Here is my number one tip for dressing in the wintertime, once it gets very cold outside:
Put on whatever you feel like wearing.
For the past few weeks, over Christmas and New Years, and up until this week, here in Canada we’ve been in a deep freeze (-39 C for a few days!). It’s made going anywhere, dressing up and, above all, taking photos extremely bothersome! So, what do you do when the whether won’t cooperate? Dress up in your most favourite 1970’s dress, complete with the glasses your mother wore when she was a teenage, and do a 70’s inspired photoshoot on your very of-the-era 1970’s sofa (inherited from your Grandparents) of course!
This is one of my favourite dresses, but as it is made out of the preferred material of the era (polyester) it is much too hot for me to wear, so I was happy for an excuse to dress up in it, if even only for a couple of hours. I enjoyed the process of doing a “dress up/costume” photoshoot, so I think that I should do that a bit more often.
Do you like to dress up in clothes you wouldn’t wear any other time? What styles do you like, but don’t actually wear day-to-day? And, most importantly, can you stand to wear polyester (or other synthetic) fabrics without overheating?!?
Now that it’s the Christmas season, it is time to start dressing for the occasion. (OK, it’s been the Christmas season for a while, I’m just kind of late at getting a holiday post up). But how do you dress for the holidays when when you don’t own “Christmas” clothing, or you just don’t like wearing novelty prints of Christmas trees? I’m all for a festively, kitschy holiday outfit. . . on other vintage loving gals, but it’s just not for me. However, I do love to dress for the season. So how do you dress for the season, when you don’t want to wear poinsettia dresses, red is not your best colour, or you don’t want a wardrobe full of themed items that can only be worn at certain times of the year?
My go-to solution for dressing for the holidays, whether it’s Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentines, or Family Day (wait- no- you don’t really dress up for Family Day. . . ) is to take a regular outfit, add different accessories to it, and thus turn it into a holiday outfit. For example, at Christmastime, take a whole bunch of gold bling and sparkly jewellery, and voila! With a few changes, it’s suddenly a holiday outfit!
I wore this exact same outfit last week, minus all the gold, and it looked like a regular old unholidayish dress. But taking the same basic pieces: a striped dress, a black bolero, black tights and black pumps and then restyling them with a gold belt and clutch, metallic gold nail polish, sparkly eyeshadow, and sparkly rhinestone jewellery made it suddenly seem more festive. Making those few changes made it the perfect thing to wear to the Christmas lunch at our church.
I’ve also worn this dress in the springtime, here, and the accessories I paired that time made it look the farthest thing from Christmas you could think of. Imagine if I had paired this dress with spider jewellery, a veiled hat, and a velvet jacket- suddenly it would look perfect for Halloween. Accessories really are a girl’s best friend- a few key pieces can completely change the look of your outfit to suit whichever holiday you are going for.
So, if you aren’t into outfits that scream “CHRISTMAS!!!!”, but you do want to add a bit of a festive touch, accessories are where it’s at.
Here are some more ways to add a bit of holiday cheer to your outfit:
Wear a bow in your hair. It’s like dressing up as a present. . . only more subtle. 😉
Plaid is the perfect Christmas material because it has nothing to do with Christmas, and yet it looks so festive when worn this time of year. And you can wear it any other season, and it looks lovely- I’m all for fabrics that do double duty.
Wear darker hued shades of “Christmas colours”. Instead of wearing bright red and green, try jewel tones like burgundy and emerald. Rich colours like navy blue can look very winter appropriate too, with some silver jewellery added, for example.
Christmas jewellery adds a festive touch, but is a bit more understated than a Christmas dress. And, it doesn’t take up tons of space, so collecting Christmas earrings and brooches doesn’t take up your entire wardrobe, but adds a nice festive touch.
‘Tis the season for rich and sumptuous fabrics like velvet and taffeta. They are great for both Christmas, and also New Years, and as most people don’t get the opportunity to wear them year round, it’s time to bust them out of the closet!
As I said before: gold and sparkles is where it’s at. In a society where people are more likely to have ugly sweater parties, I say- bring on the glam and the glitz! Any excuse to break out the cocktail dresses is good by me.
So, do you like going all out dressing for the season? Or do you like your Christmas outfits to be a bit more subtle? Or maybe you don’t dress for the holidays at all? Do you have any other holiday outfit tips?
ps. This is the same vintage Laura Ashley bolero from last week– and here you can see the fabric better!
The pleasant surprise I alluded to in the title of this post was not the weather when these photos were taken. If you look closely, you might see a hint of that evidenced by my red hands and nose, and less than relaxed posture. Very much unlike the morning when I got dressed and chose this outfit, by the time we took these photos later that afternoon, a very cold and piercing wind had come up, which made it quite difficult to “act natural”. It’s a bit of a trial to get photos in wintertime. . . but for the sake of the blog, warmth and comfort must come second!
No, the pleasant surprise in this outfit, is my thrifted bolero. I have talked about it many times before, but thrifting really is my favourite way to add unique garments to my wardrobe, and this bolero is no exception. I got it a few months ago at our local thrift store. That secondhand store is a bit of a hit and miss, like most thrift shops in small towns I would guess, as sometimes you come across a real gem, and the rest of the time it’s all 1980’s prom dresses and polyester cardigans. This particular time though, I found this “thrifting treasure” and I didn’t even realize that it was one until I went to wear it a couple of weeks ago. The thrift store price tag was completely covering the label, so it wasn’t until I took the tag off, that I realized that this is a vintage Laura Ashley garment, made in Great Britain! It’s made of 100% cotton, and is also fully lined with cotton. All of the seams are encased, and the edge is finished with piping- it really is a beautiful piece of garment workmanship. And, I didn’t even pay very close attention to it that day as I was a bit in a hurry, and just grabbed it and went! I guess it to be from the 1980’s, because of the style and print, and a quick comparison at labels online also puts it right in the middle of the 1980’s. It’s a bit hard to see in the photos, because black is simply impossible, but it is a floral damask print of solid black over a sparkly lighter black base. Like I said- 1980’s! Some people might not date that as “vintage”, but the majority of my vintage is from the 80’s as it was a great era of making reproductions of earlier styles. (Some good, and some very bad!) And, Laura Ashley is a company that made items that hearkened back to earlier eras, right from day one. (You can read their history here).
So, the moral of my story today is: go thrifting, because you never know what you might come across. And, second, check the labels more closely, because you might have a very pleasant surprise!
Have you ever had a pleasant surprise while thrifting? What was it you found? And do you struggle with getting photos in the cold and dark wintertime?
The majority of vintage wearers have, in their lifetime of wearing vintage, experienced various reactions from members of the general public. Sometimes these reactions can be simply genuine curiosity at an obviously different fashion choice, and sometimes, unfortunately, it can be negative. Probably one of the most universally asked questions, is “Are you wearing a costume?” or something to that effect. In my case (several years ago) it was, “So you are dressed like this . . . why?” – implying that there had to be some kind of external reason as to why I was wearing that 1950’s hat, fur collar, wool coat and high heeled pumps.
My answer: “Because I like it.”
Many people seem to think that anyone who dresses outside of the societal norm, simply must be wearing a costume. Someone wouldn’t be wearing a hat and gloves and a dress like, for real, would they?
I’ve been thinking about this lately, and trying to figure out my thoughts about it. I would suggest that, while I don’t really like the term “costume”, to some extent, anyone who dresses outside of the mainstream, is in fact putting on some sort of specific persona. It is easy to dress in the fashions of the day (look in every store and you’ll find some kind of iteration of the trends) but it is a conscious choice to dress differently than every one else. Whether you are wearing vintage style, goth, rockabilly or any other alternative style, you are saying something about yourself to those who see you.
So what is the difference between dressing in a so called “alternative style” or wearing a costume anyways?
After much thought (OK actually not that much thought, but some discussion with my mom!), I think it all comes down to your reason for wearing it.
How we choose to dress, tells a story about us. Your clothes can tell people, “I’m a rebel”, “I want to blend in”, “I want to be different” or even simply “I like old stuff”.
If someone were to look at me, they might not be surprised to learn that I also like classic novels, painting, antique furniture and old houses. My clothing has given them a glimpse into what kind of person I am; or at least the image that I want to present to the world.
Choosing to dress differently does raise questions, though, and like I said the most common one is, why are you wearing a costume?
A costume is something that is worn for a specific purpose, for a specific time and place, and it is not worn, usually, outside of that event. It is not a reflection of the person who wears it, because the person who is wearing it, has put on a mask, either literally or figuratively.
Wearing vintage, or another alternative style, though, is a lifestyle. At least it is for me, and many others. The decision to wear vintage style, as your “regular” clothes changes it from being a costume that you put on only at certain times, to being an expression of your own style personality. You don’t have to wear vintage 24/7 either, in order for it to not be a costume for you. While it might be a putting on of a persona, it is also a reflection of your own style and personality. To those people who question you, it is a costume to them, because they can’t imagine themselves wearing it; it is foreign and uncommon. To many people it is unheard of that these could be your “real” and “normal” clothes. (But, what is normal anyways?)
When I, and many others, wear vintage styles we are not just trying to be different. There are plenty of styles I could wear that would achieve the same purpose, but would definitely not be “me”. Wearing Steampunk is probably very fun- but it’s not something I would personally choose to do!
And you know what? I sometimes put together an outfit which I think looks great in my head, and doesn’t really come out that way when I wear it. Something is just not right with it, and so it does end up feeling a bit like a costume. This outfit here is one example of an outfit that came out as just too much. To me personally, I would like to stress. Even though others might think, “that’s so you- it’s got a vintage touch, pearls and a hat”- to me, this was a costume.
I look at this outfit, and I know that I was playing dress up. (Which I was; we just wanted to experiment with taking photos in this location, so I grabbed a few things and threw them on) I would never wear this outfit in real life; the twill trousers are far too casual to be wearing with this hat and blouse, and the hat doesn’t go with anything. If I were to tweak this into an actual outfit, I would pair the blouse with navy blue wool trousers or a skirt, my camel coloured blazer to coordinate with the hat, and I would probably take off the long strings of pearls replacing them with a single strand. That’s just me. Someone else might wear this, and they’d love it!
Ultimately, each person must decide for themselves what the line is between “different” and “costume”. Fashion is supposed to be fun, so if you feel like wearing a costume out and about, there’s no one stopping you! Sometimes you just want to dress up! But, if you are trying to determine whether something is clothing for you or whether it’s a costume, here are some questions you could ask yourself:
Do you feel more confident wearing this outfit?
Are you constantly thinking about what people are thinking about your outfit? I’m not talking about shyness, and sometimes feeling a little awkward because you look different. I mean: are you completely uncomfortable because all you can think about is what other people are thinking of your outfit?
Are you absorbed with your outfit and fussing with it constantly? Aka- you don’t actually feel comfortable wearing it. Once you put on an outfit, you should not be preoccupied with it, if it’s just clothes.
Is it an expression of things that you like? Or are you wearing it simply because it’s “vintage”, but not because you actually like it?
Are you just waiting for the moment you can get home and change into something else?
Are you drawn to a certain era or style, but this outfit is just too much? For example, someone might wear 1920’s styles, but they might not dress completely like a flapper with a headband, pearls, fringed dress and all.
Do you enjoy wearing this? Is it fun for you? Is it the right expression of your personality? For the same reason I wouldn’t dress goth, you might not want to dress a certain way either.
Well, I hope that these thoughts may have helped you to think through what defines costume vs. style for you.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this- have you ever been asked if you were wearing a costume?
What do you think is the difference between wearing a costume or just regular clothes?
Well, that turned into an unexpectedly long absence. I didn’t intend to take two weeks off, but here I am again! A few things have changed since my last post, two weeks ago. I have moved and am now settled into my new home… I have turned another year older… The leaves are mostly gone now, and it has tried to snow several times… and I’m sure there are other things, but I can’t think of any others. 🙂
Anyways, here I am today with an outfit post- I have been itching to get some Fall outfit photos for the blog, but seriously every time I try, something goes wrong- mainly the weather not cooperating. For someone whose favourite season is Autumn, it has not been a very good one, so far. We’ve only had a few pleasant days, and many bitterly cold ones. Finally my sister and I were able to go out last weekend (on my birthday) for some outfit photos. As the title suggests, it was very windy the day these were taken. And cold. And raining. And trying to snow. But- we persevered and I finally got my Fall photos- although they are nothing like the cheery photos from last year!
This year, my seasonal “uniform” is this coat, I think. You never get to see my autumnal hued outfit underneath, because it is too cold to not wear a coat. At least I do have a vintage styled coat- and scarves always make everything a bit more cozy, right?
Actually, this outfit is full of my favourite seasonal “must haves”:
1. Trenchcoat– keeps you warm and dry whatever the weather is trying to do.
2. Scarf– preferably a big, soft and cozy one!
3. Tights– got to keep warm!
4. Cognac coloured leather– warm tones are always nice for this season.
5. Brogues/ Oxfords– something about this style of shoe seems especially appropriate to autumn, doesn’t it?
Some of my other falltime favourites would be: my dresses made of rayon and wool fabrics, anything in mustard yellow, boots, cardigans and a beret.
Any combination of these items and you are sure to have a fairly autumnal themed ensemble 🙂
Well, I’ll stop rambling now. I hope your Fall (or Spring!) season has been a lovely one wherever you are, and that it has been infinitely better (weather wise) than mine has.
Do you like dressing for Falltime? What are some of your seasonal staples?