Today I need some vintage help

A big hello to all my lovely blog followers and readers. Today I’m after some assistance. I’m currently writing my dissertation all about the wearing of historical dress in the public and private environment so I want to ask all the lovely people out there some questions and I would really appreciate some answers!
So here goes the questions:
What are your primary reasons for wearing vintage?
Are there particular occasions when you wouldn’t wear vintage?
Are you in fear of damaging the garments you wear?
What are the oldest garments you would wear?
Do you consider the environmental impact of the clothes you wear? Is wearing vintage important to you because of the lower impact on the environment?
Do you think about the provenance of the pieces you wear? Would a piece having a strong provenance (for example being by an important designer or knowing the full details of who owned it before) make you more or less likely to wear a garment?
I’m actually going to answer them all too. Just to give everyone a little insight into my own vintage wearing philosophy!
I’ve gone for full blown long winded answers here but just a line on each would be super helpful : )
So yes, just a few little questions I’m putting out there. If anyone wants to help me out please do drop me an email
What are your primary reasons for wearing vintage?
For me vintage is all about personal expression. I’m obsessed not just with vintage clothes themselves but also with the history connected with them. I’m a passionate wannabe fashion historian and I think this really comes across in the way I dress. When I go out dresses solely in modern clothes I just don’t feel the same level of comfort or self confidence that I do when I wear vintage.
I love wild bold prints and have an obsession with anything novelty, I find that in vintage clothing I have a lot more opportunities to find such crazy prints (which I have to say fit in my with my sometimes a bit mental/ obsessive personality)
One of my all time fave novelty prints
Are there particular occasions where you wouldn’t wear vintage?
Not really no. I have such a varied vintage wardrobe that I have vintage for any and every occasion, and I find it is rare that I ever go out in a total non-vintage outfit (if it’s not vintage clothes then shoes or accessories, my current day handbag is a luscious alligator skin bag).
Are you in fear of damaging the garments you wear?
Yes, and I’ve paid the price. I’ve had drink spilt down a number of my favourite vintage dresses at parties (by myself and also by others too).  I’m always in fear of anything in mint condition I have to say because with vintage garments, particularly vintage silk it can be hard to clean! A lot of pieces I wear do have the odd alteration here, and stain there which makes me feel a lot more comfortable about wearing them, because I don’t feel like I’m damaging their potential historical value by wearing them. Weirdly though this doesn’t seem to apply to my 50s cotton circle skirts. I think nearly every one I own is in perfect condition yet I have no fear of wearing these, partly I think because they are so easy to care for!
What are the oldest garments you would wear?
My 30s jacket, one of my few forays into older vintage

This is tricky as it does depend hugely on condition. Although I know realistically I would never wearing anything from the 1920s or earlier.  Generally I don’t wear anything earlier than 40s. Although, I do own a late 30s jacket, dress and suit which I wear occasionally but feel that they are too fragile. I would only wear them to places  where I would have to move around too much or risk getting things spilt on me etc. I tend to stick to wearing fabrics which are durable and I know how to care for such as cottons. I always have a bit of a fear of heavily embellished or very fine fabrics. For example as much as I adore them and would love to own one I would never wear an embellished 1920s dress because they are just too fragile, and also too rare. I feel that items such as this deserve to be preserved and shouldn’t be worn.
Do you consider the environmental impact of the clothes you wear? Is wearing vintage important to you because of the lower impact on the environment?
I really wish I was more environmentally concerned than I am, but when it comes down to it, for me this is always an after thought rather than my primary concern. I find that with vintage and modern clothes I have completely different attitudes to wear and repair. If a modern garment gets a stain or damage I’ll get rid of it. With a vintage garment I would always find a way to work round it and try and bring it back to life. Even when a vintage item is knackered I always consider it to have reuse potential. I’ll often sell stuff on ebay with the suggestion that a pattern could be made from it.
Do you think about the provenance of the pieces you wear? Would a piece having a strong provenance (for example being by an important designer or knowing the full details of who owned it before) make you more or less likely to wear a garment?
Provenance is a huge deal for me. I am forever asking sellers on ebay if they know where a piece came from (much to their annoyance I’m sure) 3 of my most prized dresses have a wonderful history worn by a lady as her dress for her engagement party, her second dress for her wedding and her favourite party dress. Whenever I wear each of these I always make a point to tell people about them. Even with my modern clothes I get like this though I like to hold onto things with memories and connections, and vintage offers me the opportunity to do this more than modern clothes ever could. For example even if I don’t know where something came from there is often the option to do research into the label or the brand to find out more.

Anciently old photo of me with two of my best friends (May 2008) in one of my three dresses that belonged to the same lady
Although, sometimes provenance for me would also stop me wearing a dress. For example some of the pieces I own I wouldn’t dream of wearing as they are too rare or too good an example of a particular designers work, but to me these items are no longer vintage pieces they’re almost something else “artifacts” I suppose.
Thanks everyone!

The Duchess of Devonshire’s ball 1897

The Duchess of Devonshire in her dress by Worth. The dress is now kept at Chatsworth house

I hate fancy dress I HATE HATE HATE it with a passion. I am often known to refuse to go to a party if it has a theme, yet day to day I wear vintage, which some people would probably consider as a form of fancy dress. Maybe my hatred comes from the fact that I feel some people have issues with the way I dress and that I look like a pastiche of the past? Who knows.
It is rather strange therefore that one of my key research obsessions with relation to dress and textile history is that of fancy dress. I have an alarming addiction to thr bright young people, a group which Cecil Beaton was part of. Beaton once commented that they wold not wear normal clothes for weeks on end!
And another of my obsession is the Duchess of Devonshire ball of 1897. I was doing a little bit off research on it for my dissertation so I thought I would share some of the amazing images I discovered and a little more info on it too.
All of the details for each of the images comes from an excellent V and A microsite about the Layfayette studios who took these images. Many of these went on to appear in the newspapers of the day such as picture post and Lady’s chronicle.
1897 was a significant year in this countries history, and similarites can be drawn between this year and 1897 as they were celebrating the monach, Queen Victoria’s, Diamond jubilee.
In the summer of 1897 the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire threw a ball for 700 guests at Devonshire House on Piccadilly, over 700 guest attended with the theme being “allegorical or historical costume before 1815”.
The Duchess of Devonshire herself is a pretty fascinating character, known as the “Double duchess” she was first duchess of Manchester caught in an unhappy marriage, before finally marrying Spencer Compton Cavendish (Duke of Devonshire) in the 1890s and becoming the “Double duchess”.
The costumes came from a wide variety of sources, some used original historical costumes (Alfred of Saxe Coburg reportedly borrowed a suit of armour from the famed collector of historical dress Seymour Lucas) but most were made by the famous costumiers and even couture designers of the day. A large constituent of the dresses coming from Worth in Paris and from the costumier Alias in the U.K.

This is the dress worn by Lady Paget and was supposedly the most expensive costume at the ball, reputably costing over $6,000 dollars from Worth in Paris (not entirely sure how much this translates to, but needless to say I think it was around 10X the wage of an average American for an entire year at the time…this detail might be a bit out though)



Queen Maud (centre) and the dress she wore for the Devonshire ball as the character lady in waiting to Marguerite de Valois


The Duchess of Portland as the Duchess of Savoia. Her costume is the one to the right of the image. This was exhibited for the Victoria and Albert landmark exhibition “Fashion: An anthology” by Cecil Beaton and was one of the earliest objects he acquired.


Lady Randolph Churchill ( Winston Churchill’s mother)  as Empress Theodora in a costume by Worth


Princess Daisy of Pless as the Queen of Sheba. The cloth alone for this dress reportedly cost over £400 at the time

Mrs Claud Cole-Hamilton as Amy Robsart


Marquise d’Hautpoul de Seyre, as Elsa in Wagner’s Lohengrin. The costume Julia wore to the Ball is an exact copy of the bride’s costume worn in by the Belgian soprano, Rose Caron, as Elsa in Wagner’s 1848 opera Lohengrin


 Probably my personal favourite Viscountess Curzon as Queen Marie Leczinska

There are plenty of wonderful websites with many more images out there that i urge you to go and have a look at, i have only selected a few favourites!

What I’ve been buying lately: Suits, dresses and jackets galore

Today I thought I would share with you all some of my recent purchases, my very kind Nanna and Great Aunt both gave me some money for Christmas so I have been lucky enough to have a little bit of spare cash to spend on vintage!
I’ll start off by saying I’m actually feeling really let down by ebay at the moment, well in the UK at least. I am finding that there are less and less sellers out there offering high quality vintage pieces that are accurately described. There are a few exceptions, Lestervintage is one such seller. I’ve bought from this seller before and their items are always exactly as described. I also really appreciate how well photographed they are. Another on this list is redappleclothing who again I have bought from in the past.
The problem seems to be the sheer volume of incorrect listings out there. I’ve ended up with three paltry eighties copies of 50s dresses lately due to people insisting things are genuine 50s that are not. If you aren’t sure, state it!
So yes, this means my vintage buying habbits have swerved overseas and I’ve been buying quite a few bits from America, something I never used to do for fear of a)import charges and b) the items taking an age to arrive.
This has surprisingly not been the case and I’ve been really happy with the items I’ve picked up from the US and the price I’ve paid including postage.
Here are a few of my recents.

First off these lovely two Bobbi Brooks jackets which I think cost me under £40 for the two and from America. They are in MINT condition and are really versatile too. They both look amazing with jeans, and when the weather warms up a little more I’m sure they will become my springtime failsafes.
I also bought this SENSATIONAL 40s red suit. I’m sure it only cost $45, it wasn’t expensive at all. The quality of this piece is quite frankly wonderful. It has padded weighted pockets it is beautifully lined in silk throughout and has a really strong metal zipper. The fabric is some sort of Gaberdine and its pretty warm. I think come February I’ll be wearing this number regularly. I’m not normally one for wearing red (I think it looks a bit funny with my skintone) but the colour really looks good on, and even better the suit makes me feel amazing.

 Then onto this lovely little Blanes dress. Another of my obsessive collecting labels. I believe this dress is a very early 60s piece and is a sensational fit too. What gives this dress the edge is its lovely cowl draping at the back. I just need to find a belt to go with it now. Hmmmm….

I also wanted to show the fact that I don’t only buy vintage and sometimes the odd new piece creeps into my wardrobe too. I bought this during the week in Leeds as my finishing coursework treat to myself. I love a good bit of zingy orange and it has some little side splits for added interest. I bought it in the Whistles sale and it was reduced from (if memory serves me correctly) £175 to £40. Ace! I just want to apologise for my drag queen worthy make up in these pictures, unfortunately the light in my room is absolutely horrendous and I can never tell until I leave the house quite how heavily I have clarted the make up on!