Friday, 2 December 2011

Dress Up

I am sooo busy working on plans for both Fabulous Miss K and Blue Skies Vintage Events that I thought that I would just do a quick post of  a few outfits for the the festive season so her goes with some fabulous frocks.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Dressing the Season

Party season is here so what to wear to all those fabulous invites that start dropping on your doormat.

It can get expensive to find an outfit for every occasion so I have a couple of "go to" dresses that I wear with different accessories to change the look so it doesn't look the same way twice.

So here is my guide to how to dress for the party season.

(picture Vogue)
Start with a simple LBD

add a great pair of heels to add a pop of colour

Killer heels from Primark

Glitzy Secrets brooch £32, I would put one of these on each shoulder of this dress or at the waist.

You could also add a cute cocktail hat or attach a chiffon scarf to one shoulder and or to both and drape the ends to the back to create a cowl neck at the front.

Or tie a contrasting scarf around your waist as a colourful cummerbund.

(picture Vogue)

I just had to include this wonderful festive dress in a rich red velvet and with the white fur is sooo Christmassy!!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Work Smart

I was thinking of getting an office space in town to get me motivated but looking at the cost of this at the moment it just isn't practical or financially viable for me to do.

So I need to create a fabulous area at home to work from - the problem that is always raising it's ugly head in our house is space!!!  A two up two down terrace is lovely but as any of you who live in one will know it is soooo hard trying to cram everything you want into a small area.

I really want to turn our spare room into dressing room but I also need to fit in an office somewhere too - such a dilemma?

So here are some ideas that I love and although don't think that they the solution for my space, I will take some of the options as inspiration.

This room is going to be one of my major focus for the New Year, along with one other room that I will talk about later??

This is a fabulous space from B Jones Style, a fashion blogger I love, she has based in the States, she has a totally different style from me but I love the way she has put her workspace together.

Both of these are also from B Jones Style.

Loving this chair covered in the vintage style fabric.

So organised and sleek, I love the dark wood and the whole style.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Style over Beauty

There are some women that are photogenic and look lovely in all their photos. I am afraid are not one of them!! I hate having my picture taken (although there enough of me on Facebook to dispute that fact!!), but I don't take a good picture, my face is too angular and I have "the James" nose!!

One thing I think that I do have is a certain sense of style, and know how to look polished and elegant on most occasions.

So in this post I would like to pay tribute to two ladies who I admired very much - both of which were not great beauties but their sense of style and elegance is undeniable.

The first - Diana Vreeland, one time Editor of Harper's Bazaar and Vogue, she had jet black hair, lips and nails always red, and immaculate at all times.

And I love this quote and why I love vintage and dressing up!

The second lady is Wallis Simpson.  Again sooo stylish, she had the future King give up his throne for her and lived the life of luxury in France, giving lavish parties and dinners. Regular trips to the Paris designers helped her with her style but it was still innate - she looked so elegant and regal.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Wardrobe Must Haves III P - Z

So here are the final must haves for your wardrobe:

Pajamas - So comfortable - I like to imagine a pajama-filled world where Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford swan around in wide-legged satin pajamas, Claudette Colbert in an oversize version stolen from Clarke Gable - the reality is a world full of women in sweatpants, flannels and old t shirts - noooo ban these hideous items from your wardrobe NOW. Replace them with a pair made of silk or the finest cotton - hunt in vintage shops for lovely silk ones or the men's department for soft cotton.

Pea coat - unfussy practical and warm. They are always in style and available from the high - street, designer and vintage. Go for a classic colour - navy, black, grey or loden green.

Pearls - layer them long and opera length a la Coco Chanel, a vintage single strand with your LBD or twin set, mix them with costume jewellery again very Chanel.

Pencil Skirt - immediately conjures images of femme fatales, there is power in the pencil skirt and a certain sophistication. The hemline should fall just below or just above the knee, it should always be snug but never tight.

Perfume - a scent is a powerful weapon, it can take you back in an instant to moments in time. Some women have a summer and winter perfume or change to what is fashionable or a certain celebrity is launching I personally think that it is fabulous to find a signature scent and stick to it - mine Black Orchid by Tom Ford.

Red lipstick - nothing says Hollywood glamour like a red lip and no vintage girl would be without one! The best ones out there are - Mac Rooby Woo, Chanel Red, Clinique Angel Red for a luxury brand, Cover Girl Really Red and Mabeline and Rimmel do some great ones for those on a more limited budget. A fabulous quote from the late great Isabella Blow who never went anywhere with out her flash of red on her lips - "If you don't wear lipstick. I can't talk to you!!!"

Robe - a silk robe is essential for after baths or morning afters. I admire a woman who has good lounge wear - you can open the door or accidentally get locked out without any embarrassment.
Cotton, cashmere and silk are the three standards - no over sizes terry toweling please. Consider a vintage kimono or wearing man's silk robe is very sexy, and for a cosier option I like the idea of a gentleman's quilted one.

Silk Scarf - French women know how to wear a scarf if you ever get a chance sit at a Parisian cafe and admire how they wear them - scarves as belts, tied round the handle of bags, tied through the loops of a trench, and around the neck tied in 100 different ways.  They are a great way to add colour to your wardrobe, and can be picked up for a few pounds from vintage and charity shops.

Slippers - the finishing touch to your lounging outfit, think of a sheepskin lined pair for cosiness for winter or Moroccan - style which lets you run to the corner shop without looking like a nut. The ultimate luxury - a monogrammed pair in the finest wool!!??

Stilettos - I am a high heel girl and you can never have too many pairs of shoes in my book.  The stiletto is the ultimate statement shoe it makes you feel powerful, sexy and taller!! Introduced in the late 50's, and now available in every colour and shape at every price level.  A must have is a classic black, nude - which make your legs look as they go on forever and a bright bold colour of your choice.

Striped Sailor Shirt - French through and through - no French film would be complete without one - think Jean Seberg in Breathless and of course Bardot in Cannes. Wear it with a pair of carpi's or pencil skirt for total French chic.

Suit -  what could be more fabulous than a 40's suit with a wide shoulder and nipped in waist or a 50's fitted jacket and a full skirt, whatever your era, make sure it fits your perfectly - it is worth having it altered to get the fit right.
Buy one in a neutral colour and dress it up with bright accessories.

Sunhat - necessary to protect your hair from the sun and put the finishing touch to your summer frock.  Wide brimmed, saucer or cloche in straw - accessorize with flowers, fruit and scarves to match with the outfit you are wearing.

Trench - when you are wearing a great trench what you have on underneath isn't important. Catherine Deneuve in The Umbrella's of Cherbourgh or agin Audrey in Breakfast at Tiffany's and any 40's film noir are the icons to aspire too.

Tuxedo suit - a fabulous and sexy alternative to the LBD - think Marlene Dietrich in gender bending style, Louise Brook's with her sharp bob and pearls.  YSL did the ultimate in 1965, again with your suit make sure it fits you like a dream, add a brooch to the lapel or if your feeling very daring nothing underneath. Just a note to how things have changed - Nan Kemper a noted New York socialite walked into a restaurant wearing a tux suit in the early 60's and was told that she couldn't enter wearing a pair of trousers - she promptly dropped the trousers folded them over her arm walked in and sat down at her table!!!

Umbrella - weathermen can't be trusted and we know from experience that the British climate is nothing but unpredictable.  I have the smallest one I can find that fits into all my vintage handbags (except the tiny evening ones) but it is also lovely to carry a stylish vintage one - or vintage style as some of the really vintage ones are so beautiful it seems a shame to get them wet.

Valid passport - just in case - you never know if your other half may surprise you or you remember to book the holiday but forget that your passport runs out the week before you fly. Buy yourself a smart cover for it in a bright leather so you never loose it.

Vintage - what can I say - the only way to dress in my opinion, not as cheap as it used to be but finding a one off amazing dress or suit makes your heart beat a little faster. If you are a vintage virgin start with accessories such as bags, brooches, and scarves. It is the only way to own a little bit of history and turn up to a function knowing that no-one else will have on the same outfit as you.

Watch - I don't always wear a watch, I tend to use my phone to check the time but I have always fancied a delicate vintage one, I am not one for big chunky men's ones as I prefer something more feminine.

Wayfarers - worn by everyone from Kim Novack and of course Audrey, they were created in 1952 and have been a classic ever since. You can now buy them in many of colours but black is the ultimate chic and the other great thing they come in prices to suit all budgets.

Wide-Leg Trousers - we owe a debt to Katerine Hepburn for the wide-leg trouser. They offer freedom of movement and are glamorous, think Ginger Rogers tapping with Fred Astaire and you get the picture.
Only wear a wide-leg trouser styles with something fitted on top to balance the look. Look for a pair with a cuff and leave the length long - too short is just wrong. A flat front is more flattering and take care of pocket placement you don't want to widen your hips.  Go for black, white, camel, a grey flannel or pinstripe for enduring style.

Wrap dress- in the 70's Diane Von Furstenberg made the wrap dress in the go to staple for women of every shape and size.  (It wasn't a new thing I found recently an ad in one of my 50's magazines for the "most flattering" of shapes for any women to wear - a wrap dress). It hugs in all the right places and drapes elegantly over others, buy it in jersey to enhance your curves - dress it up or dress it down - it will never let you down.

Zest and Zeal - this is my addition and although not a wardrobe item they are essential in my book.  This big bad world can be tough but if you dress up look fabulous and live life with zest and zeal it makes it seem a whole lot better.

Stilettos and dogs!!!

Kate in her trademark trousers.

Jean Seberg

The cutest suit for summer with a raffia bag, and hat.

Another lovely suit.

Sun hat and summer frocks.

Wrap dress from Prada.

Wardrobe must haves part II

To continue with my wardrobe must haves we go for G - O -

Gentleman's Hat - every women looks sexy in a men's style hat. The fedora - a feature in the Forties for both men and women - wear it with attitude like Greta Garbo, the trilby similar to the fedora but with a smaller brim. They are great on a bad hair day or on damp days when you need to look chic but you know your hair is going to go frizzy as soon as you step outside the door.

Gloves - long satin gloves conjures images of old Hollywood - think Ava Gardner and Rita Hayworth, those were the times when no self-respecting women would go out with out her gloves, they were a symbol of elegance and femininity but went out of Vogue in the 60's and 70's. But a woman wearing the gloves (and I am not talking the knitted fingerless variety here!!) it is still very glamorous.
A chic pair of gloves with a vintage suit or 3/4 length ones with a duster coat is beyond stylish.

Hats - this one is in addition to Gentleman's hats, these are the fun whimsical ones that make a statement.  The simple beret that you can pile your hair into and pin a brooch on the front, a chic cocktail hat or fascinator to wear with your LBD.

Investment bag - I am not ashamed to admit I did go through a phase of being a bit of a label whore  - I coveted the designs straight off the catwalk (although all the things I dreamed of buying had a vintage influence to them), I do have a few designer pieces in my wardrobe and one investment bag that was bought by my lovely hubby for my 4oth birthday.  Now my investment bag would be a great vintage skin Kelly style bag (I do still dream that a Hermes Kelly will turn up somewhere and the person selling it doesn't know what they have - I live in hope!!!) but having a fabulous elegant timeless bag that you know you will have forever and make you feel luxurious when ever you carry it.

Khakis - this is the nearest I get to jeans.  I wear them with a white shirt, loafers and little scarf at the neck or with a 50's twin set and ballet pumps.

Lingerie - I am not talking your basic M & S undies here but the frothy frilly things that make you feel sexy, sometimes what you put on before the outfit can make all the difference to how you feel. Invest in a few glamorous sets.
Little Black Dress - very often the perfect LBD finds a girl when she is least expecting it, if you go out on a mission to find one it will elude you. But if you are on the way to some where else it will jump it at you. Now mater what the cost you should buy it if it is the perfect one for you because it is one of the most useful items in your wardrobe and if you do the maths of cost per wear.

Choose the best material you can find, nothing too tight or shiny. Consider your LBD as a canvas instead of a fallback.  It demands to be accessorized and adorned. Vintage is great here as there as there are so many icons to take inspiration from. It is said that you only need one but I would say a minimum of 2 - one knee length and one long.

Little White Dress - this doesn't get quite as much press as it's sister the LBD but I think that there is nothing chicer in Summer - I would go for a cute shirt-waister 50's style or a Jackie O style shift, gold, silver and nude are best friends to the LWD.
Luggage - a lucky few can buy a matching set of luggage but for the rest of us it is best to buy one piece at a time. Build up a some classic suitcases and every stylish girls must have a vintage make-up case (I have yet for find the perfect one but I have fun looking).

Man's White Shirt - keep it as close to a man's version as possible with mother of pearl buttons, keep it basic and classic. Think Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday or Elizabeth Taylor in Giant.

Mary Janes - these shoes became popular in the 1920's as they looked great and yo could dance in them. They are best in patent but why not try velvet or animal print. They have now become iconic thanks to Carrie Bradshaw in Sex in the City.

Monogrammed Stationery - in this day of technology when we send text and emails instead of letters (don't get me wrong emails are essential for business and we would have blogs without computers), there is something wonderfully romantic and old fashioned about receiving hand written letters through the post Sending "thank you notes" on monogrammed stationery is very stylish chic and old school. Two of the best are Mrs John L Strong and Smythsons of Bond Street - these are luxury versions but there are some lovely cheaper versions on Etsy.
Nail Polish - I am a bit of a traditionalist here and for the best retro look I would always go for vamp red or light pink. I prefer a short square nail rather than long talons and I don't go in for fashion colours of blue or green but maybe a strong burgundy would be OK.
One - Piece Swimming Costume - I am not one for bikinis I prefer the cover up of a swimming costume I always think that it has more glamour and is more elegant. There are so many vintage styles out there now that you can channel your inner Hollywood icon.

Gloves and LBD

LBD, hats and gloves!!

Gentleman's Hats.

A classic day time LBD.

Audrey in Roman Holiday.

Classic red polish.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Want every Vintage girl needs - wardrobe must haves!!

I have a lot of fashion books, not all of them about vintage. From time to time I pull them out and re-read one.

The latest on is following on from my previous post of putting together the perfect wardrobe - "The One Hundred" - a guide to the pieces every stylish woman must own - by Nina Garcia (Elle fashion director and Project Runway judge).  She lists 100 items that every woman should have in her wardrobe - they are the classic items that will work for every occasion. I am not going to list all 100 as there are certain items that I don't feel fit in with my vintage style (and I don't wear jeans or converse!!)

So over the next few posts I will give you my A-Z of wardrobe must haves with a vintage twist.

So here is the first instalment - A - F.

A-Line Dress - it is one of those little dresses that works for all occasions, you can dress it up or down, it is the ultimate dress of every 60's It girl - think Twiggy, Penelope Tree, Edie Sedgewick, Mary Quant and Jean Shripmton.  Have one in black as your just "in case" dress - wear it with opaque tights in the winter, knee high boots and in the summer with sandals.

Animal Print - this print is never far from the catwalk and an animal print accessory is an opportunity to be a bit bold with a slight element of danger but a full on leopard print dress on the other hand means you are no wallflower! Beware there is a fine line between looking chic and looking like a bad version of Bet Lynch when wearing animal print.

Too keep it chic:
  • Wear only one piece of animal print at a time or you will end up looking like fashion road kill!!
  • Keep everything else simple - pair the print with neutrals such as black, white, camel and khaki.
  • And animal print does not come in pink, blue or yellow
Ballet flat - chic and timeless. From the sexy Bridget Bardot to the elegant Audrey Hepburn and every starlet in between. Although you can't go wrong with basic black, have a couple of fun bold colours to go with your pretty summer dresses or add a pop of colour to your outfit.

Bangles - the style staple that lets you play around. They are available in precious and non precious materials. They can be bold colours, plain or highly decorated. Try out different versions mixed together - vintage versions in Bakelite in bright colours, hunt them out it vintage shops and flea markets.

Belts - a belt can make you look slimmer, pulled together and accentuate you curves. A thick black belt on a black dress instantly narrows the waist an highlights your figure. A skinny belt on a trouser makes you look polished.  Think of your belts as jewellery - look out for unique designs, styles and fabrics.  Try an animal print or bright green or red croc one on a white dress?

Brooch - it is the accessory that allows you to show off your creative side and one of my favorite things to wear. They are easy to pick up in vintage and charity shops fairly cheaply and can make an impact on an outfit for very little outlay. Put them in your hair, on your hats, on unexpected places on your clothing - wrap your cardigan around your waits and add a brooch to cinch it in or add one on each shoulder of your LBD. Group 3 together on a jacket or dress.

Camel coat - a true classic coat that looks both elegant and expensive. It is the ultimate uptown coat that will make anything you wear look chic.

Cape - this can be elegant and practical. It is the perfect way to add drama, hides a multitude of sins and a great option to pair with an evening dress. Keep everything else fitted when wearing a cape, it is best worn with tailoring underneath.  Find a vintage one in a knit or wool and try a fabulous velvet one over your dress.

Clutch - this is the item that will let you show off your sense of whimsy and glamour.  They come in all shapes, sizes, colours and materials. A clutch in a bold colour adds excitement to a black outfit. Try beaded, python skin, bright colours, brocade and silk.

Cocktail ring - flashing a big bold vintage ring on your finger makes a statement. It doesn't have to real in fact some of the best rings are costume - if you can get hold of Kenneth Jay Lane who is the costume jewellery king - the prices are going up now but it may still be possible to pick up something fabulous on eBay.

Cuff - it always makes a statement and will never go unnoticed. Try mixing several together, channel you inner Wonder Woman with one on each arm. Think of Coco Chanel with her Maltese cross cuff - they were made by Fulco di Verdura and are still available today but obviously very expensive but you can take inspiration and find your own costume version.

Driving shoe - rather like a loafer but with a softer sole. Great for wearing with khakis and white shirt - thin Grace Kelly in High Society. Go for a classic tan or skin - you can pick them up fairly cheaply if you ever get a chance to go to Southern Italy and Spain as they are sold in little shops all over.

Evening gown - never buy an evening gown when you need it as it will be an impossible task and you will endlessly hunt for the perfect dress and not find it.  Keep an eye on the sale rail and vintage shops for the perfect dress and buy it when you see it not when you need to - the invite will come and you will have the outfit ready to go, don't forget you can add accessories to change it up for different occasions.

Exotic Skin Bag - this will make you look instantly lux. Search out for a crocodile tote or snakeskin clutch (your can go faux if you like but there is something stunning about a real skin - sorry but my philosophy is that it has been dead a while and better to re-cycle rather than put it in landfill and I would never buy a new one but vintage is OK in my book).

Fishnets - originally worn but questionable ladies of the night but in the 20's they were made fashionable by the flappers and Marlene Dietrich made them all the rage.  They are at their most powerful when just a glimpse of fishnet is shown  - a flash at the knee, or centimeter at the peep toe. Choose a fine mesh and pair with sophisticated clothing - a blouse with a pencil skirt or pants with just a flicker of fishnet at the feet.

Fur - whether you decide on real or faux, make sure that it is fabulous either way, it has to be glamorous and gorgeous otherwise it is pointless.  Daytime coats look wrong at night but a fur stole adds drama and keeps you warm.  It always adds glamour to a winter coat when draped around your neck.( I have the same feelings here as I do with skin bags - I would rather wear a vintage fur than dump it in land fill and it was from a time when they weren't aware of the issues, again I would never buy a new one but vintage is fine with me - sorry!!)

Belt, Cuff and Fur.

Brooch (and I know it's not a wardrobe staple but every girl should have an other essential "C" a cocktail at least once a week!!)

 Amazing bangles and fur.

Fabulous belts to cinch your waist.

A wonderful wool cape.

A great way to add a little glamour with a brooch on your waist and hat.

Classic evening gown.
(photo Julia Holland - All about Image Photography)

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Dressing room inspiration

I have previously talked of wanting to turn our spare room into a dressing room and it is my goal this year to get it done. It is really hard in a small terrace house to create space so I am going to have to compromise but I am determined to get a glamorous room to get swan around feeling like a movie star!!

So lets start with some fabulous ideas that I would love to be able to incorporate into my own room - I will have to talk nicely to my hubby to see if he can work his magic and watch this space on progress and updates.

Carrie Bradshaw's wardrobe from her apartment in Sex and the City Series

Love this - a beautiful dressing table to do my hair and make-up, and vintage dresses hanging up.

Would love something like this and the dog is so cute too - but don't know if I would trust one with vintage clothes and shoes!!

Adore this fabric - would love to have curtains made from it - Romo Fabrics -Tea at the Ritz although I daren't ask how much it is a metre?

More ideas to come and if you have any pictures that would inspire me - send them on!!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Capsule Wardrobes

Now that the freak summer spell has finally given way to the normal chilly Autumn weather it's time to start thinking about how to put your winter wardrobe together.  Most women have a tendency to buy on impulse therefore have a mis-match of items that don't seem to go together or pieces they wear as an "outfit" they don't mix and match.
As a stylist regardless of whether I am dealing with a vintage, high street or designer wardrobe the principals of making your wardrobe work for you - building a capsule collection of clothes that you can interchange and  by adding accessories change the look of the outfit.

So here is my guide to building your capsule vintage wardrobe - I have cheated just a little by pulling from a previous blog Orchids on a Budget - guide to living well on a budget but it works here too.

Buy your your staples in neutrals - black, brown, grey or navy are good ones to choose for winter.. Once you have your basics in neutrals make shore that your shoes and bag match these, it may sound monotonous but with this plan everything goes with everything else.
Besides there are still blouse, tops, jackets, scarves, belts and other accessories to bring brightness to your wardrobe.

Another rule is never buy clothes that are defiantly one-purpose dressing or even one season trend led items. Its all very well if you have enough money to replace your wardrobe each season but as most of us cannot it is a better investment to buy simple elegant styles that are timeless and you don't tire of in 5 minutes.
Day dresses that have classic lines will take you to work. lunch with the girls and out to dinner. This may sound all unexciting but as a matter of fact you can be just as chic in an outfit that doesn't tell where you are going as in one that does - a little mystery never hurt anyone!!
Pull out all the items that you have in your wardrobe and have a look and see what you have - are there suits that you can wear with another skirt or pair of trousers; is there a jacket that you could wear over a day dress to give it a different look - once you have done this make a list and carry it with you or download photos to your phone so your take your wardrobe shopping with you and buy items in the future that will go with pieces you currently own.

To give you and example here is the original list from 1937 -
  • Toast brown wool coat untrimmed. Simple well cut, warm enough to wear through Autumn and a good style to wear with separate furs?!
  • Black wool dress (with brown buttons to go under coat)
  • Short toast brown wool jacket (lightweight to wear over dress or separate skirt)
  • Check brown and black skirt
  • Printed silk dress (with brown and white design to be worn with jacket or coat)
  • Toast brown hat, bag and shoes
  • Lighter brown stockings and gloves
  • White gloves, bag and accessories and jacket (warm weather to go with print dress)
This may sound a little dated with matching shoes, hats and gloves but the basic principal is the same (and I want to bring hats and gloves back because it was just so ladylike and chic!?)

As for evening wear - the LBD is the elegant standby and can be worn in so many ways that you will never tire of it and with a little imagination no-one will realise that it is the same frock time and time again. It can be varied by contrasting jackets, jewels, flowers, scarves and shoes until it dies on its feet - one example taken from the book is the following:

 A beautifully cut evening dress and several changes of accessories. The dress is the backdrop for:
  • An emerald green taffeta jacket and slippers
  • Two ruby clips and bracelet to match worn with black slippers and bag
  • Pink chiffon roses and pink chiffon scarf worn with black slippers and bag
  • A gold lame jacket with black bag and slippers
  • A black sequin jacket
  • Gold chunky jewellery

So with some thought and a little creativity you can look elegant and chic on a budget - think of the French they do it very well with a limited wardrobe but fabulous accessories and most of all keeping it simple and classic.