Feminist In A Fifties Dress!

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Two rants in two days, I’m not even gonna apologise because sometimes you need to get stuff off your chest right? Oh and if you don’t like swears, you might want to skip out now because there are a few and I was being restrained! Normal boring blogging will resume next week.

‘Old fashioned values’ is a term that quite frankly I despise because half the time it refers to a way of life that was actually quite repressive. Before you go on about manners and courtesy and whatnot, personally I don’t see these as old-fashioned values, they are just values that people should aspire to anyway, regardless of what times we live. This constant harking back to the ‘good old days’ and ‘old fashioned values’ because most people cannot relate as they did not live these time, they are other people’s experiences handed down to us in trust and sometimes you just can;t trust other people’s judgments on things,

Let me explain as to what kicked off this latest rant, so someone shared a video into my facebook feed (yes I know I’m supposed to have quit arsebook but we’ll go into that another time) about a girl who dresses vintage and why. Now as a person who dresses vintage, I found this video highly problematic because it was about dressing for respect and behaving like a lady, so that people, mainly men would treat you like a lady and that if women were more modest than people would respect them more. So basically cover your skin so people don’t think you’re trash! Excuse me, fuck you and the proverbial high horse you rode in on!

Firstly this states that you have to dress a certain way so that men behave themselves, forget that the sexual harassment was just as rife in the 50s as it is today. The fact is you’re saying that women have to take responsibility to curb the actions of others. We are taught from such a young that it’s our fault and that we must behave a certain way because it’s not the responsibility of predators to control themselves. Seriously sister, you could cover yourself from head to toe in the ugliest outfit ever but if someone wants to sexually harass you even just disrespect and judge you, they’re gonna!

It’s snobbery! Making yourself out to be superior because you behave a certain way is just snobbery. You are not better than everyone just because you choose to be more ‘modest’, your friends are not beneath you because their skirt is shorter than yours, you’re just stuck up!

Clothes should be worn because you like them and feel comfortable in them, not because you think people are going to respect you. You can wear the prettiest dress in the world but if you’re a complete arsehole, then the dress is not going to change that fact!

What the fuck is ladylike, not this language for a start but who do you get to dictate what is ladylike. So you want a world where men fall over to hold the doors open for you, carry your shopping, whilst you giggly coyly and sip tea with one picky in the air, go fucking you! But you know also thanks for undoing years of work on trying to eradicate repressive stereotyping like this!

The old days weren’t better, they were different and with far fewer choices. Remember when women couldn’t show leg because it was deemed unacceptable for a lady to do such a thing, as was voting. Or that we couldn’t have our own bank account when we got married and it was automatically transferred to our husbands, or we could get fired for being pregnant, or the fact that to be married you had to be heterosexual because being gay was illegal? Need I go with this, no I don’t think we do?

I also get extremely annoyed when I hear the phrase it’s a generational thing especially when it comes to excusing things like sexism and racism. Firstly no, it’s just ignorant! As long as you are alive in this planet you never not have an excuse to educate and better yourself! Secondly it’s insulting to people of that generation who are not ignorant, racist, sexist and whatever else was shit back in the day. Thirdly I’m sorry being politically correct is such a chore for you, how terrible it must be for you taking into consideration other people’s feeling by not being a total prick!

This is pretty much why I stay away from specific scenes in the vintage world (and just people in general). I have quite a few friends into vintage style and they go to all the rave and riots, I go to Viva Las Vegas but that doesn’t mean we immerse ourselves in a reenactment of they way things were. Dressing in the clothes and dancing to the music doesn’t mean we catapult ourselves back to the past and relieve them authentically, though I have read of some that do and you know what that is fine because choices!

Just so you know, just because I dress like a lady doesn’t mean I act like one, I believe in progression, I believe that people should have choices, I believe that people are born equal and should be treated so, I believe that you shouldn’t be judged by standards from a long time ago, I will stand up for myself, I will say what I feel if I think it needs to be said no matter how becoming of me it is! Be yourself, be true to yourself, don’t be a slave to the patriarchal bullshit! You can still be a feminist in a fiftiess dress you know, they’re not mutually exclusive!

 

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The Problem With Vintage?

the problem with vintage

If you’re seasoned vintage seller, buyer, wearer etc, you are no doubt aware that there can be problems with any kind of vintage, preloved, secondhand items and clothing but if you’re not I’m going to list a few and the way you can deal with these.

That Vintage Smell

Recently I purchased a bag and it had that ‘smell’ that is regularly associated with old neglected things that have been stored badly.

Most items with natural fibres tend to pick up and absorb their local environment smells, so it could be stale cigarette smoke, cooking smells, perfume but mostly it is a stale and musty smell from being stored in box or closet with a bunch of other stuff. Sometimes it just needs a good airing. I once soaked and washed a cardigan and it still smelt, Four days hanging on the washing line to air out and the smell was gone. I’ll be doing another post on the products and process for cleaning and repairing.

This particular bag was made from rope and after three soakings not only had the smell gone but it was also a different colour! the dirt that some items, especially bags and shoes can accumulate can be a little gross. Drawback was soaking it caused some of the wooden beads to swell and split and I need to glue them back together when putting the on the bag but this leads nicely onto…

Repairs

Doesn’t matter how you dress it up vintage clothes are mostly used clothes, they been worn, carted around, been through many washes, stored for long periods of time, sometimes badly and so seams come undone, hems drop, zips break, buttons need replacing and so forth.

Most can be easily be dealt with yourself if you’re handy with a needle and some spot cleaner, some you might need to take to a dry cleaners that have alterations and repairs service.

On a side note I went into a big vintage shop once and they were selling damaged items at high prices just because and I quote ‘it’s vintage!’ I guess people are free to sell stuff at whatever price they want but check garments over thoroughly before buying in a shop, it’s all too easy to pick up and item, go this is pretty, buy it and get home to find something is wrong with it. Some repairs are easier than others.

Moths

If something comes with moth holes stick it in the freezer for a few days just to be on the safe side. The last thing you want is a moth infestation, they love natural fibres and will work their way through your collection and getting in a professional pest controller can be very expensive. many smaller moth holes can be darned, bigger ones may need to be taken to a specialist or tailor.

Lavender sachets and moth balls are a good repellent. You can get rentokill tear off sheets to put in pockets or drawers which is what I use. if you recieve an item with moth holes you can always put it in the freezer for a few days just to be sure and kill off any stray eggs.

Items are not described properly.

These days this not as bad as it used to be because sellers are way more protected than buyers, in that online sites tend to side with the buyer, so sellers tend to be overly cautious and provide lots of info and photos. Plus everyone wants good feedback because it helps their reputation as a seller and the competition is fierce.  In the UK buyers are covered under the distant sellers clause and have 14 days to send back any item they have bought online, this gives buyers a chance to physically see the item. Not sure what’s going to happen when we leave the EU but I guess that’s a thought for another day.

If an item you buy isn’t as described, contact the seller first to resolve the issue. Many sellers are pretty decent and will help as much as they can.

Damaged/Lost in Transit

I’ve had my fair share of crappy courier companies leaving parcels in random places. However, with vintage if it gets lost or broken there isn’t a whole lot you can do to get a replacement. You’ll more than likely get your money back but sometimes you have your heart set on an a particular thing and nevertheless it’s still disappointing.

I recently purchased a lot of vintage brooches, the seller didn’t make a whole lot of effort to pack them properly so one ended up bent and another snapped but don’t be afraid to let sellers know, so they can improve their packing techniques.

Can’t find anything in your size.

As far as problems go there is not much anyone can do about this, there is no vintage fountain of clothes and apparel for all sizes, it really does just depend on what has been allowed to circulate. Sometimes you come across larger sizes, sometimes a lot of small sizes, sometimes it’s very hit and miss. The average size has changed over the decades but worry ye not because there are a lot of good repro companies out there. I know sometimes it can feel like all it is polka dots and cherry but there some good that specialise in all decades. 50s was quite hot for a while so you will find a lot of that about.

Alternatively you can sew it yourself as there are lots of vintage sewing patterns in circulation and a lot of sewing pattern companies have caught onto the vintage bug and have been re-releasing their older patterns from certain eras. Don’t be put off if you can’t find a pattern in your size, sewing isn’t as daunting as it looks or if it is, you could probably find a tailor or dressmaker who could make the item for you. It might be as bit pricey but you’d have a made to measure outfit.

So that’s just a few of the problems I find with vintage, let me know if you have you’ve come across.

 

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Seventies Summer Style

When it comes to vintage I don’t necessarily stick to one era. I know a lot of people who prefer the 40s or 50s, others like the 60s, some only designer vintage, everyone has their likes. These days I tend to switch between decades depending on my mood and have been buying things based on likes rather than decade.

I do love the forties and fifties style and it’s what got me into vintage in the first place but the more I research the more I find I like styles from other decades. With the 60s I love the cut of their suits and for the 70s I love the laid back casual vibes. All decades are on rotation and come and go in and out of style. They say you should never relive a fashion trend twice but personally I think that’s bollocks! The 90s has come back very much in fashion and I was definitely into the whole gen-x, grunge, riot grrl movement, to be honest I still am, saying that trends have a quicker turn around time these days and if you blink you can miss them.

But I love the 70s and not just because I was born in the 70s. ’77 to be precise, yes I hit the big four O in the summer. I’m particularly fond of rock and disco, that is definitely a parental influence, having access to a good music collection from a young age is always beneficial. But recently I’ve been finding myself drawn to the fashion and style of the 70s and wanted to share some recent and not so recent finds and how I style them. I haven’t gone for a full on 70s look, more of a 70s vibe.

yellow and blue 70s dress

Okay so admittedly this is not a recent find but decided to include it anyway because you know I love a good shirt dress and bonus points for the cool geometric dot print! It’s a little loose, so I added a belt, I probably should add some more belts to my accessories range, it’s something I woefully lack in the accessories department but find a good belt vintage belt is hard especially as I can be so fussy over the most irrelevant of things.

yellow and blue geometric dress

If my memory serves me correctly, then this dress was from Beyond retro in Soho.

70s boho blouse

Next up is the cute boho embroidered blouse which I got pretty cheap in a TRAID sale. Will be perfect if spring, let alone summer decides to make an appearance this year!

70s boho blouse back

Next up is one of my San Francisco finds. I got this blouse at a giant Goodwills and chatted briefly about it here is my SF vintage haul post. I think is cost me a couple of dollars so yay to thrifty vintage finds.

70s black and pink blouse

I like this blouse as you can dress it either for a work look or pair it up with jeans or capri pants for a more casual outfit.

70s black with flowers blouse

I do love a good 70s collar.

70s floral blouse back

70s floral blouse

This shirt is a lesson in why you should try stock on! Though the advantage of being a vintage seller is that you get first dibs on any stock you find that fits!

70s western shirt

I’ve been lusting after a western shirt for a while, to the point where I bought a pattern just so i could make my own (I still will) because these bad boys can be pretty expensive.

70s western mens shirt

I found this with a bunch of other stuff on a little pre Goldfrapp gig spree at TRAID in Camden. It might be a men’s shirt but as you can see I’m not one for caring about gendered clothing. It if fits, it goes in the wardrobe.

70s western short with cacti

This wasn’t as pricey as some of the others I’ve seen knocking about, around £20 but I like it even though it’s a little snug! The joys of having slim hips means I can wear men’s jeans and shirts, though these women’s jeans I got in Gap last year in the Jan sale for £7! Currently I can only wear them standing up but hopefully they’ll be a little less restrictive before the Summer comes!

I have a few more vintage posts I’m going to do of recent finds and how I styled them, I bought some lovely dresses recently and an amazing art nouveau inspired 70s Sears blouse, so be on the look out for more style posts soon.

So before you go, let me know what your vintage styling for summer is.

 

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The ‘I love You Wade Wilson’ Dress

So I normally name my clothes after song titles but this one was inspired by Deadpool which I love and the fabric pattern just kind of reminded me of film, so I named it after the lead character. I also promise that I will start doing proper posts soon of me actually wearing the clothes I make but I won’t lie, I haven’t been feeling up to prancing around in front of a camera these last few months but I will get over myself and get on with. Plus I have some really nice makes planned and I’ll be talking about in my next post of some fabric I got recently, my wardrobe planning is taking a different direction.

I used a 1970s Maudella shirt dress pattern and made version #3, though I’m kind of tempted to make the suit version, even though I’ll probably never wear it! I wanted to make a belt but didn’t have enough fabric in fact I didn’t have enough material to do a full length version as I was working to my usual 2m of fabric, which I’ve now stopped buying as a standard length as it’s apparent most of my dress patterns need at least three metres! I’m now only buying fabric with specific projects in my mind and ordering to pattern requirements which should keep my fabric stash from growing too big and also cut down time choosing which fabric to use.

I like this fabric but it is a bit migraine inducing!

I did tone down the collar a bit because it was a tad too big for my liking and one gust of wind and I might take off!
This dress had been sitting in my WIP pile form last year. I think I started making it last summer and although it’s a tight squeeze it actually fits (just) even though I did adjust the pattern to accomodate my 40 inch bust, so by this summer I should be able to wear without squishing my boobs!
The pattern itself was pretty easy to follow and instead of standard darts, it has French darts which I had not done before but just requires a little tacking before sewing.I’ve also learnt that darts should really be pressed upwards instead of downwards!

I managed to sew the bias binding on the wrong side of both armholes! Thankfully and easy mistake to fix. Though my proudest achievement on this dress is the pockets.

Though the sleeveless version on calls for one pocket I decided to do two pockets and managed to do some near spot on perfect pattern matching. The smaller the pattern repeat, the harder it can be to match the pattern up I find. However, with a good steam iron to press the corners and a little patience in-between the pattern making me going boss eyed, I managed it. The left pocket is a little off but I’m still pretty stoked how these turned out!

And that my friends is my fourth finished item of the year and also a vintage pledge to boot! Though Vintage pledge is technically not running it’s usual format this year, there still is a pinterest board to pin this years makes to.

Pattern – Maudella 5749
Material -100% cotton
Style -Vintage
Size – 40 Bust
Post Title – Inspired by Deadpool

What’s My Style Again? Autumn Edition!

Summer is blasting out it’s last few days and although it’s still relatively warm it’s time to start thinking about my autumn winter wardrobe. So instead of frantically finishing my summer wardrobe, I’m just finishing up what’s been started and moving onto my autumn/winter makes. I used to question what my style was constantly but these days I try and take a more relaxed approach and if I like it, I go for it, and if I don’t, not give it a second thought. I’m trying less and less to worry about whether it is age appropriate and what people think, and care more about whether I feel comfortable wearing it and also be more fearless in wearing things that I like but used to dismiss as being to bold for me! I recently read this article by Stacy London and inspired me to go on with my style quest and building my dream wardrobe. Which I’d like to cover more in this blog in the future, so I’m gonna!
There are too many articles out there telling us how to dress or dress like a grown up, or dress for our age but what we should be concentrating on is what we like and do we feel confident and comfortable in it and not just because some magazine tells us so. Style I think is something that is interchangeable, you reinvent yourself as many times as you like, dress a different colour for every day of the week, or even wear the same outfit every day if you like, it’s no one’s business but your own. I get that on some occasions we have to wear a certain style of clothing, like at work or an event, or for health and safety reasons but that doesn’t stop you making it your own.
I’ve been thinking about my style a lot recently especially since I started working from home, my daily work attire has change completely. I used to be a lot smarter and take time to plan my outfits but working from home and working with creative materials means I’m usually a jeans and t-shirt person most days. But that doesn’t mean when I’m not working I can’t not dress up, I think I’m just out of the habit. So I’m doing a seasonal wardrobe change over to give me a kick up the derrière, fill in the gaps and get me going to sew my autumn/winter. My wardrobe is already very much a mix of handmade, vintage and second-hand, except for shoes, underwear and t-shirts but most of those are band t-shirt’s anyway, and music is something that influences my style a lot.

I’ve been collecting a lot of patches for indie brands over the years, pins and bands badges. I’ve been looking for the perfect jacket, I’m not really a denim jacket type of person but after visiting the Rosehound Apparel pop up shop, I swung by Beyond Retro as it was round the corner and they usually have a healthy supply of coats and jackets in. I originally tried on some bomber jackets which were too big but then found this khaki army jacket that my grunge teen self has forgiven me for not getting way back when! So that’s my autumn and spring coat sorted.

I actually saw the handbag first but I think even though they’re a contrast one being grungy, the other sparkly, I’m totally going to be rocking these two together for my trips to the post office and then totally wished I’d bought the ghetto fabulous earrings last time I was in Rokkit!

So I went back to Rokkit and bought the not so big earrings but big enough for me and a new kimono.

I get that kimonos are so last season but I refused to fork out 100 quid for something to be on trend! I’m happy to wait and let the prices drop and then add it my wardrobe. I’m building up a collection, a sustainable, interchangeable wardrobe and my clothes are for keeps (or as long as they last) and not just for seasonal trends. To be honest I’ll never be on fashion or on trend but I’m okay with that and so should you (not about me but about you!)

One of my winter staples is a faux fur. I’ve had many over the years in different styles and colours but eventually they just fall to pieces. I wasn’t sure if I was going to get one this year but then stumbled across this is a charity shop for £11, I don’t usually keep stock for myself but I made the mistake of trying it on and it fell into my wardrobe. It’s a 70’s Bickler faux fur and I’m really liking the 70s style at the moment so this fits right in. Should I ever shrink down enough to fit into my flared jeans, this will look great with a t-shirt and some big hoops and wavy beach hair!

I’ve been on a bit of skirt making spree lately, I just felt like a change from all the dresses I’ve made over the years and feel I need to up the skirt inventory a bit. I’ve also been wearing a lot of trousers over the summers with sandals, but going to switch to skirts as I have a huge tights collection languishing in a vintage suitcase somewhere and boxes of shoes collecting dust.
Other things I want to make are
  • some more skirts, I have some lovely pink Tweed that is begging to be be used.
  • a pair of trousers, probably wide leg as they have a more retro look.
  • a pair of jeans as the crap they stock in shops these days lasts about one season because everything has to have Lycra in it! I have my eye on the Ginger jeans.
  • a few blouses and tops
  • and some more knitwear, probably Untangling Knots patterns because they are lovely and so easy to knit.
Well I think I’ve rambled on long enough but writing this post has given me some food for thought and that is I’ve always been interested in fashion and style and that is one of the main reasons I took up sewing and making my own clothes, so I definitely like to get back into writing about that more and obviously posting about my makes and maybe even some more outfit posts.