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Kittiwake Cotton Bathing Suit

Kittiwake Bathing Costume 1950

I fell hopelessly in love with this Kittiwake bathing costume c.1950s.

This adorable 1950s bathing suit by Kittiwake was a recent impulse buy. It wasn’t quite so impulsive that I didn’t first check the garment details, but I fell in love, and that was it. I wasn’t even consciously looking for a vintage bathing suit, but that’s what they all say . . . . .

I was pleased the seller, Noble Savage Vintage, had included all the information necessary in order to make an informed buying decision – so important when shopping online. Heather’s a trade member of the Vintage Fashion Guild (VFG), so I knew I’d receive the best possible customer service. The condition of the garment was clearly noted as ‘fair’, with general overall fading, much of the elastic being shot in the smocking at the back, needing replacement before wearing. Also a tiny spot at the centre front of the bodice. None of these issues deterred me though. It’s authentic vintage for goodness sake. And anyway, I was in love!

The shirring elastic was shot

The shirring elastic was completely shot.

I’ve never shirred or smocked anything, but I was pretty confident I could do it. My sewing skills are basic, but thanks to a 1970s Secondary Modern education, I can easily find my way around a sewing machine . . . and touch-type too!  I’m also pretty good at following instructions, so an online tutorial was required. There were some good tips for a beginner like me . . . . . such as putting the shirring elastic in the bobbin, and the regular sewing thread in the top part of the machine. Who knew?

Replacement shirring required

Replacement shirring and elastic were required to make the costume fit properly across the back.

My first job was to remove the old shirring elastic. This was time-consuming as the old thread simply fell apart, rather than coming out in one long piece. I then removed the back panel completely from along the rear waist seam, and also from the side seams. I was then able to re-sew the elastic shirring in neat lines, trying to follow the old stitch marks, although not being entirely successful in that department. However, the patterned fabric somewhat disguises the fact. I also replaced the old elastic that had been threaded across the upper-back panel. Like the shirring, it had lost its stretch completely. And finally, the panel was re-attached to the costume, making sure the rear seams were aligned properly.

IMPORTANT: When buying goods from outside the EU, please note that customs and duty taxes are payable by the recipient of the goods whether they are brand new or used/vintage. However, the amount of duty you are charged, will depend on your own country’s Customs & Excise terms. Here’s a handy online calculator for import duties but it should be used as a guideline only

Project completed

Project completed. Majorca here I come!

Fashion-Forward Vintage Photo Shoot


Last Friday my home was taken-over for a photo-shoot. My sister, Alison, has been in the beauty business for many years and is a specialist in skin care, semi-permanent makeup and facials, to name just a few. You can find Alison’s beauty website here, along with her makeup and hair styling website here.

So back to the photo-shoot. Alison teamed up with Cat of CT Images, to produce some stunning shots of the gorgeous model, Eve; who by the way, isn’t yet signed to a model agency. At the tender age of 17, she’s certainly got what it takes to make it big. Such a lovely girl and a pleasure to work with.

The idea behind the shoot was to demonstrate that classic styles are always in vogue, and that vintage fashion doesn’t mean that you have to look dated or conform to specific eras. The differing hair and makeup looks were planned to compliment the outfits, offering something a little different from the norm.

This theme offered a quirky, fun and vibrant look. Alison created milk-maid hair braids which were wrapped around Eve’s head giving a Princess Leia inspired style that stole the show.

Milk maid hair braids were wrapped around Eve’s head

Milk maid hair braids were wrapped around Eve’s head and the complimentary makeup provided a quirky, fun edge.

The following look is demure and sophisticated. Alison created a double French pleat in Eve’s hair and a more defined makeup look for a glamorous edge.

Hair and makeup by Alison McMath

Eve looks so glamorous and in this 1950s brocade evening gown, soon to be listed on my website, Catwalk Creative Vintage. Earrings by Henkel and Grosse c.1960s.

Alison and Cat went for a natural, hippie vibe in this shot. Alison created the look with barely-there makeup and long, flowing hair. The floral headband shows off Eve’s pretty hair to full effect . . . . . she reminds me so much of a young Christine Keeler in this photo, although Eve’s much prettier I think!

Probably my favourite shot of the day created by Cat of CT Images. The formal 1950s brocade dress (a wedding dress actually), makes for a wonderful contrast against the urban backdrop. West Didsbury has never looked so glam!

Hair and makeup by Alison McMath

Cat has created a wonderful image here, contrasting the formality of the vintage dress against the urban, cobbled backdrop. Stunning!

And finally, a close-up image showing Eve’s hair and makeup. Divine!

Hair and makeup by Alison McMath. Photographs c/o CT Images

With Compliments of Sally Slade


How Right you are in a Sally Slade model

Sally Slade address book

I recently acquired this vintage address and telephone number book which dates late 1940s, early 1950s. The outer shell is made from heavy-duty cardboard with a textured, faux leather covering; the pages within being held in place with an orange plastic binder.

Each page includes a cute advertising motto; one of them referring to Dior’s “New Look” which was first launched in his Spring-Summer fashion collection of 1947.

Look new, in a Sally Slade New Look

These address books would have been issued to sales representatives and handed out to shops and department stores that stocked the Sally Slade fashion label.

I was particularly interested in purchasing this book as I have a Sally Slade prom dress dating c.1950s currently listed on my website (see below). Plus, it’s always nice to find something of this age that hasn’t been used before.

A cute advertising motto on each page . . .

Sally Slade advertising motto

Sally Slade advertising motto

Sally Slade advertising mottoSally slade address book

Sally Slade Prom Dress c.1950s

Sally Slade Prom Dress c.1950s

Sally Slade

Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to find any information about the Sally Slade label or how long they were in operation. There were many fashion brands and design houses that produced and manufactured clothing and textiles in this part of London during the 1940s to 1960s/70s. If you have any information about this company, please drop me a line.

Restored Beauty


I recently acquired this velvet evening jacket which included real fur cuffs. It dates from the 1930s and like most velvets from this period, is made from silk. It has superior texture and drape compared to modern-day velvets and this one is in remarkably good condition too . . . . . except for the cuffs!

The cuffs had lots of age-related wear, mainly to the inside edge, where friction against the fabric over the years, had caused some fur loss. In addition, the fur had lost its original lustre and sheen and was quite matted in places. Not selling it very well am I?!!

Velvet evening jacket 1930s

Velvet evening jacket c.1930s

Fur trim around the cuffs

Fur loss around the inner cuff.

Matted fur

Unappealing matted fur. Yuk!

Coats and jackets trimmed with fur were very popular throughout the 1920s and 1930s. Sumptuous velvets were used in dresses, wraps and jackets and provided opulence and luxury, so much part of Art Deco fashion.

Unfortunately, these fur cuffs had seen better days!

So, what to do? Well there is no way to restore this type of fur or fabric, so I posted photographs of the jacket to my friends at the Vintage Fashion Guild. There is always someone there to provide support and inspiration, and this time it was suggested that I try and remove the fur cuffs, which may have been added to the jacket later anyway.

This has to be one of the easiest projects I’ve ever completed. Taking extreme care not to damage the velvet underneath, here is what the culprits look like from the inside.

Inside the fur cuffs

Inside the fur cuffs.

And here is how the jacket looks now, restored to its original beauty. Purchase here.

Please ‘click’ on the image for a closer view.

Before and after removal of the damaged fur cuffs

Before and after removal of the damaged fur cuffs; much improved I’m sure you’ll agree.

Vintage Handbag Restoration


I don’t mind admitting that when it comes to my business, I’m slightly obsessed with getting the very best out of my vintage clothing and accessories. That means cleaning and repairing to ensure they reach my customer in the best possible condition, ready to use or wear immediately.

Of course those who love the allure of anything old, appreciate some age patina and wear. It adds authenticity and shows the piece has had a previous life. There are also those of you who simply don’t ‘get’ vintage at all, and whilst I’ve no wish to try and change your viewpoint, I think you’re definitely missing a trick. Vintage provides immense style opportunities and offers something unique and individual to your wardrobe. Still not convinced? Oh well . . . . . vive la différence, as they say!

These handbags arrived with me last week and I couldn’t wait to get started. They look pretty good don’t they?

A selection of 1960s handbags

A selection of 1960s handbags

Well they didn’t look quite so pretty when they arrived. They were all  incredibly dusty with metal hardware that was dull and unappealing. I had to first of all check what the outer fabric shell was made from; three of them vinyl and one genuine leather. I will concentrate my story on the black moc-croc patent handbag (second from left). Here’s some close-up images of how it looked on arrival . . .

vintage patent handbag

Before I got to work on this vintage patent handbag.

I used a clean cloth to remove as much dust as possible, then used Silvo on the metal hardware, being extremely careful not to go anywhere near the lining fabric. Once that had been polished and buffed with another clean cloth, I got to work on the outer vinyl shell. This proved very easy indeed, using a soft sponge, warm soapy water, and one final buff with a clean cloth. And here’s the finished result. Hey presto!

Moc Croc Patent Handbag

Moc Croc Patent Handbag

Now just going back to what I said earlier about appreciating some age patina and wear; well this handbag is a perfect example. It’s now in the best possible condition it could be, and is certain to last its new owner for many more years to come. However, the metal hardware, although strong, robust and clean, still has quite a lot of tarnishing spots.

Tarnishing spots

Good sturdy frame but there are still tarnishing spots that remain.

Would the tarnishing spots bother you? Well I guess that all depends on your preference for old or new. I think it’s unlikely you’d find anything quite so stylish or beautifully made on the high street . . . . but as they say, vive la différence!

Witney Blankets


I recently purchased this lot from an auction house sale. The contents of the box were listed as follows:

4 Whitney wool checked blankets, embroidered and crochet linen (1 box).

Auction lot purchase

Recent auction lot purchase.

Now as my knowledge of wool blankets is practically non-existent, I took a quick detour via Google search and input ‘Whitney blanket’ . . . . well you would, wouldn’t you?

Nothing came up for that particular spelling. However, Google found me lots of wool blankets, all of them labelled ‘Witney‘. This was looking promising . . . . . except for the link that came up for a website dedicated to all things ‘Whitney Houston‘ . . . . No, not quite what I was looking for!

Anyway, a couple more clicks of the ‘mouse’ and I came across an interesting little website all about Witney blankets. Result!

Mental note to myself . . . . . should get out more . . . . .

Witney wool blanket vintage

A nice surprise! Red tartan wool blanket.

Back to the auction house then, to establish the condition of said blankets. There’s little point winning at auction if you’ve no idea what you’re buying. It would be hideous indeed, to open-up my box of goodies, only to find blankets full of nasty holes and stains. Yuk! I’d rather save myself the bother.

Failing to check things beforehand might prove an expensive mistake. Always check the auction house’s terms and conditions;  be sure about what you’re buying, and know what fees you’ll be charged.

As luck would have it, the auctioneer confirmed the blankets were in good order with only a small yellow mark on one. So, I made my bid and won. Yay!

Here are the blankets in more detail. The one shown above right, and below, was a very nice surprise. I hadn’t expected to see any red at all, and this colour combination is a real winner.

Vintage wool blanket

A generous size, this blanket would make a great bedspread – and big enough to sit on top of a standard double, as shown above.

I’ll be keeping two of the blankets – the ones that have the green checked weave as shown below. The neutral tones will look perfect in my lounge, preferably on a dark brown leather sofa, which I haven’t got yet. Hopefully sometime this year!

Vintage wool checked blanket

A keeper! Vintage wool blanket with green and brown weave.

The blanket below is the largest of the four. Neutral creams and browns makes it easy to coordinate with almost anything!

Vintage wool blanket in neutral tones

Vintage wool blanket in neutral tones.

Vintage wool blanket in neutral tone

The large size is perfect for single or double bed.

Vintage wool throws look very smart in any room setting. I love the warm tones used in this elegant bedroom. Draping the blanket at the end of the bed, gives the room an extra cosy feel.

Tartan wool throw

Tartan wool blanket adds a cosy touch to this elegant bedroom. Source.

Handbags of the 1920s

Winter accessories, 1929

A selection of fashion accessories from Woman’s Pictorial, January 1929.

The handbag became an increasingly important fashion accessory during the 1920s. No longer were they simply used for carrying everyday essentials, but they were designed with a total look in mind, and made especially to coordinate with your latest outfit.

Handbags became more streamlined and less fussy during this decade, with design influences taken from ancient civilizations in the form of geometric shapes and patterns. In addition, popular dances of the day, such as the Charleston and the Tango, required a smaller bag that could be easily held in one hand, usually with the help of a wrist strap.

The feature, shown here on the left, is taken from Woman’s Pictorial, dated 5 January 1929. The range of accessories includes a rather handsome bag complete with wrist strap. Please click on the image, then click again, for a super-sized view.

A copious “carry-all” after your heart’s desire – made from an Arabian prayer mat and mounded on tortoiseshell.

New materials and technologies, brought innovation throughout the 1920s, which infiltrated fashion in the form of product design. 1926 saw the first production of cellulose acetate, a form of plastic, which made it possible to imitate expensive natural raw materials, such as tortoiseshell and ivory. This process enabled bag manufacturers to produce more affordable ranges for the mass market.

Below is a lovely example of an evening bag from the mid-1920s which uses a faux tortoiseshell frame and chain-link handle. This is from my own collection of vintage handbags, but unfortunately, now too frail to use as the silk has disintegrated somewhat over the years. I love the fabric with its contrasting colours and abstract design. And did you spot the little elephant charm? This bag must have been quite ‘fashion-forward’ at the time.

Silk evening bag c.1920s

Silk evening bag c.1920s

And just take a look inside – all those pretty blue rosebuds which run along the inside of the frame. Such attention to detail. The frame fastens securely with a push-button (press) closure.

Blue rosebuds adorn the inner frame

Blue rosebuds adorn the inner frame

What parties has this pretty handbag attended over the years, and who owned her I wonder?

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