Browsing Tag


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 – 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.

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 2: The ‘Grace’ circle dress in Fuchsia

We’re on to my second of three Vivien of Holloway dress reviews, and this time it’s the turn of the positively fabulous ‘Grace’ dress, a silk, full-circled version of the Jezebel I tried last time. It’s the most expensive VoH dress at £110, but there’s definitely a reason for that. The fabric is really nice quality, very heavy so it hangs well, and there’s loads of it in the dress – though there are side seams, this is a nice full skirt, not an A-line masquerading as a circle!

I should probably tell you now, before you scroll down, that the unofficial theme for these photos was ‘vintage tea party in my kitchen’ so this post includes not only a retro dress, but also cupcakes and vintage teacups. All this is despite the fact I don’t drink tea (I do eat cakes, though). Be warned, kitsch ahoy!

I’m basically in love with what this dress does to my waist!

It fits like a glove around the mid-section. Looking back at the pictures, I would perhaps opt for a different bra in the future (I wore the Freya Deco half-cup) because around the top seam it’s fighting against underwires and padding a bit which means it sits out away from my body slightly, but nevertheless I can’t fault the fit at all. When I put it on it felt like the dress had been custom-made to my measurements.

The heavy satin items like this one seem to run a bit smaller than others in the Vivien of Holloway range, probably because of the stiffness and lack of give. It’s not a huge difference, but I’d say there’s half an inch in it at least, so it’s worth remembering if you’re between sizes or only just fit into the size you usually wear if you’re a fan of the brand. The Jezebel fit me with a bit of breathing space, the Grace in the same size (vintage 16) fits very tightly, but not uncomfortably. As always with Vivien of Holloway, go by the waist measurement, not the size in the label as their vintage sizing differs from modern sizes by quite a bit.

The length, shape of the skirt and the way it hangs can’t really be faulted as far as I’m concerned. On my 5’7 frame it hits a couple of inches below the knee, and the fabric is heavy enough that it doesn’t crease the moment you put it on. It took a while to get used to the colour – if I’d bought it myself I probably would have gone with the navy or dark green – but once I had it on and I was prancing about the kitchen with cupcakes, I soon grew to love the bold fuchsia and ended up falling in love. I wore it with Marc Jacobs peep toes, my mom’s necklace, H&M earrings and a No.1 Jenny Packham bracelet.

Buy the dress in various colours for £110 at Vivien of Holloway.

[Photos by Natalie]

Disclosure: Vivien of Holloway allowed me to keep one dress – I chose this one! However, 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.

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!

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!