Book: The Fashion Chronicles

A couple of weeks ago I decided to treat myself to Amber Butchart’s new book, The Fashion Chronicles. I really enjoyed her series recreating outfits from paintings and I would like to know more about the history of fashion (which will help with my Hundred Years Wardrobe project).

This is the perfect book for dipping in and out of, reading one or two sections at a time. The book takes you through ‘the style stories of history’s best dressed’, starting with Eve and going right through history to Beyonce.

I can remember doing a project on Egypt and specifically Tutankhamun at primary school, so it’s cool that he’s in the book.

And one of the outfits they recreated on the series – this was was particularly amazing I think.

And here’s another outfit from the series, with ALL THE BUTTONS.

I guess no book on the history of style and fashion would be complete without mentioning Marie Antoinette….

….or Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.

I also remember a segment on one of the episodes of the Sewing Bee on Beau Brummell and how he essentially invented the style of jacket he’s wearing and the idea of the dandy. (This is to the best of my recollection from probably years ago so forgive me if I’m wrong, I haven’t read his chapter of this book yet)

I love, love, love William Morris’s designs.

I like how Butchart has included some people who are influential for a specific garment, like Jules Léotard.

I’ve always loved Oscar Wilde so I’m thrilled that he has made it into the book. Also I’ve just realised that so far most of the people I’ve picked out of the book are men – before I looked through the book I assumed it would be mostly women, but it is a good mixture.

I love that she has included women who transgressed gender norms, both on the stage as Vesta Tilley, above, did or in their every day lives like Radclyffe Hall. I might have to recreate a Radclyffe Hall-style outfit for my 1920s Hundred Years Wardrobe project.

And it would be great to recreate my namesake Amelia Earhart’s outfit for the 1930s. She looks so effortlessly cool – and was, obviously, a complete trailblazer.

I didn’t manage to make it to the V & A to go to the recent Frida Kahlo exhibition, but it’s undeniable that her clothes and the way she presented herself, both in her art and in person, are an integral part of her identity – and the reason people are drawn to her.

I have a deep love for Liberace’s flamboyant style – I had one of those pop out outfit books for some of Liberace’s iconic looks which you could dress him in – it was as amazing and weird as I think you must be imagining!

I still kind of want to recreate this outfit of Bowie’s.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who really fancies Prince, especially in the 80s. I’m sure I also wasn’t the only one who was gutted and shocked when he died 2 years ago.

Who doesn’t love Drag Race!? It’s interesting to look a RuPaul’s style evolution from the 80s to now.

I love that Butchart writes about men and women, through multiple centuries and from all around the world – I definitely think I’ll learn a lot about all different kinds of fashion and style once I’ve read the whole book.

Have you got this book? Are you tempted to get it if not?

The Hundred Years Wardrobe Project

Since I’ve been sewing for a while I’ve decided to try to challenge myself to expand my skills and to sew garments and with fabrics that are outside of my comfort zone. And so was born my idea for the Hundred Years Wardrobe Project.

I’m going to sew one thing from each decade of the 20th Century. There is no time limit for this as I want it to be a fun exercise and deadlines are often where stress lies for me.

I’m going to also try to do some posts about my research for each decade and share some of my inspiration. A while ago I did write some posts about fashion history but I ran out of steam with them – hopefully with a garment to relate the history to I will have more to say and more to share. Some of the makes will be inspired by fashion and some will be from films – either made at the time or set in the past.

I would love it if anyone else wants to join in with this project – I’m calling it a project rather than a challenge as there is no deadline and there will be no prizes, just the pride in having made something cool!

Spoiler alert: I already have my first make made and ready to blog soon!

Style Crush: Miss Fisher

I’ve just started watching Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries again – I think this is the third time (at least) that I’ve watched it. If you haven’t seen it, I urge you to watch it – it’s on Netflix in the UK and probably other countries too. If you like a cosy crime show like Poirot then you’ll love Miss Fisher. And her clothes are amazing! There’s a great article on Vanity Fair that says the costume designer tries to be as authentic as possible by using fabrics that would have been around in the 20s and pattern cutting that was actually used at the time, such as using panels instead of darts.

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As well as amazing clothes, Miss Fisher has an excellent line in hats.

This voile coat with, I think, embroidered panels is amazing! I kind of want to recreate it.

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This dress was made for dancing in – which is lucky because that’s what she does in it!

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Her nightwear is particularly elegant – I think I definitely need a silk robe in my life. My current dressing gown is the one I made as part of my Doc Brown costume – nowhere near as glamourous!

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I remember reading an article a while ago where the costumer designer, Marion Boyce, lobbied for a tennis episode as tennis was a huge sport an an influence on fashion in the 20s and she finally got her way in (I think) series 3. Word of warning, though, this episode features a rather nasty spider!

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I. Want. The. Parasol.

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Yellow and white is a great combo – you probably know by now how much I love yellow and maybe for the Summer I’ll find some white things too and sort of copy this look.

 

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This velvet coat is amazing!

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I also really like the character of Dr Mac who shows another side to 20s fashion – the acceptance of queer identity and gender bending dressing. I’ve seen some documentaries on tv (though I can’t remember exactly which ones) which mention that the 20s were much more a time of ‘anything goes’ than any other decade in the first half of the 20th century. She also has excellent hats.

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I’ll leave you with this picture of Jack in a wet bathing suit because of reasons.

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Have you watched Miss Fisher yet? Are you tempted to, if only for the beautiful costumes?

 

 

Fashion History: 1970s

The 1970s seems to be still in fashion at the moment – it feels like it’s been around for most of this year – so I thought I’d take a look at the decade’s fashion. As I started to research this and look for photos, I started to feel a little overwhelmed! There were soooo many different trends and styles! I’m just going to cover what I think are the main ones.

The main common thread (haha, see what I did there?) is tight tops and loose bottoms.

Also large collars and awesome turban-type hats!

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I love that these girls have embraces ALL THE STRIPES!! (I wish I could see it in colour, though I suspect they’re shades of brown and orange – it was the 70s!)

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I love the high-waisted flares – they made the crop tops more flattering. These ladies all look amazing. And I’m digging the Charlie’s Angels pose!

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And speaking of Charlie’s Angels…….here are Farah Fawcett, Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith showing the best of the Disco fashions that were also popular in the 70s. Think studio 54, sequins, silk and platforms! Jumpsuits were also huge in this decade. And a sequined jumpsuit? Even better!

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More jumpsuits! I love the cut outs and the colour blocking – they’re both chic. I think with slightly narrower legs/ trousers, these could work today and not look dated/ costumey.

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I didn’t feel I could talk about disco without mentioning John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. The platforms, white suit and black shirt with giant collar are soooo iconic!

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I’m not really sure if ABBA count as disco – anyone know? I wanted to include this picture, though, to show the men’s outfits – make jumpsuits and dungarees were a thing. I like the skin-tight dungarees particularly!

1970s-disco-abbaI think my favourite part of 70s fashion is the glamourous end of things. For some reason I always have this idea that the weather was always hot in the 70s so people didn’t have to worry about freezing to death and could wear unbelievably glamourous outfits! Like this one worn by Angelica Houston. I love the bob too!

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I know this isn’t a period photo, but the clothes in American Hustle are to die for! The women’s cloths anyway – not sure about a beige suit tbh.

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Ah Jerry Hall. She still looks pretty amazing now and I love the Grecian style dress she’s wearing here – it seems so effortless and so glamourous.

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I also kind of love this crazy Paco Rabanne dress. I recently saw that Mood in New York has started stocking super long fringe so I reckon this would be easy to recreate if you were so inclined.

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This is a polaroid of Liza Minelli taken by Andy Warhol. They were both regulars of Studio 54 so I assume that’s where they met? I like the hood – this also feels quite 70s.

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In a total antithesis to the glamourous photos above, I give you punk. The whole point was to be anti-establishment and anti-materialistic. Like the short-lived Glam Rock fashion (and others) the punk style grew out of the music.

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Can’t really talk about punk without mentioning Vivienne Westwood. She made clothes for Malcolm McLaren’s shop on the King’s Road, SEX. He managed The Sex Pistols so they were able to bring together the fashions and the music. Swastikas were apparently a popular motif used on punk clothing. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

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Another famous blonde of the 70s – Debbie Harry. She seems to have been a bit more mainstream punk – if such a thing exists?

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One of the most enduring fashions of the 70s – and possible the one most people would think of first – is the Hippie style. It’s what modern ‘boho’ style is referencing – ethnic-type fabrics, headbands, peasant blouses and mixing prints.

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I couldn’t find too many photos from the actual 70s of the hippie fashions which I found a bit odd considering it must have been a fairly widespread trend. Maybe they didn’t have cameras?

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Now here – just for the lols – is a hilarious photo of Robert Redford. He might be my favourite actor of the 70s and I enjoyed searching for these photos of him to give an idea of men’s fashion in the 70s.

He looks so pissed off with the outfit, it’s amazing! It’s from The Electric Horseman so it might be that his character is pissed off at this moment.

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Moustaches, flares, aviators and long hair. Nuff said.

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Light denim is definitely a fabric I associate with the 70s.

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In a change to my previous Fashion History posts, I thought I would include some patterns that could allow you to recreate some of the 70s most iconic garments.

Dungarees seem definitely to have been huge in the 70s. It feels like the 70s references the 40s sometimes and it seems to be the case with dungarees and overalls/ jumpsuits.

Marilla Walker – Roberts Collection

pattern-roberts-collection-dungareesPauline Alice – Turia Dungarees

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Alongside dungarees is the pinafore dress:

Marilla Walker – Roberts Collection

pattern-roberts-collection-pinafore-dressTilly and the Buttons has been teasing her next pattern, Cleo, which looks to be a pinafore dress pattern!

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And, of course, no pattern run-down would be complete without some jumpsuits:

By Hand London – Holly Jumpsuit

pattern-holly-jumpsuitCloset Case Files – Sallie Jumpsuit

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If you want a 70s shaped dress, I have found 2 great options:

By Hand London – Alix Dress

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Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity – Simplicity 1801

pattern-simplicity-cynthia-rowley-1801And if you’re feeling brave, you could try making your own flares!

Baste and Gather – Birkin Flares

pattern-birkin-flaresCloset Case Files – Ginger Jeans Flares (you’ll  have to buy the original skinny jeans pattern too)

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Do you have any other suggestions for 70s style patterns? Or indeed any great vintage patterns actually from the 70s?

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Designer Inspiration: Mary Quant

My latest designer inspiration is Mary Quant – I thought I’d continue the 60s theme from my last fashion history post as I love it so! I also love her famous Vidal Sassoon haircut. Should I copy it do you think?

Mary Quant Hairstyle - Vidal Sassoon

Born in London in 1934, Mary Quant opened her first boutique (they always seems to be called boutiques and not shops!), Bazaar, in 1955 on the King’s Road in Chelsea. It was from the very beginning that the mini skirt idea started to take off – this is something new to me, I always thought this was definitively a 60s phenomenon! The jury is out about who actually invented the mini skirt (which includes very short dresses) – it could have been Quant, it could have been Andres Courreges, or John Bates. She herself said “It was the girls on the King’s Road who invented the mini. I was making easy, youthful, simple clothes, in which you could move, in which you could run and jump and we would make them the length the customer wanted. I wore them very short and the customers would say, ‘Shorter, shorter.'”1 What is true is that Mary Quant named it, after her favourite car – The Mini (obvs).

 

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Quant is also credited (by some) with inventing the coloured and patterned tights that were so often worn with the new shorter skirts and dresses. It could have been Balenciaga who showed harlequin tights in 1962. It basically seems like several people were having similar ideas in fashion at the same time – but Mary Quant seems to have been the one associated with inventing/ popularising the most innovations.

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Another of these innovations was hot pants. Here is Quant and Grace Coddington (of Creative Director of US Vogue and giant red hair fame – she used to be a model, and she features quite a bit in The September Issue, which I would recommend) modelling hot pants underneath dresses – I assume this was a thing?!

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“Ernestine Carter, an authoritative and influential fashion journalist of the 1950s/60s, wrote: “It is given to a fortunate few to be born at the right time, in the right place, with the right talents. In recent fashion there are three: Chanel, Dior, and Mary Quant.””2

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After opening a second Bazaar store in 1957, Quant started to design more and more of the items she was selling, instead of merely ordering them in. “For a while in the late 1950s and very early 1960s, Quant was one of only two London-based high-end designers consistently offering youthful clothes for young people. The other was Kiki Byrne, who opened her boutique on the King’s Road in direct competition with Quant.”3

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From the 70s onwards, she moved away from designing clothes and concentrated on homeware and cosmetics – which she says are a part of fashion. According to her Wikipedia article, she claims to have invented the duvet – though a quick google tells me that Terence Conran was the first person to sell the modern duvet, or continental quilt, in Britain, having got the idea from Sweden.

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She was particularly known for monochrome colour-blocking.

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She also seemed to have embraced bright colours, like these dresses, in orange, mustard and red. I particularly like the mustard one, and I like the contrast collar, cuffs, hem and pocket on this one.

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Like so many designers from the 50s, 60s and 70s, Mary  Quant produced sewing patterns – I think it’s so cool how they all accepted people wanted to copy their styles so made patterns. I guess it probably wasn’t the same people who would buy the clothes and would make the clothes.

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I like the pose in the photos of this one!

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Not sure about this one to be honest!

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I like this one with the high collar and the pleated skirt. Not sure how flattering it would be on me – the drawing looks better than the photo.

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In 1966 she was made an OBE and in 2015 she was made a Dame. Not bad for someone who never studied fashion! Although she moved away from fashion design, for me – and I’m sure for many other people – the thing I will most associate her with is her mod designs of the 60s. I’m definitely going to look out for any of her patterns so I can recreate some of her looks!

 

 

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