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
Favourite Dress of the Moment – The 1960s ‘Madmen Inspired’ Manhattan Dress
Sometimes the best ideas come out of the blue and then almost magically come together in a few days! This is true of this dress which is based on another one from my own vintage collection and is my utter favourite at the moment. I tend to wear 1940s most of the time but go through periods of fixation of other eras – not that i have OCD or anything 😉 I will say that at this moment its early 1930s that I’m obsessed with but prior to that it was the early 60s again and this design came from that!
Our challenge these days is to come up with designs that have something extra ‘special’ about them – to ensure the dress and its wearer – stand out from the crowd and have that ‘Foxy Magic’. As we make here in this country, we are in a great position to literally turn around a new design within a week. Im blessed with having an amazing team who are like-minded and are happy to work that way 🙂
The ‘Manhattan’ Dress – named by a customer on a recent Social Media competition, is a late 1950s, early 60s wiggle dress with a nipped in waist and is shaped to enhance the bust and to give the wearer a real wiggle. It feels really great to wear because although its very figure hugging, it isn’t revealing as the neckline is not low, nor the hemline high. So, very typical of the early 1960s and later 1950s – it has a ‘class’ about it and that ‘Madmen’, Joan Holloway look.
To explain the shape, it has a really flattering scoop neck – not too revealing but not prim either and grown on sleeves which hug the shoulder. Many ladies prefer sleeves these days which is tricky for us designers because arm sizes vary so much. These sleeves are enough to flatter and make you feel more ‘dressed’. My favourite element in this dress is the bust tucks – these are typical of the time and were used in place of a dart. They give quite a point finish to the shape and are further enhanced by the under bust seam curving upwards towards the underarm. You start to see this shape in vintage garments from late 50s onwards. I love how styles evolve!
This dress is made in super stretchy bengalene which is also quite figure forming and forgiving of any lumps and bumps. As modern fabrics go, its very comfy but doesn’t create the other problems of bobbling or seam slippage.
The cummerbund is a ruched piece of contrast gold brocade which is around the centre of the body. It was the part of the original dress that told me it was early 60s because there are so many styles that have this styling at the the time. It’s like wearing a mini corset and really gives extra hourglass emphasis. The drop sash which is on the left side of the body is an elegant addition – not too OTT and is a rather clever way of flattering the tummy!
Ooo – we also added bra anchors – we know you love them.
For guidance on how to dress early 60s – please visit our style guide here
foxylady December 5th, 2016
For those who might be struggling to find the perfect gift – below are a few ideas to help Santa on his way! Perfect for Vintage Fashionistas or even for those who are just dipping their toes into the vintage world.
Girls, this could be a good page to send to your fellas 😉
For serious vintage fans!
Sculpture Pin Curl Tool Box Set
The Sculpture Pin Curl Tool is a reproduction of an actual styling tool used in the mid-20th century to aid women in creating fast, uniform curls.
Always a helpful gift
Seamed Stockings in Latte
15 denier translucent champagne leg with slightly darker latte foot, seam and welt
Something to pamper
Ravishing Rosalee Gift Set
This beautiful gift set is handmade in the USA by Margarita Bloom and includes a revitalizing rose water mist, a moisturizing Hibiscus and Rosehip serum and a deodorant
Crystal Drop Earrings
These elegant and understated earrings have a matching necklace but can equally be worn on their own. – inspired by jewellery from the early 20s.
She will definitely appreciate this!
40s Style Scarf
A simple 27 inch square scarf in our season signature 1930s reproduction print ‘Deco Floral’. Scarf is perfect size for finishing off any 1930s/1940s inspired outfit.
Or how about a gift voucher!!
foxylady December 1st, 2016
Posted In: Vintage Gift Guides
Every season, we try to bring out new and interesting designs – something that bit different… Like most vintage fashion lovers, I sway between the decades every day. I find 40s fashion very wearable in the colder months, I like to wear 1930s style dresses out and don 1950s when i go for a dance at the weekend.
Recently Ive been very drawn to 1920s/early 30s styles again – I love art deco furniture and art anyway so it is a natural direction from a design point of view. (plus i was raised watching The House of Elliot)
However, i think that I can see another 1920s revival on the way – possibly spurred on by the film ‘Fantastic Beasts & Where to find them’ set in 1926. I just absolutely adore Queenie’s navy blue outfit which I’ve added a pic of below. There is so much work in it! I am determined to come up with something to echo that look!
I think many ladies steer clear of 1920s due to a sense that it is unflattering and that the styles have become over-represented in Fancy dress shops. However, I think the 1920s has a lot to give and is one of the styles that many can rock without having a classic hourglass figure. I love the jewellery and accessories of this era
Last year – we launched a fledgling 1920s collection. Due to the 1920s styles not being as popular as 40s and 50s, we couldn’t put too many resources into it – so we are having to trickle in the styles over time. From a designers point of view, the initial 1920s shape is fairly simple with much less complex pattern work than other decades. However, there was so much imagination through the fabrics used (rich velvets & chiffons), the prints and wonderful embellishments and decoration such as beading, jewellery and headwear. All to create one of the most chic and elegant eras in fashion – in my opinion.
Although the main shape is very simple, the 20s look was so much more than just a drop waist flapper dress. Its amazing how much variety was created through draping, godet insertions, neckline styles, gathers and frills. As the decade progresses, you see how the styles evolve in complexity resulting in the fabulous cuts of the 1930s.
I have 2 original 1920s dresses, one of which is shown in the pic above – i purchased this at Twinwood Festival in 2015… it is a really wearable dress in rayon jersey. I also have a fabulous velvet opera coat in an ochre colour – its very warm and I regularly wear it out together with my cloche hat from vintage milliner Lily Lewis (www.lilylewis.com)
Prohibition, Gatsby & Speakeasy style parties seem to be cropping up everywhere this year and we have had many customers asking for more 1920s styles but nervous of how to wear them. Hence this season – we developed 2 new 1920s dresses through our original starting shape. The Clara and the Garbo.
The Clara is a scoop neckline with a drop waist and bow to one side. This gives it a the typical asymmetric shape. The most ‘clingy’ area of the design is on the hip and the skirt swirls below the band as it is cut on a circle. We’ve made this dress in our signature art deco floral print fabric and made the sash in ivory. The dress really works in this print because the simple style lines work really well with a busy print.
The Garbo is similar in length and neckline but is in silk velvet and is styled with the use of shirring and gathering in the shoulder and on the drop waist. The silk velvet really makes this 20s dress so special and you can see why it is this season’s key fabric.
The trick is to resist the temptation to overdo the 1920s by adding too many extras – leaving the wearer the task of accessorising to their tastes. To be honest, you don’t need much more than a pair of Mary jane shoes to work this look – the style is so flattering – it does everything for you!
To view our fledgling collection of 1920s – click here
1920s Style Guide coming soon!!
Do you have to be skinny?
I don’t think so – our model is a size 10/12 with normal curves. What i would say is that at a Downton Abbey themed party I went to last year, a couple of ladies who were size 16 and 20 were really surprised by how fabulous they felt in their 20s outfits because it didn’t emphasise their waistlines and tummy – areas they both felt conscious of. Indeed, one who was more of apple shape has been seeking this style ever since.
blogger who loves 1920s: http://www.harlowdarling.com
Everyday Fashions of the Twenties – Sears
Ard Deco Fashion – Suzanne Lussier
Fashion Sourcebook – Charlotte Fiell & Emmanuelle Dirix
foxylady November 21st, 2016
Posted In: 1920s Fashion
Tuesday this week we did a photoshoot for this season’s Partywear. Apart from one 1940s inspired dress – we were shooting dresses inspired almost completely by the 50s and early 60s. This era is perfect for our model Missy Malone who is best known for her role in the world of Burlesque and runs her own fabulous shows throughout the UK.
We have been working with Missy for 6 years and owe her special gratitude as she took a risk modelling for an unknown brand from sunny Yorkshire back in December 2010! This was our very first shoot and marked the start of a great relationship! I will include a photo from that shoot at the bottom of this post.
It must be said that we are really pleased with this collection. It was initially set to be a emerald theme – but I quickly realised that it included much more metallic and brocade fabrics than originally planned and is heavily influenced by the late 50s/early 60s chic styles – slightly longer skirt and higher necklines but really nipped in at the waist. Below are a few shots featuring a few new styles and some of our best sellers in new fabrics – including our best selling ‘Foxy Lady’ dress in gold shimmer brocade 🙂
Pictured: 1960s Jackie O suite – New ‘Gina’ 1950s Prom dress – Foxy Lady Wiggle dress in gold & a new as yet unnamed early 60s dress
Most of our dresses this year have pencil/wiggle skirts rather than flare. This wasn’t a conscious choice – but certainly there are trends within the vintage scene and at the moment many of us are choosing these styles over circle/gathered/petticoat skirts that were so prominent a couple of years ago.
We have introduced 2 new styles into this collection – the Gina dress with spot lace and ribbon binding and an as yet unnamed dress based on another favourite from my own vintage collection. I will be doing a special spotlight post about this dress soon as it really deserves the attention. I will also be doing a post on the 40s ‘Hayworth’ dress – as this is another really exciting style that we shall see more of in the future.
Our Partywear Look Book is now available to view -please click here
foxylady November 11th, 2016
With just the right amount of Bette Lynch – this animal faux fur jacket is the party season MUST have. Here at House of Foxy – we feel like proud parents and want to share the story of its making.
I have in my collection of vintage clothing, a lovely and very wearable lightweight 50s jacket. Its warm but not cumbersome and goes with everything. Its starting to get overworked and because of its merits, i decided it would be a great addition to our range AND would be most helpful for all our customers who tend to love the same things as me 😉
So after further research and the discovery of a fabulous faux fur fabric with a low pile, the new 50s Cute Swing jacket was born. See a similar style from butterick below.
Now – we don’t like faux fur at our production unit – the fibres get everywhere and clog up the machines. We made this costly mistake before – so this fabric was perfect, it is furry but has a low pile. We also liked the slightly lower key leopard print – not a full on Bette Lynch. non UK readers – google it 😉
From a design feature point of view – we wanted this cute jacket to be different from our very popular 50s Shawl Swing coat. This jacket is 5 inches shorter, has bracelet length sleeves rather than full length and one button fastening at the collar rather than the open style. We chose a curved collar because it hugs the neck in that snuggly way and reminded me of snaps of marilyn in the early 50s with Joe Dimaggio. (I daren’t add any pics because they are really hot on charging people for use)
The buttons is a simple faceted style in bronze/black and is, as ever, from a British supplier. We were going to go sparkly but we felt this was more elegant.
Basically – we are really thrilled with this jacket. Its lightweight but top quality and we hope to make in some heavier colours.
Is there a colour way/style you would like to see in our collection?
Email us or message through Facebook – because we would LOVE to know!
foxylady November 11th, 2016
Posted In: Jackets