Some of my favourite things.

At Circa, we’ve all been working hard to put lots of goodies up on the webshop for your perusal – there’s actually close to 800 different vintage items up there now, with about another 300 on the way: mostly ladieswear, vintage patterns, haberdashery, childrenswear and a bit of menswear. It’s quite a process – I’ll take you through it…the item is….

1 – Mended.
2 – Hand washed or dry cleaned.
3 – Checked for damage and mended again if needed.
4 – Measured and the particulars written up on a product sheet (if it’s a pattern we also check all the pieces are there)
5 – Photographed.
6 – The photo may be edited if needed, and is also renamed.
7 – The photos are loaded online.
8 – The content is added to the photos.
9 – More photos may be taken if details or damage have been overlooked.
11 – The item is published!
12 – If I really love it, I may post it to Facebook or Twitter too.

This process takes around 2 hours for each item and all four of us who work at Circa will handle it at some point as we all have different roles. Not surprisingly, there are currently lots of items that are at some point in the process so not all 1100 are published but quite a few are – if you’re looking for something and you can’t see it yet, stay tuned because every week more are being published.

Simply put, I’m aiming for the biggest vintage clothing webshop in Australia with an assorted of garments from the 1800s onwards. Circa’s collection currently numbers somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 items (which is why I’m not buying, I already have lots!).

Without further ado, here are some of my favourite things currently online – you can click through the photo to see the full listing if you’d like to give it a new home:

1940s hand painted “snakeskin” handbag $110.

My favourite era is World War 2 – I just love how resourceful our grandmothers became when faced with very harsh realities. I love that when metal jewellery was not available because all the metal went to the war effort, these ladies sat down and made pretty things out of buttons and bread dough and plastic piping and all the bits and pieces they had available. These ornamentations have little monetary value but they speak so much of the spirit and the desire for glamour, how when times were tough they weren’t prepared to go without their trinkets.

This handbag is a little like that – maybe snakeskin wasn’t available, maybe it wasn’t affordable, so this bag (which is made by a local plastics company) has been painstakingly painted by hand to imitate the real skin – to me, that makes it a lot more valuable than something that was made out of an animal’s skin. It makes it truly unique, from a time when we weren’t as fortunate as we are today.

1920s cotton damask corset $385.

Six years ago I was in London. At the airport I bought a copy of Time Out and by the time we got to our hotel I knew what I was doing the next day – going to the Battersea Vintage Fashion Fair! I thought I’d died and gone to heaven – it was the first time I’d gone to a big, proper vintage fair and it was everything I had hoped for. I think I spent over a thousand pounds that day, mostly on shoes and corsets (the two things hardest to find in Australia). Here’s a pic I took at the time:

and some of the shoes I bought….Inger, you might recognise the gold and black pair!

It was such a wonderful day – I also bought a late ’30s purple silk velvet dress for myself, that I wore until it fell to bits (sob) and a sheer black ’30s silk dress that went to one of my favourite customers.

My biggest purchase of the day was a lush velvet ’20s coat with a massive white rabbit collar – you can see Fay wearing it in the icon for Circa’s twitter account. It was amazing – and very expensive, but so special I posted the contents of my hand luggage back to Australia so that I could pack it (the rest of my purchases were posted too). I had to take it with me on the plane because of the fur collar, I’d heard you couldn’t bring fur into the country but when I declared it at customs it was fine. I sold it to a lady who really loved coats and had an amazing collection, but part of me wonders if I’ll ever see another so fabulous?

I also bought this corset – the lady who sold it to me told me it was Edwardian and for a long time I thought so too: it’s an old fashioned style, quite ornate with beautiful metal clips to the suspenders. It has a row of 1920s lace around the top, and as it’s so old I left it there where normally I would remove it but when researching it for the webshop I read about Gossard in the Vintage Fashion Guild’s label resource and discovered that they only started making front laced corsets in 1926 so it can’t be any earlier. Aren’t facts wonderful?

Early 1970s green Katies dress $110.

Those who know me well, know that I used to draw the line at 1965 – when hems went above the knees and ladies threw their hats, gloves and stockings away. Fashion all went to hell in a handbasket and it was all down hill from there, so downhill that in the modern era it’s acceptable to wear gym gear and thongs pretty much anywhere, even the Races. This is the dress that changed it for me.

I buy all my stock locally – mostly it comes to me: through Circa’s front door or through my networks. There’s a lady who wholesales to my shop and others: she knows what we like and she’ll tailor the selections accordingly. One day she didn’t have any ’50s frocks but I was curious: what was in the bag? She had some ’70s things “but you won’t be interested in them”.

There were two little frocks from Katies, one blue and this one, green. They may have been made in the early ’70s but they had classic ’40s styling – simple and well cut, comfortable with day-time elegance. In these dresses you would be both cool and look good! I love the contrast polka dot fabric on the collar with matching belt and the same colours in the striped fabric on the pocket and the shoulders. It’s a very wearable dress you could almost wear anywhere and yet you can chuck it in the washing machine. I’ve since discovered that mainstream label Katies made some really cute vintage-inspired designs in the ’70s.

We put both in the front window (they made such a cute pair) and the blue one sold in minutes. The green one somehow survived not being bought at Circa and now it’s available in the webshop.

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