Sunday, 20 May 2012

California Cottons! How Can Anybody Not Love These?

So, it's my first blog.
I'm going to start by talking about my favourite vintage designer from the 1950s and 1960s, California Cottons. These dresses are absolutely beautiful but are incredibly hard to find, especially with the tags still attached as I realised yesterday whilst searching for more on the internet! It seems I might actually own two California Cottons dresses rather than just one, so maybe there might be others lurking around in vintage shops?

I'd like to think so.

From my own research I know that California Cottons was a popular brand sold in the department stores of America and Britain during the 1950s and 1960s as this advert shows:

Courtesy of Hannah Asprey on Flickr

I personally think this is one of their most modern designs, note the keyhole bodice? Although small, I have a feeling that this might have been a little controversial for the conservative 50s girl making her first steps into womanhood. 

That is not to say that I am not fond of this particular dress, I actually think the cut of it is very flattering, the pattern is pretty without being frumpy, I've tried on a few dresses in various vintage shops that make some of today's designs look very appealling! Still, we can't look good in everything!

I'd love to know what other people think about this lovely brand, feel free to comment.


How to do Vintage on The High Street

Vintage has exploded onto the High Street, as many magazines will claim, but has it REALLY?
Are these cheaply made reproductions really worth the prestigious title of Vintage, or should they only be allowed to use the name if the quality matches the authenticity of the real thing?

Personally, I think shops should only use the title of 'Retro' to describe reproductions, don't we see enough of them in my personal hate Primark?

Only a couple of years ago, I came across a dress from Topshop which had an identical pattern to one in Prim Vintage, Norwich, if anybody has a photo of the modern version, please add a comment with a link!

The Original Dress from Prim Vintage

As for other high street retailers...

 I like Oasis, their clothes are very high quality and when they do their Vintage collections, it is obvious that they really study the originals to capture the authenticity. For example, Oasis' Some Day My Prints Will Come Collection for Spring/Summer 2012 is based on original vintage pieces from

One of my favourites from this collection is the 'Floral Print Skirt':

I actually bought this skirt after eagerly anticipating its release and it is absolutely darling! It has that gorgeous 50s length and can be teamed with lots of different colours and styles. I'm not sure I'm as fond of the original skirt's length though:

The little skirt looks so 50s when teamed with a blouse and yellow cardigan, like this one from Dorothy Perkins:

The collar on this cardigan is frilled slightly and the buttons are quite dainty, making it look very vintage, although D.P simply titles it as 'Lemon Scallop Cardigan' and even better, it's available in a variety of colours! A real bargain at £18! 

Miss Selfridge is known for its gorgeous selection of embellished dresses, boleros and generally exciting clothes, but for Vintage lovers, it also provides some of the best retro wear as well. Who can forget the sell out Victorian boots which graced the shelves back in December 2010? 

How much did I want these shoes? Well...a lot.

Fortunately I managed to get a pair from Office in the sale which are very similar and I think may be better quality!!! They were a bit more expensive even if they were in the sale!!! 

Back to Miss Selfridge, well, I'm not always fond of their collections, some can be a little too outlandish for my tastes, but I do like this at the moment:

I seem to have a thing for yellow! 
The collar on this is really dainty, but the material is almost jersey making it very tight however in terms of Miss Selfridge's current trends, this is on the most appealing side. It's pretty without being too modern, whereas most of the dresses in store at the moment are very...unusual, to put it kindly. This is really one of a kind in terms of what styles they have to offer and vintage girls will like it!

Apart from that, not much is available if you like authenticity, although the Winter collection was very preppy and retro!

 I refused to enter a River Island store for years until I saw their Chelsea Girl range and the release of their Peggy Olson-esque check dress in 2010, prior to that I considered their clothes to be very mainstream and dull with neon prints and awkward styles. 

Recently I made a few purchases and realised that perhaps River Island isn't as bad as I thought for the vintage girl. One of my pet hates is when shops refer to normal length 50s style dresses as Prom dresses. THEY. ARE. NOT.

River Island's Current Collection of Vintage Style Dresses

To the vintage girl, these are simply reproductions of the type of dresses she normally wears and therefore should have the tag line of 'prom' stripped to make them less 'occasion' and more 'everyday!' River Island does not classify its items as vintage, only retro, and has recently moved to producing some decent versions of originals, 50s style crop tie-tops and shirt waisters (to you and I) but 'shirt dresses' to those not familiar with vintage.  

TopShop is one of those shops which tends to flit in and out in terms of vintage. Their 50s Diner collection for Spring 2012 was a very poor attempt at capturing 50s Americana. Pastels, yes, I can kind of get the whole 'pretty pastels' thing, but since when did the 50s do crop tops with a netted maxi skirt? The 50s Diner look was just wrong, wrong, wrong apart from the colours.

Anyway, the current stock is a little...well...

Which I don't mind...


I'd like to know why...

Actually, let's just move on. 

TopShop have some concessions which are good for vintage style, particularly in their Oxford Circus megastore, but in general seem to be more interested in producing mismatch than good fashion.

But hey, that's only my opinion.

So my Vintage Picks at the moment are:

Sweet and demure, this works really well with the 'matching' skirt:

 At Dorothy Perkins there are many midi dresses, but this one from concession brand 'Paper Dolls' really captures the 50s to a T.

Team with a pair of red heels and a cute vintage clutch bag!

But haven't I seen this before...?

Well...not quite, but could be. 

This is just a cute blouse, but I do think it does work as a vintage style:

I think this might work well with this Warehouse skirt:

I haven't actually seen this item instore yet, I think it might be available soon though. In the meantime, Warehouse's aptly named '50's full skirt is here:

I'd love to put some patterns on this, it does look a bit plain, but I suppose that is the effect. 

Those are my picks of the High Street!


Jaeger Boutique: New Vintage or Nostalgic Reflection?

Over the past few months, I have come to love Jaeger. Previously it just seemed like one of those luxury brands to look but not touch because of it's mumsy corporate suits and plain dresses and as I type this I'm thinking, is it really possible for someone who loves vintage to choose such a brand?

Apparently, yes.

This is to do with the fact that suddenly, Jaeger has gone all nostalgic and retro with their Jaeger Boutique range, just take a look at this:

Is this a vintage 1940s tea dress or just a retro copy?

Yes, it really is what it looks like!

That's not to say, though, that this is the only piece in their collection worthy of an award for reproducing such authenticity, just look at this truly gorgeous 60s style jacket:

This says: BUY ME!

Everything about this jacket says: Mad Men or Pan Am (whichever is your favourite!) in fact, I'm pretty sure I have seen something very similar on one of the shows! I have been looking at this jacket for a long time, I would love to be able to afford to buy it, but as an apprentice, some things can only be for dreams, although I am keeping an eye on eBay...ah, one day it will be available at a cheaper price.
The skirt that matches is also very pretty, a little bit short unfortunately, so the jacket makes it quite hard to balance in terms of wearing it as a suit.

However, Jaeger's bestseller this season has to be this little beauty:

 Jaeger Boutique's 'Maria' Dress

 I have seen this in so many department stores and shops, it must be one of the most stocked dresses in the UK at the moment. I think Jaeger have done really well with this, the dimensions are accurate and the style is very flattering, the only thing I don't like is the fabric. It is VERY thick and has an unusual pattern. Apart from that, I really do like this dress! 

I'll be updating my High Street Vintage blogs regularly, so please keep checking!