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Rickrack & Ruffles

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! πŸ˜‰ 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!

Visit www.debra.org.uk for more information about the charity, and check out www.swingforskin.com for news on the event.

Tickets are Β£30 advance and Β£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 Β£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!

Fleur xx



I'm fast approaching 30, too, so I'm glad to have the pinafore question resolved. Yay for ruffles! πŸ™‚

Funny about those wedges – as soon as I saw your picture I knew they were from downtown LA! I was just telling my husband yesterday that I should go get some and put them up on Etsy. Blue Moon beat me to it!


Loving the shoes!! My husband is a leather worker and I keep begging him to try to make a pair of tooled peep toes for me. πŸ™‚ I recently bought a really amazing 40's pinny pattern from etsy and it shows a frilly pinny like yours being worn with a 40's style blouse underneath. That might be a better option for cooler months than a lumpy cardigan look.

YoKo - Liten Anna

OJ OJ OJ OJ!I screamed WOW! When I say the green dress!!!! !

It is the most perfect dress I have ever seen!!!!

I am going to copy it if you donΒ΄t mind….I think that it is pretty easy to sew!


goodness me, let us never be too old for ruffles and rickrack. Gorgeous ensemble Regarding the overlocking thing. I think it is generally a good dating tool, as well…except, lately I've been noticing that more than one of my 100% authentic mid-1930s "storebought" cotton dresses have overlocked seams!! I don't know what is with that. Maybe they were both coincidentally taken in in recent years? It has me completely stumped!! Anyway, you look glorious in green!


I think you hit the nail on the head when you say that too old is a matter of personal feeling. Vivienne Westwood, for example, dresses in her typical punk style to this day and looks fab- whereas other stars (Victoria Beckham for example) have toned it right down. Each to their own.

You've got many more years looking delightful in ruffles to come!


Funny as it sounds coming from a 26 year old, I too have started to muse over ruffles, rickrack and other "twee" bits in regards to age. Not that I'm going to give them up any time soon! hehe. I love my little vintage whimsies too much to discard because of some arbitrary idea that women over 30 can't wear ruffles. hehe. I do think you've hit the nail on the head when discussing that it's a matter of personal taste… But you still look so beautiful in ruffled pinafores, Fleur–don't give them up any time soon! πŸ˜‰

Kate O

A super post! This is what you do best πŸ™‚

And you will always be gorgeous – I think the day you give up ruffles should be the day you become boring or built like a tank. I don't think that will be happening any day soon… xx


I have an overlock machine and I will often go back through the seam of a vintage dress I think will get use in order to keep the fraying to a minimum. I also do this for some repairs…something to keep in mind. I love the dress!



Thanks for the tips on dating garments via overlocking πŸ™‚

Too old-schmold. I don't think I could EVER get away with ruffles on account of being top heavy – but they look a treat on others πŸ™‚


From head to toe your look is stunning! You can wear ruffles, ric rac or a potato bag, you would look amazing in everything πŸ™‚

Bette on Toast

You look beautiful in green! You're right, the deep pink lipstick does complement the colour nicely. I lurve the shoes, too – total outfit crush, all in all!


Never, ever give up your ruffles, Fleur! You suit them to a T! I love the new lipstick – great colour I must track down.


Oh, I don't think you are too old for ruffles yet, you look perfectly stunning in that green pinafore! Love the combination of the green and bamboo bangles too, you really know how to style an outfit!

Kate McMahon

I am also fast approaching the dreaded 3-0, and I don't think we will ever be too old for rickrack or ruffles (says the girl who bought a bubblegum pink 50s dress complete with the biggest, poofiest ruffles ever that I haven't dared to wear out yet because it might just be… TOO far for my small town… I'm waiting for the right moment to strike.)

Retro Chick

I'm over 30 and have just bought my first ever ruffled pinafore, which is 40s (and doesn't have overlocked seams!)

I love that one though, I love anything green.

Molly M.

I think you look lovely in the dress. It's a very flattering style on you.

Thanks also for the info on dating. It was very helpful. πŸ™‚

I've often said that I wish I lived in the UK because I would ask so nicely to be tutored on the proper way to dress vintage every day. I want to, but it just seems so very daunting. I love your blog and your confidence to wear what you love.


Could you do a blog on some more tips on how to date items?! That would be so helpful, or maybe just a tip here and there πŸ™‚


I love all your rickrack and ruffles but if you do decide you are too old for them i'll be glad to take them off your hands! x


I love all your rickrack and ruffles but if you do decide you are too old for them i'll be glad to take them off your hands! x


I love all your rickrack and ruffles but if you do decide you are too old for them i'll be glad to take them off your hands! x

Amy Georgina

Super dress, I love green, it's an under-rated colour!

And super thanks for mentioning Swing for Skin – it's going to be a great night and we now have a Pashley bicycle and a weekend in Dublin in the prize pot! Look forward to seeing you there!!

PS. Sorry for my shameless plug!


Hi Fleur. CouldnΒ΄t help to comment on this post, that dress is so gorgeous, and it looks great on you. And I donΒ΄t even like green that much.. lol. Great pics. πŸ™‚


OH MY! I don't even know english, but i got to tell you: i'm in love with your blog (: fan #1 from now on


Ms Wanda

I was going to comment on what a lovely colour the dress was, but now I've just read the comment above and feel totally distracted from all that. That's so funny!

Miss Marie

Thanks for the Swing for Skin tip off. I've been meaning to visit HMS Belfast forever but never gotten around to it – this might just be the incentive I've been waiting for.

And your overlocker tip is so obvious and logical, I can't believe I never thought of it… Will be sure to add to my list of telltale signs for dating vintage finds. Thanks!


I checked inside one of my rather voluminous vintage skirts and I'm pretty sure it was made by hand and whoever made it lovingly overstitched the hems by hand. Phew!

Also, they're going to do hair and makeup? I'd better start planning my outfit now!!


I understand what you mean, I am well over 30-on my way to 40-and sometimes wonder if my look is too…young. But I really think that the look of the 40s and 50s is quite mature and womanly in itself, so the ruffles and lacey touches add fun to the outfits, so they aren't so matronly. I still wear puffed sleeves and ruffles so as long as you love them and feel good in them-wear them proudly! And you look lovely in the pinafores.


I have the thought of when am I too old for certain outfits.It's hard to make that decision sometimes especially if it's something you love to wear.I will be 40 in july and the self concious thoughts pop in alot.lol.But I have to remind myself I still can get away with being younger.So that helps.Love your dress.Very pretty shade of green and that red lipstick looks perfect.I would love those shoes.I love shoes with detail.Thanks for the info on how to tell if it's true vintage or a newer style.


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