Sunday, 4 January 2015

State of the Vintage Wardrobe

Trying to put a bit of glam into camping...
It's time for my annual appraisal of a year's purchases and style. I like doing this, because I've done it every year since getting more into vintage fashion, and it's nice to see where my style journey has taken me. I think when I've made mistakes in the past, aside from the obvious ones of buying the wrong size, they've been because I've bought something that would suit someone else who I've seen looking lovely online. I prefer things that are simple, streamlined and practical, and need to stick with that. My beloved spreadsheet, which I blogged about last September, has been a massive help. Nothing else has ever brought home to me quite so clearly what I actually wear – as opposed to the style I would like to have – and what I need to be buying. As a result I made far fewer poor purchases than in recent years, managing to buy things that were both my size and style.



Office-wise and for smart daywear, I go midcentury. There's no way to ignore it. I love the jazz age, its music and art and movies, and always thought of myself as more of a jazz baby than anything else, but when it comes to work it's Hitchcock Heroine or Woman of The Hour all the way. A fitted dress in a block colour or smart skirt and jumper are always winners. I kind of let things down by sticking to deco-style louis-heeled shoes, but that's what I like so that's what I'm going to wear. Anyhow, I'm pretty much sorted for workwear. All satisfactory, move on!

This 1950s dress was bought in 2013, but got its first outings in 2014.
 Most of my big vintage purchases and makes in 2014 were midcentury, and dressy or work-friendly: a gorgeous 1960s brown lace cocktail dress and coat, a beige 1950s summer suit, a honey 1950s/60s wiggle dress (bought in cold weather with this coming summer in mind, so not worn yet) and a navy early 1950s cardigan.

I also bought a couple of very 1950s-feeling dresses from Boden; I feel they capture the midcentury vibe every bit as well as many repro ranges. There are an awful lot of 'repro' ranges out there nowadays which, well, aren't particularly accurate. Pin-up, yes, or vintage-inspired, but probably not massively like actual vintage clothing. So I won't apologise for wearing Boden. My 'Nancy' dress, which has a fantastic midcentury-looking print, got loads of wear, and I believe they're bringing it out in some new prints for spring 2015.
I do love the print on this dress!
Accessory-wise, this year's purchases were mainly midcentury costume jewellery, plus two cheap boxy bags from charity shops, and a couple of pairs of shoes. The penny loafers were a particularly good buy; not the sort of thing I'd have thought of but I had vouchers to spend. I've been wary of slipping over ever since spraining my ankle badly a couple of years back, and the thick, grippy soles on the loafers have been welcome on frosty mornings.

On the AUGH! accessory front, moths got in my hats! I am SO CAREFUL to keep mothballing my wardrobes and jumper cupboards, but never thought of my hats in a corner of the dining room. Of course, it would be the furfelt ones that got nibbled. They're not badly damaged, there's just a couple of tracks in the pile, but it annoyed me no end. They're now stacked with Zensect balls between to prevent future problems.
I won a Debenhams voucher giveaway on retrochick.co.uk and
got penny loafers and a super-soft dressing gown.
I blogged about being unable to find casualwear that really worked for me back in February and things didn't get any better as the weather warmed up. While I got out things like my faithful old Heyday Fleur dress and bought and repaired a 1960s shirt dress to wear for work on hot days, I spent a lot of the weekends in 2014 looking awful. I have far too many things in my wardrobe that are clean and tidy and fit so I don't get rid of them, but that I freely acknowledge I feel at best invisible, at worst downright unattractive, in.

Halfway through the year I made an attempt to remedy this, dyeing a pair of pale grey cropped jeans and a short-sleeved blouse that was a dreary shade of beige. They are much cheerier in apple green, and are pleasingly 50s in style, though they look a bit mumsy on my matronly figure. That's not really the fault of the garments, though, more a reflection of the way I'm shaped. I also bought some custom-made 1920s beach pyjamas, which are brilliant for loafing in. They arrived late in the year, so I expect they'll get much more wear in the coming summer.

New blouse: starting 2015 in style!
My aim for 2015 is a general one to increase the amount of genuine vintage/accurate repro I'm wearing on a day in/day out basis. This means paying more attention to make sure the vintage clothes and accessories I already own are 'earning their keep' All too often it sits in the wardrobe because I'm terrified of damaging it, while I go out in the things I don't really like, convinced I look awful. I will also put in some hard work with my knitting needles, because I've got loads of pretty patterns for summery tops in my old Stitchcrafts and they'd be perfect for replacing those unstylish weekend T-shirts.

And finally, there will be a little targeted shopping, mainly aimed at replacing my slobwear with something nicer. I've already made a start, ordering this bow blouse in Heyday's sale, which arrived yesterday, the day after I ordered it. And, erm, I ordered a midcentury fitted dress in a sale on Etsy. (Did I say I was all sorted for workwear? I really am now!) I also want some more stylish shoes, and if you can point me at a range of vintage-repro lingerie that goes up to a GG cup, I'd love to hear about it.

15 comments :

  1. I loved reading this, and seeing all the pics! I'm a bit nosey and always wonder what goes on in the minds of others when they shop. All too often I find myself being a bit erratic, and I'm not sure if there's any kind of overall plan. I can't wait to see what you purchase and wear over this year! x

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    1. I think the planning is partly due to fear - my face wouldn't have launched a dinghy, let along a thousand ships when I was younger, and now I'm middle-aged and overweight. I figure if the 'present' isn't up to much, I'd better put in some work on the wrapping... Plus I don't have a lot of room for clothes, so it all needs to earn its keep.

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  2. Oh how I wish I could be as focused as you, I always have good intentions when it comes to clothes shopping, and then it all goes to pot when I spot something that I can't resist, especially if it's reduced! I do get suckered in by what I call false bargains. 9 times out of 10 it looks awful or doesn't fit so it's no bargain at all.
    Who cares if you wear Boden? If it fits and looks fabulous I'm all for it. I'm not what you would call a vintage shape or size so I mostly have to wear modern. If you find a brand that works for you stick with it, for me it's Hell Bunny.

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    1. My bargains are things I've had my eye on, which I snap up when they're at a reduced price. I suppose it helps that the only shopping I really enjoy is charity shopping - makes me less likely to spot sale items. I've been eyeing up some of the Hell Bunny stuff on Kate's Clothing (alternative clothing website) but I'm never sure if I have the right personality to pull it off, it seems more exuberant than I am.

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  3. Thanks for the nosey around your wardrobe. This year I brought quite a few cotton jersey skater style dresses from Dotty P's as I found they were quite flattering and easy to wear. I stocked up on a lot of black ones as they're perfect to wear with '50s cardies. Like you, I'd like to knit myself some cardies and tops from vintage patterns and also make some more shift dresses. This year apart from Dotty P's and buying some tops from New Look, there hasn't been anything on the high street that's appealed to me. So, I brought most of my stuff from charity shops; both new and vintage.

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    1. Charity shops rock. I don't know why they're so much more appealing - possibly because the stock is so random and you never know what you'll find.

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  4. You and are are complete opposites. You're reasoned and methodical whereas I let my heart rule my head and have a wardrobe filled with psychedelia and madness.
    I don't buy new, there's too many amazing 1960s and 1970s clothes in my size at cheap prices for me to need to and, if I have the time and inclination, I crank up the sewing machine and make something from my stash of vintage patterns and fabric. xxx

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    1. Well, being a fat lass with an apple figure doesn't help; what is available often doesn't suit me, and if I'm not careful I get distracted by all the things I see on super-slender bloggers and try to achieve a similar look, only to fail miserably. I do prefer to buy original vintage or get stuff from charity shops (apart from undies and shoes), but it can mean waiting a long time for the right item!

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  5. Fab post and great to see someone plans their clothing as much as I do! This year I've definitely managed to conquer my 'now it's winter I have nothing vintage to wear' issue I seem to encounter every year by purchasing separates that mix and match rather than the ever-so-tempting pretty circle dresses that only seem suitable for the warmer months. My next mission to tackle is casual wear so I don't always have to look completely overdressed every time I'm just heading to Tesco's!

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    1. Pretty dresses are evil, in the sense that they lure you off track and then you have a wardrobe full of cocktail dresses and NOTHING TO WEAR.

      Ah, evil! Let me turn to the dark side...

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  6. This was really interesting to me as I am working up the energy to have a full on wardrobe go through, find the gaps and then find the prices to fill them. It doesn't help that some of my best and favourite vintage is still too small but I will get back into it someday soon! I knitted one top for summer last year and want to make a few more as they are so pretty.

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    1. AUGH to things being out of size. I have a bundle of stuff that's too small and I keep thinking, 'Should I get rid of it? Naaaah, it'll fit one day.'

      Gap filling is good - it enables you to get so much more out of things you already own.

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  7. It's always interesting to hear how women approach clothes and how they feel about their wardrobe. You have some lovely pieces which obviously make you feel good when you wear them, so I would work on filling as much of your wardrobe as possible with clothes like that. Why waste your time on items that don't make you feel great? "Saving something for best" is the kiss of death - get them worn! xxx

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    1. Yeah, I've had to learn that I don't have much of a waist, so anything that cuts me across the middle - wasp-waisted looks and high-contrast separates - look pretty awful when compared to the same things on other people. It's means readjusting my attitude towards 60s styles, which are perfect for the waistless. (and so much cheaper than 50s garments...)

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  8. Interesting post. I know exactly what I actually need - more cardigans and warmer long sleeved tops but I find all knits nowadays are wide and slouchy or long and slouchy. I recently treated myself to two 'winter' skirts, both circle skirts but in winter friendly shades so I can wear them with thicker (dark) tights. I really need some winter dresses too, which cut out the constant need for warmer tops to wear with skirts.

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