A truly beautiful Minxy mix of charm, inspiration, practical advice, and pretty projects to simplify and beautify your life and home. - Jane Brocket, The Gentle Art of Domesticity
Only another six weeks or so until the new book is published here in Australia, and I’m anxiously awaiting my first advance copy. It should be arriving next week. In the interim, I’ve another fashion upcycling event to keep me busy and the challenging work of writing my first novel. Some days I’m buoyed by the pace at which it’s coming along, others I feel desperate it’ll never be finished. But through it all I keep writing… it’s all I can do, really.
Here’s the details of the Upcycle your Threads event I’ll be hosting soon for the City of Sydney and Green Villages, an excellent initiative to help people live in more environmentally-conscious ways. Hope to see you there.
Feels like yesterday we were having a ball at the last Love Vintage, and yet the next one’s on in less than a month. The new venue means more stalls, more events, more fantastic people-watching opportunities and more vintage thrills. Plus I’m doing workshops again on Saturday and Sunday. Can’t. Wait.
Check out these pics from last year’s festivities, and pop March 23-25 in the diary – hope to see you at one of the workshops below.
Vintage clothing restoration with Kelly Doust
Saturday 24 March @ 11am, Sunday 25 March @ 12pm
The bestselling author of Minxy Vintage, A Life in Frocks and The Crafty Minx will be sharing her hints, tips and creative ideas for restoring all vintage clothing at this free workshop. Come along to hear Kelly’s advice on how to fix or customise preloved and damaged pieces, giving them a new lease of life for many years to come. These are fun, easy and environmentally friendly skills for even the least crafty. Feel free to bring along an item or two for specific advice on restoration – after this workshop you’ll never look at those less-than-perfect finds the same way again.
My top five tips for revitalising vintage pieces:
- Shattered silk and holes can be almost invisibly repaired with iron-on bonding – available from Spotlight and most haberdasheries – paired with fabric sneakily borrowed from a generous seam or hem (this works best on printed fabrics rather than block colours).
- Expel musty odours by dipping your vintage piece in a warm bath and adding ½-full cup of white vinegar. Dry in the shade before dipping in a second bath, this time with a few drops of sweet-scented lavender or grapefruit oil, to eradicate the smell of vinegar.
- Eucalyptus and tea tree oil remove stubborn oil stains and chewing gum. Simply apply directly to fabric, before finishing with a handwash or popping hardier items in the washing machine.
- Most other stains can be faded or disappear with Napisan. Dip item in dissolved solution and dry in full sunlight without rinsing. The enzymes react with the sun to bleach stains (be aware this may also fade bright colours or delicate fabrics – try a test patch first).
- Badly stained items are easily revitalised by dyeing to a new hue. Some shades are harder to achieve when added to the original fabric colour but when in doubt, black covers almost everything and is eternally chic.
Signed copies of Kelly’s books will be available at Love Vintage from Coco Repose (stall no.C02) and at both workshops.
Thank you so much to all the entrants in the Minxy Vintage Treasure Hunt – I just loved looking through your finds, and hope you appreciate the winners’ stories and treasures as much as I did. We’ll be in touch this week with details on how to claim your prizes.
1st prize – Sarah Hyland ($500 voucher to Coco Repose)
When I found this 1930s capelet in the bottom of a box of material at my local Salvos, my heart skipped a beat. The lady at the counter said That’s a nice old bit of rag love, that’ll be a dollar.
2nd prize – Bree Hiatt ($100 voucher to Vinnies)
The gorgeous old vollies headed off to the storeroom and returned with a dirty box. Inside sat five hats covered in dust in various conditions. One hat caught my eye – it had a beautiful yellow ribbon. I asked if I could possibly buy the whole box. They could not understand why I’d be interested when they had a window full of hats ready to wear… Of course I felt like I’d picked a winner and had not even been to the races yet. Each hat had been stuffed with newspaper to preserve their shape – the newspaper was from September 1948!
3rd prize – Steph (Murdoch book pack)
A beautiful cotton dress and belt, perfect for a mad hatter’s tea party. Found this gem in a charity store in North Lismore and have lent it to friends, danced in it, spilt paint on it – I hardly need to say it’s a fun dress and I’d hate to lock it up.
Joint 3rd prize – Meaghan Quirk (Murdoch book pack)
My favourite vintage buy is this 1940s telephone cord bag I got in Melbourne years ago which had a very old movie ticket inside. I just couldn’t throw it out, so it’s stayed in the pocket. Also some vintage milk glass beads and a brooch that came from markets and fairs.
I’ve been asked quite a lot lately about my favourite eras in fashion… difficult to answer, given the latest book is all about cherry-picking the best bits from the past and mixing up your references. But my response is the 1950s for evening wear (for the drama and decadence and romance which followed the sheer austerity of the war years) and 1970s by day.
Why? Because despite its awful connotations of wide lapels, shag hairdos and disco-babe synthetics, I simply adore the global mood which found its way into fashion with the advent of widespread air travel. Previously far-flung countries such as Morocco and India and those in the the Far East opened up as desirable holiday destinations, and infected fashion with a hippie luxe vibe and sense of adventure. The seventies foray into kaftans, bell sleeves, floaty scarves and historic decorative techniques is irresistable, and not dissimilar to the Ballet Russes / Oriental-inspired mood of the 1920s (but seventies pieces are easier to find, and will set you back less).
The golden years of fashion in fifties America also saw some dabbling in cross-cultural references. South Pacific-inspired florals, Mexican tooling and vibrant prints ruled, and I’m always on the lookout for those items which have survived a good half-century or more to be worn today (case in point, the bandeaus seen in recent runway cruise collections – very fifties but very now).
As a mother who works from home, this sort of detail – worn elegantly dishevelled – always wins out over clean lines for me, and informs the relaxed vibe of a modern home and wardrobe. If only these crafty, authentic techniques with metallic thread, mirrors, dye and pattern-mixing were available in mainstream fashion, and not just for the couture crowd. A trip to Rajasthan is on the cards, as I’d love a lesson in how to do it myself. Maybe when Olive hits five, and we can start her off as well. Long live these ancient skills.
Ah, Love Vintage… why are you over until March next year? I’m in withdrawal.
Last weekend’s event was by far the biggest and most buzziest I’ve been to in some time. Perhaps it’s because vintage is so hot right now (need evidence, Mugatu? Read this article… if the Tele says so it must be true). Or perhaps it’s because all the workshops and talks – which I adored, by the way, and thanks to the scores of lovely people who attended mine – were just brimming with enthusiasm and admiration for such high-quality pieces from yesteryear. Indeed you could barely hear yourself think above the chatter, tip-sharing and general gasps when gowns fit like the proverbial glove. It was every vintage vixen’s dream.
I may not wear vintage head to toe in everyday life, but this was the place to indulge latent screen siren fantasies. Thanks to the fabulous Chrissy, Lucy Topp and ladies of the Lindy Charm School for Girls for their stunning ‘dos, MC Bonnie Rose and to Charlotte Smith of Dreaming of Dior fame & the Darnell Collection for her fascinating forays into clothing’s social history. Not to mention all the dealers who made the journey out to Canterbury Racecourse to sell their wares. Thank you thank you Coco Repose, Garden Street Bazaar, Empire 47 and Circa Vintage Hats, to name but a few.
Until next year.
I just returned home after a lovely, meandering chat about vintage on morning radio with ABC 702′s Deborah Cameron and setting up a Minxy Vintage window display at Cammeray Bookshop, when I heard the news A Life in Frocks is being translated into Chinese! What a thrill to see my book written in the language I so struggled with learning a decade ago (Mandarin, that is… although I was living in Hong Kong at the time, I didn’t even attempt Cantonese – typical gwei-lo).
Writing this post in a stolen half hour before heading off to Love Vintage, in full shopping mode and ready to officially open the fair tonight (shopping first, officiating second). Here’s a few reasons why you need to be there:
- Discover stylish, quirky, glamorous gear for girls and guys, plus designer vintage fashions from New York, London and Paris
- Attend my free workshops on how to wear and revamp vintage for a modern look
- Shop for linen, lace, jewellery, antique tablecloths, hand-made aprons, buckles, vintage sewing patterns, magazines, antique prints, jewelled ’50s compacts & lipstick cases, rare Bakelite brooches, the prettiest parasols, and so much more
- See summer and special occasion fashion presented by Mistress of Parades, Miss Bonnie Rose
- Learn tips and tricks for perfect ‘hair and hat’ race-day styling with the Mistresses from the Lindy Charm School for Girls
- Enjoy presentations of gorgeous gowns from the 1920s-70s
- Buy fabulous shoes, hats and handbags to complement a race-day outfit, classic suit to wear in the office, or to-die-for party dress.
Tonight is ‘Best Dressed in Vintage’ night, so dress to impress. There’s also prizes being given out all weekend, so you can rock your favourite vintage look anytime at the show.
Be there or be square.
The Sydney Antique Centre hosted a small soiree for us last Thursday night to celebrate the opening of Coco Repose’s 1900s-1980s clothing retrospective, and launch of Minxy Vintage over truffles, tea and champagne. To see more pictures taken by The Sunday Telegraph, click here.
The setting perfectly demonstrated how a little vintage goes a long way, and if there was a theme at all, it was feathers. I’ve always been intrigued by the use of feathers in vintage hairpieces and clothing, and as a design motif. Indeed, it was the shimmery emerald sheen of the feathers shown above which inspired the entire design of Minxy Vintage, keeping it rich and jewel-toned instead of illustrated with the pretty pastels seen in many other gorgeous vintage titles.
A feathery headpiece or strip of feathers added to a jacket or coat (as I’ve done with the 1960s-era black lace bed jacket shown above) is just the ticket for understated glam.
Feathered friends = instant party plumage.
I know I shouldn’t play favourites, but here’s three supercool new entries in the Minxy Vintage Treasure Hunt. Daisy’s a cutie, but you know what would make her a knockout? Some added 60s vintage beading at the neck and hem. Dee’s already snipped her off to a better length for pin-strutting. Watch out.
More, please… vicarious thrills for me, and fab prizes for you.
1. Pair a favoured vintage item with neutral separates or accessories. This adds vintage flavour and depth to an outfit, without going the whole shebang. It also works a treat for toning down way-out pieces.
2. Reference earlier eras in line with current fashion trends. For example, forgo current bold shoulder styles and Peter Pan-collared frocks in favour of real-deal forties items. In good condition, these look infinitely better than the chainstore rip-offs.
3. ‘Undo’ items from more prim, less-permissive eras with loose and easy tresses or accessories, and vice versa by dressing up more casual styles for modern glam.
4. Vintage shoes are the hardest accessories to make appear current. Only wear them if you have complete confidence rocking a vintage vibe.
5. It’s very modern to clash masculine and feminine, conservative and flamboyant – don’t wear a look head to toe, but rather mix up your references and highlight a mood with what you’re wearing.
Whatever you do, own it.