About a month ago someone on ebay was selling a whole load of vintage pattern catalogues, mainly Vogue and Simplicity ones. This naturally stirred up quite a bit of activity, not least from myself. I bid on a bunch of them, but most flew well out of my budget, particularly the Vogue ones, but I did manage to snare two Simplicity catalogues (pictured below) one Spring/Summer, one Fall(AKA, Autumn)/Winter both from 1958.
Now these acquisitions are pretty exciting for me because the late 1950's-early 1960's is firmly becoming my favourite era of fashion. There are other eras that interest me, but it's this time frame that seem to get my juices flowing (so to speak) more than most. So I'd like to share with you the contents that I find most inspirational. I'll cover the Autumn/Winter one later in the year, but despite the week of rain and jackets the UK has just experienced, let's take a look at the Spring/Summer gems. These images and commentary are just in the order that they appear in the catalogue, in case you thought there might be some kind of order to my witterings.
First up, you know how the 50's tends to have a rep for being a very staid, repressed decade? Have you even seen this manic button-eyed leopard ad?!!! Makes you re-think that stereotype somewhat, eh?!
As my current-favourite skirt will attest, I'm developing a serious print-crush on fabric with big cabbage-y roses. The more they look like that have been painted with a paint brush, the better in my view. I'm not sure I would personally rock pink and white fabric, but this image reminds me how a well-fitting simple garment such at this dress performs as a great canvas for an awesome print. Like, just shut up dress, let the print do the talking here.
What a medley of cuteness!!! Personally, I wouldn't feel comfortable in the stomach bearing variations, but how amazing would it be to have a well fitting collection of little summer bustiers? So rockabilly. Plus you'd probably be able to use up all sorts of little lengths of awesome printed fabric that you've been hanging on to that are too small for a skirt or full blouse. Nom!
The outfit from the front cover. Now, to my mind these shorts are not disimilar to my self-drafted high waisted shorts, which is pleasing as it means I'm half way there! I think I'll bypass the cumberbund/belt, and instead focus on trying to knock up some sort of sweet boxy little top with awesome buttons like hers.
Now, don't get me wrong, Ms Brunette on the right there looks great and all, but for me the star of this pic above is the lovely dress on Ms Blonde there. Doesn't it look so wearble? I bet it's her favourite dress for throwing on when she's a bit late but needs to make a good impression that day! I've gone on about these types of sleeves many times before of course, I don't know what it is about them but I'm thoroughly obsessed. Look how the simple addition of a plain belt is all she needs to rock this dress even harder! She hasn't even bothered with a bag.
Another undisguised obession of mine is, of course, basically anything nautical. One of these days I'd like to have a go as making a dress or blouse with a sailors' collar but haven't figured out how to do it subtley, but this dress above give me a glimpse! It's also reminding me how the application of some simple trim on a plain fabric in a smart way can really elevate a garment from 'hmm...and?' to 'wowzers!'. I don't think I will be rocking white anytime soon though, I don't trust myself to keep that clean!
How delicious is a scoop back neck? How even more delicious is it when you've got some gorgeous added detailing like this above? I really feel that's one major difference between expensive and/or vintage garments and the majority of modern-day high street offerings: back detailing. The standard high street garment is made as basically as possible with as many corners cut as can be got away with to keep costings down and profits maximised (I've seen the calculations that go into this, not a very inspirational process!) so extras that don't have obvious instant hanger appeal (like something that is on the back and might be initially hidden to the potential buyer) are often avoided. Well, I'm going to bring sexy-back, ummm, back.
I just loves me a boxy little jacket like the one above. Statement buttons? 3/4 sleeves? Grown-on sleeves, for godsake?!!!!! I wish I could yank this illustration out of the catalogue and tape it to me! I've got a few pattern contenders for my next foray into boxy cropped jackets, but I'm going to get me a book about drafting linings to maximise the final garment's usefulness.
Actually, it was really difficult to choose just two boxy cropped jackets to feature in this post. Look at this one! Look how a simple contrast neck detailing makes it looks about 30 times more special than if it was left off.
Phew! The problem with these catalogues if that obviously I now want all the featured patterns (clearly the point of producing the catalogues in the first place anyhow). But I reckon I've got enough similar shapes in my pattern stash to give me options for interpreting much of what the above images have taught me. Hope you have enjoyed seeing them too.