vintage style

The Last Plaid Skirt

tan, black and cream 1/2 circle skirt paired with a black sweater, beret and boots

Did I say, when I finished sewing this skirt, that this would be the last plaid skirt I ever sewed? Yes.

Is this the last plaid skirt I will ever sew? Probably not.

tan, black and cream plaid skirt with diagonal pattern matching

I can’t help it- I just love plaid! Despite being the worst pattern, aside from stripes, to work with, I always love the finished result, so I’m sure when the memory of sewing this project fades, I’ll pull out another lovely piece and naively start a new project. Tears or rage shall ensue while sewing, but in the end they, hopefully turn to tears of joy when the project is finished and hanging in my closet.

plaid skirt side view, paired with a black top, beret and fur edged boots

So, yes, this is my latest sewing project. I mentioned it a while ago in this post. Several years ago I purchased a reversible plaid pleated skirt from the thrift store. It wasn’t in the best of condition, with a few stains scattered throughout, and a hole in the waistband, but I knew I could take it apart and use the wool for a new project. (I got this idea from American Duchess years ago!) I’ve discovered over the past few years that I really like 1/2 or 3/4 circle skirts, and there was just enough fabric to squeeze a 1/2 circle skirt out of it with four panels. I was able to line up the side seams on the diagonal, but not along the dominant, black line, so I put the straight line on the front and the diagonal seams on the sides. Another thing I’ve learned about sewing plaid is that while I am sewing it, I notice every seam, but once it’s finished, I don’t notice any “wonkiness” as much. While I, of course, try my best (even including hand stitching the front and back seam and zipper in place to ensure the lines were straight), once I’ve finished, I have to come to a point of saying, “That’s not just good, it’s good enough.”

grandmother's buttons mother of pearl monogram necklace

tan, black and cream plaid half circle skirt paired with ankle boots, a beret and a leather tote bag

In other news, I mentioned in this post that I was on the lookout for a leather tote bag- and I found one! I got it on Poshmark (about 10 minutes after the person listed it, strangely enough) for a great price, and it’s just about perfect. The size is excellent for holding everything I need when I go to church, and I really like the pebbled leather finish since it’s not too rustic. The only thing I’d change is if it was a bit more brown/cognac and less orange, to pair with my shoes and boots, but that’s not a big deal.

leather tote bag made in italy

I’m glad I finished this skirt in time to have a chance to wear it this season, before the weather turns completely into Springtime. Even though the calendar may say we are officially in Spring, we might get a bit more Winter yet. It’s wonderfully warm right now, though, and the snow is melting fast. I won’t pack away all of my woollens quite yet, but have started transitioning my closet in anticipation.

Happy Spring everyone!

large faux pearl headed hatpin

leather tote bag paired with a plaid skirt and black beret and boots

holding leather tote bag paired with a vintage style plaid skirt

back of plaid 1/2 circle skirt

Slow Shopping | My Wardrobe Wishlist

items of clothing on my wishlist

When you actively avoid fast fashion and take your time curating a wardrobe you love, with that comes, well, lots of wait time. And while the thought of quickly adding all of the things you want to your closet in one fell swoop is a nice idea, it’s not feasible or realistic for most people. And even if one doesn’t have budgetary constraints, I actually wouldn’t recommend “fast shopping”. Taking time to evaluate your closet and find the gaps means you can avoid making hasty purchases you’ll regret. Most of the items I end up decluttering from my closet are things I bought hastily without forethought as to how they would work with the rest of my wardrobe. To help keep my shopping on track, I keep a list (both mental and physical) of things to look for. This doesn’t mean I never buy things that aren’t on the list, especially when I’m thrifting, but it keeps me from ending up with purchases that won’t get a lot of use.

Here are some of the things I’ve been on the lookout for. Most of them I am looking in the secondhand market on Poshmark or in consignment and thrift stores, and some of them I would purchase new if I found them. Some of these items have been on my wish list for years, as things that would be nice to have “one day”, and some of them are things I’d like to find sooner rather than later and are relatively new to the list.

leopard printed fur coats

Leopard printed fur coat

This first one is a kind of “holy grail” item for me. I would love to get a vintage leopard patterned coat, but I want it to be in the same shape as my astrakhan, a boxy 60’s style, with a stiff feeling to it rather than pouffy fluffiness. I don’t know if I’ll ever come across an item like this, but it would be nice and I like to dream!

classic brown leather tote bags

Classic leather tote bag

This is something I’ve been thinking about since autumn. For summer I have a couple of larger straw bags that are perfect for toting items around in. However, I can’t use those in winter, and I don’t have a good cold season version. I’m currently using a canvas tote bag, which works perfectly fine, but I would love to find a nice, classic, simple leather tote, preferably in a pretty brown or cognac colour. I want one big enough to fit my water bottle, wallet, phone and Bible.

brown and navy coloured high heeled shoes

Brown + navy classic heels

I have a lot of black shoes, especially high heels, which is strange for someone who doesn’t wear heels regularly! I purchased most of them over 10 years ago though, so even though I don’t wear them as often, they are still worth keeping.

However, even though I do have so many pairs of shoes, I have a few gaps and a pair of classic brown pumps is one of them. Since I’ve changed my closet neutral to brown, I sometimes wish I had a pair of classic brown shoes, preferably a low heel for comfort. I am also looking for navy leather heels since the vintage navy peep toes I’ve had for over 10 years finally wore out. I replaced them with a pair of secondhand ones, but they are one size too large, so while I can still wear them, they aren’t as comfortable. I am searching for both of these secondhand since I won’t wear them very often and don’t want to invest a huge amount into them.

a collection of green and taupe trenchcoats

A lightweight coat in light taupe or green

I love my black Hell Bunny trench coat and wear it all year long, however, black isn’t my neutral, so it doesn’t always go with everything I wear. I also have a blush pink coat, but it also doesn’t go with everything else in my closet…thus I’d love to get either a light taupe or khaki green coloured lightweight coat. I think either or those colours would be a bit more “neutral”  and would coordinate with more items in my wardrobe. I’d also like a princess cut, which is tricky to find, so this might be one I end up sewing myself. We’ll see….

Pearl and gold dainty necklace

Dainty necklaces are a newer trend, and they are one I really like! I’m really drawn to the simplicity of a single pearl on a chain, so I’ve been specifically looking for one like that. After a mishap where I purchased a necklace and was sent a bracelet instead (which I was able to return) I am still on the lookout for the perfect one.

dainty pearl and gold pendant necklaces and cocktail watches

Watch

The other “jewelry” piece I am looking for is a watch. I don’t like to have to look at my phone all the time when I am out to see what the time is, so a watch would be lovely. I used to wear one, and I miss it. I like cocktail/bracelet watches that are dainty and I do have two vintage mechanical watches from my Gramma, but both are broken. I need to take them in for repair, but since that can be costly, I am weighing whether I want to do that, or look for a different watch that is already functional. This one remains to be determined…

Brown gloves

All of my gloves are black so, again, when I wear a very brown toned outfit, they don’t coordinate. I’d have preferred to get brown dress wool gloves, but I haven’t been able to find any. I will probably get leather gloves, but I need to try them on to make sure they fit well (not all leather gloves are equal).

brown gloves and belts

Brown leather belt

A classic, skinny, brown leather belt with a brass buckle is another item I’ve been searching for. It is also very hard to find since many stores carry only faux leather, black, or embellished belts and I want a plain one.

blush and taupe coloured tops

Taupe and blush pink tops

I recently added a mid-pink turtleneck sweater to my closet, and realized how nice it is to have some more colour in my winter closet! I am now on the lookout for a couple more tops in blush and taupe. I think they would add some lightness to my closet amidst all the dark greens, browns and blacks. And, come summer, those colours would also work well.

ballet flats in brown and tan

Ballet Flats

I have a pair of tan coloured Vionic ballet flats that I love. However, I’ve probably only got another year, or maybe two before they are going to wear out, so I am already on the lookout for a replacement pair. I’ve got hard-to-fit feet, so that’s why I’m starting early! I’m interested in trying out Vivaia since I’ve heard their stretchiness makes them easier to fit.

Well, those are a few of the items on my “wish list”.

What are you on the lookout for? Do you keep a list, or just tend to get things as you see them?

A Fashion Moment With (1959) American Thread Company: Easy Fall Knitwear

Easy to Make fashions Star Book 149 front cover on a knitted background

We’ve been enjoying a beautiful long fall, with warm temperatures for most of the past month, but in the last few days it’s dropped and that wind is cold in the mornings. I’ve still been wearing my summer wrap skirts and short sleeved tops, albeit with a coat on top, but these last few days have put me in the mood for cozy knits. And what better way to get in the mood for colder weather than some good vintage knitwear! Today I’ve got the 1959 “Easy to Make Fashions for the North, South, East, West” by American Thread Company, Star Book No. 149.

cropped cardigan with velcro fastening for collar

First up this lovely cropped cardigan. I will take one each in black, brown, camel, sage, rose and navy please. Interestingly, this one features a detachable collar, fastened with Velcro, which was still extremely new at this point, having been invented only a few years before in 1954.

vintage long cardigan coat

On the other end of the spectrum is the long cardigan, which can be made to any length you like. I love this late 50’s look, where the styles held onto some of that 50’s glamour, but had loosened up a bit.

two vintage cardigans

Now for two lovely cardigans…and I have cropped the models faces out of the images because whoever owned this pattern book thought it was a good idea to draw their faces with a blue pen! The cardigan on the left reminds me of Welsh knitwear designs- it’s so intricate!

his and hers cardigans and pullover knitwear

Now for some his and hers pieces!

vintage easy to make fashions Star book 149 knitwear

yellow vintage cardigan from American Thread Company

I love this yellow one, it’s like an upscale version of a hoodie.

looped and fringed sweater and toque from American Thread Company

This is my go to winter look- well not with that toque! But I love tucking a pullover sweater into a skirt, especially a cute plaid one like that.

And lastly two beautiful stoles!

Which vintage knitwear pieces are your favourites? Are you looking forward to sweater weather again, or would you prefer that the temperatures stayed warm a while longer?

knitted stole from Star Book 149

Now That It’s Spring | Capsule Wardrobe Part 2

wearing a houndstooth patterned brown winter skirt paired with a black sweater, black mary jane shoes, a floral preserved necklace standing outside in front of a pine tree

So now that it’s spring… here’s an outfit from my winter capsule wardrobe! I’ve been meaning to get a photo of this skirt ever since I sewed it last fall, but here we are already in April. I figured I had better post this outfit before Easter at least!

I sewed this skirt along with this plaid one, last fall to create a “capsule wardrobe” of sorts. I absolutely loved my wardrobe this past season, and I’m kind of sad to have to start packing winter items away, switching them for spring and summer items. Although, I am happy to have warmer days ahead!

wearing a black 3/4 length sleeve sweater and a brown houndstooth patterned circle skirt

houndstooth skirt detail

I bought a bunch of this brown and black houndstooth fabric more than ten years ago with the intention of making a 1950’s suit. I didn’t feel confident at the time to sew a suit jacket though, and as it turns out, it was just as well that I didn’t go to the time and effort to do that. While I absolutely love the pattern and colour of this fabric, I would never buy it today. It’s synthetic, with an elastane woven through it, which made it terrible to sew without puckering (imagine trying to sew a collar!) and sadly, even though I only wore it for one season, it’s already pilling. I’m going to see if I can rescue this skirt with a shaver, because it’s been a great piece for my wardrobe since it coordinates so well with other pieces in my closet. It’s got a bit of a greenish undertone to it, which doesn’t come through in the photos at all, so it doesn’t work with most of my other browns, but I love how it looks with black, and it also pairs nicely with the antique brass of this necklace.

tanjay sweater with french knot detail and a pressed flower necklace

This sweater was a recent thrift store fine (one of those rare occasions when you find a whole bunch of beautiful pieces to bring home!) and I’ve already worn it a few times because it’s so lovely. It’s by the brand Tanjay, which I always think of as a “mature” brand, but the best thing about buying pieces from those sorts of brands is that they tend to be good quality, and not “fast fashion”. This one has a beautiful french knot detail across the front…this would be a lovely way to spruce up a plain sweater, wouldn’t it?

Well, that’s pretty much all I have to share for this outfit. I’ve been wearing a lot of these simpler, pared back outfits..not even adding in a hat. As much as I love accessories, it’s been a nice change.

We’ve still got lots of snow cover, as you can see, so I’ll be wearing these cool weather clothes for a while yet, but I’ve already started on some new summer sewing projects in anticipation of warmer days!

ps. if you notice that in all of the photos I am looking at the ground or squinting, that’s because it was so incredibly bright out! 

wearing a black and brown houndstooth circle skirt and black sweater with a pressed flower necklace and mary jane shoes standing outside in front of a pine tree

black and brown houndstooth sweater paired with mary jane shoes

10 Chic Wardrobe Essentials For Every Woman

a navy blue cotton dress and several t-shirts and sweaters hanging on vintage wooden hangers in a closet

There are so many articles out there, each claiming that you need “these 10 wardrobe essentials” in your closet to make you a stylish and well put together lady, but that usually doesn’t work out the way they claim. While I do think there are a lot of pieces out there that will add value to your closet, the details might look different for each person both in terms of personal style, and body type and what suits one woman, may not the next. That being said, I think there are a lot of pieces that in general can be useful for everyone, and when thinking about capsule wardrobes and my post about 10 pieces I still love after 10 years etc. I started compiling this list of 10 chic wardrobe essentials I think every one could use in their closet, curated and personalized to each individual of course. If you are looking to level up your personal style in 2023, then I hope this list can help! I made it a bit more open ended in order to help inspire your wardrobe, rather than stifling it.

a tan neutral circle skirt paired with different tops for a completely different look- a great example of wardrobe essentials

A skirt in your “Neutral” colour

“Neutral” can mean different things for different wardrobes. For many women, black is their neutral simply because that is what is the most readily available. For me, I have chosen tan and brown as my neutral base to build my wardrobe off of, but I know of ladies who have chosen what would usually be considered an accent colour as their neutral. Whatever you have chosen as a “neutral” in your wardrobe, whether that’s navy, black, brown or even olive or blush, you should have at least one skirt in that colour. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a solid, but if it contains an element of this neutral tone, it will coordinate with a lot of other pieces in your wardrobe and give you a base to wear your statement tops and jewelry. A skirt in a neutral tone will easily mix and match with many other pieces in your closet, extending the variety in your wardrobe. And, of course, if you’re not a skirt person, then pants work just as well!

wardrobe essentials; sheer and opaque black tights

Black tights in both sheer and opaque

I used to wear a lot of coloured tights in the Winter, but in recent years I have gravitated towards black ones for a few reasons. First, they are classic and they will never go out of style. Secondly, they pair with so many things, unless as discussed above, you don’t have black in your closet. Black is not my neutral, brown is, and yet I find that black tights still pair well with so many of the pieces I wear, and they ground an outfit in a way that a coloured tight doesn’t. I switch between opaque and sheer finishes, depending on the outfit. Sometimes sheer black tights can look too dressy, and sometimes opaque can look too heavy, so it’s nice to have both options. Opaque tights pair nicely with black shoes, as they will give you a really nice long uninterrupted line. And, as with any colour of tights, you can wear them with a shorter skirt to either make it a bit more modest, or cold weather appropriate. I also often find that you can wear lighter summer weight pieces, paired with dark tights and they suddenly look more cold weather appropriate, so they can help to extend your wardrobe in that way too.

a simple a-line coat throughout the decades

A wool coat in a classic cut

Whether you choose a swing coat, a peacoat or an A-Line style, a wool coat in a classic silhouette won’t go out of style. Take this popular A-Line style of jacket-it’s been around since the 1900’s, changing pretty much only in length as the years go by. Of course some of the details and styling differ throughout the decades, some years it’s tighter, others looser, some years knee length, then hip length, then calf length, but even if you are wearing a different length than the current “look”, it still manages to look current. Look at the coats from 1940, 1970 and 2005; they are almost identical! The key to a good coat, is choosing a good quality wool. If you buy a coat with too high of a synthetic fibre content, not only will it not keep you very warm, but it won’t last. There’s just something about synthetic blends that tend to degrade and pill and look cheap over time in a way that wool doesn’t. (You can still get a wool blend, but try to get one where the natural fibres make up the majority of the fibre content, with only a small amount of synthetic.) If you invest in a good wool coat in a classic cut, it will last you forever. And by “invest” that doesn’t necessarily mean hundreds of dollars. (Although if you divide $400 over 10 years that cost breakdown is pretty good!) My wool coat is from the 1980’s, and it’s not even in a very classic cut (it’s a raglan sleeve) but I’ve had it for 10 winters now and it’s still in great condition. I bought it from a thrift store, which is getting harder to do these days, I realize, so if you can’t find a good one at the thrift shops, you may be able to find one at a consignment store or outlet store. My biggest takeaway is just to look at the fibre content.

coordinating leather shoes and purse in cognac brown

A coordinating set of leather shoes, bag and belt

While in recent years many people have eschewed matching accessories, having a set of matching shoes and bags is actually a great idea, and adding in a belt makes it even better. (Ladies from the past knew what they were doing!) If you create “sets” of coordinating pieces, you will always be able to finish off your outfit nicely, even if you don’t always wear each the pieces together.

While many women do own matching shoes and purses, adding a belt will make this combination even more versatile. Colours look better when they comes in threes, so this is a really easy way to do that. (The other option would be a hat in the same colour) When creating a set of accessories, you can choose whether you want to create a neutral combination or go for something bold with a pop of colour. I have a set of cognac brown accessories (they aren’t perfect match, but I don’t mind that bit of colour variation) and I wear those pieces all the time because they coordinate really well with the other pieces in my wardrobe. It’s a lot harder for me to wear some of my statement purses like my olive green or navy blue ones, because I have to be conscious of what shoes and garments to pair them with. When you have matching shoes, purse and bag, it makes it so much easier to create your base, and then you can add in statement pieces as a fun detail afterwards.

black mary jane high heels

A closed-toe pump or Mary Jane 

A classic style pump or Mary Jane heel will serve you well since a closed toe style can easily be worn in warm or cold weather. While we often gravitate to sandals or peep toe styles in the summer, a closed toe pump can often be worn without being too warm. And then, if you take that same shoe and add hosiery, they will work well for cold weather too. (well, not too cold of weather). I personally love the Mary Jane style of shoe, but a pump will give you the same amount of versatility.

background dress from a 1939 sears catalogue

A “Background” dress.

A “Background’ dress is a dress that is a one stop outfit. I saw this term used in the Sears catalogue from 1939, which reads, “What every woman wants! A really good dress with exquisite line and perfect fit. Smart enough to be lovely just as it is…or adaptable to accessory changes.” The junior version on the same page reads, “Superbly simple background dress that’s perfect when worn unadorned…and takes accessories with the greatest of ease! Wins you fame as the Girl who has Lots of Clothes without costing you lots of money!”

You don’t have to add anything to a background dress in order to make a complete outfit, but a background dress can be mixed and matched with plenty of accessories to create a whole new look. For example, my new navy dress can be worn all on it’s own for an entire outfit, but because of it’s simple design and colour palette, I can easily match it with other pieces from my wardrobe. I could add a belt and a cardigan for a new look, or instead wear some tights and a scarf and it’s an entirely different one. The key with a background dress is that it coordinates well with the items in your closet to give you maximum versatility. While I love skirts and tops, dresses are definitely one of the easiest things to wear as they are an outfit-in-one.

ivory silk scarf tied onto the handle of a navy blue purse

Silk scarf

A silk scarf is another one of my favourite “investment’ pieces. You don’t actually have to spend a lot on them, since you can often find them in thrift stores, and they are another versatile piece to add to your wardrobe. There are so many options to utilize silk scarves: as turbans and headbands, as a bow detail on a handbag, and of course as a scarf around your neck! There are tons of ways to tie scarves; I have a vintage book with all sorts of ways to tie scarves (I plan to share some of those here in the future). Not only can scarves add a certain pop to your outfit, but they will help to protect the collars of your coats from getting dirty so quickly, reducing the need to clean your coats as often. Of course, while silk is lovely, vintage nylon scarves are also great. I have a few vintage ones from the seventies in fun colours and patterns.

ivory knitted wool blanket scarf

Blanket scarf

On the other end of the spectrum from a silk scarf is a blanket scarf! Large blanket scarves came into popularity a few years ago and I think they are such a great piece to have if you live in a cold climate. They can add so much impact to your outfit, especially when paired with simpler outerwear. And not only do they add colour and drama to your outfit, they can double as a shawl/blanket if you don’t have a sweater. Of course, shawls have been around forever, so this is definitely one piece that will never go out of style! Blanket scarves come in a range of fabrics and styles, including knitted/crocheted or woven. I most commonly see wool and rayon fabrics in a wide range of colours and patterns. I personally have two extra large scarves; this ivory wool knitted one, and a black and tan geometric rayon one, and I am also on the lookout for a woven one in plaid that coordinates with the other colours in my wardrobe, while also adding some pattern and texture.

striped 60's style statement sunglasses

Statement sunglasses

Your sunglasses don’t necessarily have to be “statement” ones, but in my opinion as far as sunglasses go, you really can’t go too crazy. Whereas everyday, prescription glasses are usually a bit more neutral because you’re wearing them all the time, sunglasses are only worn out of doors (or whenever you want to be left alone!) so you can go big with them. I have these crazy cream and tortoise striped sunglasses and I LOVE them. When I got them, I wasn’t sure if they were “too much”, but they are so fun and I get a lot of compliments on them. If stripes or patterns aren’t your thing, you can of course go for a more traditional style such as aviators or cat eye but make sure that whatever you choose looks glam!

two wrap skirts

An adjustable skirt or dress

We all have those days when we feel bloated or sick, or the weather is +40 and a tight fitting garment just isn’t going to cut it. While loungewear is great for when you’re at home, when you need to leave the house, a wrap skirt or dress is a great option. I used to make all of my clothes with fixed waistbands, before realizing that sometimes you want to be comfortable, yet still stylish (aka. not wearing an elastic waistband). I made a few wrap skirts a couple of years ago, and I love them! You can easily tie them to the size needed, you’ll look great and you’ll feel great too. I don’t have any wrap dresses yet, but that’s on the list of things to sew…someday.

statement clutches- the bonus wardrobe essentials item

A statement clutch

And I added a bonus one to the list just for fun! They’re not really wardrobe essentials, but I do love a good statement clutch. We all have events to go to, whether it’s a wedding, or an evening party, and a statement clutch or bag can add so much interest and personality to your outfit. While there may be a dress code for an event that limits your choice of attire, a clutch is available in so many options! Having several clutches also means that you can recycle the same outfit to multiple events without feeling like you’re wearing exactly the same outfit over and over again. And while clutches aren’t necessarily the best for everyday use, you can always add them to a daytime outfit for a vintage look if you don’t have to carry too many items with you.

Well, there is my list of the 10, or rather 11, chic wardrobe essentials that I think every woman can add into her closet to make it a bit more stylish and put together.

What do you think? Do you have any of these pieces in your closet?What are some of your favourite wardrobe essentials that you’d include in this list?