Building my vintage wardrobe
No, nothing to do with flatpacks. I’ve worn bits of vintage for years, but really started making the transition to a more vintage-styled wardrobe last year, and I’ve been mulling over my progress of late. Most of my older pieces were special-occasion items like 1950s dresses, and the bias-cut 30s number I wore to get married. There’s no dress code at work, but I thought full-skirted navy net with sequins might raise a few eyebrows, so some outfit renewal had to be done.
Luckily I’ve never been an especially showy dresser, even in my gothiest of goth days, so I had quite a lot of very classic garments in plain black. Even when it wasn’t vintage-shaped, much of it would fade into the background behind more distinctive pieces. What I had could be added to, rather than cast aside. (Radical changes always strike me as quite odd, as well as being rather pricy.)
I’m too chubby to have a really good choice of authentic vintage garments nowadays, so in building my wardrobe buying ‘can pass’ items from charity shops and making more eyecatching items myself have been my easiest choices. Charity shop skirts seem a particularly rich source of wardrobe builders, whether you’re looking for a 1940s A-line or a pleated jobbie to go with a 1950s-style top. For some reason I find it easier to find good-quality skirts than anything else; I got a fab calf-length dark pink/grey tartan one recently.
Good quality tops are much harder to find, and good-quality vintage looking tops don’t come up at all round my way. I have been wondering if it’s because, in many outfits, tops have the most detail, and so they are more obviously in or out of fashion, so people renew their tops more frequently. Because of this, I’ve picked up my needles and knitted myself a jumper. Roaring success. Stylish, and comfy enough that it gets me out of my long-sleeved jersey tops AND it doesn’t go unworn for ages because I’ve washed it and can’t be bothered to iron it. Many more will follow, especially once I’ve mastered the dark art of resizing sleeveheads.
For a chubby woman shopping for accessories is great. I’ve never found a handbag, perfume or brooch that didn’t fit! Costume jewellery is great for a quick shopping fix , but I’ve found shoes and handbags are a bit costly and that side of things is developing more slowly. I’ve stuck to plain black for shoes so they’ll work with as many garments as possible.
So, what’s next? I don’t feel a pressing need for more skirts – they will turn up in charity shops. I have more jumpers planned as things are still lacking in the top department. I’m mulling over a handbag I saw in Vintage to Vogue in Bath. Summer dresses are my bugbear, as the high street ones are too short and the Tara Starlet ones are gorgeous but too small, but Heyday and Puttin’ on the Ritz both do really nice ones (the Fleur Wrap and the Tea at the Pavilion respectively).
How did your vintage wardrobe develop? I’d love to know your hints for building one, especially identifying and filling in gaps.
Image: a jumper I'm planning on knitting from Knit With Norbury, once I've wrapped my head around resizing armholes. On the subject of jumpers, Susan Crawford has just put up a post about a smashing little knit that I fell in love with when I saw it at Clothes Show Live. I'm not really a 50s gal, but they did some cracking designs back then!