Browsing Tag


Clothing, Dresses, Events & Launches, Retro / Vintage

VIP vintage style fashion at Dollydagger in Brighton


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).


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!


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!


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.


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!


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!

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.

Retro / Vintage, Tried & Tested

A date with Vivien of Holloway part 3: The ‘Peggy Lee’ day dress in green

I’m finishing up my Vivien of Holloway dress reviews today with the third and final dress. This is the Peggy Lee day dress in green (£69), a cotton number with an A-line skirt and contrasting white collar and pockets. Of the three I’ve tried, this is probably the most costumey. The other two can easily be modernised, but as far as I’m concerned, you may as well go the whole hog with this one! So I pulled out my retro glasses, put my hair in a mock-bob with some roller curls and hunted down some hair flowers so I could give this dress the 40s style look it deserves!

Of the three dresses I tried, this one is also the most generous when it comes to sizing. Like the Grace and the Jezebel, I tried it in Vivien of Holloway’s vintage size 16 (B38/W30). I think if I bought this dress in the future, I would probably try on the 14 too see if I can get away with it. You can see in the pictures that it creases up a bit around the bodice – the torso section is quite long and I could do with being more snug around my mid-section. That said, it was a good fit on the bust – if I switched to a non-padded bra I hope I could go a size down.

Because the waist wasn’t as snug as I wanted, I tried the dress with an elasticated belt to cinch it in a bit. This did mean it wrinkled and creased a bit around the waist, and looking at the pictures afterwards, I think I prefer it without the belt. If you want the smoother lines you can see in the model pictures on the website, I’d advise a good girdle underneath! Of all the Vivien of Holloway fabrics, I’d say this cotton is actually the least forgiving on fleshy bits so choose your underwear carefully! Fit is vital too so definitely try on at the Holloway Road store if you can. The zip runs up the back (but the collar is fixed so it doesn’t zip all the way up). It is one of those annoyingly flimsy concealed zips I hate, but because it’s up the back, not the side, it’s not so temperamental and worked fine for me without snagging or getting stuck.

I absolutely adore the colour of this dress, if only because it gave me an excuse to wear my green suede shoes (now reduced to £20 at Chockers) and pose in front of some nearby green doors. The pockets are also a big bonus too – these ones are huge, almost like the big pockets on an apron! Of all the Vivien of Holloway dresses I’ve tried it’s probably the most practical despite the bold design details. If you’re a vintage / reproduction fan and want something a bit different to the usual tea dresses and wiggle dresses, this is a total winner. However, dressing it down for a more modern look is more difficult.

The ‘Peggy Lee’ dress is available in various colours and prints for £69 at Vivien of Holloway

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

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.

DD+, Lingerie, Retro / Vintage

Winter Wishlist: retro-inspired lingerie & nightwear

My list of the best places online to buy reproduction vintage and retro / rockabilly style fashion continues to be one of the most popular pages on the site every month, so I know plenty of you reading have been as seduced by this style as I have.

The right lingerie is the finishing touch to your vintage-inspired look, but I know the classic bullet bra may be one step too far for some (if it’s not, go to What Katie Did right now). Luckily, plenty of more modern brands have now turned to vintage for inspiration. Here are some of my current fave more modern takes on vintage luxury undies and nightwear. Throw away your cotton 6-pack of knickers and flannel PJ’s and get yourself something gorgeous instead…

Long Vintage Silk Chemise £80 La Senza

La Senza has come a long way since the time it was the place to find 3 brazillian knickers for £10 and pajamas with ‘Sexy Chick’ on. The lingerie has slowly moved more and more upmarket, and the store offers some amazing pieces up to a G cup / size 18. Granted, I’ve picked the most expensive item on the entire website (typical) but there are plenty of more affordable bits and bobs in the ‘Pure Luxury’ section that you might be surprised by.

Olive Silk Elizabeth Bra (£79), Skirted Knicker (£54) and waspie by Ayten Gasson

I know this set is incredibly expensive, but I couldn’t resist including it after seeing it in the flesh at a press event recently. Its by Ayten Gasson, who uses pure silk trimmed with vintage Nottingham lace in her handmade creations. These are not mass-produced pieces that everyone will find under the tree at Christmas, they’re pure luxury with real vintage touches, and if you love this style, this is the brand to treat yourself too. Plus, there are a few beautiful pieces in the sale if you click here!

Gok Wan Mesh Longer Line Bra £32 and Deep Brief (£18) by Simply Yours

I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ve looked at this set and thought ‘should I get it?’. My experience with the Gok Wan range so far has been brilliant. I love the way this range genuinely makes shapewear look sexy…plus it’s in my favourite animal print! As a final brilliant touch, the awful patronising names have gone – no more ‘banger booster’ or ‘curve controller’ – just proper descriptive names for these new designs, which go up to a 42 band, G cup, and size 32.

Virginia bra (£80), briefs (£55) and suspender belt (£70) by Mademoiselle Fred at Fairy Gothmother

Another pricey set, but a beautiful one from French lingerie brand Mademoiselle Fred. If for you (or your other half…) Christmas undies mean red and sexy, you may as well do it with a touch of Burlesque glamour! The shorts come with frilled sides, which are really pretty, though the thong is probably a better bet under the suspender belt (which I think is the best bit). Just add some fabulous fully-fashioned stockings (try Stockings HQ for them).

Leopard print panel basque £35 at Evans

This gorgeous little basque first made an appearance on this site back in April when I spotted it at the Evans press day. Now it’s in stores and an amazing retro-inspired option for those ladies needing larger band sizes. It goes up to a 46 in the band in C- E cups, and is the perfect choice for something sexy but shaping under a party dress. The matching bra and knickers were born to be worn under a trouser suit for a bit of underwear-as-outerwear glam.

Sway with me raspberry silk bra $125 and tie briefs $95 by Toadlillie on etsy

Toad Lillie lingerie is “Inspired by vintage couture gowns of the 30s – 50s” and this set definitely has vintage charm about it. I love the high-waisted bottoms with their ruched sides. I also love the fact that these sumptuous handmade pieces go up to a 50″ hip (though 32-38 A-D is less inclusive for those of us blessed with bigger boobs). If you want something truly special, you can’t beat the personal service you get from etsy craftspeople.

Floral and mesh longline bra $35 and knickers $30 by Banbee on Etsy

The knickers from this set caused quite a stir when my mate Jane featured them on Domestic Sluttery, but I’ve had the seller bookmarked ever since. Everything about this set screams Beyonce ‘Why Don’t You Love Me‘ – a music video that epitomises this modern take on pin-up girl underwear. What’s not to love? Even the price is good compared to Beyonce’s Dolce & Gabbana alternative.

Clothing, Dresses, Lingerie, Retro / Vintage, Special Ranges, Swimwear

Vintage reproduction clothing (Pin-up, burlesque & rockabilly) – The ultimate shopping list!

It’s not hard to see why so many  women turn to fashions from the 40s and 50s when it comes to making the most of their bodies. The era’s pin-up girls, ‘cheesecake’ models and Vargas girls all had waspish waists and sexy curves. Actresses had hourglass figures that their clothes could barely contain (think Jayne Mansfield, Marilyn Monroe, Diana Dors) and all women wore girdles that sculpted their bodies to perfection and bullet bras that gave the appearance of a Joan Holloway-esque bosom on even a petite woman.

I know from reading comments and looking at search terms that many of us wish we could eschew badly-designed, poorly-fitting modern pieces for something more flattering from the past. But finding true vintage pieces from that era for a larger figure can be difficult. Most good pieces are expensive, and many come in very small sizes, especially on the waist.

So three cheers for the many great brands and retailers who’ve allowed us to get a bit of that old-fashioned glamour in modern sizing. Some of the labels below stock plus size, some don’t, but I’ve chosen to include them all for reference.

This page lists some of best vintage reproduction or vintage inspired online retailers I’ve found. The list covers everything from 40s tea dresses to 50s tiki dresses, and I’ve also included some burlesque lingerie and my favourite retro swimwear brands so you can get the complete package. Don’t forget your hair either! Every wannabe pin-up girl should invest in a good set of hot rollers, some hair set and Lauren Rennells’ amazing ‘Vintage Hairstyling’ book for the perfect pompadour or pin-up set!

UK Stores

L – R: Vivien of Holloway, Tara Starlet, Get Cutie, Pin-up Emporium, Pin-up Parade


Vivien of Holloway – Famous for her circle-skirted halter dresses with boned tops, Vivien actually offers much more, including amazing sarong dresses, pencil skirts, sailor trousers and loads of different prints. Plus sizes are stocked, but the dresses use vintage patterns, so it’s worth heading to the Holloway Road store if you can to try a few on. I’ve got six VoH dresses and can’t speak highly enough of the fit, but you must go by waist measurement.

If you want to know more about this brand, see my reviews of Vivien of Holloway dresses: The Jezebel, The Grace and The Peggy Lee!

Pin-Up Parade – One of the best stockists in the UK for vintage repro brands from the USA like Stop Staring and Bettie Page Clothing. Move fast if your size is in stock, and keep an eye on the sale pages – I got a Bettie Page dress for £35 recently!

The Pin-up Emporium – A UK option for big US brands Stop Staring and Bettie Page Clothing (stock is limited but they have key pieces like the Bettie Page ‘Captain’ dress) as well as What Katie Did lingerie.

Tara Starlet – If Swing is your bag, this label offers up some brilliant floral tea dresses and early 40s styles. Unfortunately sizing is limited so anyone over a 14/16 (myself included) may have trouble…but if we hassle them enough, maybe they’ll increase the range?

Collectif – 40s & 50s inspired dresses, cleverly divided into full-skirted and fitted, wiggle dresses. Well-priced (approx £40 – £70 for a dress). Lots of rockabilly prints including tropical, nautical and polka dot. Also some lovely Mad Men-esque coats and pin-up girl tops. Good range of sizes with most items available up to size UK 22.

Dolly Dagger – Rockabilly-influenced online store that stocks Tara Starlet, Stop Staring and many others. Good for polka dots, pencil skirts and swimwear, plus a lovely range of exclusive 50s style dresses in florals and taffeta.

Love Ur Look – Lovely capsule collection of vintage inspired dresses in quirky prints including florals, cowboy print and bird print. Prices are all under £100.

Freddies of Pinewood – Do your best land girl impression in Freddie’s high-waisted jeans and 40s tops. Or try some dungarees if you dare!

Get Cutie – Not technically a vintage repro company, but if you like the full skirted styles and the rockabilly look, these cute dresses handmade in Brighton will be right up your alley. Choose your dress shape and then pick your quirky print (including some cool Varga girl style offerings and tattoo prints).

Vintage Allure – 30s – 50s style dresses for around the £70 – £100 mark. Lots of nice polka dot circle skirted dresses and some beautiful wiggle dresses with wing-bust detail in the ‘tinseltown’ section. Limited sizes (up to a UK 16 approx).

Big Beautiful Barbara Brown – Huge selection of pre-made and custom dresses, including a section of Marilyn Monroe-inspired dresses (Niagara pink dress, The Misfits cherry print etc). 1920s – 1970s covered, though the real emphasis is on the 30s – 50s with lots of floral tea dresses and fitted suits. Sizes 6 – 26 available.

Soho’s – Primarily a punk / emo clothing store, this makes the list because it stocks Hell Bunny, an alternative clothing brand that does a lot of 50s halter dresses in prints, lace and polka dots for a lot less than you pay for the more pin-up style brands. That said, these are simpler styles with none of the boning or super-wide skirts you’ll find elsewhere. Also look out for Criminal Damage, who do a great sailor dress with a pencil skirt.

Puttin on the Ritz – Art deco inspired website stocking 1930s and 1940s inspired reproduction clothing with a big emphasis on daywear. ‘The Harlow’ dress is worth looking at for potential brides. Customers can provide measurement for the perfect fit.

Able Grable – Small collection of custom-made dresses with a 30s / 40s inspiration. Great silk pieces, including evening gowns, day dresses and a nautical number. Keep an eye on opening dates – they can be limited and at time of writing the store is closed for Winter.

Lady Vintage – Swing dresses and floral styles, the classic ‘Hepburn’ a-line dress in polka dots and lots of lovely affordable full-skirted dresses (£30 – £50). For a review of the swing style, click here.

US stores (most ship internationally)

L – R: Bettie Page Clothing, Bernie Dexter, Pin-up Girl Clothing, Mode Merr, Stop Staring


Stop Staring Clothing – Probably the best-known producer of vintage-inspired wiggle dresses and bombshell frocks. Loads of great stretch dresses, satin cocktail dresses and swing dresses. Check sizing – stretch bengalene is not particularly forgiving. This has celeb approval too. Paris Hilton is a big fan, and Ashley ‘Twilight’ Greene was their model before she hit the bigtime.

Mode Merr – Retro dresses with a modern twist, separated into ‘good girl’ and ‘bad girl’ sections. Lots of embroidered detail (anchors, horseshoes, poodles and so on) and pencil skirts, fitted dresses and ruched gypsy style tops.

Daddy O’s – Rock and Roll store with a massive range of Stop Staring dresses (probably the biggest online away from the official site) and men’s bowling shirts. It’s a bit of a nightmare to navigate, but the stock is great.

Pin-Up Girl Clothing – One of my favourites for gorgeous wiggle dresses and pin-up styles. This big boutique stocks most of the big vintage brands and their own ‘Pin Up Couture’ label. Also the place to go for some very cute retro-inspired shoes and swimwear.

Bettie Page Clothing – Discovering the flagship store in Las Vegas was like stepping into my dreamworld, so this is another favourite of mine and I own three Bettie Page dresses now. Like Stop Staring, the best items are fitted wiggle dresses that make the most of a waspie waist! – If you visit the shops above already, you’ll know Bernie. She’s modelled for just about every vintage reproduction retailer going. Now she has her own store selling some beautiful pieces for burlesque and vintage chicks.

Babygirl Boutique – One of the biggest boutiques for rockabilly and alternative clothing. It’s got all the big names, plus lots of accessories that can be hard to find elsewhere. Check out the sunglasses!

My Baby Jo – website of the cute LA boutique selling great vintage styles you won’t find elsewhere (look out for the gorgeous garden party dress) and brands mentioned above. The undergarments section has some great retro lingerie too.

Whirling Turban – Stunning bombshell dresses, tiki frocks and 1950s style wedding dresses, many with a trademark ‘wing’ detailing on the bust. Offers off-the-rack or custom (in some styles) in loads of prints, from leopard to bright tropical florals.

Trashy Diva – Clothing line specialising in great dresses and suits with a 40s / 50s vibe in amazing old-fashioned prints. Lots of nice Summer circle dresses and shirtwaisters. Very good prices (lots for circa $100) and international delivery is affordable too.

Corsets and Lingerie

L – R: What Katie Did, Fairy Gothmother, Playful Promises, Hepburn & Leigh


What Katie Did – The place to go for corsets and lingerie, including fully fashioned stockings (with the must-have french or cuban heel). If you want to go the whole hog, the bullet bras and proper girdles are a great alternative to modern shapewear (and much sexier).

True Corset – Classic overbust and underbust corsets in various fabrics, sizes go up to about a 24, plus loads of other burlesque and lingerie treats. For a review, see here. – The biggest range of fully-fashioned stockings made on vintage machinery by brands like Gio and Cervin, as well as plenty of more affordable modern interpretations. Also have their own range of 40s-style suspender belts and matching lingerie.

Playful Promises – Modern lingerie brand with a big dash of pin-up inspiration. Come here for longline bras, pretty girdles and suspender belts, and diaphanous, boudoir-inspired sets.

Hepburn and Leigh – stockists of Kiss Me Deadly, for a modern take on vintage lingerie (think suspender belts, deep knickers and push-up in lieu of bullet bras). The styles are pretty, the items well-made (I’ve got the ‘Alouette’ set) and kudos to KMD for going up to an E cup! The site also stocks Playful Promises, Cervin and others.

Miss Katie – Yet more corsets, this time a bit more costumey and over the top. Think blue corsets with big sailor collars and white pinstripe numbers with matching skirts.

Fairy Gothmother – Don’t let the name fool you, this site stocks a lot of really beautiful high quality steel-boned corsets and has a good crossover from its goth roots into the world of burlesque. They’ve also now got a big dress section. Definitely worth checking out if you like the wasp-waisted look.


L – R: Modcloth, Skinny Dip Swimwear, Pin-up Girl Clothing (above), For Luna


Esther Williams – Williams appeared in countless movies during the golden age of Hollywood, often in fabulous high-waisted bikinis or sexy one-pieces. Now she sells them to the public. Ignore the terribly 90s photography – these are the bees knees when it comes to retro swimwear. At time of publication, sales on the site are suspended, but some of the sites below (Modcloth and For Luna) stock the line.

For Luna – Small but perfectly formed online swimwear boutique. The only UK stockist I’ve found for Esther Williams, also has What Katie Did swim and Jantzen. Also stocks the Red or Dead swimwear collection which has some fab pin-up girl styles.

ModCloth – Retro and indie superstore with an amazing selection of very reasonably priced retro swimwear, including polka dot two-pieces, nautical inspired sets and Esther Williams swimwear. If nothing else, it’s a good place to see the line photographed in a more modern way!

Skinny Dip Swimwear – retro-inspired swimwear from the people behind lingerie / hosiery brand Leg Avenue. Includes cherry print halter bikinis, white broiderie anglaise trimmed swim dresses, and plenty of polka dots.

Etsy stores

L – R: Dig For Victory, Zombie Doll Clothing, Audrey and Grace, Fables by Barrie


Dig For Victory – Beautiful 1950s style dresses made from vintage fabrics. Sized up to 16 with custom sizing available at extra cost. If you’re a Betty Draper fan, this is the one for you! I’m definitely saving up for my own floral frock! You can also shop in the UK at

Jack’s Daughter – 40s, 50s and 60s inspired dresses, including buttoned tea dresses, halter neck swing dresses and a good dash of polka dot. There are also some very cute bikini top and skirt combos in tropical prints. Made in Australia.

Zombie Doll Clothing – Made to measure dresses, tops and corsets in rockabilly and retro tattoo prints. Lisa will even do custom designs, so if you’ve see a fabric you love, drop her a line.

New Vintage Lady – A seller who specialises in plus sized vintage. The store is mainly patterns, so you’ll need to get crafty, but you’ll occasionally find clothing there – usually items over a 40″ bust.

Miss Brache – Amazing retro ‘maillot’ swimsuits (take a look at the ‘ooh la la’ set!) and rockabilly dresses. The designer will custom make everything up to a US size 24.

Fables by Barrie – Vintage styles with a modern twist – mainly sailor-inspired. Amazing red, white and blue swimwear and button-detail pencil skirts.

The Red Dolly – Very well-priced retro swimsuits and bikinis in spots, stripes, block colours and animal prints.

La Drama Queen – More retro swimwear. Cute bikinis with halter tops and ruched sides, and amazing chevron striped swimsuits.

Note: This is by no means a complete list of retro reproduction shops and sellers, but it did take a long time to put together. Please do not republish it without my consent. If you wish to borrow portions of it, or if you use it to compile a list or feature of your own, please link back to this page – share the love!


Why I love Christina Hendricks

Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks is a babe. With that gravity-defying bosom and handspan waist, she definitely embodies the kind of curvy girl many of us would love to be. A dress worn by the star to the SAG awards was recently auctioned off. Back then, her measurements were 40-28-40. Those are some curves! With her Marilyn-esque proportions, she’s a poster girl for the curvaceous woman. Let’s face it, nobody pulls off a wiggle dress like Joan Holloway!

To channel Joan’s look in real life, your best bet is obviously vintage. Pieces were cut much smaller in the waist back then – perfect for hourglass women like Ms Hendricks. The US is the best place to go if you have a bigger waist measurement. There’s much more floating around in larger sizes than you’ll find in Europe. Try eBay, of course (don’t underestimate those ‘bulk’ vintage lots, loads crop up on Australian eBay for some reason) and make sure you know your bust, waist and hip measurements. There’s nothing worse than buying something you love only to find it doesn’t fit (you can take stuff in, but you can’t let it out).

If you’d rather not hunt down second hand pieces, there are some great brands making modern reproduction pieces too. Try Bettie Page clothing, a Vegas-based boutique and online store full of wiggle dresses and retro pieces. They go up to a sze 3X, which has a waist somewhere between 34 and 38 inches.

Stop Staring is also a popular brand, worn by Paris Hilton, on Gossip Girl and modelled by Ashley Greene from Twilight. The figure-hugging Mae dress is very Joan, and again sizes go up to a 3X.

Don’t underestimate the power of decent underwear, too. In the 50s and 60s women sculpted and shaped their silhouettes with girdles, we can do the same with a a lot less pain with modern shapewear (though most of it is nowhere near as pretty as the stuff the cast of Mad Men get to wear). See the Big Girls Browse lingerie section for some ideas on what’s out there.

For more tips on buying retro reproduction, check out . As this look is so flattering on the fuller figure, a lot of the brands featured make their dresses in larger sizes.

[images courtesy of AMC]