Posted by Nicole in 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, Shoes 2 Comments

I have a thing for dressing gowns: they’re comfortable, relaxed and glamorous, protecting your modesty whilst enhancing your style.

On Sundays I’ll wear one around the house during breakfast and assorted tasks, delaying the inevitable “dressing for the day”. They’re good for answering the door, collecting the mail and saying “hello” to your neighbours. I’ve even worn them to shops, cafes and nightclubs (over silk pyjamas or a slinky ’30s nightgown, please).

Women used to have many dressing gowns in their wardrobe, along with their practical cousins: the brunch coat and the house coat, but nowadays these lovely garments have mostly been relegated to history. Not in my home: on my recent trip my hand luggage included a generously swishy black floral number nice enough for the opera should the occasion present itself. I recommend buying one size up so you have plenty of coverage and comfort.

The sudden onset of winter has created a need for another element of every day glamour: a new pair of slippers. So yesterday I hit the CBD shops hoping to find something better than the previous pair, all fluffy pastels and (shudder) cheap sequins. It was quite demoralising, with most styles conjuring up images of the elderly and nursing homes.

Slippers seem to have been the first casualty in elegance, as we rushed towards comfort in the latter part of the 20th century. Most seem to have been designed with toddlers in mind, with their ease of wear, soft unchallenging colours and cheap, synthetic materials.

Desperately I googled specialist sleepwear designers known for tasteful fashion in the hope that they could do better. They could not. I even started to see the appeal in that most unattractive of footwear, the ugg boot because at least the fibres are natural. Can you imagine? Wendy, would you ever forgive me?

Vintage lover that I am, the truth struck suddenly: I wanted 1940s Daniel Green slippers. Glamour! Quality! Comfort! Style! Elegance! These may be undesirable and unachievable qualities in modern slippers but they were an every day reality for our grandmothers. Here are some examples, supplied by the wonderful world of vintage fashion….highly collectable and yet affordable glamour.

Image source Pinterest and Etsy (out of stock).

From the collection of FIDM – image source here.
Image source Pinterest and Salon of the Dames (out of stock).

Available for sale at 1860-1960 here.

Available for sale at Decotique here.

Image source.

Available for sale at etsy here.

Image source Pinterest and Etsy (out of stock).

Available for sale on Etsy here.

Image source Pinterest and Etsy (out of stock).

The great thing about vintage boudoir slippers, is that the wearers confined them to the home so they’re generally in great condition, plus they’re often bigger than normal shoes because it was about being comfortable. See? You can look fabulous and feel great.

If you like these, I’ve created a Daniel Green Pinterest board with lots more beautiful styles for your comfort and pleasure.

Daniel Green are still making slippers – but sadly these beautiful styles are a thing of the past. I wonder if this could be an opportunity for a modern shoe maker? Don’t we all need nice things to wear?

Posted by Nicole in Book, Calendar, Talk 1 Comment

Hi all,

Next week I’m heading to Albury for a talk on my new book “Style is Eternal” at the wonderful Library Museum. Here’s the blurb from the site:

Award-winning author Nicole Jenkins shares her old-school fashion tips to take your modern wardrobe from faddish to eternally stylish, without breaking the bank. Included will be a demonstration on creative ways to wear scarves.

Here are the details:
What: Talk on fashions by Nicole Jenkins
When: 2-3pm, Saturday 23rd May 2015
Where: Albury Library, Corner of Kiewa and Swift Streets, Albury NSW
Cost: gold coin donation
Bookings essential: call 02 6023 8333
More information at the website – see here.

Stay afterwards to tea and coffee and to hear the original music of Katie Whyte. For more author discussions, pop upstairs before and after my talk. The Sydney Writer’s Festival: Live and Local program will be live streaming all day.

SiE cover 475

There’s also an exhibition of Australian couture with original pieces...”created by significant Australian designers Beril Jents and Germaine Rocher, as well as European designers Hardy Aimes and Jean Patou. In a time before the internet or Australian fashion weeks, the glamorous high-society of Paris, the fashion capital of the world, was still a lifetime away from the wide open spaces of regional Australia.”

Might have to take some pics of the exhibition for those of us who won’t make it – Hope to see you there!

Posted by Nicole in 1910s 1 Comment

Thank you to everyone who came along to my presentation on 1910-1920s ladies fashions at Wangaratta on the weekend. It went really went, and the Border Mail newspaper popped by and wrote up an article as a result – here’s their photo (which I rather like).

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Photo courtesy The Border Mail – you can read the article here.

The 1910s are such an interesting time in fashion – quite radical in a lot of ways, and I thought you might like these great photos from a Parisian racetrack found on Retronaut via Mashable. I love the unusual silhouettes and focus on shoes. Actually I really love the shoes: there are some good repro companies that are making shoes like these, for example American Duchess. There are some things I love about the modern world.

They could they be any more different to what ladies wear today? Even allowing for the colder weather (which doesn’t seem to deter many modern race goers either). I love how they’ve mastered the art of posing in these unusual ensembles, with some standing on chairs (to get a better view of the track presumably). I think there are some styling ideas that we can still use today here.


1912 Hobble skirts and parasols









You can see more images here on the original page.

Posted by Nicole in 1700s, 1900s, 1910s, 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1990s, 2000s, Exhibitions 2 Comments

So, yes, holiday! Tim and I have just returned from five weeks in Europe where we visited many cultural sites in Italy, France and the UK.

A highlight of course was the opportunity to see some wonderful fashion exhibitions and I thought you might like to hear about them too – because even if you’re not able to visit them in person, they all have books and merchandise you can order online and they’ll send them to you. Ah, the wonders of the modern world. Plus there are many images online too, if you’d like to see more.

First up was the Deboutonner la mode at the Musée des Arts décoratifs at the Louvre in Paris. I must admit that I almost didn’t go to this one because buttons have never excited me as much as the clothes they adorn but here I was wrong: they’re fascinating!

The exhibition presented a thorough history of the wide variety of materials and types available, plus even better they included lots of authentic fashions where the buttons were an intrinsic part of the design. And not just any fashions – the Musée des Arts décoratifs houses the archive of Elsa Schiaparelli and a great deal of Parisian haute couture so the garments alone are worth the visit, even if you skip over the buttons – which would be a mistake because they’re divine.

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Early 20th century fashions on display at the Musée des Arts décoratifs.
Photo source.

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1920s two toned button boots.

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Art Nouveau buttons, circa 1900.

One of the lovely things about this exhibition is that the lighting was very low, the display perfection but they also allowed photography (sans flash naturally), which was great because it allowed me to post pics to Instagram as I went so many who can’t visit Paris could ooh and ahh over the lovely things.

It’s not often I get the luxury of seeing so many great exhibitions during such a short space of time and some did not allow photography – like the next one, the work of Jeanne Lanvin at the Pallais Galleria. How I itched to break their rules and take snaps of the incredible beadwork and embroideries!

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Thankfully there are images available online, and you can see some here. I was pleased to see that many of the more fragile gowns were displayed lying down in cases, with well placed mirrors so you could easily see all the detailing.

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The fashion’s sublime, it begged the question as to why Lanvin had not received a solo exhibition before – this is the oldest of Parisian couture houses and the styles are simply incredible. There was a whole room dedicated to the ground-breaking Robe de Style.

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Photo source.

Onto the UK and the first treat was a few days in beautiful Bath where we visited the Fashion Museum – they’re currently featuring an incredible display of Georgian fashion from the 18th century. Never before have I seen such beautiful preserved examples from this excessive period of fashion. Here are a couple of their “mantua” gowns, with wide panniers supporting the skirts. Before you get excited about the front gown, it’s a minature which was for promoting the latest styles, but the one behind was worn by a real woman. Unbelievable. No wonder the doorways were so wide during this period.

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The Bath museum also had a permanent display of fashion through the ages and my favourite, a behind the scenes look at what they do. I love this museum so much I checked their website to see if they had any jobs going.

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Dior…Fortuny… *happy sigh*

London had more treats in store: time to step up to the modern world and see the work of Alexander McQueen in “Savage Beauty” in my favourite museum, the Victoria and Albert. By this time I really was finding it hard to justify my continued residence in far flung Australia, when so many exciting things are happening in this part of the world.

Alas, we weren’t allowed to take photos but they can’t stand in for the whole experience any way. Go and see it if you can. Intense. Several themed rooms, I particularly thought the music was well chosen. Lots of people, great to see the crowds but it made it hard to see. Timed entry of course – go early if you can. You can always buy the book too.

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Alexander McQueen 1 475

McQueen is a great loss to the world: this is fashion as high art.

Perhaps the opposite of art is functionality and here we went to the Imperial War Museum to see “Fashion on the Ration” – Make do and mend, how normal people adapted to the restrictions of WW2 and all that it meant.

Fashion on the Ration 475

Again, no photos allowed, but it was an interesting exhibition with many examples of wartime fashion. Personally I would have liked to have seen more of the fashion (I love this era, and especially the resourcefulness that can result in hard times), but it was worth it for all the timelines about restrictions – I find dates really helpful in my work eg silk was unavailable for fashion in the UK after 1940, and there were no peep toe or sling back shoes until after restrictions were lifted in 1945. Maximum allowed heel height was two inches, etc.

Also – they had a big display on one of my favourite garments, the housecoat!

They did such a great job of presenting it all very positively, I almost wished for another big war to make us treat our wardrobes more seriously and get up with repairing and recycling. No disposable fast fashion here.

Fashion on the Ration 3 475

Photo source.

Plus, the Imperial War Museum is incredible – free entry (hurrah!*) and very well resourced, it was like heaven for little – and big – boys. The fashion exhibition resulted in a very gender-separated space, which was interesting too. I also met a lovely lady with red ringlets and perfect ’40s pout. Mystery lady, how I wish I had taken a photo of you! You’re just who I wanted to see in the gift shop as I stocked up on my “make do and mend” books.

More pics from our trip can be seen on instagram. Hope you enjoyed my highlights!

* entry fee applies to “Fashion on the Ration”, as it does for all of these exhibitions.

Posted by Nicole in 1900s, 1920s, Calendar 2 Comments

Hi all!

This Saturday, join me at Wangaratta (one of my favourite towns) for a talk on fashions from 1910 to 1929.

This is the first time I’ve presented this event, and I’ve acquired several lovely authentic pieces for the event. There’s a lot of change in fashion and technology during these two decades so it should prove to be very interesting, with themes including WW1 and the Wall St crash.

What: Talk on fashions of 1910s and 1920s.
When: 1-2pm, Saturday 9th May 2015
Where: Wangaratta library, 21 Docker St Wangaratta
Cost: gold coin donation
Bookings essential: call (03) 5721 2366

CircaVintage Wangaratta Library 475

Posted by Nicole in 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, Australian Fashion, Calendar, fashion parade


I’ve just returned from a glorious five week holiday in Europe – here some instagrammed highlights including (shock horror) a change of haircolour. Yes, that’s right, no longer pink. I’m going to have to update my user pic – it’s also grown a lot longer, almost down to my shoulders so I can start styling ’40s dos again. Hurrah! I’ve missed my curls.

There’s a lot going on at the moment so brace yourself for a few quick blog posts about upcoming events – here’s the first one, on this weekend! Wish I could make it but I’ll be somewhere else (more on that soon).

The Ballarat Heritage Weekend is pretty special and always an annual highlight. I encourage you to go if you can. There’s a lot on but vintage fashion lovers will especially want to see Charlotte Smith’s wartime fashion parade, the Lucas fashion exhibition and the Apron festival. Check the site for full details.

heritage-banner 475

What: Ballarat Heritage Weekend
When: 10am – 5pm, Saturday and Sunday 9th-10th May 2015
Where: assorted locations in Ballarat.
More information: see the website.

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Posted by Nicole in Calendar

From the in box:

“On Sunday 29th March the vintage, rockabilly, pin-up and swing communities of Brisbane and beyond are coming together to put on THE WORLD’S GREATEST VINTAGE FUNDRAISING FETE to show Chrissy Keepence just how much support she has in the communities that she touches and to raise funds to help her along the way in her recovery process.

A day of live music, dance, pin-up styling, classic cars, photo-shoots, vintage and collectable sales and fun and games will be available for everyone to share for just a gold coin donation.

Miss Kate’s Kisses and Chrissy ​will be manning The Lindy Charm School​ Pop Up Salon and offering $5 perfect Pout Lips, Winged Eyeliner and some quick up sweeps or fluff rolls to create a quick “Do” for you… Chrissy’s Mum will also be out of hospital and coming along for the ride to sell some of her hats so we’d love to see you there….Chrissy’s Gorgeous Husband Swing A Billy Ray Keepence​ will be there also playing some tunes and dancing to the Sugar Shakers​ along with the rest of you I’m sure.. Going to be a great day and I am humbled by this community of wonderful people, when there is so many in need of their love, they are giving it to us on this day and I feel blessed.”

The Sugar Shakers
Empire Swing
Red Boots Photography
Atomic Martini Vintage
The Lindy Charm School for Girls

When: 9:00am – 5:00pm, Sunday 29 March 2015
Where: carpark – Woolloongabba Antique Centre, 22 Nile St, Woolloongabba, Brisbane Qld
Cost: gold coin donation for entry

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Posted by Nicole in Calendar, Sale, Shop talk

Hi all,

We’re bulging at the seams at Circa, so we’re going to have a little half price sale in the shop so you can pick up a bargain. Here are the details:

What: Half price sale. All ladieswear will be 50% off.
When: Thursdays and Fridays (10am-5.30pm) and Saturdays (11am to 3pm) March 26th to April 24th 2015
Where: Circa Vintage, First Floor, 358 Lonsdale St Melbourne

New stock will be put out each day, so pop back again.
Does not include menswear, jewellery, books or webshop.
No laybys or returns on sale stock and no appointments available during this time.

Thank you!

Sale April 2015 475
1920s quilted jacket.

Posted by Nicole in Calendar, Style icon, Talk 2 Comments

Hi all,

For the past few months I’ve been collaborating with Lorelei Vashti, the super talented author of “Dress, Memory” on an event for the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival Cultural Program and at last I can tell you all about it.

What: In Conversation: Fashion, Culture and Memory – Lorelei Vashti and Nicole Jenkins
When: 2pm Saturday 7 March 2015
Where: The Wheeler Centre, 176 Little Lonsdale St Melbourne
Cost: $20 incl booking fee and GST
Tickets available from Circa Vintage.

Here’s our blurb:

Join Lorelei Vashti (author of Dress, Memory) and Nicole Jenkins (author of Style is Eternal) for a vibrant conversation about women’s relationship to clothing.

We’ll uncover history’s most iconic ‘dress memories’, and delve into our cultural fascination with stories and fashion, both personal and historical.

Bursting with colourful images and lively conversation, this discussion will explore the many layers of history, culture and memory hiding within even the most utilitarian wardrobe.

We’ll have a slideshow and be discussing famous dresses in modern memory, like the beautiful green silk gown worn by Keira Knightly in “Atonement” and Marilyn Monroe’s “Subway” dress from “The Seven Year Itch” and what they tell us about the time they were set and how they resonate on your modern wardrobe.

It should be interesting and a lot of fun!

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Posted by Nicole in Book, Calendar, Talk

Hi all,

Very pleased to report that later this month I’m visiting the beautiful town of Tamworth to present a talk! Best of all, it’s free. I’ll also be bringing some vintage scarves and doing a little demonstration of some of the ways you can wear them.

From the site:
Do you have many clothes, yet still have nothing to wear? Style is Eternal provides you with the tools to transform your wardrobe from faddish to stylish. Nicole Jenkins shares her experience and tips as a fashion buyer and stylist to navigate the essential additions to your wardrobe without breaking the bank, use accessories to create new outfits, convert your fashion faux pas into chic statements and travel with only hand luggage and still look classy.

What: Author Talk – Nicole Jenkins on “Style is Eternal”
When: 2pm Saturday 28 February 2015
Where: Tamworth Library, 466 Peel St Tamworth NSW
Cost: free!
More information here: at the Tamworth library

Tamworth library 475site.

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