Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Vintage Beauty....

Ever since I was 8 years old, I've collected vintage costume & accessories. My very first purchase was a paper parasol, intricatel handpainted and with a bakelite marbled green handle. Such things were very easy to find, and very inexpensive back then. I would find them in junk shops, at jumble sales...friends of my parents would sometimes give me things, too, once they knew I was interested...and many were birthday presents from my Mum & Dad. I used to have several antique tailor's dummies, to display outfits...this is the only one I have left now (from the 1940's) This particular outfit is one of my favourites...a silk satin coat in eau de nil with fringed scarf...and underneath is a nightdress which matches exactly...

this is a photo of the back shoulder, showing the gorgeous cream lace...

and look at those delicate hand-stitched pintucks in the bodice....
It might seem a strange collection for a young child to have...but I've always been obsessed with history - especially social history, those little snippets of the everyday that show us how those who came before us lived, worked and died. I adore imagining who wore these clothes...
these are details from some peach silk lounging pyjamas from the 1920's...

they have incredibly wide legs and a wraparound top...imagine living the kind of leisurely life where they were de rigeur! The 1920's & '30's were wonderful for women's clothing...so chic and flattering!

This velvet cutwork sleeveless evening jacket is divine...and the details are perfect...see the carved jet buttons at the waist?


Perfect little polished trees - gorgeous as jewellery in their own right. There is very little (outside couture) to match these now...
I have costume from many decades...including a wedding dress from the 1860's (which is packed away very carefully, as you can imagine!) Some of my favourites are from the early 20th century...Edwardian and pre-WW1...very Downton Abbey!
This wedding dress for instance...

cream silk satin  over a long, straight skirt of gossamer light silk netting..tiny seed pearls embroidered onto the bodice...

gorgeously rolled waistband...

and the embroidery on the front bodice and at the back too...faded slightly now, but the pinks, greens and tiny golden glass bugle beads give you a good idea of the absolute beauty of this gown...

A little earlier is this lilac day-blouse....just an everyday item, to be worn with a separate skirt...

although as you can see, there's very little that's 'everyday' to our modern eyes...

isn't it fabulous? Look at the double sleeves....that yoke with the pale gold and lilac embroidery...

But there's another side to this period...beautiful & special as these clothes are...and that's the torture that women must have endured to wear some of them!

The brass hooks and buckles that hoisted the poor corseted girl into ramrod-stiff place and kept her there...and the wire that kept the lace collar at the neck upright...

how it must have dug into that delicate skin, rubbing & scratching!
I'd love to go back for a day to many different times, to experience a little of life as it was...but ONLY for a day! I'm under no illusion that times past - especially for women - was mainly difficult, often painful & frequently dangerous....but it's wonderful to be able to look at my collection-to stroke the soft, natural materials and dream of a world very different to ours!
Have a gorgeous week everyone! xoxo

20 comments:

  1. Wow u have some stunning clothes there I am exactly the same I just love anything vintage and with a history love looking at old photos wondering who the people were and how they lived their lives fab post :) xx

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  2. Rachael, to journey back in time wearing beautifully crafted and detailed clothing would be wonderful. Perhaps a lawn garden party or a special tea where getting dressed up is part of the fun! What a special collection you have! Georgie

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  3. Oh Rachel, you own lovely pieces from the past! They appear to be in great condition. We have much to be thankful for ---not having to wear wires under our clothes-Ouch-underwire bras are bad enough for me! Lovely hearing from you today! xoxo ♥
    Martha Ellen

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  4. How totally cool to collect old fashion. It must take up a big chunk of your storage tho. I once took dtr (she was 12) to a museum to see a collection of old wedding gowns. In those days (pre 20th C) women wore dresses that were nicely made and special but not something white for one time only. Very fun to see. My favorite in couture is the clothes from the 1930's. I love seeing movies made then because of the amazing clothes. Very fun to see some of your collection. You should offer them to a museum for a short show. Then you could see them displayed all together. In NY at the Metropolitan, they have a whole costume department, really cool.

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  5. Clothes from the past are certainly more interesting and collectable than a lot of today's synthetic and mass produced items. I just wish I'd had the same respect that you had when you were young and kept some of the ones that my mother and grandmother gave to me.

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  6. Beautiful and fascinating. Strange that something that looks so delicate has such resilience.

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  7. Learning new things about you every day dear friend!!! What an exquisite collection...and such detail of the clothing. I love looking at old clothes. Things, for the most part, were made much better, had wider hems and double seams. Now, the 'thing' is to make things quickly and cheaply and details are left to accessories. How wonderful of you to share!!!

    xoxo
    Joann in CO

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  8. How interesting to learn that you collect vintage clothing! Your collection is beautiful. Thank you for sharing some of your precious items. The attention to detail and the craftsmanship is astounding. These days, it is hard to find. I love learning new things about you! Have a wonderful day, sweetie! xo

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  9. Takes me back, you and your wonderful collection, I can't remember a time when you didn't love these beautiful old time lines. xxxxx

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  10. walking here with a smile. take care.. have a nice day ~ =)

    Regards,
    http://www.lonelyreload.com (A Growing Teenager Diary) ..

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  11. Vintage clothing is so great, especially when in good condition. About 34 years ago I had a chance to go to visit my husbands grandfather in Lynchburg, VA. They were preparign to sell his large home after moving him to a small one story house (He was 84). His large home was 2 story with full attic and full basement. I went into the attic and discovered about 12 old wooden roundtop trunks, much larger than any I had ever seen, and 3 old trveling trunks like little closets. What surprised me is that there were items in them! Many had clothes and one had severla beaded flapper-style dresses!! I was so surprised. Now I wish I had asked to have at least one fo the trunks shipped to my home filled with treasures!! The family was calling it all "old junk" and said they were goign to have it all hauled away. *sigh*

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  12. Oh Rose...you see that's the kind of story that makes me go 'aagh'!! My Mum remembers a similar story when her Great-Aunt (a Victorian) died....thanks for the lovely comments! xx

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  13. We all must have at least one story about past 'fashion'. 25+ years ago a neighbor had an auction, she had clothes from a trunk, tops, skirts with bustle's, it was amazing. and noone wanted them! I wish I bought them just to pack away! I do have my Mother-in-laws lace wedding dress from 1930, which was cut down for a niece to wear to a graduation! At least I have the cut off lace piece, and what remains of the seep pearl buttons.
    Thanks for reviving the memories!
    Ro from Ro'se Cottage, NJ, USA

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  14. Absolutely beautiful fashions!

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  15. Stopping by to find your lovely post about vintage clothing!! They are such treasures to appreciate and preserve for generations to come! The laces, hand sewing, and other details are just gorgeous! I am fortunate to have my mother's wedding suit and my grandmother's wedding dress and shoes...so precious to me as they both were! Sending you lots of love, Sherry xoxo

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  16. The only things I have that are "vintage" are 3 clothing items: one is the Christening gown that I wore to my Baptism, and the other is a cardigan wool sweater that my mother knitted. I remember her knitting it when I was little and when it came to cleaning out her closets and drawers after she passed, I just couldn't bear to give that sweater away, so I saved it. I also have her satin wedding dress, packed away well. Do any of these beautiful clothing items fit you? have you tried them on? Or are they too fragile? How exquisite.

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  17. Lovely to read the comments...I guess that everyone has at least one special piece tucked away somewhere? To answer the above question..I used to wear many of the dresses, particularly the 30's & 40's ones...particularly in my late teens,but not any more as the lace & seams are really too fragile. Anything earlier is usually too small for modern uncorseted grown up women...our busts & hips are way too generous (well, mine are for sure!) My mum has a couple of bias cut '30's gowns she wears sometimes...she is in her 70's but still looks wonderful in them, with a little bolero or similar on top. I do still wear some of the nightgowns & wraps occasionally...but mainly, they are too precious for me to risk! x

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  18. Oh Rachel, they are exquisite! I am a big lover of the 1920's and 30's because the clothes were so feminine. You have a lovely assortment of beautiful clothes. I admire so much the detail of all the clothes. The poor working girl labored many hours making those fancy clothes for the wealthy I imagine.They are indeed very Downton Abbey, one reason I love that show. xoxo

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  19. Your collection is beautiful. Happy to hear you are able to wear some of your treasures.

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  20. Dear Rachel,
    Perhaps you don't accept awards on your blog, but I have given you an award today if you would like to check out my post for today's date, Sept. 3rd.
    You are a spreader of sunshine, my dear, you just are!!

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