Rickrack and ruffles. As regular readers may know, my favourite vintage frocks usually contain one or other of the two…and the very best ones have both! I absolutely love pinafore dresses and can’t wait for the arrival of warm weather so I can wear them. However, I was recently told that, rather than being A Girl, as I suppose I have always considered myself; I am actually A Woman. While I actually love this idea (as long as I don’t have to be a proper grownup ALL the time), you can’t deny that ruffles are definitely more girlish than they are womanly. This revelation, and the rapidly approaching milestone that is my 30th birthday has brought to mind the question that I addressed a few years back: When is one too old for a certain look? The general consensus then, as it no doubt will be now, is that you’re only too old for something when wearing it makes you feel uncomfortable or self-conscious. One could argue that if the question even forms in your mind, then that fateful day might well be near (if not definitively here!). But in my case, it’s not really something that worries me too much, just an idle and fleeting thought that occasionally pops into my mind.
The thing that worries me more about wearing pinafores is that you can’t really wear a cardigan over them, because it looks like you have a lumpy hunchback, or a pair of stunted wings on your shoulderblades. Not a good look! This means pinafores are only doable on really hot days, when outerwear is not needed. I juuuust about got away with it on Saturday – the Met office promised us a two-week heatwave would begin at the weekend, but I think that was just a decoy to take our minds off the impending Rapture. Speaking of which, on Saturday, The Mafia decided that we’d have a business meeting-slash-end of times in the Vintage Emporium. When the End didn’t come, we got to discussing our exciting new projects…
I didn’t manage to capture my outfit, so I carted it down to my parents’ place on Sunday, where I did a run through the trails of the National Trust. This posing was done post-run… miraculously, my hair seems to have held up!
Excuse the non-smiling, won’t you: it was actually quite chilly out! Now this frock is probably not genuine 1940s, despite it being in a quintessentially 40s style. It was a super-bargain eBay find from a few years back, and I believe it is either made much more recently from a 40s pattern, or it is from the 70s, during which pinafores were popular (albeit usually maxi-length). Read on to find out how I (and you, if you’re out vintage shopping) can tell…
I’m wearing green bakelite hoop earrings and my new favourite lipstick, Revlon Cherries in the Snow. I also have the matching nail polish and I adore them. It’s a deep pink, and a nice change from pillarbox red. Goes better with green too, don’t you think?
I’ve accessorised with a stack of bangles – bamboo mixed with a set of three plastic green ones in varying shades. I believe the green bangles also to be from the 1970s. So I am not mixing eras… heaven forbid! 😉 The bag is a 1950s/60s(ish) raffia number from Beyond Retro in Brick Lane, complete with bamboo handle, and the shoes are 40s style tooled wedges from Blue Moon Vintage on Etsy (though they can be bought much cheaper in LA, I hear!).
So what gives this dress away as non-1940s? Nothing on the outside, certainly; apart from the brightness of the print, perhaps. But when you look inside, it’s obvious. It appears to be home made, but has serged (overlocked) seams.
Households did not have overlockers in the 40s, and neither did most manufacturers… look inside any dresses from the 60s and earlier, and they will probably have pinked (zig zag cut) or even unfinished seams. It’s not a fool-proof way of dating, but it’s a good rule of thumb. If it’s overlocked, it’s probably post-mid 60s, which is when these machines became affordable. I hope that’s helpful to someone out there!
I have one announcement to make in this entry before I sign off, it’s about an event to which I’d like to draw everyone’s attention. Swing For Skin is a 1940s-themed charity event taking place on the evening of the 4th June, on the HMS Belfast.
Here’s the info:
Swing for Skin is a 1940s themed tea dance in aid of DEBRA UK. We’ll be getting into the Blitz spirit and uniting to overcome EB (Epidermolysis Bullosa), and having jolly good fun while we do it!
We would love to see you there to support a fantastic charity, and dance on the deck of a London landmark.
All aboard the good ship charity!
Tickets are £30 advance and £35 on the door. Included in the ticket price are two free drinks, food, vintage hair and make up styling for the ladies (and any gents who want to indulge), and the chance to tour the HMS Belfast – which would usually cost over £13 alone!
There will be fabulous raffle items (so far including donations from Lulu Guinness, Helen Rochfort, Hotel Chocolat, BLOOM Gin, Lilly Lewis Millinery and more) , so remember to bring your purses and wallets or cheque books!
I’m aiming to be there and just trying to scrape the ticket money together – it’s such a good cause and looks to be a splendid night. So, see you there!