We see fashion as a special form of beauty. It’s the art of wearing what’s most flattering and at the same time making sense. Sculptured lines with additional cover-up make fashion sense right through to autumn. Since long before Caesar, women have had to be conquerors of fashion – it’s half the answer to enjoying life and being beautiful. Et tu, beauty?
Scanned from FASHION magazine, August 1968
‘Click’ the image twice for a super-sized view.
ABOVE: Coat in treacle brown jersey over a sleeveless dress in orange, red and brown. By Bernard Russell, £27. Beige beret by Kangol, jewellery by Adrien Mann, gloves by Miloré, brown stockings, Mary Quant, and brown and black shoes, Kurt Geiger, 12 gns.
ABOVE: Nonchalant suit with lean lengthy jacket in red, white and black with a black patent belt and a black skirt pleated at the front. Suit by Sybil Zelker for Polly Peck, £17 5s. White silk scarf by Richard Allen. Trilby (not shown) from 5½ gns, at Herbert Johnson. Glossy black shoes piped with white, 11 gns, from Gaby. Photograph: Val Pariser.
ABOVE: Imaginative suit in black and white striped tweed, its long conclave jacket notched in at the front with a shiny black patent belt. The blouse to add: white, without sleeves and with a detachable tie. Suit and blouse by Salvador, 34½ gns. Ring by Adrien Mann. Photograph: Val Pariser.
This autumn, fashion goes shapely with coats and suit jackets moulded so that they cling to the rib-cage or with more defiant shaping in the form of a big bold belt. For waistlines that can’t take this amount of definition there’s this season’s other great suit look, the cardigan jacket, which tops a nice easy skirtful of wide flat pleats. But whichever look you make your own don’t stop there – for what gives the new line real fashion impact are a few simple additions – a blouse to give a suit real togetherness, a dress to underline precisely the simple cut of the coat which covers it – this kind of arithmetic makes this autumn’s look all add up.
ABOVE: Bloomy camel wool coat with petal shaped revers faced with black and a clingy belt with a round buckle. The dress that’s underneath is in the same camel wool with a rounded neckline and well defined seaming. Dress and coat by Andre Peters, 40 gns.
ABOVE: Autumnal cardigan suit in a mingling of brown and mustard yellow, with a blouse in fine brown wool. Suit and blouse both by Salvador, 49 gns, at Fortnum and Mason. Old England Pendant watch from Harvey Nichols. Soft beige shoes, 99 s. 11d. at Russell and Bromley.
Hairstyles by Michael at Michaeljohn.
Images scanned from FASHION magazine, August 1969
Photography: Dean Pywell
‘Click’ on the images . . . and ‘click’ again, for a super-sized view . . .
August is a month of many moods. Sun-filled for the out-of-towners and full of autumn promise for the planners. To reflect these moods FASHION finds last-minute holiday buys for the woman who refuses to commit herself ahead and, for her opposite number (the woman we most admire), a look into autumn at the best that’s new. Get brown all over – even your clothes, for the brown spectrum is big news right now. Scatter your sultry evening looks with a shower of sequins, or slink into that silky second-skin look with fabrics that cling.
Summertime, and the shops are full of snow clothes. They reckon your summer holiday wardrobe must be complete by Easter, but FASHION thinks otherwise. What about those unpredictable, tantalising last-minute invitations? To a week’s camping in the Algarve . . . a few days’ boating down the Rhine . . . a weekend in the Highlands . . . For those you’ll want an extra something to spark off your holiday mood (like champagne). FASHION has scouted round for crisp, nifty last-minute numbers, to see you off in top form.
One of my favourite purchases of late is this eye-grabbing house-dress dating c.1960s, early 1970s. I love its boldness; bright orange ruffles running across the bodice, mirrored around the generously wide sleeves. Perhaps not to everyone’s taste, but an interesting piece from an interesting fashion decade. It has the sort of loose, open shape, that makes it easy-to-wear around the house at the weekend . . . . . . maybe if you’re the glamorous, Liz Taylor type.
Had it not been for the short length, I’d have described this as a hostess gown. I suspect it may have been floor length at one time. Shortening a hemline would certainly make a garment less formal looking, so perhaps the previous owner made the alteration to keep up with fashion trends of the time.
Search online for images of ‘Vintage 1960s Lounge Wear‘ and you’ll be drowned in a sea of colourful prints and interesting designs. The Vintage Fashion Guild’s sparkly new website is the perfect place to visit. They’ve put together a lingerie guide, which will help identify your vintage treasures. Take a look at examples of antique and vintage lingerie from across the decades.
Thank goodness for my friends at the Vintage Fashion Guild. Had it not been for their help and advice, I wouldn’t have attempted re-stringing this vintage necklace – a very simple project to those into jewellery making, but I’d never attempted anything like this before. I don’t mind getting the sewing machine out to repair vintage clothing, but when it comes to repairing vintage jewellery . . . . well, I’d have to be 100 per cent sure about what I was doing; especially with an older piece such as this one. It’s made from different shaped glass beads and dates circa late 1930s, early 1940s. I particularly love the yellow ruffle beads; so unusual. I don’t think I’ve seen anything quite like them.
Initially, I just wanted advice on how best to clean the necklace. As you can image, a necklace this old has accumulated lots of grime and makeup over the years. I wonder who wore it originally? . . . . . or how many owners it’s had? . . . . . Well, time for a clean!
The old silk cord looked pretty grimy and weak so my colleagues at the VFG suggested re-stringing the necklace. First I took a photograph showing the bead pattern, then cut the silk cord and removed the beads and fastening. I carefully washed each bead individually; first soaking them in a small bowl of warm soapy water and then using a narrow toothbrush to remove any stubborn grime. Before attempting this with your own jewellery, make sure you know what the beads are made from. Glass is perfectly okay to wash, however some types of lucite and definitely bakelite, does not like water at all. Best to use a dry bristle brush and soft polishing cloth to remove dirt.
I purchased some white silk cord (0.50 mm) by Griffin, from Semi Precious Beads. This cord was perfect since it came with a wire needle attached, making the whole process much easier. I also purchased some antique plated bead tips (calottes) from eBay. They’re very similar in colour to the original spring-ring fastener which I managed to save.
The glass beads cleaned up a treat! I doubled the silk cord for extra strength and attached the bead tips and spring-ring fastener; quite easy if you have some good quality pliers. Now the necklace is good for another 70 years . . . .
It took me about an hour to re-string this necklace, doubling the silk cord and attaching the bead tips and fastener. Well worth the time and a very satisfying project. If you have a vintage necklace with unusual shaped beads like this one, I’d really love to see.
I apologise for this lengthy post. However, I really want to go into some detail with this so please bear with me. It’s not often that I feel the need to talk about the habits of the online buying public. Mainly because my customers, on the whole, are very appreciative and happy with their purchases. This hasn’t been achieved by sheer luck on my part. No, the reason is because I go to great lengths to make sure that my customers know exactly what they are buying. For example, I describe the merchandise in detail; I take lots of high-quality, high-resolution photographs; and I prepare my vintage stock before listing – that means cleaning it, pressing it, and repairing it where necessary. I also check carefully for any flaws and imperfections (usually highlighted when I’m going through the cleaning process), and I always, always, always, include a full condition report and measurements.
All of these things take up a considerable amount of time. However it’s really important (to me), that when I sell something online, my customer is fully aware of what they are buying in order to make an informed decision. Sounds fair? I think so.
Anyway, as mentioned, the majority of my customers are really, truly, fabulous. I’ve received some amazing feedback comments over the years, both on my website and from my eBay shop too; 100% with over 16oo comments received. Etsy have recently changed their feedback policy so it’s more difficult to work-out percentages. However, I’ve still managed to achieve a five-star record, both for my clothing shop and my vintage homeware shop, Home Bird Vintage.
However, there are times, and I know many small online business owners will appreciate this, that a customer comes along that simply beggars belief. This has been one of those weeks! And it’s not been just one customer, it’s been two. Perhaps you’re reading this and you’re unlucky enough to get even more ‘odd-ball’ customers per week . . . . . if so, I really am very sorry for you!
Before I go any further, I’d like to point out that I am fully aware that as a business owner, I must take the rough with the smooth . . . . . . okay, point taken. I am also fully aware that some customers simply do not read the information that is put in front of them, nor can I make them do so . . . . . . . okay, point taken. So what is niggling me then? Well, for one thing, it’s the total lack of respect and rudeness that I have to deal with on occasions. Perhaps these customers have had lots of negative buying experiences in the past? If that is the case, then I am sorry for them too. However, before jumping to conclusions about me and my business, it really wouldn’t go amiss to show a little bit of decorum and dare I say, just an incy-wincy bit of good manners. These things usually go a long way in-so-far as getting the results you require.
My first problem came from selling this set of two pretty silk cushion covers by Jim Thompson dating c.1980s. Sold for £10.oo and priced accordingly. Oh, and just to mention that I had also refunded the buyer £1.70 for overpayment of postage and packing. A mere trifle, but just so you know that I am always fair and honest to my customers – and something this customer failed to acknowledge but hey ho . . . . . like I say, a mere trifle . . . . . . click here to review my description.
So yesterday, I received this message from the customer who will of course, remain nameless:
Thank you for the parcel which has just arrived. However, on opening the parcel, I found that the Lotus flower cover has a couple of spillage marks on it. I was expecting an undamaged cover – the swan is fine. I am happy to keep the damaged one and get it washed but wanted to let you know about it. May I suggest you check your other stock to see whether they are O.K.
Now then, clearly this customer did not read my condition report . . . . . at all. Had she done so, she would have known that I had already washed both covers, and in addition, not one, but both covers included marks. And also, just to add insult to injury, I was told to check my other stock to see whether they are ‘O.K’. How rude!
So how did I respond to this? Well, I replied in a very professional manner of course. Here is my reply:
Dear . . . . . .
I’m pleased to hear the parcel arrived safely. I did include full condition notes on the listing and mentioned that both cushions had marks, the floral one with three marks on one side. They were also washed and pressed prior to listing
The condition notes were stated as follows:
CONDITION: Both cushions are in very good order and have been washed and pressed (machine wash cool). The floral cushion has three faint marks on one side and the swan cushion has a very small mark on the border along with a pin hole. Nothing immediately noticeable. Please view the last image. Priced accordingly.
If you’re not happy with the cushions you can return them for a refund less postage.
Please let me know how you wish to proceed.
And the customer’s reply:
I have to admit that I neither saw nor read the condition note. So I am happy to keep both covers without causing any problem.
Okay, so not an out-and-out apology, and lucky for me, she does not wish to cause ‘any problem’. So generous!
My second issue this week came from a customer that bid on one of my own dresses. The bidding started at £7.99 and I received 5 bids, the winning bid £28.77 plus postage. I had worn this dress only once for my cousin’s wedding last year. I had paid £80.00 for it. I then had it dry cleaned and decided to sell it in order to make more space in my wardrobe. Sadly, it is not vintage BIBA. I wouldn’t have sold it otherwise!! However, a very pretty dress and in perfect condition too. Again, full measurements, including the length were included in the listing.
The dress was sold and paid for on the 29th June and dispatched on 30th June. The buyer received the dress on Wednesday 2nd July. Seven days later, on Wednesday 9th July I received this message via eBay:
Sorry but I have had to return this beautiful dress. So upset but it does not fit.
Apparently it was too short . . . . . . and my reply:
Sorry to hear the dress doesn’t fit you. I did include full measurements but as long as it’s not been worn or damaged, please return it immediately to:
Once the dress is received safely back, I will cancel the transaction in order that I can recoup all my fees. Please respond to eBay’s cancellation request as soon as you hear from them.
I have now received the dress back. The parcel did not include my name, simply my address. I have no way of proving this dress hasn’t already been worn. I am not cynical by nature but the buyer did have a full 7 days (including a weekend) in order to party in it! Sadly, I have to comply with UK Consumer Contracts Regulations, which replaced the previous Distance Selling Regulations 2000. This entitles the consumer to cancel their order within 14 days for whatever reason. Fair enough, but to say I was disappointed and upset to receive the dress back in this condition, is an understatement! I have lightened the image in order that you can see clearly how badly creased it is. Please ‘click’ for a closer view.
I have yet to reply to this buyer. They did not have the courtesy of including my name on the returned parcel as I had asked; and they did not ensure the dress was returned in exactly the same condition that it was posted out to them. I appreciate that clothing can get a little creased in the post. However, this is more than a few light creases. A quick pressing would have done the trick! This looks like it’s been thrown to the bottom of the washing basket or stamped on! One thing I can be sure of is that the dress definitely would not have arrived with the customer looking in such a state!
How would you respond to this customer?
I’ve not had an entirely unhappy week though. I did receive a wonderful e-mail from a very happy customer. This lady took the trouble of contacting me prior to making her purchase (from my website), as she wanted advice on getting the right fit. I was more than happy to oblige. Not only did she buy a dress, but she also bought a vintage top. Here is her message, and again, she will remain nameless:
Just wanted to let you know my parcel arrived today. The dress fits perfectly! Beautiful quality and condition. The top is great too but I was so excited about the dress. I love it; thank you so much.
I’ll be using your website again soon. I am so impressed with your descriptions, the clothes you have sourced and, very importantly, your amazing service.
Many thanks and kind regards
Keep the faith . . . . . my work is done!
This charming image was taken from a picture exhibited in the Paris Salon by RONDENAY (Marcelle), for the cover of Woman’s Pictorial, August 25th 1928.
It is always just the little thing which shows the breeding of a dress. Whether it is old or new, French or English, definitely you, or just your dressmaker! This little coat-frock above (left) started off quite simply, but seeking the individual note, it put a silk plaid kerchief at the neck, and then, not content, tied smaller editions of the same round each wrist. And there lay the charm! The skirt is also attractive with its flaring box-pleats and central strapping.
Then comes a little jumper (part of a cardigan suit) which won quick distinction by making itself of bordered Bonsheen, and lining the coat to match, and look how effective is the result!
While for grace and good style commend me to a caped coat – one just like this design. It makes the ideal travelling coat, looks just right for mid-season wear, can be worn solo or over a cardigan suit, or what you will. In fact, the coat of the season, and deservedly so!
“Advise me, please,” writes a reader. “I want something quite simple” for morning, for afternoon, or for evening – as the case may be – and so here we are with solutions. “Something quite simple” for morning is this coat-frock made of a fine tweed suiting (and there are such delightful ones on sale now), a tight sleeve, and a skirt addressing the bodice pointedly! It is exceedingly easy to make, and would look nice with a contrasting belt and hat to match.
“Something quite simple” for sports and tailor-made wear comes in the tuck-in shirt blouse (made like a man’s shirt below the belt) with an Eton collar, patch pockets, and an armhole build for freedom.
While something both quite simple and quite charming is the afternoon dress of bordered artificial silk. The border lends the charm, and the design the simplicity, since it has just a skirt and pleats joined in a pretty line to the plain square-necked bodice.
Images scanned from Woman’s Pictorial, August 25th 1928
Last night saw the first installment of Dawn O’Porter’s new show for Channel 4, This Old Thing. I must say, I was only half looking forward to it. Don’t get me wrong; I really like Dawn O’Porter, but I do have a bit of a problem when it comes to hacking away at vintage clothing! Oh, the humanity!
At least in the first episode, the only clothing they took scissors to was a polyester peplum dress and a red leather blouson dress from the Eighties – unless I missed something! I doubt whether either dress included a ‘designer label’, otherwise I might have taken more of an issue. Of course there’s nothing wrong with updating some types of vintage clothing in order to fit-in with modern day trends. For example, if a dress is damaged or perhaps so completely unwearable it would be resigned to the back of the wardrobe for years, or worse . . . . . . end up in landfill – God forbid!
No, a true vintage fashion connoisseur would prefer vintage to stay true to the original shape, just as the designer intended. For example, where would we be if all Horrockses frocks were shortened to thigh length? Why would anyone wish to mess with a full-length evening gown by the likes of Jean Varon (aka John Bates) or similar? And who dare think of taking apart a bias-cut gown from the 1930s? Actually, I can think of a few celebrities that might, but that’s another story . . . . . ugh!
I did enjoy watching the transformation of the girl who thought all vintage clothing was smelly. Good grief, if I’ve heard that once, I’ve heard it a thousand times! I know that some folks just don’t ‘get’ vintage but there’s been so much hype about it over the last 15 years that I was surprised a trendy young girl felt so repulsed by the idea. Anyway, she did turn out very nice in the end! Good work Dawn.
I’m very much looking forward to the rest of the series. I do like that she’s included information on past fashion decades, which is great for the complete novice. I must admit that Dawn made a few historical errors, like Courrèges, the inventor of the miniskirt. Hmmmm . . . . as vintage fashionistas will tell you, over and over and over . . . it was actually John Bates (mentioned above), who was the true inventor of the mini. Ho hum!
If you do have a yearning to find out more on the history of fashion, I highly recommend a visit to the Vintage Fashion Guild (VFG); use the Public Forums if you have any questions and meet like-minded people too. But beware – you may be there for a while – there’s lots to discover.
And finally, I really hope the programme includes a wide range of ages in future episodes. It would be wonderful to see older guys and gals ‘rockin their vintage‘ . . . . . I know there’s a lot out there!
Image source: Horrockses dress image c/o http://www.vam.ac.uk/users/node/7647
UPDATE: Fast-forward a few weeks and I’ve now stopped watching this TV show. The format is incredibly boring, using exactly the same type of girl, trying to convert their view on wearing ‘vintage’. In addition, Dawn allowed someone in her workshop to hack away at a Laura Ashley frock this week, so that was it for me! I could see the nervous look on Dawn’s face, not quite sure whether it was the correct thing to do. Anyway, they did go ahead and alter it so I can’t bear to watch any more; I suspect it’s going to get a lot worse! Disappointed.