15
Apr
2014
Posted by Nicole in Media, Shop talk, Television 3 Comments

You may have noticed that the blog has been a bit quieter this year – now that I’m through most of the recovery, I’ll confess that I had an accident with my bike and a car in January and the worst part was breaking my arm. My dominant arm, which has made all manner of tasks tricky, not least of all typing.

Now that I’m back to speed (almost), I’m way behind with my writing – the book (code named Stella) is still on schedule but it’s meant a lot of juggling and cancellations and no additions to the dance card until it’s completed, which should be the next few months – and hopefully publication later this year. It’s also meant that Saturdays have gone “by appointment” but we’ll be open again as normal as soon as I can – and in the meantime, we can arrange a time.

There have been quite a few changes too – firstly, we expanded the salon and shrunk the workroom, which means there’s more room to play at Circa – here are some pics.

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shop 2 475

shop 3 475

This meant more room for dresses, and more room for menswear too. My wonderful assistant, Esther who has helped me for more than five years headed off to other roles – mostly costume designing. I’m pleased for her of course, but sad to see her go. Here’s Esther:

Esther

We’ve also got a new model – meet Becky Lou

Beaded Becky 475

She’ll soon be appearing on the webshop – here are some sneak peeks.

Becky 475
This one has already gone to a good home, a lady who loves mermaids, but I love the pic – gorgeous beaded top.

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This mint green chiffon cocktail frock is a size 10 and is currently available in the shop, and will soon be online.

In other news, thanks to your support Circa’s webshop was included in Lulu’s annual vintage shop awards – this year we won in not only the People’s Choice, but also in Lulu’s Personal Favourites- and she interviewed me too. Thanks Lulu! It’s a great honour to be listed amongst so many great international shops.

We were also featured on the Urban List’s best Melbourne Vintage shops – where they kindly called me “the premier vintage fashion expert in Melbourne”. Hurrah!

Tanya Ha also interviewed me for the current Green Lifestyle Magazine, talking about vintage fashion and I’m talking about investing in vintage fashion in an upcoming episode of Channel 10′s “The Living Room” with Jason Cunningham. Here’s a pic from the shoot, of me, Marlene in her ’50s showgirl outfit and Jase.

Living Room 475

Keep an eye out for the Living Room – I’ll post a screening date when it’s available.


8
Feb
2014
Posted by Nicole in 1980s, Calendar, Sale, Shop talk

Thank you to everyone who came and visited Circa this week: not surprisingly, it’s been the busiest week we’ve had since moving from Fitzroy, and I’ve loved meeting you all, greeting old friends and sending out so many vintage pieces to happy new homes.

As a result, I’d like to continue the in-salon sale for another week of half price bargains. New stock is getting added every day. Come see us Tuesday to Friday, 12noon to 6pm or Saturday 11am to 3pm.

There will be final markdowns on the last day – Saturday – with tops and skirts from $10 and dresses from $20!

Plus – I’d like to extend the sale to the webshop. Everything on the webshop for the following week will be 20% off – everything including wedding gowns and rare antique items. The discount will be automatically calculated as you go through checkout. This also applies if you’d like to purchase any webshop items in the Melbourne salon.

It includes all new arrivals – see here for the latest vintage styles. More will be added during the week. Webshop sale closes 2pm next Saturday Feb 15th.

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Hope to see you either at Mitchell House or online! Shipping for web orders is a flat $15 per order, Express Post. This is refunded if you’d like to pick up from the salon.

Thank you for your all your support.


1
Feb
2014
Posted by Nicole in Sale, Shop talk

Hi all,

I have some lovely pieces in next week’s half price sale – so here are some sneak peeks.

10th Sale 10
1940s dancing dress size 8, on sale for $95

10th Sale 1
1930s blue linen dress size 10, on sale for $72

10th Sale 2
Early 1960s evening dress with matching jacket size 16, on sale for $92

10th Sale 3
1930s floral silk georgette tea dress with collar and bow, size 10 on sale for $97

10th Sale 4
1950s silk taffeta party dress size 6, on sale for $92

10th Sale 5
1970s nightgown or petticoat, new old stock size 14, on sale for $32

10th Sale 6
1920s silk lace and satin wedding gown size 10, on sale for $245

10th Sale 7
All accessories and jewellery are also on sale – this 1950s handbag now $42

All menswear also half price including suits, braces, ties, waistcoats, trousers, shirts, cufflinks and hats. Hope to see you there – Circa Vintage, first floor Mitchell House, 358 Lonsdale Street (corner of Elizabeth Street) Melbourne – Open Tuesday to Friday, 12noon to 6pm and Saturday 11am to 3pm.

Everything half price Sale runs for the first week of February only.


30
Jan
2014
Posted by Nicole in Calendar, Shop talk 1 Comment

Golly, the last decade has gone fast – this weekend is ten years since Circa all began, with a vintage clothing stall in Chapel Street Bazaar.

Within a week I realised that I wanted something bigger, where I could help people choose the right frock for their needs and so a few months later my first proper shop opened in Gertrude Street, Fitzroy. Since then there has been the addition of a webshop, and more recently, relocating into the city of Melbourne in the beautiful Art Deco building Mitchell House.

To celebrate this milestone, we’re going to hold a half price sale – everything in the city salon will be half price for the first week of February!

What: Circa Celebrates Ten Years – with a half price sale.
When: Tues-Friday 4th-7th Feb (12noon to 6pm) and Sat 8th Feb (11am to 3pm). NOW EXTENDED TO SAT 15th FEB!
Where: Circa Vintage, 1st floor, 358 Lonsdale St Melbourne – cnr Elizabeth St.

10th anniversary sale copy

The sale includes menswear, ladieswear, hats, bags, jewellery, scarves and other accessories. Items from the ’20s to brand new but in vintage style. Some items are from the webshop and some you’ve never seen before – most are below cost. Prices from $2.50. Highly unlikely to ever be repeated. Webshop is not included.

UPDATE: Half price sale continues in store for another week – finishing 3pm Saturday February 15th!


20
Dec
2013
Posted by Nicole in 1930s, Shop talk 1 Comment

Lovely people,

Thank you to everyone for your support this year – readers and customers, vintage lovers all. It’s been an action packed year and as it draws to a close I’ll be listing my 2,000th item of unique vintage or antique fashion to the webshop.

Next year promises much joy: my first book “Love Vintage” is now sold out, and so out of print – but you can still borrow copies from libraries around Australia (much to my great delight).

The good news is that I’m currently working on a second book, more on fashion but with a basis in vintage. For this reason I’m going to have to take a little time off from Circa and so the vintage salon will be closed from Christmas until the 21st of January to give me a big head start. As an extra treat, I’ll also be illustrating it!

The webshop remains open of course, and orders will be shipped on Thursdays via Express Post.

I wish you and your family all the best and look forward to seeing you in the new year.

all the best,
Nicole xxx

Vintage Xmas 475
Image Source


3
Dec
2013
Posted by Nicole in 1960s, Sewing, Shop talk 4 Comments

As a costumer I rarely use patterns when I sew – generally I just draft from scratch – and yet I’ve managed to accumulate over a thousand vintage patterns. I can’t resist them! Often when I go to see people’s wardrobes, there will also be patterns (and fabric, that’s another story) and they’re one of those things that can all so easily be thrown out.

Listing some of my patterns on the webshop today I noticed this style that incorporates a lot of what I look for in a frock: plunging V neckline, nice big full bishop sleeves, empire line, assorted lengths.

pa0416 475

I also wanted to pin down the date: was it late ’60s or early ’70s? Despite fashions changing rapidly during this decade, popular styles clung on, sometimes for a long time. As I’ve mentioned previously, vintage patterns can be much easier to date than finished garments because you have clues in the style of artwork, hair and make up plus accessories. The full hairstyle on the blonde suggests pretty close to 1970, as do her chunky heeled shoes (visible just under the hem of her long black maxi).

Google is your friend – I quickly found the Vintage Pattern Wiki entry – a great resource if you haven’t discovered it yet – which supplied the date. 1969, and reissued in 1970 – and a number of places you can buy it online. The prices were surprisingly high, suggesting a popular style or a premium for the “Vogue” brand.

Then I found a review at Sew Weekly by Mena Trott who had made the dress up – here’s a photo she posted. She called it the “Where’s my coke, Lester?” dress. You can see she’s made the neckline more demure, reducing the decolletage.

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Photo copyright Mena Trott.

Mena made it up in a heavy polyester, which didn’t hang as well as she would have liked. Perhaps she’ll try again in a lighter fabric? As anyone who sews can attest, the success generally depends on what fabric you choose – I’ve made that mistake many times, especially with trousers so perhaps that’s why I don’t wear them? It’s a good idea to follow the fabric suggestions on the pattern packet.

In another review Elona said…”I’ve made this one, and would like to note that with that decolletage and done up in a light, drapy fabric, it can be a stunning dressing gown, if you don’t have kids around the house.”

Gosh, how did we ever cope without the internet and all the information available?

Then I found an enthusiastic review by Urban Rustic who was fortunate enough to score some nice silk crepe at an op shop – perfect! Here’s the result:

Urban Rustic
Marvellous! Photo copyright Urban Rustic.

If that wasn’t enough, I found a pic of my favourite ’60s model, Jean Shrimpton wearing it in a David Bailey photo.

Jean Shrimpton

I think that’s twice in one week Miss Shrimpton has appeared in my blog. Photo copyright David Bailey, 1970. Mr Bailey was engaged to Jean in 1964, and together they produced some wonderful fashion shots.

If you’d like to try your hand at your own Vogue dress, the pattern is now available in the webshop: unless I decide to try it myself, of course!


4
Oct
2013
Posted by Nicole in 1940s, Shop talk, Vintage 101 7 Comments

Have you noticed that I run a home for lost frocks? Since 1980 I’ve adopted dirty, damaged and downright neglected frocks. Frocks that were once beautiful and have fallen on hard times – abandoned by everyone else, I’ve sheltered them from harm and promised to one day return them to their days of glory.

It’s a good thing that you don’t see them as they come to me – many are in a very sad state. Most of my collection is more than fifty years old and that invariably seems to mean they’ve spent a spell out in the wild – stored in a leaky shed or attic, or perhaps crushed in boxes under beds. As long as the fabric is strong, I can help them though.

There’s an enormous pleasure to be derived from taking something that looks like it’s fit for the rag bin and turning it back into a thing of beauty to be enjoyed.

The last couple of weeks I’ve been going through hundreds of pieces, selecting items for tomorrow’s online garage sale and this little darling was sheltering amongst them.

Dress 6

It had been scrunched up in a ball, and stored somewhere damp. Long since dried out, it shows scars and stains from its ordeal.

The fabric is a sharkskin style shot taffeta, with a self-spot. Silk or rayon, a crisp fabric that needs to be dry cleaned. Generally I send frocks like this straight off to the cleaner but I haven’t had much success in them getting stains out so I thought perhaps it could go into the garage sale instead. I gave it a good pressing, but soon uncovered more issues.

Dress 1

Can you see the issues? It’s a beautiful and flattering dancing dress from the very late 1940s with a full circle skirt. The buttons are missing their rhinestones and the belt is missing too but this is an eminently wearable dress, even in its current condition – would look lovely with a crinoline petticoat for extra swoosh.

Are you ready? Look carefully for the large watermark stains, tinged with yellow and brown.

Dress 2

Dress 3

Dress 4

I can soak all of those out with an oxywash cleaner – warm water, and repeated soaks and they will come out. I’ll remove the buttons first (they already need their rhinestone centres replacing) and the dress will look much better – except that the taffeta will crease and lose its crispness and the dress might become floppy like a cotton.

However, on looking at these photos, you can see that the dress is already very crumpled after its adventures over the past sixty odd years so maybe it’s a risk worth taking? I’m going to give it a shot.

If you’re wondering why I don’t spot clean it, it’s because I’ve had too many bad experiences with the dye fading under modern products so I always treat the whole dress.

So this is one frock that won’t be going into the garage sale, but there are many more – it opens tomorrow, is only online (not in the salon) and I hope you find something lovely. There are sizes 2 to 18, from a hundred years of fashion and even some menswear all priced to clear. If you’d like to save the shipping you can pick your orders up from the shop in the week starting October 15th – Circa will be closed next week.

Dress 5

I’ll let you know how I go with the dress!


6
Sep
2013
Posted by Nicole in 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, Shop talk 11 Comments

Are you excited about the federal election tomorrow? I’m not.

I’ve been involved in almost every election (state and federal) since 1977 due to my unusually political family. At one stage or another, for one reason or another, I’ve campaigned and handed out how-to-votes for the Liberals, the ALP, the Democrats and the Greens.

My personal political leanings don’t change, more that I like to support friends and family, who have previously included a senator and currently include a couple of MPs. I even stood myself once, for the local council!

Happy 1

Around half of the population is going to be disappointed tomorrow, as their candidate or their party fails to get elected. I remind myself of this because it will hopefully soften the blow as I expect to be one of those people and not winning is never a nice feeling.

The fact is that I live in a fringe world, with fringe interests – and until the majority of the population get over their perception that vintage (because most of it has been worn before) is undesirable and until we can stop buying $5 new dresses made by exploited workers in other countries and until we wake up and realise that we can’t just keep producing new things, filling up landfill forever…well until then, I will continue to dwell happily in my little fringe world caring about things that are unimportant to many.

So it should come as no surprise that most of Australia thinks, and votes differently.

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Like me, if you’re feeling a little sad about what tomorrow might bring – here are some ways to make life a little easier.

1 – Join the political party of your choice and get involved. Each has a process for members to influence policy, and the more that agree with you, the more of a difference you can make. It’s hard to achieve much when you’re yelling from the sidelines.

Happy 5

2 – You don’t need to be a member to help out with the campaign. You can even turn up on polling day and help out the volunteers of your preferred party. It can be quite fun on the booth, with a sense of camaraderie and it’s refreshing to find that the how-to-voters get on well, regardless of their political differences. You all share one important thing: you care about the result and are doing your bit.

I’ve met some great people on different sides of the spectrum that I would never meet normally. Minor parties (or major parties in electorates where they have small followings) are generally short of volunteers and thankful for extra helpers. Befriending the people helping other parties means that they might cover you for short breaks too – and (if no one is looking) even hand out your How-to-votes. I’ve done that several times.

Happy 4

3 – There’s nothing better than the feeling that everything’s going your way – but if your party isn’t winning it can be a challenge – remember that your turn may come again with each election and that lending your support can help increase this likelihood, and even when you don’t win, you’ll feel better to have been involved.

Happy 6

4 – Many polling booths are hosting sausage sizzles and cake stalls – check this site to make your voting experience a little nicer, and perhaps come home with a souvenir of the day, all whilst supporting your local community.

Happy 3

5 – Why all the frocks? Because when you’re not feeling so happy, do things that make you happy – go for walks in the park, eat Italian gelati whilst gazing out to sea, visit the NGV or watch an escapist film. Drink gin or champagne (in responsible doses of course!) in the company of like-minded loved ones.

Happy 8

Lucky me, I’m enjoying taking pics of beautiful St Clare in vintage, so here are some of my current favourites. I hope you enjoy them regardless of what tomorrow brings!

Happy 2


13
Aug
2013
Posted by Nicole in 1920s, 1970s, Shop talk 2 Comments

Yes – nine years ago we opened at Gertrude St, which also makes it a year that we’ve been at Mitchell House in the city. Hurrah!

If you’ve with been us all the way, you might remember this lovely lady, who graced our first shop post cards – meet Dolores Costello, grandmother to Drew Barrymore and wife to John Barrymore. This image is from 1921.

To complete the circle here is Clare St Clare in Ossie Clark moss crepe circa 1972, with a Celia Birtwell print called “Floating Daisies”. I’ve used this frock in a few talks, notably the Art Gallery of Ballarat and today we ostensibly photographed it for the webshop but well, I’m not sure that I’m ready to sell this one.

People often ask me if I’m reluctant to part with vintage, but generally I find it a pleasure, as I love dressing people but sometimes there is a piece that I want to keep. The Ossie falls into this category. I’m sure that one day she will arrive on the webshop, looking for a new home but in the meantime I shall keep her safe and warm.

Sometimes, the piece is too special to part with.

Happy birthday Circa! May you have many, many more.


31
Jul
2013
Posted by Nicole in 1950s, Shop talk

Hi all,

It’s a year since we closed down the Gertrude Street shop and set up in the wonderful Mitchell House in the city. I’m loving the new location, with its beautiful high ceilings and Deco features, and the vibrancy that comes from being situated on a main intersection.

It was scary closing the shopfront, and losing all the passing trade as now people have to come up to the first floor but like any business, Circa has to adapt to the changing marketplace. It’s a continuing journey as the clientele has changed a lot and now we’re doing a lot more online and also for film and TV. There’s also the repairs, restoration and alteration side of it as well, which I’m enjoying as we’ve been able to work on some amazing vintage pieces, including the “Gypsy” costume of Natalie Wood – I’m still feeling warm and fuzzy over that one!

My book “Love Vintage” has almost sold out now, and so is no longer available online or at other bookshops, but if you’re quick, there are a few copies left at the salon. I’ll be sad to see it go out of print, but I’m working on another book, which builds on the vintage theme but takes it further: more news on this to come.

The new book requires a little restructuring of how I spend my time, so I’m reluctantly changing Saturday hours to “by appointment” only. There is much to do with both writing, and with the webshop that is expanding this year to 2,000 unique vintage items – it already has over a thousand, making it it the largest vintage webshop in Australia by a long shot, and one of the largest one shop vintage webshops worldwide – actually, I haven’t found a more extensive collection of vintage for sale online so it may be the largest.

Making Saturdays “by appointment” only also means that I’ll be able to do more weekend events, like this Saturday’s Strictly Vintage at the Northcote Town Hall. Circa will be closed this Saturday as a result.

In other news, this week I picked up a fabulous collection of vintage clothing from Lyn Gardener of Albert Park institution Empire Vintage. Lyn has exquisite taste and her beautiful pieces will soon be available from Circa, online and in-salon: these pics are a few sneak peeks from this week’s photo shoot with Saint Clare.

If you like these snaps, you can see more at Circa’s instagram – and more pretties can be found at Circa’s pintrest. Don’t forget that I’m doing a free talk on Marilyn Monroe and her costumes, tomorrow night at ACMI – hope to see you there!


Unless stated otherwise, all content © Circa Vintage Clothing 2004-2014. ABN 37 840 548 574.
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