (of course with my own vintage twist!) to now working strictly from home, at a desk job. I’ve always loved fashion, so curating a “work/social” wardrobe over the past couple of years was a lot of fun, but now with the pandemic putting a halt on going out in public, I really have had no reason to wear many of those clothes, except for my own enjoyment. Most of my days for the past few months have been spent at home; this is a situation I am sure many of us have found ourselves in this year?

at home outfit details and houseplants

I was scheduled for a haircut back in March, but my hairdresser closed their salon one day before my appointment…so it’s now been 4 months without a cut or colour. (In hindsight, choosing to go platinum blonde in February was not a timely decision.) Not getting my hair touched up has definitely saved money, and it’s not as though anyone is seeing my grow-out line, but all I really care about is getting a good haircut! It’s grown so long and uneven that even styling it can’t fix it!

All this to say…it has been a challenge some days wanting to look nice while at home, but then not having a lot to wear that is practical, comfortable and stylish. A lot of my everyday clothing had started getting really worn out (un-mendable holes etc) and with all the shops sadly closed up, I haven’t been able to fill those gaps in my wardrobe. The result has been quite a few boring and repeat outfits over the past few months.

I’ve also realized that I am quite lazy when it comes to dressing for myself. Even though I could wear my dressy clothes at home, I apparently don’t want to, which is a rather ironic thing for a fashion blogger to say, isn’t it?

Upon further thought, though, I think the problem is not so much that I don’t want to dress up, but that I don’t have a lot of clothes that are good for the kind of life I am now living day to day. I don’t like days when I don’t dress nicely, as they always feel unproductive and messy, but it’s been a bit hard getting out of that rut. Its kind of crazy how much of an impact your clothing can have on your outlook, isn’t it?

days at home, polka dot plant

I suppose one good thing that has come out of this period at home, though, is that I have had the time to do a really good evaluation of what is working well in my wardrobe, and what is not. I’ve been meaning to go through the book “The Curated Closet” for while, and decided that this was as good a time as ever, especially considering the drastic change in my lifestyle. I have been taking the time to evaluate why I don’t wear some of the items in my closet, what pieces I do really like and what styles I need more of.

I’m realizing the need to evolve my closet into something that suits how I actually spend most of my days- not how I wish I was spending most of my days. As much fun as dressing up to work in the boutique was, I need to be dressing for my life at home now, and comfort is really key for me. I don’t want to look like a mess, but I also don’t want to wear clothing that is too fussy or precious. I have been working on creating a more defined vision of personal style that suits my lifestyle, and hopefully I’ll have more to share on the process I went through in the next while.

Anyways, things are starting to open again. Here in Alberta, we are three weeks into our reopening. I am so thankful to live where I do, since we have not seen the numbers of cases that other places have seen. (In the area I live in, there has been zero cases of COVID.) Hopefully I will be able to get out and do a bit of clothing shopping soon, to fill in those holes in my wardrobe. And I’ve finally got a hair appointment this week, so this is the last time you’ll see my hair this long (thankfully!)

Even though my wardrobe isn’t at a place at the moment that I find particularly exciting, I wanted to take a moment to document these days, before everything changes again.

How has your lifestyle and wardrobe evolved in the past few months? Have you kept things relatively the same, dressing as you always have, or have you had to make some changes? Do you dress differently at home than you do out of the home? What are your thoughts on dressing up for your everyday?

sitting and looking out of the window

naked sage moonstone earrings

Earrings by Naked Sage Jewellery

reading a book

Florals for Spring, From my Fashion Scrapbook

This is from a wedding magazine, but I would love to wear a floral headpiece like this for other occasions too! Isn’t it beautiful?

Florals for Spring may not be “groundbreaking” according to Miranda Priestly, but no matter how cliché they may be, isn’t there something so nice about reflecting the changing of the seasons in your clothing choices?

I think that Spring is the most anticipated wardrobe change of the year, since it is such a dramatic departure from winter clothing. After a long, cold winter, there really is nothing as lovely as wearing your floral pieces!

I do, of course, wear florals all year round, but even so, it is still nice to be “seasonally appropriate” from time to time.

After taking a look through this scrapbook the other day, I thought that it would be nice to share some of my favourite floral and Spring themed magazine tear-sheets with you all!

It’s at times like this, that I miss living in town, because my bicycle, sadly, isn’t meant for country roads!

I love the photography, and this jumpsuit, from this page from an old Free People catalogue.

I do love a good clashing pattern, like on the left. And that skirt on the right is all of my Spring/Summer dreams come to life.

This one was from a Vogue article about “how to wear Vintage”. I like the updated take on the classic 1950’s silhouette (though I didn’t agree with all of their “advice”!)

Another lovely image from this spread…

And another gorgeous Free People image. I’ve never actually worn a flower crown…but I’m beginning to think that it is a must-have Spring accessory!

One of my favourite ads, above! The retro, pastel colour palette is just so fun.

Which of these images is your favourite? Are you an all-year-round florals person, or do you wear them only for warm weather?