Weekend Eye Candy - 1955 Lilli Ann Suit

Saturday, January 31, 2009 0 comments
We can't have a week of suits without showing a design by the incomparable Lilli Ann. This one is from 1955.

January 31 - Steal of a Deal

Today is the last day of January and this is your final Steal of a Deal. Gorgeous 1950's party dress in pink and black tulle with polka dots. Original price - $145.00. Today only, 50% off - $72.50.

January 30 - Steal of a Deal

Friday, January 30, 2009 0 comments
Today's Steal of a Deal is this luxurious 1950's coat with genuine fox fur collar. Original price - $250.00. Today only, 50% off - $125.00.

Suits in the 1970s

1965 Biba suitThis week, we've looked at suits in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. I'm going to close out the week with a look at the late 60s into the mid 70s. Fashion changed radically at this time, and it started with the Youthquake movement in London. In the above photo from 1965, you can see how different this Biba suit is from the suits I showed yesterday. Not only is the jacket much longer, but it has pants instead of a skirt! Pants had been fine for casual wear up to now, but they were not worn by women for business, streetwear, or dressier occasions.

vintage pantsuit, 1969Over the next 4 years, the ideas from young London designers began to take hold on the Paris runways and in American fashion. Here you can see clearly that jacket lengths have nose-dived to the hips or below, sleeves are full length again, and pants are acceptable. And while we don't see the sculpted tiny waists of the 40's and 50's, there is a bit of shaping in the jacket.

vintage suit, 1969Skirts were shorter in length, and suits were often made of unusual fabrics with wild prints or textures. Here velveteen is used for a day suit. Jackets are often belted to shape the waist.

vintage suit, 1969The convention of a suit having of a jacket on top is gone, and we see it replaced with vests, tunics, and coats.

vintage suit, 1972By 1972, skirt lengths are all over the map, with minis, midis, and maxis offering women freedom of choice.

vintage suit 1972Jackets remain longer and collars are huge.

vintage plaid suit, 1972In the early 70's plaid is everywhere, and using a large scale, brightly colored plaid on top and bottom is not too much.

vintage suit, 1975By the mid-1970's, the use of knits has made tailoring less necessary. Jackets are soft and belted for shape, and are often unlined.

I hope you've enjoyed this short history of suits. Hopefully, when you find a vintage suit, these posts will help you identify when it was made.

Suits in the 1960s

Thursday, January 29, 2009 0 comments

We've looked at suits from the 1940's and 1950's so far this week. As I said yesterday, about 1958-59, the shape of suits changes quite a bit. This red suit is from 1959. Here you can see that the length of the skirt is still below the knee, but suddenly we have a much shorter and less fitted jacket. All those darts in the jacket that emphasized a tiny waist are gone. Slight gathers or tucks start to appear at the skirt waist.

Sleeves are always elbow or 3/4 length during this period and suits are worn with long gloves.

Another jacket style that enjoyed a brief period of popularity was the longer, looser sacque jacket worn over a slim skirt. This style is seen from about 1958 - 62, and then disappears.

Dramatic and intricate details are gone from jackets. The most we usually see is topstitching, large decorative buttons, or pocket flaps without pockets. Collars are usually open, and the stand-away collar starts to appear. About 1963, hemlines creep up to right at the knee or 1" above and continue to creep shorter as the decade progresses. Princess seamed skirts often have hidden pockets at the hips.

The shorter jackets are often paired with dresses, or with a skirt and matching or contrasting sleeveless top. Evening suits are fashioned from fancy brocades, heavy silks, or metallics.

Closures sometimes disappear completely from jackets and they are worn open.

What happens next? Pantsuits! Check back tomorrow for suits from the late 1960's and 70's.

January 28 - Steal of a Deal

Today's Steal of a Deal is this opulent vintage 1960's metal thread brocade top and skirt. Original price - $95.00. Today only, 50% off - $47.50.

Show & Tell~

Wednesday, January 28, 2009 0 comments
Here is a little dresser that I picked up at a yard sale for one dollar. This photo shows exactly how it looked when I bought it...... slightly sanded, knobs missing, and two colors of paint. I must admit, I've kept it this way for about a year! I just stuck it in my studio, filled it with items and have been happy with it ever since..... until now. This little dresser is getting a makeover~ Here is the BEFORE photo:
Here is the AFTER photo: *My very first tutorial* Woot-woot~
Here is an EASY-PEASY tutorial on how I did it:
I wiped the whole thing down with a wet towel to remove all the flaking paint and dust and in keeping with my shabby chic style-- painted the whole thing white. I didn't sand anything on the dresser, figuring on using those bits of globby paint to my advantage when antiquing it later. Once painted, I wanted to add some of those wooden appliques that everyone is just wild about....but heck, it is just a flimsy one dollar dresser, so that seemed absurd. Soooooooooo I got out one of my many stencils and I set out to stencil on some joint compound to give it the "appearance" of a wooden applique.
Firstly, your needing some joint compound, a putty knife (I use a stir stick instead), a stencil of your choice, some tape, a ruler & pencil. Thats it~ Next, if your centering your design like I did-- find the center and mark the spot with a pencil to help you align your stencil... next, just tape your stencil down. (yes, that is paint on my stencil, I do not wash the paint off of my stencils)Now, comes the fun part. You just take some of your joint compound and spread a nice coat of it on top of your stencil. No worries, don't stress-- it does end up looking fabulous-- promise! While this is setting up a little, I draw the center on the next drawer...so I would say about 2 minutes max. That seemed to work fine for me~ Next, you just pull up your stencil. Keep a good grip on it as its going to be heavy with the excess joint compound on it. (Place the stencil onto newspaper or scrap paper so you don't get anything on your work surface) If for any reason your not happy with the results, simply wipe off the joint compound while it is still wet, with a wet paper towel, and start over! (I had to wipe off a finished drawer as I noticed I had applied the stencil upside down lol) At this point you want to tap down any large peaks or wipe away any mistakes or globs. Again, no biggy-- enjoy the process~ When your ready for the next drawer, simply pick up your joint compound ladden stencil and reapply to a new drawer front. You do not have to clean your stencil between each drawer...unless your extremely messy and it is necessary! Repeat this process until all the drawers are completed. Let the newly appliqued pieces dry for 5 hours or more....until everything is dry to the touch. At this point you can either use your nail or an razor blade to cut off any bumpy bits --if you want to. Don't sand it or it will crumble completly off. To clean your stencil, simply scrape off remaining joint compound and put back into the container. Try to wipe off as much of the compound as possible (I use toilet paper, it is softer and less harsh on the stencil than paper towels) and toss the tissue into the trash. Just rinse the stencil under hot water while rubbing the stencil gently and the joint compound washes away. Next, I painted over the raised area with the same latex house paint that the drawers had been painted with. I put two coats on each drawer, once the paint has dried comes the super fun part! Antiquing! I used a nutmeg brown paint watered down and applied randomly with a large brush. I then used my fingers to rub the watered down paint all over the piece. I had to rewet my fingers a lot to keep the paint moving in an even coat. If it sets up and looks awful-- just rewet the area and run your fingers/hand across it until you like the looks of it.Looks good huh? If at a later date I feel I want it to be lighter, I'll just wet it and rub more off. Lastly, just take a brown ink pad.... I used a color called "chocolate chip" and rub it along the edges and raised areas of your piece. This is when the piece really comes to life. Here is my one dollar dresser all finished with its new knobs and freshly appliqued painted surfaces ready to be used once again! (I bought a bag of 24 of these knobs for $2 bucks) Here is a close up. Doesn't it look neat and super old? Not to bad for a dollar dresser~
You can view more Show & Tells on Kelli's blog. If you've arrived here from "There's no place like Home" and wish to view more of my blog, you can click here.

January 28 - Steal of a Deal

Today's Steal of a Deal is this enchanting vintage 1950's strapless party dress. Original price - $125.00. Today only, 50% off - $62.50.

Suits in the 1950s

How do women's suits change from the 1940's to the 50's? While we still see lots of interesting details, they are not as elaborate as those seen in the 1940's.

The most obvious change is in the length of the jacket which becomes shorter. Most sleeves are now 3/4 as opposed to full length. If the sleeves are full length, they will either have no cuffs or much narrower cuffs than those of the 1940's.

Skirts change too. While Dior's 1947 New Look line introduced the full skirt, it didn't start to show up in ready-to-wear until about 1950. The more common skirt for suits in the 50's was the slim pencil line, as opposed to the A-line skirt of the 40's.

Dresses with matching jackets add a new category to suits, in addition to the typical jacket and skirt combination.

We see lots of fur collars as the separately draped full pelt fur stole loses favor.

About 1958-59, suits start to change more radically. Stay tuned, as I'll take a look at that tomorrow.

January 27 - Steal of a Deal

Tuesday, January 27, 2009 0 comments
Today's Steal of a Deal is this gorgeous 1960's silk print dress by Ben Barrack. Original price - $95.00. Today only 50% off - $47.50.

What's So Great About a 1940's Suit?

It's all in the details - details you won't find in suits off the rack today. But in the 1940's, a woman could walk into any fine department store or boutique and find styles like this. And she could have the suit altered to fit by the in-store staff!

Click on the picture above to get a larger view and take a look at the details of this red suit made of Miron red wool gabardine. It's got a double collar rather than a simple lapel. The hip pockets have extra room built in, not only for your hands, but to accentuate the waist appear tiny. Not only is the waist shaped by the side seam, but 4 darts disappear into the huge pocket. That's 8 darts total on the front and there are probably at least 4 on the back. Now, go take a look at your favorite suit jacket. How many darts did you find? Probably 4 at the most.

You'll find two-tone effects in many suits from the 40's. This one takes the darker color of the skirt and uses it for contrasting trim at the collar, sleeve cuffs, pockets, and buttons on the jacket. Have you ever seen a fabric covered button that uses not one, but two fabrics?

1940's suits often have unusual pocket treatments. This one has a pretty curved flap accented with a button. Does your modern suit jacket even have pockets?

Why don't modern suits have great details like these? Money. It takes skilled seamstresses much more time to sew this intricately. It also takes more fabric to make a suit fit well with darts, to add contrasting trims, and to add interesting details. A suit like this would be cost prohibitive to the average woman today. But these wonderful suits from the 1940's were made so well, many still survive today. So, yes, you can still get high quality at a great price. Wear vintage!

Goofing around~

Monday, January 26, 2009 0 comments
I'm still trying to streamline my studio. I think my things mutiply when I'm not looking~ Between the yarn I've accumulated...and the yarn my BFF recently gave me... I've got a ton of yarn! All of this was in various locations around my studio, hall closet and some even under the bed.I sorted the yarn, putting the same colors together and then packed it into bins which I labeled Yarn Box 1 & 2 & 3....
I cut a piece off of each skein and tied it around a ring and labeled each ring to match each bin.
I also wrote how many of each color skein was in each bin. The bins are going in the garage! and these little rings along with the paper telling me how much of each skein there are.... are going in my studio :-)

The Promise of Spring

It's 9° in Boston this morning. A look at the 10 day forcast reveals that we're not expected to get above freezing all week. The holidays are over. The pleasure of the first snow has come and gone. The unique feel of the cold on my cheeks has lost its charm. It's the last week of January, and it's right about now every year that I start to long for spring. Unfortunately, we've got at least two more months of cold weather to endure before hints of warmer weather start to appear here in Boston. (Insert huge sigh here.)

In my office, though, it is starting to feel like the new season has arrived. I have started to list pretty spring and summer dresses at Couture Allure. It is always fun to start working on a new season and to play with lighter weight fabrics and pretty pastel colors. I also derive much pleasure through perusing my vintage magazines from the spring and summer months. The photo above brings to mind warm breezes on the lanai. A bowl of freshly picked strawberries, palm fronds rustling in the background, and a wide brimmed straw hat to shade the face all promise warmth from the sun to come. A romantic dress with huge balloon sleeves and a voluminous skirt looks so right in this setting.

Get the look with this 1950's light blue silk organza dress now available at Couture Allure. Can you feel those tropical breezes?

January 26 - Steal of a Deal

Today's Steal of a Deal is this 1950's full skirted party dress in light blue taffeta. Bonus - its a larger size, which is so hard to find in this style! Original price - $135.00. Today only 50% off - $67.50.

Furniture Makeover Award~

Sunday, January 25, 2009 0 comments
Oh my gooooooooodness, I am so flattered to receive this "Furniture makeover award" from Jen from Sanctuary Arts at Home
Jen had seen my handy work on the toddler bed I had made over for my grandson. Needless to say, I am flattered beyond comprehension as I hold Jen and her artistic abilities way up high on a majestic handpainted pedestal :-) Thank you very much Jen, I appreciate your award :-)


I've made a little banner with my grandaughter's name on it... caute! (she'll be born in February) I love how the flowers turned out on this piece. Very time consuming to make them...but well worth it~