The Victorian Highstreet

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I blogged about the beauty of this era – I thought I may as well mention the fashion!
I am lucky enough to volunteer at a local museum – as a shop assistant in a range of replica Victorian shops. In this role I get to wear a range of different Victorian outfits – representing different class and workplace.
Like today, the Victorian society had numerous styles of fashion, however all fashions were adapted and based on a generic style. This is the idea of long sleeved blouses or shirts and hats and for women, ankle length skirts.
Different patterns were developed and exchanged by some members of society. For example the writer ‘Mrs Beeton’ put together a book named ‘Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management’ which gives an overview of many aspects of Victorian life, including fashion and a series of patterns for one to make clothes.
There is a common assumption that Victorians had dark clothing, monochrome and grey shades. This is certainly true in the later days of Queen Victoria who after the death of her husband in 1861 spent the rest of her days in mourning wear. However unlike the photographs of the era which reflect all light and figures as black and white the Victorian fashions were actually a colourful array of patterns and ‘brave’ clashing ensembles. This excluded schoolchildren and those in house service (servants) who were expected to wear black accompanied by a white pinafore or apron.
Prior to the mid-1800s shopping was not a leisure activity we know today. Shopping for clothes involved going to a dress makers, also known as a Draper’s Shop. (A draper is an individual who trades in cloth and later other materials)
One would be measured for a bespoke suit or dress by the Draper, if a man, or a draper’s assistant if a woman. Lower classes would either purchase fabric or gain hand downs from other relatives or employers (if a good employer of course) and make their own clothes in their own time.
Browsing for fabrics or accessories was limited, and most products were actually hidden under the counter with the Draper choosing possible patterns or material for the customer.
1849 was the year where department stores began to surface, starting with a Newcastle company named Bainbridge’s. This was a shock to me, as I had always had in mind the department store originated from either the States or Paris (I watched too much Mr Selfridge).  Bainbridge had the evolutionary thought to give each product its own department alongside visible price tags. This began the leisure activity of shopping we know today. (Bainbridge’s still exists, under the name John Lewis)
‘Quick’ facts about Victorian fashion
  • The 1851 Great Exhibition in London inspired department stores to flourish and develop in France. (By develop, one Frenchmen made department store shopping more applicable to everyone, but creating separate reading and leisure rooms for men and children)
  • Hat etiquette gets very All Victorian men would wear hats outdoors. Those who did not would be the centre of contrasting gossip. When it came to indoor spaces, it depended on the place. Public places recommended keeping the hat on, with the exception of restaurants wuwpfgeok7oxtzzzpmtti.pnghere part of one’s routine would be to remove the hat before sitting at the table. Public speakers also took off hats, and this was to divert the attention from the hat to the words and expressions of
    that one speaking.
  • Contrasting, women wore hats as nothing more than keeping their hair out of their face and complimenting an outfit. Their hats were normally not removed due to the carefully placed hat
    pins.
  • Some employers were good, others were not. If the latter young girls and apprenti
    ces may not receive any wage whatsoever for their work –
    especially in the clothes
    industry. Good employers would support other issues (however this may be to advertise and promote their business) – for example some Draper’s would set change their window displays to the outfits of Suffragettes – promoting their cause while stocking the relevant coloured fabrics (Purple and Green)
  • Corsets automatically bring to mind their purpose in gaining that perfect silhouette shape in the waist. As ‘beauty’ developed into a war of personal vanity this became the main reason for a corset. However the original purpose of a corset was to take the weight of the top of the heavy and durable skirts. Victorian skirts were usually made of a wool or felt type material, which, along with the lining made the item extremely heavy. Corsets would take part of this weight and forcing the woman to having a strong straight back to keep upright.

 

 

The top two images represent the fashions of the middle class. In an attempt to look the part and present oneself as a having a high social standard working class women who had jobs such as Drapers Assistants would wear similar styles. On one hand it was used as advertisement of that working establishment, on the other women had more confident and given more respect dressing in this way.
The bottom images are a reflection of the working class or casual wear in society. White blouses were a must for all workplaces along with small straw hats which for women were worn at all times.

 

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Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Outfit #3

Next up for my Breakfast at Tiffanys challenge is the party scene! This is probably one of my favourite outfits of the movie (bar a later one which involves a pretty orange coat, but we will get to that…)
The dress in this specific scene is very similar to the previous recreation of another black dress – however I wanted each outfit to be different. I had no other access to a black dress at the time but had a perfect white ballerina style which would look perfect at a party hosted by Holly Golightly…

 

The white dress is a Topshop dress which I have owned for a few years. The ballf2eca9fbc3d021786dad66de315dca6eerina style dress was popular in the 1960s, note the distant similarities to the wedding dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face.
Although a longer dress and a fuller shape, it must be remembered that a wedding dress is obviously part of a more formal occasion, and therefore the traditional aspects of fashion and femininity where reflected in the event. By this I mean that dresses would be at a certain length, contrasting with the party in the film, which is an  informal social affair. This allows dresses to be shorter and more casual.
Additionally, ballerina dresses were popular as dress patterns prior to the 1960s.  The picture below this shows two covers to pattern sheets; the image to the right is of a 1960s addition, showing the ballerina style alongside more fitted and glamorous dress styles. In contrast, however not entirely different is a 1940s cover, again showing how the ballerina skirt is common of the time.
The outfit I am wearing is clearly not a direct recreation, however it carries a similar style in reflecting the event in question. For example the hair is not exactly the same. Instead of the twisted messy yet sophisticated look, I opted for a top knot bun, teasing part of my fringe into a little raised quiff, similar to the effect given by Holly’s twisted hair do.

 

I managed to find jewellery which are very similar to the necklace and earrings used. The blue and green earrings are from Accessorize and the necklace from Claires.  The earrings are probably my favourite thing about the whole of the outfit because of the art deco style and peacock colours reflecting in the light. Despite buying both pieces of jewellery from different places they compliment each other really well and could even pass as as a set!

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I did my make up as I normally would for both day to day and evening wear. I always opt for blush cheeks, pink lip and my trusty sleek eyebrow kit!

I hope you enjoyed! x

 

 

Health and Beauty: Egyptian Beauty

This post focuses on the historical beauty of Cleopatra.

Before I reveal the way I completed the signature look (albeit the Hollywood starlet version) I will outline some common myths about Cleopatra, and some historical context about Egyptian make up.

  • Most associate ‘Queen Cleopatra’ as being an Egyptian. This is incorrect, she was actually Greek. This all comes down to blood (as it all does in history). Despite her family actually living in Egypt for about 300 years, the Egyptians saw all the family as Greek as they are descendants from a General named Ptolemy, who, after the death of Alexander the Great, received Egypt after all of the Empire was split!

 

  • Cleopatra did not have long straight or, or a fringe. This one seems a little obvious but is an automatic visual appearance when representing Cleopatra as a figure. Rather the Egyptians were more likely to have shaved heads, with Cleopatra being viewed as wearing a wig of tight curls. This is evident on the emblem pressed which is believed to be a representation of Cleopatra. The real reason why Cleopatra was given a fringe in the 1963 was simply because it was in fashion.

 

  • Cleopatra was deemed as immoral, which is illustrated by a myth that she ‘dissolved a pearl in vinegar, or what they conceived as wine.’ This has been proved to be very false, and pearls are unable to dissolve in such a state. Additionally it is unclear what part of Cleopatra was immoral – one may believe she was beauty orientated and lavish spender. This can be objected to through evidence of her many welfare schemes – despite owning half of the land and being depicted as ‘lavish’ – Cleopatra was an extremely good, moral leader.

 

  • She was not beautiful, unlike another Egyptian Queen, Nerfertiti, who has been
    Believed to be Cleopatra

    depicted in various Egyptian art as consistently beautiful. Cleopatra, on the other hand, was considered to be a less of a beauty, which is evident in the coins printed with her side profile. This idea links into the previous ‘myth’ ab
    out Cleopatra being decadent. I believe there is a correlation between the two – perhaps if Cleopatra was believed to be a decadent and inhumane

    Nefertiti

    character this would reflect upon the perception of her beauty. The Egyptians were very symbolic and precious about their aesthetics – whether Cleopatra was physically ‘beautiful’ or not this may depend upon the beauty of one’s soul…As this can never be proved, it remains open for debate!

 

I have been asked various times why and how the Egyptians were able to wear such fascinating styles of makeup, specifically the eyeliner worn by figures like Cleopatra. My first response was unknown, but then I took to research and realised just how intelligent the Egyptians were.

Eyeliner, for the Egyptians, was used to fight off optical infections – and this was through the lead salts in the mixture, also known as ‘Kohl’.  (ring any bells??)

Weirdly, the two forms of kohl were in green and black – not the blue as represented by Elizabeth Taylor. The fascination about kohl is that it was not directly available at the time – suggesting the Eygptians used their own chemistry in order to merge the components needed.

Perhaps a more important reason, rather than fighting off infection, that make up was so significant and widely used was because of the ‘holiness’ beauty brought to individuals. Even through death and ‘the afterlife’ individuals were buried and decipted in a wide array of colour and make up for religious purposes.  Egyptians were extremely symbolic and worshipped many Gods. This is shown by the variety of make up not just on the eyes.

For the facial make up they concocted their own version of foundation and highlighters, such as blusher. Cheeks were stained from coloured clay – ‘red ochre’ which was originally burnt to gain it’s pigment. This was also used for the red of the life.

Egyptians also had access to dye their hair, or wigs, as most individuals were bald. Henna was available as a natural plant, which dyed the hair and nails.

 

Over the years I’ve had many people saying I have ‘Liz Taylor’ eyes because of my eyeliner, but I’ve always denied it because, although my ‘liner’ has a flick, it’s nothing on par with the Cleopatra style.

 

 

Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Outfit #2

Time for my next Tiffany’s outfit!

I’m starting out with the dress again – however this time it was a little different.

In my previous outfit I went out to find a perfect dress to mimic Audrey’s look and was fortunate enough to find a perfect one!

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This time I couldn’t quite find a perfect match – I tried lots off different sites and shops which were offering a sort of flapper style dress, black with either a ruffled edge or a modern style handkerchief edge. These didn’t shout of to me,I needed something overall more modern, however still in keeping with the 1960’s era. I had a rethink of how I would find a suitable dress at a reasonable price.

I then remembered I had a range of simple old black dresses. One was an old new look buy – a kind of adjustable length body con maxi dress. It was simple, and needed some TLC to make it suitable.

If you don’t have any old black dresses or you don’t want to add anything to a current black dress try find a simple box or t-shirt style – a simple black dress can be very cheap!

The dress which Audrey wears in the film has a sort of fur edging, bringing dimension and texture to the bottom of the dress.

I used the local fabric shop, Boyes, which is a chain store and sells all kinds of fabric and materials for any craft! I managed to pick up some fur cut down to 20cm – which only cost me a grand total of £1.55!

I’m not going lie, my sewing skills are not amazing and I didn’t want to ruin both the fur and the fabric so I nicely asked my Mother House Elf to help. The fur was attached within minutes!

I am delighted with the result of this dress! Such a minimal edit and style however looks so elegant! I must add that if you do try this, make sure the fur is only attached at the top – this is to allow the fur to have some give while trying to get the dress on or off – or even walk!

I’ve recently done a hat post about handmade hats – but for this post I’ve reverted back to the easily accessible and affordable Primark hat at only £4 – which does an excellent job at channeling Audrey’s style! c0165-img_3073.jpg

The earrings I am wearing were a present given to me. They are a 1940s crystal style, but thought they woul
d suit this outfit! However, after observing the way they were made they are nothing more than opaque and silver beads, which are sewn circular around the earring clip. A super affordable and fun way to make crystal style earrings!

The shoes are my favourite sparkly kitten heels from Dorothy Perkins – they work so well with the sparkles in the hat and the earrings!

Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Outfit #1

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Okay, so here it is, the finale of my first Audrey Hepburn outfit!
I had real fun doing this look! My favourite bit would have to be the hair. It took a lot of practice but I think I have nailed it! Additionally there are various ways to do this style so lots of options if you get stuck or just aren’t feeling the hair do!
The necklace was also fun to make; a simple pearl necklace chain with a eye catching brooch!

 

 

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Dress: Boohoo, £12
Necklace: Homemade
(Brooches: Amazon, £1.40 – £3.00)
(Pearl chain:  Amazon, £1.69)
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Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Hat

So this post is about that hat – the scene where Holly first meets Paul or “Fred” as she nicknames him. She is frantically getting ready to make the 10.45 train after being reminded it is Thursday, and transforms herself instantly into this glamorous outfit.

I just love the hat, the simple colour of it complimented by the white tie, the shape and the wide brim.
Although I would love to make a hat like this, my skills at millinery are non-existence! I scanned the internet and shops to find a suitable hat to fit the budget. Hats are expensive!

There are a lot of replica Tiffany’s hats around – but charge so much money for them! Similarly because the hat itself is so big it would be extremely difficult to find one which would come under my £25 budget!

So, after having difficulties of locating a suitable hat I put the idea to the back of my mind. I was one morning walking through Hull City Centre and passed Primark though the Princess Quays shopping centre. The window in Primark was full of summer and beachwear – all the bikinis  and summer dresses were an explosion of colour to my eye. However on the backwall I managed to see the summer hats, all large brims!

To my excitement I rushed in and found two styles I really liked. They are not one hundred percent similar as the one in Breakfast at Tiffanys – but I looked at them and realised they had a vintage vibe. What I liked about them more was the fact they had a hat tie! Despite none of them having a white tie, I settled on a stripy black hat with a black tie. I think it is a good alternative – and for only £4, it was a definite winner!

Breakfast At Tiffany’s: Pearls

Hello everyone, my next update on the Breakfast at Tiffany’s challenge is Holly’s signature necklace! I’ve found lots of replicas online, some better than others. However I thought it would be fun to put my unique spin on it – and make it myself!

It is a simple design out of a long chain of pearls and a brooch.

If you aren’t so keen on making you’re own unique version of the necklace as I said, replicas are available, however both the prices and quality may vary!

The pearl necklace was an amazon buy at £1.69. This 72″ chain allows three wraps around the neck. Obviously the longer the chain the more wraps can be created; four being the ideal number as it resembles the actual necklace.

The brooch was also from amazon, costing £1.40. The selection available are all beautiful, able to embellish almost anything clothes wise, hats or shoes. The brooch can clip onto the pearl wraps, or if this feels insecure it can be glued or fixed by stitching. I can also double as that hair piece to compliment Holly’s stylish beehive hair. Simply thread a double pin or too through the brooch and secure it to the hair. Similarly the hair piece can also a decorative hair slide or small tiara – anything elegant and silver would work to gain the Holly Golightly look!

Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Little Black Dress

 

 

 

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So, a first update on my quest from Holly’s primary outfit!I began the hunt for a long black dress, having in mind a light material in order to incoporate both a casual wear and formal wear – which would be embellished by jewellery.

The maxi dress introduced an inner challenge within the project of an outfit of £25. My 5″3 and size 12 shape has always brought difficulty in finding a maxi dress with that perfect length. I always found searching in younger teen sections to find a dress with the ideal length, but never fit due to the lack of room for hips! Because of this I took a different approach to find a dress and researched different clothes websites for dresses which resembled the iconic dress. In find I had a straight black dress, thin straps and that tasteful slit up the side to give the illusion of a longer leg.

Dress from Boohoo

After numerous ganders on online shops of my usual choice I found a few options on Boohoo. The prices are very generous, plain maxi dresses sold at an average of £12! Similarly Boohoo also have a petite section where I discovered a perfect fit for a 5″3 height and every size from 8 to 16.  (Boohoo are also very nice to students with extra discounts and promo codes for discounted delivery.) The dress available suited my original checklist, a straight dress with an elegant and natural shape to the hips and waist, as well as a slit up the side and a scoop neck to highlight the future necklace. The dress was £12, just under half the maximum budget of £25. However I think so a maxi dress £12 is an absolute bargain! The dress was delivered a day after ordering, causing Boohoo to my new current favourite!

Signature curve cut out

If you’re feeling adventurous and want a dress near enough identical to Holly’s, the scoop neck and back of the dress can be altered in order to mimic the style of the back of the dress. it is possible to cut of the sides in order to create the back curve. However do not feel like this is necessary and only do it if you want to. The ordinary dress still looks elegant too! Also if you want to cut pieces of the dress please make sure you know what you’re doing, and if you’re younger, ask someone who is more confident and able at cutting and sewing!

Breakfast At Tiffany’s: Welcome

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I am a fashion lover, especially the vintage fashion from 1910s up to the 1960s. My passion for everything vintage has drawn me into creating a project which this blog will hopefully reflect. By the title of this blog you have probably guessed what the project involves.

Breakfast At Tiffanys:

I have always been intrigued by that iconic outfit on the posters; the elegant black dress complimented by the diamonds and the pearls. I saw the film was on TV one day and sat down and watched it. I instantly fell in love with it. Everything about it it was brilliant, the plot, the acting and characterizations, but especially the clothes. Every outfit Audrey’s character Holly wore was exquisite, every scene left me in owe in what the next outfit would be.
After using the internet to find replicas of these outfits I came across a lot of similar projects; girls creating their own versions of these outfits, and this inspired me to create my own challenge.  I will be posting a my own versions of outfits worn by Holly Golighty.

In some instances I will be saving myself money by creating my own versions of these outfits and the accessories, which will hopefully inspire others that it is possible to create these beautiful vintage looks from materials and clothes already accessible.I will also be creating Holly’s iconic hairstyles with step by step instructions to create the 1960s style.
The outfits will be in consecutive order from the scenes of the film, meaning that the first post will be that iconic outfit worn by Audrey as she gazes through the window of Tiffany’s. However, it probably won’t be including the crossiant and coffee! 😀