As autumn draws in and winter sits waiting in the wings many vintage gals start getting apprehensive about what to wear, me included. During the warmer months wearing vintage seems easy, there’s plenty of pretty summer dresses to choose from no matter what era you’re into and if you’re a little bit cold you can just throw on a cardigan. However, when the temperature starts to drop carrying on the vintage look gets tricky.
Last year, when I was still very much into the 1950s and early 60s, I started buying separates that could be mixed and matched and layers added to if it was a bit chillier. This worked well and I pretty much managed the whole vintage look throughout the winter, however, now I’ve moved more into the 1920s and 30s I’ve suddenly found myself panicking.
So, I’ve been madly looking at all the inspiration I can find from Pinterest to piles and piles of books and from fellow bloggers to period dramas. It’s been a great excuse to indulge! Whilst doing this I’ve been thinking about the things my wardrobe is missing and one common theme soon became evident, autumnal colours.
One colour I always associate with autumn and have generally shied away from is burgundy. The reason for this is because it’s my best friend’s colour. She’s worn it for years and always has loads of pieces in that beautiful rich dark red and I’ve always felt like I’d be stealing it from her. However, this year I’m determined to inject some burgundy into my wardrobe.
Other colours I’ll be looking to include are bottle green, aubergine and peacock. I’m also going to make a conscious decision to look at black too. I used to wear black constantly but in recent years I’ve favoured navy and grey as darker neutral shades and I’ve noticed quite a lack of black in my wardrobe now.
I have a very long list of things I want to make now, all inspired by the Art Deco years. These are pieces that are perfect for keeping warm and are definitely lacking within my clothes. I’ve already bought a few bits of fabric, a genuine 1930s dress pattern and have started working on my own patterns. I’ve also done a lot of research into where I can get patterns for other pieces too. So, what am I planning to make?
Cardigans and Jackets
This time of year we all need something we can just throw on top when it gets a bit cold and two things that have caught my interest of late are the knitted fabric cardigans of the 1920s and the kimono jacket that was popular throughout the first three decades of the 20th Century.
This rose cardigan from 1922 is exactly the sort of thing I’m talking about. The fabric is a knit, almost like a modern day heavy jersey and has that classic 1920s look about it. The original 1930s dress pattern I bought comes with a very similar style cardigan pattern too which I’m going to use for this. I have a lovely dark rust knitted fabric with a white slub going through it that I think will be perfect. I think the fabric is from the 1970s but I could not tell you how I acquired it as it’s always just been in my fabric stash. I guess it’s about time I used it!
I adore this 1920s kimono jacket by Fortuny, it’s just so luxurious and would look fantastic either with high waisted trousers or over an elegant evening gown. I’m still on the hunt for some stunning fabric for this but I do have my eye on a reproduction version of this online. It’s made in a beautiful Art Nouveau designed peacock-coloured devoré and looks incredibly opulent.
1930s Wool Crepe Day Dress
I keep seeing so many versions of the 1930s wool crepe day dress on the internet, both genuine vintage and newly handmade by bloggers such as Marianne from Fintage.net, but the ones that always catch my eyes are the red tone ones like the two below. These are just perfect for an autumn/winter wardrobe as they are simple, elegant and utterly stylish. The fabric hangs just beautifully, yet it is quite heavy so you get the added benefit of them keeping you warm.
I’ve bought a gorgeous double weave drape fabric from Cloth Spot in a muted burgundy colour to make my 1930s dress pattern out of which is a very similar style. It’s actually a polyester but looks and feels like a heavy wool crepe and looks incredibly authentic; apparently a lot of vintage types have been snapping it up. I cannot wait to make it but I’ve just got to sort out the sleeve of the pattern because it was a little tight on my mock up.
1920s Black Day Dress
Whenever I think of 1920s day dresses I think black, mainly due to the classic Chanel jersey dresses she was so famous for back then. Again, I love the simplicity of these styles and actually much prefer this look to the glitzy Gatsby look so many people get excited over. Day dresses in the 1920s were usually very simply cut, didn’t have a lot of embellishment but still had very clever detailing on them to create a look like no other era.
I’ve also always loved the combination of black with white detailing and will pick anything off a rack in a shop if it has a white Peter Pan collar on it. Therefore, this amazing dress as worn by Louise Brooks in The Show Off from 1926 is going to be my inspiration for my own 1920s day dress. It’s definitely got to have long sleeves so it’s warm enough to wear throughout the winter and I’ve got some lovely black crepe to make it out of.
Velvet Evening Dress
A good staple evening dress is always a good thing to have in your wardrobe and I’ve become obsessed with the velvet ones from the 1930s and 40s. They just look absolutely stunning with highlights of sparkly silver jewellery. I bought a lovely pair of 1930s rhinestone dress clips at RAF Fairford that I know will look perfect with the one I want to make in a rich burgundy silk velvet that I’ve had in my fabric stash forever.
It’s going to be a combination of the two styles above, the first from the 30s and the second from the 40s, with a straighter, less full skirt but with an interesting neckline and puffed sleeves. I’m going to use the original 1940s pattern I used for my Make Do and Mend Dress as a base but I’m going to keep the waist seaming much more simple and will add a little bit more puff to the sleeve.
Simple Autumnal Coat
I struggle with coats and jackets, it’s a fact. I never have just the right thing to go over an outfit and I end up getting so frustrated. However, last year I bought a Collectif Dietrich trench coat in a grey tartan and I wore it constantly. It was light enough for autumn but was thick enough, when worn with layers underneath, for the winter. This year, however, I need something for the earlier decades and a simple 1930s autumnal coat would be perfect before it gets really cold.
1930s autumnal coats are always slim fitting to match the look of the dress or skirt underneath and were made in a heavy linen or wool suiting. I’ve found a lovely version of these in Mrs Depew’s fabulous vintage patterns that I’ll probably use for the base. I had originally planned on making this in a heavy navy linen but found some beautifully soft aubergine and grey mix suiting at Ditto Fabrics when I went to Brighton at the weekend and couldn’t resist it. I also bought a beautiful aubergine cloche hat at Mad Hatters which goes perfectly with it from Mad Hatters. (Thank you Jenny for the shopping tips!)
Fur Trimmed Winter Coat
And when it does get colder what could be more vintage than a fur trimmed coat? Again, I love the look of the 1930s style with their slimmer fit. They always have incredible detailing on them and on both of those below they have really interesting sleeves. It would be easy enough to use a real vintage fur for the fur detailing but I’m not really a fan of it for many reasons so will go for a good quality new faux fur. I’ve found a lovely snow leopard one at £35 a metre which I’m rather tempted by despite the price.
I have a huge amount of boiled wool I bought for my final year collection at fashion college but never used that will be perfect for it. However, I cannot decide whether it is black or a dark navy! I’ve also found this pattern at Mrs Depew that has similar sleeve detailing that I may use for the pattern but Embonpoint Vintage on Etsy also have loads of draft-yourself ones it’s just so hard to decide.
Hopefully I will get these all made up in time but knowing how busy I am with other things it may take some time. I’m determined to get the burgundy day dress completed by October ready for my birthday but we’ll see. Of course I’ll post anything I do get done on the blog for you to have a look at, so watch this space!