Building a vintage wardrobe, two years on

Had I written this a month ago, it probably would have a very different tone. I lost interest in a lot of things, including clothes. However, reading at other bloggers’ looking-back-on-2012 posts, I’ve been really impressed with their clear personal style, immaculate grooming and beautiful outfits, and it’s given me new inspiration.

Unlike the year before, I didn’t have specific purchases in mind for 2012. I said I wanted to get more repro dresses, keep my eye out for authentic vintage that fits and that I like, and track down a handbag. Well, I failed at the first two. I bought just one piece of repro (although it was an Able Grable evening gown) and one vintage dress that fits. That wasn’t the only vintage dress I bought it was the only one that fitted. The other two are hanging on the back of a door, a big reminder of why it’s best to be realistic about one’s measurements when shopping online. I think this is one of the reasons why I went off clothes: too many (self-inflicted) disappointments.

I did add a few things to my wardrobe. There was a skirt from Oasis – one of their rare size 18s – in a fabulous 50s-style print. Had it been six inches longer it’d have been perfect, as it is it’s still a jolly nice summer skirt. In a fit of The Hour-inspired shopping madness I bought a lovely green dress from Fever. I also got a few charity shop bits, such as a pleated skirt.

I finished knitting my Jersey with a Soft Bow, and really don’t like it. Oh dear. Having solved the problem of it being too wide in the re-knitting, it’s far too long. The yarn for it was pricy, so I’m going to wear the wretched thing. And don’t ask about the work-in-progress navy cardigan. (Note to self: STOP KNITTING YOURSELF TOPS IN 4PLY, YOU KNIT TOO SLOWLY.) 

I had far more success with handbags. I bought five this year, four genuine vintage and one modern but with the structured look that I like. Two were from dealers, the other three were charity shop finds. The black vinyl one by MacLaren of Norwich, 1960s to judge by its label, is my everyday bag when I’m wearing black shoes, the brown leather by Dents is modern, but does for everyday use when I’m wearing brown footwear. The more ornate black bag is a 1950s Riviera, still has its original purse inside... and the stitching has gone in the bottom. Erse. I need to repair it before its next outing. Then there's a lovely 1960s brown mock-croc handbag, which isn't in the photo as I thought I'd bought it last year. And I think I bought my black art deco evening bag this year too. Hmm. That's a lot of bags! I hadn't realised it was so many before I wrote this post. No wonder Mr Robot looks sad whenever I start looking at new ones.

Accessories are guaranteed to fit, so I bought plenty of those. Again, most of them were from charity shops – if you keep looking, you can still find a beautiful original piece for less than the price of something on the High Street. I’ve yet to wear my bright green felt hat, but some of the silk scarves have had outings. I’ve also acquired a lot of 50s-60s diamante jewellery. I got a couple of sets from Etsy, where you can buy them for relatively little, and found others in charity shops. My sparkles make an odd contrast with my nantastic tweedy skirts, but they really do brighten up a rainy Monday or bad-mood Tuesday.

So, where for 2013? I can honestly say I don’t know! I know last autumn I thought I should try to pull things in a more deco direction, and the repro items I want to get this year are all 1920s-1930s in style, but without thinking about things I’ve stacked up on midcentury accessories. There's been a strong leaning towards dusky pink and forest green, too. So I’ll just keep wearing and buying things I like and see where things are in another 12 months...


  1. That's a really interesting post, Mim and its certainly given me food for thought. I agree with you about accessories and recently brought a pair of olive green 1960s Dents gloves to wear to a christening - the church gets very cold! It made me think about wearing such gloves more often instead of just opting for my own hand-knitted ones all the time.

  2. I am always buying things that don't fit, silly girl that l am. But you do have an Able Grable...this is a great achievement!

    1. I got a sample cheap on Etsy, which made me dead keen to get a custom-made one. They're really lovely dresses.

  3. I got the problem that I can't say no to cheap vintage, I buy everything that's pretty and cheap.

    I feel that I start crawling more towards the deco era when it comes to jewelry but not when it comes to clothes, they wouldn't suit my shape.

    That green hat looks fab, can't wait to see you wearing it.

    1. I'm worst for books and old magazines, but I hadn't realised my handbag habit had got so out of control. If I had more room, my house would be crammed with china and glass too.

      I just want to give it all a good home and look after it!

  4. You can never have too many gorgeous handbags! I am also a sucker for a lovely vintage scarf. I think you have a beautiful collection - I look forward to reading more. Sam


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