Building a vintage wardrobe, one year on

It’s been nearly a year since I posted about building up my vintage wardrobe, and I thought I'd look back to see how things have progressed since then.

My lovely pink and grey wool skirt has been joined by this wool suit by Edinburgh Woollen Mill, probably from the 1970s to judge by the label, style, and the dates when EWM went mass market. It cost £8 from Age UK. I love this suit. I call it my ‘Miss Marple’ suit, and a workmate says it always reminds her of Margaret Rutherford. As Rutherford’s Miss Marple was one groovy old lady, I count that as a Good Thing. I’ve also got a mid-calf herringbone skirt that will work for a 30s look, £4, and I think that was also from Age UK. I’m still looking for other wool skirts – I’ve found a few pleated tartan ones, but none in colours I was desperate to own, so I’m waiting for the right one to appear in a charity shop.

The green jumper I knitted now has a friend. The Madeira jumper in one of my 1950s books, Knit With Norbury, only came in one size, so I scaled it up, worked out a way of doing it without having to faff around with resizing sleeves and sleeveheads, and the result has been in constant wear since. Sometimes I fasten it at the throat with a china flower brooch, other times I leave it open. The 'Jersey With a Soft Bow' from A Stitch In Time is still in progress, mainly because I didn't follow Susan's advice on yarn! (Learning the hard way...) Now I need some cardigans, or possibly a few twin sets. A Stitch in Time Volume 2 launched in the autumn, and I have the book and yarn and just need the time to knit from it.

I mentioned a couple of repro dresses last year, and got round to purchasing one over the summer, the Fleur wrap dress from Heyday. This became a real summer staple, and if I had anything vaguely interesting to do, from visiting people to stalking cricketers, out it came. My one concern was that if ever I went to an event geared to vintage types I might come across someone in the same frock, so in October I bought a vintage 1950s wrap dress. The colours aren’t dissimilar to the Heyday one: black background, pinky pattern. I also bought a turquoise cotton dress at the end of December, ready for next summer. That's either late 50s or early 60s, I'd guess the early end of things because of the metal zips and the way the seams are finished.

For dressier occasions I was fortunate to spot an Able Grable ‘Miss M’ sample on Etsy for £50. It’s really lovely, and I will definitely keep saving my pennies for a custom-made one. This dress made me realise that firm foundation garments are not an optional extra for many vintage looks. Bodyshaping undies aren’t cheap, but they do make the whole outfit look smoother and better. I'm also now on the quest for a decent bra that isn't one of those moulded foam things that make you look like you've had spherical implants.

Shoes and bags were something else I talked about. Hoorah for Hotter, who have been bringing out vaguely 20s/30s looking shoes. I got a pair of ‘Charleston’ in black in the spring. They’re not at the cheap end of the market, but they are brilliantly comfortable and suitable for work. I've also just bought a pair of 'Clara' shoes (shown on this page) in the Miss L Fire sale. They don't come in half sizes so I went up to a 6, but as they're narrower than my usual shoes that's a good thing, because they're still comfy. And they're brown! yes, I am working a new neutral into my wardrobe. Bags remain elusive; although I have seen some I like in Scarlet Vintage in Bath. Last year's other accessory success was brooches as my resolution for 2011 was to buy more of them; I didn't spend more than £7.50 on one and saw out the year with a good selection that could brighten up any outfit.

I’m never going to have an exclusively vintage look, or a look that’s confined to one time period, but I do feel pleased that my style (whatever it is!) appears to be constant and workable every day. I've decided to go all-out dieselpunk to the next Waltz on the Wye, and am in the happy position of having a wide choice of outfits already. My tasks for 2012 are to get some more repro dresses, keep my eye out for authentic vintage that fits and that I like, and track down that handbag...

Top: The Miss Marple suit. Fashion tip: if you want to make your calves look really thick and stumpy, team a below-the-knee skirt with ankle boots. Yes, in future it's SHOES ONLY with that one...
Middle: Some of this year's purchases and gifts (plus a Jean Patou scarf I've had for years, in the pic cos it goes so well with the shoes).
Bottom: The Madeira jumper knitted from Knit With Norbury, along with an Aynsley brooch bought last January. Snooty expression is because I had to take off my glasses to avoid flash, and am trying not to squint!


  1. I love Hotter shoes, but they don't make my size (3 1/2), normally I can get away with a 4 with an insole but sadly on this ocassion it is not to be! X

  2. I love your Miss Marple suit - the skirt shape is lovely. And love your Madeira jumper - what yarn is that? The blue is wonderful!

  3. I love that Miss Marple suit...I have a tweed pencil skirt that a colleague calls my 'Ms Trunchbull' skirt. Rather less of an appealing namesake, but I've always wanted to throw someone by their ponytail so who knows!

  4. Paperdoll, it is gutting when shes don't fit!

    Mrs Exeter, the jumper is in Sublime Extra Fine Merino Wool 4ply in 'Cloche'. It's slightly less bright in real life, but only slightly. That's my favourite yarn; I've worn that jumper once a week for about the past 4 months and it still looks great. I have a pack of navy and one of black waiting to be used on vintage patterns.

    Perdita, I'm glad I no longer have a ponytail ;) I need a pencil skirt, once I can find one that fits my figure (not sure if it's too much waist or not enough butt!)

  5. I love that suit, a brilliant find! I've found a few suits in Charity Shops, but not one that fits me yet sadly!


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