Monday, September 28, 2015

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Miss Fisher Chinoiserie Jacket Refashion

The Miss Fisher Fashion quest continues! So far I've made some trousers, a skirt, a blouse, a couple hats, and I've purchased a few things as well.

I've also caught the "refashion" bug, retro-cycling clothes to give them a more vintage look. It's fun to see what you can make from something discarded, and flexes some little-used sewing muscles. I find making something from scratch quite easy, but re-making an existing garment, having to work around seams and style lines, can be quite tricky!


Re-cutting old clothing is a wonderfully historical thing to do. There are many examples of 18th century gowns re-made over and over again, as well as Victorian gowns made from literally 100 year old Spitalfields silk. The practice continued well into the 20th century. We think of "Make Do and Mend" as a '40s thing, but it was big in the 1920s and 30s too.

So in the spirit of our crafty ancestors, I set to work refashioning this:

before - uurrgghhh
It was  a very boxy, thigh-length, large jacket with shoulder pads. The fabric is a faux shantung with an Asian-inspired print. I wanted to do a short jacket to wear with my at-waist pants.

I used a '50s pattern, but with the cut '30s boleros in mind. I kept the Mandarin collar and buttons on the existing jacket, but removed the shoulder pads and took the whole thing in, in addition to shortening it. Here's my refashion:

After - fun!
Miss Fisher loves her jackets and is all about Asian influences, so I think she'd totally go for this bolero. And the hat, which I just couldn't resist snagging from VenusRetro on Etsy.

Now if only the weather would cool off so I can wear this!

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

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The 1940s in Shoes - Black Platforms (With Studs!?)

In my new endeavor to provide the costuming and vintage fashion world with the best of 1920s, 30s, and 40s footwear, I am constantly studying style trends of those decades.

Sometimes I'm surprised by what I find, thinking, "gosh, that looks so modern!" But what that really means in this crazy fashion world is, "gosh, modern looks so vintage!"

Take platform shoes, for example. What looks '70s may actually be '40s. It's amazing how popular black leather with studs was in the '40s - what a modern "rock and roll" style! But check these 1940s shoes out...

FabGabs - 1940s platform peep toes with studs (SOLD)
(source) - Leather and studs and HUGE platforms with a daytime suit. Yes. This is '40s
Antique Dress - 1940s beaded black velvet peep toe slingbacks. Disco inferno? Nope, just your average pair of 1940s shoes.
VintageVortex on Etsy - studs, cutouts, platform, AND and ankle strap. Zowie!
This kind of shoe is common in the '40s - it's the rule rather than the exception, if you can believe it. Of course, black platform shoes of varying heights and lifts went with everything - day, evening, work, play, which fits in perfectly with the thrifty '40s ideas of versatility in the wardrobe. Here are some more black platforms:

lovestreetsf on Etsy - '40s black suede platforms with floral cutout and ankle strap.
villavillavintage - black suede and leather platforms with decorative stitching
Kickshaw on Etsy - 1.5" platform on these gorgeous suede '40s shoes.
The interesting thing about platform shoes is that they *look* killer, but it's an illusion. By elevating the ball of the foot, you get the height but not the pain of a super high heel. A platform shoe with a 4 inch heel and a 2 inch platform feels like you're wearing just a 2 inch high heel.

I've been hunting for shoes like any of the above for Royal Vintage. The best repro designs I've found come from Miss L Fire:

Miss L Fire "Betty" 1940s Platform Shoes - $165 -
Miss L Fire "Betty" platform slingback sandals in black suede - $165
Miss L Fire "Lupita" 1940s Platform Shoes - $155 -
Miss L Fire "Lupita" black suede platforms with embroidery and cutouts - $155
Miss L Fire "Lila" 1940s Pinup Girl Platform Shoes - $120 -
Miss L Fire "Lila" 1940s velvet and studded suede platforms. These are epic and SO '40s - $120
Gorgeous shoes, and perfectly period. For tons more examples of 1940s shoes - platforms, slingbacks, peep toes, sandals, and oxfords - check out my 1940s Shoes Pinterest board.

Plus, here are a few more makers/sellers of '40s style platforms:
Remix Vintage Shoes - "Veronica" - $188
b.a.i.t. footwear - various designs - around $70 each
Pinup Girl Clothing - various designs - $60 - $200

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

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My Version of McCall 8641 - 1936 Skirt Pattern

My 1930s "Miss Fisher" skirt inspired by McCall 8641 from 1936
Continuing on with my Miss Fisher Capsule Wardrobe, I set to making a skirt from the navy blue wool gabardine I'm using as my base fabric.

I know the show is set in 1929 (so far), but a lot of Miss Fisher's wardrobe has a very mi-1930s flair to it, which I absolutely love. So instead of a '20s skirt, I went for something I felt would flatter me more, a basic, slim, straight 1930s skirt.

I didn't want it to be *too* plain, though, so I looked through the free search section of the Commercial Pattern Archive and found this 1936 McCall skirt pattern:

McCall 8641 - 1936

And, handily, the shapes for the pieces:

McCall 8641 - 1936 - pattern piece shapes

Easy enough! I already had a 1930s dress that I knew fit me, so I just traced off the pieces for the skirt, re-drew the seam lines on the front, and added the decorative button plackets and a waistband.

A simple 1930s straight silhouette, left long-ish at the hem (well below the knee). It'll go with everything!
A day later it was done. I'm quite happy with it, although if I were to make it again I would move the side-front seams and button placket closer together. It's just a bit wide on the front for my taste, but I'm not bothered enough to re-make the skirt.

The plackets are false, just folded fabric stitched down, with 5 buttons sewn on for decoration. This sort of embellishment is very common for 1930s clothing.
Despite looking a bit like a flight attendant, I enjoyed wearing the skirt with a simple white silk blouse, burgundy wool beret, and a pair of vintage '80s Zodiac oxfords I found in a thrift shop for $7.

A great pair of Zodiac brand leather oxfords, from the 1980s, found at Savers for a steal.
I'm over the discomfort of going out in public dressed in "old lady clothes" by now, and just enjoy feeling put together, especially in things I made myself and thrifted. :-) It's just smart!

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

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Introducing the Tango Boots - Pre-Order Now Open!

At long last, I'm so excited to introduce our special 2015 Holiday release - the Edwardian Tango Boots!

I've been working on these for about a year now, tweaking the design to make them as close as possible to original examples c 1900 - 1920. We've done ours in leather, with leather lining and leather soles. The boots lace up with a satin ribbon through grommets, and just imagine the possibilities of lacing these with a fanciful wide silk ribbon or a thin gold cord to show off your Edwardian stockings.

The heel is our 3" French heel molded from an original Edwardian heel. It works wonderfully on the Tango boots, lending height and excellent balance and stability, making the Tango boots ideal for, well, doing the Tango!

For those of you who don't know how our Pre-Orders work, we make all our styles in limited runs of 200. We often sell out of popular styles quickly, so I encourage you to place your order ahead of the shoes coming into stock. As a thank you, we offer a $10 discount -or- a free pair of stockings ($25 value), and you are the first to receive the boots as soon as they arrive.

The Tango Boots will be available to pre-order with the freebies September 17 - October 1st. Afterwards, you can still order them, but at the regular retail price. The Tango Boots will arrive around December 1st, right on time for the start of the Holiday shopping season.

Tango Boots

c. 1890 - 1930

Black or Oxblood Leather

*$10 Discount -or- Free Stockings when you Pre-Order between September 17 - October 1

Limited Edition | Limited Quantities Available

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Monday, September 14, 2015

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The Scandalous Tango Boots!

Around the time of the turn of the 20th century, a new dance craze swept the Western world. The dance was risque and immensely popular, first introduced to Paris by the sons of wealthy Argentinian families traveling abroad.

The Tango, that seductive Latin dance, became a phenomenon by 1913, and was celebrated throughout the 1920s and 30s, with music, events, and of course fashion.

Where footwear is concerned, the Tango had its very own shoe style, a lace-up boot or bootie designed to catch the eye and show off the legs and colorful stockings of the lady dancing such a sensuous dance.

However, this wasn't the first time this style of shoe was seen, though in its Edwardian and Jazz Age form they were sexier than ever. Here's a look at the evolution of what we call Tango Boots...

Shoes, 1818, LACMA
These black shoes are from 1818, but their influence was in Greece and Roman antiquity, not South America. The lacing is no less striking and interesting, which paired well with the shorter skirts worn in the late 18teens and 1820s. While the reference was different, the idea was the same, to show off a ladies' ankles whilst dancing. (LACMA, 1818, M.2000.10.2a-c)

These silk evening boots are from the 1860s, and would have showcased a beautiful design on the front of the ladies' stockings. Again, these are for evening attire, dancing, and formal occasions, not for daywear. (The Met, 1860-69)

This lace-up shoe is a wedding boot from 1879, made of ribbed silk and embroidered and beaded. This type of shoe seems like an interesting choice for a wedding, but not when you think of it as "lingerie." The idea that nice Victorian women would never allow their ankles to be seen is complete nonsense! Shoes like these were definitely meant to be seen, along with the flamboyant stockings worn with them. Of course it would make a gentleman's heart leap to think of untying the complex laces of these booties, which make a rather obvious reference to other lace-on garments she is wearing. These boots play in perfectly to the ritualized disrobing and consummation of the marriage on the wedding night - they are a "gift" to the new husband. (Image from Silk Damask of a wedding shoe in the Clarks Shoe Museum, UK)

As we near the end of the 19th century, cutwork, strapwork, beading, and lacing becomes incredibly popular on women's shoes. Once again, the modern idea that Victorian women were demure as concerns the flashing of leg is simply wrong - these strappy late 1880s boots are not fetish boots, but everyday wear. Even children were wearing strappy boots, and as women gained more freedom in their lives, so did their fashion choices. (Virtual Museum, Canada, 1885-1890)

Now we get to the really "wild" footwear of the 19teens, shoes and boots that are inspired by and made for dancing the Tango.

Abiti Antichi - 19teens beaded and laces silk Tango boots
The Met, 1918
Antique Dress, 1900-1920
Tango Shoe (low top), Shoe Icons, 1912-15
August Auctions, 1890-1920
Just imagine these boots in gilded leather, shiny silk, and bright colors, with beads and laces and embroidery, glinting in the low electric lights, flashing here and there while dancing the Tango. They're seductive and interesting and not at all repressed.

Of course, this doesn't mean that people were not shocked by this dance (like most things that first come through Paris). In the TV series "Mr. Selfridge" (Season 2 Episode 2), the Tango is introduced to respectable ladies and gentlemen in London, who react rather accurately for the time.

But they do accept it, and it becomes a huge dance craze, and surprisingly, a fashion craze that we still have today. Tango boots, though called all sorts of other names now, are still being worn in various incarnations, with the same idea of attracting attention to the legs. And the way we react to the modern boots below is how people reacted to the "old-fashioned" boots above - scandalous!

Miss L Fire "Everdene" boots
Jeffrey Campbell - Nasty Gal
Look familiar?

But of course the reason I'm telling you all this is because this year's special Holiday shoe is our own reproduction of the Edwardian tango boot:

They're all leather, with our awesome 3 inch reproduction French Heel, and will be available in oxblood red or black.

I'll have more information for you about our special 2015-does-1915 Tango boots in the next post, but for now, mark your calendars for the Pre-Order opening Thursday, September 17!

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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

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A 1920s Photo Shoot with Yours Truly

More pictars!

I don't really like to model - I much prefer to be behind the camera - but sometimes it's easiest to put on all the stuff and just go.

1920s Photo Shoot -

For the 1920s section in our new shop, Royal Vintage Shoes, I wanted to wear the gorgeous original 1920s evening gown The Lady of Portland House sent to me. It's such an amazing dress, in perfect condition, and I find that original garments from this period really do drape and wear differently than anything I've made myself. Nothing beats a vintage dress!

Original 1920s dress - 1920s photo shoot - Royal Vintage Shoes

I wore the dress with a pair of the bronze/gold metallic "Gatsby" t-straps. I was originally a little nervous about the heel height, but was pleasantly surprised by how balanced and comfortable the shoes were. They went perfectly with the gown and were not at all too "loud." They're a great evening shoe for '20s events.

1920s "Gatsby" metallic t-straps by Chelsea Crew - get them at
My hair is a wig! I currently still don't have enough hair to do anything with, and my attempts at vintage styling usually come out hit-or-miss anyway, so I tried this "Fingerwave" wig from Darcinut on eBay, and have been really happy with it. (It made a few appearances at Costume College too).

Chris and I went to the 1930s train station in downtown Reno and took a few snaps. The station was closed - pity - but there were some cool architectural elements on the exterior.

Royal Vintage Shoes - 1920s photo shoot

I look forward to wearing this outfit to an event - more 1920s events, please!

Check out our new shop, Royal Vintage Shoes, for 1920s, 30s, and 40s styles
Also find us on Facebook and Instagram
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Friday, September 4, 2015


1930s Photoshoot with Elspeth for Royal Vintage Shoes

Gosh, I've been so busy I've forgotten to share SO much! Time to back up and show you the pretty pictures!

I put together a photo shoot with Elspeth, a local artist, musician, and model, who to me had a wonderfully 1930s Myrna Loy kind of look. We styled her in the Wearing History "Strawberry Moderne" dress, with a dapper hat from HistoricalVintage on Etsy, and a pair of red and white "Sylvia" 1930s pumps from our new retro shoe shop, Royal Vintage Shoes.

We shot at the University of Nevada, Reno, and had a great time. I'm super happy with the result, and Elspeth absolutely "killed it" with the poses. Here are a few of my favorite shots:

Royal Vintage Shoes 1930s Photo Shoot

1930s Dress Shoes and Hat by Royal Vintage

1930s Vintage Dress Shoes and Hat by Royal Vintage

While the dress and hat are one of a kind pieces and not available to purchase, you can find the "Sylvia" shoes in the 1930s section of our new shop. They also come in black/white and tan/white.

Check out the new Royal Vintage Shoes:
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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

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FlapperHacks: Re-blocking Wool Hats

On today's edition of FlapperHacks, I'll share a couple of wool hats I've created for my Autumn Miss Fisher wardrobe.

These hats were formerly in one shape, and have become another - that is, I've re-blocked them, rescuing otherwise tatty headgear and giving it new life. In the case of these two hats, they were a favorite with the moths last Winter. The hats were both in a state of disgrace, but instead of throwing them away, I decided to experiment.

Now, let me urge you to consider the recycling of wool hats for the following reasons:

  • Thrift stores are choc full of sad wool hats for cheap, whereas new un-blocked hoods and capelines start around $15/piece and go up from there.
  • Cheap, new hoods and capelines don't necessarily contain 100% wool. When thrifting wool hats, many will have a stamp on the inside that says "100% wool." Snap those up.
  • Re-blocking hats is ridiculously satisfying. It's creative, physical, and results in something totally unique, and that you'll actually wear.
  • Recycling, Retrocycling, Upcycling...whatever you call it, it's kinder to the world in so many ways.
  • Block and block again - wool is resilient. Don't like what you've done? Soak that sucker and re-block it! A wool hat can literally last you your entire life, in many incarnations.

For my two new Autumn hats, I started with a picture hat and a cowboy hat:

To revert a wool hat, remove everything that has been sewn or glued upon it - hat band, decoration, sweatband, wire or plastic edging. Rip out all the stitches, then soak the hat in cold water.

Squeeze the excess water out of the hat, and you'll have something like the above reverted capeline. Now you can block the hat while it's wet like this, or you can save it for later. Remember, you can always go back and re-wet the hat to revert it!

*For cloche hats, you only need a basic head form in your head size. You can buy one new, but there are tons of vintage ones out there. They start about $60 and go up from there, but it's the vital piece, so I urge you to make the investment.

Wooden Millinery Hat Form or Block from punksrus on Etsy
The ivory hat I blocked wet, with no stiffener. It was very free-form and creative, and happened quite quickly. I used elastic around the crown, then pins and clips to hold things in position for drying overnight. Unfortunately the pins and clips I chose rusted onto the ivory wool, so I don't recommend that method! (Use stainless pins, elastics, or some other method to position things)

Those little brown "X" stitches are where the pins rusted, so to mask my mistake, I purposefully stitched the pieces on in a contrasting color and tied it in with the brown ribbon on the front.
(My inspiration for this hat was a Behida Dolic hat, which you can see here)

For my second hat trick, I reverted the cowboy hat, which was a very thick wool. I did not work this one fully wet, but moistened it as I went, and steamed the heck out of it. The thickness of the wool made it a bit harder to work, and I had to start over a couple times, but here's how it turned out:

You'd never guess this was a cowboy hat once!

Now I have two "new" hats to wear this Fall. My hat collection is growing rather rapidly, but one can never really have enough hats! Despite thinking my wool cloche hat collection was complete, I picked up this sad little thing at a garage sale:

Now what might it become?
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