Friday, 14 October 2016

It Did It My Way - How I Wore A Vintage 1930s Dress


We didn't go car booting in the end, it was peeing down when I got up so we opted for a trip to a nearby town for a rummage around the chazzas instead. It's your typical Black Country town, the high street shops that aren't boarded up are either fried chicken joints, nail bars or discount shops. The charity shops aren't up to much but occasionally we get lucky and yesterday was one of those days. In the Everything £1.99 shop, whilst scanning a rail of over-washed Primark and stained George at Asda, I had a glimpse of that unmistakable fabric, vintage wool crepe. 


I pulled out the hanger and there it was, a 1930s evening dress. At over eighty years old it wasn't in the greatest condition, there were a couple of tears in the skirt and the sequin trim was hanging off in places, which obviously meant that it was far too tatty to sell and I'd have to keep it. Hard life, innit? If you were around in the 1980s you probably think that you hate shoulder pads. Try a 1930s dress on with them in and I bet you'll be a convert.


Back in my teens, clothes from the 1930s & 1940s weren't rare, I'd buy them by the armful from jumble sales and think nothing of wearing Barathea suits, governess shoes and Utility swing coats to school, even hacking away at frumpy 1940s tea dresses to make them into cooler looking minis.  But that was over 35 years ago and the elderly church-going ladies who used to donate them have long gone. These days it's an event to find something from the 1980s at a jumble sale. 

Frida earrings bought from our fab neighbours at The End of The Road Festival. You can buy off their website HERE

Loads of people who attend vintage fairs dress in a historically accurate way, draped in fox furs with their make-up and hair done in the fashion of the era they favour. It's somewhat disconcerting to see so many people dressed almost identically, like I've been teleported back to the Blitz. Me, I wear vintage because I want to be unique. Even in my teens the thought of bumping into someone wearing the same dress as me filled me with abject horror, as it still does now. My wardrobe is 99.9% vintage not because I want to reenact the past but because I strive to be different.  That's why I don't get the repro thing, I don't want to recreate the style of certain era. I want to wear proper vintage clothing in my own way even if it has some vintage purists up in arms. I could wear this dress with my hair set in Marcel waves with marcasite earrings, red lipstick and elbow length gloves but to me that would be like being a vintage fashion victim, following a set of archaic rules. Instead I'm sporting a messy top knot, neon pink lipstick, leopard print ankle boots and silver earrings featuring Frida Kahlo, a black cat and a spider monkey. 

WEARING: 1930s wool crepe dress (£1.99, charity shop), Jones the Bootmaker leopard print boots (Free! Swapped with a customer for a vintage top)

Talking of clothes I'd better get my arse into gear and get my outfits sorted for our back-to-back weekend of vintage trading in Bath & Bristol. The alarms already set for 4.30am and the last thing I want to be doing is having a pre-dawn wardrobe meltdown.

Have a fab weekend and see you soon!

91 comments:

  1. I like both the period-perfect look and the vintage-anarchic look. I veer more towards the latter, myself, but have some blogging friends whose flawless period style I really admire. There's still infinite room for individuality within a period-perfect look. I guess it's like when I wasa a goth; people used to say we all looked alike, but we all knew how different we were from each other :-D Other people just saw the black; we saw the nuances.

    As for repro, I like the shapes of vintage clothing, and if repro is the easiest way to get a particular style, that's the route I'll take. Most modern mainstream clothing simply doesn't have the cut and shape of a lot of vintage styles. I"m wearing a House of Foxy dress today. There are certain brands I shy away from because their styles are *too* ubiquitous, though, I must admit. I wouldn't care if someone turned up in an identical dress to mine, but I'd be mortified if my whole look was 'vintage basic' that could be ticked off a list of 'of course...' suppliers.

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    1. I blame Boy George, he lived in Walsall for 18 months, went to the same jumble sales and blew me away with his outfits. His look was utterly inspirational, it defied any genre and as a 14 year old, was a massive influence on my style.
      xxx

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  2. Loving those Frida Kahlo earrings. She's a favourite of mine. So daring! xx

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  3. This dress is worth, say, a half dozen failed trips to the shop. These are the finds that keep me going back and back and back to iffy shops. I also remember the days of plenty of '40s clothes but I suspect you'd have to be lucky (or not) to "score" some 2000s fast fashion 50 years from now. For sure, someone will love it though, collector pieces. Heh.

    I love how you mix it all up, no rules, an original. It doesn't really bother me if someone else is wearing what I am as long as I love what I'm wearing, but that almost never happens. I like people in full-on vintage, but too much of any one thing/style makes me want to run.

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    1. I'd be surprised if today's fast fashion is still around in five years time, let alone 50. A couple of years ago I bought a modern maxi dress from a chazza to take to India with me, after a week it ended up fit for nothing but the bin. I've got forty year old dresses on their 15th trip to India and still look good.
      xxx

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  4. Love that dress! Actually the style of that dress is so timeless 7 fabulous you could pumps & pearls to hippy-tastic with it.
    I used to dress in my own anachronistic interpretation of the '50's. I'm certainly not the type to do a full roller set & backcombing but fake eyelashes & a ponytail yesireee!

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    1. Thanks, Bibi! Yes, it could be dressed to suit any era from the glam of the 1930s, the madness of the 1970s or the OTT style of the 1980s. xxx

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  5. These days when I find a few 40's rayon dresses in a thrift store I assume they were donated after the second owner died, not the original. I'm fully aware that if I fall over tomorrow most of my collection will end up donated. I'm glad I started collecting in the late 70's/early 80's because as you say, the pieces are getting scarce.

    I like your style. I like the historically correct enthusiasts too. I probably fall somewhere in the middle for my own way of wearing them. I can't imagine passing up a great piece of vintage just because it didn't fit in with a particular time period. You've proven here that a formal gown doesn't need a formal occasion.

    I know you're not in love with wearing black, but I must say you look terrific in it!

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    1. It'll be a lucky charity shop that gets your collection, Goody!
      Working the vintage fairs you see all types of ways to wear vintage from the historically accurate (down to pushing a pram with a doll dressed in vintage appropriate attire - downright freaky if you ask me) to the mad mixers. Yesterday I saw a girl wearing an incredible 1950s embroidered day dress with an 1980s blouse knotted over the top and gold brogues - fabulous. xxx

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  6. That's exactly what I feel about vintage! That said, you are looking amazing in that dress, and I love the earrings. Wishing you good trading in Bath and Bristol, wish I could be there ... xxx

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    1. I wish you could be there, too!
      Yep, you definitely wear vintage in a fantastic way - colourfully, with confidence and buckets of attitude. xxx

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  7. You hit the nail on the head, my dear Vix. I wear vintage and secondhand for the same reason.I couldn´t belive when I read it. Lucky you that fit into a 30s dress, pufff, people were tiny them.
    Love you and you courage to stand out and speak with a clear voice.
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

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    1. I knew you'd get it, Sacramento! No following rules for you! xxx

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  8. That is one rare find Vix and what a price too! You do look amazing in black and I love how you've styled it.

    Funnily ehough, I found a '40s (I think) evening dress in one of my favourite charity shops this week and my jaw dropped - it bloody fitted too!!

    You've taken me right back with this post - about the 80s when you could buy stuff so cheaply. I used to buy things like demob suits, novelty prints and vintage swimwear at jumble sales for pence. It makes me weep when I think about how much I've lost/trashed over the years - I still miss my Edwardian jacket lost in a house move :-(

    Thirty odd years later I still love to mix and match my clothes and eras though and this'll never change xxx

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    1. I can't wait to see the 1940s dress!
      If only I had a Tardis and could go back to the skanky houses I used to rent and rescue the clothes I used to abandon when Ii moved to my next place. I bet my beloved 1930s and 1940s clothes all ended up in landfill, dumped by pissed off landlords. xxx

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  9. I think your posh frock would go nicely with Philip's mum's faux fur and some truly outrageous boots or shoes. What do you think.
    I'm definitely an eclectic dresser, putting together whatever I like. I do admire the vintage wearers that do it with such panache with hair and make up and are beautifully groomed. It's lovely to see young and old being individuals rather than being boring high street shoppers.
    Have a great weekend.. You're sure to make everyone smile my friend xxx

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    1. I think that sounds like a fantastic outfit! Philip's Mum's coat is one of the few good things about the approach of Winter!!
      I see so many of the dressed in head to toe vintage people at fairs that, after a while, they all blend into one. I never forget a customer with individual style (like you!!) xxx

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  10. I wish I could wear more vintage but I really struggle to find things that suit me that also fit. I sometimes wish I could be arsed to do a full authentic look, but well, basically am too lazy to faff with my hair and stuff and I also like to feel like 'me'.

    I wish I had kept more of the original stuff I bought in the 80's.

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    1. I'm dying to see you in that amazing vintage dress from Shado Retro! Like you, I can't be arsed most of the time with doing much more than running a comb through my hair (especially when I have to leave for work at 5am!)
      Another passenger for the lets-go-back-to-the-Eighties Tardis. Where did all our vintage end up? xxx

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  11. Wow! What a find! And it fits you perfectly!

    I love how you've styled this.

    I also choose vintage for the exact same reasons as you and I also mash up the vintage without thinking twice.

    We go to costumed events a couple a times a year where I will try to put together an "authentic vintage look" so that we can try to win a prize (thus far we still haven't won!).

    I had someone comment on one of the outfits I'd put together for my Instagram feed and she said it was a good costume for Halloween. Not cool.

    Hope you have a great show!

    bisous
    Suzanne

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    1. She said what?? Some people have no taste and absolutely zero manners!
      I love how you wear your vintage. xxx

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  12. When I opened this post my first thought was how fabulous you look with that bun and in that dress. I agree with you on topic of 'full vintage look' and I love that you wear vintage clothes in your style and adjust them to fit your personal taste. To me that is true creativity and style!

    I do think all vintage look can be pretty adorable, but I was never tempted to try them. I guess I don't like the idea of completely recreating a past look because it feels like copying. I do like vintage hair styles and make up but wearing them with vintage clothes can feel too historical. I imagine it is a fun look to wear to vintage fairs but I can't imagine doing it on daily basis- even if I knew how to style my hair and make up in perfect vintage style which I'm not sure I do.

    I like wearing vintage clothes because I like the sense of history about them...another thing that draws me to vintage clothes are materials. Today's clothes are often made of similar materials so vintage can feel quite original in the tactile way ( but also in visual one obviously, with its abudance of different styles and cuts!).

    I have to get back to this vintage 1930s dress...It is truly gorgeous. I love the shoulder pads. I actually love shoulder pads and I wear them despite having broad shoulders....and to be honest I also like big shoulders, both on man and women, but that's another topic. I can understand why someone might dislike shoulder pads if one associates them with the eighties because in that decade, the shoulder pads were often worn with oversized things and it was often much too much, but as you said, on that dress shoulder pads look lovely! just perfect!

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    1. Ivana, you put it so well! I, too, love vintage clothing for the quality of the fabric, the exquisite cut and the social history entwined in the very fibres.
      I'll let you into a secret, I always loved shoulder pads, too. xxx

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  13. Well you look absolutely beautiful. I can't lie, I would definitely go all out 1930s, but that's because I love to feel like I'm playing in a dress up box, or a theatre wardrobe. The wonderful thing about a gorgeous dress like that is it's versatile to wear however you like.

    Have a wonderful weekend.

    Xx

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    1. Thank you, Louise! You're right, a fabulous dress can be worn in a million ways, that's the beauty of vintage. xxx

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  14. Wow! You have found the dress of my dreams. It looks fabulous on you and fits you like a glove. I guess you've worked your magic on it already - doing the repairs and whatnot. You can see the quality of the dress in the photos and the way it hangs - beautifully! Wool crepe has to be one of the best materials ever. I nearly got bought an Ossie Clark wool crepe dress back in 1971 - it was £75.00 - a small fortune at the time but had to opt for a cheaper dress in the end; boo hoo.

    I love the earrings - love Frida Kahlo - a real iconoclast if there was one!

    I absolutely get you on your vintage dressing approach but I do like it when people dress the part entirely. There are a mother and daughter pair who I meet in the chazzas in Bedford occasionally who dress in a 40s style. I love seeing them...

    Have a brilliant weekend and make lots of money

    xxxx

    Veronica
    vronni60s.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks, Veronica! Oh, if only you'd bought the Ossie. It would have paid for a holiday if you still had it. xxx

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  15. I love the way you wear vintage. You don't look like you're wearing a costume, you look like you.

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    1. Thank you so much! That's exactly how I want to be seen, like me rather than like I'm wearing vintage. xxx

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  16. You wear it well because on you it's style -- not a costume!

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    1. Thanks, Alex! Vintage is for life, not fancy dress. xxx

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  17. Hi Vix, I must admit, I'm more of a late 60s/early 70s girl, but recently I watched this movie called 'Angel' with Marlene Dietrich, that was made in the 30s, and I adored some of her outfits. It's great that your open to wearing different vintage pieces from different decades, and making them unique to you. I sometimes wonder what made me start wearing vintage styles so much, and although I think there was an element of wanting to be unique, I think I just discovered some great bands from the 60s and 70s and loved the clothes they were wearing. Hope you have a great weekend and sell heaps! Xxx

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    1. Hi Jess! The styles of the 1970s borrowed very heavily from the 1930s, which probably explains why you loved some of the costumes in Angel.
      I must admit that the more 1960s/1970s rockumentaries I watch, the more I want all the clothes! xxx

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  18. I love that dress! Beautifully worn - gorgeous as ever!

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  19. Your dress is just gorgeous! I just love wearing a mix of new and old. Frankly it's been hard to find vintage here for a long time, oh well!

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    1. Thanks, Laurie - me, too! I love mixing modern boots and costume jewellery with vintage dresses or bouffant-ing my hair and wearing neon make-up. It's good to mix it up. xxx

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  20. I've almost given up finding vintage down south. (in my price bracket anyway!) £1.99 for a dress like that is crazy. I prefer a mash up but also admire an authentic look done well. You look great in black and those are proper sleeves...look, right down to the elbow.

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    1. It is an insane price, even if it is a bit tatty around the edges. Mind you, I've seen some vintage traders selling dresses in far worse condition, slapping a £100 price tag on them and writing "cheap due to condition"...what the??? xxx

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  21. that's just beautiful and I do think wearing it your way is the whole point. My grandmother had a wardrobe full of these fabulous dresses with furs and shoes kept like a museum exhibit and never worn, how I wish looking back I had made them mine and had fun with them but back then 40 years ago you just didn't dare nick your granny's vintage dresses (unless you were called Vix)!!

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    1. Thank you, Betty. My sentiments exactly!
      What a shame you weren't as naughty as I was as a child, roller skating around the block in Great-Grandma's wedding dresses or Mum's original Biba & Jean Varon dresses! xxx

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  22. I loved the way you styled this vintage outfit.You are looking gorgeous in this black dress

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  23. Oh, this dress - &, more specifically, this dress on you and how you wear it - is so lovely!

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    1. Radostin, thank you! Because the dress is so beautifully cut I really do think that any woman who wore it would look lovely. xxx

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  24. I ♥ black. I ♥ the way you STYLE it.

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  25. You're right, back in the day 30s and 40s stuff was there for the taking. I favoured 30s bias cut dresses and underwear, dresses made from brocade curtains and 1940s wool suits. My nan gave us some absolutely beautiful jackets and pencil skirts, but we took them in to fit our stick like figures and then wore them out.
    I still love those eras and would happily wear them. In fact the last dress I bought was 1930s.
    This dress is wonderful on you, you look so elegant and your figure looks amazing. £1.99 is crazy! I love the top knot, I keep seeing people wearing it but my shoulder won't let me yet. Frida Kahlo, another very stylish lady who did it her way! Hope the West Country is being kind to you. Xxx

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    1. It's sad that we wore out (or left behind) all that lovely 1930s stuff but the Eighties would have been intolerable if we hadn't got those lovely vintage clothes to dress up in. The alternative would have been to treat them like precious things and wear shell suits instead! xxx

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  26. You know, of course, that the mash up of eras and styles and diys are what make you the powerful style goddess that you are. You dress your heart and you look a-mazing doing it!!

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  27. Inspired to get out my 1940s beaded jacket to wear in this autumn cool!

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    1. I can't wait to see that beauty! xxx

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  28. I love that dress, and how you are wearing it - you look stunning in it.

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  29. I can appreciate the time and effort people put into a period-perfect outfit, but like you, I prefer to mix things up. I'm glad you were the one to find this beautiful dress, and give her a second life. The only place I see things from the 1940's and older is at the Manhattan Vintage Show, and then they are priced well out of my budget. I love mixing 1980's jackets with contemporary pieces because I love shoulder pads.

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    1. I love seeing people (like you) mixing their vintage with modern pieces - that's the look that really attracts my attention and makes someone truly memorable. Whilst I'll always compliment someone I see in an historically correct outfit I don't often remember them after the event - unlike the girl in a 1960s psychedelic dress, 1980s cardi and platform shoes. xxx

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  30. I love this frock and I love you got it for basically no money. Also I just want to give you a big hug and scream "yes someone else gets it!" when I read your thoughts on wearing vintage! I want to wear it to be a cute weirdo, I don't want to look like I stepped out of a time machine. Plenty of other folks do that and look amazing, I'm not one of them though (also I'm very lazy and the thought of setting my hair everyday kind of makes me want to throw up!)

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    1. Yes, yes, yes!! Thank you, Trees. I love a randomly put together outfit that truly reflects the wearer's personality. xxx

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  31. Gorgeous dress, and you wear it like YOU. Life is so over-run with rules, at least let's wear our vintage as we please! Looking amazing, you. xo

    -Patti
    http://notdeadyetstyle.com

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    1. Too true, I hear ya, sister! xxx

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  32. wow!!!! beautiful dress on a very beautiful and extremly cool woman!
    and wool crepe! it will keep you warm!
    historical correct styling seems pathetic to me beside of a education movie..... i love me a pretty 50s dress but the idea of wearing the underwear of that time or the hairdos makes me feel sick instantly.
    lets have fun and be real individuals!!!!! huge hugs! xxxxxxx

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    1. You do make me smile!! Bullet bras, pointy shoes and stick-y out petticoats must have been the invention of a man to keep the womenfolk chained to the kitchen sink. You can't run for a bus in a corset and seamed stockings! xxx

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  33. ahhh, those jumble sales you describe from your teens sound almost exactly like the ones my mum attended, with similar 30s/40s/50s finds. I'm so envious of you both for that shared experience. I LOVE your way of styling everything you wear in an inimitable only-Vix way. You are both unique and inspiring.

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    1. The golden days of vintage collecting, Rosalind. We didn't have cheap fashion back then, Chelsea Girl was cool but expensive so you had few alternatives, either not paying your rent and wearing something fashionable or paying your rent and wearing a DIY'ed 1930s ballgown and a man's smoking jacket you'd picked up for 50p! No contest. xxx

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  34. What a marvellous dress on you. Love your hair up like this as well. I would be over the moon if I readily found 30s and 40s pieces today. I usually only find some homeware pieces of those eras when I'm searching. x

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    1. Thank you, Madison! You're right, I find far more 1930s plates than I do dresses! xxx

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  35. Looks great! Haha, I know what you mean about shoulder pads, the 80s ones were horrendous. I wear a mixture of what I call fashiony stuff (if I like it) and secondhand/vintage stuff which is more individual. So I'm probably a bit of a weird mixture but I like it.

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    1. I like a weird mixture to. It's like art, it never appeals to everyone but it gets remembered. xxx

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  36. You REALLY rock this look and I am completely in love with that dress ♥ xx

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  37. Bargain! You look absolutely fabulous but part of me would really like to see you with red lipstick and marcel waves! xxx

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    1. Thank you! I'm far too lazy for Marcel waves and red lipstick makes me look about 100 years old! xxx

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  38. You've definitely got us thinking about hair styles, Vix! Here in the American Midwest there's now a fad for 40s "utilitarian" scarf turbans and Victory rolls that feel right with big plaid shirts worn over rolled up jeans.

    I'd love to find a snood to wear with the Ginger-wears-Fred's-smoking jacket- over-beach pj's ensemble I favor for trips to the masseuse. It would be my tribute to the great Marika Rokk turning cartwheels in a lame evening dress ("Habe Ich Liebe").

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    1. Hello Beth! The 40's scarf or Victory rolls, red lipstick, tartan shirts and Levi's was a big thing here a couple of years ago, now replaced by 1990s undercuts, twin top knots and blue lipstick. Vintage fashion has it's fads, too.
      I love the sound of your masseuse visiting outfits. Have you looked on Etsy for a snood? xxx

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  39. That's "gold lame" mit an accent!

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  40. Vix you look beautiful, are beautiful... I love this dress, it reminds me of "an old lady's dress" that I found in the very first Op Shop(chazza!!) I ever went into at 13. Padded shoulders, it was black, crepe, and of course I chopped the bottom off to make it a (very short) mini, bought a piece of red velvet ribbon for around the waist and bingo I had a fantastic new dress - worn with my black "granny shoes". I LOVED that dress and wore it until it could be worn no more. Your style, and you, are unique, and that's what I love about you :)I would hate to meet myself, dressed the same, coming down the street or wherever but fortunately, that doesn't happen. Hope you're having a beautiful week. xx

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    1. Elizabeth, that sounds like one of the outfits I'd have worn when I was a teenager! I always felt so good but I'm glad photography was an expensive hobby back then, I'm not sure of the ragged hems and DIY looked as good as they felt! xxx

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  41. LOVE it all.
    www.practical-parsimony.blogspot.com

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  42. I LOVE how you styled the *gorgeous* dress with the big bun and neon lips. I feel the same way, vintage is about solidarity, I love styling things exactly the way I want.

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  43. You look awesome in this dress. I also like how you made it your own. I think blending periods of fashion and artistic accessories makes for an individual look, and also adds a certain charm.

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  44. I've always wanted to go to a vintage revival event of some kind, just for the people watching opportunities - I think it would be fascinating. But you're right, it's not exactly individual if everyone is dressed the same. Most of my friends seem to dress in very much the same way - shopping in Fat Face, White Stuff, Boden and Joules. They all look great, but all kinda similar. I'm often a bit of the odd one out but I like that.

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    1. You should go to one of those event, Hazel, they're great for photo opportunities.
      Yes, those labels are nice but I know what you mean, we live around the corner from a posh school where all the yummy mummies dress like that and by the looks of it share the same hairdresser, too. I have trouble recognising the women I know from those I don't as they're like a strange middle class tribe. xxx

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  45. You look totally elegant in that dress. It have to admit that I always liked shoulder pads.

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  46. That dress is gorgeous and you look fab in it! I love how you've styled it xx

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  47. I love hearing people's clothing philosophy, it's so interesting. I don't think it's ever bothered me about possibly seeing someone in the same outfit, as we might be very different physically. I think humans have a deep need for belonging and some find it in clothing 'tribes'. I change my mind too much to belong squarely in one or another! I adore that dress on you x

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  48. Probably I would be one of the reenacters now - you talk about. But I don't follow rules and I don't look like others, because there is almost noone else who wears dead peoples shit out there. I have a less then handfull 'true' vintage friends - but I suppose we all are wearing the eras we love quite different, because every one has different favourites.
    Me personally, I'm not interested in reanactment. I just wear the clothes of the eras that suit me best, sometimes I mix them up, sometimes I go true to with an era. It just happens. I enjoy how lovely those garments were made back then.
    What ever. I love how you dressed your artdeco dress in you personal way. It looks adorable.
    .... In the end it's all just fashion. There should be no rules, just joy! ;)

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