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Keeping your vintage cool

Huzzah, an informative post for once! This is the full version of a short article recently published in Milkcow Magazine. Much of it is probably teaching vintage girls how to suck eggs, but newbies on the scene might find it of interest. Either way, enjoy!

We’re currently in the height of summer (or so the calendar says), and although this doesn’t necessarily guarantee us good weather here in the UK, there’s no doubt that it’s been rather warm recently. Of course, as fate would have it, this post is going to go up on a dreary grey and drizzly day in the Home Counties, but it’s still on the muggy side!

We all know that vintage ladies never sweated, only glowed; and the same can certainly be said today. I never sweat, no siree! But in case you find yourself ‘glowing’ rather a lot, as I *ahem* tend to do, here are some of my top tips for keeping your cool, and maintaining your pinup porcelain complexion!

Firstly, I’ve professed my love of cold cream on this blog before, but I must confess I find it far too much in the summer. I switch to a lighter organic cream cleanser to keep my skin bright and clear, but still with my beloved witch hazel as a toner. Sweeping a cotton wool ball loaded with witch hazel is a fabulous summer refresher, too, although you may have to reapply your foundation afterwards!

I can’t wear sunscreen on my face – I’ve completely failed to find one that doesn’t look like I’ve thrown a bucket of chip fat over myself, so instead I rely on Lily Lolo mineral foundation, which contains a natural SPF, and makes you look radiant in natural sunlight. I find it’s good enough for the UK summer sunshine. However, thanks to riding my vintage bike about, I have had to go up a shade from Porcelain to Blondie!

Try to keep your hair off your neck – Betty Grable-inspired updos, plaits and rolls are perfect for this! The rat that I use in my faux bangs tutorial can be used at the back of your head for a quick and easy vintage ‘do.

The rat-roll! I just start at the bottom and roll up, sticking lots of bobby pins in to secure. Simple! Do rolls or faux roll ‘twists’ of hair at the front.

Two plaits wrapped over the head is quick, easy and very 1930s Teutonic!

Invest in some chiffon headscarves to tie around a French pleat for a super quick, easy and cool (in the temperature sense) ‘do. And procure yourself at least one of those absolutely essential vintage accessories – a parasol! A few years ago (at least in the UK) you would have attracted looks of disdain for carrying a cute paper parasol around, but I’ve spotted many ‘normal’ ladies sporting umbrellas as sunshades recently – you’re more likely to be complimented than criticised these days! They’re a particular must when you’re bargain hunting around car boot sales, with the sun beating down relentlessly.

(Do excuse me just posting pictures of myself to illustrate these points, but I am too lazy to search beyond my own Flickr photostream today!)
A hand fan is also an absolute must-have, especially if you’re unlucky enough to have to use public transport…ever! Vintage souvenir fans can be picked up on eBay for small change, and fragrant sandalwood ones are a fabulous alternative. I have bought quite a few parasols and hand fans from this UK store, Exotic & Oriental. They don’t seem to have many paper parasols in stock, but they do have lovely fabric ones.

Finally, a tip from those who are more averse to machine washing vintage cotton frocks than I. My theory is that vintage housedresses are meant to be laundered, and all mine are absolutely no worse for multiple washes. I halve the spin speed though… it’s the high speed spins that put strain on seams and fabric. However, if you have more precious pieces, do invest in some dress shields. My granny, being a lady of the 1940s, was also an advocate of bathing once a week (having a wash around the key areas every day, of course), and cleaning her clothes much less often; and she swore by dress shields.

Granny, looking a little like Ingrid Bergman here!

It’s these little wonders that enable one to go a whole week in a single frock, as this nifty little video demonstrates. Though I do still believe that Lancelot might be slightly put off if you leave your date until Sunday after a hike or a bike through the country on Saturday! There’s only so much a dress shield can do!

Put all of these things together, and hopefully you’ll manage to beat the heat, even in your most exquisite 40s dress. And that, in a rather long nutshell, is that.

Fleur xx



I've always wondered about dress shields, they look so nifty but I'm scared they don't work. Are they really any cop?

Fleur de Guerre

I have to say, I have never tried them. But ladies over on the Fedora Lounge have and say they do, although apparently washable cloth ones are more reliable. I'd probably recommend safety pinning them in just to be on the safe side, they're always going to provide some sort of extra protection..

Betty Lou

Wow, she does look a lot like Ingrid Bergman!

It's crazy hot here in Sweden also so i do braids or a roll at the back.


This is all excellent advice. I would add to it that extravagant use of dusting powder has much to recommend it.

By the by, have you continued using Pear's soap after they changed the formula and made it harsher?

I went to buy some a couple days ago and noticed the change. Luckily I have a couple bars in the pantry still so I have some time to figure something else out.


great suggestions. i always wonder how i can look pulled together for more than 1/2 hour after laving the house in this summer heat. the warmth really limits my down dos too. updos it is 🙂


great suggestions (though I guess my short hair is convenient, it leaves me longing for the ability to try those updos!). Just LOVE that pic of you all decked in scarlet!


I carried a parasol in Venice, and seriously, in the Italian summer heat it saves your sanity. If you are walking around outside a lot {except for strenuous excersize} I can really recommend carrying a parasol as well!

Thanks for the tips,

b. of Depict This!

Born too late

Thanks for sharing these tips, I am now on the look out for a parasol. May I recommend Clinique City Block Sheer? It's an SPF 25 but is oil free and definitely won't leaving you looking greasy as it's oil free. I use it every day under makeup and it works like a primer giving your makeup something to cling to, ty it you really won't regret it and you will keep your porcelain skin tone too! x


This summer at a local festival I found a parasol for sale that looks like the paper ones but is actually nylon like a proper umbrella. That makes it much more hardwearing than the paper ones, I'd definitely recommend hunting one of those down. I'm off to buy some witch hazel and a hand fan right away though.


I literally don't leave the house without my paper parasol any more! 😉 Besides the obvious fact that carrying one just looks cool, I have to say it has saved me many times from a bad burn (especially since Florida seems to be out to try and make my fair skin as unhappy as possible ;). I also just bought a super cheap ($1) folding fan to stick in my purse. I frequently find myself waiting places to pick someone up and it's great to have something to keep me cool!

Also: don't know if you've tried this, or if it's even available in the UK. Neutrogena has a sunscreen that is a "dry touch" formula. I get the spf85 (yes, I have to wear something between a 75 and 100… pathetic) and use that on my face frequently without the "greasy" look that seems to happen with other sunblocks.

Gonna add this to my list of links to post in this week's links roundup! Thanks, Fleur!!! 🙂

♥ Casey
blog | elegantmusings.com


Very timely blog, Fleur! Am searching for parasols and fans for my bridesmaids and Lindsay gave me a heads up to your blog! x


Thanks for sharing that neat video. I really makes me rethink the idea of "reduce, reuse, recycle…" Seems like we're not that far from "apron front" additions being actually mainstream stylish, to save money!


Good tips, ma'am! It's a bit too warm over here in Chicago for me, but I regularly wear a pony tail which is timeless and easy to construct. I don't fuss as much with my hair in the heat being naturally curly, but your 'rat' idea might be worth the trial.

Anyway, pip pip toodles!


I just love that red dress you're wearing in that picture with the parasol! It's gorgeous!!

(By the way, I've been a reader for a while now, just never made myself known. Hi!)


I am new to your blog and truly have been enjoying it! Might I make a suggestion about SPF. I work outside a great deal and have a sensitively to sunscreen and tinted moisturizers but I tried a product from Peter Thomas Roth. They are mineral powder sunscreens. Slightly tinted, wonderful absorbency and poop SPF 30. I have become a huge fan, I hear they have high SPF's now too.


Ahh… lovely… I feel cooler and refreshed already! Just to throw my two penneth worth into the mix, I use Dermalogica Solar Defence Booster which is factor 30 – you just mix a small drop in with your moisturiser and get sunscreen without the grease and smell. All the other skin products I use are cheapo Boots jobbies, but it's worth paying a little bit extra to avoid skin damage.


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