Browsing Tag

1950s

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Clothing, Dresses, Events & Launches, Retro / Vintage

VIP vintage style fashion at Dollydagger in Brighton

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A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to the gorgeous Dollydagger boutique in Brighton for a taste of their VIP shopping experience. I’ve been a fan of the brand for years so I was very excited for an excuse to head down to the seaside for the evening. The event is all about the full-on retro experience. Think vintage-inspired shopping with a personal touch – small groups (hen dos, birthday parties etc) can book in with the store for a night of bubbly, pampering (hair and makeup to complete your retro look) and plenty of retro fashion fun, with a goodie bag at the end of the night. The shop specialises in 1950s dresses (own brand and hard-to-find labels like Bettie Page Clothing), rockabilly style and quirky gift ideas, so it’s perfect for a retro fan like me!

I was invited along with a few fellow bloggers, and we had an amazing time working our way through all the frocks on offer and getting some makeup tips from amazing makeup artist Alessia Mancini. Here I am modelling just a few of my favourite frocks…which you can save 10% on until next Thursday (4th April) with the code WELOVEGEMMA (awwww).

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In the Midnight Rose Scarlet DressThis one is in the sale at the moment at £89, so grab it quickly! I’m wearing the Large which runs smaller than other larges in the Dolly Dagger range. It’s listed as a 12 – 14 and that’s pretty bang on – it only just fit me!

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The Dita dress (£149) was probably my favourite – this baby looked amazing on everyone who tried it. There’s really clever gathering and seaming around the hips and waist to shape it to the body, and the sweetheart neckline is really pretty and a favourite of mine. The red was definitely my favourite, but I’m holding out for green before I invest. A little birdie told me that might be a possibility in the future, but in the meantime there’s another amazing green dress coming to Dolly Dagger – more on that soon!

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I tried the Greta dress (£159) in two colours, but the fit just wasn’t quite right on me. I adore the leopard collar and 3/4 sleeves, but the shape just isn’t as nice on me as the Dita. This dress is made for Caroline, though! It’s really amazing for those with bigger busts.

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And finally, a bit of Bettie Page. I’ve got a few Bettie Page dresses already that I bought from the store in Vegas, but they can be hard to find in the UK so knowing Dollydagger is a stockist is great. Unfortunately, the Rita (£89.99) is not my perfect Bettie Page partner. I love the colour and the huge collar, but it doesn’t do anything for my upper half – making me look quite straight-up-and-down and pushing my boobs downwards (not to mention the tight sleeves). This is less of a curve-enhancer for size 14s like me, and is perhaps better as a curve creator on slimmer figures!

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Thanks so much to Dollydagger for inviting me to play with all the gorgeous dresses and take a look at the beautiful shop. As I mentioned above, as a special treat, they’re offering all you lovely lot 10% off a purchase at Dollydagger for the next week. Place your order now using the code WELOVEGEMMA to take advantage of the deal. And don’t forget to comment and let me know what you chose!

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Dresses, Retro / Vintage

Ten more 1950s style dresses (you know you love ’em)

Oh, you predictable bunch! It comes as no surprise to me that my posts on 1950s style dresses are, by far, the most popular pieces on this blog. And who am I to complain that one of my favourite looks is also one of yours? As far as I’m concerned, any excuse to spend a few hours hunting down yet more fabulous frocks with those trademark nipped-in waists, full skirts and fabulous prints is good enough. Though I am going to bankrupt myself soon enough if I keep buying things as I do ‘research’. This round-up of another ten great Summer dresses includes a few old faithful brands, a couple of new ones, and hopefully some styles to suit all budgets and bodies. I hope you enjoy!

Scene and Believed dress by Bernie Dexter $139 Modcloth – Vintage rockabilly model Bernie Dexter’s range of dresses has some amazing bold prints, and this one is my favourite. The cherry blossoms are really distinctive, and you can see from Modcloth’s customer reviews how well the dress works on a variety of body shapes.

Yellow floral vintage rose dress £45 (was £85) Oasis – I loved the ‘floral frocks’ range from Oasis this season, but the prices were pretty crazy – upwards of £80 for a cotton frock? Luckily, they’re all now being put into the sale, so those of us on a budget can possibly afford to splash out. This yellow would look amazing with dark hair.

Silver grey and pink floral swing dress £40 Lady Vintage – My favourite discovery of 2012, Lady Vintage, has just released a range of Summer prints, including this lovely pink and silver floral. Remember these swing dresses come up big – I easily fit into a 12 in Lady Vintage styles.

Kelly Brook bardot scenic print dress £39.99 New Look – Retro 50s fan Kelly Brook has extended her collaboration with New Look to clothing this season, and there are lots of Summery florals and polka dots on offer. This off-the-shoulder dress is my fave, but there are plenty of others on offer. Amanda has done a great in-depth review of the whole range if you want more info.

So Fabulous printed prom dress £45 Very.co.uk – Going up into plus sizes, this 50s floral frock has a bit more coverage across the bust than some of the sweetheart neckline designs, plus the dark print will last into Autumn with tights or seamed stockings.

Blue tapework prom dress with sheer top £90 Warehouse – I love this pretty pastel shade, the dress reminds me of something that one of the hideous but very well-dress Junior League girls in The Help might wear. I’d wear it with silver accessories and a beehive hairdo.

TS Wonderful royal style dress $69.99 Light in The Box – I bought this dress when Light in the Box was having a sale (this happens a lot) and was pleasantly surprised with how quickly it arrived and how nice it was. It’s a bit heavy for Summer but I’ll be stashing it away for Autumn / Winter when no doubt I’ll get plenty of wear out of it. The TS brand sold through the site specialises in vintage-inspired pieces, so keep an eye out for bargains.

Black Red Herring cherry print full-skirted day dress £30 Debenhams – Red Herring’s 1950s style sundresses are really good value and I have a couple of them now. They cut quite small on the waist which works for my figure, but the skirts aren’t stupidly short, which is a problem I find with a lot of high street dresses inspired by the 50s.

Taupe spot fit and flare dress £40 Wallis – I love the combo of taupe and cream in polka dot, partly because, like so many girls, I love the dress in the polo scene of Pretty Woman, but also because it’s such a brilliant colour combo for just about every skintone going. This dress would be fab for work or weddings, or just about anything in between.

Coral spot dress with short sleeves £40 Simply Be – Naomi makes this dress look fab, and I’m sure plenty of my readers would too. Coral’s a fab shade for Summer and the simple shape of this dress is a bit more comfy than the super-fitted, structured bodices of some 50s inspired styles. Also, I know a lot of people don’t like dresses without sleeves, and the fluted shape of these is really fab.

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In My Wardrobe, Tried & Tested

In My Wardrobe: Lady V London bird print green sundress

I’ve written about a lot of beautiful dresses in my time, but I don’t think any has received such a huge (and fast) response as the Lady V London dress that I put in my 50s sundresses feature earlier this week.

My twitter feed and blog comments were full of people telling me they were either buying it or thinking of buying it, and by Friday I even had twitpics of happy customers thanking me for introducing them to the label. In the end, I couldn’t resist ordering one myself, if only to report back on whether it really could be as good as it looks when it retails at only £30!

But first I have to give credit where credit is due – I actually saw the dress on Georgina‘s Facebook page, so she’s the one who deserves all the love for hunting down such incredible value retro-inspired frocks!

Now onto the dress…I ordered on Wednesday and it arrived on Friday, so thumbs up for quick delivery! It was quite creased in the packaging (a cellophane bag) but that’s nothing new when ordering online. I also noticed the tag on the dress read £50. This style comes in loads of different fabrics, and some of the others are still £50 (like Kat’s amazing poppy print one), but a lot, like mine, are selling at £30 / £35, which I think is excellent value.

First up, let’s talk length. I’m 5’7 and the dress hits the knee on me. From the pictures I was actually expecting it to be slightly longer, but I actually prefer it being that little bit shorter as it feels a bit more casual. It also gives hope to petite girls who’re drowned in other vintage style dresses that end up being almost maxi length on anyone below 5’3! The fabric, though it’s synthetic (viscose) is incredibly soft, and the dress is lined, which for £30 is really great value. It hangs really well and I haven’t had any static issues yet. Plus, look how much fabric is in the skirt…

…you get a nice full-skirted effect but enough weight to stop it flying up in the wind. In general, I love the shape. The little cap sleeves, the nipped-in waist with tie belt, and the full skirt are really well done.

Now for the bad bit. I say ‘bad’, what I really mean is ‘annoying’. You can see in the pic above that the bodice actually bags a bit on me. This is no new thing for me – my waist is small compared to the rest of my body so I often find things are a bit loose there (and at least this dress comes with a belt to cinch in) but it’s very big all over. I ordered the 14 because going by the brand’s online size guide, I thought I’d need it to accomodate my bust. But it’s incredibly generous in the top, and there’s so much ease I could have probably bought the 12 and fitted into that better. I’m not going to exchange as there’s not too much in it, and it’s always nice in Summer to have room to move about a bit and breathe, but if I buy another print, I’ll definitely size down. I’d say there’s a good 1.5 – 2″ inches of ease in the measurements on the size guide, so if you are between sizes, definitely consider going down.

Overall, I can’t really fault this dress in terms of value for money. It’s as good as some that are going for twice the money, and if you’re happy with synthetic fabric, this is definitely one to consider. The prints on offer are lovely and the shape is really pretty and timeless. Just watch your sizing, because that’s what’s going to make this look brilliant, not just ok!

See the Lady V Spring / Summer collection by clicking here.

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Clothing, Dresses, Retro / Vintage

Ten Fab 40s / 50s inspired sundresses for Summer!

Watching the new Mad Men tonight, I felt a little bit let down at the lack of lovely frocks. Don’t get me wrong, I love the 60s looks – Jane’s amazing maxi and Trudy’s killer swirly Pucci-esque number – but I miss the earlier episodes, with the wiggle dresses, fifties full skirts and Betty’s amazing sundresses and shades. For me, it doesn’t get better than the 40s and 50s when it comes to clothing, so I’ve put together a list of ten fab fifties-inspires Summer dresses for my fellow retro fans. So what if Sterling Cooper has moved on, it doesn’t mean I have to. I’ll be snapping up at least one of these dresses in the next few months…

Multi placement print dress £85 Oasis
– The crazy pottery style print of this dress is like something from a 1950s film. Difficult to pull off, but beautiful if you have the guts!

Spring Fairy dress in periwinkle blue £55 (was £95) Anami and Janine
– This label is a new discovery of mine, and I’m completely bowled over by their pretty, quirky prints and 1940s inspired dress cuts.

Green rose with bird print swing dress £30 Lady V London
– A massive bargain that comes in a limited run so it’s a really special find. This style comes in loads of other fabrics, too.

Louche Lachelle pleated floral dress £59 Joy
– If you can bear wearing the same frock as Holly Willoughby, this pretty pleated dress is a lovely modern take on a retro classic.

Fifties frock with full skirt in rose print £85 Tara Starlet
– Fab cabbage rose style print and full fifties skirt on this lovely day dress from retro-inspired brand Tara Starlet

Sailboat printed blue prom dress £154 Lowie
– I love the nautical touches of this sailboat printed dress. It’s pricey, yes, but it’s also very pretty!

Pink floral print dress £30 Purple at Dorothy Perkins
– A modern take on a 50s riviera look, I love the idea of teaming this with light coloured wedges and a basket bag!

Conversational print dress £45 South at Very
– The birdcage print on this baby is really gorgeous, and it goes up to a size 24. Score!

Cezanne side lace dress £74.99 Fever
– No rundown of pretty dresses is complete without a Fever dress. They just deliver every time!

Lila floral dress with off-the-shoulder detail £50 Uttam Boutique at Yumi
– If you’re a size 16, I suggest you snap this up quickly before someone else does. That’s the only size left of this cute 50s-meets-90s frock.

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Retro / Vintage, Tried & Tested

A date with Vivien of Holloway part 1: The Jezebel 50s wrap dress (black / polka)

If you’re one of the many people who found this site via my vintage reproduction clothing shopping list, you’ll know I’m a fan of the 50s look. So when one of my favourite reproduction vintage brands, Vivien of Holloway, got in touch to see if I’d like to try out some of their dresses for this blog, I obviously jumped at the chance. I already own five Vivien of Holloway dresses, but these ones are newer styles, away from the classic halter neck shape the brand is known for, so I was intrigued to try the new shapes and see how they looked.

Spotting the perfect opportunity to go to town with the photos and be a diva for the day, I popped my rollers in and roped in my talented friend Natalie as photographer. I’ll be showing you the three dresses over the next few days in a series of blog posts.

Dress one is The Jezebel pencil dress (£89). I tried it in black polyester satin with a red polka dot bust and side peplum, but it also comes in various shades of duchess satin for an extra £10. I teamed it with heart-shaped sunglasses and Irregular Choice cherry print peep-toe shoes, and then pulled some shapes against the wall!

The dress is super-fitted through the waist, with a crossover wrap front and wide-set sleeves which have plenty of room for a bigger bust. One of the reasons I like Vivien of Holloway dresses is that they cut to vintage patterns and vintage sizing, so the size on the label may be bigger than you normally wear, but the cut tends to be small on the waist and bigger elsewhere which is great for an hourglass or pear-shaped figure like mine. All the dresses I tried were labelled size 16 but made to fit a 38 bust and 30 inch waist. The Vivien of Holloway team always advise you go by waist size for a good fit – when I first visited the shop a few years ago the first thing they did was measure my waist before letting me try anything on!

My waist is 29.5″ so the fit of this dress was near-perfect. As a general rule, the polyester and cotton dresses are a little roomier than the heavier satin ones (review to come!) so the Jezebel fit well, but it wasn’t too tight anywhere and didn’t feel uncomfortable. There was plenty of room in the hips and the bust, and I love the little peplum detail on the side that gives the effect of a tie waist without adding any bulk or needing to be perfectly knotted. I think the shape is really lovely and the plus with this compared to other Vivien dresses is that you can wear a bra with it. It’s also worth noting that Vivien of Holloway dresses have proper sturdy zips going up the back, not those horrible concealed zips up the side seam that catch, break and refuse to zip up over seams. The dress feels very well-made and sits well without riding up, and it doesn’t crease loads when worn.

Obviously, we had to run one of the pictures through a vintage-look filter. Instagram, eat your heart out…

The dress is available for £89 at Vivien of Holloway in sizes up to B46 / W38 (approx size 22). To see the full range of colours and prints available, click here.

Disclosure: The dress was borrowed from Vivien of Holloway. All thoughts are my own and I was not paid to publish them.

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Retro / Vintage, Swimwear

The retro swimwear rundown: my top vintage inspired swimsuits and bikinis

If you’re a longterm visitor to the site (or indeed, a friend) you’ll know that vintage inspired swimwear is a huge passion of mine. I’ve yet to venture into proper vintage (it’s the fear that it’s been a bit to close to someone else’s ladyparts that stops me!) but I do buy a lot of retro stuff. If it’s polka dotted, ruched and contains the same amount of fabric as at least a dozen tiny triangle bikinis, it’s likely to find its way into my swimwear ‘wardrobe’. I must have about 20 bikinis and swimsuits by now, which is a bit ridiculous given that I don’t go swimming, am not a member of a gym, and have only had one beach holiday in the last four years.

But after waiting ages to find the perfect retro 1950s style swimsuit or bikini, I went a bit mad when dozens came along at once. This season it’s easier than ever to pick up something that’ll have you feeling like Marilyn Monroe in those famous beach photos. So here are some of my current favourites that are easily available in the UK. For Etsy finds and more authentic bits, try my list of retro & reproduction fashion retailers. These are the more mainstream offerings in a variety of sizes, colours and cuts…

Ruffle Swim Dress £35 at ASOS

 

– I own this swimsuit, and it’s nothing short of fabulous. There are full bottom under the skirt, which you can adjust to sit just where you want it. The halter top is supportive even for my DD’s, and it looks fab – playful, but the frills aren’t so big it looks ridiculous. I’m thoroughly tempted to buy the white too!

 

– Orange is a bit more unusual than your usual black or red polka dot, and I love the clever gathers on this cotton-look swimsuit, which make it look more authentic and vintage than some of the more modern ruched spandex styles. The colour looks amazing with a tan, too!

 

– There are loads of Jantzen swimsuits floating around TK Maxx stores at the moment and they’re not only really well made, but also have some great vintage touches. This is perhaps not the most easy to wear print, but try your local branch for block coloured ones, and pink polka dots. I picked up a turquoise one with a gathered skirted section. This is a brand that’s got great heritage, too. Look out for the mentions on Mad Men!

 

– Joules also make a frilled halter swimsuit in the same fabric, which is perhaps even more vintage-esque, but I couldn’t resist the fab photo which really shows off the retro detailing of this cute bikini. If you’ve got the bod to pull it off, this baby is a lovely way to add a touch of retro style without going overboard. Just add big white cats eye sunglasses!

 

– I’ve spoken about Red or Dead swimwear before. They make great modern pieces with real retro inspiration, and this year one of the standout pieces is this fish print bikini with ruched, semi-skirted briefs. It’s not cheap, but it is fabulous! There’s also a skirted swimdress, lots of bandeau styles and some reworking of last year’s sailor suit in the new range.

 

– A rare find; not only does this classic ruched cossie come in larger sizes (up to a 32) it also comes in a longer length version for those who struggle to find swimsuits that fit their torso. The look is pure pin-up girl and will never go out of style.

 

– What, you thought I’d let this rundown go without a mention for the ultimate retro cossie? Esther Williams sells styles based on the ones she wore in films during the Golden Age of Hollywood. And they’ve never been more popular. I bought my red bikini from For Luna which I absolutely recommend as a UK stockist, but Modcloth also stock a selection (including plus sizes) or you can order direct.

 

Cherry print has long been associated with anything pin-up and retro, after Ms Monroe wore a cherry print dress in Misfits. This bikini has quite a modern shape but the cherry print, gathered sides and bow lend a bit of a retro feel.

 

– A lot of the more retro inspired styles have halter necks or bandeau cuts, which are great for sunbathing but not so good for swimming. If you need more support around the bust, this one has wider straps and a great shape that makes the most of a killer cleavage. It’s expensive, but well made.

 

– Trust Toppers to deliver the perfect vintage-inspired swimsuit in the perfect show-off colour! If you want to stand out and show off a golden tan you can’t go wrong with yellow. Definitely not one for the faint-hearted, but it is fabulous. I love the frills, which don’t look quite as young and girly as ones around the waist.

 

– If you prefer a higher cut on the thighs this is the one for you, in four different polka dot patterns. Boden have come up trumps with something that nods to the vintage style without being a full-on copy, so it’s great if you’re a bit frightened of looking like you’re wearing fancy dress.

 

– With a name like Marilyn, you have to expect a real va va voom swimsuit! I love the twist on a classic style, adding the white trim to grab a bit of attention. Monsoon have a few great 50s inspired styles, but this is my current favourite.

 

– Though there are loads of retro style swimsuits about at the moment, finding them for less than £40 can be a struggle. Luckily, catalogue brand Resort has saved the day with a very pretty 50s style bikini. I don’t think the photo does it justice, but on a woman with the right attitude, this £20 gem could really work.

 

– Ladies with larger busts, rejoice! This Freya swimsuit is not only gorgeous, with a touch of retro and a really flattering waist belt, but also affordable! BraStop’s great deals make this one a no-brainer. It should be £48 but it’s now less than £20! Snap it up now before I do!

 

– Yes, it’s ridiculously expensive. Yes, it’d probably look frumpy and ridiculous on 99% of us, but I couldn’t resist this number from Seafolly purely because it teams up two of my favourite things – retro swimwear and shabby chic cabbage roses. There is nothing I don’t love about it except the price!