Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Outfit post: colourful casual 1960s style

The 1960s aren't normally my thing, but if there's one thing my journey into vintage and my encounters with brilliant bloggers have shown me, it's that you'll find something you like in pretty much every decade. I've also come to realise that the late 1950s and early 1960s styles suit my figure better than late 1940s/high 50s New Look styles, with their emphasis on the waist. (I'd love to dress 1930s, but even if I could find enough in plus sizes, my bank account couldn't take the strain.)

That period also seems a happier hunting ground for larger sizes, too, and while there still seem to be a lot of clothes from the 1960s designed with the aim of QUICK! COVER UP THE FAT LADY AND HIDE HER! DRAPE A CURTAIN ROUND HER OR SOMETHING! you're often able to find stuff that has actual colours and actual patterns and isn't designed to make you fade into the background. Take this dress. What got me was the print. Pretty, but bold, and in great shades of green, blue and purple. It's the prettiest one I've seen on a dress in my size in ages. The dress is by a firm called Top Modes, who I've been able to find nothing about.

I saw the dress on Dethrose Vintage on Etsy. I don't usually bother with Etsy shops that don't either divide by size or put approximate sizes in their garment names, but as Dethrose always uses the same person to model garments, I can usually tell by the bunching at the waist whether something's worth investigating further. Admittedly, the bunching at the waist made me think the skirt was reasonably full and it turned out to be A-line, but I can live with that. The A-line shape is what makes me think it's more likely to be 1960s than 1950s too.
Yesterday I wore the dress for work, though these photos were taken at the pub, teamed with a green cotton cardigan and the black bag I bought at Bath in Fashion's vintage market. The cardigan is a 1990s design, not normally my thing. When The Knitter magazine first started, they ran (with permission from the copyright holders, of course) vintage patterns reworked in current yarns, and this was one of them. When they moved offices they had a clearout and offered me the cardigan. It's become a firm favourite, despite my usual maxim of Never wear stuff you were old enough to wear the first time round.
The weird thing I've noticed lately is that the modern sleeveless dresses I own show my bra at the armhole. Not just a little bit, either, there's a good few inches of side band to be seen. I had written it off as a side-effect of having a lot up front pushing the dresses forward, and resolved simply to wear extra-nice bras with those dresses (if the world's going to see them, they might as well be worth looking at). However, as you can see here, that doesn't happen with my vintage dresses. Why is this? I can't work it out. Do dresses nowadays have bigger armholes? Were dresses then cut for bigger busts? It is a mystery, for sure. I'd love to know if anyone else has the same problem with modern frocks, just to work out if it only affects larger size people, or if it's across the size range.

29 comments :

  1. Oo I'm so pleased to see these photos, I was looking forward to seeing you modelling this gorgeous frock! The colour and print is just perfect, and I think you definitely do suit this style. Really, really pretty.

    Funny about the armhole thing - sometimes I find modern frocks have armholes that are too small, but yesterday I was wearing a Simply Vera Wang dress that has huge armholes, even taking into account it's a size too big really.

    x

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    1. I did wonder if it was poor scaling up from a smaller size - they'd made the body wider and did the armholes proportionally - but enough slimmer people have said they have the same problem to make me think it's just the modern way.

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  2. You look really lovely, I very much like the fabric, it's so pretty.

    I used to love wearing later 60's clothes but don't think the era suits my body shape xx

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    1. It's funny how different eras suit different figures, isn't it? I resisted the early 60s for so long, I suppose in part wanting to look like the lovely bloggers who look so good in 'high 1950s' style, but in the end have had to accept I'm better off in things without a waist. I love the way you look in your 1950s style, you always look lovely in your photos.

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  3. Oh it looks really lovely on you! I love the colour of that cardigan too. Green is such an amazing colour which I just don't wear enough. *Vows to hunt out more green clothes!*

    Most vintage patterns have smaller armholes and smaller necks. I have no idea if it is merely a modesty thing or that modern dress patterns are just badly designed. I think it's probably to do with the fact that clothes are more relaxed in their designs these days, whereas vintage ones were cut in a way that fitted the body better making you look smart and well-dressed.

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    1. I really like green, that and blue are probably my most-worn colours. (I had to stop buying navy things, in fact, because I went through a phase when everything seemed to be or include navy.)

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    2. Hahaha! Yes, I had to stop myself from buying blue dresses. I think I ended up with 9 at one point.

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  4. You look beautiful in that dress-and those are wonderful colours on you. I like 60's dresses, but most of them don't like me.

    The armhole thing with modern clothes-I have that problem too (36D bust). I accept that it is better than having something cutting into my underarm all day, but it does force me to take "side-boob" into consideration should I go bra-less.



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    1. I cannot go braless, nowhere near perky enough for that. I am going to buy a selection of nice bras with attactive sides to give the workmates a treat...

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  5. Great dress, the fabric is lovely and it looks like a really good fit. No idea about the armhole thing as I don't wear that many modern dresses, but I do know the sleeves of some vintage frocks are tiny, we must have bigger biceps these days!
    I can't subscribe to the "wore it first time round so never again" rule - as you get older, you see everything come back around, and following that guideline would mean no flares, leggings, waistcoats, wedges, or maxi dresses! xxx

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    1. It is true that I haven't stopped wearing some things from the 1990s - I'll see stuff I consider completely unremarkable and realise it's actually very much of that era - so I know what you mean about it not being a hard and fast rule, but I don't think I'd go back and consciously adopt a full 1990s look. I do occasionally do it by accident. (I like my crushed velvet babydolls, dagnabbit.)

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  6. Oh the dress really is a stunner isn't it! I might have to steal it off you.....

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    1. Nooooo! At least wait until I've worn it a few times!

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  7. Oh, that dress looks fabulous, it really suits you!
    I'm settling in to the late 50s/early 60s with most of my sewing pattern buying too, as that's where most of the plus sizes and half sizes seem to turn up. The bra-showing thing is a modern phenomenon, the same as the stupid gapping at the back of trousers, and it's down to lazy pattern drafting (well, drafting for modern mass production). Companies make a pattern or a test garment in one size, usually a small one, and then grade up and down. This leads to weirdness where plus size patterns end up with shoulders that would work on a rugby player, and armholes down to the knees. This is why I now exclusively buy vintage "half size" patterns, as the proportions have been specifically designed to fit the shorter, stouter woman. This means things like a lower bust point, and properly-fitting armholes. I'd imagine that these principles were also applied to ready-to-wear, in a way that they mostly aren't today!

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    1. AH! I had wondered if it was a grading thing. I've come across it in knitting patterns, where the shoulders are too wide. I realise that most skeletons are basically the same shape, and the more body fat/muscle you put on top, the more the shape varies so you get wider shape variation in plus-size bodies, but I've still yet to meet a size 18 with upper arms the size of her thighs.

      I'd guess decent fitting principles would have been applied to RTW back then, simply because people were more fastidious about fit and wouldn't buy something with gappy armholes.

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  8. I had a breast reduction done a few years ago, but before that (I wore a UK size 32/34FF) I couldn't find modern dresses that fit properly. The waist would be pulled up by the bust, the bust would either be too tight or if I found a size dress where the bust would fit, the waist would be too loose. I would almost exclusively wear dresses from the 40's to the early 60's, as they were the only ones that would fit and flatter. I never bothered sewing my own dresses, as vintage dresses are fairly easy to get hold of in Norway, and quite reasonably priced. I did and still do draft and sew my own trousers though. Is it just me or is it plain impossible to find a well fitting pair of trousers in stores?

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    1. Oh, that pulling up the waistband thing - I get that. Or underbust seams cutting across the middle. Right nuisance. 60s styles are great for not having those seams.

      I don't wear trousers often, and have taken to buying them in charity shops for when I do (Age UK's £1.50 sale...) so I'm not sure what shopping for them is like!

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  9. That dress looks lovely on you, such a pretty print.
    I don't think I've worn a modern dress since the early 1980s so I can't offer any advice on that. My teeny boobs mean I usually go braless as I have a thing about visible bra straps although quite a few of my clothes have those sweet bra strap ribbons which nattily hold your bra in place away from sight. xxx

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    1. Thank you! I do like a good graphic print.

      I envy you your ability to go braless!

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  10. Good find! And good cardie snaffle : )
    I know what you mean re armholes. I don't normally go for anything sleeveless but I bought a green and off white dress via ebay recently with cap sleeves, quite a 30s looking vibe to it, and I love it. But it does have very large armholes, now I put it down to my usual problem of being only five foot but maybe it's a "thing". And If an item fits my boobs it's massive round the waist.
    I will only be able to wear it with a cardigan, I wish there was some way of sorting it out but I can't think of one, and I HATE my underwear on show.

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    1. Yes, it is hard to fix, isn't it? It's not as though you can add extra fabric to the armholes.

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  11. Lovely dress and I love the colour combos in the fabric. Yes, I've noticed the bra thing too, which annoys me as I'd rather have all bra bits covered. I do think that armholes on vintage clothes were definitely made smaller, which sometimes can be a hassle to fit into. I really love that 1970s skinny sleeve look, but my broad shoulders and bingo wings don't agree with them, sadly!

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    1. Boden put lingerie loops in the shoulders of their sleeveless dresses so you can clip them over bra straps, which I love. It makes such a difference. (I am a skinflint and only buy Boden in the sales!)

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  12. Love this dress, the colours are excellent and it really suits you. I am exploring this time period more too, for the same kind of reasons and because there are just some lovely dresses. I often find with modern dresses that if it fits me on the bust the armholes and shoulders are too big. But I hate feeling like my boobs are being bound down so I tend too put up with it though I would prefer not to. I really notice when I am wearing a Doreen as whilst they are a marvellous shape the sides are pretty boring/ old lady!

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    1. Yeah, Doreen is fantastic - I love mine - but it's a bit of a passion killer to look at.

      I reckon it's a grading issue, stuff is designed for a much smaller size and scaled up badly, without taking into account the fact that shoulders don't widen in proportion to waists, busts etc.

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  13. Dear Mim,
    It is so wonderful seeing you model.. that tells me you're really loving the dress. And you should. It fits you like a glove. :)
    Now.. the thing with style is (according to some of my personal experience) that you can' always pick what you're keen on - there are times when you simply have to:
    a) Take what fits you best - no use for me to try a 1940s shirt-dress when my shoulders might turn out like I was a Terminator
    b) Take what you can find - you were very true when you wrote that clothes designed and sewn in 1960s is easier to find
    ..those "glam" suits from 1930s, "wartime" garments of 1940s and "stylish" dresses of 1950s are now long gone - due to overwearing in times of frugal post-war years.. or due to "revival" that particular fashion had back in 1970s and 1980s.

    Great post.
    You look AMAZING!

    Have a great weekend, darling.
    Marija

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    1. Ah, but with those shoulders I bet you'd rock a backless 1930s gown!

      I do love that dress. I've got a couple of nice ones for this summer and I'm really excited to show them off.

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  14. Gorgeous dress, I love the pattern. Armholes do seem to be smaller on vintage clothes. I'm forever altering them to fit.
    x

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    1. I never used to wear prints, and now I'm finding them really irresistible. Though I am fussy; I'm not keen on anything watercoloury. I like the designs to have crisp edges and clear colours.

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