Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

___________________________

Unless otherwise indicated, all photographs and artworks on this website are copyright
of So Not A Princess and must not be reproduced without permission.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

___________________________

Powered by Squarespace

Entries in 1920s (101)

Thursday
Aug182016

Surface Decoration

CELEBRATING THE ROARING TWENTIES IN A SPECIAL SERIES

Many years ago, I remember seeing a vintage 1920s embroidered silk piano shawl belonging to a fashion editor I once worked with. It was a celestial shade of Wedgwood blue, with cream coloured embroidery, and I fell in love with it. It had belonged to her mother, and quite naturally, she wasn’t parting with it.

I determined to find my own, except there was one problem in fulfilling this mission: these enormous shawls are rarely to be seen in Australia. About five years ago I looked at some in an antique textile shop in Barcelona; I remember a gorgeous black and white one priced at several hundred euros – beyond my price range. Later, I expanded my search to Etsy.

… in the 1920s piano shawls were adopted for decoration of the top surface of the fashionable flapper.

Piano shawls or scarves literally are embroidered pieces of fabric that were used to decorate and protect the top surface of a grand piano. They were quite popular during the Victorian era when pianos in the parlour were fashionable, and in the 1920s piano shawls were adopted for decoration of the top surface of the fashionable flapper. They were worn in the evening simply as shawls, or were tailored to create jackets or kimono-style coats. The hand-tied fringing they are commonly edged with form a distinctive and seductive decoration, swaying with every movement of the wearer.

A few years ago I watched an original 1920s film – I can’t remember the title, but it was about two sisters with a strong sibling rivalry when it came to men – in which a young flapper dons a piano shawl for an evening wrap in disgruntlement after her elder sister steals her brand spanking new lamé coat. The younger sister threw the shawl around her like a cloak, so that the fringing trailed behind her, brushing the floor. The coat was beautiful, but I didn’t consider the shawl a poor substitute as did its wearer!

I eventually found a shawl that I liked on Etsy – not in the coveted Wedgwood blue, but in lustrous navy and white (it won narrowly over a similar shawl of black and white that was a little smaller); I particularly love the birds fluttering amongst the embroidered floral vines. While they come in many different colour combinations, I preferred the minimal simplicity of just two. Here I am wearing mine folded diagonally in half, as the fringing trails dangerously on the floor like a train if it is not folded. I have worn it out as an evening wrap too, to the theatre, and the crépe de chine is not only very warm, but I feel incredibly glamorous embraced within its folds.

I was lucky to find a beautiful piano shawl in such perfect condition at the extreme lower end of the price scale. There are many readily available on Etsy and other online stores, with prices ranging from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. If you do wish to buy one, do be patient and shop around as there are bargains to be found, and also be careful to check the condition as much as you are able, as these are antique textiles and you can expect to find shattering, tears, holes and stains in fabrics that have been heavily used or stored incorrectly. A reputable seller will be upfront about such issues.

Photos: March 2014

Model wearing a shawl of crëpe de chine hand-painted by Russian artists, 1924; ph. Edward Steichen. ‘Edward Steichen In High Fashion the Condé Nast Years 1923–1937’ by William A. Ewing and Todd Brandow, FEP Editions LLC, 2008

Tuesday
Aug162016

What I Actually Wore #118

Serial #: 0118
Date: 26/05/2013
Weather: 21°C / 69.8°F
Time Allowed: 10 minutes

It is a mild day, and I quickly choose an outfit for work, starting with one of my go-to skirts for this kind of weather. It is a navy linen skirt that I had bought from an online sale website a couple of summers ago. It features an asymmetrical cut, a style I have always favoured.

I pair it with a purple and red striped Sonia Rykiel knit which, with its skinny tie at the neck, has a 20s flavour. I have always been partial to purple and red worn together; it can be a startling and vibrant combination but really works. I match the top to a red wool felt hat, a modern hybrid of cloche and fedora.

As the morning is not warm, I wear ribbed over-the-knee socks with my patent and wood wedges, and add a 1960s black velvet coat with a fur collar. I spotted that coat in a country Salvos store when I was on a visit with my niece. I certainly didn’t need yet another coat, but I fell in instant love and bought it. I’ve worn it many times, and it is surprisingly warm for a cloth coat. Also from this era is the black patent bag I carry often. For a vinyl bag, it has lasted well. I wouldn’t ordinarily buy vinyl, but it is permissible for a fun vintage item!

One of my work colleagues compliments me, and tells me I look fabulous, very 1920s, which had not really been my intention (the 20s part, not the fabulous part!). I guess a reminiscence of certain eras is inevitable when one is attracted to the style and shapes of particular eras. I love Art Deco, which covers the 1920s–40s, as well as the 70s revival.

Very regrettably, this knit got eaten alive by evil and hungry moths (which happens to me a lot), so I ended up donating it to charity a year or two ago – I had darned the first couple of holes but then even more appeared and in a ruthless moment, I decided it was a lost cause. It must have been a particularly tasty merino wool. The skirt has also retired from active service, but with my new interest in navy, it’s very possible it will make a comeback in the summer.

I don’t normally talk about the watches I wear, but this favourite Kenneth Cole with its chain band was recently repaired, so I am most excited to be able to wear it again! The chain had lost a couple of links and had stretched out, thus becoming unwearable, until I finally got around to taking it to the jeweller to have it repaired (along with two others). I now have four to choose from, which is a bit mad. I’d love to add to the collection a vintage 30s or 40s man’s watch, one with a large round dial and a tan leather band.

Photos: September 2013

Items:

Top: Sonia Rykiel
Skirt:
Kokomarina
Coat:
vintage 1960s
Hat:
Milana (available at David Jones)
Socks:
ASOS
Earrings:
handmade
Ring:
silver – Roun (now defunct); onyx – souvenir
Watch:
Kenneth Cole
Bag: vintage 1960s
Shoes:
Aldo

Tuesday
Jul192016

The Exotic History of the Pae Jama

Celebrating the Roaring Twenties in a Special Series

Louche and loose, languid and long, classic wide-legged trousers and lounge pyjamas are closely associated with the relaxed style of the Roaring Twenties, but they did not suddenly just appear out of nowhere, or even – as one of the first women to popularise them for beachwear – out of Coco Chanel’s inventive and pragmatic mind.

Their origins lie in the mysterious and exotic lands in the near east of Europe: India, Iran, Pakistan and Bangladesh, where both men and women wore traditional loose trousers tied at the waist, usually with a belted tunic that extended to the knees. Pyjamas referred only to the trousers, and were tight fitting through the whole leg, or full and loose to the knee, and tighter at the calves and ankles. The word is Hindi, and comes from pae jama, meaning leg clothing. Similar iterations also appeared in the Middle and Far East.

Pyjamas were worn by Europeans sojourning in these countries, and were brought back home as exotic loungewear. By the 1920s, when Coco Chanel began cavorting on the beach in them, they had adopted the streamlined and loose cut of the Art Deco era, with straight legs and drop-waists.

Louche and loose, languid and long, classic wide-legged trousers and lounge pyjamas are closely associated with the relaxed style of the Roaring Twenties …

Louise Brooks, 1920sIna Claire, 1925; photograph by Edward Steichen (original link broken)Thalia Barbarova, 1925 (original link broken)Pyjamas were considered a fashionable alternative to the teagown – particularly when relaxing at home – and were made from luxurious and printed fabrics; Paul Poiret was an early proponent of these, launching as early as 1911 for both day and evening wear. On the beach their early appearances were quite scandalous and, adopted at first only by the adventurous. By the end of the Twenties, however, they were comme il faut for the average woman.

In fact pajamas were considered elegant beachwear throughout the 1930s, when they began to be cut wider so that they took on the appearance of a skirt. In the 1960s they made another big comeback as palazzo pajamas, and, an enduring style, they still continue to be worn today.

Fashion notes

In my late teens or early twenties, I had my own version of lounge pyjamas made. I purchased a pattern for actual pyjamas and two different fabrics: a paintbrushy floral pattern in autumnal hues of gold, browns and coral on a cream base for the top, and a beautiful goldenrod for the trousers. My sister made them for me, and I wore them everywhere for years (sadly I didn’t keep them), styling them with long pearls, flat Mary-Janes and a classic Louise Brooks bob (my style icon at the time).

In these pictures I am actually wearing modern day pale pink crepe ‘kite’ trousers and a cream silk sleeveless blouse; the pearl beads are vintage 80s.

Photos: March 2014

~

Read more about 1920s pyjama style at Swing Fashionista and Retro Rover (there are some inspiring images there too). There is also a great article at Fashion History: Love to Know that delves deeper into the historical antecedents of the familiar Westernised pyjama.

Beach pyjamas, 1930s UK; from Swing FashionistaBeach pajamas, 1930s UK; from Retro Rover

Saturday
Jun042016

What I Actually Wore #114

Serial #: 0114
Date: 05/04/2013
Weather: 25°C / 77°F
Time Allowed: 10 minutes

I chuckle every time I open up the folder of one of these archival fashion shoots and see some outlandish outfit like this one. It’s so OTT! But I should reiterate at the time I was on a real Ballet Russes kick that year. That ballet company was famous for its extravagant and wildly colourful costumes, many of which featured a multitude of patterns.

I remember buying that Anthropologie cardigan new on eBay (and we still don’t have a brick-and-mortar store here in Australia). I deliberated for a long time because it was quite expensive, but I did love it. I’ve teamed it with a classic black and white striped t-shirt from Zara (bought in Portugal while on holiday to replace a previous iteration that just became too worn), and a vintage 1920s navy straw hat that has a striped effect by way of the velvet piping. There are pearls scattered over the hat too, and two little velvet bows at the back. I bought it on Etsy from an American seller.

Black patent T-bar heels (by Scooter, a brand that no longer seems to exist) and bag (vintage 60s), grey over-the-knee socks, and sterling silver and enamel earrings complete my accessories. I made the earrings myself, from small sterling silver ridged beads, and larger beads that are enamelled in blue with silver stars. The design is a variation on my favourite simple style of a dangling single round bead – I call them bauble earrings.

The effect of the whole outfit is quite doll-like, and far too cute for me to wear anything remotely resembling that these days. The cardigan has since been donated to charity, the linen skirt as well I think (or it may only have made it as far as a bag of prospective donations, in storage) and the shoes also wore out and were trashed. The other items I still own – a 50% retention rate is not too bad, I suppose.

Items:

T-Shirt: Zara
Skirt:
Kokomarina
Cardigan:
Anthropologie
Hat:
vintage 20s
Earrings:
hand-made by me
Bag:
vintage 60s
Socks:
ASOS
Shoes:
Scooter

Photos: April 2013

Monday
May022016

What I Actually Wore #113

Serial #: 0113
Date: 02/04/2013
Weather: 19°C / 61°F
Time Allowed: 10 minutes

Still inspired by the costumes of the Ballet Russes, prints were a big part of my wardrobe back in winter 2013. I used to pair prints with neutral items and colourful and quirky accessories.

I adored this silk blouse that I bought second hand in a Red Cross op shop, especially for its dramatic lantern sleeves with the gathered cuffs. I did love the print and colour too. For most of my life I hated purple (because my dear mother, whose favourite colour it is, foisted it on me at too early an age), and only started wearing in the last few years. Lilac with red is a particularly lovely and startling combination to wear.

The only sad thing is that the blouse has torn away from the back seam – I put too much strain on it one day stretching perhaps. It is repairable, but it will make the blouse a little narrower.

Interestingly, this vintage 1920s velvet cap that I bought on eBay from an English seller a few years ago is actually supposed to be worn sticking straight up, like a garden gnome. When I first received it, I was doubtful, assuming surely it wasn’t worn that way, but I have since found contemporary photographic references of hats in similar styles indicating that indeed they were! Not a hat for a wallflower …

Apart from the blouse tragedy, all the items are still in my closet – shoes, bag, jewellery – all have been stayers. The earrings have remained particular favourites. The vintage 60s coat I still like, though I have not worn for one or two winters (I own so many coats they all go in and out of regular wear). This one is a velvet designed to imitate sealskin, but the fur collar is real.

As fun as it is, I am unlikely to wear this ensemble in its entirety these days however; my outfits are a little more minimal. If I thought about it, I’d probably split this outfit into three different ones, which would be an interesting exercise in itself – perhaps for another time.

Items:

Coat: vintage 1960s
Skirt:
Veronika Maine
Blouse: Target Limited Edition
Hat:
vintage 1920s
Bag:
vintage 1960s
Earrings:
vintage
Bracelet & Ring:
souvenirs (Barcelona and Vietnam)
Watch:
Kenneth Cole
Shoes:
Wittner

Photos: April 2013

Page 1 ... 2 3 4 5 6 ... 21 Next 5 Entries »