From Vintage 101

Vintage Fashion for Beginners – part one: fabrics

More than seven years and 620 blog posts later, I think it could be time to write an informative blog post for those starting out in vintage – what to look for, and how to date fashion. Here’s the disclaimer: ————————————————————————————————————————————————— There is an unlimited amount of information you can know on this topic. It’s been my focus for almost 35 years and I still find items that give me pause for thought. That’s a big part of why I love it: you could never be bored with vintage fashion, there is so much to see and learn. What I…

Vintage versus vintage reproduction fashion

One of the questions I most frequently encounter is that of vintage versus reproduction fashion. Now, as we know – real vintage is an authentic creation from a previous era. Reproduction is modern, brand new fashion, usually mass-produced and based on the style of a previous era. It can be a little confusing these days as some (contemporary) designers call their wares “vintage” when really they’re repros, and that with sufficient passing of time, the repros themselves become vintage. From the in-box: What do you think about modern companies reproducing vintage textiles? I just sold two excellent print dresses to…

Sharpies and ’70s fashion

I’m fascinated by sub-cultures: the ways that a group of people bond, and how they present themselves to the world. The first sub-culture I became aware of was in 1976. Chocolate brown skivvies were all the rage but the shop wasn’t well lit and mum brought me home a black version. Everyone knew you couldn’t wear black: only Rockers wore black and I was sure to get beaten up for crossing the code. In my sheltered Perth world there were only two sub-cultures: Mods and Rockers. They hated each other and the rest of us tried to keep out of…

Noeleen King – Melbourne fashion label

Today I’ve been looking into a new outfit, that’s just gone online – this “two piece dress” or top and skirt set by Melbourne designer Noeleen King. Noeleen was born in Ireland about 1933 and first learnt her trade under fashion designer Sybill Connolly. After migrating to Australia in the mid ’50s, she worked as a salegirl for five years before setting up her own label in Flinders Lane making “street dresses” with a small workroom and three machinists. The following year she started making evening and cocktail wear, which sold better. True success came to her after five years,…

Sharene Creations and Mr Simon – Melbourne fashion label.

The other day I listed a new frock on the webshop, a beautiful and very well made dress by Sharene Creations. I’ve seen a few Sharenes and it’s an unusual name so with the help of Lesley Sharon Rosenthal’s excellent book “Schmattes” and the internet, I learnt a thing or two about the owner, Simon Shinberg. He was “mature, worldly, sophisticated, well groomed and elegant” and “a lively energetic person” according to the young model who later became his wife. Shinberg’s parents were well established with their own fashion business “Paulinette”, which had shops in Howie Court (Melbourne), Chapel Street…

Fashion in half-mourning

Yesterday I listed a beautiful 1920s silk velvet coat of purple velvet with grey silk lining on the webshop. The quality was self-evident: the lushness of the fabric, the generosity of the cut, the detail in the construction. The silk lining is unbelievably soft: more luxurious than any modern silk. The original label was inside and also, spoke of quality. This exceptional piece sold quickly and prior to packing her up and sending her to her new home, I did a little googling about the maker. We all know that Regent St in London is one of the best shopping…

The Circa Home for Lost Frocks

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…

I’m going to a 1920s party

Tonight. Quick – what to wear? I get a lot of people coming to see me because they are looking for help for a ’20s themed event. The real 1920s authentic fashions are wonderful but a little problematic: firstly, they’re not that easy to get. Circa is one of only a handful of shops in Australia that stock original ’20s. Secondly: we might not have the style you’re looking for – or in your size or preferred colour. This is the downside of authentic fashions – we’re limited to what people wore, and how well it was preserved and how…

Len Vogue Melbourne

There’s nothing new under the sun, is there? I’m reminded of this constantly when I see contemporary fashion ranges because they’re always similar to something that has been done before – currently we’re seeing a lot of the late ’70s to early ’80s and a smattering of early to mid ’90s. For me, all of it was more interesting the first time around so it works best when a new spin or twist can be applied. Today I read this: It sounds like the current crisis, doesn’t it? Except that this is old news from The Age in 1974! I…

Rope petticoats and crinolines

When I ran Sydney vintage clothing shop “Albert and Gladys” in the late ’80s one of the biggest sellers were ’50s rope petticoats – and they’re still the biggest nostalgia item at Circa, as older ladies see them and get taken back to another time. They seem to have been de rigueur for a certain era, and were more popular than the big, boofy nylon tulle crinolines trimmed in lace and satin. If you’ve worn both types you’ll know what I’m talking about – the tulle petticoats are lovely but the scratchy nylon puts little rips into your stockings so…