I was in the car with my husband last week, he was driving us home from dinner with his family. I was doing my best impression of 1940s/mid-century fashion with whatever I could find in my closet: fitted black sweater and brooch, tan knee-length straight skirt, belt above the natural waist, black faux-fur coat and the vintage cocktail hat I found in my parents’ basement. I felt extremely well put-together. At the restaurant, despite wearing a simple black sweater and corduroy skirt (and my husband in a Mickey Mouse t-shirt beside me), the waitress asked us what we were celebrating. Well… nothing.
(This is not going to turn into a social commentary on how people dress, though I certainly have plenty to say on that topic!)
Back to the car ride home. I turned to my husband, and asked: Can I ask you something weird? How would you feel if I started dressing like this all the time? What would you think if I stopped following modern fashion trends and started wearing vintage-inspired only?
Has anyone seen TLC’s show Wives with Beehives? The show itself is a horrible mockery of reality, but the gist is a group of people/couples who choose to live a rockabilly lifestyle, and do things 1950s style. Well, I’m not sure I want to live a 1940s lifestyle, just wear some 1940s fashions, like hats and peep toe shoes. Would such fashion “subversiveness” be respected or ridiculed? And, more importantly, how would it feel to probably always be the most over-dressed person in the room? According to Oscar Wilde, “you can never be overdressed or overeducated,” but I’m sure there are plenty who would beg to differ. Ultimately, should I care?
It takes a long, long time to transition a wardrobe. But you have to start somewhere, so with that in mind I raided my fabric stache looking for usable pieces. To sum up the long-winded introduction, I want to charge up my wardrobe with some vintage fashion stables. Real vintage pieces are a little out of my price range, and can be hard to find in my size (i.e. larger than a size 4). Unfortunately my current fabric collection left me a little underwhelmed. I found some leftover black wool crepe and black twill which would makes some nice skirts, but I was hoping for something a little more interesting.
On the weekend I hit up the local fabric store, with high expectations. My expectations are always too high when I go to this store, because generally all they have is crap (“100% Unknown Fabric Content,” anyone?). But they had a sale on! In the end I didn’t actually get anything that was part of the sale, and not a single toile de jouy which I was specifically on the hunt for, but I did find some interesting prints at reduced prices.
Red and Gold deco print in cotton with a seriously luscious sheen. The photo reads more pink, but it is a true candy apple red. I saw this and instantly knew I had to have it. I’m picturing something a little more evening for this one; I had this design in my head while browsing at the store and this fabric may work if nothing else inspires me.
Source: Vogue Vintage
At $8 per meter this one was the least on sale, but at least it’s all natural!
Green “European Designer Fabric” in probably cotton. This one has a very soft hand. I think it would make a really nice 1940s day dress. The fabric jumped out at me, but I really see-sawed on it. It’s a dark grey-green, not a colour I typically gravitate towards, but I liked the print. It was $4 per meter.
Black and Floral poly fabric, probably. I also see-sawed on this. But it reminded me of some prints I saw on Reproduction Fabrics in the 1930s-1950s. Small dots or thin grid with large print, specifically flowers superimposed on top. The actual flowers are more realistic and the print more organized than most period prints, but I’m okay with that. Anyway, I’m also thinking some kind of blouson day dress for this. $3 per meter.
Next step is working on sketches and designs. And I have another project idea (re: the toile de jouy), I will get into that later.