zaterdag 28 februari 2015

From frump to fab: some basics of cleaning and mending a vintage dress

The dress in this picture looks pretty neat and tidy. Unfotunately that is not always the state you find them in, which was also the case with this dress.


This was what the dress looked like just after I bought it. In this blog post I will illustrate my way of tackling a few issues that I come across a lot but that do not have to be real problems. Just a little love and care and time turn a frump into a fabulous dress!
The first problem are the creases. Especially with rayon these can be diffucult to iron out. When ironing to hot or using to much pressure the fabric often starts to shine. Dampening the fabric with a vaporizer helps a bit. For this dress however I opted for another solution (washing) because of a second problem: smelly armpits. Also not unknown to most vintage buyers. A normal wash does generally not do the trick with 70 year old BO. Neither does dry-cleaning, most of the time (and I also find it quite expensive). A cheap method I often use is a soak in white vinegar (the stuff you also use for cooking).


I pour the pure vinegar in a deep plate. Vinegar does not affect color, it even makes it more vibrant.


As the bad smell is usually located at the armpit area only, I soak these areas in the shallow basin of the plate.


This is what the dress looks like with vinegars soaked pits, like someone was sweating really badly in it ;). I usually put the dress on a hanger and hang it outside for a couple of hours (you do not want the vinegar smell inside). If the vinegar dries apply some more.
After this you are left with a dress smelling of vinegar. I carefully rinse the vinegar out under a tab with luke warm water. A good way to check if the vinegar is out is (this may sound yucky, but more reliable than your nose) tasting the fabric.

If the fabric allows it I like washing my vintage dresses first before wearing them. It is the best way of removing creases and just makes it feel more fresh. Washing is tricky. Always wash by hand, carefully. I use a basin but if you have a bath (preferably with shower) it is even better. Luke warm water is usually fine. Use a mild detergent (I used a wool detergent).


Don’t freak out if the color bleeds a bit, only a problem with multi colored prints. This dress turned the water bright pink but this did not affect the color in the end.
The dress is made of two different fabrics a cotton flannel and a rayon crêpe. As they were in the exact same color I think the fabrics might have been dyed, explaining the color bleeding. It could very well have been an example of WOII ‘make do and mend’. The style looks a lot like examples from that period of how to update dresses with a scrap of material or making them of two materials.
Rinse out the detergent several times, so all soap is out. If you have a bath with a shower you can use the showerhead for this.


After rinsing it try to squeeze as much water out by hand as possible. Then lay the dress on a towel. If it is very heavy with water put another towel on top.


Roll the dress into the towel and put some pressure on the roll (I tend to walk over it). Hang it on a (plastic, wood might stain) hanger to dry. You might want to check the size, if a crêpe dress has shrunk try to gently pull it back into shape. Iron when still a bit damp. Iron the inside rather than the outside. If you accidentally make the fabric shiny it won’t show on the front.


Another ‘problem’ with vintage dresses it that seams have often come apart at one place or another. I do not see this as real dammage. It is easy to mend, by hand (as I like to do) or on a machine. If you leave them unmended it will get wors! If you cannot mend this yourself go to a dressmaker or learn some basic sewing skills. Learning how to stitch by hand is really not that hard. It is alsost impossible (and very expensive) to do without if you wear a lot of vintage.
Well that was all this dress needed to look its best again. The design, with a kind of faux bolero jacket with blouse style is much better defined after the creases came out.  The bright magenta color makes it a fab day-dress.


I wore it today to give a friend a tour in an exposition I worked on at the Rijksmuseum, but more about that in another post!


zondag 22 februari 2015

A night in the 1920's: the party look of 1929

Vintage themed parties are always a great excuse for a fabulous outfit. Yesterday it was time for one of the best 1920’s parties in Amsterdam: Lili Marleen. I decided that my look was going to be styled like it was 1929 (still 1920's but already getting more feminine). Here’s my look for the evening/night:


Jewellery: Original Art Deco earrings combined with a statement necklace from Zara and bracelets bought at a monastery in Austria.


Make-up: a dark edge, lots of purple with an undertone of black, as the year is desastrous 1929.


Hair decorations: Japanese haircomb and a bunch of stripped peacock feathers


Some 1920’s hairstyles that loosely inspired me.


The result when all was put together.


Then there is the dress. I have a few original beaded 1920’s dresses, but I would feel rather concious of their fagility when I wore them to a party. Not good for the party mood. So instead I opted for a more sturdy silk crepe dress form the transition period between the 1920’s and 1930’s.


It features a handkerchief hemline that is slightly lower at the back where some attached pieces of fabric form a kind of cape. Fab for dancing, all that fabric moves!


To add a litle green to the outfit  and to celebrate the return of the waist at the end of 1929 I made a belt from a hairband of similar fabric to the dress with a green buckle.


The shoes are not in the best condition but wearable, and soo cute. They are evening shoes as they are in crêpe instead of leather. They are from the famous brand Bally, very popular throughout the 1920's and 1930's. 


A clutch bag also in crêpe, could be anywhere from the 1920 to 1950’s.  The front has a finely pleated inset in an art deco shape. Just like the shoes there are no other colors next to black soo it goes with everything, a real Ford! 


The back has a band so you can hold dit more easy or even wear it around your wrist.


If there was any chance of getting cold there are a cut velvet peacocks on a scarf to warm me.


As finishing touch all is covered in a cloud of Mitsouko perfume. Its powdery smell was first launched in 1919, so period appropriate fort his party!


And then it was time to go to the party at the beautiful CMA Zaal in Amsterdam! It was a blast! Fabulous acts, the best live music from Andor’s Jazzband. And not to forget great, beautiful people!


That is all for now, hope to see you next time!



dinsdag 17 februari 2015

Hello there!

 (photo: Aline Bouma)

After two years of not blogging I decided it was time to start again with a brand new blog. I dedicate it to my wardrobe, one of my biggest hobbies. I’ve been a vintage fanatic for about six years now, mainly focusing on the 1930’s an 1940’s era. As I have collected a considerable amount of clothes over the years I can (an do) dress in vintage on a daily basis.

 I buy most of my clothes in Amsterdam, where I live. I think the Dutch capital is a good place to shop vintage against reasonable prices, when you know where to go. Pairing together and wearing vintage pieces is something I love and by now almost do automatically. I get inspired by the clothes themselves, vintage magazines and sometimes modern trends. Finding, picking out and taking care of my treasured pieces is sometimes more labor intensive than buying high street fashion but it does make it a real hobby and rather more a lifestyle than an ordinary style of dressing. This experience I would like t share with you on this blog!

 I will start this blog of with an outfit post: A look for early spring (only a few more weeks)! It is styled in a late 1930’s fashion. An outfit at that period would of course have comprised of more than just a dress and shoes. While hats, gloves and dainty purses are more like an option nowadays they used to be a must!

(photo: Aline Bouma)

Here is what the outfit consist of:

 1: Celadon green dress of rayon embroidered with yellow in a torn threadwork Art Deco motif, ca. late 1930’s, bought at a textile market.

Details of the fabulous embroidery of the dress, so delicate and yet it has Art Deco angles. You would rather expect it in white on linnen.

The dress has a buckle at the back, not uncommon in the 1930’s

2:1930’s suede gloves with caps, lined with white goatskin, bought at a textile market

3: Leather 1920’s/1930’s clutch with silver clasp, also bought at a textile market

4:Late 1930’s or early 1940’s hat form ‘Kühne’ an exclusive Dutch store in The Hague, again bought at a textile market. Nice and a bit of a crazy shape, just as hats should be.

5: Brown rayon seamed stockings.

Detail of the heel of one of the stockings.

 6: 1940’s open heel shoes, vintage shop in Amsterdam.

7: Cardigan with shoulder pads, the only non-vintage item but so period appropriate!, H&M

Hope to see you again soon!