It has been a year since my last blog post, and what a weird, yet occasionally wonderful and surprising year it has been. I have not been nearly as productive as I would have liked and this blog has sat dormant while less enjoyable endeavours demanded my attention, but that is the nature of chronically ill life! The past 12 months have seen my style evolve and shift from a beginner trying a little bit of everything, to something more refined and consistent. I was fortunate enough to expand my reproduction wardrobe to include dream new vintage brands like Emmy Design Sweden, The House of Foxy and Charlie Stone Shoes, as well as more pieces from my early favourites Vivien of Holloway and Freddies of Pinewood. The circle skirts and 50s dresses have found loving new homes, my mass-produced modern clothes have been donated aside from two pairs of jeans and some tracksuit pants. My wardrobe looks far more cohesive, and I am beginning to feel like I have finally found my own personal vintage style.
My obsession with 1940s high-waisted trousers has grown, billowy blouses are a must, and more androgynous pieces like braces / suspenders, neckties, tweed & wool vests are becoming high in my outfit rotation. My dresses are less vibrant than their 50s predecessors; faithful 30s – 40s reproductions with a-line skirts and statement-making silhouettes are usually reserved for fancier outings or events. My colour palette has also settled on more earthy tones than my beginner days – favouring browns, creams and blacks with flashes of deep green or burgundy. I have stopped wearing my hair out in waves as much (it’s currently falling out – it does this periodically…), so I tend to opt for updos of messy curls for a less structured look – mastering a perfectly coiffed 40s updo is something I’m still working on! I wear red lipstick more than I used to (which was never until January 2019), and find myself feeling like my dresses don’t look finished without it. When I wear trousers or shorts, I still tend to go without.
My style is still very much 1930s-1940s, but I take small liberties here and there for comfort, practicality, functionality, and because sometimes, for example, I just don’t like a particular accessory from this time period and instead choose items that I like. This past year, aspiring to era-correct style was helpful when I was figuring out exactly what my own style was – when in doubt, what do the magazines of the 1930s say about a particular garment or outfit? When I wasn’t sure if something looked good, I would comb through images from the time to see if I could find a photo of someone wearing something similar. If I couldn’t, I’d search through Instagram to see how others were styling similar pieces. The more confident I become, the less I find myself researching ‘what would they have done back in the day?’ and trust my own taste.
When it comes to everyday looks, I’d say the solidification of my personal vintage style is influenced mostly by the 1940s silver screen stars Katharine Hepburn and Lauren Bacall, with a dash of ‘a vintage take on Cate Blanchett’s androgynous style’.
Generally speaking, I don’t feel I’m very feminine – I never have. Truth be told, I used to spend an exorbitant amount of time stressing that I looked ‘like a boy’, until my early 20s. As long exaggerated eye-roll -worthy as my teenage existential panic over gender norms was, my achieving an authentically 30s aesthetic is tricky when the fashion of the time is very much split into two camps – the ultra feminine and masculine men’s fashion. Many dresses from the era suit my scrawny frame but don’t suit how I view myself or how I want to present myself to the world. While there were women at the time who broke gender norms and opted for less feminine dress, especially during the war, I was finding the ‘authentic’ label too restricting. I still wear traditionally ‘feminine’ outfits with dresses and skirts that I adore, they just aren’t really what I feel the most at home in, and I am very conscious of being dressed up. I’m much better suited to androgynous, practical, Pasty Sick Girl friendly attire for everyday wear, and that means veering away from strictly 30s/40s fashion, and sometimes adopting a more modern interpretation of that era’s aesthetic. I wanted to be able to borrow a hairstyle from the 1900s, with 1930s men’s style trousers and a 40s blouse with no makeup and specs from the 1910s without the voice in my head telling me I’m ‘doing it wrong’.
I have moved away from the idea that my personal style must be strictly era correct in every aspect, and now that I am more knowledgeable about clothing from the 30s through 40s and have a better sense of what my own personal style is, I feel comfortable adding in earlier or later reproduction pieces that I feel suit my aesthetic. I don’t feel the pressure I felt a year ago to look like I was plucked straight out of a photo from 1940. I have so much appreciation and respect for vintage folks who do recreate that aesthetic down to the smallest detail – it is absolutely beautiful and I admire the time, research and effort taken to achieve it – I just don’t quite fit there. I’ve taken everything I’ve learned about the aesthetics of the time, the fabrics and designs that were popular, and have created my own unique take on the various aspects that resonate with me. My goal is no longer to be era correct so much as it is to be me correct.
So, then, with my style still in the process of being gradually fine-tuned and a drastically changed wardrobe, I will leave you with a list of my current favourite reproduction vintage brands, and my top wardrobe picks, one year on from my last list. Stay safe one and all, lots of love to you and yours! BB x
Emmy Design Sweden was my ultimate vintage outfit dream. Emmy’s focus is on creating signature statement pieces to add that ‘wowzers, where did you get that?’ factor to their customers’ wardrobes. They are focused on providing excellent-quality vintage inspired slow fashion, designed for comfort and constructed to last. Emmy Design is the pricier brand I buy from. I tend to wait for the end-of-season sales to purchase from them (one of the few perks of living so far away in the Southern Hemisphere!), and save to get multiple items at a time to save on shipping to Australia.
For Australians, find them on Australian stockist Call Me Valerie.
My Picks: Their iconic Miss Fancy Pants trousers and suspenders, knitted wool cardigans like the Ice Skater and all fair-isle designs for cosy and snug winters for many years to come.
The House of Foxy is immensely popular in the vintage community. Specialising in reproduction garments from the 20s to the 60s, their designs are the product of meticulous research into the clothing from these eras, using true vintage pieces from their archives, original patterns and photographs from the time. Even those with extensive true vintage wardrobes use House of Foxy pieces to complement their original garments. Their products are ethically made in the UK and Europe, and they are committed to improving their viscose / rayon fabrics to be more sustainable and eco-friendly.
For Australians, find them on Australian stockist Call Me Valerie.
My Picks: 1940s long and short sleeve blouses in all colours and prints, Whirlaway skirts and Americana Jackets.
Australian brand Charlie Stone Shoes produces high quality, vintage inspired footwear and accessories to compliment the classic outfit styles of the 1920s to 1950s, through to modern wardrobes. Though many of their products are leather, they also offer an ever-increasing selection of stunning vegan alternatives constructed from materials that are made to last.
My Picks: Vegan Roma Flats and Luxe Heels, Luxe New York heels for that touch of evening elegance. Versailles bags for elegant practicality with a vintage flair.
Freddies of Pinewood is a UK-based reproduction brand specialising in 40s and 50s traditional non-stretch jeans. Their products are about as close to the real-deal as reproduction gets. From ‘land army’ style dungarees and war-era work blouses to beatnik jeans and tops, Freddies is your go-to for casual everyday reproduction vintage wear.
My Picks: Their 1940s dungarees in various styles and colours, and all of their work blouses & spellbounds.
If you love bold, vibrant, statement-making reproduction 1950s outfits, you will adore Vivien of Holloway. They offer a wide range of 40s and 50s style dresses, pants, tops, skirts and jackets in every colour imaginable. They are a UK based small business, and the people behind my favourite 1940s trousers – the ‘Katharine Trousers’.
For Australians, Shop At Christine’s is an Australian stockist for Vivien of Holloway.
My Picks: Their signature high-waisted Katharine Trousers in every colour and fabric.