Hello dears! Well, lookee there! We seem to have a new series! If you have been following us for a while, and learned of our plan to cultivate entirely 1930s-40s vintage inspired wardrobes for ourselves, you may have wondered how in the world the girls and I are going to pull off such a plan. In Everyday Vintage the girls and I plan to share with you all some practical, and economical, tips of how we are attaining such wardrobes, as well as how you can do it yourselves.
In the beginning of this venture, and the girls and I started our research of 1930s-40s fashions, we often times came up with some rather discouraging results. Our searches would lead us to gorgeous dresses, furs, glamorous movie stars modeling the then latest fashions, and all of it was so done up, and very flashy. This puzzled us for a little while, making us wonder if doing something like this wasn’t such a good idea after all. But the more we stewed over it, the more we realized that we hadn’t looked hard enough!
Thankfully, Brigi had invested in some wonderful Copies of Sears and Roebucks catalogues depicting the late 30s-40s, which we found to be very helpful as well. But again, we knew something was missing. Sure, these catalogues showed us exactly what the fashions were of the day, but what it didn’t show us, was what people were actually wearing during that time period. Now don’t get all excited on me and think that we think they dressed completely different than what we see in the catalogue. No! That is not what I am eluding to here. What I mean by “actually wearing” is just this: there were millions of women who sewed back in the day that didn’t always buy clothes from the catalogues, nor did they always use the patterns available, but made up their own. Thus not all the clothes worn back in the day were out of the fashion forward catalogues or mass produced patterns, but were also originated from the brilliant minds of homemakers who took the time to be inspired by what they saw, and made their own (and their family’s) functional wardrobe, according to their own tastes and lifestyle demands.
Top: Handed down from Mom / Sweater: GoodWill / Skirt: Thrifted / Shoes & Stockings: Target / Earrings: Charming Charlies
But how did we come to find this out? Through stories our Grandma Charlotte passed down to us about our Great Grandmother Cleo (who has passed on to be with the Lord) who used to sit in her kitchen pouring over catalogues, getting inspiration to put in her own hand drafted newspaper patterns to be made up into clothes for her family; Through the stories we have heard from the dear old women who live at the retirement home we sing at every month; Through accounts we have read about on the internet; Through old photographs, books, journals, and actual vintage garments (you can see it in the handwork). It’s everywhere! You just have to look a little deeper underneath all the catalogues, magazines, advertisements and the like.
After finding out this liberating information, the girls and I decided that since the women had to make good use of the dollar during the war times, we could do the very same. Our wardrobes do not have to be flamboyant, or purely vintage. But we have found that if you follow certain guidelines for hem lengths, fashion lines (silhouette of the period), and accessories, you can create a functional vintage looking wardrobe that is suited to your own needs, without paying an exorbitant amount of moolah.
So let me use this outfit, which I do wear for everyday dress, as an example. This would be considered a late 40s ensemble. Both my blouse and sweater are 100% cotton, which means I will be kept comfortable all day long on a mildly chilly day. The blouse is tucked into my skirt, and the cable knit of the sweater hits at crop length while the ribbing of the sweater fits snugly around my waist. The looser cable knit provides my upper half with more room, providing that angular broad shouldered look, typical of the 40s. One thing to note: you want to have a sweater that has some sort of snug fit around your waist, especially when you pair it up with a gathered A-line skirt like this one. It gives the ensemble a less bulky appearance, and is quintessentially 40s. Now as for the skirt. The sides are outfitted with handy pockets, while the skirt itself is gathered to the the waist band, creating a wider hip effect. This is also typical of the late 40s.
One thing that I want to mention here is that because I am petite (5’2″), most of the wool skirts I thrift have a hem that reaches my lower calves. This is typical of modern A-line wool skirts. They are just long and awkward. So to fix this problem, I have had to hem up a lot of the skirts I purchase. This skirt being is one of them. So depending on your stature, you may have to do some alterations, to get a true 40s look. However, if you already have long skirts that hit your calves, and you’re tall enough for them to not dwarf you, you could create a 30s ensemble instead.
If there is one tip I have found to be most helpful it is this: work with what you have now, and add on when you can, being patient for the change to come over the course of time.
Do you like the sound of this new series?
If you could ask us anything about cultivating a vintage inspired wardrobe, what would that be?
Blessings to you all in Christ!
Jessica, the Eldest Sister & Singer