Well, me actually! At least that’s what I used to tell myself before I started getting inspired by other vintage bloggers who seemed to pull off brown with amazing finesse. In my eyes brown has always been a dank, fuddy-duddy colour worn by older ladies with no clue about style. They chose brown as an alternative to black and filled their wardrobes with it. But no more, brown is definitely the new black!
At the beginning of the year I set myself a goal to add some brown to my wardrobe. At first I was rather skeptical about it, not really sure it suited me or if I would like it at all. However, when my favourite fabric shop, Clothspot, added a rather stunning brown wool crepe to their website I immediately ordered a sample. I fell in love straight away. It wasn’t just brown, oh no, it was a mix of brown, bronze and black and it was gorgeous. I had to have it!
When the fabric arrived I instantly knew I wanted to make a long slimline 1930s skirt that could be a real staple in my wardrobe. I already had an original pattern I’d bought from Top Tottie Vintage that would perfect for it and I set to work. The first thing I will say is this fabric is an absolute dream to work with. It sits exactly where you place it, it’s a breeze to cut out and presses so beautifully. It also has that fabulous 100% wool smell that always brings back memories of when I worked for a tailor. I would love it if Clothspot offered this in many other colour ways. I’d be first in the queue to buy some!
The skirt was really simple to make, just two pieces, a front and a back. The back has two darts in it and the waistband was simply a strip of fabric. I finished it off with an invisible zip in the side and a bronze button I had in my stash. I try to do as many authentic finishes to my work now and always add the zip on the side. However, I do find invisible ones are just so much neater than the more traditional lapped ones. I’m sure if invisible zips had been around in the 30s women would’ve used them a lot too. (That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!).
I lined it with my favourite type of lining, a lightweight crepe. I hate modern polyester lining, I find it way too stiff and this skirt definitely needed something more fluid. The drape on the wool is gorgeous and I just didn’t want anything to spoil it. I buy my lightweight crepe from Cheap Fabrics and it’s only £1.89 a metre. However, don’t be shocked when it turns up all crumpled (yes, that’s happened!), it presses out beautifully.
I added a cute 1930s style triangle pocket to the front, which wasn’t on the original pattern, because it looked a bit plain as it was. It really needed something to add a bit of interest and I think this works perfectly. I also made a belt from the same fabric and had a buckle covered by London Button Company. I didn’t wear this in these photos because I wanted a tan belt to team with the shoes but it’s always nice to have a choice.
Just after I finished making the skirt I stumbled across this beautiful cotton 1950s blouse at Shepton Mallet Flea Market. I immediately knew it would go with the brown of the skirt and I was so happy when I tried it on and it fitted. Despite being 1950s it has a real 1930s look about it and I’m always a sucker for a big bow. I’ve worn and washed this blouse many times since and, after a press, it comes out perfectly every time. They just don’t make clothes like that anymore, do they?
I teamed this outfit with a few pieces of brown I’ve collected over the last few months. The handbag was a bargain at Molly’s Den in Bournemouth. It’s really unusual with a double handle, something that was popular in the 1930s. The clasps are on the side corners of the top and slide off outwards to allow the opening to appear. I absolutely love it and use it constantly.
The shoes are from Hotter and were gifted to me by the company in exchange for a review on In Retrospect magazine’s Latest Dispatches blog. I’ve been writing for them for a while but haven’t really talked about it on here. However, please go and check out the blog because there’s all sorts of vintage bloggers involved. I’m currently doing a series on there which gives tips for achieving a vintage finish on your handmade garments, if you’re interested.
The Hotter shoes are called Fontana and I chose them because they reminded me of 1930s Spectator shoes. They’re exactly the same colours as many of their original counterparts would’ve been, tan and white. These have a rather more rounded toe than the 30s ones but they still have loads of the same elements. These include the tan section at the back, the tan heel, the punched holes and the tan bow.
What makes these different from the originals, though, is the technology that goes on inside the shoe. They have amazing cushion sections in the sole, under the heel and the ball of the foot, which makes these quite literally the most comfortable pair of shoes I’ve ever worn! I had them on all day when I took these photos and I felt like I was wearing slippers the whole time.
The last accessory is the hat that nearly wasn’t mine. I bought it from a small online vintage website which has different sellers offering their goods. I’d never purchased on there before and after about 10 days of waiting for it I contacted the seller but had no reply. I started getting worried. Then I contacted the person who manages the site and they were much more helpful. She got in contact with the seller and it turned out the seller couldn’t find the hat! Cue a very unhappy me. I was refunded my money and once again went on a hunt for the perfect brown hat.
Then a few days later I got an email from the original seller saying she’d found the hat and did I still want it? Yes, yes, yes I screamed. Okay, emailed. A couple of days later it arrived, rather badly packaged, it was folded in half!!! After a lot of steaming, and shaping it on my own head, it came back to life. And I have to say I love it! It’s so unusual with a brown velvet half bow, that then transforms into felt for the other part of the bow. This then curves over and looks like it’s going into the top of the hat and eventually coming out the other side as a piece of velvet again. Genius!
So, who says I can’t wear brown now? Not me, that’s for sure! I love this outfit and wear it a lot. The skirt is my absolute favourite skirt in my wardrobe and I mix and match it with so many of my tops. So thank you, you lovely vintage community, for being such wonderful inspiration!
1930s Brown Wool Crepe Skirt – Made by Me
1950s Green and Brown Striped Blouse – Shepton Mallet Flea Market
Brown Vintage Hat – Vintassion
Brown 1930s Style Handbag – Molly’s Den
Fontana Shoes – Hotter
1930s Jade Earrings – A Gift
Brown Seam Stockings – What Katie Did