Thursday, 7 May 2015

Vix's Tips - Vintage 1940s Style for V E Day


Got anything 1940s? It's the question we're asked most by visitors to our pitch. Despite a reputation for selling all things vibrant & groovy and the scarcity of clothing from the war years, we do have a number of genuine pieces on our rails. The trouble is that with the changes in lifestyle and diet over the last 70 years, vintage Forties clothing is usually significantly smaller than your average, modern day Brit. So, I do a shockingly un-British thing, I recommend cheating.

By cheating I'm not talking about going down the repro route (the bête noire of vintage traders the world over), I mean mixing original 1940s pieces with vintage clothing from more recent eras to create a look which is both financially friendlier and easier to find in larger sizes.

Anyone spot a certain Land Girl gatecrashing the party?
As part of the 70th Anniversary of V E Day our beloved Vintage Village @ Stockport are hosting a VE Day Fair. With this in mind I've put together some 1940s-inspired outfits using clothes & accessories from the Kinky Melon stockroom, all of which will be available to buy from us this coming Sunday.


To create a typical daytime you won't go far wrong with a tea dress or a tailored suit. Using 1940s photos of my Grandma as inspiration I've chosen dresses from the 1950s, 1970s & 1980s and a 1950s Harella suit. Add a framed handbag, a slouchy beret (the ones shown here are both authentic 1940s pieces) and some quality leather shoes with a block heel and you're good to go.

Click on the photo to enlarge






Here's a more formal look using a smart tweed suit as a base. I've combined some of our 1940s stock along with a few 1980s look-a-likes. Can you spot the originals?* Again, I've used photos from the family album for inspiration.

* Original 1940s : A CC41 fur coat, the grey worsted wool jacket, the leather handbag & black hat.

Click on the photo to enlarge

How about a working wardrobe?  These 1940s British Army battledress trousers teamed with a Shanghai silk blouse make for an elegant look whilst the patched Holdfast denim jeans are the epitome of the Make Do & Mend era. Sturdy leather brogues and a fully fashioned knit add a utilitarian vibe.
Click on the photo to enlarge
Let's not forget the chaps! I've used photos of my very dapper Grandpa for ideas. I've chosen a CC41* wool overcoat along with a 1960s blazer, some 1940s tweed trousers, a 1950s doeskin waistcoat and a classic Tootal paisley scarf. The English-made leather brogues, traditional Shetland knit & feather trimmed trilby, although from the 1970s, are very much in the style of an earlier era. The vintage camera case makes a substitute for a gas mask.

* CC41 - The Utility logo was a British Board of Trade requirement which appeared on footwear, furniture, textiles & clothing and was introduced in 1941, lasting for ten years. It stood for Controlled Commodity and designated that the item met with the Government's austerity regulations. 


Click on the photo to enlarge


Finally, here's a more casual look. The duffel coat is ex-British Army, the tartan grip is from the 1950s and the rest; the cricket jumper, bush shirt, silk cravat, flat cap and leather sandals are a mix of 1960s, 1970s and 1980s 'cos even with a war on there was still time for fun.


Click on the photo to enlarge

On a WW2 related note I thought I'd share these photos of Jon's Dad (the likeness is uncanny). A war hero, gymnast and keen photographer. Sadly, I never met him.


Hope to see you on Sunday but, if you live the opposite end of the UK, then keep calm & don't panic. My friend Dee is hosting a VE Day Fair in Taunton this coming Saturday.

See you soon!

57 comments:

  1. I love the 40 's! So pretty .... sadly most items are a bit to tiny for me -such a drag to be a big girl !
    i want the grey 2 piece on your first pic .
    xxx

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  2. What a fabulous blog post Vix, it's wonderful. I've got my underskirt on ready for plenty of trying on.
    I love the flowery dress hung up on the top pic, would it fit me do you think or is it tiny.
    Ooh I'm so excited. Nipping back up the page now for another read. See you Sunday. Xxx

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  3. You're absolutely drop dead gorgeous in that dress!Cheating is fine as long as it is second-hand. For me, it was how it all began. I was a teenager in the 80's when second hand was really cheap and when the budget clothesstore's did'nt produce mountains of environmental disgusting clothing. Then I was stuck, and today I never get attracted by new clothes.

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  4. This is such a wonderful post Vix, and it must have taken you ages!! Really great resource to have x

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  5. Great ideas and some fabulous photos from your family album! Great post.
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

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  6. Great tip, this is kinda what I was saying about Gunne Sax dresses, lovely, but they come in such small sizes :(
    The Fur is my fave look here x

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  7. Incredible post Vix, loved it and your take on "getting the look". You're so right go back much further then the late 50's and depending on who and where you're buying your garments from you're up for a pretty penny. Your suggestions and interpretation are a terrific guide.

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  8. I have a 1940s dress that fits!! It is shirt waisterish white with bright yellow stripes forming checks.

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  9. Wonderful post, Vix. I still have a couple of 40's dresses from my vintage-selling days - but they are getting frail. Jon's dad is his twin! xox

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  10. This was a brilliant post! I especially like the personal photos.

    I own one dress from the 1940's, which I adore. most often the ones I've seen have been quite dowdy. No colour, no details. Normally the eras I buy the most from are the 1950's and 60's.

    Best of luck this weekend!

    bisous
    Suzanne

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  11. what an amazing post, I enjoyed this so much, I never thought of that before, ,,, the bit about diet being the reason we are fatter now,,,I always thought it was because we worked harder back then but the experts say its more to do with diet,,, but I suppose thats true, I always wondered why the women's dresses wee so much smaller back then, we 're just fatter now, lol, you did such an amazing job of this post, brilliant and I did see Jon in that man's face, what a handsome man,

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  12. what an amazing post, I enjoyed this so much, I never thought of that before, ,,, the bit about diet being the reason we are fatter now,,,I always thought it was because we worked harder back then but the experts say its more to do with diet,,, but I suppose thats true, I always wondered why the women's dresses wee so much smaller back then, we 're just fatter now, lol, you did such an amazing job of this post, brilliant and I did see Jon in that man's face, what a handsome man,

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  13. This is a great post, all that mixing up inspired by the old photographs! Good luck at the fair!

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  14. You did a splendid job on this post - nicely designed and well-researched, and the family photos are a nice touch! Love the dress you're wearing in the first photo - it fits you so well.

    Jon does look very much like his Dad, who sounds like he was a very cool guy.

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  15. Fab post and some great tips. x

    Oh I badly need the brown bag from the first group of pictures!

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  16. My parents as part of a massive group go away for a 40's weekend once a year, their outfits are pretty cool and mainly sourced second hand (though I have to make my Dad a WWII garrison hat this year, gah!) love all the pics, the clothes are just so beautiful and appealing on so many levels - Jon is the double of his Dad! what an incredible and very handsome man x x xlove the pic of you! x x x

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  17. Really fabulous post Vix.
    Loved the photo's, clothing and accessories.
    Thank you so much for putting this together, well done!

    Pam in Texas.xx

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  18. I know the 1940-50s aren't really your thing fashion-wise, but as always you have a great eye and knowledge about the history of style. This a brilliant post, your collages are fantastic, so well put together, and your ideas for incorporating other decades into a 40s look are spot on. And of course I adore the family photos, it's always a joy to see your glamorous family
    Jon really does resemble his dad very much, in that "selfie" shot they could be brothers. I think we need to know more about this dashing war hero - a guest post from Jon, perhaps?
    Good luck at the weekend, hope Stockport goes well. Love you!
    PS. Every time I see film of VE day in London, I look out for my mum - she was there, outside Buckingham Palace, chanting for the king. She said it was an amazing experience. Can't spot her on the film, but I like to think of her there in the crowd! xxx

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  19. Those are great tips - I had no idea your stock included stuff that old.

    I like a bit of repro, but then as a fat lass my choice of authentic stuff is pretty limited.

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  20. O love the 20s, the 40s-50s and the 70s! The dress you are wearing is fabulous and I loved a lot the one on the left! I loved the post because of many things - the photos, styling and history, things that we learn from your blog! I remember buying a fabulous dress last year, and the clerk (a sweet lady from the 40s) said "just try... but it looks small". I wasn't offended, not in the least, bit did think that yes, with the diet changes the 40s dresses look really smaller. It did fit and we were both surprised! It is one of my favorite pieces ever!
    DenisesPlanet.com

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  21. Great post. One of my favourite vintage finds is a dress from the 40s, which is actually (and surprisingly) a bit big on me.

    Seeing your old family photos is such a pleasure. The ones of Jon's dad are so special, and yes, that is quite a resemblance! I love the one of the pyramid of gymnasts. xo

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  22. Great post Vix, loved the styling with in the collages and the use of your own family photo's. The 40s look is not a style that I am totally comfortable with its the 60's for me but I very much appreciate the style and the time and I enjoy reading about the 40s and the war effort. Its bit bonkers that I am running another 40's event with the VE Day Fair in Taunton thank you so much for the mention lovely. I actually got my vintage 70's dress which is 40's inspired from the fair I saw you last early this month. Have a great weekend lovely and lets pray for a dry day for everyone :-) dee xxx

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  23. Great photos, everyone looks really well dressed. Your mix and match idea is spot on. x

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  24. I call them "70s does" & "80s does" because both these decades borrowed so much from the past and you can often find 20s/30s/40s/50s inspired styles at a fraction of the price----and, like you mentioned, more sizes that are larger for us with bigger modern builds.

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  25. Great ideas - 1940s clothing is 75 years old now so in shorter supply than it used to be. I hate reproductions of anything - originals are where its at.

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  26. It's good that we now appreciate elegant time-less style, great tips btw:)

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  27. Love this post, such great ideas put into practise!
    Of course the old photos clinch it for me.
    Have a great time at Stockport.
    Zxx

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  28. Wonderful post Vix great advice best wishes x

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  29. For some reason I am not so fond of the 40's fashion, perhaps it's the fact that the style depends also a lot on the hairstyles (am I wrong in saying that? It always seems like that when I go to events/Lindy dances) and I am SO bad at doing anything to my hair- almost as bad as I am at planting carrot plants (massacred a brand new crate of them this afternoon- sad times- by not knowing how one is supposed to transplant them from seed-trays to ground/large pot) but I love what you've done here. I can see that your third lady's look might be one that I can recreate because I love my big trousers and I have a few pairs and maybe I can get away with no hairstyling!
    xx
    P.S. I TOTALLY spotted Landgirl! I thought, "Hmmmm, she loooks very familiar!)

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  30. What a great, great post, Vix! 70 years, eh? Life changed so much in these years. Mom writes about the history of the little village where he was born in 1945, and I am very much in the subject, being her editor. Back to you! I know that in general suggestions on how to dress is not your cup of tea, yet, my dear, you've done this stuff the best I've seen! You are so incredibly talented. How inspiring to use the photos from your own family album for inspiration! Loved all the pictures, will be back looking at them closely. Jon looks exactly like his Dad! Love seeing your grandparents again, too. You are a brilliant writer, among many other things. Much love xxxxx

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  31. You work very hard with your business. I love how detailed and thoughtful this post is.

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  32. you've just exposed the costume designers secret! A lot of 1940's (and earlier) clothes are too small and fragile to survive a production. One stage (the 10 foot rule) most people can't tell the difference. Old patterns are also sized differently, we've used them and the reissued line of patterns most of the companies are making now. As long as you're using the right fabric making you're own 40's clothes is fun.

    You're orange maxi dress is giving me flashbacks

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  33. Thorne is absolutely on target with her advice: there's even a line of plus size patterns for 40s styles! And although the authentic dresses are fragile, some of the bags and shoes are still sturdy enough for real life. When I cleared my parents' home, I gave my niece all my mum's red leather bags from her 40s in NYC. Two are now carried into the courtroom -- and admired by women who notice such things.

    This is a post worthy of a lifestyle magazine, Vix. Thank you for a peek in your -- and Jon's -- family albums. Good heavens, small wonder Jon's such an attractive man! These lads were indeed The Greatest Generation.

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  34. I don't think I've seen a post like this here before, or I've missed it. I really like it - how you've taken looks from an era and showcased what you've got in stock from the time or a convincing replica. Very cool. Yes, Jon and his dad do look alike. Too bad your paths didn't cross. We don't get much truly vintage '40s in shops here. I've heard that most of our vintage pieces are shipped to the UK.

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  35. I love the dress you have on today Vix. This is a brilliant post, it made me want to dig out my old family snaps for a start! my grandma had a wardrobe full of old furs like the ones in the post and i hadn't realised until I saw this post, that she had always worn 1940s dresses throughout her life - she made all her own clothes, even coats and used a tailors dummy. and of course your post brings loads of fun to clothes shopping, searching out those special items to bring things together and get that authentic look. I think this weeks vintage sale is going to need security guards to keep the crowd back! Betty

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  36. Loving this post Vix and you're so full of inspiration when it comes to styling vintage clothes. It just goes to show that all it takes is a good eye to recreate a 1940s look without going to great expense.

    I'm with Curtise with her comments about Jon's Dad and a guest post from Jon.

    Tell you what, I love the peasant-style midi dress in your first photo - its gorgeous xxx

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  37. Clever display of clothing there Vix, and better than any trendy magazine shoot by far. Really enjoy your old black and white pics, great photos of Jons handsome dad.

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  38. Love it...especially anything high waisted and wide legged....have a great day!!x

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  39. such wise advices, love how you encourage us to mix and to be original faking some 40's style!! Fabulous!!
    As a 50's and 60's lover, I'm a huge fan of that "80's doing the 50's" style, mixing and having fun!!
    And those pics of Jon's dad are amazing!!
    besos

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  40. hey! i´m back ;-)
    loooove your collages!!! and what a dapper chap jon´s pa was!!! wonderful memories!!
    and for looking 40´s without actual 40´s clothing - i do this all the time. because of said war there is not much left of clothing from this time here (dresden) - so 70´s & 80´s are my best friend ;-)
    wish you a gorgeous weekend!! xxxxxx

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  41. I do love forties style especially the fitted suits , I had a fitted suit in the 80s that would have passed for forties , you can find mock forties if you look hard enough xxxx

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  42. You've provided several magazine worthy spreads of ideas here. No, actually, scrub that, you've provided ideas MUCH BETTER and far more imaginative than most glossies can muster. Love your observations and suggestions. Mostly though, love the pics of your super glamorous grandma.
    And Jon's dad - wow - extraordinary likeness and really, really special photos.

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  43. Jon (from the photos I've seen so far) looks exactly like his dad! uncanny likeness indeed!

    I absolutely enjoyed reading this post. I didn't know much about the fashion of the 1940 so this was both informative and enteraining for me.

    I do love the collages you put together...I didn't manage to spot all the originals! I guess it takes a more trained eye for that.

    Anyhow, wonderful job and post!

    I love that first photo of you...in love with that maxi..brilliant colours and patterns!

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  44. This post is perfect! SO many gorgeous images and outfits.

    I adore 40s style and home décor.

    Have a wonderful weekend xx

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  45. You look so beautiful in that frock Vix.
    I know people love forties fashion but it does nothing for me. My dad had some awful swimming trunks like that in the seventies! They were striped towelling!
    Jons dad was a fox wasn't he?
    Have fun at the fair tomorrow. xxx

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  46. Wow … this post is better than a fashion mag… and I love the old photos you've used as inspiration.
    xx

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  47. This post is great Vix, I love all the different mixes of clothing and the amazing vintage photos - so cool! - Tasha

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  48. Such a fabulous post Vix. Your clever styling ideas are much more interesting and original than going down the repro route. Out of interest, are many customers persuaded to mix styles or are most purists? Bloody love that frock you are wearing at the top... and Jon's dad, the likeness is incredible. Hope the fair went well. xx

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  49. 40s garb is great but i'd have to stick to the 80s repros. I'm so rough on clothes I'm afraid I'd ruin a precious 70 year old dress in a flash.

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  50. That this beautiful initiative, an original way to celebrate the Liberation! I want them to be there too on this day! You have created the perfect look and your grandmother was very nice, all the grandparents were beautiful and so stylish, despite the difficult times that they lived! I like so much the old photos of grandparents and uncles. This nice post, thanks !!!
    You're right, it's really hard to find clothes of the 40s.
    I own the accessories of my grandmother, gloves, silk underwear, and bags. Yesterday for a party in the countryside, I used a little bag of the late 40s my grandmother, is still relevant today!
    But everything belongs to the postwar period, because before they had very little if their creativity and youth!

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  51. You're a genius! Love the way you weaved in the old family photos. And wow! - wasn't John's Dad a looker?

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  52. Great post!
    I like to wear some special 60s-70s pieces as early 40s and some 90s pieces as mid to late 40s. It is nice not to worrie about your old,old,old 40s piece when you ride the bike everyday or if you like to choose to sit on the green ...

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  53. I love the 1940s and WWII as a historical and fashion period, so this is a lovely post to see. Your grandmother is a total beauty, so slim and wonderfully stylish. I see where you get it from. These photos are just wonderful. Oh my goodness, Jon's dad! Peas in a pod! His photos are so similar to those of my grandad that I can't help looking for him in the photos. Was Jon's dad a desert rat? I love Curtise's story about her mum! Xxxxxx

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  54. I'm pretty sure most 1940s things would fit me! So its good to see some practical advise like this which shows you can still have the "look" without having to go down the repro path which can be expensive. It's also so interesting to see how styles have been repeated over time.

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  55. the 40s always pop up so easily in modern clothes and back in the 70s and 80s. i have a maybe 10 year old dress but the print and style is very 40s. i think it was from when the Pearl Harbour movie came out. that did alot to make it popular again but not in repro clothing, but normal clothing with a 40s look. ive worn it to parties a few times and people assumed it was original!

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  56. the 40s always pop up so easily in modern clothes and back in the 70s and 80s. i have a maybe 10 year old dress but the print and style is very 40s. i think it was from when the Pearl Harbour movie came out. that did alot to make it popular again but not in repro clothing, but normal clothing with a 40s look. ive worn it to parties a few times and people assumed it was original!

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xxx