Friday, August 14, 2015

Make Do and Mend

'Make Do and Mend' was a campaign that came to light during the early 1940s in Britain as restrictions and shortages of materials occurred, due to everything being needed for the war effort.  It wasn't just fabric, for example, metal that was normally used for things like zips, was needed for things like ammunition and weapons.  The silhouette of clothing changed as less fabric was available and people were given a limited number of coupons per year to spend on clothes.  Therefore the posters for 'Make Do and Mend' began to appear, where women were encouraged to alter clothes to fit, repair items to last longer, and women began to be quite inventive with their wardrobes as a result. 

Lately I have been doing this bizarre 180 degree turn with how I dress and the way I live, and after a few weeks of experimenting, have found that the whole 1940s look is my absolute favourite.  Of course, having lived in jeans and a shirt 24/7 I had only one skirt and no dresses, so over the last month I have been gradually rectifying this WITHOUT spending much, if any, money.  The idea of 'Make Do and Mend' is in the back of my mind but I have been approaching it in a different way, because basically, I'm not a sewer.  Yet.  I plan on learning, starting from next week as my deadline for my magazine work for the Spring edition is tomorrow, and thankfully I have finished all my articles and sent everything in.

So how have I managed to completely update my wardrobe and turn it into a closet of cute 1940s inspired pieces?  Simple.  Three words.  'Charity store' and 'eBay'. 

Let me start with the charity stores.  I'd never been a big one for scouring charity stores, or opportunity shops (op shops) as we call them here.  But there is a big one in a town near me and they never fail to have good things, and remarkably lots of things that are obviously brand new and have never been worn, and it is these sorts of items that I have been stumbling upon.  In my journeys I have come across two skirts, two jumpers (sweaters) of them pure wool, and three cardigans.  The cardigans and jumpers have knocked me for six especially as all of them show no signs of wear at all and I probably spent a total of $20 on all these items.  Yesterday, for example, I was looking for a winter coat for my 5 year old, (which I found one for $2.50) and I came across a very pretty dark red cardigan with sort of puffed sleeves, which was really quite 1940s looking.  It was $2.50 too, and since the entire store was having a 'half price on clothes' day I paid a crazy $1.25 for the cardigan and the same for the coat. 

This is the cardigan I found, and what I am wearing today...
The skirt I have posted here before, and was a charity store number, and is more 1950s due to the enormous amount of fabric in there.  It's a full circle skirt that also has pleats, so it's technically more than a full circle of really....I could get a couple of poles and pitch a tent with it.  I've also attempted my first Victory Roll in my hair here....and although it didn't quite work out it looks alright, sort of a 'toned down' V-Roll, which actually I think suits me better.  Can you believe it...I actually went out wearing this bright red lipstick (!)  If you knew me, and my non-makeup ways, you'd appreciate the significance of this!
So....the other way of updating my wardrobe that I mentioned.....eBay.  And I don't mean just buying things off there, but actually selling items.  I went through my wardrobe and cleared out everything that I wasn't wearing, things I didn't want, things that were....ahem...way too small....and listed them on eBay.  So far I have sold $450 worth of my things...yes, I said $450...and have been able to re-invest that back into my new style.  As people have paid me straight into my Paypal account (fabulous invention this!) I have just let the funds sit there, and then used the money from this account to buy new clothes, so haven't had to take anything from our actual bank account.  I have also been smart about it.  Instead of buying things randomly, choosing things on a whim and snatching up the first things I lose my heart to....I have been researching everything and making sure I build a real 'mix and match' wardrobe.  I am finding that my base colours are red (which I never would have worn in the past because I was too scared of standing out...what the!?!...but have now discovered it's a flattering colour on me), also navy, a teal green and a beige/camel sort of shade.  Come summer I am thinking about maybe introducing a bit of pink because I'm an 'Autumn' shade girl, but I will give this a bit of thought.  By doing all of this slowly I am not making wasted purchases, I am also reducing the amount of unnecessary things in my wardrobe, plus I am also creating a whole host of different outfits.
Today I thought I would show you my dresses that I have purchased, and keeping in mind that I have a red, a navy, a teal green, a camel coloured, a black and a white cardigan (most of these from charity stores), I have plenty of different outfits, and at them moment I am wearing these dresses, even though it is winter.  It doesn't get that cold here, compared to the Northern Hemisphere, and a cosy cardigan has been ample.
I love this dress.  I ummed and ahhhed over this for quite a few weeks before buying it.  I'm so glad I did.  It is a shirt dress, it's lined, it's quite full in the skirt, it feels great on...soooo comfortable...and it's got bunnies on it!!  Yes really.  Those red and green blobs are feathery things, I think...but the white blips are little rabbits!  I love the wide collar, and this is it teamed with my teal green cardigan.
Below is the dress with my red pure wool jumper that I got from the charity store for about $4.  It had obviously never been worn.  Actually, it reminds me of my old school jumper.  Same style and same wool.  Very warm however and I love this 'blue red' shade.
Actually, I look like I'm wearing my old summer school dress and jumper.  LOL...scoff.  Except for the fact our uniform was purple.  Gorgeous.
Here's the cardigan from the first photos.  Love that those tiny accents of red and green in the dress can be brought to life with either a red or green cardigan.  I should try the white cardi with this too, although I'm thinking the darker ones will work better.
Teal green dress in all it's glory.  This one I had my eye on for ages, and I was getting worried about missing it because it was half price and I was sure that my size would sell out before I could snap it up.  It's by Elise Design, an Australian designer, and normally her dresses are $160 or so.  I had to wait until I'd sold enough via eBay before I could get this one.  My patience paid off and here it is!  This is also ridiculously comfortable, is fully lined and the colour brings out the green in my eyes and the auburn in my hair.  Love love love.  I specially bought this teal green cardigan knowing I was going to get this dress, but I do have a skirt in this colour has a tiny pattern on it, which in amongst it are bunny and fox heads, which I only recently realised, I thought it was just spots.  It was a charity store number that I got a while ago.
This dress is by Hell Bunny (why all the rabbits today!!) and is really comfortable too.  It's also a bit of fun, love the blue and white gingham print, which then has cherries, apples and flowers on it.  The navy cardigan and the dress were bought with eBay money, and the cardigan will go with other dresses and skirts.
These two are sweet.  The beige number needs an iron, however.  It came from ModCloth in America and I haven't ironed out the 'packaged up and posted' creases.  It came with the belt and is comfortable, although it isn't lined so it will be interesting, and probably a little terrifying for onlookers, to see if it's see through.  The red dress was another ModCloth purchase and is not as comfortable as my other dresses, but its 'cuteness' outweighs the slight restrictive feel around the waist.
This is an attempted 'selfie' of my first go at a Victory Roll, which was a bit of a failure, not the true spectacular 'hair-do' that the 40s women were renowned for, but it still looked nice.  The Yarragon Vintage Market, who I mentioned here is planning on having 'Glamour Days' where they will give lessons in hair and makeup styles of the 1940s and 50s.  I am planning on going along!
Also, with the thought of 'Make Do and Mend', I have made sure I have put the spare buttons to these new dresses carefully in a tin, so if they fall off I can fix them, and will make sure I follow the Care Instruction labels when it comes to washing, drying and ironing them. 
Do you have a 'capsule wardrobe'?  Do you think you could adopt a 'make do and mend' attitude?


  1. I missed your outfit posts SOOO much. Like to the point I was about to be like, "hey mate.... those outfit posts...." (; I always loved how you used the beautiful Australian back drop in your outfit posts, so please please do that again once your wardrobe is right where you like it.

    I have to say new Amber is stunning. You totally make these vintage looks work for you. I love that dress with the prints you wore under the red cardigan is so stinking cute! I'd wear that in a heart beat.

    When i comes to thrift, or as you guys call it "op shopping" I have the queen. haha More than half of our closest are thrifted and the other half from Target. We are sort of obsessed with Target in this household. (; We live frugally and I couldn't imagine spending a ton on clothing. Especially when I change my mind about things so much. (;

    Have a lovely weekend Amber!!!

    1. Thank you Kiki, that is so sweet. We have Target here and it's great for kids clothes. Great price and great quality. And they are always having sales!! Not sure whether I'll be doing outfit posts any more, but I'll let you know!
      Amber x

  2. Hi Amber! I love this style on you! You look stunning :) I especially love the button up tea dresses they're my favourite style of dress to wear I think they're so flattering and comfy! And you look great in that red dress! Wow! Xxx

    1. Thank you! I am wearing the black tea dress with the bunnies on today, and it's been so comfortable, I agree.

  3. Amazing post!: )I enjoyed it very very much

  4. Yes I'm with Keeks, I missed your outfit posts and seeing your bright and lovely face!! So happy that you're back with a whole post dedicated to a new turn of fashion for yourself! I LLLLLOOOOOVVVVVEE the 1940's on you. Seriously, you look great. Which is why I couldn't wait to comment and had to text you. Like. FO REAL. So great!

    Selling online is something I have been interested in doing but also very timid of trying. Especially with Ebay's infamous sales problems. I may perhaps request a post on how you've listed on Ebay? Or maybe I can just email you. I'm glad you shared that you've used your Paypal account. I just made one and think it's a great system.. But I'm VERY new to it. I'll have to familiarize myself soon enough..

    I LOVE the bunny dress, my absolute favorite of your outfits (although really they all look great). LOL at so many rabbit dresses.. I mean the first! The beige ModCloth dress is a close second favorite. It reminds me of the 1940's dutch/german fashion which I really admire. How cool that the market is going to offer "Glamour Days" teachings. I would be interested in hearing about that!! (Too bad I can't just fly down for it! WHY IS AUS 15hrs AWAY... FROM CALIFORNIA!?!?!)

    I'm trying so desperately to work on a capsule wardrobe. I've actually got a post coming soon about why I'm wanting to sell and repurchase clothing-basics. Well anyway, this was an awesome post Amba'!!

    Much Love,
    -Stephanie Eva

    1. Thanks Stephanie! Outfit posts may or may not make a return, I will have to think about a way to do it without me being in them! I've been wearing the bunny dress today and it's sooooo comfortable. Yep, looking forward to the glamour days at the Yarragon Vintage Market so I can actually learn how to do my hair properly. Looking forward to hearing all about your capsule wardrobe!
      Amber x

  5. nice :) happy Sunday!

  6. I seriously love these vintage looks on you Amber. The teal dress and cardigan really suits you and reminds me of the sort of thing a teacher would have worn back in the day. x

    1. Thank you Bianca! Do I look like a teacher?! That will freak my husband out! x

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