Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Charity Shop Gold - The Jean Varon Catsuit




Unlike my fab friend Suzanne, bemused by a blogger moaning about being slim with a large bust, many of our customers don't consider having big boobs a blessing, they have terrible trouble trying to find vintage frocks to accommodate both them and the bra required to keep them in place. Luckily I've never had that problem. Can you imagine trying to wear underwear with this?


As soon as I spotted the Grecian-style ribbon binding peeking out from a rail in a charity shop yesterday I knew it was something special and wasn't at all surprised to see the Jean Varon label stitched inside. Such was my enthusiasm for buying it that I didn't even realise it was a catsuit until I'd handed my money over.




During my teens I used to get teased for my body shape. The most memorable insult being that I had a figure that was weird and old-fashioned like one of those women in a Bond film. Yeah, I cried all the way home from school after that one (not!). A small bust, angular shoulders, high waist and wide hips with a flat arse weren't conducive to the fashions of the time - padded shoulders, pencil skirts & tapered trousers looked atrocious on me as did pointy-toed stilettos on my long, slim feet.

Vintage St Michael bikini from my friends Gail & John
Thank goodness for the genius of designers like Jean Varon & Ossie Clark who, back in the 1960s & 1970s, created clothes which didn't require restrictive knickers, rib cracking bras or hours of Jane Fonda's aerobics to make the most of a woman's natural shape.

Me in Ossie Clark and very little else

 Jean Varon aka John Bates designed affordable clothes for the groovy 1960s and 1970s Swinging Set. His finest hour was probably designing Emma Peel's wardrobe (including the iconic leather catsuit) for a series of the TV show The Avengers.


Anyone who was anyone wore Jean Varon - Penelope Keith for her role as flashy Margot Leadbeater in The Good Life, Julie Christie in Shampoo, Twiggy, Cilla Black, my Mum. For such an iconic label I'm quite surprised at how I've managed to amass quite a few great pieces for very little money.

The infamous leather catsuit: SOURCE

Want to know more? The Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool currently have an exhibition featuring some of John Bates designs.

Vintage early 1970s Jean Varon catsuit (local hospice charity) worn with a feather boa (car boot sale)
Thank to all of you kind enough to express concern over my Dad, his head has been glued back together and he seems pretty much oblivious to the whole sorry affair. You really are lovely.

See you soon!


69 comments:

  1. You have a great figure Vix. Don't get hung up on what some muppet said to you years ago. I look at your bod and think I could look that way if I wasn't ravaged by child bearing...
    You look sensational in that cat suit. I woder why on earth he changed his name from John Bates to Jean Varon? Not. xxx

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  2. You look stunning in the cat suit (and the yellow dress)!
    I very nearly bought a black cat suit in the charity shop today but it was £8.99, and at that price I would want to look way more gorgeous than I did!

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  3. You look amazing in what ever you wear. And your confidence and delight in what you are wearing shines through. I am celebrating my 50th birthday today and I say bugger to all those people who say I shouldn't wear certain things because of my age. I don't want to look like mutton dressed as lamb, but I look fabulous in what I wear. I am sure those jerks from school would love to have as amazing a body and as much confidence and style as you do. Some of us just take a while to grow into our style. Rock on girl.

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  4. You look fabul-arse in that get up m'dear!

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  5. OMG! Friggin' F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S!!!

    You ARE a bond girl! And I am totally jealous. Of your sizzling hot, well proportioned tight bod and that amazing dress.

    Va va Vix!!!

    I've gotten quite a bit of flack for that posting on the boobs. LOL

    I know the plight of having boobs too large for many vintage pieces. And believe me, I could not do this frock justice because I'd feel too loosey goosey without a bra. These DD's need some support. BUT...for a woman to complain about being too slim with large breasts I fear that she simply doesn't know how to use them correctly. They are called "fun bags" for a reason. I can't remember hearing about Raquel Welch or Marilyn Monroe complain about their large breasts.

    bisous
    Suzanne

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  6. I love those charity shop mements, when you know you've found something special without even looking at it properly you just have to pay for it at once!

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  7. Rocking the catsuit! Truly an iconic designer of the 60s and 70s, and I bet you would have been an ideal muse for him! Glad to hear Dad is ok x

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  8. GOLD! Nahnahnahanna...indistructible!
    Good god womane, you are a Goddess. You look utterly fabulous.
    Jean Varon rocked and the designs were era defining I think. I still have my mums Varon maxi dress that she wore when we went on a cruise on the Canberra-how Seveties is that?!
    They used to say I had a 'sporty' figure when I was at school which meant wide shoulder, big thighs and no tits. I never have a problem getting vintage to fit unless its a teeny waist on offer.

    Fecking loves ya.
    xxxxxxxx

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  9. The use of "Bond Girl" as an insult is pretty funny - I imagine you are not in the slightest hung up about that! I knew it was going to look amazing on you, and it doesn't disappoint, what a fab piece of British fashion history, still going strong today. Love the wavy hair too, you goddess you!
    The boob thing... Well, it's a pain not to be able to fit them into some vintage clothing, and to need a bra, but hey, other styles look great on a body with boobs and a rounded bum. Horse for courses, no point moaning. You look wonderful in those early 1970s styles - John Bates and Ossie Clark would have loved you as their muse and in-house model, I reckon!
    I really enjoyed the John Bates exhibition at the Walker Gallery. The whole name change tells you a lot about the time he started designing, doesn't it? When a French name was seen as de rigeur (ha!) in fashion, rather than an ordinary British blokey name. I love that he was really John Bates! And I bloody love you too! xxx

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  10. Oh I knew you were going to be a complete stunner in this catsuit! Rrrrroar. You've got a rocking figure and I agree that small-to medium boobs (smallish here) are easier to dress. xox

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  11. thank you for putting salt in my wound!
    ;-)
    having big boobs since i was 12 i got teased my whole life. not from stupid kids - from "intellectual" adults who think that big boobs are disgusting, only ordinary, stupid women have big boobs blablabla.....
    one reason i wear midcentury? it fits. right from the rack. and sewing my own helps a lot. but i would be happy if i did´t had to wear a bra every hour i´m on my feet.
    but you look like a goddess in your new black number!!!!
    xxxxxx

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  12. you look great in that beauty.love the cut of it.I have no boobs and no hips.it would probably look bad on me.plus I am short.lol.

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  13. What a great catsuit. I loved the Avengers, especially Emma. As always, you look great! I am so glad to hear your Dad is doing ok.

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  14. Glad to hear your dad is feeling better. What an amazing find!! The thrift shop gods must have been smiling on you!

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  15. You look beyond hot in that catsuit and I think you look amazing in general^^ I'm not surprised you got teased because most young people can't spot awesomeness and just go with what's considered popular, but now you know better than to listen to such bullshit :)

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  16. Amor, you looking very vampy and I love it. I am one of those putas it is so hard to find dresses cause of my big chi chis.You were born to be a bong girl.

    Besos

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  17. You should amazing in that outfit!!
    I'm in the big boob camp - have DDs - and cannot wear a lot of things because of them, and I get joy out of seeing how everyone, all shapes and sizes, wear clothes and express themselves. Though I do get a tad envious sometimes ;)
    x

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  18. Ooops, you LOOK amazing - where did that "should" come from!?

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  19. The minute I saw the picture on Facebook I knew this one was a keeper, it's amazing. :)

    Even to this day I am beyond thrilled that I never inherited my Mother's huge boobs, I love having a small set!

    I'm glad to hear you dad is no worse for wear.

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  20. Godness gracious how hot you look !
    Xxxx

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  21. OMG it's such a stunner!!!

    Had the same body issues like you and when crowing up, I hated my small breasts and my wide hips. but today, I'm thankful for that and I love my body!

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  22. You look stunning wearing that vintage early 1970s Jean Varon catsuit.Kudos on keeping yourself in beautiful shape. You also look fabulous in your vintage St. Michael bikini and in your Ossie Clark maxi-dress. It's good to read that your dad is recovering and pray he continues to mend well.

    http://www.full-brief-panties.blogspot.com/

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  23. You look fabulous as always. I am glad your Dad is on the mend. It is tough when our parents get old.

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  24. I LOVE BEING A GIRL and dresses/catsuits like this are the reason. You are a tall glass of what everybody wants to wear CONFIDENCE! I think this dress is sexy on you and your breast size is perfect for these backless numbers. I'm so glad this bikini photo made it up, if you've got it toss it about like good cheer!

    I think women in all shapes and sizes are beautiful. I'm so glad you snatched up this bit of fashion history.
    Love you honey and speak tomorrow!
    XXOOOOOOOO

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  25. What a timely post Vix, I had my first mammogram today. Not an easy procedure when you've got "fried eggs" (I once even got a birthday card depicting them) I've always been grateful for my small bust and can still pass the pencil test, not so my large hips but learned to accept them. How many women of your age would post a pic of themselves in a bikini? Your body is in seriously good nick girl and you look damn hot in the Jean Varon, bloody good find btw.
    xxx

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  26. There has never been a day in my life when I would have looked good in that, very morticia and I'm green with envy

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  27. You're Gorgeous, dear lady, and you look Absolutely Stunning wearing that pretty catsuit with your usual sassiness and attitude!!, Gorgeous!!
    And you've made me remember how ridiculous I've felt about my shape when a teenager. Until the moment I decide to look for clothes that love my shape!
    You're Inspiring!
    besos

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  28. I'm amazed every day at what people donate to charity shops. That catsuit was made for you, you look stunning! Glad to hear your dad is OK, parents are a worry!

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  29. Your figure sounds similar to mine except I have a bum and bit of a rounded tummy. You look incredible in this!!! We are lucky with small busts re underwear!!! X

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  30. That catsuit looks stunning on you! What a find. Wow. I love the curl in your beautiful hair and am curious to know what you did.

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  31. oh, how I could go on for hours about vintage and large boobs. Let's just say everything turns into an empire dress. That doesn't button

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  32. You look amazing Vix but most of all you carry yourself with a wonderful attitude in hand as well. I too am grateful for my figure despite the challenges it's giving me and teasing I copped like you. Now days with my small bust and slight frame despite being tall I can often squeeze into some of the smallest vintage frocks I see and swoon over.

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  33. Absolutely gorgeous. As always! xx

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  34. Glad to hear your dad is doing better. You do look like a bond girl,
    such and amazing find! I am a huge fan of Dianna Rigg, I as a devoted fan of the Avengers tv show! :)

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  35. Stunning! Quelle find!
    Glad your Dad is ok. Xox

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  36. You're rocking it all, love the swimsit and cat-suit especially! You have a beautiful figure; we were all teased at some point if we went to public school and isn't it funny how the "weird" features are the ones that are celebrated the most in adulthood, usually?

    I'm obsessed with 60s fashion but have a Marilyn Monroe-type hourglass figure and it's hard to make the 60s-70s fashions I want work. I randomly found the type of dress Marilyn would wear for $1.00 at the thrift and it fit me amazingly! Boo :P Yes big bust can be annoying when you love vintage fashion, I may have to get better at sewing to customize my own period-looking pieces :D

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  37. I completely see what they meant about you having the body of the bond girls, but I mean that as a total compliment (and really can't imagine what was going through the head of the person that used thought it an insult. Those women were stunning!). Your bikini photo immediately makes me think of Barbara Bach and I can't think of a higher compliment than that! I completely envy your figure, as a pear shape so often my hips get in the way of wearing an otherwise fabulous outfit and the amount of times I've had to put a lovely shift dress back on the rack because I'm just too bottom heavy is gutting. You look just fantastic in that catsuit, as if it were made for you.

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  38. I've been told mine was "unique" and different too. Way back in the 70's when we use to tuck our shirts in. My waist was too high for that but I did it anyway.
    You look elegant in all black with that touch of merlot in the boa. I bet it feels sexy too!

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  39. That jumpsuit is a blinder, and it's just PERFECT for you! Such a great score, and a wonderful addition to your collection!
    I'm totally GAGGING over those amazing earrings! Delish!
    Whatever our body type, it's just working what you got in clothes that suit it, and make the most of the best bits and disguise what you're not so happy with.Which is usually nothing to worry about at all!
    Love Helga XXX

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  40. Good to hear your father has escaped serious physical injury and recovered his routine. One worries about aging, ailing parents -- but truly, so much is simply a matter of chance and circumstances. Smile when the sun shines!

    And the sun glows like a spotlight on your glamorous Jean Varon catsuit, Vix. The bikini shot gave me a giggle, thinking about the reaction of some women my age and size who haven't got your message of "Make the effort! Look and feel better!"

    Yesterday I chauffeured a friend to a medical appointment that did not end well. By unspoken agreement we headed directly to a nice charity shop where she found gorgeous tan suede boots and I scored an Aigner bag. We pronounced it a good day, indeed!



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  41. I can't believe you found that kick ass catsuit, designed by the same person who did Emma Peel's leather, at a charity shop!! Damn woman, you are the Queen, Duchess, and Empress of thrift shopping, and you look smokin' hot in a bikini.

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  42. Gosh, you look fabulous in that outfit along with everything else! I bet Jon digs it! :-)

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  43. Daaaaaaamn! That's a great find that looks awesome on you. Isn't it great that there's something out there for everyone? All you've got to do is break out of the pack and look for it.

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  44. What a glorious find! Jean Varon and Ossie Clarks designs were so beautiful. You wear them so damn well that if you stepped back into the late 60s/early 70s I have now doubt that you'd be their muse and model. And I have no clue in the world why anyone would think looking like a Bond girl was a bad thing! Gorgeous earrings too.

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  45. Hi my dear - wow that was an awesome find, love love this Jean Varon and you look gorgeous! Best wishes to your dad too xxx

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  46. That catsuit looks perfect on you. Going without a bra would be bliss but unfortunately for me my girls would have a mind of their own and wander off to other parts of my body, mainly downwards! No perky breast in this house! Funny how nasty comments are the ones we remember.

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  47. I have small boobs and loving it
    Yes about finding more vintage when small breasted!
    You do find the most amazing clothes I kid you not!

    Arianexo

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  48. Oh wow! Look at you, sexy minx in a catsuit!
    You really know how to wear clothes, Vicky... Ah, the 60's girls had style and flair too!
    I have a lovely, fitted black/satin, Ossie Clark blouse, that I bought from an antiques market years ago.
    I will show you one day in a blog post.
    Sorry to hear about your poor dad. Glad to hear he is on the mend now though!
    Best wishes,
    xxx

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  49. Loving the catsuit ~ with your divine feline beauty . I seem to have been out of the loop , but not getting catty ;) Miss you my creative vintage fashion bug ,
    Willow

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  50. My dear, this would be the 4th time I am trying to leave a comment to this post. You are looking gorgeous, sensual and fun! In both of your outfits here! :) Love and many great finds!! xxxxx

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  51. I absolutely love the cat suit. It's so much fun. And you look fabulous in it.

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  52. What a fabulous find!! it's absolutely gorgeous and perfect on your hot bod, I love everything about it - I had a peek the other day at the Jean Varon range at the Walker, or John Bates (love that!) such beauty - and yep boobs and vintage is a tricky one (not impossible! even with my mahoosive bosoms I have had some success) and gawd I love you in that yellow Ossie Clark! beautiful! x x x

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  53. Glad that you're keeping this slinky number and not putting it on Kinky's rails! It looks goddamn sexy too - so its win, win on all fronts (and backs too)! You're so right about those designers especially Ossie Clark. I always feel like the proverbial million dollars when I wear his dress. By the way, did you watch the first part of a fashion/music documentary on BBC4 on Wednesday evening called 'Oh You Pretty Things'? If not catch up with it on Iplayer - it was bloody brilliant. Next week I think they've got Brian May going through his 1970s stage costumes. Mind you, they way he looked in the '70s I wouldn't have minded going through them either! xxx

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  54. Cor bloomin' I've had less effusive compliments than that insult, you gorgeous little Bond Girl. The way you look in that jumpsuit, I bet Jon's been chasing you round the kitchen again, hasn't he? So sexy! And as for that bikini. If I could get my knockers in it, I'd be begging you for it. What a find and you look great in it. Thanks for the history lesson, I just assumed Jean Varon was a French label. Fascinating. I'm so glad to hear your dad is OK. Xxxxxxxx

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  55. What a beauty you are, inside and out, as always! Sometimes it's good to acknowledge our appreciation of our best physical attributes, and you rock yours always with the best personal style and grace. I join everyone else in reminding you how gorgeous you are, on all your surfaces and interiors! Best of all, multi-dimensional!
    Completely grand dress with a past and a brilliant future on you!
    As a shortie with boobage, I do get Suzanne's complaint ... but can't claim the slimness that makes it workable. We settle for our looks, but I'm putting in for a figure more like yours in my next incarnation. And in specifically human form, of course.

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  56. An amazing garment on an amazing woman!! Love this. You have such a superb eye for what works. The yellow dress is utterly gorgeous too. Glad your dad is okay. I can imagine it was stressful, for him and you!!

    LOVE YOU. XXOO

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  57. I love the cat suit.

    I wanted to thank you for the recommendation at 'A Vintage Affair' ages ago. Read it last week on holiday and loved it!

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  58. Oh my … that cat suit is the best … but I think I say that every post. You just seem to find the most fabulous things and they all look so damn good on you :0)
    xx

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  59. Glad to hear your Dad's ok! What a weird weapon?!

    You've such a cracking figure, you look fantastic in that jumpsuit. It's actually thanks to you that I felt brave enough to put a bikini photo up on my blog, even though I had to suck it in a bit...

    P x

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  60. What a great find, you look amazing! I once got told by a girl that my legs were so skinny they looked like they might snap - how charming. Glad to hear that your dad is on the mend x

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  61. ooh Vixy! what a hubba bubba babe you are! Sod all those silly goose's teasing you - i can guarantee they are all sitting around with diabetes and wearing trackpants because thats all that fits them. None of them could dream of wearing that sexy cat suit and getting away with it like you!

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  62. Yes the Jean Varon number is sexy and wonderful. You look so gorgeous! :) x

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  63. What a find! Love it so much and you look fabulous Vix.

    X x

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  64. I totally get it - I'm small busted and I wouldn't have it any other way!! I have always found that 1960's and 1970's fit my shape MUCH better than modern clothing (most of which I simply don't "fill out"). You rock this catsuit lady - its like it was made for you!

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Love from Vix
xxx