Tag Archives: Wearing vintage

Capsule Wardrobe, a versatile clothes collection.

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I am no minimalist. My aim is to create a “capsule wardrobe” of assorted pieces that I can combine in a variety of ways and enjoy wearing.  I think it is a given that I should have more than one pair of jeans and more than one T, but key pieces have to versatile.

In the little collection above, I have combined some favourite Vintage pieces with new items.

Firstly, I have included my favourite coat, a black wool, single breasted collarless straight cut garment by Corner Shop that I bought in 1990 from a Paul Sartori charity shop in Haverfordwest. I think that it had been made to measure for someone, but fitted me perfectly, and still does! It cost me £7. When I put this coat on, I feel instantly smart, and it works with dresses, skirts, trousers and jeans. As it is collarless, I often add a scarf. The scarf in the photos is one that I made myself. It is black wool with woven border deep pockets and a light grey suiting lining. ( One of the photos also shows this scarf worn with a black dress.)

I am a great fan of traditional Welsh Wool, and collect blankets and “carthen”, mostly brightly coloured ones from the 1960s.  The 1960s was a great era for the Woollen mills of West Wales, as fashion designers such as Mary Quant, used Welsh woollen cloth to create funky clothes and accessories.  The two skirts included in this collection are both Welsh wool cloth from the 1960s.  Both the red cloth and the green cloth are traditional woven patterns.  In one outfit, I have combined the sixties skirt with an early 90s black zip top by Workers for Freedom, and a white T.  I would wear this zip top with either skirt, and love the white “surprise” detail on the back.

The grey merino wool cardigan with red and maroon yoke is a recent purchase from TK Maxx. It is the perfect length to wear with the red skirt, but will also combine well with jeans.

The classic denim jeans jacket is also a recent High Steeet purchase, and already a favourite of mine. I have shown it here with one of the 60s skirts ( I could wear it with either), with my black straight cut Per Una jeans (bought second hand), with a Vintage Orvis button-through below the knee black cotton dress, and with  a stretchy knee length tie-dye patterned T shirt dress by Apricot, bought a few years ago on the High St. ( cheap and cheerful!)

One of my favourite items is a glorious reversible Vintage embroidered silk jacket from the Orient. Depending upon my mood and upon the occasion, I can wear it black with a red lining or red with a black lining. I can dress it up or dress it down. I wear it with the black jeans or over the black dress.

The last item in this little collection is a Vintage Hyphen silk lined knee length frock coat, that has been in my wardrobe for about twenty years. It has a single button in the front and is fitted. It looks great over black jeans, but also looks great over the stretchy Apricot dress.  It’s the type of garment that looks pretty sharp!

So, I think that is about a dozen items of clothing that form the basis of my wardrobe, and about 50% of its volume. The remainder is mainly seasonal or party clothes that I can happily put into storage, but also include a couple of shirts that I love and wear, an oversized sweater, ditto, and a classic trench coat.

That’s it!

Add ons include: underwear, footwear, accessories, bags, scarves, belts etc.

Capsule Wardrobe, what stays and what goes.

Sorting out my wardrobe is proving to be an interesting process, as I take a long hard look at the clothes I wear, assess how I really want to present myself and re-imagine how the clothes that I own suit the life that I lead. Through the sorting process I have already reduced the volume of clothes by around a third, and am likely to lose more along the way as I get around to trying on items that I have rarely worn. If they don’t fit or suit me in any way they will go!
So, what clothes earn a place in a wardrobe fit for my lifestyle? As a general guide, I have to enjoy wearing an item, and it must be something that I can wear regularly. Separates, pants, skirts and tops are great because of their versatility and interchangeability. You can create several looks with just a few key separates, just by mixing up the pieces! Add in a couple of jackets, a full length coat and a raincoat and you have even more possibilities for creating different looks. If you substitute dresses for separates you are creating a totally different narrative and presentation.
When you go through the process of sorting through your clothes, you need to be realistic rather than simply ruthless. For my own purposes, I don’t really have a “seasonal” wardrobe. What I wear through Spring Summer Autumn and Winter changes little. This does not mean that I wear the same outfits, but it does mean that a lot of my clothes take me through more than one season! For example, I wear jeans, pants and shirts at every time of the year, and layering can also extend the use of separates beyond one season. Inevitably, there will be a few pieces that are worn just occasionally, maybe for special occasions, but, as they are lovely Vintage pieces, I look forward to those occasions and am happy to keep them in my wardrobe. The same principle applies to investment pieces, such as a classic Winter coat or a stylish Trench coat that can be worn year on year.
When you pare down your wardrobe, the aim is to end up with a collection of clothes that you can wear with confidence. Clothes reflect your personality and are an expression of your creativity. Create your own style, whether it be with Vintage, modern, or a mix of the two.
The process of sorting out your wardrobe can be revelatory as it reveals so much about your character, your aspirations and your buying habits! For example, do you have clothes that you have bought but never worn? Have you bought items that are the wrong size in the hope that one day they will fit you? Have you bought clothes that are unflattering? Are your clothes drab and I’ll fitting? Are most of your clothes vintage or upcycled, sourced from ethical suppliers or handmade by you….or do you buy designer wear, shop on the High Street or buy on-line? Are you more interested in Fashion or in Function? Do your clothes suit the life that you lead Now?
Once you see what you have got, and question what you need, it is easier to put together a collection that you can enjoy now and carry on enjoying in the future.
Sorting out your wardrobe is an opportunity to update your style and sharpen up your personal presentation. When you next shop for clothes, you will know what is missing from your wardrobe and you can shop for pieces that will enhance your collection.
Wear your clothes with confidence and own the look that you have created.

Capsule wardrobe ? Update

 

The Capsule wardrobe project is temporarily on hold!  No apologies, I have been working on other things whilst enjoying the unprecedented heat wave! Apart from my garden and vegetable plot, I have been busy taking photographs of new stock for Coolclobber and Floslingerie. We have now had weeks and weeks of hot sunshine, and I have had to eat my words about shorts! It has been too hot to wear much else!

So, here are some of my latest stock items for Coolclobber ⬆ Tap on any photo to enlarge it.

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A revolution in shirt design, 1960s men’s fashion.

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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’s best find!

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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.

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Vintage Classic hats for men

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Vintage classics, the gentleman’s hat.

Historically, hats were always an essential element of any man’s wardrobe. Worn to denote occupation, worn to denote class, to keep the elements at bay, to protect the wearer from missiles and blows, and to make a statement about culture, taste and style….hats were worn with pride and with dignity. In the liberal 1960s and 70s, men’s wear in general became more casual and individualised, and the classic hats of former eras fell from grace, or were worn for more limited occasions as a part of formal dress.
With the renewed interest in styles of the past, lovers of vintage, watchers of costume dramas etc., have discovered a new love of classic hats, and their many forms. A man can create a particular vintage look more effectively by including a hat in his ensemble. There are many styles to choose from, but I am particularly fond of those classic styles that can be worn by Everyman, looking stylish without looking as if in fancy dress!

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The British Bowler.
I love the bowler hat, as it is quintessentially British in origin and in nature. I always associate the bowler hat with suave Patrick MacNee…Steed in The Avengers (1960s). He was the epitome of London cool sophistication in his sharp suit, with rolled umbrella and bowler hat. The bowler is a classic, created by the eponymous Bowler Brothers, William and Thomas. They were commissioned by the 19th century hat retailer Lock & Co. To create a sturdy low crowned hat for their aristocratic client Mr.Edward Coke. This was in the mid 1800s, and for the next 100 years it was a popular style with city gents and politicians. In general, the bowler hat is no longer worn by the man in the street but is still a popular choice for high society occasions. For an authentic look, the bowler should be worn with a classic suit or with a well cut overcoat, smart shoes and gloves.

The Trilby and the Fedora
These classic styles are similar, and are perhaps the most commonly worn and popular of hats, particularly in the first half of the 20th century. They were both invented in the early 1890s.
Generally made from wool felt, the Trilby has a narrow brim and an indented crown, and is usually tightly turned up at the back ( and less so at the sides). The Fedora has a wider brim, and also has an indented or pinched crown. Both usually have a hat band, often of ribbon, and may either be stiffened or soft. Right up to the 1960s these were everyman’s hats, but the Fedora in particular is associated with glamour….often worn by film stars of the era….and by gangsters!
The Trilby and the Fedora are having a revival, and in my shop there is always a lot of interest in both styles. For a touch of glamour, 1930s to 1960s style…..wear with a classic trench coat ( incidentally, it’s a style that looks great on men and equally good on women!)

The Panama and the Boater
The Panama hat and the Boater are both men’s lightweight Summer hats, originating in the 1800s. The Boater is a flat crowned, stiff brimmed straw hat, with a ribbon band, often worn by tradesmen, barbers shop quartets, and particularly by butchers. It is also the classic hat for wearing when messing about on the river…..punting or rowing. Wear it with a good striped blazer and white bags for an authentic vintage look.
The Panama hat is finely woven from palm fronds and is as flexible as the Boater is rigid. The Panama usually has a pleated or dimpled crown and a ribbon band. It is an elegant hat popularised in the movies and beloved of both screen stars and public notables. Wear it best with a lightweight linen suit.

Of course, there are many other styles of classic hats to explore and enjoy, and it’s good to see men using these vintage styles to add a touch of individualism to their outfits.
N.B. The archive Photographs of Patrick MacNee and of Maurice Chevalier are not my ©

How to wear a bow tie

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The bow tie speaks volumes about a man’s personal style. Some people find the bow tie alarming or confrontational, but regular bow tie wearers find it a liberating and expressive vehicle for adding a unique accent to an outfit.

The history of the bow tie traces it back to the seventeenth century, in the form of a development of the cravat, along with the knotted necktie, the “four hander” “Half Windsor knot” and “Windsor knot”. The bow tie, traditionally, is hand tied. There are various ways of creating the bow, and a simple way is shown in the above diagram, from the McClatchy Tribune. At Coolclobber we stock a selection of vintage bow ties and the most common self tie examples we stock include white waffle cotton, for formal occasions, and classic silk, in plain or in traditional patterns, often paisley.

There are two types of clip on bow ties, both available at Coolclobber. What you need depends on the occasion and on what type of shirt collar you are wearing.  For a formal occasion, and when wearing a wing collar, you should either tie your own tie, or wear a clip on with a collar band. These ties can be simply adjusted to your shirt collar size ( there are often size markings on the inside of the band). The tie is ready tied and sewn on to one end of the band and there’s is a simple clip behind the bow that is hidden in wear. The bow sits just beneath the wing collar and the band is visible all round your shirt collar band. These ties are very popular and easy to wear and are made in silk, rayon, polyester and other man made fabrics.  A variation, that works equally well with a standard shirt collar, has a narrow elastic adjustable back.

In the gallery photos, I have three examples of my favourite style of everyday bow tie, the patent butterfly clip on. These ties are worn with a standard shirt collar. As you can see, in wear the clip lies flat behind the bow. To use, flip the tie forward, revealing the clips in an open position. Slide one side of your shirt collar inside one side of the clip, press the front closed, repeat with the other side. The bow now lies flat and securein front of the shirt collar. These are so easy to use and always look smart. The examples above are from the 1940s and 1950s, and are good examples of popular fabrics. The brown tie is also wired in the front to keep its distinctive shape.

A vintage bow tie is an inexpensive and stylish way to add a touch of individualism to an outfit, adding a touch of distinction. A bow tie undoubtedly gets you noticed!

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A touch of Vintage, the handbag.

 

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One of the easiest and most stylish ways to add a touch of vintage to an outfit is to add a frame handbag. Here are four just added to the shop.  Former film star, Grace Kelly, Princess Grace of Monaco, often carried a Hermès bag with top straps, and that style of bag evolved into the eponymous “Kelly”bag, which is essentially a metal frame bag, boxy in style, with a top clasp and top handles. This style is synonymous with the 1950s, the Grace Kelly  era, but has remained a popular style which we think of as a classic and elegant accessory.

The classic frame handbag comes in many variations, from classic leather to pvc, shiny patent leather to pony skin!

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The string vest, retro men’s underwear.

 

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I believe that the string vest was first brought into being in the mid 1930s by a Norwegian army officer, Henrik Brun.  It was designed on the principal that it’s string net structure would trap heat in winter and allow the body to breathe in summer. String underwear was marketed for its athletic and health benefits and had its heyday perhaps in the 1950s. I certainly associate it with “kitchen sink dramas”, brooding young men in cinematic poses, and the memory of these iconic garments drying on a clothes horse in front of an open fire in our 1950s family home! Although it’s popularity dwindled at the end of the 1960s  and died a death in the 1970s, we can still summon the vision of famous string vest wearer Rab C Nesbitt (played by the talented Gregor Fisher)  in the 1980s!

Here is some authentic 1950s string underwear from the shop….perfect for costume purposes, AmDram, dressing up etc. Note the title “Tarzan”. Johnny Weissmuller played Tarzan in films popular through from the 1930s and 40s to the 1950s when they were often screened in afternoon matinées in British cinemas.

(The Strutts Health Vest  cotton ad is period marketing and I am unable to credit the photographer.)

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1970s Designer Ronald Joyce, London

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Ronald Joyce is a London based design house renowned for its evening wear and wedding gowns. The company was originally started back in the 1950s by husband and wife Ronald and Joyce Phillips.

This gown is from their 1970s “Afer Six” collection and , though sized as a UK 16, would fit a modern UK 10/12 , with a relatively small waist and generous bodice it would probably need to be altered to fit. Features include split sleeves trimmed with lace, and a large keyhole back.  The fabric is a semi sheer polyester “georgette” with an acetate lining.

This would have been a perfect “Hostess gown” for passing round the canapés and chipolatas on sticks!

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