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)...one 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 fabric...so 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 too...it 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?