Monday, May 25, 2015

A Casual Day Dress

While it's easy to get distracted by evening gowns and party dresses, there is something so lovely about a simple everyday dress. I love everyday clothing, the clothing people actually live in. That's really how I love to connect to the past. Here are a few lovelies that I'd adore having in my closet.

Oh, how do I love gingham! It's so classic. For some strange reason, I can't find gingham fabric with a check larger than 1/16" in a 100% cotton fabric. Otherwise, I'd replicate this dress in a heart beat.

This pink number looks a bit fancier but it's just the pearls talking. I can imagine running around town on errands in this lovely number.

This dress features one of the hallmarks of an everyday dress- a zip front closure.  I've always wanted to try a zip front. It seems so easy and casual.

Another yummy sleeveless dress. Not having sleeves makes something look fun and casual. All you have to do to make it office appropriate is throw on a cardigan.

Friday, May 22, 2015

My Current 1950s Wardrobe

After I posted about my 1950s wardrobe plan, I needed to evaluate what I already had in my closet and how those pieces fit into my plan. So here it is!

My main concerns with choosing pieces for the dress category were easy care, comfortable and cotton. Definitely thinking of summer weather! The first three are vintage- blue shirt waist, red and black sleeveless dress, orange and green shirtwaist dress. The last dress with red roses is a new make that I just finished.

Blouses are so key to a versatile wardrobe! I actually have quite a few but really only the blue one do I see working really well in my wardrobe. The blush colored one is vintage and lovely but not a good shade for my preferred neutrals of black and navy. The white sweater is nice but I'm not a huge fan of high necklines. The two printed blouses are fun but a bit loud for me. The yellow blouse is part of my patio set and I love it but it's made of some synthetic fabric and not good for super warm weather. So I have lots, but not a lot that I think will really work.

Two cardigans and two skirts. I love the teal skirt and I'll probably keep it in the mix. The kaki skirt is also nice but I have trouble deciding what colors to wear with it. It seems like all of the colors that would look good are not ones I like to wear too much. So I may make up this pattern again in a different color.

I also have two pair of capris-one vintage and one Freddies of Pinewood. I definitely want to keep the red pair in mind when adding blouses to my wardrobe.

And some possibilities for hats and gloves. These include some of my favorite hats. I threw in the yellow hat and gloves because I'm planning on adding a yellow dress or blouse/skirt combo to the mix. I have another white pair of gloves that I'm thinking of for pair number 4 but they are rather dingy and I'm trying to brighten them up. If that doesn't work, I'm thinking of dying them red. I've always wanted a pair of red gloves!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Building a Vintage Wardrobe on a Budget

Today we're talking wardrobe building again but this time we're talking budget. Whether you go all out for designer pieces or stalk thrift stores for buried treasures, we're all working on a budget. In this video, I share some of my tips and strategies to help my wardrobe dollars go farther.

Monday, May 18, 2015

By the Sea

I adore the beach! And having moved from a landlocked corner of the midwest, I was quite lacking in the beachwear department. So way back in January, I started a pair of beach pyjamas.

Beach pyjamas were popular in the 1930s. They were worn for beach wear and also for lounging. They feature wide legs and could be one or two piece sets.

I had previously made a lounging version that was very fun to wear around the house. Unfortunately, they are made of polyester and not so great for hot days at the beach.

For this version, I knew linen was the way to go! Breathable, drapey and easy to care for. I found a great striped linen and some coordinating green linen that were oh so yummy!

The pattern is Wearing History's Lounging at the Lido pattern.  I've previously done a pattern review so you can pop over if you're interested in making up this pattern. But, really, they aren't too difficult to sew up and the belt at the waist means that they don't have to be perfectly fitted. You do have to know how to use bias binding as a facing and how to do button holes. And the pants have a huge hem because they are fabulous and full but it's worth it.

For this version, I decided to do a color blocked version instead of all one color with contrasting ties and collar. There's no yardage given for this type of fabric combination. I ended up using about 1 yd for the bodice and about 2.5 yds for the pants, collar and ties. Both were 60 inch wide fabrics.

And this weekend, I finally got a chance to take pictures of me wearing my beach pyjamas at the beach. And look! I match the sea grass.

My church does beach baptisms during the summer and this is wear I wore these. Since I had no plans to actually go in the water, it was perfect. I don't recommend beach pjs for swimming. All of that fabric in the pants would make it difficult to swim.

I did get to dip my feet in the water. One of the nice things about linen is that it dries quickly especially in the warm Florida summer sun.

I got heaps and heaps of compliments while wearing this! I was a bit surprised. Beach pjs are definitely one of the odder vintage fashions and it's always a bit scary when you wear something particularly different for the first time.

 Guess I was worried for nothing. I had several ladies ask me where I got them. Perhaps I need a few more pairs of these beach pjs.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

My 1950s Capsule Wardrobe Plan

So earlier this week, I shared my 1940s capsule wardrobe. I really started working on it at the beginning of this year and I'm so proud of it! But now it's time to work on my 1950s capsule wardrobe. I'm planning on a larger capsule wardrobe and I won't really be focusing on Fall/Winter at all since I'm now in Florida but I'm excited for it to get started.

I'm going to start with a quick list of what I'd like to have in my wardrobe and then I'll break it down to see what I have and what I still need to make. I chose to base my plan after this one from 1949. It's actually a vacation wardrobe for the woman who wants to see the world. The original plan:

  • Two Suits: one tropical-weight grey worsted for travelling, with knife-pleat skirt and half-belted jacket; one fine black woollen tailor-made (the skirt can be worn with an off-the-shoulder pullover, to become an evening dress)
  • Six dresses: print dinner dress; heavy crepe dress; four cotton dresses
  • Undies: Petticoats, camiknickers and panties in the new nylon tricot; two brassieres; girdle; Six pairs of nylons
  • Four pairs of shoes: bronze kid ankle straps; black suede ankle straps; black courts; tan walking shoes
  • Two Pringle twin sets of cardigan and pullover, plus one black evening sweater
  • Four hats
  • Accessories: Four pairs of gloves; long woollen stole; three cotton headscarves; gold choker necklace (can be used on a belt for evening)

total: 30 pieces (not including the underwear)

My edited plan:

  • Two skirts and two blouses: For me, I definitely won't get much use out of two woolen suits. So I'll be changing the two suits out for two skirts and two blouses. If I pick coordinating sweaters then I can still get that suit look without having an actual suit.
  • Six dresses: I really like this category although I'll replace the heavy crepe dress for something more summer appropriate.
  • Undies: I'm pretty good here though I could use a new slip.
  • Four pairs of shoes: My interpretation of these shoes are metallic sandals, neutral strappy shoes, neutral pumps and neutral comfy flats. I have plenty of shoes so it shouldn't be hard to come up with four pair for my wardrobe.
  • Two cardigans and two blouses + one for evening wear (?): Ok, so I'm swapping the pullover part of the cardigan for more blouses.  I also like the idea of having one top that could be worn with a skirt for evening wear but I do actually have evening wear already so that may or may not happen.
  • Shorts: I'm adding in 1 pair of shorts because it's Florida.
  • Four hats: Will definitely have plenty to choose from!
  • Accessories: I can dig the 4 pairs of gloves but I doubt I'll need a stole or head scarves (all though it would be cool to have a few that matched some of the dresses) and I'll swap the gold choker necklace for my good old pearls.
total: 28 + I may swap in some other accessories for the hair scarves.

So it's definitely bigger than my 1940s capsule wardrobe but things were bigger in the 50s. (And it's still smaller than the Project 333 wardrobe suggestion of a 33 piece capsule wardrobe). In some categories, like dresses, I already have more than 6 50s dresses but I really want a color coordinated mix and match wardrobe. And I have other unique things, like my patio dress, that will just exist outside of the capsule wardrobe.

Blouses: 4

For blouses, I want one white, one black and the other two are sort of up for grabs. For the Florida summer, light weight natural fibers are a must. I'm currently sewing a black blouse but I still need a white blouse. The two bonus blouses I'll probably pull from ones I already have.

 Skirts: 2

I already have 2 circle skirts that could work depending on how my color palette develops. I am leaning towards black as my neutral color so a brown circle skirt may not work. I'd also like one less full skirt like maybe an a line.

Dresses: 6 (one "fancy" dinner dress, one medium fancy afternoon/tea dress, 4 cotton day dresses)

I currently have 2 light weight shirtwaist dresses and another one on my sewing table. And I do have some options for the more fancy dresses.

Cardigans: 2

I just purchased a cute white bolero and I'll probably include my go to red cardigan.

High Waisted Shorts: 1

I already planned on making a green pair of shorts. I also have a pair of jean sorts but they are a bit big now and I haven't decided if I should try to take them in (ugg topstitching) or just make a new pair.

Hats: 4

I definitely have plenty of hats. Deciding on just 4 will be the hard part!

Gloves and Shoes: 4 each

For gloves, I'm thinking black, white crochet and maybe one or two pair in a fun color. On the shoe front, I'm up for flats, flats and more flats. I also have a few pair of trusty wedges and my Remix sandals to throw in the mix!

Can't wait to get this finished so I can share it with you! And wear it, of course. I'm sure I'll change my mind on a few things but this is making some progress.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Adding Versatility to Your Wardrobe

Ladies of the past were often very creative to get the most out of their wardrobes. These patterns give us some great ideas for stretching our wardrobes.

Using a variety of faux undershirts called dickies allows your dress or suit to have a variety of looks.

Detachable collars and cuffs can really change the look of an outfit.

Other layering pieces like vests are cute. Vests also have the added bonus of being a warming layer in the winter.

Other accessories like colorful belts and scarves will change the feel of a basic solid color dress.

And don't forget about more common layering pieces like capelets, boleros and cardigans.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Two 1940s Capsule Wardrobes

There can be a lot of challenges to building a great vintage wardrobe but there's one in particular that I want to talk about today and it comes from our modern upbringing. We think that we need a million pieces in our closet to have a complete wardrobe! Fast fashion says more more more but that's not how ladies of the past lived!

If you've ever see the closets in a vintage home, you've noticed how tiny they are compared to modern walk in closets. People didn't feel the need to have so much stuff (and couldn't afford to buy it all) especially during WWII. So today I'm going to show you two 1940s capsule wardrobes one for spring and summer and the other for fall and winter. This mode of thinking is so different from how most of us today approach our wardrobes but I hope to be able to show you that you don't need a closet bursting with vintage and reproduction dresses to have great vintage style.

After I filmed the video, I decided to take some photos and elaborate a bit more.

The Core Wardrobe

The core pieces of each wardrobe are above. You'll want a suit and coordinating cardigan. Pick a long sleeved cardigan for a suit with a short sleeved jacket or a short sleeved cardigan with a long sleeved jacket. Throw in a few coordinating blouses and a hat.

The suit can be worn by itself or with either of the two blouses. You can also wear the skirt with each of the blouses with no jacket for a more casual look. The hat can be worn with any of these outfits. I picked sort of a bold color palette with the red suit but more traditional colors like navy, black or gray would be even more versatile.

Pieces: 5
Outfits: 5

The Spring/Summer Wardrobe

For spring and summer, pick the short sleeved top for your suit. Add in a nice springy dress or two. I didn't have another coordinating summer weight skirt but that would also be nice.

Accessories are how we are going to really change up the core pieces. Add a springy hat that can be worn with any of the outfits you can build. I picked two pair of gloves-one white and one lavender- and a floral brooch with lavender flowers. Add in one neutral bag and matching shoes and you are good to go.

The dress can be worn by itself or with the suit jacket. Changing accessories like hats and gloves adds even more mixing possibilities. For example, with the white blouse and red skirt we could do a) green hat and white gloves, b) straw hat, lavender gloves and brooch c) straw hat and white gloves d) green hat, lavender gloves and brooch e) green hat and lavender gloves f) straw hat and lavender gloves g) green hat, white gloves and brooch and h) straw hat, white gloves and brooch. Each of these outfits could also be worn with the jacket or blue blouse. It goes on and on.

New Pieces: 6
New Outfits: 48 (more if you add the springy skirt)

The Fall/Winter Wardrobe

We've swapped out the spring dress for a more wintery one and added a winter weight skirt. Swap out the long sleeved top for your suit to be more winter appropriate. Another great piece you could add is a sweater that could be worn alone or over either of the blouses.

 The winter accessories include a black beret, black gloves, sparkly brooch and black bag. You'll also want a black winter coat and pair of black shoes.

Ok, even more outfits now. Accessory combinations include a) beret, black gloves and brooch b) beret and black gloves, c) beret, white gloves and brooch d) beret and white gloves e) green hat, white gloves and brooch f) green hat, black gloves and brooch g) green hat and white gloves and h) green hat and black gloves. Two blouses and two skirts plus the option of suit jacket or no jacket gives us 8 bases. With the 8 accessory combinations we're up to 64 outfits! Add in another 16 from dress combinations (8 different sets of accessories with and without the jacket) and now we are at 80! Just adding that extra skirt gave us a huge number of extra outfits.

New Pieces: 7
New Outfits: 80

So let's see where we are at:

Total pieces: 21 (includes winter coat and 2 pairs of shoes not pictured)
Outfits: 130+

Wow! You'd only have to wear each outfit 3 times to make it through the whole year. I didn't even include outfit options with no hats! Adding another dress, more accessories or another skirt or blouse would give you even more options. So you see, you really don't have to have a huge wardrobe to have lots of outfit options.