Monthly Archives: September 2013

Optim-eyes Your Vintage Look

Audrey_Hepburn_esmorza_al_Tiffany's.bmp wikimedia

Long before the word ‘fashion’ even existed – in fact in prehistoric and historic times – the Inuit people wore flattened walrus ivory ‘glasses’(although there was no glass) with narrow slits cut across the middle to block the harmful reflected rays of the sun. In 12th century China, smoke tinting was the first means of darkening eyeglasses and Chinese judges routinely wore smoke-coloured quartz lenses to conceal their eyes while questioning witnesses. This way they were able to hide their evaluation of the evidence until the trial’s conclusion.

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Fast forward to 1929 when Sam Foster, founder of Foster Grant, sold the first pair of Foster Grant sunglasses on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey. By 1930 inexpensive, mass-produced sunglasses were all the rage in America, particularly among movie stars and celebrities. Twenty million sunglasses were subsequently sold across the States in 1937 but it was estimated only a quarter of wearers actually needed them for eye protection.

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However the styles didn’t change much from the early twentieth century until the late 1940s. While fashion was at the height of its evolution, sunglasses remained for the most part utilitarian; round, small, metal rimmed and simple.

Designed and introduced for the military in 1936, Bausch & Lomb’s Aviator sunglasses gained popularity with young people in the late 1960s and continues to enjoy worldwide acceptance to this day. Purely at a fashion level, these sunglasses are often made in mirrored, coloured and wrap-around styles.

James Dean and Roy Orbison popularised the Ray-Ban Wayfarer which adopted a more lightweight, plastic-framed design with the trapezoidal lenses wider at the top than the bottom.

The 1950s and ‘60s saw the emergence of the cats-eye style followed by the larger round frame, as famously worn by Jackie Onassis. Audrey Hepburn also popularised the oversized look and John Lennon symbolised the smaller, thin framed, round shaped glasses sometimes incorporating a blue lens.

 

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Early 1930s and 1940s shape

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The style for the early twentieth century. The small, round and fine framed sunglasses finish off this authentic 1920s look.

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‘In the Know’ coordinate beautifully with this fun 30s/40s inspired ensemble

Photog Kalus Franke 1969W ikimedia commons

Aviator style

Berlin, Freibad Pankow, Bademeister

Berlin, Freibad Pankow, Bademeister

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Cateye variant

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Classic Cateye 1950s 1960s

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John Waters Cannes

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Circa 1960s

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Breakfast at Tiffany’s Audrey Hepburn

1950s-1960s-black-vintage-retro-sunglasses-cat1028-bk-1_large Catch a Thief 60s

1950s & 60s oversized black frames

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Oversized frame square shaped

All these vintage styles retain their popularity to this day and more than ever, sunglasses hold their own on the fashion stage.

So most of us know what vintage era we absolutely love, but there’s another consideration – the shape of our face. Do you know what frames best suit your face?


Here are our handy tips for various face shapes:

  • Oval shape – works with most frame shapes but better to err on the smaller sized frames, ones that are ideally no wider than the broadest part of your face, particularly if you have small facial features.
  • Round shape – are best complemented by rectangular shaped frames to contrast with the soft curves of your face. We recommend avoiding frames that are too circular or oval in shape.
  • Square shape – can take the cats-eye style well. Round or oval frames also work well, softening the angular facial shape.
  • Heart shape – can take many styles but it’s best to steer clear of frames that are top heavy or heavily decorated across the top. Cats-eye frames can work well on heart shaped faces, and rimless styles could also be considered.

 

For a multitude of styles to try, get along to The Sydney Vintage & Retro Fair, Friday to Sunday, September 27 – 29 at Sydney’s Australian Technology park in Eveleigh and check out Catch a Thief’s range of replica vintage sunglasses.

Image credits: Catch a Thief-Tessa Rickard, Audrey Hepburn-Wikimedia Commons movie publicity shots, Wikimedia-Klaus Franke 1969 for Ray Bans, Wikimedia-Bundesarchiv Bild, Wikimedia-John Waters publicity pic.

 

 

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A Vintage Shoot

Vintage is never out of fashion and this is so true with photography. The style and glamour of bygone eras are just as desirable today as they were 50 and 60 years ago. There’s something appealing about the idea of transforming the girl next door into a celluloid siren and there’s arguably nothing more alluring than a woman in a swimsuit.

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Who can forget the iconic number one pin-up of World War II by photographer Frank Powolny of actress Betty Grable smiling coyly over her shoulder in swimsuit and pumps? Betty’s studio, Twentieth Century Fox, provided five million copies of this picture to distribute to troops and famously insured her legs at one million dollars each – a lot of money in 1940!

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The classic inspiring pin-up, boudoir and glamour photos that we want to replicate and emulate are definitely not images you can snap on your mobile device. To achieve polished and sophisticated results you need time, creativity and professional skill and equipment. So how does a vintage photo shoot happen?

Sydney vintage swimwear designer Kylie van Wanrooy teamed up with photographer Lily Zdilar and model Fiona Hamilton, aka Foxtrot India, for a day of fun in the sun to shoot the latest Beyond the Sea swimwear lookbook. Kylie was originally influenced by the images on Heinz Villiger Darling Cards when she began designing her vintage inspired range of fun and flattering swimwear for the curvy girl (sizes 12-20). She wanted to try something new to show off her graphic and colourful 2013-2014 collection. Lily suggested she could add more of a story and personality to the images by shooting both on location and in the studio, then after a few test shots a location was agreed upon, weather and tide charts consulted and the shoot date set.

ASPADES 6CLUBS 4HEARTS 4CLUBS
Heinz Villiger Darling Cards

 

Shooting on location is like writing a story in your imagination. Kylie and Lily visualised how the swimsuits on hangers would look on a model on the beach rather than on a mannequin on a white background. They agreed on a theme that would reflect ‘real’ women with curves looking happy, comfortable and beautiful in classic and timeless Beyond the Sea swimwear palette of stripes, spots, floral prints and lace.

Stripe Halter and Boyleg Pant

Spot Red underwire bikini top & Spot Red belt pant

 

Piping

What is both inspiring and challenging about shooting on location is that the story on the day can change and head off in new and unexpected directions. The day started with everyone loaded up with props, equipment, a dodgy clothes rack that kept getting stuck in footpath cracks and a huge inflatable tube that needed to be blown up. The morning chill was far from encouraging but Fiona soldiered on, armed with her red lipstick, sunny smile and a few goose bumps. Kylie improvised a change room and minutes later Fiona was striking a pose that transformed her into a 1950s beach bunny. A quick change, touch up and new hat, sandals or hair accessory became the chapter breaks in the photo story. Sand, splinters and rocky terrain were no obstacles for the vintage aficionado team. When the sun came out blazing so did the reflectors, scrims and sunscreen. Fiona never complained, not even when she had to tip toe through mud or paddle out to the pontoon on an inflatable tube that had no sense of direction! Getting back to shore was a lengthy and amusing grand finale to the day’s shoot.

FionaFun

Kylie

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Beyond the Sea Swimwear is offering one lucky reader a personal vintage photo shoot! All the details are on their facebook page. This amazing prize includes a one hour shoot and five high res images. For the swimwear, visit Beyond the Sea.

For photography enquiries visit Lily’s website.

Image credit: Betty Grable image is public domain and sourced from Wikimedia Commons

 



Memorable Holidays by Rail

Share your favourite train holiday memory (or great grandma, mum, dad, nan or pop’s) and you could win two tickets to The Vintage & Retro Fair!

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The Australian Technology Park, venue for The Vintage & Retro Fair this month, is the site once occupied by the Eveleigh Railway yards. These heritage listed buildings were constructed back in the 1880s and are some of the best examples of railway workshops showing off their rich history while elegantly combining its contemporary purpose as a creative hub for the community to experience trends in artistry, events, education and performances.

Entering this venue is likely to bring back holiday memories and stories from a bygone era – when a rail trip was a significant feature of the family’s annual holiday – for better or for worse!
With affordable flights and comfortable, modern air-conditioned cars and coaches making up today’s preferred mode of holiday transport, it would be wonderful to hear your stories from decades past that include a memorable train journey.

Platform_2,_Weston-super-Mare_railway_station Chris McKenna Pacific_parlour_car photo donielle wikimedia commons

 

There are three double passes to The Vintage & Retro Fair at Australian Technology Park, September 27 – 29, for the most entertaining train travel stories!
In 100 words or less, share your train story in the comments field below.

 

Competition closes midday Wednesday, September 25 and the winner will be contacted by email that afternoon. Good luck!

Nora Finds Style

Nora Finds is a Sydney-based vintage stylist and blogger. Her favourite fashion eras are the 40’s and 50’s. She has been snapped by Harper’s Bazaar Australia, Vogue Germany, and her styling has featured in Photo Vogue and Fashionising to mention a few. Nora will be styling for the Vintage & Retro Fair catwalk parade in Sydney on September 27 – 29.

 

Nora Finds 1We have shared this space with Nora and some of her fab frocks!

“Hello! My name is Nora and I’m a vintage stylist. My love of all things vintage is a combination of my passion for history and my love of dressing-up. My favourite era has to be the 1940s and ‘50’s but there’s nothing like channelling a bit of Anna May Wong in ‘20’s ensembles every now and then. As stylist for the upcoming Vintage & Retro Fair fashion parades, I am excited about being able to show you some of my favourite vintage pieces here as we gear up for the Fair and the warmer weather.

When I’m putting together a vintage outfit I generally apply five rules:

  1. First start with a statement piece: a beautiful vintage dress or a printed circle skirt;
  2. Play with colors: vintage outfits are all about layering so have fun and include colors (2 or 3 different ones);
  3. Accessories are a must. When wearing vintage, consider a fascinator or a hat, plus a beaded bag;
  4. Finish with a red lipstick. Red lips are the epitome of vintage makeup and a great way to brighten up your face;
  5. And finally, as Mademoiselle Chanel said “before leaving the house, a lady should look in the mirror and remove one accessory”.
Nora Finds 2 Nora Finds 3 Nora Finds 4
Tartan has to be one of the most popular patterns in history. I have a few tartan pieces in my vintage wardrobe and just love this wool dress for winter. I paired it with my black velvet bolero when it gets extra chilly. Don’t be afraid to wear your vintage with modern pieces – wearing vintage is about having fun. For example, I wear my 1950s bed jacket as a top and pair it with high waisted denim. Break the rules and have fun. Vintage day dresses are my favorite pieces. This 1940s salmon dress is made of lightweight cotton, perfect for my day-to-day. The color is complimented by the sweet round collars and faux hip pockets.

I am really excited about the Fair – roaming from one stall to another, admiring all the visitors in their best vintage attire and having all that vintage glory in one place. Have you heard about the Best Dressed competition? It will be held on Friday night so I hope you’ve got your outfit sorted.

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What’s particularly special about the Vintage & Retro Fair is the fact that it showcases apparel as well as furniture and homewares and there’s even some workshops and stunning displays. Of course this just means there really is something for everyone!

Nora Finds 10

As a stylist I mostly focus on vintage clothing and how to wear it. My favourite vintage pieces would have to be cotton dresses and novelty skirts. I believe in building your vintage wardrobe by starting with the basics. While I really love beautiful vintage prom dresses, I know it is more important to buy every day pieces and vintage separates to mix and match. Sometimes this means buying reproduction pieces to cover all your basics. I hope the following series of pictures paints a thousand words for you! I truly look forward to seeing you at the Fair!”

Nora 5 Nora 6 Nora 8
Vintage cardigans are perfect for layering in between seasons. Invest in a versatile piece – something in basic colors with little details – to match various pieces in your wardrobe. That way, you will get a lot of wear out of them. Vintage dresses come in many different hemlines and fullness. The cinched waist look was very popular in the 50s, but there are tricks to create the hourglass figure. Wear belts and petticoats to create the Dior New Look, but you can also invest in cinchers or corsets. Vintage separates are not as popular as dresses, but I think they are underrated. Vintage skirts are extremely beautiful and perfect with simple tops, while a vintage sweater top is perfect for that Bettie Page outfit. You can often find separates for bargain prices, too!

Nora will be styling the fashion parades at The Vintage & Retro Fair, Australian Technology Park, Eveleigh on Saturday and Sunday, September 28 – 29 PLUS don’t miss the Best Dressed competition on Friday evening, September 27.

See more of Nora’s vintage observations at NORAFINDS

 

Shopping & Mr Selfridge

“If you lived at Downton Abbey, you shopped at Selfridges.”

The Cast of Mr Selfridge

The Cast of Mr Selfridge

Having visited the London store of Selfridges & Co several times, I was looking forward to seeing the recent UK production of Mr Selfridge on Channel 7…. and it didn’t disappoint!

 

Jeremy Piven as Harry Selfridge

Jeremy Piven as Harry Selfridge

The 10 part series centres on the real-life story of the flamboyant and visionary American founder of London’s famous department store, Harry Gordon Selfridge. The beautiful and faithfully reproduced costuming takes centre stage, and I became totally immersed in the fascinating tales of love and life based around the various staff and others associated with the Selfridges phenomenon.

In 1909, with a massive burst of publicity Harry opened Selfridge’s, England’s first truly modern purpose-built department store. Designed to promote shopping as a sensual and pleasurable experience, six acres of floor space offered what he called “everything that enters into the affairs of daily life”, as well as thrilling new luxuries – from ice-cream sodas to signature perfumes. This magical emporium also featured Otis elevators, a bank, a rooftop garden with an ice-skating rink, and a restaurant complete with orchestra – all catering to customers from Anna Pavlova to Noel Coward.

What I didn’t realise before I began watching the TV series is what a huge impact Harry Selfridge and his store had made on a favourite pastime of many … shopping!

I learned that many things we consider ‘normal’ in retail today were introduced by Mr Selfridge. He tried to make shopping a fun adventure instead of a chore and made it acceptable practice to purchase items in a store atmosphere, as opposed to scheduling meetings with personal tailors and dressmakers in private.

Here are a few interesting innovations he put into practice that are woven through the series:

  • He put merchandise on display so customers could examine it – previously stringent rules and regulations about shopping had it hidden away under counters and in cases.
  • He put the highly profitable perfume counter front-and-centre on the ground floor – this gave customers a wonderful relief from the no doubt highly pungent smells of the London streets in the early1900s.
  • He invented what we now think of as window dressing (and the Selfridges windows remain amazing, year in year out), which enticed even more shoppers inside.

    Windows of Selfridges in the series Mr Selfridge

    Windows of Selfridges in the series Mr Selfridge

  • He introduced marketing techniques that are used to this day – special events and celebrity appearances just to get more foot traffic and he introduced sales line such as ‘There are only ‘x’ more shopping days ’till Christmas’.
  • He grouped all women’s needs in one area of the store – clothing, accessories, lingerie, makeup and perfumes. Previously they were separated across several areas of a store.
  • He got shoppers into a store without any specific purpose – just to ‘window-shop'; and kept others there longer than needed to buy the item they came in for by having a store restaurant (The Palm Room), a reading room, relaxing room, rooftop garden and more.
  • He attracted shoppers with educational and scientific exhibits (and was himself interested in education and science), and he believed that the displays would introduce potential new customers to Selfridges, generating both immediate and long-term sales.
  • Harry Selfridge was obsessive about customer service and is generally acknowledged as the first to have coined the phrase “The customer is always right!”. He used this extensively in his advertising.

Mr Selfrige by Lindy WoodheadIf you haven’t had a chance to watch this series, it will no doubt be widely available on DVD soon and I would highly recommend it – watch out for the second series coming in 2014, only on Channel 7. I would also recommend the fabulous biography ‘Shopping, Seduction & Mr. Selfridge’ by Lindy Woodhead – it is a great read!

Images courtesy of Channel 7

Sources:
Wikipedia
‘Shopping Seduction & Mr Selfridge’ by Lindy Woodhead
Masterpiece Theatre, UK

 

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A bit of nip ‘n’ tuck

Fashion designers are often quoted saying “don’t be afraid to show off your shape” but where we often come unstuck is not actually knowing what works on our own shape.

Words by Chrissy KeepenceNip n Tuck

 

Chrissy from The Lindy Charm School for Girls tells us how we can go from just wearing an outfit to carrying that perfectly fitted outfit.

First let’s review our options when choosing our outfit:

 

Lovita Petal

  1. Handmade to fit – Couture
    This is awesome if you can afford it but doing your whole wardrobe this way is very expensive.
  2. Vintage style
    Outfits in this genre are not always readily available in your shape/size/style so a lot of time can be invested in hunting for the right fit that is also affordable. There’s also the issue of the condition of the stock on hand. However in my opinion, this is still the best – you just have to work a bit harder for it.
  3. Off the Rack
    If you find a clothing label you like you can fashion some nice retro/vintage inspired outfits around it. But you might experience a poor fit from some items – watch that they don’t hang on you. Remember, you need to carry them.

So this is how I approach it. When I am looking for new off-the-rack outfits, the price tag is not the price in my head. I always add $20 to $30 for my seamstress because 80% of the time I will be taking that outfit straight to her! She will nip and tuck in a few key places and voilà! It now fits my shape so I can carry it rather than just wear it!  Exactly where the nipping and tucking takes place is going to vary from one body shape to the next, but the areas I generally address are:

  • For pants – at the small of the back where I sway.  Most jeans, and trousers I find off the rack today have this gaping problem at the small of the back region. I just don’t understand it as I hear many women complaining about this same ill-fitting area;
  • For pencil skirts – the side hip/upper thigh area plus darts in the front hip section;
  • For frocks – the shoulders, small of back and sometimes even a dart under the breasts.

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Tambo Shoot

Of course you can have it all nipped and tucked in all the right areas but if your foundation garments are missing or not working, then you can still be setting yourself up for an epic fail. Today’s fabrics (especially off-the-rack) are very unforgiving, so there are two types of foundation garments that we at The Lindy Charm School like to encourage ladies to get acquainted with:

  1. Well made and functional power meshed cinches, step-ins or girdles – either original vintage pieces as found at Fossil Vintage or some of the leading brands such as Rago.
  2. Smoothing wear – generally commercially marketed as ‘shape wear’ but due to the fabrics they use, rather than shaping you they smooth the bumps and ripples. This is, of course, equally important especially with modern fabrics.

I also encourage you to wear a really nice slip under frocks so the material doesn’t ride up when you walk. Original nylons or silks are great but steer clear of today’s cheap slips! They’re usually made from a cheap synthetic fabric with lots of static causing them to ride up.

As with everything beauty related, it starts from the inside and you work outwards from there. The same goes for undergarments to outer garments.

April Tambo
So build on the foundations and enjoy the journey.

Chrissy and The Lindy Charm School team will be demonstrating this and other tips at Sydney’s Vintage & Retro Fair.  They will also be offering vintage styling makeovers in vintage vixen, Pin-Up gal or classic Hollywood looks.

The Vintage & Retro Fair, Australian Technology Park, Eveleigh, September 27 – 29.

 

Image credits:  Brooke Orchard Photography, Waist Cinch pic by Kate D Photography
Hair, Makeup and Styling by The Lindy Charm School For Girls


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