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How to Wear the Little Black Dress!

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The Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson, once said, that “When the little black dress is right, then there is nothing else to wear in its place.” And I have to agree wholeheartedly with her, as there is nothing more elegant than a simple, little black dress; a real fashion-savour when you need to shift from daytime to evening and flit from one event to another.

It’s Parisian chic, lauded by Simpson was the trademark look of Edith Piaf and arguably owes its origin to Coco Chanel, whose original, Model T (as in Ford) design, as some have called it, for a little black dress first appeared as a drawing in a 1926 edition of American Vogue. But while Coco may have laid down the design principle and made it accessible to women of all classes and financial backgrounds, it was Christian Dior who gave it drama and Hubert de Givenchy’s creation for Audrey Hepburn’s character Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s that defined the look forever.

We may take it for granted now but at the time, Chanel’s creation was bold and the sole use of black in a dress that wasn’t used for mourning was unheard of. This point couldn’t be stressed more so than by mentioning the scandalous Madame X, whose portrait by the painter John Singer Sargent now resides in one of my favourite museums, the Met in NYC. At the time of it’s creation in 1884, the off-the-shoulder little-black-number which she wore in the image, caused so much outcry that Sargent was forced to flee Paris for the obscurity of London. Yes, the slinky shoulder straps took the brunt of the blame but for her to wear black, when she wasn’t in mourning… Outrageous!

Madame X

Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau) by John Singer Sargent. Oil on canvas (1883-84). The Metropolitan Museum Of Art

The little black dress is a true classic, it gave noir to the films of Rita Hayworth as Gilda, Joan Crawford, Dana Andrews, Veronica Lake, Marlene Dietrich and Lana Turner, to name but a few and it’s simple elegance, never goes out of style. It can be dressed up or down depending on occasion and with as little effort as adding a small, vintage brooch or swapping flats to high-heels, as if with the touch of a magic wand, it changes the entire look. This is what I would like to demonstrate to you all now in showcasing one little black dress and three different ways of wearing it.

 

  1. The office look.
Little Black Dress

For the office look I’m wearing Talbot Runhof little black dress, Wittchen shoes, Vivienne Westwood cardigan and vintage bag. Photography: Gregory Michael King.

Wittchen shoues

Wittchen shoes and Wolford tights.

Vivienne Westwood cardigan

Vivienne Westwood cardigan and vintage jewellery.

2. Lunch with the girls look.

little black dress

Talbot Runhof little black dress, Michael Kors leather jacket, Miu Miu shoes and Versace reading glasses.

little black dress

Moi wearing Talbot Runhof little black dress, Miu Miu shoes and Versace reading glasses. Photography: Gregory Michael King.

Miu Miu shoes

Miu Miu shoes and Wolford tights.

Michael Kors jacket

Michael Kors leather jacket and vintage/costume jewellery.

3. The evening look AKA The cocktail-hour look.

little black dress

Moi wearing Talbot Runhof little black dress, vintage hat and Kazar heels.

little black dress

Wolford tights

Wolford tights.

All black vintage look. How to wear all black!

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An all black vintage look might be just the right idea for those of you who are as fond of the colour black as I am.

It is also the perfect colour for anyone who is new to the world of vintage and at the stage of now contemplating the purchase of their very first vintage piece of clothing.

“You can wear black at any time. You can wear it at any age. You may wear it for almost any occasion; a ‘little black frock’ is essential to a woman’s wardrobe. “Christian Dior

Even though black is often used as a symbol of death, mourning as well as witches and magic, for me, it represents elegance, power and individuality. Also, as an old-school Goth, I’m rather thrilled that it’s associated with darkness and Victorian mourning attire. That also explains my fascination with XIX century funeral capes which I have in abundance. It’s the prefered attire colour of a Femme Fatale and if you are curious about her history in the 19th Century paintings, Film Noir and 1930s-1040s Fashion, I suggest you read my article on that very topic.

Black clothes in paintings

Carolus-Duran “The Lady with the Glove” 1869, John Singer Sargent “Madame X” 1883-84, Giovanni Boldini “Dutches of Marlborough” 1906.

Regardless of the colour’s meaning, first and foremost remember that it’s flattering to the figure and easily styled. You can find out from my article about the little black dress, how I can turn one simple black dress from a day to an evening ensemble.

1940s fashion - femme fatale (9)

All black vintage look. True 1940s jacket, a 1950s skirt and Wolford tights.

1940s fashion - femme fatale (8)

All black vintage look

All black vintage look.1940s fashion - femme fatale (7)

All black vintage look

1940s fashion - femme fatale (6)

All black vintage look

1940s fashion - femme fatale (5)

Wolford Luna tights

1940s fashion - femme fatale (3)

1940s fashion - femme fatale (2)

Photography by Gregory Michael King 

 

For my all black vintage look I opted for;

A 1940s jacket

A 1950s Handmacher skirt

A 1950s Garay purse

Luna Wolford tights

An antique cameo

 

Do you like wearing an all black vintage look as much as I do?

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Silk dress with Bold print

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Those of you whose skin is as pale as alabaster or as marble-like as a vampire from Twilight, will surely appreciate my dislike of the heat that Summer days bring, as well as the damaging consequences to skin of spending time in the sun. Unless you only come out at night, such things as the Summer season, are unfortunately unavoidable and we have to do what we can to make this time of the year a little bit more bearable and what better way than to wear, for their cooling effect, silk dresses, especially in bright colours and with big prints! Let’s face it I’m always in the mood for silk, Summer or Winter and you can read about the luxurious fabric’s brief history (here). If you share my love for bold, silk dresses you will understand my excitement when I discovered that the visual artist Marie-Andrée Wallot has recently launched her brand Wallo. The designer is known for her collaborations with creative, such as painters and dancers, having produced, stage-directed and co-written the art video L’Appat, which was awarded Best Video at the 12e Rendez-Vous du Cinéma Québécois in 1994, as well as an Silver Bears in Linz, Austria, in 1993. So it comes as no surprised that she has made art as a vocal part of her collection.

 

“Art is my passion.” She states “Contemporary visual arts have always been my main means of expression. The image of the human body in movement inspires me. Emotion is communicated through actions and facial expressions, whether in sculpture, painting or digital art. I sculpt the body with the clothes and I aim to free the movement of colours and shapes to transform the woman’s body in a dynamic, fluid and chic way. My sources of inspiration, namely contemporary arts and the modern woman, infuse a unique style to my creations. I dream of a free, strong and expressive woman, that asserts her femininity, intelligence and determination. And with my team, I am working on making all that possible in an elegant way. ”

Every piece of her unique designs is hand-drawn and painted before being printed on silk fabric. What attracted me to her brand were the very bold, vibrant colours (coming from someone who wears predominantly black!) especially the pinks and fuchsia. 

Silk dress with Bold print by Wallo.

Marie-Andree Wallot owner and chief designer at Wallo.

Wallo brand

Wallo silk fabric

Silk fabric with a bold print by Wallo.

Wallo brand

Beautiful, silk dress with bold print by Wallo.

Wallo brand

Wallo brand

Purple, pink and irresistable fuchsia.

For my recent trip to Italy I’ve opted for a long, silk dress with flower print by MAGGY LONDON, Wittchen shoes and my favourite YSL lipstick.

silk dress

Silk dress with flowers.

silk dress with flowers. Wittchen shoes.

Versace

Pursuing Andie vintage shop of the week

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Ladies and Gentlemen! Madame et Monsieur! Meine Damen und Herren! As part of the Vintage Shop Of The Week segment of my blog, I present to you Pursuing Andie! A place where you will find a vast selection of vintage clothes and accessories dating from the 1940s-1970s with an emphasis on hats, that integral part of a real vintage dame’s wardrobe and my personal shopping weakness. It’s beyond my control! Some might even say, that I have too many hats but really, how many hats are too many?

 

It’s Beyond My Control: How did you start your adventure in selling vintage clothes?

Pursuing Andie vintage shop: My love affair with vintage started from an early age. As a young girl my father would wake  me up as the sun was rising and we’d climb into his Jeep Wagoneer and go on adventures. I fondly remember the squeak of the heavy car door, the smell of gasoline and junk inside and of course getting to have milk and donuts with my dad. We’d hit every yard sale in town and I always revealed in finding the “free” box at each sale. In my late twenties I was missing a connection with my dad and wanted to spend more time with him and so our adventures started anew. This time it was an auction house. The moment I walked in I felt at home. It was the kind of place that might have some people turning on their heels for the door. It  was dusty, dirty, smelly and perfectly lovely.  I knew within those walls there was magic. I fell in love with the people who attended each Saturday, mainly old men with tiny dogs, a cup of coffee and always a hug waiting for me. One fateful day I placed a bid on an entire rack of clothing that was covered in garment bags. The only piece I could see was a 1960’s dress. No one was interested in the lot of clothing so I bought it for next to nothing. After we loaded the truck and my heart rate returned to a normal pace I went home to see what I had purchased. Was it junk? Was it treasure? I opened each garment bag with a gleam in my eyes (the kind of gleam you see in a child’s eyes on Christmas morning.) The bags were filled with vintage dresses and fur coats. From that moment I knew I had a new business on my hands and I’ve never looked back.

It’s Beyond My Control: What can we find in your vintage shop? For example, do you specialise in a particular era or type of garment, accessory, etc?

Pursuing Andie vintage shop: I prefer to stay within the 1920’s through the 1970’s, but occasionally fun pieces from the 80’s and 90’s will be listed. I love fashion, so if I’m drawn to particular piece of clothing I don’t shy away from adding it to my shop because the era isn’t what someone might expect to find there. I have a fondness for dresses from any era and that makes up the bulk of my inventory.

1950s polka dot dress

In love with this lovely 1950s polka dot dress!

1930s gown

This beautiful 1930s gown with cage straps and rhinestone brooch sewn into the bust can be purchased via Pursuing Andie Etsy shop.

It’s Beyond My Control: Is there a process you go through when selecting garments for your shop? Perhaps you have a list or a criteria, that you use when deciding which garments will be perfect for your shop and your clients?

Pursuing Andie: Preserving and restoring vintage garments is something I enjoy and find satisfaction in. I try to buy the best quality vintage possible, but I certainly won’t pass up a beautiful or unique piece if it is damaged. Bringing a dress back to life is a magical thing. Also building a relationship with repeat customers is such a treat, they might live across the world from you or just a state away. Learning what they love to wear and coming across a perfect garment is part of why I love selling vintage.

It’s Beyond My Control: Where do you find all those beautiful vintage clothes and accessories for your shop? (if it’s not a secret!)

Pursuing Andie: Vintage can be found anywhere and everywhere. There are no secrets to my finds, but it is a constant search, and each seller or collector I know will tell you that the hunt is the best part of our job. Estate sales, thrift shops, searching online and luckily I have amazing people in my life that come across vintage and buy it for me. I would say that my very favourite way of finding pieces for the shop is when people call me and have me stop by their home. Spending time with people that can recount when their grandmother, mother, or aunt wore a dress and sometimes even have a photo to go along with the dress is amazing. Eyes light up remembering a dress their mother wore to church on Sunday mornings or an elegant gown that was slipped on     after watching their mother apply makeup and set her hair. When someone is willing  to share these memories and allow the dress to live on, is the ultimate high of my job.

1950s wedding dress

This lovely 1950s lace and tulle wedding dress is still available on Pursuing Andie Etsy shop!

1950s Ellen Kaye suit

Something tells me, that this spectacular 1950s Ellen Kaye skirt suit won’t be in the shop for long!

1950s emerald green dress

Irresistible 1950s emerald green dress made of tulle and satin!

It’s Beyond My Control: What is your favourite period in time and why?

Pursuing Andie: I love the draping and tailored fit of the 1940’s, I would say those dresses are my favourite. But the classic fit and flair of the 1950’s steals my heart. Each era has it’s high and low notes, but honestly I love the evolution of fashion and trends. Mod mini’s from the 1960’s when times and politics were changing for women and civil rights. The 1970’s when disco was alive, the 1980’s mixed with punk and pop culture. Then on to the 1990’s and the grunge scene. Each era has something we can all love and pull style inspiration from.

It’s Beyond My Control: What message/advise do you have for women who have never bought vintage clothes before? For example: what are the key pieces to start building a vintage look? What to keep in mind when making a purchase?

Pursuing Andie: Key pieces are the same as they would be today, you can’t go wrong with a little black dress, a cardigan and a great pair of shoes. The most important thing to know is your measurements. Bust, waist, hips…. As a very tall woman the most important  measurement for me is shoulder to waist, especially with 1950’s dresses. I’ve made my  share of online purchases thinking  this is going to be so cute. But alas I end up looking like an eight year old girl. Dresses with a full skirt can be very short in the torso. A wide belt may create the illusion of a smaller waist and correct fit. But be sure to ask the online seller the shoulder to waist measurement if you are long in the torso. I don’t tend to have this issue with any garments other than 1950’s pieces.

It’s Beyond My Control: What are your 3 favourite items that you have ever sold and why have you chosen to name those particular ones?

Pursuing Andie: Having sold over 2,500 pieces online and at my home, this is a very tough question. But I’ve picked three that stick out in my memory. All three were tucked in with modern clothing at thrift shops and my heart raced when I came across them.

The first being a 1950’s Rose Marie Reid “mermaid” swimsuit. Driving home with the suit on my passenger seat, I could barely take my eyes off of it long enough to drive safely. Of course I planned on keeping it, but after much deliberation I listed it on eBay and it sold to a beauty in Australia. That same suit (not mine) was also the winner of the VLV swimsuit competition years before.

1950s swimsuit

1950s Rose Marie Reid mermaid swimsuit.

The second piece was a sheer pink chiffon gown from the late 30’s early 40’s. So feminine and classic. I secretly hoped it wouldn’t sell… I romanticised wearing it while cascading down my staircase.

1930s chiffon gown

Beautiful, pink chiffon gown from the late 1930s early 1940s.

The third was so beautiful I was in awe of the dress. A 1950’s black cocktail dress with a lace overlay.  I would have cut out a few ribs to wear that one. The moment I found it I drove home, photographed it, shared the photo on Instagram and she was gone in a flash. Truly a magical piece. The unicorn of my vintage finds.

1950s cocktail dress

Breathtaking 1950s cocktail dress.

It’s Beyond My Control: What are your favourite vintage brands and are they very difficult to find?

Pursuing Andie: The pieces I’ve found locally range from anything that could have been found at major department stores in the 1950’s to slightly more desirable labels. I live an area that was a farming community, finding Dior would be highly unlikely here. I have come across a lot of Lilli Ann, Ceil Chapman, Schiaparelli, and Alfred Shaheen pieces. You never know what  you are going to find when you go treasure hunting. If I love it, I buy it regardless of the label.

vintage Schiaparelli hat

Lovely 1950s-1960s navy blue hat by Schiaparelli, which you can purchase from Pursuing Andie vintage shop on Etsy. Click on the image to be directed to Andie’s shop.

1970s Alfred Shaheen kimono

1970s Alfred Shaheen kimono style dress, which you can purchase from Andie’s Etsy shop by clicking on the image.

It’s Beyond My Control: What’s in your wardrobe? Do you personally wear vintage clothes on a daily basis?

Pursuing Andie: My wardrobe is made up of 90% vintage. I wear a dress or skirt daily. I used to get asked everywhere I went, “why are you so dressed up?” eventually those same people who asked became used to my sense of style and realised it’s just who I am. I love a good pair of jeans, but a dress is what you will find me wearing most days.

vintage shop

Beautiful Andie, the owner of Pursuing Andie shop dressed in vintage of course.

pursuing andie vintage shop

vintage shop

vintage shop

Independent Fashion Bloggers

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I’m very pleased to announce that my latest post “How to Wear the Little Black Dress!” has been featured on Independent Fashion Bloggers!

Links à la Mode, January 28

How to shop for vintage lingerie. Expert advice!

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How to shop for vintage lingerie. Expert advice!

How to shop for vintage lingerie and what to do to make vintage clothes fit properly are two of the most frequently asked questions I receive from my readers.
Well, the answer to the latter is quite simple. Always buy clothes in the right size, mind you that it’s better if a vintage dress is a tad too big than too small, and always wear proper foundation garments!

What really does the trick for me, is a pair of high waist knickers, a longline bra and my beloved  Orchard corset, which I put over a slip, be it vintage or contemporary one. You see, I love to mix vintage lingerie with contemporary brands inspired by the 1930s-1950s and since I truly believe that what underneath counts, I can never pass on yet another gorgeous piece of undergarment. What can I say except that it’s beyond my control!

The answer to the first question, how to shop for vintage lingerie, is best left to the expert and who better to give an advice on that very topic, than the owner of the extraordinary Daggers and Dames vintage shop, specializing in antique and vintage lingerie!

Without further ado, I present to you vintage lingerie expert, Letia of Daggers and Dames and I sincerely hope, that after reading her tips you will feel more confident in buying your next or perhaps the first piece of vintage undergarment!

What is your advice to someone who is new to buying vintage lingerie? What are the most important things to consider while shopping for vintage lingerie? 

How to shop for vintage lingerie

Daggers and Dames: I believe every intimate clothing collection needs a good bias cut slip, a pair of tap pants, and an open bottom girdle. Even if you are not a vintage enthusiast, these items are not only extremely comfortable, but they are flattering on the figure and work very well with modern clothing. Whether you want to smooth your curves, create curves, or even just hide the lines of your brassiere and panties, these items give enough variety for whatever your needs are whether for casual or formal wear.

First and foremost, it is imperative to know your measurements! Use a soft measuring tape to measure around the fullest part of the bust, the length of your shoulders, the smallest part of your waist, the widest part of the hips and the center thigh (if you are looking for a pant or panty). Knowing your measurements will assure you that a garment will fit comfortably without putting stress on seams and elastic, Trust me when I say there is nothing more heartbreaking than having a 1930’s silk nightgown rip as you try to squeeze yourself into it!

 

  • Along with measurements, be mindful of how to put on the garment. You always want to be sure that your hip measurement does not exceed the bust if you are wanting to, for example, wear a 1920’s step in chemise that does not have a button crotch for closure. Also, many nightgowns are slip-on, so you want to make sure you can fit the waist of a slip or nightgown over the bust. This is especially important to note when buying online.

 

  • Remember that vintage lingerie is not new! Know that there may be flaws and that the fabric may be delicate. Many times vintage pieces have been stored for decades, so there may be small pinholes or patinas to the color. Flaws can even be expected for most deadstock items, which are items that have never been worn and might even have the original tags.   

 

  • When shopping for vintage shapewear, you do want to make sure there is some mentioning of elastic quality, because rubber can rot and crack when stretched. Trust me, it’s a dreadful sound, and once stretched the item does not return to its original shape. This rubber rot will prevent you from being able to wear the piece comfortably, and it is likely on its way out. Also, check the rubber clasps on garter sliders. Fabric ones are usually quite durable for a very long time, but the rubber versions can stiffen and peel when stressed and bent. 

 

  • When considering a bias cut slip or nightgown, know that the cut is quite forgiving and can most often accommodate a size smaller than the given bust measurement and a size larger. The reason is that the fabric is cut on an angle, so most silk, rayon, and nylon fibers will stretch in a way that allows for drape, even if your size is a bit smaller or larger than the relaxed measurement.

 

  • Always feel free to ask for advice from vintage sellers. We are more than happy to help you find what is right for you according to your measurements and taste. Many of us have a sincere passion and understanding of vintage lingerie so it excites us to help you. You are never a burden, and your questions are always welcome.

 

how to shop for vintage lingerie

1920’s Silk Chiffon Peignoir. Click on the image to see if it’s still available at Daggers and Dames!

Dominique de Merteuil: How did you start your adventure in selling vintage lingerie?

Daggers and Dames: I had originally wanted to open a lingerie store that offered vintage-inspired styles. I hadn’t realized that I was not the only person that enjoyed wearing authentic vintage styles of lingerie until around 6 years ago when I saw one of my favorite female bands wearing girdles as skirts and Edwardian chemises as dresses for a music video. I loved the idea of wearing lingerie as daywear and mixing it with modern clothing, and the ladies of the band looked so incredibly lovely. I knew at that moment that true vintage lingerie would be my niche because it really is as special and timeless as I had always thought. I decided that this was my confirmation that others agree with this thought. It represented so perfectly my own personal romanticism with femininity throughout history (and it gave me a justifiable reason to expand my collection!). It has been a very special and rewarding journey!

 

Dominique de Merteuil: What is your favourite period in time and why?

Daggers and Dames: This is a tough one, but I would have to say the 1920’s. I love the 1920’s styles because they represent what was happening socially and politically for women. Women began working out of the home and enjoying a sexual revolution of sorts. Overall they had more freedom to express themselves and were able to carry on a more independent way of life. They began to resent the constricting corsets and pounds of layers of the Edwardian era. The lingerie styles were very loose and extravagant in detail. Both women and men look great in these styles, regardless of body type. The silks were often very sheer, and the details of the lace and embroidery were quite elaborate.

how to shop for vintage lingerie

1920s Tambour Lace Step in Chemise. Click on the image to see if it’s still available at Daggers and Dames!

Dominique de Merteuil: What are the three favourite items that you have ever sold? 

Daggers and Dames: Another tough one! Here are the top three that I most often think about:

  1. 1920’s Silk Chemise with Lace. This slip truly shows how elaborate the lace detail could be of the era. It had a loose fit and showed bits of skin. It was a hard one to let go of!
1920’s Silk Chemise with Lace

1920’s Silk Chemise with Lace from Daggers and Dames.

how to shop for vintage lingerie

2. This 1940’s Jacquard Girdle, which was made in France. The detail was just exquisite, with the little rose applique at the center. It fit beautifully and the boning was in all the right places. I think this piece shows just how special French lingerie is and has been.

how to shop for vintage lingerie

This 1940’s Jacquard Girdle, which was made in France.

3.  And finally, this 1940’s peignoir set by Juel Park. The set was made entirely of silk and chiffon and had the most beautiful blushy pink lace. I fell in love with the train that cascaded down the center back of the peignoir. Such a dreamy set!

how to shop for vintage lingerie

1940’s peignoir set by Juel Park.

how to shop for vintage lingerie

1940’s peignoir set by Juel Park.

Dominique de Merteuil: What can we find in Daggers and Dames?

Daggers and Dames: Basically, if I believe a garment will enable a person to fall in love and feel like a Goddess, I will sell it! Daggers & Dames has everything from Edwardian corsets and petticoats to sassy babydoll sets and teddies from the 1970’s and 80’s. There will be special pieces meant solely for the collector, and boudoir essentials to wear under your outerwear. You can always find plethora of nightgowns, slips, girdles and peignoir sets as well as vintage and antique kimonos, which I also have a deep love for.

1950s Tap pants

1950s Tap pants, new old stock, made in Italy.

how to shop for vintage lingerie, Daggers and Dames vintage shop

1960’s black quilted robe by Vanity Fair still available at Daggers and Dames!

 

Edwardian corse, how to shop for vintage lingerie

Antique, Edwardian corset made of white cotton and satin edges.

how to shop for vintage lingerie

1950’s Peignoir Set by Odette Barsa. Click on the image to see if it’s still available at Daggers and Dames!

Dominique de Merteuil: How long have you been collecting and selling vintage lingerie?

Daggers and Dames: I have been collecting vintage lingerie since I was very young, probably around the age of 14. I grew up around vintage and antiques and would fall in love with the embroidery and lace details on the slips and nightgowns specifically, so I would keep them and use them for display in my bedroom and wear them to school under my skirts and dresses. I remember wearing camisoles as tank tops and half slips as skirts with my platform tennis shoes. I didn’t start selling until 2017. It is funny now to hear relatives and family friends say “I am not at all shocked that this is what you want to do, you always liked wearing Grandma clothes”.

How to shop for vintage lingerie

1940s Tap Pants and Bralette Set. Click on the image to see if this set is still available at Daggers and Dames!

how to shop for vintage lingerie

1950s Nightgown with beading, Vanity Fair. Click on the image to see if it’s still available at Daggers and Dames!

how to shop for vintage lingerie

1940s Rayon and tulle bias cut slip.

1930’s Silk Crepe with Lace Gown. Click on the image to see if it’s still available at Daggers and Dames!

Dominique de Merteuil: What are the most sought-after vintage labels?

Daggers and Dames: There are so many incredible vintage brands, but here are several to choose from that I find to be both rare and highly prized:

Juel Park: She was an independent stylist to Hollywood’s elite. Juel Park made one of a kind pieces inspired by her clients. Some of her clients were Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. I have seen a few of her pieces in vintage archives and was lucky enough to acquire a 1940s peignoir set from an auction which has since sold. If you find a Juel Park piece, especially pre-1950, consider yourself extremely lucky!

Kestos: Kestos is a vintage brand which started in the 1920’s by Rosaline Kiln. The iconic Kestos bra is still a staple design that has been adopted by many modern designers. Kestos is also known for their gorgeous packaging and hosiery.

Warner’s: Warner’s has been around since the late 1800’s, and can be thanked for the ‘alphabet’ sizing of the modern brassiere. Warner’s decided that the old time ‘one size fits all’ sizing of bras was unrealistic (could you imagine bra shopping without cup sizes!) and created the A, B, C, and D cups. Warner’s merrywidows and corsets are still very highly prized, and excellent collector pieces that provide a gorgeous silhouette. 

Lady Marlene, pre-1960: Lady Marlene used to be a name for luxury. Primarily shapewear, with very unique and elaborate styles. Look for the labels which read “Made in USA” for utmost quality.

Fischers Heavenly Lingerie (silk or rayon): Fischers used high-quality fabrics and are often quite durable due to excellent craftsmanship. Fischers slips and nightgowns are always very flattering and accentuate the form with gorgeous bias cuts and draped fabric. They also have very wide sweeps which create beautiful folds and movement.

Scandale: Scandale is a French lingerie brand that specialized in shapewear. Again they were known for superb craftsmanship and quality. Scandale pieces are relatively hard to find, especially in the USA, so when they are available, consider it gold!

Vanity Fair (pre 1970): Vanity fair started in the 1800’s, and it is becoming exceedingly rare to find anything prior to 1950. Vanity Fair introduced leopard print to the lingerie and lounge attire market and is known for making very beautiful nightgowns, teddies and peignoir sets. It is not hard to find a good Vanity Fair nightgown, slip, girdle or set, but nonetheless each piece is prized treasure to find!

how to shop for vintage lingerie

Beautiful selection of the 1940s and 1950s Girdles, all made in France!

vintage girdle

1940s Museum Quality All in One Girdle, Life by Formfit

1940s Museum Quality All in One Girdle

1940s Museum Quality All in One Girdle, Life by Formfit! Click on the image to see if it’s still available on the Daggers and Dames website!

Dominique de Merteiol: Are there any contemporary lingerie brands, perhaps vintage-inspired, that you like?

Daggers and Dames: Oh absolutely! I think we are finally moving in a direction where the mainstream market is once again excited to wear pretty intimates. A few favorites include Karolina Laskowska and Kiss Me Deadly, Solstice Intimates, who beautifully create retro velvet styles with a flattering and comfortable modern twist. What Katie Did holds true to the vintage styles of foundation wear, as does Dottie’s Delights. And of course I can’t list favorite brands without mentioning the ever so lovely Dita Von Teese Lingerie.

 

“Old age ain’t no place for sissies” Bette Davis

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 “Old age ain’t no place for sissies.” 

Bette Davis

Beautiful Bette Davis as Margo Channing in All About Eve

I heard someone say once that the ‘beast’ known as Hollywood forgives everything from a small indiscretion, to a huge scandal even a month at a Betty Ford clinic but not birthdays. This resonates so well with a quote attributed to the great Miss Bette Davis, one of my favourite actresses of all time, who said that “Old age ain’t no place for sissies”. Assuming that those were indeed her words, it’s likely that she spoke while thinking of all the female Hollywood movie stars, including herself, who beyond the age of being able to pass for a smouldering temptress, a Femme Fatale, a daughter or a woman that men would leave their wives for, were simply left to play the part of being a reminder of times past, of Hollywood’s golden age.

Of course, not all of us are Hollywood movie stars but the one thing we do have in common is that we all have birthdays. In fact, mine was a couple of months ago and every year on this day, up until a few years ago, I would say in a very dramatic Greta Garbo-like fashion “I just want to be left alone” and really mean it. I went through a midlife crisis at the age of 24, convinced that my best years were behind me. I also lacked focus and was in a state of perpetual sorrow, always dissatisfied with everything, in particular, the way I looked. I didn’t like myself very much and I was definitely far from being happy.

Something changed for me 3 years ago when I finally refined my look, became more comfortable in my own body and started appreciating life and what I had rather than yearning for what I didn’t! Now that I’m older and perhaps a little bit wiser I know, that happiness is the key to ageing, a real miracle worker better than the most expensive anti-wrinkle cream. The trick, of course, is finding what makes you truly happy, in my case, it’s definitely writing, taking ballet lessons, going on a date with my husband and buying a 1930s dress at a bargain price. 🙂

The great Miss Davis said in an interview from 1983 “This, life begins at 40 is a perfect nonsense. It does not. 60 was pretty rough. I was given a very huge birthday party. On my 70th birthday, I put on blackface, an Afro black wig, all black clothes and had a black funeral wreath on the door for my guests. 70 is awesome. I love to work this is really what my survival is.”

Thank you to my amazing husband Gregory Michael King for the amazing pictures and for being so incredibly supportive of everything I do! Beautiful 1930s inspired dress from 1683 Atelier.

 

vintage fashion blog

“Old age ain’t no place for sissies” Bette Davis

Vintage fashion blog

“Old age ain’t no place for sissies.” In the picture by Gregory Michael King, I’m wearing a 1930s inspired gown from 1683 Atelier and couture hat-piece from Veroni Deco.

vintage fashion blogger

 

Orchard corset under vintage clothes

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Orchard corset under vintage clothes!

Orchard Corset

In the picture taken by Gregory Michael King I’m wearing a 1950s dress with the CS-201 Orchard Corset underneath.

I’ve recently started my waist-training with the CS-201 corset, which was gifted to me by Orchard Corset, a brand that I’ve been desperately wanting to try for the past year but never thought I would have the patience and determination to go through with wearing a corset every day, so kept postponing the challenge until now! I’ve been wearing the (what turned out to be an incredibly comfortable) corset for about 3 hours per day every day for the past 10 days. The pictures of me wearing this little miracle worker were taken on the 5th day when I was still breaking it in, a process that reminds me of breaking in a brand new pair of pointe shoes, a strange feeling at first, you don’t know if you are doing it right and it takes much longer to lace yourself in than you would have hoped. It does get easier every day and as it’s completely broken in now and nothing sticks out like it did at the beginning before the corset ‘moulded’ into a shape, I can wear it with confidence under all my vintage garments, accomplishing the perfect silhouette with nipped waist. And that’s the point of this post.

Have you ever wondered why your dazzling, immaculately cut vintage clothes, in particularly from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s don’t necessary look on you like they do in the photographs or in films, when they were worn by the Hollywood stars from that era? Does it ever feel like the shape of your evening gown from the late 1930s or a beautiful Lilli Ann suit from the 1950s looks nothing on you like it does on Joan Crawford or Dovima? 

If your answer to all of the above is ‘yes’ then you and I are in the same vintage boat.

We are all of course different heights, body shapes and the same Jonathan Logan dress will look very different on someone who is 5’10 and size 4 to someone who is 5’5 and wears a size 8, but one of the main reasons why clothes looked so beautiful on women in the 1930s-1950s regardless of their body type, is that they all wore proper foundation garments. Even though the ever so popular metal boned corsets were gradually being replaced by a girdle made of two way stretch elastic and as WWII approached, women needed more flexibility in their movement, they were still more than eager to create the hourglass silhouette of small waist, broad shoulders and full hips. If you are after a similar effect, then that’s exactly where the Orchard corset comes to the rescue! 

Of course a corset is only one of the elements needed for a more authentic vintage 1940s or 1950s look. Let’s also not forget about the very popular and extremely pointed, bullet bra with the ‘cone’ effect, my favourite high-waisted knickers known as ‘grannies-panties’, a garter belt, stockings, a half slip and sometimes a petticoat. If you are not a vintage purist however but still want your vintage clothes to fit properly then a corset, a well fitted bra and high-waisted knickers are a way of dramatically improving  the overall look of your vintage ensemble!

One word of advice though, if you decide on corset waist-training, make sure you are doing it correctly! Avoid the temptation of wanting to lace the corset really tight in a short amount of time as you might damage the corset and injure yourself, and last but not least, if you wish to have  a small waist, be healthy, excercise, don’t expect the corset to do the job for you! I take ballet classes twice a week, which I’m soon extending to 4 times a week, additionally I do ballet workout at home. 

You can find more information on how to corset train on Orchard Corset’e website! 

Orchard Corset Dita von Teese lingerie

In the picture taken by Gregory Michael King, I’m wearing a 1950s bolero paired with the CS 201 corset by Orchard Corset, Dita von Teese Black Dahlia high- waisted panties, bra and suspender belt.

Orchard Corset underneath vintage garments

In the picture taken by Gregory Michael King, I’m wearing a 1950s bolero paired with Dita von Teese bra, Wills and Dollbaby pencil skirt and the CS 201 corset from Orchard Corset.

The Starlet’s Stylist vintage shop

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As part of the  vintage shop of the week segment of my blog, I’m very excited to present you with The Starlet’s Stylist, a shop that has been on my radar ever since I discovered it on Instagram. Run by Sylvia, a person with extraordinary taste in vintage garments, who used to test the vintage market by teasing us all with little previews of what was to come, before finally opening  her Etsy shop, where you now can find the most exquisite 1930s and 1940s evening gowns worthy of Joan Crawford.

 

Starlets Stylist

Breathtaking 1950s orange gown available at The Starlet’s Stylist Vintage Etsy shop.

1950s swing coat

1950s swing coat

Dominique de Merteuil: How did you start your adventure in selling vintage clothes?
The Starlet’s Stylist:  I have degrees in anthropology, history and international studies with various specializations within each field so the past has always been an interest to me. In high school I collected reproductions of ancient artwork and jewellery and I wore them or incorporated them into my school work in whatever way I could. I had big stacks of history books that I read from cover to cover and as I grew up I often found myself in places or at events that were somehow related to history. It was inevitable that I would discover vintage jewellery, hats, clothing and purses and of course once I put them on, I was forever in love. It wasn’t until recently that I realised I had access to good vintage fashion in one hand and due to social media, I had access to vintage enthusiasts from around the world in the other hand. It just made sense to try to unite the two and I am so glad I did.
1940s Japanese hostess gown
Dominique de Merteuil: What can we find in your vintage shop? For example, do you specialise in a particular era or type of garment, accessory, etc?
The Starlet’s Stylist: I focus on pieces from the first seventy years of the previous century. I think it’s the sweet spot in terms of wearability and aesthetic appeal. I sell jewellery, hats, purses, and lingerie in addition to clothing. I tend to gravitate toward evening gowns for some reason, especially those from the 1930’s and 1940’s. They’re just so feminine and regal and unlike anything you can get in stores these days. I’ve sold quite a few, still have quite a few and there are quite a few more on their way to the shop!
1940s evening gown

1940s evening gown

1950s hostess gown

1950s Suzy Perette dress

1950s Suzy Perette dress

Dominique de Merteuil: Is there a process you go through when selecting garments for your shop? Perhaps you have a list or a criteria, that you use when deciding which garments will be perfect for your shop and your clients?

The Starlet’s Stylist: You know what? I love “the hunt” for vintage. I swear I tend to belly flop through life like I don’t know what I’m doing (because I don’t) but when it comes to hunting good vintage, I’m as graceful as a ballet dancer. Some sources can be very hectic, competitive and like a mad dash but I don’t sweat it in the slightest. I move slow, take my time, observe my surroundings, chat to people, have a snack, get stuck in a porta potty (why does that happen so much?) make friends, contemplate lunch, and before I know it I’ve had the time of my life and I’ve got bags of really good stuff! So my process for selecting stock really doesn’t extend much beyond: “ooooh this is pretty!” and “wheeeeee this is fun.” It’s not the most business savvy approach but it seems to work for me.
1950s dress
Dominique de Merteuil: Where do you find all those beautiful vintage clothes and accessories for your shop? (if it’s not a secret!)  
The Starlets Stylist: Sources can be three things: places, events or people. I spend a lot of time independently sourcing stock but it would be unfair to omit the fact that the most important of the three is the people. I have met so many wonderful, warm and generous people and without them, I don’t think I would be as successful as I have been so far. This industry in my experience, like anything in life, is all about the relationships you foster with people. If you want to have a vintage shop of your own it really is about who you know. You have to talk to people and you have to charm the pants off them! Not literally of course, not unless you could sell them… haha!
Dominique de Merteuil:  What is your favourite period in time and why?
The Starlet’s Stylist: Right now my favourite period in time is the late 1700’s. Political movements were taking place that were enormous and colonialism began to impact people in ways the world hadn’t contended with before. If not then, then the early 1900’s when medical advancements were taking place that catapulted humanity into health and longevity. I always say I want to be a World War One field nurse when I grow up because the things they were doing then were incredible. Did you know if you broke your leg back then you had an incredibly high chance of dying within six months? The Great War changed all of that! Anyway, in terms of fashion and what I sell, I adore the 1920’s. I love the opulence and the sensuality of it all. I love how the dresses were shapeless but the fabric and the beading are more suggestive and racier than anything today! I also think quality in general has been on a steady decline ever since. There is a reason why 50’s reproduction clothing is passable for some vintage enthusiasts but 20’s reproduction almost never makes the grade. It’s easy to find pretty cotton novelty prints but not so easy to find sequins and beads that don’t look cheap and juvenile. Don’t get me started on modern silk or lame fabrics!
1940s velvet dress

1940s velvet dress from The Stylists Starlet vintage shop of the week.

1960s Ruth Claridge dress

1960s Ruth Claridge dress

1940s Louella Ballerino dress

1940s Louella Ballerino dress can be found in The Starlet’s Stylist Etsy shop!

Dominique de Merteuil:  What message/advise do you have for women who have never bought vintage clothes before? For example: what are the key pieces to start building a vintage look? What to keep in mind when making a purchase?
The Starlet’s Stylist: After knowing your measurements and any additional fit concerns that are particular to your body like wide hips (me!), broad shoulders or long torso, my advice is to buy what you like. Is that too simple? It really is that simple. In my experience, people who are interested in trying vintage fashion for the first time, often over-complicate it. I think this is due to two things; one is this strange obsession with having the perfect body and the other is the casual approach to fashion these days. As a result, people think in order to wear what they like they need to be perfect or they need an occasion to “dress up.” It’s a bit of cognitive dissonance because we must be creatures of perfection and yet we need to be muted and casual to fit in. A flow of silly thinking happens as a result and we either end up just admiring from afar or we wet our toes with one or two vintage pieces that blend well with modern life for a look that we didn’t really want. But why do that? In my mind it’s much better to buy what inspires you. Wear what you like, do what you like, and if you need help contact the seller with your questions. If she is anything like me she wouldn’t mind helping you out! The last thing I want to sell is disappointment so I really try my best to help people figure out if an item will work for them.
Dominique de Merteuil: What are your 3 favourite items that you have ever sold and why have you chosen to name those particular ones?
The Starlet’s Stylist: My favourite shop item was a dress that belonged to Miss Canada 1954. The only reason why I sold it was because it was too big for me but it was one of the most well made dresses I have ever found. It was the perfect little black wiggle dress with just the right about of elegance and sex appeal. The fabric was soft and figure hugging but with great movement and the arms and shoulders were sheer black. Her name was Barbara Joan Markham and she once said she didn’t know why she won and that she had only entered so she could showcase her fine art skills. Whatever Barbara, you were a total babe and whoever bought your dress is babe-lier for it!
1954 dress

Miss Canada dress from 1954

Another of my favourite finds is a couture 1930’s gown by Germaine Monteil. It’s so iconic to the era with the vibrant pink, the black lace and the bias cut! It’s currently available as it only hit the shop not too long ago!
The Starlets Stylist

1930’s couture gown by Germaine Monteil

I also have to say that whenever I sell a piece of 40’s lingerie I cry a little inside. I can’t keep it all but I don’t think anything out there makes me feel womanly and glamorous more so than a 40’s peignoir, dressing gown or slip. This one has sold but I do have a charmeuse peignoir set available in the shop!
1940s peignoir

1940s peignoir

Dominique de Merteuil: What are your favourite vintage brands and are they very difficult to find? 
The Starlet’s Stylist: As exciting as it can be to find certain clothing labels, I don’t really search for any in particular but I do when it comes to jewellery! I think jewellery companies tend to differ in creative flare and manufacture much more than clothing brands in any given era. For example, a 1940’s suit is more or less always going to be a 1940’s suit no matter who made it. Sure some are better than others but generally they all stick to the same fashion formula. Jewellery on the other hand, often differs stylistically within the same era from one company to another. I absolutely love Ostby and Barton rings from the 1910’s and 1920’s. They stand out with their delicate metal work and large glass/gemstones. Fun fact: Ostby himself went down with the Titanic. I also love Miriam Haskell sets from the 30’s and 40’s as well as Mazer and McClelland Barclay. Fun fact: Barclay went down with a ship that was torpedoed in the Pacific during World War Two. What is it with jewellery makers and ships?
vintage jewellery

Beautiful selection of vintage jewellery from The Starlets Stylist.

vintage hats
Dominique de Merteuil: What’s in your wardrobe? Do you personally wear vintage clothes on a daily basis?
The Starlet’s Stylist: I spend 85% of my time in tired yoga pants (ain’t no yoga happening) and t-shirts that smell like pizza. I just cracked myself up because I shouldn’t be so honest but it’s just the truth. I am a mother to two little girls and wife to a career man and while “mother” and “wife” are the last two things I would say to describe myself, I have responsibilities to these people I share my life with. These responsibilities are the natural born nemesis of vintage and since the preservation of my historical artefacts and vintage clothing is the only thing I take seriously in life, I am in slob mode 85% of the time. However, I am naturally a very feminine person and I have always been very particular about what I wear outside of the house. In fact, I decided to give birth at home in the middle of being in labour because I didn’t want to get dressed to go the hospital. Haha! Before I get in trouble for saying that I just want to add that in Canada midwives are educated and regulated healthcare professionals that have medical and legal license to deliver babies at home or at hospitals. It’s a very different health care system compared to some parts of the world! It was a very safe decision after a very long (oh god it was so long) and healthy pregnancy. So “tired yoga pants lady” very much exists but so does the woman who wears 50’s Mexican circle skirts to the grocery store, 40s day dresses when out with friends, 60’s mod dresses when shopping, and 20’s and 30’s gowns or coats when at a function with the husband. I haven’t managed to attempt vintage hair styling and I love modern makeup (hello bronzer!) so I never really look like I’ve stepped out of the past. I’m not entirely sure what I look like to the modern eye or even to the eye of the vintage purist but it doesn’t really matter because it’s all just clothing. It’s all “just clothing” says the woman who took over the walk-in closet and put her husband’s clothes on a rolling rack somewhere, haha!

Xtabay vintage shop of the week!

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Those of you who read my last post entitled “Joan Crawford inspired look” are probably already familiar with Xtabay Vintage shop where I found the most perfect 1940s cocktail dress that I believe Crawford herself would have approved of! If however this is the first time you are hearing about this shop extraordinaire, may I present you now with the perfect opportunity to familiarise yourself with a place where you can find  museum-worthy pieces, jaw-draping vintage gowns or a weeding dress fit for a movie star! Without further ado I present to you Xtabay vintage shop of the week!

vintage shop

Beautiful portrait taken of Elizabeth, the founder of Xtabay Vintage, for Conde’ Nast Traveller Magazine by Ruven Afanador. In the photograph Elizabeth is wearing  an incredible late 50’s Suzy Perette cocktail dress.

Scaasi couture dress with matching coat.

1950s Scaasi couture dress with matching coat from Xtabay vintage!

It’s Beyond My Control: How did you start your adventure in selling vintage clothes?

Xtabay Vintage: My adventure with vintage clothing started in High School. I was a bit of an outcast in high school. I was super shy with really bad acne. My passion at the time was art- drawing and painting, it was the one thing I was really good at. I suffered from a pretty acute degree of depression my Sophomore year and my only real escape was art. I poured myself into art books and found relief in painting and drawing. This is where I found “my people”. I found friends in my art classes and they were the ones that turned me on to thrifting. I remember the first time I went to a Value Village. My mind was blown. This was in 1990, there was an abundance of incredible vintage back then. I remember filling shopping carts with mountains of dresses- all priced at 1.99-2.99. Even then I could see that these items were valuable. I was hooked. I started wearing vintage from that day forward. When I graduated from High School, I moved across the country to attend Rhode Island School Of Design. I struggled there. I was homesick most of the time and suffered from horrible bouts of depression and anxiety. I drank a lot to self medicate. I ended up dropping out midway through my junior year and moving back to Portland. I picked up my vintage habit full force when I returned. I held a few glamorous positions, I worked at a gas station and was fired for being immature. I worked at Taco Bell for a stint and was fired for being….again, immature. Ha!

It wasn’t until I started working at a vintage shop in downtown Portland in 1994 that I realized I could sell it. The shop was called The Big Bang. It was legendary at the time. I met a lot of fabulous people and lived with these wonderful, creative drag queens. We would go out every night decked out in the most outrageous ensembles. We wore vintage from head to toe. We partied HARD in vintage. My boss at the time would buy pieces I would find at thrift stores. When the shop closed in 1996, the owners gave me bags and bags of leftover vintage items.That was the last time I held a job working for another person!  I started selling to local vintage shops, and eventually became a part of a shop called Lady Luck Vintage. At Lady Luck I learned I could really make a living doing this. I remember a writer from Vogue (Sally Singer) came in and bought a bunch of my stuff- she mentioned us in the magazine! It was thrilling. My partner and I had a huge falling out over a dumb boy and I ventured out to open my own place. In 2001 Xtabay was born with a $7000 bank loan and a ton of vintage.

1955 wedding dress and overcoat.

1955 wedding dress and overcoat from Xtabay vintage.

1940's rayon hawaiian dress

1940’s rayon Hawaiian dress.

1930's silk velvet set

1930’s silk velvet set

It’s Beyond My Control: What can we find in your vintage shop? For example, do you specialise in a particular era or type of garment, accessory, etc?

Xtabay has always had an emphasis on glamour and beauty. I love the ultra feminine and the beautifully designed. I love quality and craftsmanship. Fashion is a form of art. I don’t specialize in any particular era per se, but I do tend to be drawn to 1950s and 1960s dresses. If I could find a lot of 20’s, 30’s and 40’s I would fill my shop with those as well.  I love floral prints, silks. I love color. I love fabric. I buy what I love and what resonates with me. It really is like painting. My boutique is an ever evolving sculpture. I am moved and motivated by color. I think it drives my employees crazy- I am constantly tearing things down- changing the dress forms. Rearranging. Creating vignettes and then destroying them the minute a piece sells. I have been known to change the shop window 3 times a day. I am obsessed with beauty and quality. I think my obsession is directly reflected in my shop. I come from a long line of women with good taste. Both sets of  grandparents lived in New England and had homes filled with antiques and objects of beauty. My grandmother in Rhode Island lived in a sprawling colonial house with gilt framed mirrors and silk upholstered furniture. I think I have been trying to recreate the feeling of being with there ever since.

It’s Beyond My Control: Is there a process you go through when selecting garments for your shop? Perhaps you have a list or a criteria, that you use when deciding which garments will be perfect for your shop and your clients?

Xtabay vintage; My selection process is entirely intuitive. I rely a lot on how I feel about it. If it looks salable but depresses me I put it back. Ha…I am super creeped out by certain fabrics. Double knit polyester makes me nauseous sometimes.  Certain things make my heart race, silk florals for example. Lush, bucolic prints that remind me of my grandmother’s drapery. I have always been a stickler for condition and pass on a lot of things that are just too damaged. I am blessed with the most amazing seamstress that can fix and restore almost anything. She is a genius!

 It’s Beyond My Control: Where do you find all those beautiful vintage clothes and accessories for your shop? (if it’s not a secret!)

Xtabay vintage: I shop constantly. It really is an addiction. A lot of my best pieces come directly to my shop from people downsizing.  I used to do the estate sale thing. It is too anxiety provoking for me now. The competition is frantic, fierce and brings out the worst in me. I am certain I have ruffled a few feathers in my day and I regret it. I struggle a lot with this. I struggle with a lot of fear and envy. There are at least 20 popular online sellers in my neighbourhood alone. We all shop at the same places, we all want the same stuff, we are all women and we all know each other to varying degrees. It can be awkward at times.

It’s Beyond My Control: What is your favourite period in time and why?

Xtabay vintage: I don’t really have a particular favourite time period. There is so much beauty and expression that comes through in every decade. I have inherited family pieces from the 1800’s that are museum worthy. I have fallen madly in love with silly novelty print items from the 70’s like the Paganne Erte print dress below. A few vintage “purists” scoffed at this piece but I thought it was fabulous. Below is a Hattie Carnegie gown from the 1930’s that I sold a year or so ago.

19th century dress

70’s Paganne Erte print dress from Xtabay vintage.

Xtabay vintage

Breathtaking Hattie Carnegie gown from the 1930’s.

It’s Beyond My Control: What message/advise do you have for women who have never bought vintage clothes before? For example: what are the key pieces to start building a vintage look? What to keep in mind when making a purchase?

Xtabay vintage: I suggest dipping your toes in with an accessory. Perhaps an evening clutch, or a silk scarf. Next I would say a coat. My Mom never wore vintage until she tried on a gorgeous 50’s swing coat. It was charcoal grey with a black velvet collar. The quality is beyond anything you can buy today. I tell women you would have to spend thousands of dollars to get the same level of quality in a new garment. It’s true. My Mom has since worn a beaded 1940’s rayon cocktail dress to my brothers wedding and wears vintage dresses to special occasions.

It’s Beyond My Control: What are your 3 favourite items that you have ever sold and why have you chosen to name those particular ones?

Xtabay vintage: It’s so hard to name just three. I’ve been selling for well over 20 years. So many incredible pieces have come my way.  A couple of couture late 50’s dresses by Arnold Scaasi always come to mind. A 1920’s wedding gown that was out of this world, complete with the most incredible hand made lace headpiece and veil.

vintage shop

1920’s silk tulip train wedding gown with matching headpiece.

Scaasi 1950s floral dress

Scaasi 1950s floral dress from Xtabay vintage.

It’s Beyond My Control: What are your favourite vintage brands and are they very difficult to find?

Xtabay vintage: My favorite vintage labels and designers are all over the board. I of course love the big wigs:  Dior, Valentino, Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Balmain, Schiaparelli, Balenciaga, Charles James, these are the designers I drool over in books and dream of finding. Designers I love that I actually find involve a lot more women. Hattie Carnegie, Nettie Rosenstein, Ceil Chapman, Ann Fogerty, Claire McCardell, Tina Leser, Dorothy O’Hara, Irene Lentz, Adele Simpson, the Fontana sisters, Bonnie Cashin. I have had hundreds of incredible pieces by all of these designers over the years. There was an Irene evening gown that I sold for a song in 2004 that still haunts me. I bought an estate a couple years ago that included over 100 new old stock pieces by Bonnie Cashin. An epic collection, all with the original tags still attached. I still dream about that estate.

My first designer/label obsession was Peggy Hunt. I remember finding a silk chiffon cocktail dress in an emerald green floral print with nude illusion fabric and huge silk chiffon wings and thinking it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen… I remember being baffled to read the name Peggy Hunt on the interior label. What a frumpy name for such a glamorous dress! I wish I still had it! Ugh…the things I have sold. You can find her dresses for sale online still. I used to find Ceil Chapman dresses out thrifting in the early 2000’s – not anymore. Everything has gotten scarce. Now even finding a Leslie Fay feels like an accomplishment.   

It’s Beyond My Control: What’s in your wardrobe? Do you personally wear vintage clothes on a daily basis?

Xtabay vintage: Hahah, I laugh because I recently told someone I am the Steve Jobs of vintage. I literally wear a black turtleneck and black jeans every day during the winter. I am a little ashamed and embarrassed by this. I have this fantastic grey wool 1960’s Bonnie Cashin coat that I have been wearing EVERY SINGLE DAY since November. In the winter I can’t be bothered, it’s terrible I know.  In the summer I wear dresses every day. I wear these sack shaped Mexican dresses because they show off my legs and hide my thick waist. If I have a special occasion I will always wear a vintage dress, usually one of my favorites by Peggy Hunt or Dorothy O’Hara. I have an apple green Lilli Ann coat that I wear every Christmas. People would be shocked and sad if they saw my closet. It’s pretty empty. I love dressing other people but really hate dressing myself. If I could wear a uniform everyday I would. Like I said, I am the Steve Jobs of vintage.

 

Wolford AW 2017/18 Collection

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Wolford AW 2017/18 collection

When it comes to stockings and tights, there is one brand that has never disappointed me, as its quality is second to none and the style of its irresistibly gorgeous patterns go so incredibly well with my vintage 1930s-1950s clothes. Don’t simply take my word for it though, instead take as an example their “Marlene” tights, with a hand grasping the knitted seam right above the heel, which you can see in an image below from one of my photo shoots. Sadly now impossible to find but it’s just a small indication of what I’m saying. It’s the details that count. Also, when you do take a peek, I imagine that you’ll come to understand why I find it impossible to visit their store without buying at least a pair or two on one occasion seven of their hosiery! What can I say it’s beyond my control!

Wolford tights

One of my favourite Wolford tights “Marlene” from few seasons ago, still in mint condition.

So, imagine my excitement when, I was approached by my beloved hosiery brand asking, if they could send some of their tights and lingerie from the AW 2017/18 collection in order to get my honest opinion of their new line. Well I was over the moon to say the least. Not just to be asked as you see, I wear their tights and stockings in almost all my photo shoots but I’ve never tried their lingerie and so I was very curious what they had come up with and how their style would go with my vintage, 1930s-1950s, taste in undergarments.

Now before I continue, I would like to point out to those who are relatively new to ones own It’s Beyond My Control blog, that I, Dominique de Merteuil, goddess of all things vintage (got a problem with that; meet my hand), can honestly swear that I ONLY write about brands that I LOVE, wear and can wholeheartedly recommend! So… Now that the formalities are out of the way and we UNDERSTAND each other, I would like to share my thoughts on said lingerie. Oh and by the way, the name of that iconic brand which I dare now to share with you, whispered quietly into your ear is Wolford, to whom their beautiful tights and hold-ups I’ve been a faithful purchaser of for nearly two decades.

So without further ado I would like to present you with pictures from my Wolford photo-shoot taken by the one and only Gregory Michael King!

The Wolford Tulle Flock high-waist panty in ash rose and black is utter perfection in every possible way, as with it’s heavy shaping I can give my vintage girdles a well-deserved break. So far I’ve worn it three times, not counting the photo shoot, under a very tight 1950s wiggle dress, a 1940s suit, as well as my Wheels and Dollbaby pencil skirt and it felt great! Very comfortable and invisible under such tight clothes, which is of the utmost importance to me. The one thing worth mentioning is that Wolford’s shape-wear is extremely tight and even though I always buy my undergarments in size small (I’m 34b-24-35) with Wolford I go one size up.

 

Wolford AW17/18

In the picture taken by Gregory Michael King I’m wearing Wolford AW 2017/18 Tulle Flock high waist panty in ash rose/black, an authentic Victorian cape, vintage necklace, Dita von Teese bra and a vintage hat designed by Irene Sharaff and worn by Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest. (you can red about it here!)

 

Wolford’s Mesh tights are great and completely seamless which makes them a perfect choice under tight clothes. And even though I was a little bit hesitant at first, thinking, that that particular pattern (“net structure in a diamond look”) might not work with my legs, surprisingly it did and it looked perfect under a couple of 1940s suits that I tried. Don’t hate me for saying this but I can’t wait for the autumn to come earlier this year, so that I get the chance to parade them!

Wolford AW17/18

In the picture I’m wearing Wolford AW 2017/18 Mesh tights, paired with  vintage velvet cape, body and hat.

 

The Wolford Tulle Flock forming dress in black is also heavily shaping and I simply LOVE the vintage feel to it. You will need to pair it with a bra but obviously you always have the option to go “au naturel” as we say when in France. I wore it under a dress and it felt really natural and sexy because after all, it’s what’s underneath that counts right 😉 Sizing wise, again as is the case with the Tulle Flock high waist panty, I had to go a size up so I strongly recommend trying it on before purchasing. Also, on a technical note, I put it on, stepping into the dress and pulling it up rather than trying to put it over my head. It’s much easier that way.

vintage lingerie

In the picture I’m wearing Wolford AW 2017/18 collection Tulle Flock forming dress in black, paired with Rhomb Net Tights, Dior bra, antique lace and a 1940s hat.

Last but not least Wolford’s Rhomb Net tights with a much finer diamond pattern are my absolute favourite tights for the colder days! They look great under my vintage ‘Mommie Dearest’ outfit but since it’s a couture dress not meant for daily use, I’ve also tried them under a couple of 1940s and 1950s dresses and it looks great!

Mommie dearest dress

In the picture I’m wearing Wolford AW 2017/18 collection Rhomb Net tights and a vintage dress designed by Irene Sharaff and worn by Faye Dunaway in the role of Joan Crawford in the film Mommie Dearest! (you can read more about the costumes here)

 

More beautiful tights and lingerie from Wolford 2017/18 look book!

Wolford Collection AW 17/18

Wolford AW 17/18 Collection

Wolford  AW 17/18

Wolford AW 2017/18 Collection

Wolford Collection AW 17/18

Wolford Collection AW 17/18

Wolford AW 2017/18 collection

Wolford Collection AW 17/18

Wolford AW 17/18 Collection

Wolford AW 17/18 Collection

Wolford AW 17/18 Collection

 

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Victory Girl Vintage -Shop Of The Week

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Victory Girl Vintage  – the Canadian vintage shop of the week is filled with a big selection of dazzling, romantic dresses from 1930s- 1950s but thats not the only thing you will find there. Gorgeous coats, skirts and sweater tops will help you build an entire vintage wardrobe!

Dominique de Merteuil: How did you start your adventure in selling vintage clothes?

Victory Girl Vintage: I started working at vintage stores when I was 16 and all through university. I was living in an area of Toronto called Kensington Market that is really well known for vintage. I was literally surrounded by dozens of vintage shops and amazing clothing! After I graduated I was working in the fashion industry as a buyer, but I really needed a more creative outlet and started selling vintage as a side hustle. It was hard juggling a really demanding day job and a side business but it was rewarding and I couldn’t stop. Things were steadily picking up so about a year and a half ago I thought why not take the plunge and do this full time. It was the best decision I ever made!

DDM: What can we find in your vintage shop? For example, do you specialise in a particular era or type of garment, accessory, etc?

VGV: You will mainly find women’s dresses, separates and lingerie from the 1930’s to 1950’s, and a few items from the 1960’s and 1970’s fixed in. I’ll be adding a men’s section soon so stay tuned!

vintage shop

Lovely 1940s novelty print dress, which can be purchased from the Victory Girl Vintage shop by clicking on the image!

Beautiful 1950s floral dress, which can be purchased from Victory Girl Vintage Etsy shop. Simply click on the image!

Vintage Shop

Stunning 1950s gold and black dress with a big butterfly applique, that can be purchased by clicking on the image.

vintage shop

Lovely 1950s pale pink organza dress, that can be purchased by clicking on the image.

DDM: Is there a process you go through when selecting  garments for your shop? Perhaps you have a list or a criteria, that you use when deciding which garments will be perfect for your shop and your clients?

VGV: I personally love the 1930’s and 1940’s so when I’m looking for items for the shop I do gravitate towards that time frame. I think most of my customers are interested in that era as well, so finding those pieces are always top priority. However, I’m open to most decades as long as it’s an interesting piece. I always look at an item and think about how it can be styled. It might look like nothing special on the hanger, but if you add the right shoes, a belt or a hat, it can be completely transformed. That’s also why I like showing an item on a model. It helps customers visualize the styling and how it might look on them.

DDM: Where do you find all those beautiful vintage clothes and accessories for your shop? (if it’s not a secret!)

VGV: I get asked this question almost every day! But it’s find of a secret. I do frequent local flea markets, antique shows and auctions. I’m always on the look out for something interesting!

DDM: What is your favourite period in time and why?

VGV: My favourite time period is the 1930’s and 1940’s. Even before I started wearing clothing from this time, I was very interested in what was happening in the world both socially and politically. I loved that in both decades fashion had to be very innovative due to material shortages and rationing. Designers and home sewers had to be creative with often limited resources but were still able to make some of the most beautiful garments. The prints were also so fun! I’m also very interested in how women participated in WWII and that’s how I came up with the name of my shop, Victory Girl Vintage. 

vintage shop

This BEAUTIFUL 1940s black rayon peplum dress is an utter PERFECTION and had it not been for the fact that it’s a little bit too small for me, it would be now hanging in my closet!You can buy it by clicking on the image. Hurry up it’s not going to stay there for long!

Late 1940s to early 1950s pink “bad girl” sweater blouse, that can be purchased from Victory Girl Vintage Etsy shop by clicking on the image!

DDM: What message/advise do you have for women who have never bought vintage clothes before? For example: what are the key pieces to start building a vintage look? What to keep in mind when making a purchase?

VGV: My advice is to build on the wardrobe you already have. Wearing head to toe vintage isn’t for everyone, but mixing vintage and modern is a great way to create a unique look. For example wearing a vintage kimono or robe with a modern t-shirt and jeans can actually look very fashion forward. Coats are also a great first time vintage buy because when you wear them with a modern look it doesn’t scream vintage. I always say don’t be afraid to stand out! You might feel a bit self conscious stepping out of your comfort zone but people will admire you for being unique. 

DDM: What are your 3 favourite items that you have ever sold and why have you chosen to name those particular ones? 

I have many “why did I ever sell that?” items! Here are my top three:

A stunning 1940’s blue rayon gabardine Rain Master trench coat. It fit me perfectly! But I have so many coats that I talked myself into selling it. Immediate regret!

vintage shop

An amazing 1940’s Kamehameha Hawaiian rayon dress. The colours in this dress are gorgeous! I saved the photos I took so I can go back an admire it often.

vintage shop

A 1940’s full length rayon coral gown with teal beads on the bodice. I didn’t want to take this one off after taking photos! I love the vibrant coral colour and zip front style.

Vintage Shop

DDM:  What are your favourite vintage brands and are they very difficult to find?

VGV: I actually don’t pay much attention to brands. Of course it’s amazing to find a sought after brand like Catalina, Elsa Schiaparelli or Dior (some of my favourites) and I am looking for labels when hunting for vintage, but I am always happier to find something really special and beautiful even if it doesn’t have a label. It’s more about the piece for me.

DDM: What’s in your wardrobe? Do you personally wear vintage clothes on a daily basis?

VGV: The only time you will find me out of vintage is when I’m walking my dog (don’t want to risk muddy paws on a beautiful dress) or going to yoga. I mainly wear clothing from the late 1930’s to mid 1940’s because the cuts and styles suit my body shape the best and it’s a time in twentieth century history that I find very interesting. I love high waisted trousers with a patterned blouse, anything floral and a black dress in a simple silhouette that has some type of embellishments (studs, embroidery, or a decorative trim). I don’t often wear 1950’s but I do have a weakness for a great novelty print and they look so pretty in the summer.