By mid-1980s the world economy was on the rise, and financial capitals of the world were witnessing a boom. The ‘executive look’, first seen in the 1970s as part of working women’s dress, transformed into what became known as ‘power dressing’. This style was inspired by the male silhouette, and was achieved through skirt suits and dresses with wide shoulder pads.
You may love them or loath them, but shoulder pads do offer a certain amount of structure and shape to the upper body. Take this navy-blue pleated dress by ‘Wallis Exclusive’ for example. Its shoulder pads had completely disintegrated over the years (see image below). This issue is sometimes found in vintage clothing and there isn’t a thing you can do about it – best to remove them completely and replace with new pads. Alternatively, if the garment is really old, it’s advisable to save the outer shells if you can, wash to remove the particles, and fill with new padding.
Now whilst the dress would have been perfectly wearable without shoulder pads, the loosely shaped pleated bodice just didn’t look right without them. The photograph, below left, shows the dress without shoulder pads; see how it bulks-up around the torso? Replacing the shoulder pads (photograph right) shows how the bodice drapes properly, front and back, without looking bulky.
Okay, so I’m a sucker for most things vintage. I wear it, collect it, and I also source and sell vintage clothing as part of my business, Catwalk Creative (a horrible job, but someone’s got to do it). I jest of course! In addition, most of my friends and family are now officially ‘vintage’ – meaning over 20 years old!
I’m not saying that I wear vintage 100% of the time. It’s not always practical to do so; not when you’re doing school runs, looking after family, and running a small business and all that entails. However, I do try and wear something vintage every day, even if it’s a small piece of costume jewellery.
Of course I do buy new stuff too, so I thought it would be interesting to compare two frocks that I’ve recently treated myself to; one is brand new, the other is over 50 years old. Both frocks are really cute (in my humble opinion), and they’re perfect for summer. By the way, navy-blue is a very hot colour trend for this coming season, so I caught on lucky with the polka-dot number!
Here are the frocks . . . . . now you decide . . . . . ‘click’ the image for a closer view!
I appreciate that not everyone loves the allure of old clothing; some people just don’t ‘get it’. However, ask anyone that loves vintage and they’ll tell you that generally speaking, it’s the quality of fabrics and construction techniques, the colours and the style opportunities it offers, that makes collecting it so appealing.
Most are drawn to a particular era. However in my case, I love elements from most fashion decades; the flowing bias-cut gowns of the 1930s, to the diversity of styles that were around in the 1970s – everything from early Laura Ashley to sharp tailored suits, flared trousers and everything else in between!
As mentioned, I paid £50.00 for the new dress; it is pretty and very easy to wear, but the cotton is thin and the construction basic. To be honest, if I’d have seen the vintage dress for sale in an online shop somewhere, I’d have happily paid £50.00 plus for it; I often buy from other vintage specialists if I find something that I really love. The fabric quality and construction are far superior to the modern day option, and it may well last another 50 years!
The 1950s were full of imaginative fabric prints. After the drab 1940s, decorative fabrics with highly stylised graphic prints offered something new and modern. The dress fabric used here is a great example!
And finally, just to mention that my vintage dress had been shortened by at least 6 inches (15cm) by the previous owner! Shock! Horror! Luckily, they hadn’t chopped the fabric off completely, so I was able to unpick it and let it down. Et voilà! The dress now looks as it was originally intended. I think the previous owner must have chopped off some of the length though. Can you see the raw, unfinished edge? There’s no way a professionally made dress like this would have been hemmed like that; although you’d never know from the outside.
I seriously can’t stand to see chopped-off versions of vintage dresses. Visit any number of online auction sites and you can see for yourself. There simply wasn’t an abundance of mini-length frocks until the latter part of the 1960s. For goodness sake! Dare to be different and treat yourself to an original 1960s or 1970s mini dress, rather than a shortened version from the 1950s. Alternatively, buy a shiny brand new mini-length cocktail dress; the high street is simply over-flowing with them!
It’s with great delight that I’ve found an online company that offers its customers top class customer service. They are Big Bead Little Bead.
I was desperately looking for a tiny spring-ring clasp; very insignificant I know, but I was hoping to find a vintage clasp in order to repair a pendant and chain by Ward Brothers dating c.1918.
This adorable piece of jewellery arrived as part of an auction lot that I recently purchased (not from eBay I hasten to add). The chain was in pretty poor shape; it was knotted in several places and the spring-ring clasp was missing. I spent a considerable amount of time unraveling the chain, and then set about looking for a replacement clasp.
Google search came up with Big Bead Little Bead and I loved the look of the website immediately. I found exactly what I was looking for but unfortunately it was out of stock. I subsequently emailed them to see if there was anything suitable and sent photographs too. And here it is . . .
Within an hour, I received a friendly reply from Anna in which she offered several alternatives. I decided to go for a vintage brass curb chain with spring-ring clasp. I also purchased a further chain as it’s handy to have a spare for displaying pendants. Anna told me that if they were unsuitable for my requirements I could send them back.
My order arrived the very next day, which is amazing since I ordered quite late in the afternoon. Perhaps they dispatched via Ninja!
So, if you are looking for beads, charms, jewellery findings, or any other jewellery making supplies for that matter, I suggest you look no further than Big Bead Little Bead. Thank you for all your help!
Before I go, I just want to share the charming hand-written note that came with the crystal pendant. How sweet! Click on the image for a closer view.
To Dear Cousin Beatrice
Wishing you every Happiness on your 8th Birthday
and prosperity for future years
from your loving cousin
Last year I purchased a couple of vintage crochet blankets from Etsy. They look great in my daughter’s bedroom; the bright colours are so cheerful and fun. So recently, after finding another crochet blanket in a local charity shop, I got the idea that I’d really like to have a go at crochet myself. Perhaps I could try making granny squares and see whether I’d have the staying power to make enough squares for a small blanket?
First of all, I purchased a set of crochet hooks on eBay (£5.99) and found some soft acrylic yarn that wasn’t too expensive. Now there was no excuse!
I found a great tutorial on YouTube, courtesy of VeryPink.com. There are hundreds of tutorials available online, but I was particularly drawn to this one. She clearly knows her stuff and provides full instructions – she’s very easy on the eye too! One thing I realised is that UK and USA stitches have different names but seeing as I’m just concentrating on basic crochet techniques for now, I was more inclined towards a tutorial which I found easiest to follow.
It took me a couple of attempts to get my granny square perfect, but after that, it became easier and easier. Here’s what I’ve managed to create so far . . . . .
I’ll be sure to post photographs of the finished blankets in due course. Stay tuned!
Originally posted on Catwalk Threads Vintage:
“Class distinction has had more influence on fashion than anything else in history. Today, the social revolution has brought a kind of fashion anarchy and with it a new form of class distinction born of privilege rather than class”, says Mrs Doris Langley Moore. For the past forty years she has studied historic costume and is founder of, and honorary advisor to the Museum of Costume, Bath.
A dress given by her mother-in-law after a game of charades at a Christmas party started her ‘possession obsession’, as she…
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Back in August 2013, I wrote about a very sweet skirt suit by Liza Peta (read the original post here). I hadn’t seen this particular label before, and as I’m always keen to seek out further information, I asked whether anyone had come across it. To my astonishment, I received a lovely e-mail from a gentleman that had worked for the company as a UK representative, from 1966 until 1973, and also in 1977. Furthermore, he had some very fond memories of working for this company; which is always nice to know.
The ‘Liza Peta’ company was formed around 1960 in Essex. In 1966 the company was purchased by a company in Leman Street, Aldgate, London, where manufacturing, administration and dispatch took place. The first showroom opened in approximately 1968 at 41 Great Portland Street, London W1.
Clothing was manufactured in the UK, for store groups and boutiques. Exports started to Europe around 1967. The clothing comprised of ladies separates, suits and dresses, initially for the mature woman, in the medium price bracket.
The company expanded and in approximately 1967, the ‘Liza Petite’ label was introduced. This included younger styles and smaller sizes, and was very well received. Around 1968 a company called ‘Mary Wilson’ was purchased and brought into the fold; clothing included an outsize version of Liza Peta for UK sizes 16-30. The three labels covered most ends of the market being stylish, well made and very well priced.
‘Liza Peta’ was a combination of the names of the children of the original directors of the formative company.
Clothing was manufactured mostly in the UK, although some of the ‘Liza Petite’ range was made in British Hong Kong. The fabrics used in the manufacture of the clothing was both British made and imported.
Of each of the brands, there were Spring and Autumn main ranges, with two smaller mid-season ranges. Clothing was sold in the UK via various fashion fairs such as the London Fashion Fair, Harrogate Fashion Fair, and via agents in the UK and Europe.