vintage style

Vintage Fur of Yesteryear

wearing a tan wool jacket and a fox fur stole

There is danger when you scroll through the Poshmark “vintage” tag with the intent to not purchase anything, because you very well might just find something to purchase. And when you’re looking at vintage items (especially when you find one for a good price) you know you might never find anything like it ever again. I’m not usually an impulse buyer, but when I saw this little vintage fur fellow in excellent condition, I decided he had to come and live with me.

wearing a tan wool jacket a fox fur stole a pearl necklace and a cream ring

I know that feelings run high when it comes to fur, and some people might find wearing a fox fur stole macabre, but I quite like this little guy. Fur collars and stoles with the head and tails were very popular through the first half of the 20th century, and in my vintage Sears catalogue books they have quite a few available in the 1920’s and 30’s. In a world of PVC and polyester, where fur, and even leather, has started to become taboo, it is strange to see advertisements for furs that can’t be mistaken as anything but dead animals.

wearing a tan blazer embroidered shell and pearl necklace

I haven’t had an occasion to wear him out, so I had to create my own occasion for his debut. I actually don’t know whether I will ever wear him; I think he would need a very particular occasion, and he is kind of hard to wear because of where the clasp goes. I’m also a little concerned that despite the fact he is in great vintage condition, furs do become fragile with age and I don’t want damage him through pulling and strain.

Anyway, the moral of this story is: don’t browse through vintage clothing unless you are fully prepared to bring some pieces into your collection!

closeup of fox fur stole

The Costumes of Jane Eyre (2011): Film Fashion Inspiration

jane eyre wearing a hooded cloak

I am back today with a Part Two in this series of my favourite film fashion inspiration: this time with the costumes of Jane Eyre (2011)! You can find Part One about Miss Potter, here.

One of my favourite books of all time is Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. I first read it in Grade Nine, for a book study, and fell in love with the heroine of the book’s title, Jane Eyre. Jane Eyre was published in 1847, although the time period in which the story itself takes place is a bit unclear. Most film adaptations place the story either in the same decade the book was published, the 1840’s, or slightly farther back in the 1830’s. The only film version of Jane Eyre that I have watched is the 2011 one directed by Cary Fukunaga starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. The costume designer for this film was Michael O’Connor and I absolutely love what he designed for this film: the attention to detail in each character’s wardrobe means you never run out of interesting elements to look at.

The director and costume designer chose to go with an 1840’s time period for this film, because they liked the styles from that decade more than those of the 1830’s, and I am inclined to agree with them. I am not enamoured with the large sleeves and shorter hems of the 30’s, so I’m happy they gave Jane the much more elegant looks of the 40’s.

1833 and 1848 illustrated fashion plates

I am not an authority on early Victorian fashion by any means, but I appreciate the, seemingly, quite historically accurate costumes of this film. Some historical dramas try to modernize the characters’ dress, which can sometimes be jarring, as well as becoming easy to spot as time goes on. (For example, the animated Snow White and Cinderella by Disney are easily recognizable as being from the 1930’s and 1950’s respectively.) In this version of Jane Eyre, they chose to keep the garments and even hairstyles accurate to the time period the story was set in, even if some of those fashions are decidedly unpopular today. Why do historical films always skip the bonnets, right? While most of us won’t be sporting 1840’s dresses for daywear anytime soon, there is still so much inspiration to be found in the costumes of Jane Eyre.

Ps. This interview from Vanity Fair gives a bit more insight into the choices of the director and costume designer.

One key feature of Jane’s wardrobe is her subdued and dark colour palette. She wears several shades of grey, black, brown, deep plum, and dark blue. She also later wears an earthy tan/pink. While these dark colours are specifically used to create a moody feel for the film, I think they also reflect an aspect of Jane’s character: her practicality. Dark colours are a sensible choice for clothing, since they don’t require as much washing or stain removal in the same way light colours do.

Queen Victoria was married in 1840 and was the first to bring popularity to the idea of a white wedding dress: the light colour of the dress made her easier to see, and was a dress fit for royalty (or at least someone who had an army of laundresses at their disposal). While Victoria’s dress caused a stir in the fashion world (that remains to this day), for most people, dark coloured clothes were a much wiser choice. Even today, many work clothes and outerwear are made of darker coloured cloth. While grey and black might not be good colours for everyone, I still take inspiration from Jane’s costumes in choosing more practicable colours for items of clothing that aren’t easily laundered. For example, instead of choosing a cream coloured dry-clean-only, wool winter coat, perhaps navy would be a smarter choice.

jane eyre wearing the same dress 3 times

I also appreciate that Jane has a sort of “capsule” wardrobe; which is really what a standard wardrobe for any time period, before the modern era of fast fashion, would have been. She is consistently seen repeating the same small selection of dresses throughout the film. One nice thing about wearing dresses, is that they are such a quick and easy outfit. You don’t have to worry about finding a matching blouse or skirt, because a dress is a one step outfit, all ready to go!

Another very clever idea from the past that Jane utilizes in her outfits, is wearing separate collars and cuffs. Having one dress, but several separate collar and cuff sets to pair with that dress results in many different looks. While it might not be a dramatic change, it still adds variety to your wardrobe. Accessories really are the best tools for stretching your “capsule” wardrobe. And, on the topic of laundry again, cuffs and collars tend to get dirty before the rest of the garment, so this makes them easy to clean. Also, if the cuffs wear out, it’s easy to make new ones without having to make an entirely new dress!

Jane’s costumes are all very pared back versions of the 1840’s fashions. When you compare her black evening dress to Blanche Ingram’s, you can see how subdued Jane’s dress is. While her dresses are not as frilly and fancy as the wealthy women’s dresses, her clothing choices are still far from boring and there are so many subtle details in her clothes.

jane eyres plaid grey dresses

For example, the patterns in Jane’s dresses are classic prints such as plaids and dots which have been pieced to form interesting designs. In her plaid gowns, the diagonal piecing on the bodice is gorgeous. There are also lots of visually interesting bows, ruched sections and elegant V shaped bodices. There’s so much inspiration for future sewing projects!

I personally prefer Jane’s understated elegance over the frilly fashions of the early Victorian period. My favourite styles from the past are ones that are more classic than trendy- which it is still true for my wardrobe today.

jane eyre wearing a lace bonnet

I also like how Jane’s character and style stays consistent throughout. Even when she buys new dresses and bonnets and spends more on her clothing, she doesn’t slavishly follow the trends. Her more expensive clothing doesn’t clash with what we know of Jane from before.

jane eyre 1840's style wedding dress and bonnet

Her wedding dress is a good look at the consistency of her style. Despite Rochester’s wish to lavish her with jewels and rich fabrics, this dress is still rather restrained compared to wedding dresses of the time. Queen Victoria’s aforementioned wedding dress is much more opulent than Jane’s, and we can’t imagine Jane feeling comfortable in something like that. Even this wedding dress is a little too fine for Jane’s taste.

jane eyre light grey plaid dress

Throughout the film, Jane remains true to her personal style, and wears garments that are flattering to her particular body type and style, which is a great reminder for us all to choose to wear what we like and what we look good in, despite what the trends may be at the time.

Another iconic element of Jane’s look is her signature hairstyle. I’m not a big fan of hairstyles from the 1840’s: they were really into the centre part (which is apparently coming back in?).

While lots of upper class women wore their hair in ringlets (see Blanche Ingram again), Jane wears hers in an easier to keep style- a low bun with loops over her ears. She wears variations on this look- sometimes more elaborate like for her wedding, and sometimes simpler, like when she is living in the cottage. I like that Jane has a signature look, and one that she can easily maintain and execute herself. This is a lesson that I have learned over time: find a hairstyle that works for you! This is why I usually wear my hair in a chin length bob with bangs- it just works for me. I don’t have to fight with it, or set it every night (only to find that the curls fall out by midday) etc. While it’s sometimes fun to change it up, find your signature hairstyle and run with it!

jane eyre wearing a hooded cloak

One final element of Jane’s wardrobe that I absolutely love are her capes and shawls. While capes have been mostly replaced by coats nowadays, there is just something so elegant and dramatic about a cape, isn’t there? (Especially if it has a hood!) They are perfect to wear over dresses if you have a full skirt and your coat isn’t wide enough to accommodate it. Oh, and they are cosy too. A shawl is also the perfect thing to wear on a chilly day (even indoors); they are easy to put on and take off as needed, and are nicer to wear than trying to bundle up on the sofa in a blanket!

jane eyre wearing different shawls

Well, this isn’t an exhaustive list of all of the costumes of Jane Eyre, but these are some of my favourites from this film. Have you seen this version or Jane Eyre and what did you think of it? What parts of her wardrobe do you like? And which version of Jane Eyre is your favourite?

jane eyre wearing her evening dress

A World Where There are Octobers

woman spinning in front of a row of yellow trees

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables 

The leaves are going quickly. Only days ago this row of trees in our backyard were covered in bright golden colours and by today they are mostly gone. Bare branches are left in stark contrast to the pale azure autumn skies. The bright yellow leaves are slowly deepening in colour, and the days are cool and crisp. I love this time of year and, like Anne, I am glad I live in a place where I get to fully enjoy Octobers.

woman walking in front of a large row of trees

mountain ash tree berries and woman wearing a wrap skirt and navy blue t-shirt

I am also happy that my sister was able to get these photos for me when she did, since I think this is the last time I’ll be pulling out this linen wrap skirt for this year. It’s time to reach for the tights and woollens and scarves!

patchwork quilt purse

This is the patchwork purse I mentioned that I was making. It took quite a while to finish, since I decided to hand stitch it to give more control over some of the very tiny pieces of fabric. I’m not a skilled quilter, and since I didn’t follow any pattern (each piece was fitted in place as I sewed) it ended up quite quirky! I think it gives it a rather authentic 1970’s feel though, don’t you?

After I finished the quilt, I then appliquéd it onto a canvas backing and then lined the entire thing to give it some strength, especially since the last one I made came apart. I was able to use so many unique pieces of fabric that I’ve saved over the years- you can even see in the picture above that I used a piece of the fabric from this skirt! Well, at least I know that this bag will coordinate with almost everything in my wardrobe…

woman spinning in front of autumn leaves

woman standing in front of golden trees looking into the distance

woman twirling in front of autumn trees

detail of a gold heart necklace

Friendship necklaces used to be such a “thing” when I was a kid, but they kind of went out of favour, didn’t they? A few years ago I found this friendship necklace; the heart cut out of the centre of this piece forms the other necklace! I like that it’s so delicate and minimal.

woman wearing a wrap skirt and carrying a patchwork bag

mountain ash berries

patchwork quilted purse

cognac coloured ballet flats

Why is it so hard to find brown shoes? Have you ever noticed that? Since deciding that brown is my “neutral” I have had the hardest time finding nice shoes that aren’t black. I was so glad to be able to find these from Vionic. I think it’s about time to put them away for the season, though. They are perforated, which is lovely for warm days, but a bit chilly for autumn!

I hope you are faring well and enjoying your October, whatever it’s looking like for you!

mountain ash tree

poplar branch in golden sunset light

Fashion Library: Favourite Editorial Books for Inspiration

stack of fashion books

I’ve mentioned before that I dedicate a lot of space on my bookshelves to fashion books. As nice as the internet and Pinterest can be for inspiration and information, there is still something great about pulling out a book and paging through beautiful fashion spreads.

I have several fashion books in my personal library that are editorial in style, and I love to look through them and see some of the best moments of modern fashion history (mostly from the 20th century). These are some of my favourite books that really helped to define my interest in fashion. If you are looking to add some books to your own library, or just want to page through some amazing fashion spreads, then these are my favourites!

Vogue: The Covers book

“Vogue: The Covers”

by Dodie Kazanjian and published by Abrams Books

This lovely book is what sparked the idea for the #MyVintageCover challenge here on the blog, and on Instagram. This book is divided by decade, and each section begins with a brief written introduction to that era. Then, as suggested by the name of the book, the rest of the pages are is filled with images of Vogue covers. Each cover is labeled with the date and name of either the illustrator or photographer. Some of the covers also have the model’s name included.

Vogue: The Covers page

My one frustration with the book is that the covers are not arranged chronologically, which is a missed opportunity, in my opinion, to show the progression of fashion throughout the years. However, I do still love this book for inspiration for my own cover reproductions and to see what couture fashion was popular in each era.

Grace book cover

“Grace: 30 Years of Fashion at Vogue”

by Grace Coddington and published by Phaidon Press

This is an absolutely stunning coffee table book. I would never have bought a book like this ($$$) but I actually won it in a contest on Instagram several years ago. I never win contests, so even if I never win another thing ever again in my life, this was a worthwhile prize!  If you can find a copy of this one, it is absolutely gorgeous and I love looking through it whenever I want a little bit of fantastical editorial fashion inspiration.

Grace book pages

Grace Coddington was the artistic director at Vogue magazine, and this is a compilation of some of her work over the years. She has stories sprinkled throughout the book, sharing details of the shoots and where her inspiration came from, as well as full-page photo spreads. It’s a beautiful look into the world of fashion photography and the large size of the book makes the images all the more beautiful.

Grace Coddington book pages

There is such a depth and richness in film photography, which makes up the majority of the book, and the creativity of the print medium gives me such a feeling of nostalgia whenever I page through this book. Sadly, many modern fashion spreads seem to have lost that beauty and creativity, so this is a lovely look through history.

A Matter of Fashion book cover

“A Matter of Fashion: 20 Iconic Items that Changed the History of Style”

edited by Valeria Manferto De Fabianis and published by White Star Publishers

Gifted to me by a friend, this book highlights 20 iconic fashion moments and how they impacted the fashion world. Some of the items seem rather underwhelming to me, but I do agree that jeans, the trench coat, the Kelly bag and the stiletto are definitely pieces that changed the trajectory of modern fashion. And what do I know? Perhaps the rest of the items I’d never heard of really did radically change the evolution of fashion, like “the cerulean sweater” of The Devil Wears Prada.

A Matter of Fashion book pages

This book goes through the history and details of each item, and then features a lot of fashion photography and illustrations that are always enjoyable to look at.

Vogue book covers

“Vogue: The Shoe” by Harriet Quick & “Vogue: The Jewellery” by Carol Woolton

Published by Conran Octopus

Vogue The Shoe pages

So many of these books are about Vogue, but really it’s such an iconic magazine! These two large coffee table books are part of the Vogue Portfolio Series and are a deep dive into one specific item of fashion: the shoe and jewellery. Featuring images from across the decades, these books highlight a wide variety of styles- from practical to fanciful- and then include information about the designers and other interesting details.

Vogue the Jewellery pages

Again, I never tire of looking at beautiful fashion photography from any era. There is another other book in this series, Vogue: The Gown. I saw it for sale secondhand and I didn’t buy it, which I kind of regret, but maybe someday I will come across it again!

Vintage Fashion book cover

“Vintage Fashion: Collecting and Wearing Designer Classics”

published by Carlton Books

I took the dust jacket off of this one, because it was ripped, but I kept the cover image so I just sat it on top for the photo. This book is kind of an overview, or beginners guide, to vintage fashion. It’s got some great vintage fashion photography and interesting information about the designers and iconic styles of each era.

Vintage Fashion page

For example, it explains many different movements, from Dior’s New Look silhouettes of the 1950’s to the Youthquake of the 60’s. It also highlights design movements, such as Modernism, Orientalism, and Punk. For each section there is also a page of “Key Looks of the Decade”, which is helpful to get a good overview of a decade.

Vintage Fashion decade overview page

So those are the six books that I currently have that fall into this category of “editorial style” fashion, and thus concludes this mini series of posts about fashion books. I love fashion books, so I am sure I will add more to my collection as I find them. And, I will share them here too, because it is quite nice to see reviews before you buy!

What are some of your favourite fashion books? Have you paged through any of these titles? Do you have any other good recommendations to check out? 

book stack

Straw Hats and Sunny Days

We’ve had our fair share of sun and heat this summer, which is too bad for me, since I’m not a fan of hot days! However, I’ve actually been spending a decent amount of time outside this summer despite the drought…which is kind of strange since I usually spend my summers indoors hiding from the sun.

I bought this giant straw hat back in May, though, and it is perfect for hot summer days. Since it has such a wide brim and a tall crown, it creates a nice bit of shade from the sun. If there isn’t any shade, bring your own! There is also a hat band inside, and I added a tie for slightly breezy days. There’s nothing worse than wearing a large brimmed hat and having it fly off your head with a gust of wind…not that that has ever happened before. Originally the hat also had a cream grosgrain ribbon hatband, but not a very nice one, so I replaced it with a silk scarf which is much prettier in my opinion.

woman wearing a straw hat with a scarf bow

I originally planned to get photos of this hat and outfit back in June, but then we had a huge heat wave…then smoke from the wildfires in BC…then more heat again…and here we are now already in August. (With another heat wave, but just tiny one this time…maybe a heat splash).

woman wearing a cream tshirt, polka dot skirt and straw hat

I’ve been wearing an iteration of this outfit, switching out with different tops or accessories quite a lot this summer too. It’s a very easy formula: wrap skirt + t-shirt + accessories. When you’ve got a variety of tops and skirts (or pants) in coordinating colours that can be mixed and matched, then it makes choosing what to wear very easy.

woman wearing a polka dot skirt, cream shirt, straw hat and mother of pearl necklace

woman wearing a straw hat with a silk bow on it

I’ve also realized over the past couple of years that I really like wearing t-shirts for everyday wear. They might not be as fancy and “vintage” but I find them to be the most comfortable for working etc. on an everyday basis. I do still like to wear dresses and blouses, but I now tend to save them for occasions.

tshirt cuff with lace detail

And it’s not as though t-shirts need to be sporty- this one with lace cuffs is a nice example of a dressier version and I also recently got a navy blue one with a v-neck. The neckline can make a huge difference in how a top looks, and how dressy it is, don’t you think?

woman wearing a large straw hat

Well, there is my summer “uniform” in a nutshell. I used to hate the idea of a capsule wardrobe, but I’ve kind of accidentally fallen into creating one for myself. And strangely enough, rather than feeling limited, I actually feel like I have more variety in what I wear through the different combinations.

Do you find yourself gravitating towards a certain “uniform”, whether with colours or styles, or do you have a seasonal capsule wardrobe? What have you been enjoying wearing this summer?

Oufit details: 

Hat from Love and Lore Indigo

Necklace pendant from Grandmother’s Buttons

T-shirt and sandals, secondhand

Skirt, homesewn

woman wearing a wrap skirt large straw hat