There is no doubt – this is my totally favourite dress at the moment. (apart from the Vivienne of course..)
It’s a timeless and elegant design – inspired by an original dress that crossed my path and begged me to own when i was searching for something akin to the designs by Dorothy O’hara.
Dorothy O’hara was known for being a prominent designer at Paramount Studios throughout the 1940s. So she was designing many costumes for films but also went on to develop her own fashion label which thrived through the late 40s and 50s. Her designs were designed to flatter the female figure with a focus on strong shoulders and a slim waist and hip – using clever draping techniques. I would love to own one of her 1940s dresses – a dream dress that would probably be a museum piece now!
I knew i wanted an elegant 1940s cocktail dress in the collection – one that used some of the draping techniques that seemed more prominent in the american styles. I turned to O’hara for inspiration – even though the majority of her dresses were full length and/or occasion wear that demanded a lot of labour. So the challenge was to create a beautiful dress with plenty od the signature details but still fitting in a specific price point.
I like asymmetry but i also try to keep the lines simple because detail can be ‘overdone’. I also appreciate well fitting garments and good fabric.
What I love about this dress…
It simply makes the most of the feminine physique and flatters whilst still being demure. There is an air of mystique about it.
It’s timeless and will suit many ages and shapes.
The asymmetrical style lines are interesting and create wonderful shapes – i love the ruching at the right side of the bust that is mirrored by the ruching and drapes at the left hip.
It’s got sleeves! (and we’ve shaped them with two darts)
It makes you feel like a million dollars!
Enjoy xx Clare
The O’hara dress in red: http://www.thehouseoffoxy.com/1940s-fashion/40s-o-hara-cocktail-dress-red
foxylady December 8th, 2017
Last year I bought some 1930s shorts from a vintage trader. I struggled to fit them but i bought them anyway because they are a work of art. White linen, pleated, top stitched, mother of pearl buttons on both sides and even had a name tag. I love them so much – and I will admit that at this moment, their main role is wall adornment….
However, thereafter i have been on a mission to make these shorts and I do believe it was a fated exercise. As in September 2016, i bought a shorts pattern from a vintage trader who i met at a very random vintage car event in a small west yorkshire town. (Yes – very random) So over winter, we started work.
The pleated short was an iconic item from the new sport casual styles growing in popularity in the late 1930s and early 1940s when ladies began to partake in exercise and sporting pursuits. Im sure i remember our gym shorts at school looking a bit like these – before they were replaced by the unattractive and tight fitting cycling shorts 🙁 Or am i thinking of the skort?
The issue with vintage styles is that in order to provide these gorgeous shorts for your lovely ladies and enabling them to be affordable – we have to compromise on some detailing. The problem being that time is more expensive than it was in the 1940s – moreover, this was a time when many ladies made their own garments and would have a vested interest to add the detailing.
We think we cracked it though…and are still able to make these shorts here in Blighty!
These shorts are pleated AND topstitched – we couldn’t compromise on that. They do, however, have a zip and that has modernised them a little. The fabric is our signature poly/visc mix fabric – which means it is washable and hardy with a little stretch.
In any case, these shorts are fitted on the waist which make them flattering or many figures and are full due to the pleats.
I really think they are a fabulous addition to the foxy catalogue.
I hope you take as much joy in wearing them as I did in making them 🙂
xx Clare @ Foxy
foxylady August 9th, 2017
Last Saturday, we took a trip out to the Imperial War Museum North to visit the ‘Fashion on the Ration – 1940s Street Style’ exhibition. I was really heartened when i heard this special exhibition was on in Manchester. Sometimes, despite the will, the time isn’t there and i was very cross with myself for missing it when it was on in London.
(Note to self – Freezing day – should have worn warmer clothes. Chose to wear our new 40s pussy bow blouse in primrose delight in homage to the exhibition and caring more about style than warmth did not pair with thermal underwear. My Granny would have turned in her grave.)
Anyway, this is our little review of the exhibition which ends in May. I dont know if it will travel elsewhere after that…but I say to all fans of the 40s – you MUST try and visit this exhibition. It was fairly small but fabulous! Despite having a humungous number of books on 1940s clothing and original items in my collection – i learnt so many new bits and pieces.
What I particularly liked were the personal letters and soundbites from ladies who gave real accounts of their approach to how they dressed during a period when clothing rationing took hold. These women talked about their uniforms, how they rarely fitted properly and what they did to get around rules.
I also loved seeing the examples of dresses that had been reworked from older styles from the 1930s but particularly one interesting dress reworked from a victorian one! These wartime ladies were adept at adjustments, reworks, resizing and I have always admired the creativity that comes from it. Here were many examples of this.
The exhibition was laid out very well, moving from uniforms through to siren suits and practical clothing then onto ‘make do and mend’ and then a section dedicated to the 1940s utility clothing designers that tried to demonstrate how the rules ‘could’ produce stylish clothing to a very unconvinced nation of women. I loved the films from the period demonstrating how they might make a stylish hat from an old fedora in the cupboard or a suit from their husband’s sunday best. Accordingly, there was a plethora of men returning from war to find they had nothing left to wear 🙂
The utility clothing section featured many examples of branded garments and propaganda films from the period. Rationing and coupons was certainly a real leveller – and it broke down class boundaries. This is really interesting – but it explained also how many were worried about how self expression though clothing might therefore be restricted. It was very interesting to see how the rules were implemented and how many examples of design showed that this clothing wasn’t as dowdy as we are perhaps led to believe. There was information on prints and fabric too – again something I have a lot of interest in – there were some original prints that proved wartime wasn’t all grey and khaki.
The exhibition concluded with some examples of the ‘New Look’ styles that were born from Dior in 1946. I didn’t realise that the reaction from Britain at the time to these styles was extremely negative – exclaiming that they were completely out of touch. Of course, rationing didn’t relent for many years and as the country was bankrupt, there was no chance that women could adopt these styles. Plus, most manufacture in Britain was dedicated to selling abroad.
I don’t want to say too much more about the exhibition for fear of ruining the experience for those who have yet to see it but the highlights were:-
– many original garments demonstrating reworking
– the audio and films from the period – some of which are very lovely and humorous
– a fabulous original siren suit
– stories about wedding dresses – some that were worn by 17 women
– it was very dark and you couldn’t always see the details (maybe that won’t matter to all – but I wanted to see ALL the detail)
– very little on the menswear
In conclusion, an excellent exhibition well worth braving the cold for and paying £6. The exhibition runs until 1st may 2017 at IWM Noth, The Quays, Manchester www.iwm.org.uk
Fashion on the Ration book – click here
foxylady January 24th, 2017
Posted In: 1940s Fashion
For the past six years I have been trying to achieve a specific goal: to create the ultimate vintage trousers for us ladies. Everyone who knows us, knows i am never satisfied and am always searching for improvements – but sometimes there simply isn’t one solution – and in this case there are 4!
So far, we have produced 4 specific styles of vintage trousers starting with the high waist swing pants, quickly moving to the 30s inspired sailor slacks – a few years later came the wide leg yoke pants and then more recently the Katherine Hepburn inspired 40s pleated trousers.
Wide leg, natural leg – turn up, no turn up – natural waist, high waist – button side, bib front – pleats, darts – etc… I think Im obsessed!
However, after feedback and speaking to our customers at shows and observing what ladies have bought – I have come to the simple conclusion that because we women come in all different shapes and sizes – we have simply been creating these different styles with that in mind.
A bit of History & why we love the vintage trouser…
Safe to say it wasn’t really until the wartime 1940s that the average woman would have considered wearing trousers and this was only due to the fact that many were now working in factories and trousers were safer and warmer. Prior to that there were trends among the wealthy set that evolved from beach pyjamas from the late 20s onwards and there are a few fashion images from these times that feature trousers including the sailor styles slack. These trends came from the rise of sports as a major past time for women.
In the 1940s, however, the trousers women wore were initially mens but the growing need resulted in the production of trousers. They were functional rather than fashionable but, as we women tend to do – they made them work to their advantage.
So in my relentless search for inspiration on the perfect vintage trouser – here are our styles and a bit of history and which shapes tend to choose which style and why.
1. The 40s High Waisted Swing Pant
This style was derived from a late 1930s pyjama pattern I acquired and is the very first style we produced. It first high on most people – at least 2 inches above the belly button and is darted to fit with the flare dropping from the upper hip. The style has 4 medium sized shell buttons on the left. Fabric is a nice quality poly/viscose with some stretch. The leg width is generous but not as wide as our other styles to adhere to lower fabric use guidelines of the 1940s. However, they do have a turn up which is perhaps not as wartime accepting – but gives a nice finish. Inside leg is 32″ (measuring 31 from crotch seam) and we offer a custom length service for this product.
The style works really well with blouses tucked in and then pulled out a little to enhance the waistline. Pair with a short jacket like the Americana.
Shape & fit Advice:-
Less wide leg means pear shapes find this style too lean on the thigh area. Style seems to work wonders on those without a defined waist like pillars, inverted triangles – many apple shape ladies have liked this style. If you have a flat bottom – this style is great because the high waist creates shape.
Click here to see our High Waisted 1940s Swing Trousers
2. Sailor Slacks
This style was inspired by the sailor fashions of the late 30s and American 40s – they fit on the natural waist but have a wide waist band and so can fit fairly high on some people. The size large buttons on the big front are fully functional and the leg width is a bit more generous than the 40s swing trouser. No turn up but a deep hem to allow for personal adjustment but to also give some weight to the trouser. Fabric is a nice quality poly/viscose with some stretch and has a 32″ leg.
These are a best selling style – possibly due to the button front which is VERY vintage/retro and so many ladies are drawn to it. Feedback is that they are extremely comfy!
Shape & fit Advice:-
You must remember that the use of buttons on the front means that this area will draw attention. Because they are functional, there may be some gaping if they are very tight. Some ladies like this – some ladies don’t.
This style is popular with all shapes BUT works best on hourglass, pillar and average pear shapes. Extreme pear shapes will find these a little tight on the thigh.
Click here for our Sailor Style Pants
3. Yoke Pants
These are inspired by the beach pyjama styles of the late 20s and 30s due to the V yoke panel at the front. These are certainly inspired rather than being an authentic reproduction of a style but nevertheless, still a great vintage style that pairs great with all out tops.
This style has been a slow burner from a sales point of view BUT has sold very well when at shows and through stockists. Meaning ladies love it when tried on. Style is evolved from the sailor pant pattern and has a similar waist band which fits on natural waist and is quite wide. Style also has 4 large wooden buttons on the side which are a lovely feature. The magic element on this style, however, is the V yoke panel over the tummy. The yoke panel holds the tummy in rather than expanding too much to accommodate and the soft drapy fabric on the leg drops from there. Inside leg is 32/33″ but have no turn up and so are easy to take up.
Shape & fit Advice:-
We have been more generous with the waist band on this – which means that the style will fit ladies who have a wider waistline. The yoke on the tummy holds in BUT won’t behave like control pants… This style works very well on apple shapes, extreme pear shape due to wide leg but won’t work well for hourglass without adjustment to waist band.
4. 40s Tailored Pleated Trousers
These are an authentically reproduced style – albeit using modern stretchy fabric. Taken and adapted from an original pattern – these are definitely our ‘most’ 1940s repro style in the collection. Wide waist band fits on natural waist and style has two deep pleats on the front which run into front creases. Darts in the back fit the bottom in a flattering way and style also has turn-ups. This is the first style of have pockets and a zip rather than buttons – although it has one shell button on the waist band.
Style has a real Katherine Hepburn vibe to them but due to their recent design – we don’t have a lot of feedback just yet. However, this style is definitely one that creates shape as they are designed to give that boxy 40s look since the pleats and pockets bring some extra to the hip area and thus enhance the waist.
Shape & Fit Advice:-
Pleated trousers are not for ladies who are overly conscious of their tummy area or who want to avoid bulk. However, for straight pillar shapes, inverted triangle or those who wish to disguise a flat bottom – this is a great style that creates shape.
Check out our 1940s pleated trousers here
foxylady January 9th, 2017
Fancy doing the party season in 1940s style? There are plenty of options available to you at The House of Foxy. From 1940s Film Noir & Femme Fatale to wartime pinup plus some modern takes on the 1940s look – check out our ideas below:-
We love this Film Noir 40s look – an elegant look that you really won’t find on the high street.
40s Hayworth dress – from size 8 to 18 in stretch navy brocade – click here
Add some bling with this gorgeous vintage inspired brooch and some diamante stuff earrings.
Finish with some seamed stockings!
For 1940s style with a modern twist – we’ve paired our Veronica Jumpsuit with a bit of bling and a great clutch bag. You can wear any classic shoes with this style – a nice high heel we think! Plus a lovely Veronica Lake inspired hairdo is easily achievable and a nice compromise between modern and vintage.
For a classic 1940s look we love the Grable Tea Dress or Tea Dance Dress with our Americana Jacket. This is a really authentic 40s look
1940s Grable Tea Dress in Peony – available size 8 to 24 – click here
Matching peony chiffon Scarf
foxylady December 14th, 2016