Here are a few of my top picks for Christmas, all from Coolclobber. Whatever your favourite era, you can accessorise with a stylish handbag, scarf, hat or gloves, to add a bit of Vintage “ je ne sais quoi” to your outfit.
It is easy to create your own style with Vintage pieces, knowing that your look is unique. Friends too appreciate the thought that goes in to finding them a special Vintage gift. My gift suggestions include leather goods, such as a good quality wallet, belt or writing case, as well as powder compacts, which are practical as well as beautiful. For compacts, look for makes like Stratton or Coty, for quality pieces.
If you are buying Vintage clothes on line, (and particularly if you are buying for someone else!), do check all measurements carefully, remembering the sizes can vary enormously on Vintage items, and size labels are therefore deceptive.
Many items at Coolclobber and Floslingerie have free postage within the U.K. for the rest of the year.
What do you wear and how do you shop? Do you ever consider the impact that your fashion choices make in terms of sustainability, pollution, ecology and exploitation? The global fashion industry impacts on both agriculture and manufacturing, using, producing, abusing chemicals and pesticides, oil and petrochemicals and water, to create products that all too often are worn for a season and then discarded. “Fast Fashion”is often synonymous with worker exploitation, dangerous working conditions, child labour and with workers being paid a pittance.
It is certainly possible to make ethical choices about what you wear and about how you shop, and still have a fabulous wardrobe!
It is probably a good idea to take a good look at what clothes you have, and sort them out! I recently had a good old wardrobe declutter and went for a “capsule” wardrobe approach. I reduced my clothes by about half and found the exercise therapeutic and useful! It has allowed me to see what items I overbuy and what items I truly need! If you do have clothes that no longer fit, you could sell them on-line, or you could donate them to a charity shop. Clothing that charity shops cannot use is usually sold on to a “Rag man”, a trader who will sort the items for recycling in the textile industry, for re-sale abroad, e.g. in Ghana, The Ukraine, Pakistan, or for land fill. You could also get a bit more creative and organise a “clothes swap” event with friends or family, or you could take a pitch at a Car Boot sale and try your luck direct selling!
What about those items that need a little TLC ?
Repairs and alterations are really not difficult, even for a sewing novice! You can sew on a button very simply with a needle and thread. If you can sew on a button, you can replace all of the buttons on a dress or jacket and give it an entirely new look. Look at a few YouTube tutorials or buy a book and learn a few basic stitches… running stitch, back stitch and blind hemming will serve you well, and enable you to repair a split seam, stitch on a patch or repair a snagged hem.
Invest in a sewing machine and a whole world of creativity opens up to you……
Back to that pile of discarded clothes…..reuse the fabrics and make something new. It is pretty easy to turn a pair of jeans into a skirt, or a tote bag, or a pair of shorts! You can turn a dress into a skirt or a skirt into a dress. You just need a bit of imagination!
Consider buying Vintage or buying from charity shops. Buying used clothes is the ultimate in clothing recycling and offers so much choice. Buying from an On-line or a Brick & Mortar Vintage Shop gives you the opportunity to explore fashion history, create a unique and personal style often with one-off pieces. Look for iconic pieces from a certain era, or for certain designers. Some Vintage buyers like a total look, perhaps even with hairstyle and footwear from a particular era, whereas many like to mix Vintage with modern, for a more eclectic and individual personal style. In Charity shops, be prepared to look through racks and racks of mainly modern clothes. You will often find bargains, particularly in “special occasion” wear, and could save yourself lots of money!
Think of new clothes as investment pieces. It is worth looking at how your clothes are produced, from the source of the fibre and fabric to completion. Organic fibres, hemp, linen, cotton, wool etc., or recycled fabrics would be used more if we created a demand for them. You may wish to support up and coming designers or small collectives that consider the impact of their methods on the environment and produce clothes that will last.
I think that it may have been back in the 1970s that I first heard of “The Capsule Wardrobe”as a fashion concept. “The Capsule Wardrobe”, “Wardrobe Basics” or “Wardrobe Essentials” have been the subject of articles and books on and off for at least fifty years….and probably before that too!
It is true that fashionable looks in clothes are often re-cycled or re-worked from previous eras, and it is often said that if you keep your old and no longer fashionable clothes, they will eventually come back into vogue. It is also true that some clothes are regarded as “Classics” that never really go out of fashion, and can be worn stylishly year on year.
As a collector of Vintage clothes, my view is that Vintage pieces work well as key items in the “capsule”approach to dressing well, adding a large helping of creativity and originality to a “look”.
Personally, I like to mix eras rather than adhering to a head to toe style from a specific decade. Mixing it up a bit also allows you to choose styles, cuts and colours that work best with your particular body shape, skin tone and life style, allowing you to create a unique personal look using pieces that are versatile and to some point, interchangeable.
So, most articles that you come across will suggest some Wardrobe “essentials” that can be worn in a number of combinations to create different outfits.
These usually include:-
A plain and well cut white T shirt
A plain and well cut long sleeved crisp white shirt
A well cut knee length or over black pencil skirt
A knee length navy or plaid pleated skirt
Straight cut blue denim jeans
Straight cut black trousers
Well cut black blazer
Well cut overcoat
Little black dress
Flat black pumps
High heel court shoes
Coloured scarves and jewellery to accessorize
With these basics you can create different looks to suit occasions and mood….
e.g T shirt, jeans, leather belt, ankle boots, black blazer
White shirt, plaid skirt, overcoat, pumps
White shirt, black blazer, black trousers, ankle boots, bag
LBD, high heels, coat
Mix and match. Add in flashes of colour and bling with accessories……
So far, so good. Some lists are more specific, and more prescriptive, some suggesting that your “Capsule Wardrobe” should consist of 12 items or 20 items or 30 items……some are more inventive and more adventurous, showing fabulous clothes with eye watering price tags!!!!! And some are so “tasteful” that they create a kind of uniform…..wearable but dull!!!!
Looking at my own wardrobe (literally) I see that what I own and what I wear are two different things. I like the idea of organising my clothes and wearing more of the items I love, rather than always seeing them on hangers and hardly wearing them at all. I think that I need to sort through my collection, discard those clothes that are never going to fit me again, or that I bought on a misguided whim, and create my own version of “The Capsule Wardrobe” to include my favourite Vintage pieces along with new items, creating outfits that Will express my style and personality, and that I will enjoy wearing!
This may take me some time……I seem to have Uber-numerous coats, jackets, dresses and separates to sort through…..plus plenty of items I shouldn’t really admit to…….a stack of cotton summer shorts….Why?????
Over the next few weeks I intend to have a sort through my clothes and put together my own version of a Capsule Collection.
Re-imagining the Shirt in the 1960s.
Men’s shirts through history have been fairly functional. They would keep a chap warm and well covered up, and particularly throughout the nineteenth century they would have been fairly voluminous with a wide straight cut, maybe with a generous shirt tail to tuck in to trousers, sometimes with detachable starched collars and cuffs. The collarless shirt, sometimes made of wool flannel, would be worn mainly by manual workers, a white or pale coloured shirt would be worn by office workers.
In the 1950s and into the 1960s, Rael-Brook was one of Britain’s largest manufacturers of men’s shirts. Their advertisements, featuring dancing shirts, were shown on the television, accompanied by the catchy musical jingo, ”Rael-Brook, Rael-Brook, the shirt for men”. Real-Brook introduced subtle stripes and soft colours, including primrose and pink to their range, to attract younger men to buy their products. In the early years of the 60s, millions of white shirts were imported from Hong Kong to Great Britain, but the younger market demanded something different. Arrow and Tootal were popular brands with the younger buyers, offering new and brighter patterns, with an emphasis on a new slimmer silhouette and innovations to the collar. Tab collars and button down collars became popular, as did pointed collars and rounded collars.
In 1963, Ben Sherman brand was born. Ben Sherman (neé Sugarman) came from the USA and started up a company making an iconic 1960s shirt. It was immediately adopted by the Mods of 1963, and later by Two-Tone and Ska followers. Like an Italian profile, the Ben Sherman shirt was a very slim fit with a square cut hem ( no bulky shirt tail!), it had a box pleat at the back, a back button and button down collar. It came in many colours and patterns. The Ben Sherman shirt was the epitome of mod fashion for British men.
In the USA, Arnold Palmer, probably the best known and best loved golfers of the 1960s, won the US Open in 1960, and created his own brand, Arnold Palmer Enterprises, a year later. From those early years, shirts were part of the Arnold Palmer range, and bore both his name and his own logo, a golfing umbrella. The Arnold Palmer shirt of the 1960s comes in a variety of colours and patterns, plains and abstract, has a sharp collar, is a slim cut, and reflects the tastes of young American Pop Culture.
Colour and pattern remained a feature of men’s shirts throughout the 1960s and into the 70s, when collars and cuffs became more exaggerated, sometimes with the addition of frills. 1960s shirt fashions remain infinitely sharp and wearable, making them highly sought after pieces of vintage clothing.
Today I visited some of my favourite haunts, searching for vintage pieces that will fit in my shops. Late in the day, I came across this amazing 1970s Ronald Joyce “After Six” evening dress…..certainly today’s best find!
These are my preview photographs, taken for my Instagram feed….as I couldn’t wait to show off my latest find. Although I haven’t taken measurements yet, I can safely say that it is Small, no more than a U.K. size 8, and it is in amazing condition. Later this week I will photograph it for the shop listings, and taking a full set of measurements to add to the description.
There is free Postage on U.K. orders over £30 from December 28th until the end of January 2018.
Now is a great time to think ahead to the New Year, and to Springtime. At Coolclobber there are plenty of warm coats and jackets for the current season, as well as glitzy gear to take you through the party season. There are hundreds of cool vintage items in stock , including a fine selection of handbags, gloves and headsquares.
This classic 1970s black leather biker vest is a recent addition to the shop. It will fit a medium/large , and is complete with loads of pockets, a cotton lining and various straps to adjust the fit. Visit the shop for full details.
Deréta is a great English label to look out for. This fab two piece suit is in pure wool and has a brown taffeta lining to both the waistcoat and the skirt. From the 1960s, this look was really popular for the “girl about town” or for office wear and could be teamed with coloured tights and Mary Ann strap shoes, or with little boots. Under the top you could wear a nylon turtle neck ( as shown), a skinny rib sweater or a fitted shirt. As with all vintage of this era, it is best to check actual measurements with your own as label sizing is quite different then and now. This is labelled as a size 14, but is more like a 12 with a smallish waist!
A bit random…..Traditional Academic robe by Ede & Ravenscroft. This style is graduate attire for Bachelor awards. It has a fluted back falling from a stiffened yoke and stiffened fronts and it has bell sleeves. All details in the shop.