Wednesday, 26 February 2014

In praise of the little black hat.

I've been thinking about the pretty hats in "The Divorce of Lady X" all morning.  I love hats.  Of all my vintage loves, hats would be my biggest passion.  The more ostentatious the better.

In my humble opinion, most vintage outfits can appear pretty nondescript.  A floral dress, at least to the untrained eye, is a floral dress.  It's the accessorising - the hair do, shoes, make up, gloves and, oh oh oh, the HATS which take a vintage outfit from frumpy to fabulous.  Yes.  I just wrote that.  It's because I'm enthused.

Hats can, however, be one of the scarier items of vintage to wear.  It's unusual to see anyone wearing a hat apart from in the depths of Winter, and it is certainly strange to see someone wearing one indoors, over lunch, with a smart suit.  For the shy and the new to vintage it must seem quite intimidating to go out dressed so obviously.

I certainly found it tough at first, and started off with a very modest 50s black felt number which went with everything.

There really is no better way to start your hat wearing career than a simple black titfer.  It will go with your vintage suits, winter dresses and most probably your winter coat too.

Something small in style can be especially versatile.

These ladies all agree:

Bette Davis in a small 30s skull cap style hat

Madge Bellamy in a pillbox style design - probably late 30s also

Merle Oberon in a bow design - I have one very similar

Rita Hayworth in a tilt hat

This dipped over the eye design flatters Barbara Stanwyck

I thought, therefore, I'd take a wander through Etsy and see what their vintage pages have to offer.  I hope you enjoy my selection.

(Links in the "thises" because I started doing it and could not be bothered to backtrack.  There, that is a little window into the cogs of my brain.)

This 40s creation has all the elements I love.  It is simple but with an asymmetric tilt, to be pulled down over the eye flirtatiously.  Perfect with a suit of any colour.

This little satin hat with a teardrop back would look wonderful with a dress or a more evening suit.  Stunning.

This simple felt turban adds a Wartime chic to the look.

This is very cheap and a great basic for someone new to hats as it can be worn as is or easily trimmed by pinning on flowers, pompoms or attaching a scarf of needed.

For a slightly later look this saucer is simplicity itself

And finally, if you prefer repro, BMillinery has some darling models in her Etsy shop, including this heavenly number for the slightly braver.  I almost dribbled onto my keyboard when I saw it.

So, here are my top suggestions for the hat shy.   I have hundreds more I'd like to post but I think you probably get the picture by now.

I'll be back on the hat topic soon with a few posts showcasing my own collection.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

100 Vintage Days

Those of you who have found my Facebook page *linky* will be bored to tears of this already I expect, but I've been doing a little experiment.  I'm sure everyone with an internet connection has seen the #100happydays thing floating around.

The idea is that you post something each day that makes you happy.  I tried doing it and it was just hundreds of pictures of my cats...

So, I realised that with the terrible UK weather lately (more rain anyone?) I'd been living in trousers and nondescript tops with my hair pulled back.  Not good for ones reputation at work or for ones mental health really.

As a result I've decided to do #100vintagedays instead.  It's going to be about the vintage I love.  Largely outfit posts but also just general vintagey goodness.  The idea is to make me 1) make more of an effort of a morning, 2) keep me posting on the facebook and my blog regularly and 3) teach me how to use Instagram.

So - here is a round up of the first 10 days or so.

I'll be keeping the project going for the full 100 days.  updates can be found on Instagram, if you so desire.

My aim for this week is to wear more frocks.  Last week there were two skirts - this week I'm up to one already.

Hair comb from Spitalfields Market

A new hair set
Blue Monday outfit

Weekend shopping

30s hat Friday

Nautical Nancy

Some Fairisle and a flopped set

Monochrome fun

Cateye specs

Hair setting

Cat earrings

Monday, 24 February 2014

Old Movie Madness - The Divorce of Lady X (and a bit of scene setting waffle)

So, I'm finally back with my film fashion stuff.  It's take a while but OMIGOD - dating really takes up a lot of time.  I used to blog, knit and watch old movies constantly but I rarely seem to get daytimes to myself these days.  Still, he's a keeper.  :-)

This weekend though I managed quite a bit of "me time" (what a terribly twee and yet accurate phrase that is).  On Saturday I met up with a dear chum and did some excellent charity shopping - see my haul below!  Yards and yards of chunky yarn in a delicious French navy, a dressing table set of hairbrush, clothes brush and mirror and some lovely bangles.

 I've probably got too much yarn and too many bangles as it is but - what the hey!  Look at Marlon photobombing the yarn pic.  Vain little fuzzbeast.

Sunday, the chap had to go and see his mother and so I got in some up close and personal time with my mending and sorting jobs.  I've now organised my mending pile and hope to tackle one thing a week.  I've also had a huge knitting clear out and am donating all my odds and sods of yarn to the above mentioned chum who is far more creative than I and who will, I'm sure, be able to make something from them.

I like company when I'm tidying, usually a radio play or a non taxing film on in the background to chivvy me along.  For this session I chose The Divorce of Lady X (1938) and little Lord Fauntleroy (1936).

I've been meaning to watch Lady X for some time, it was made in one of my favourite fashion years (I love 36-40 best of all I think) and it stars Larry Olivier.  Oh....Larry.  That voice!

The film opens in London in the middle of a real pea-souper of a foggy day.  The bright young things across town are trapped at their parties, Leslie Steele (Merle Oberon), being one of them.  She has been attending a costume party at a hotel and is forced to stay the night.  No rooms are available but Leslie uses her considerable wit and charm to convince the very dapper and gentlemanly divorce lawyer Everard Logan (Olivier) into giving her his bed, while he sleeps in the lounge.

Logan believes the young lady to be married and being a decent sort of chap makes no advances.  He is later horrified when Lord Mere asks him to represent him inn his divorce, after finding out Lady Mere had spent that evening in the same hotel with a man.  Surely the two women must be one and the same!

Ah, the fashions of 38.  Ah, Merle Oberon's tiny little cat face.  Here are some of my favourite outfits:

This off the face saucer hat with diamante clasps at the hairline is just a fabulous way to frame her beautiful face.  The hat is balanced by huge fur across the shoulders and an enormous muff (I can't type that without giggling - I'm such a child).  The column of black is relieved by that classic 30s touch of a large bow - here in a pale blue - a colour repeated throughout the film.

Again, more pale blue.  This hostess/dressing gown as worn by supporting actress Binnie Barnes, features the most beautiful scalloped detail down the front.  What you can't see well here is that it is worn with trousers.

Another dressing gown here, sadly I could not find a colour picture.  It is the most beautiful emerald green with bands of gold running down the arms.  I actually gasped seeing this.

Binnie again, in a simple an classically late 30s full length evening dress with an enormous corsage at the bust.

Another largely black outfit for Merle - with a sweet pointed hat.

Other treasures I have been unable to find pictures of were a leopard hat and gloves set (swoon), a full length short pile white fur coat and a two tone suit with a jaunty little peplum and a pale blue ankle length cape.

This is one of those movies that oozes fashion.  not as much as The Women - my all time favourite fashion film, but the clothes here certainly make a statement.

Costumes are by Rene Hubert, who had worked with Jean Patou.  Hubert also designed for Vivien Leigh in That Hamilton Woman and for the Four Feathers, among many other films.

I thoroughly enjoyed the film, there was a great chemistry between the two leads and the bright Technicolour used worked especially well to contrast between foggy London and the gay abandon of the parties going on under it's roofs.  While the plot is somewhat predictable Oberon is so likeable you can forgive the weakness of the story line.

Definitely worth whiling away some time knitting along to.

Speaking of knitting, Larry doesn't look too impressed.

The film is available on YouTube.

Happy watching!

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Facebook knitting group and facebook me page.


Just a quick note to make you aware of the Facebook page for my blog, which I tend to keep a little more up to date than here (working on it, promise).

Blog page

I've also recently started a Vintage Knitting Circle - also on Facebook - for anyone interested in advice, pattern sharing, seeing other peoples works in progress and the like.

Knitting group

Here is a little pic of my current project: