Browsing Tag

polka dot

bikinis
Retro / Vintage, Swimwear

More retro swimsuits: because the Summer’s not over yet

We may be coming to end of the Summer, but with temperatures set to hit 32° in London today, and with my ‘Summer’ holiday not taking place until the end of September, I’m very much still in a sunshine mood and still obsessing over all the retro inspired bikinis and swimsuits I can’t have.

My love affair with vintage style swimwear began, almost accidentally, when I was about 12 years old. I saw a denim-look one-piece with shorts style bottoms and a halter neck in a copy of Clothes Show Magazine, and promptly hunted it down in my local C&A (yeah, remember C&A). It probably looked terrible on me (even then I was a size 14, but I was more tummy and less waist than I am now) but I loved the style and ever since that moment I’ve been all about the skirted bottoms, high-waisted styles, polka dots and vintage touches. I already have my new bikini for the season (hello, Freya Venetian) but that doesn’t stop me swooning over these amazing offerings…

Fraulein Annie ‘Ahoy Sailor’ bikini shorts £49 and Balcony bikini top £79 at Hepburn and Leigh – Ever since I discovered this bikini I’ve been dreaming about it. I simply can’t justify over £100 for a bikini I know I would ruin with SPF cream and salt water within a year or two, but I can at least enjoy it from afar. It’s reversible (the other side is blue and white slim stripes) so you’re really getting two bikinis for your money, but it’s still a bit investment. I just can’t get over that amazing cut and gorgeous print though. Oh, for a bigger budget!

Hibiscus print 1950s swimsuit £35 at ASOS – Oh, the one that got away! I’m gutted that this bargain swimsuit is sold out in my size or it would definitely be travelling to Vegas with me. I love the hawaiian inspired print, the cute buttons, the black trim and the low-cut shorts which would hide any stretchmarks! Sadly this is now only available in small sizes (8 – 10) but I’m crossing my fingers ASOS may restock the 14 – 18s so more of us can get our hands on the gorgeous cossie.

Seafolly La Vita skirted bikini £79 Beach Cafe – Seafolly does a brilliant line in retro styles, and though they’re expensive, they still often come in a bit cheaper than the pricey US imports. Right now I’m loving the classic black polka dot La Vita bikini, with its lovely skirted bottoms with cute buttons. This is available all over the place, so if Beach Cafe doesn’t have your size, try Cocobay or Simply Beach.

Fables by Barrie ‘Perfecting My Formalwear’ swimsuit $86.99 ModCloth – Fables by Barrie was one of the first retro swimwear brands I discovered, and its Etsy shop has featured on my much-loved retro shopping guide for years. The brand is also available at ModCloth, where I fell in love with this tuxedo-style retro swimsuit. I think this would look just as amazing tucked into a high-waisted pencil skirt as it would do poolside!

Beach to Beach chevron bikini top £18 and briefs £12 at Simply Yours – I’m amazed this is available in any sizes now after it made waves when Gabi wore it on holiday and it them became the inspiration for the much talked-about xojane ‘fatkini’ gallery. But there are a few sizes available and there’s no denying this is a seriously gorgeous bikini that says ‘screw you’ to traditional ‘rules’ about swimwear for plus sizes and looks bloody brilliant as a result.

Tropical kitten bikini top £42 and bottoms £42 at Kiss Me Deadly – this is the first year Kiss Me Deadly has done swimwear, and they’ve definitely hit the market with a bang, offering up a small collection based on customer requests, beautifully modelled, pirate-style, by long term Kiss Me Deadly model Morgana, and former Britain’s Next Top Model contestant Jessica Etonye. My favourite is the high-waisted tropical bikini, which just needs tiki shoes and a hibiscus in the hair to top it off!

Resort shapewear minimiser bikini top £18 and August 19, 2012 by

retro1
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.

bikinis2
Retro / Vintage, Swimwear

Super swimwear for 2012 – my latest bikini and swimsuit picks for all sizes

It’s SUMMER, guys! And you know what that means. Holidays, hot weather, and the possibilty of having to strip off the layers and flash a bit of flesh. Despite not being a willowy size 8, I’ve never really had a huge problem with stripping down to swimwear in the Summer. To be honest, I’m less bothered about the amount of flesh on show and more worried about the inevitable “you’re so PALE!” comments. Perhaps being such an English rose (ha!) helps to detract from the cellulite…but it also helps to have a killer swimsuit or bikini to draw the eye in. I tend to favour very feminine, vintage-inspired designs and anything with frills or spots. My favourites this year are a mix of frilled swimsuits, cool modern styles and bikinis that make the most of a voluptuous figure. Here are just some of my favourites…

Red or Dead ‘maps’ two piece bikini £36.50 at Amazon – I’m so sad this is yellow (one of the colours that just looks terrible on me) because not only do I love the frilled skirt for hiding that diggy-in hip thing anyone with a bit of flesh will always get with a bikini, but also because I absolutely adore the London map print. So cute, and so apt for a Londoner on tour! Red or Dead make some of the best retro-inspired swimwear on the market right now, and this is my fave for 2012.


Skirted swimsuit with piping detail £38 ASOS
– I have the plan black version of this swimsuit from last year, but I’m really excited to see they’ve bought the shape back this year with added white piping. It is without a doubt the most striking swimsuit I’ve tried – I truly believe it looks better on a curvier figure than on a slim one, so I’m sad ASOS only make it up to a size 16. Hopefully a Curve version is coming soon, because this deserves to be worn!

Curvy Kate Caribbean bikini top £32 and briefs £17 at Simply Yours – Let’s talk about how excited I am that Curvy Kate have branched out into swimwear! I’m a huge fan of their lingerie; it’s comfy, stylish, affordable and available in a good range of sizes, so getting all that in swimwear too is a big deal. At Simply Be you can get the bottoms up to a size 20 and the top up to a K cup in some band sizes. There’s also a tankini if you prefer a bit more coverage.

Kansas bikini top £34 and frilled brief £28 Freya – I was blown away by the quality of the swimwear at the Freya press day. So often when you get DD+ swimwear, style and trends have been sacrificed in the name of fit. But Freya manage to combine both, and I love their retro-inspired ranges. A lot of pieces have frilled bottoms, high waists or skirted bottoms. For 2012, Kansas is the new kid on the block. The pale blue gingham is a nice change from polka dots, but still has that vintage touch. It hits stores / online in July, so get your reminders set now!

Blue floral frill swimsuit £38 Floozie by Frost French at Debenhams – I know a lot of you will probably turn your nose up at an adults swimsuit that looks just like the ones worn by 5 year olds in the 80s (go on, you know you had some frilled florals). But I love my swimwear cutesy, and this is about as cutesy as you’re going to get. Just add cats eye sunglasses and chunky wedge sandals to complete the look.

Marilyn swimsuits in royal blue $102 Pinup Girl Clothing – If it’s good enough for Dita Von Teese, it’s good enough for me. I’ve spoken a lot about Esther Williams swimsuits on here before (and I own one of the bikinis) but if you fancy a proper 50s inspired swimsuit from elsewhere, Pinup Girl Clothing is the place to go. This royal blue is my absolute favourite, but the Marilyn comes in plenty of other colours too.

Black parrot print Pacha beaded bikini £26 River Island – Though I’m not exactly the Ibiza-dwelling target market, I really love the River Island / Pacha collaboration, mostly because of the immense amount of co-ordinating pieces you can get to go with all the swimwear. Want a strappy beach maxi, or a one-shoulder scarf dress? No probs! And the bikins themselves are pretty cool too. This frilled parrot print one is my personal fave, I love all the beaded frills.

Blue rio print one-piece swimsuit £34 Topshop – This swimsuit is the complete antithesis of my usual style, but for some reason I just love it. So much so I’ve used it in outfit picks before, and I’m sorely tempted to treat myself before they sell out. I love that it could easily be worn as a top in the evening on a beach holiday, tucked into a pair of shorts. The only thing that would make it better is if the print were Las Vegas, not Rio!

Fifties swimsuit £49 Boden – I don’t own a thing from Boden, but I do think their swimwear is really pretty and very good if you want something with a little more coverage than most younger stores give. The fifties swimsuit comes in various prints and has ruching down the sides to streamline and make the most of a good waist. There’s also a lovely polka dot bikini / tankini set that you can mix and match depending on how confident you’re feeling!

Espana ruffle one-shoulder swimsuit $148 Monif C – If you’re plus sized and tired of all swimsuits being ridiculous skirted floral numbers and ugly, frumpy designs, Monif C is the designer for you. The one thing her designs are not is boring! I love the one-shouldered Espana, which has boning and powermesh for a great fit, and ties to adjust for the right fit on the leg. This design also comes in red.

Green floral padded bikini top £16 and frilled bottoms £12 Next – Green is a really great colour both tanned and pale skin, making it a great choice if you’re off to sun yourself, and I love this shape which really makes the most of those ‘assets’. A padded bikini top works for any cup size; it pushes up smaller boobs for a bit of a lift, and it shapes and holds larger ones for a great shape. Next swimwear also has the benefit of being really good quality – this will see you through more than one Summer if you take care of it.

Brown and white leaf-print bikini top £8 and bottoms £4 George at Asda – This is my favourite bargain bikini of the season. Teaming a bit of cool neon with a classic print, it’s a great one for showing off a tan and the shape is very classic and works on a variety of body shapes. I also applaud George for going up to an E/F cup too.

Tummy control scoop neck wrap swimsuit £29.50 Marks & Spencer – Ignoring the ‘tummy control’ element of this, I just love the unusual wrap design and clever colourblocking that make it a bit different to a classic plan swimsuit. I also really like that it comes in a longer length, making it a perfect choice for tall women who want something a bit unusual.

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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.

bikinis2
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!

corset
Lingerie, Retro / Vintage, Tried & Tested

Tried & Tested: True Corset ‘Dita’ corset

With my passion for 40s and 50s fashion, it’s perhaps a surprise that I’ve never really tried a proper corset before. I’ve worn bustiers and cheap alternatives, I’ve sewn plastic bones into the top of a prom dress, and I’ve even given corset shapewear a go. But until True Corset got in touch, I’d never laced myself into a proper, high-end steel boned number!

So I was excited to be offered the chance to try a really gorgeous burlesque-inspired corset that promised to create the ultimate hourglass figure. I was sent the ‘Dita’ corset in black with polka dot panels, a longer line corset that was supposed to be perfect for curvy girls…

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty first. This is not a corset for the faint-hearted. While it’s not quite as killer as the waspie numbers worn by its namesake, the Dita means business. It retails at just over £100, has three layers of fabric for comfort, and was made by just one corsetiere for the personal touch. It has 12 steel bones that really sculpt and shape, and the results are pretty amazing. I didn’t feel any pain or digging in, but it was restrictive. Don’t expect to be able to sit down much, corsets are for standing around looking glamorous!

Overall, I was really impressed with the corset. It’s beautifully made and the satin is really heavy and not too shiny. I like the polka dot panels, but those wanting something plainer can get it in plenty of other colours.

As for the fit, I couldn’t really fault it. The corset easily whittled my waist down by 2 inches without any pain, and the longer line shape is really flattering for curvier figures – I’m not a fan of corsets with pointy fronts.

The top part is also really well designed for bigger busts (and conversely may be too generous for A and B cups so check sizing). I think one issue you have with corsets if you’re big up top is you can end up with your boobs around your neck. The sweetheart shape and generous cups of this corset gave a little more wiggle room and looks less fake. I did have to be careful how I laced it – too much at the top and it looks too tight – but once I’d got the hang of it, it was fine.

The only real downside is that getting in and out of it takes some practice, though I would probably do a better job with someone to help! The front fastening (busk) is made up of two wide steel bones with steel clips at intervals. Getting them fastened wasn’t a problem, but I had trouble trying to manoevre myself so I could undo them again. In some ways this is good – it means they’ll never pop open – but it did mean I was fidgeting my way out of it for a while, even after loosening the lacing. I’m sure I’ll learn the knack eventually!

Now I just need to decide if I’m brave enough to wear it as outerwear…

The Dita Corset in Black With White Dots is £102.18 at True Corset

Disclosure: True Corset sent this product free of charge for me to review. However, the review is honest and I was not paid to publish it.