A Style of One's Own

This should probably wait for the end of the year and my annual ‘Building a Vintage Wardrobe’ post, but it’s something I’ve been thinking a bit about. I’ve hit the point where I have the basics. Vintage bags – black, brown, even an evening bag. Retro shoes in black and brown. Several jumpers and skirts. A few dresses, both repro and original. Rather a lot of costume jewellery, and a few scarves. And I’m finally over the point of feeling I need to get anything because there’s a hole in my wardrobe. (I try not to buy on impulse, but when you’re plus-size you do get the urge to shove anything that’s your size into your basket because Halleluia, it fits!) No, now I can look for things to build on what’s already there.

 I can see a style coming through. I’ve always loved simple shapes and avoided prints. I have a few print items now, but they tend to be quite clear patterns, with no brushstroke effects or watercolour wishy-washiness, and small to medium in scale. I’d much rather have a woven colour pattern like tweed or tartan, or a textural decoration such as embroidery. Colours are mostly quite quiet: neutrals, greens and blues, plus an occasional splash of red. Shapes? Still simple. Shift dresses, plain skirts, that sort of thing. No ruffles or frou-frou. No peter pan collars. Bags are boxy, shoes uncomplicated. The only place there’s ever a real sense of drama is in jewellery, which I cannot resist.

Now, there is a down side to the way I dress: things can look decidedly ‘nana’. I’m not sure if it’s down to my figure – I’m plus size in my late 30s, so I've got quite a matronly shape - combined with the longer skirts of a lot of vintage styles, and my own general taste for unobtrusive colours and patterns. I think the way round this will be to make sure my accessories are sharp; 'neat and appropriate' is fine, but 'stylish' also needs to be in there.

So where is my style heading now? Definitely still more towards the deco end of things, although I’m quite fond of 60s flapper-influenced styles and 70s-does-Edwardian looks. While I lean towards the styles of the 1920s and 1930s, I’m never going to have ‘my decade’. That means I’m not ‘properly’ vintage, but nuts to that, I’m dieselpunk, if anything, not a re-enactor anyway. What I want to look for in future purchases is a hint of the deco, be that in pattern or silhouette, and not a nostalgic ‘wasn’t it romantic?’ take on deco (like the languid ladies on greetings cards) either. It needs to have speed in the streamlining, a hint of the wonders of the machine age. Things don’t have to be vintage or repro, but they need to embody the deco spirit. This should give my accessories the edge I need to avoid premature nanahood!

Where's your style going? Take me on your journey too!


  1. Well, I do like your thinking about style and how it works with you and what suits you or not. Good for you to be aware of the nana-effect it can have. I see that happening to several vintage inpired gals out there. Vintage isn't a solid working miracle for glam or cute, sometimes it can make one look just old or boring. Though, I don't think it has to do with size.

    Is it things not working with one's personality? I can't wear pearls, I just look like boring old tart. Peter Pan collars make me look like a daft mutton dressed as lamb, most romantic tiny flowered fabrics just look soooo wrong on me. I can't wear headscarves, I just look like the cleaning lady from a sketch.

    I'm really looking forward to see how you'll perk up your basic style.

  2. I love this look, it really looks good on you. My style is getting more eccentric!

  3. Oh god the Nana look! There are often things I see that I think have a great vintage feel etc and on someone else would look gorgeous and retro but on me.....well *shudders*

  4. I think your 'nana chic' looks superb!

    My style is going very autumnal at the moment... I am very into reds and mustards! I'm also going for shorter (as in not a maxi for once) skirts... daring!

  5. Whenever i watch Poirot and see Ms Lemon, i think of you- i now you have mentioned her as a inspiration and i think you do manage her prim/smart look but not fuddy duddy (if that's the right description)
    Personally, i am much more Victorian inspired and trying to build up the confidence to be more individual as i would really like to wear more creams and skirts rather than sticking my jeans on everyday

  6. Thank you for the nice comments, everyone :) (Especially the Miss Lemon one, Rachel!) I do honestly think I'd look stupid if I tried to look cute, so I just need to add a bit more glam and punch to the primness, pick some accessories that are just a bit less louder and less respectable!

    Perdita, I refuse to believe you have legs. I thought you were some sort of saucy Dalek ;)

    Rachel, I love the Victorian look on others, and it works brilliantly for you. It's fab how people can find the looks that are good on them. Perhaps a few whitework blouses with the jeans would be a good option.


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