Wednesday, 19 February 2014

The casual conundrum - how to dress down without dressing dowdy?

I’ve seen a couple of bloggers comment of late on how they need to mend some of their favourite clothes and get more wear out of their wardrobes (Gemma Retro Chick and Gisela Miss Magpie spring to mind), and others who sew talk about needing to make repro that they’ll actually wear. I’ve been thinking along similar lines myself.

Stylish accessories - are they the answer?



It took a spreadsheet to lift me out of the Great Wardrobe Rut of 2013. Keeping a record of what I wore for six weeks, right down to perfume and jewellery, showed me what I wore, when, in what combinations, and enabled me to make a few small changes and refresh things. Now I’ve started another spreadsheet, specifically for my vintage and repro, tracking what I own, how many times I’ve worn it, and if it’s not wearable, why it it’s not. On the plus side, I have got MUCH BETTER at buying stuff that actually fits, though I still have some too-small pieces kicking around. Only three items, Stinky Dress, Motheaten Dress and Busted Zip Dress, need work. Most of it’s just too darned fancy for most occasions, though. And yeah, this is the woman with Liberace’s love of diamante speaking. I have all the Fabulous I need.
Bring on the diamante!

What I need is stuff I can pop on in the morning without having to think too hard, but without going down the modern jeans-and-T-shirt route. Comfort vintage, if you like. Tweed skirts and knitwear are a no-brainer, and I’m thinking of knitting myself some little cotton tops from my old Stylecrafts for the summer. I was inspired by Jeni Yesterday Girl’s 50s casual looks, but she’s gorgeous with a well-defined waist, whereas with my figure I fear capris will just make me look like a nana on a cruise holiday. (Trufax: retired ladies ALL wear cropped trousers on holiday. And they look great, but I’ve got 20 years to go before then.)

What do you reckon makes a good vintage casual look, especially in spring and summer? Do you reckon really good, fun shoes and bags and things like colourful bangles could tip things over the line from ‘grandma style’ (op, op, oppan!) into ‘actual style’ territory?

12 comments :

  1. Hahaha I always wear capri or 3/4 trousers in the summer but that is often because the legs of my trousers are too short rather than deliberate choice, but you are right there is a fine line between chic and nana! It is honestly all to do with the cut of the trouser, I did trial and error to find ones that worked. Accessories can definitely be the way past that too. With some things though it's just me. I see someone in it and they look stunning then I put it on and look like a middle aged frump.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't mind looking like a frump when it's deliberate, in-your-face 'FRUMP YOU'! frump, but when it's accidental it just looks a bit pitiful. I think I shall try the trousers but make sure any accessories have some flair. No nanbags or boring shoes!

      Delete
  2. I would probably try and go along the lines of what women wore in the 1940s and 1950s wore for every day.Basic skirts and blouses, as well as shirt dresses

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am a huge spreadsheet geek, and I now have spreadsheet envy... That is such a good idea! I have been using Avenue 57 website to upload my daily looks, so that's kind of the same thing about keeping track. And I've got a list on the go in my phone as to how many times I've worn January's purchases.

    I'm definitely looking more to accessories to change up what I've already got for summer - I think your ideas sound great, go for it!

    P x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Spreadsheets rock! They make it so easy to see what's going on. I definitely think cool accessories is the way to go if I do wear capris. It's odd, I love flashy jewellery, but I'm dead timid when it comes to shoes. Maybe Miss L Fire will have something faboo this season...

      Delete
  4. I've found that 70's looks work best for me. I have a problem with cropped trousers because I have these big honkin' thighs and most jeans and trousers are just too darned small in the legs. I bought some stretchy jeans at New Look for cheap and hemmed them all to come right where my kneecap starts to give a capri look but also has a nice effect on my legs. I pair it with a form-fitting top of any kind, as long as it isn't too tight or too loose (being chesty, baggy shirts add the look of more girth), a fun necklace, bangles or a watch, earrings, rings, etc. I also wear a lot of ankle-length skirts and dresses in summer and wear leggings underneath to avoid chafing because of my tree trunk thighs. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like you're a proper hourglass. *Envy* I think I shall have to hit the Freddies of Pinewood stall at Vintage Nostalgia this year so I can try on their various styles and see what works.

      Delete
    2. I think "upside down triangle" is more like it. Haha! I just googled Vintage Nostalgia and I think I might try to go this year, it sounds like a blast!

      Delete
  5. The nana on a cruise holiday part caused me to splutter on my cuppa! I knitted a couple of little 1950's style tops last year for other people and it made me think that cotton ones for summer would be the way to go. Paired with a skirt and accessorised they would make lovely outfits.

    ReplyDelete
  6. It's true, though, they do all dress like that! I work in Bath, which is tourist central, and my favourite café is between the coach park and the city centre, so we see coachloads of nanas coming in. Perhaps I should look at what they were besides the capris and make a note to avoid those things if I don't want to look like my nan. Pretty sure I can avoid those lace-up shoes they all wear...

    Cotton tops are looking like a winner...

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hmmm, I know what you mean. The tweed skirt etc thing would be what I'd first come up with.
    Do you like dresses? Something in a soft, warm fabric for colder days, and in a lighter one for Summer, say in 30s style. That's where being able to make your own comes into its own, of course. Any dressmakers near you who could run you up some things from old patterns?

    I must say I much prefer Winter dressing, I feel a mess in warm weather, just can't take the heat! I tend to revert to hippy chick as it's the only way I can survive, anything floaty, dresses, cropped cardis and those Chinese velvet Mary Janes.

    ReplyDelete