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8 Ways to Get the Most from Your Custom Design Experience

8 Ways to Get the Most from Your Custom Design Experience

As a couture designer, seamstress and costumier my goal is to create the absolute best garment for you that I can. I offer a free consultation, ask lots of questions (not just about what you want the garment to look like, but also where, how and why you’ll wear it) and do lots of sketches before starting to draft the pattern.

But what if you’re not coming to me? What if you don’t know what to expect? What if you just want to make sure you’re getting the best result possible?

Grab your notepad, because I’ve collated my top 8 tips for ensuring you get the most from your bespoke clothing experience.

Fashion designer and pin up model Velvet DeCollete shares the 8 things you need to know to get the most from your custom made clothing experience.

1. Research

Before you pick a designer, tailor or dressmaker do your research.
Look for photos of their previous work, their qualifications, reviews from clients or recommendations from people you trust.  Do their style and skills suit the garment you want? ( for example don’t ask a designer who works in leather to make your bespoke silk wedding dress, and don’t expect a vintage reproduction specialist to be an expert in modern knitwear.)

2. Be Prepared

While I offer free consultations, most designers will charge you. Being prepared means you can make the most of your consult to ensure the designer or dressmaker knows exactly what you want,  and that they’re the right person for the job.
Things that I’ll ask you at a consult are: your time frame and budget, colour preferences, what occasion the garment is for, a few examples of styles or design features you like, and if there’s anything you really dislike.


Choosing a designer and ordering a custom designed piece of clothing can be intimidating, but here's 8 tips for getting the most from your bespoke experience!


3. Ask Questions

Ask if your designer does payment plans (this is especially helpful if you’re budgeting for a wedding) . Ask for a contract, what date they can have the garment completed and for an estimate of the price. Keep in mind that a custom made garment requires a personalised pattern, toiles, several fittings, quality materials and a high level of skill. These all add to the price so expect it to cost more than off-the-rack clothing.


When I create custom wedding gowns and costumes, I always include care and wearing instructions for my clients

When I create custom made clothing, I always include care and wearing instructions for my clients. These photo instructions made it into the wedding photos!

4. Be Open to Advice

I can’t stress this enough.
If you go to a professional, experienced designer or dressmaker they should be able to assess your body shape and advise you if the design you want will be flattering. Please listen to them. We want you to look and feel amazing so if we suggest a change of style or fabric please consider it.  You’re paying for an expert service so make the most of their expert knowledge.

I personally refuse to make garments I believe will be unflattering. If you want something that doesn’t suit you it’s easy enough to buy off the rack!

5. Measure Up

A custom made garment is made to fit you, so your seamstress will take your measurements to work from ( I take between 8 and 15 measurements depending on the design). It’s incredibly important you take any lingerie, shapewear or shoes you plan to wear with your garment to your fittings as these can dramatically alter your body shape and height.
It’s also vital to tell your dressmaker if you plan to lose or gain weight, are trying to fall pregnant or if you become very ill during the construction of your garment as these circumstances will affect the fit!

As an example, all sixteen pieces in the photo below create ONE fabric layer out of FOUR layers that made up this corset. Every one of these pieces would need adjusting on every layer should the client gain or lose weight. That’s 64 individual pieces to alter!


corset pattern pieces | Velvet Decollete


6. Be Honest

This is your dream clothing or costume we’re talking about, so be honest!
If you’re not sure about a design – tell us.
If something’s itching or uncomfortable at a fitting – tell us.
If we suggest a colour or fabric you hate – tell us!
One week from deadline is too late for most designers to change anything and will make the process far more expensive for you, so be straight up about anything you’d like changed as soon as possible. A good designer or seamstress will make it work, or at least explain why it won’t work!

7. Be On Time

Be on time for fittings, on schedule for buying your lingerie and shoes and up to date on your payments.
A missed fitting stops work on your garment, meaning it might not be ready for the agreed deadline. Not wearing your shapewear at your fittings could cause last minute alterations when you finally do bring it and find it changes your curves. Putting time pressure on your dressmaker by not being organised can cause delays, or a lower quality of work as we often end up working through the night in these cases!


Fashion designer and pin up model Velvet DeCollete shares the 8 things you need to know to get the most from your custom made clothing experience.

8. Be Realistic

Custom designed clothing requires hours of painstaking work. Be realistic about what you expect to pay for your perfect garment and how long it’s going to take. Remember that your order is probably one of several the designer is working on at any given time.

It’s also important to remember that inspiration pictures are just that – inspiration. Your designer should make the most flattering garment possible, but we aren’t magicians! Most fashion pictorials are heavily edited and while a skin tight non-stretch gown may look amazing pinned on a model, in reality you won’t be able to sit down. Sitting down is important, as it being able to breathe, lift your arms, and eat!


 If you have any questions about commissioning a customised or bespoke garment flick me a message on my facebook page or my contact page– I’m happy to help! Examples of my custom designs can be seen on my fashion design portfolio, where you can read feedback from my clients themselves x

With Style & Sass,

Velvet DeCollete

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, LIFESTYLE, 2 comments
The Inaugural Easter Bonnet – Along 2018!

The Inaugural Easter Bonnet – Along 2018!

Welcome to the inaugural annual Easter Bonnet-Along!

What’s better than hats?
Really fancy hats.
Really fancy hats paired with friends and Easter treats!

What’s This Easter Bonnet – Along Then?

An Easter Bonnet-Along ( according to me ) is where we all decorate fancy Easter hats so we can feel like Judy Garland in Easter Parade. Sounds great, right!?

Here’s How It Works

  1. Enjoy some fabulous vintage Easter inspiration on the special Pinterest Board I created just for you.
  2. Join the Inaugural Easter Bonnet-Along Facebook group so you can share your inspiration and hat decorating progress.
  3. Sew, build or decorate your themed Easter bonnet however you like!
  4. Post a photo of you looking fancy AF in your bonnet by Easter Sunday ( April 1st 2018)

Optional step 5: Arrange an Easter weekend meet-up with your fellow Bonnet-Alongers so you can admire each other’s handiwork!


Welcome to Velvet DeCollete's inaugural Easter Bonnet Along 2018!


Why Make An Easter Bonnet?

The tradition of wearing new clothes at Easter goes back at least as far as the 16th century, possibly as a result of Christianity adopting Pagan celebrations where the new life and bounty of spring represented the renewal of the year. Wearing new clothes for Easter was thought to bring good luck. By the end of the Great Depression new clothes weren’t affordable for many, so existing hats and clothes were retrimmed. Irving Berlin cemented the modern Easter bonnet in popular culture by celebrating the New York Easter parade in his 1948 film.

Religious beliefs aside, Easter Bonnets can be creations of pure joy. Just check out the incredible creations of the NYC Easter parade; see any sad faces? Nope. Personally I just love anything themed, and who doesn’t want a bouquet on their head as the Autumn months start to loom?

I hope this Bonnet-Along will give people some crafting inspiration and an incentive to catch up with friends and maybe meet some new ones!


I’m so excited to get creative and decorate my own hat while you make yours! While you get a-thinkin about your glorious future headwear, I’ll leave you with the dulcet tones of Bing Crosby. *sigh*
Just look at all those fancy hats.

With Style & Sass,

Velvet DeCollete

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, LIFESTYLE, 1 comment
My Breast Augmentation Journey

My Breast Augmentation Journey

Can we talk about boob jobs?


On June 2nd 2015 I had a breast augmentation . This was a very personal decision and one I’m open and honest about. Talking about our bodies and choices is vital to fostering a healthy mindset toward ourselves, our bodies and our sexuality.

So here we are, two years later and talking about boobs. This post will be long because I’m attempting to answer all the questions I’ve been asked about my breast augmentation and my implants!

*Warning: If boobs or talking about surgical procedures makes you squeamish, maybe don’t read this on your lunchbreak*

Why did You Get a Boob Job?

This is the most common question I get asked and it’s a multi-part answer. There was no one thing that motivated my decision.

When I was a kid chronic asthma made me very sick. Years of chest infections, pneumonia and breathing difficulties resulted in my ribcage being sucked in at the top, causing my lower ribs to stick out much further than the top ones. I also have pectus excavatum, where your breastbone is sunken into your chest.  Basically bottom of my ribcage protruded further than my bust.

Then I lost weight. Going on the pill at sixteen provided me with a happy D cup bust. Losing my ‘puppy fat’ took that down to a C cup, before exercise to improve my fitness left me wearing an A-cup. While I hoped gaining weight would bring back my boobs, it didn’t. Before my surgery I was carrying more weight than I ever had, but none of it went back on my bust.

With my boobs AWOL and my ribcage issues more apparent than ever I became extremely self conscious about my silhouette. In profile my deformed ribcage and small bust formed a flattish ‘W’ shape with my ribs sticking out past my boobs. I hated it. I felt unbalanced, like my top half didn’t match my hips. I couldn’t wear low cut tops, and could only wear half my work uniform blouses. Without boobs to fill them up the shirts were so loose that you could see straight down the front to my bellybutton if I lent forward!

I'm answering all your questions about my breast augmentation experience. Pre surgery a cup boobsSorry for the crappy photo quality, I didn’t think I’d be sharing them.

I wore push up bras almost every day. My proportions bugged me aesthetically. I felt like I’d lost my femininity.

After a years of worrying about my shrinking bust and slowly losing my confidence I desperately wanted a breast augmentation. But how could I justify the cost on something I saw as vanity. My husband said the words that changed my mindset;

“You’re not spending money on boobs. You’re investing in your own self esteem”

And that’s exactly why I did it. I wanted my confidence back. I wanted to feel womanly, feminine and sexy. I wanted to get dressed without padding my bra and obsessing over my silhouette. And ya know what? I’m happy I did.


Where Did You Get It Done? 

Finding the right surgeon was my top priority. More important than price. More important than convenience.

After extensive web searching and calling around different surgeons, I decided to go with Dr Charles Davis here in New Zealand. Charles is a specialist craniofacial surgeon who works with young adults and children, as well as performing breast, body and face surgeries. I found his calm, quiet manner reassuring and he was incredibly honest. After seeing his work I knew I was in the right hands – anyone who can reconstruct a child’s face must find breast augmentations a walk in the park!

Dr Charles works out of his private clinic in Boulcott, Lower Hutt and performed my surgery at Boulcott Private Hospital and Specialist Centre. Living in Auckland at the time, my husband and I flew to Wellington and stayed at a motel in Boulcott for a week.
Just in case you’re interested, the food at Boulcott Specialist Centre is tasty as. They gave me cheesecake. Oh, and the staff are absolutely lovely.

How Much Did it Cost?

My breast augmentation in 2015 cost $9860 plus my travel and accommodation costs. I flew down for a preliminary consultation about four months beforehand as well.


What Steps Lead To Your Surgery?

  1. Started researching surgery options and reading tons of blogs and breast augmentation forums
  2. Contacted surgeons and clinics for information packs
  3. Chose Dr Charles Davis and flew to Wellington for a consultation
  4. Dwelled on my options before booking my surgery date for four months later
  5. Flew back to Wellington for a final consultation the day before my surgery. Trialed my chosen implants in a sports bra for the night.
  6. Checked in to Boulcott private clinic bright and early for my surgery!

The surgeons markings on my skin pre-op. I'm sharing my breast augmentation journey and answering all your boob job questions.


What Kind of Surgery Did You Have?

My breast augmentation decisions were dictated by the small amount of breast tissue we had to work with. Basically I didn’t have enough boob fat to cover an implant!

I had a submuscular breast augmentation. My breast implants are placed underneath my pectoral ( chest ) muscles. My chest muscle helps disguise the implant edge and create a more natural looking slope from my chest to the implant. Dr Davis cut my pectoral muscles down the center, separating them from my chest, placing my implants under the chest muscle wall. The surgery was performed through incisions under my breasts.

On Dr Davis’s recommendation I chose silicon gel implants. These breast implants feel kind of like those gel wrist supports you find on mousepads. They can’t leak and if small bits break off ( in an extreme car crash for example ) my body would absorb them.

To give you an idea of how tough the implants are, my husband jumped on one of the sample implants and it just bounced back!


How Big Are Your Implants?

I have high profile, round 390cc silicon gel implants. I chose high profile implants to counteract the slant of my ribcage. ( High Profile means they stick out further rather than having a wider diameter. ) You’ll notice these implants have a textured surface to help prevent capsular contraction.

I answer all your questions about my breast augmentation surgery, why I had it, and what the boob job experience was like. This is what My gel breast implants look like.


Did it Hurt?


Surgery hurts. ( No surprises there right? )

Everyone has a different tolerance for pain. My is tolerance is pretty high so my surgery pain was different to that of people I’ve spoken to. My breast augmentation hurt less than my elbow or knee surgeries, but it still fucking hurt.

Let me break it down for you…

Day One | Wake up after surgery: Oh this is fine, this doesn’t hurt at all. It just feels really tight. I’ma do some colouring in…
Cue crying and thinking I might die.
Enter a lovely nurse with some painkillers.

Day Two | Okay this isn’t so bad. My skin is stinging like I have extreme sunburn and it feels very stretched ( because it is).
There’s a continuous dull throbbing ache like I went too hard on bench press and flies yesterday. Random sharp stabby pains.
Two Panadol and I’m under control, but sleeping is really hard.

Day Three | Dull ache and sunburn prickles are sticking around. My tummy hurts because I’m so bloated I look pregnant. No painkillers required.
Turns out those quick stabby pains are commonly called ‘ zingers’. The swelling on my sternum is very tender.

Day Four | Caught the bus to Wellington for shopping. Still feel like I went waaay to hard on chest day.
Can lift my arms again. Actually did a bit of dancing after dinner.

Skip to Day Seven| Had my checkup today and the bandages removed. The incision scars are very tender, but there’s almost no bruising!                  Sunburny feeling is fading. Dull ache comes and goes. I’m a side sleeper so my lower back is killing me from trying to get comfy on my back.

Ongoing | Aching for a couple of weeks. Random sharp pains common for a few months. Two years later I’m still getting occasional zingers as nerves                       continue to heal.


Lying in bed at Boulcott Clinic the morning after my boob job.

One day post breast augmentation surgery. 390CC high profile.


What Was Your Recovery Like?

I’m extremely lucky to have recovered from my medical and cosmetic surgeries easily. Some of my friends had high pain and vomiting after their breast augmentations but I didn’t have any of that!

I was mobile and had full range of motion in my arms and shoulders a day or two after surgery. My scars were tender and raised for a few months but have settled down well. I wore a mix of K-Mart, Cotton On and one expensive Triumph wire free sports bras for the first three months. The hardest thing is getting them over your head and torpedo boobies!

My scars are little white lines now. Dr Davis gave me medical silicon strips to help them heal flat and smooth. The silicon gel strips stick over the scars and it helps the tissue to stay soft and flexible. They hide under the crease of my boob most of the time, so I’ve lifted them up to show you what they look like here.

I'm answering all your questions about my breast augmentation experience. Breast augmentation under breast scars two years after surgery


Were There Any Downsides?

Yeah there were.

Lifting weights feels super weird and kinda creepy now. The implants kind of shift and slide out to the sides when my chest muscles contract. But I’m adjusting to it.

I also lost nipple sensitivity. This seems to be a pretty common side effect, and I knew it might happen. After the surgery my nipples were painfully sensitive, due to being stretched and the obvious nerve damage that comes with surgery. For a few months they switched between over-sensitive and under sensitive, and they definitely have less feeling now.

For the first few months one of my implants settled or ‘dropped’ way faster than the other so I had wonky boobs! This is expected and they even up while they heal. You can see how uneven they look in this photo.

One week post op. Velvet Decollete shares her breast augmentation experience and answers all your boob job questions.


What Do Your Fake Boobs Feel Like?

Like fake boobs I guess haha?

I had almost no breast tissue to cover my implants, meaning they had to go under my pectoral muscle. So basically my breasts now feel like a small amount of squishy breast tissue over a firm chest muscle. They are jiggly and squeezable when my chest muscles are relaxed, but definitely firmer than natural breasts when I flex my pectoral muscles or the implants are under pressure – like when I’m lying on my stomach or giving someone a bear hug.


Do You Hate Small Boobs?

No! Hell no!

Small boobs are beautiful and sexy and amazing. As long as you love love your boobs, I love your boobs. Actually I probably think they’re perfect even if you don’t. My small boobs just didn’t work for me because of my messed up rib cage.


Are You Happy You Had A Boob Job?

Yes! Having a breast augmentation was the right choice for me.While there have been a couple of tradeoffs, I feel so much more confident, feminine and sexy since having my surgery. It’s made me less self conscious, my clothes fit better and I feel like my figure is more balanced. My boob job was truly an investment in my self esteem and I’m so glad I did it.

I'm answering all your questions about my breast augmentation experience. Breast implants two days later

This is what my breasts look like now, two years after surgery.

Would You Encourage Other Women To Have Breast Augmentations?

No. I would NEVER encourage anyone to have any kind of cosmetic surgery.

Cosmetic surgery is an intensely personal procedure. Having it for the wrong reasons can have extremely negative consequences. Hell, having it all all can have extremely negative consequences – like people you barely know feeling it’s appropriate to touch you, or offload their self righteous opinion on what you should or shouldn’t do with your body.

While having a breast augmentation was the right choice for me, it’s certainly not the right choice for everyone. I would encourage anyone considering cosmetic surgery to talk over your reasons with trusted friends, family, partners, and professionals to figure out whether it’s the right solution for you.

Anything Else?

  • Having a breast augmentation won’t automatically make your breasts “perfect”. In fact, it will make the natural asymmetry of your boobs more obvious. If one looks a bit to the side, it will look more to the side when it’s bigger!
  • Your boobs will looks like torpedoes for a few months, no bullet bra required.
  • Your scars might be tender for a long time. When I started wearing underwires again after 13 weeks, I had to pad the wires with tissues to stop them rubbing.
  • Bras are just decoration now. These puppies stay up by themselves so I basically only wear a bra to prevent frosties, support when I workout,  and because I like pretty things. True story.


Phew! I think we made it through all your questions! If there’s something your curious about that I didn’t cover, feel free to leave me a comment!
I hope sharing my experience has given you some insight into some of the reasons people might choose to get breast implants, and what the journey is like.

With Style & Sass,

        Velvet DeCollete

If you would like to see what my augmented breasts look like in different lingerie and clothing, I recommend taking a look at these posts:


Miss DeCollete Learns Deportment
Halloween LookBook
Play Your Cards Right Lingerie Review











Posted by velvetdecollete in BEAUTY, LIFESTYLE, 17 comments
Is Photoshop Harming Pinup Communities?

Is Photoshop Harming Pinup Communities?

Pin up and photoshopping. They walk hand in hand, but do we acknowledge their relationship enough?

You know I’m all about honesty, so I feel it’s time we honestly discussed the relationship between photoshopping and pinup art. How much is edited? Are we okay with it? Do you know when you’re not looking at reality?

I’ll be showing you my own before and after photos as well as some historical examples. ( Because I’m not interested in calling anyone else out, ya know?). I hope you’ll find it interesting and that it opens a conversation about how we feel about photo editing and it’s effects within our pinup communities.

What is Photo Editing?

Photo editing, often achieved using tools like photoshop , lightbox or photo filters ( we’ll refer to ‘photoshopping’ to keep it simple) is digitally or manually manipulating a photograph. This can be anything from adjusting some colours or brightening a dark photo, to slimming a body, airbrushing skin, adding length or volume to hair or changing background locations.

Let’s Start With Some Pros and Cons

Like every tool photo editing has it’s upsides and downsides. Let’s run through a few to get an idea of what we’re dealing with.


  • Photo editing is an incredibly powerful artistic tool allowing users to create images that don’t exist in real life, just like a painter or a sculptor.
  • Editing images can improve our confidence, removing temporary or permanent blemishes like scars or acne.
  • Photo editing can correct or improve lighting and colour discrepancies, and details that can’t be captured by a camera the way the human eye sees them.
  • It can be super fun and inspiring to change the way you look, the colour of your hair, or create a highly artistic version of yourself without having to make those dramatic changes in real life.


  • Photoshopped images create and enforce unrealistic and unachievable beauty standards – especially when used in advertising and by celebrities.
  • Photo editing can make us unfairly compare our real life selves to edited images, leading to negative body image and mental health issues.
  • Photo editing can give a false example of a product or it’s results ( hello Instagram makeup artists ;p )
  • In some circumstances photo editing can just be downright sneaky.

To decide if a photoshopped pinup image is positive or negative I ask myself these questions:
Is it fit for purpose?
Is it creating a false ideal?
Do we know it’s been photoshopped?

Is It Fit For Purpose?

Definition:  well equipped or well suited for its designated role or purpose.

Fit for purpose is the main factor in how I feel about photoshopped images. Does the photo become more suited to it’s purpose by being edited?

I’m going to quote an anonymous source here, because they summed it up really well but I don’t want anyone getting crucified by trolls.


“Are you making a cheesecake image which is effectively highly photoshopped by definition? OR are you making your Instagram images so edited you make people wonder what happened between when you placed the photo on Instagram in the morning, to when they saw you? The initial is a style, the latter is a self image issue. “


We can safely assume that cheescake pin up photos are edited.

This isn’t news to fans of the cheesecake or glamour style, it’s been happening for as long as the genre has existed. Early photographers edited their subjects by burning and dodging, or by altering lines when they colored the images with paints. Gil Elvgren essentially photoshopped his models, slimming and lengthening their proportions in his paintings like the ones below. You can see more examples of 1950’s pinup photographs vs paintings here.

I feel like this is okay, because these images are created as art

On the other hand, I feel that heavily edited ‘candid’ shots * side eye at the Kardashians* create a harmful and unrealistic expectation of what a human body looks like. A filter and hiding a few zits are one thing, being unrecognizable is another.

To quote another anonymous babe from my local pinup community…


“I love artistic editing, and those style choices can really take images to a whole other place, but passing that level of editing off as natural would just seem ingenuine. “

In My Opinion…

Pinups making cheesecake style photos, or consistently editing ‘candid’ images but being open about it – cool, whatever makes you happy, we know you’re being an arty motherfucker with those photos.

Pinups editing candid or event photos and pretending they’re natural – you’re probably contributing to the body image and self confidence issues so many people struggle with, because they’re comparing their natural selves to your secretly super edited self.

How do you feel about editing cheesecake pin up images compared to candids or Instagram selfies? Do you think there’s a difference? Are they both okay or is one or both contributing to our unrealistic cultural beauty standards?

How Photoshopped Am I?

I want to show you exactly how Photoshopped my photos are. It’s important that you can see the difference between professional, edited glamour photos and review or event images.

When I’m shooting a cheesecake or glamour pin up I let the photographer edit whatever they need to fulfill their artistic vision. Photographers clear up my skin and cellulite, adjust the colours and contrast, or give the image a film grain or other texture. This stuff is great for a creating an idealised pin up style like you’d see in traditional pin up art. Personally I feel it’s an appearance altering tool like contouring makeup and shapewear.

Mike Froger photographs and edits most of my images. We share the opinion that women’s bodies are rad and don’t need to be changed in the shape department. He does kindly edit out my psoriasis, pimples and sometimes freckles and cellulite on my chest, arms or legs. The freckles on my face are usually covered by makeup. Not because I don’t like them, but because I use a heavier foundation to cover my psoriasis and I’m not skilled enough to cover that and leave the rest sheer!

Here’s an example of the difference on our photos. The left hand image is unedited apart from being made black and white. The right hand image is edited.



Logan Davies was kind enough to give us some examples of the more heavily edited photos I’ve shared. These are edited and unedited images from our lingerie photoshoot and you can see the huge difference in colour, contrast, skin texture. I’ve been stretched in one shot to make my 5’4 frame longer.



You don’t see this level of editing on my review or candid photos. I’ll clear up any major skin problems and sometimes throw on a filter to create a mood, but secretly editing my body shape or height would be unfair to you guys. And what’s the point of creating a warped idea of what the reviewed garments actually look like?

Here’s some before and after examples of clothing review photos I used a few months ago.



As you can see, not a huge difference there. I wear makeup and practice poses that enhance my natural body shape, so what you see in these photos is basically what you see when I pose in real life.

My Instagram selfies use filters to enhance colours or lighting,  or my phone’s beauty face filter on low strength to even out my bad skin. I don’t know how to remove zits or scars or make my eyes bigger or my waist smaller or any of that stuff haha.

I do basic editing because my Insta account is for my modelling and brand, not myself personally, and I want it to look a little polished. I’m okay with my freckles, wrinkles and white hairs though so you’ll see those! I’m happy to tell you exactly what I’ve changed on a photo if you’re ever curious.

My personal photos on Facebook haven’t been edited at all for the last few years because who has time for that?

Can You Spot Photoshop?

Photo editing seems most dangerous when you can’t spot it. When it’s not alien smooth skin or mismatched backgrounds whispering that the thigh gap isn’t 100% legit.  When you think that it’s real. When a social media feed of perfect selfies makes you feel like you’re the only person to ever have love handles, tummy rolls or bad skin.

Just for the record, every person I’ve ever met has tummy folds and back folds and armpit bums or whatever the hell they call them. The skin that stretches flat when you stand straight has to go somewhere when you curl up, so it makes folds. IT’S PERFECTLY NORMAL AND YOU’D BE FUCKED WITHOUT IT.
*Edit: Apparently they’re armpit vaginas and Miss Victory Violet has a hilarious video about them that you should all watch*


Anyway back to sneaky photoshopping. The whole premise of really good photo editing is that you can’t see it. I look at photos of my pin up inspirations like Jazmin ( Vintage Vandalizm ), Rachel Jensen and Dita Von Teese and I often have no idea if anything’s been changed. I just assume they look that amazing in real life.

And that’s the danger. Like millions of other women, I aspire to be as beautiful as a photograph of a person I’ve never actually seen.  This is the aspect of photo editing that might be harming our pinup communities. The part that makes our gorgeous friends and those that look to us as role models feel like they’re not good enough. The part that we need to openly talk about and remember that what we see on social media is usually someone’s highlight reel, not their full time life.

So Is Photoshopping Good or Bad For Pin Ups?

It’s both and neither.

Photo editing is a tool. We can use it to create art, to rose tint our daily lives, to exaggerate, show the truth or to lie. How we use it is up to the individual, but it’s also up to the individual to consider the message they’re sending to others.

It’s common knowledge that heavy handed photoshopping is de rigueur in mainstream marketing. We know it’s having a negative effect on our society, particularly on women and young girls. I don’t know if highly edited cheesecake photos and selfies have the same effect within our pinup communities, and I think it’s something we need to discuss honestly and often to make sure we’re supporting and educating ourselves and those who follow in our footsteps.

I’ll be opening a discussion around photoshopping in pin up on my Instagram, my Facebook Page and my pinup support group The Pinup Posse. Please stop by and share your experiences and opinions, I’d really appreciate hearing your views on the Photoshop debate!

In the meantime can you do me a favour? Put down your phone or step away from your PC.  Stand in front of the mirror and appreciate your body. It may be skinny, thick, tall, short, scarred, damaged, spotty or dimply, but it’s your body. Cellulite is just another texture and mummy tum’s or visible hip bones are another shape to explore. I know it can be hard ( trust me, I know ) but be kind to yourself, and please don’t compare yourself to photos that might not even be real!

With Style and Sass,

   Velvet DeCollete

Posted by velvetdecollete in LIFESTYLE, PINUP, 0 comments

Choosing & Caring for Vintage Clothing | Secrets of a Vintage Store Owner

Wearing and caring for vintage clothing is immensely rewarding but also nerve wracking. Which pieces should you buy? How do you clean that delicate fabric? Where do you even start? While Google is great I’m wary of unproven cleaning methods.

Instead I turn to La Vonne ( Doyenne of the recently retired Tock Tick Vintage store ) for her tried and true tips on selecting and maintaining a gorgeous vintage wardrobe. With a lifetime of experience and impeccable taste to match, Lavonne’s a goldmine of knowledge! If you’re always buying clothes but have nothing to wear, you’ll want to check out my 5 ways to buy the right vintage, not any vintage.


VIntage dresses at Tock Tick Vintage | Velvet Decollete


LaVonne what do you look for or avoid when buying vintage items?

Early on I used to collect almost every vintage item from last century (pre 1980) that crossed my path, as I just love finding and collecting vintage lovelies.  Over time I have developed a more selective approach as some items are more commercial, collectible, rare and so on.  These days I try to procure pieces that translate easily into more modern day styling or quality timeless pieces that have withstood the test of time; either in functionality, style or both.  I am very particular about quality and I really do try to offer the best quality vintage I can, bearing in mind that some items were created decades ago, so some flaws are inevitable and to be expected.  Great care is taken in laundering and making tiny repairs if necessary to offer the items as close to the original as possible.

When I’m out searching for vintage treasure, the condition of the item is very important to me.  Whilst some items are simply great to have because they are like museum pieces and marking a moment in time, generally most are going to be worn regularly and need to reflect that in their condition.  I avoid items where the fabric is decaying or brittle. Vintage silks are beautiful, but when you hold them up to the light you can see the fibers are breaking, sheer or rotting.  Be mindful that certain fabrics, particularly natural fibers, do have a lifespan.  

Therefore my main tip for buying vintage clothing is to buy good quality.  Avoid items that have major faults.  Better to pay a little more for quality key pieces than having a wardrobe brimming with ‘average’ items.


If you could recommend one starter piece to someone new to vintage style, what would it be and why?

Vintage jewellery, hands down.  Add a brooch and earring set to a little black dress you already own and boom!, the stunning attention to vintage detail has us wondering if your entire ensemble is vintage too. The other wonderful thing about vintage accessories: they generally aren’t size dependent. I can wear a modern simple black dress and  accompany it with my beautiful handbag, gloves, brooch and hat.  The size of the dress is irrelevant yet the vintage detailing makes the outfit.


vintage accessories from Tock Tick vintage | Velvet DeCollete


Lavonne Says

Brooches added to a hat, a scarf, on a jacket.  Fabulous.  

A string of simple pearls, always in style!  

Similarly a black jet necklace!

Clip on earrings!  

Take a look at Mad Men folks … every woman is wearing jewellery to polish off her look.  These items are affordable too.  Compared to buying a dress or an entire outfit, you can add your $30 earring, brooch and necklace set to many outfits.  To your twinset, with your capris on the weekend, or on the bodice of your evening gown. 

Just a tip, if you are not used to wearing clip on or screw on earrings they can take a little getting used to! However, like wearing in a new pair of shoes, it’s the same for your vintage earrings.  Wear them for an hour at a time around the house often and over time your ears will get accustomed to them.  Got a great pair of classic shoes?  Your clip on earrings can double as pretty shoes clips to give your outfit instant vintage glam !

Tock Tick Vintage is known for your stock of wonderful furs. How do you clean and maintain them?

  • Firstly, I recommend you do the following with any of your valuable clothing items:
    lace the garment outside on a hanger two or three times a year on a gentle breezy day (not too hot and sunny, furs don’t really like too much bright sun for too long and extended heat dries out the leather pelt).  Ventilating your clothing is a simple and easy way to keeping them fresh.
  • I purchased a natural soft bristle pet brush from the pet store (was not expensive) … and every now and then I brush the fur, this is actually quite a tactile lovely process I find.  It aerates the fur, removing any dust particles  and keeping it silky. Of course, dealing with many furs it’s handy for me to have a brush.  You can do this with clean hands for the same effect.
  • Getting rid of that musty smell. You can hang the fur in a garment bag and place an open envelope full of coffee granules at the bottom, zip it up and leave it for about three days.  Take the fur out of the bag,  brush it, replace the coffee and repeat for another  three days.  Then air the fur outside for an hour or so over a weekend.  The fur will smell of coffee for a short time but this will completely go, as will ‘that smell’.  This is surprisingly effective!I also personally use a solution of one parts vodka to 3 parts water in a spray bottle to remove smells. Hanging the fur outside on the line, I stand back from the fur and spray a fine mist over the fur (and articles of vintage clothing too) making sure to not wet the items, but mist them.  Allow to dry then brush.  I have never caused any damage to my items through this process but of course care is required.
  • Never store your furs in plastic .. they need to breathe .. in fact never cover with anything when in storage. If possible, store in a dark cool place (closet is fine) .. but maybe place a hook from the ceiling or on the wall in there so it can hang slightly separate (ie) you don’t want it to be squished between all your other clothes, will flatten the fur and will not allow air to circulate around it.
  • I highly recommend buying a product like ‘DampRid’ and keeping these in your wardrobes. Not to protect just your fur, but your other wardrobe treasures.  I find I replace these quarterly at a cost of around $7 per time.  These little buckets of moisture absorbing crystals are incredibly effective at keeping moisture and mould out of your wardrobe. Not a bad investment for keeping your clothes in great shape at $30 per year.
    I know it seems straight forward, but run your hands though the garments in your wardrobe each week and quickly vacuum the floor and ceiling as part of your housework routine. This keeps dust and wee bugs away from your treasures and is another simple 30 second solution to help keep your clothes fresh.
  • Your fur needs to be placed on a decent wide, padded or shaped coat hanger  to retain good shape and be well supported. I have had customers purchase furs that they are going to keep displayed on a mannequin in their home.  This is fine so long as it is never in direct sunlight, is in a relatively cool position  and is regularly brushed and shaken to keep it aired and dust free.  I agree, they look beautiful, why not display them!!!!
  • Gentle surface washing will do no harm to fur, but wetting the pelt might make the fur fall out.  Using a very mild baby or pet shampoo diluted with water then using a cloth or a brush the solution to clean the fur without penetrating the pelt works well.
  • When you see a label on vintage fur items ‘clean using the furrier method only’ this refers to a process where furs were tumbled in machines filled with gritty sawdust .. the dry friction cleaned the leather and left the fur silken and clean.
    I have effectively cleaned fur stoles/collars/hats  with unprocessed bran (gently heated in the oven first).  You then place the fur in large bag (pillowcase even) with bran.  Shake it around vigorously for a few minutes, then discard and brush out the bran.  This is pretty labour intensive, the bran takes ages to brush out, but it really absorbs smells and dirt and leaves the piece lovely.  Crazy I know!

    Caring for vintage furs | Velvet DeCollete

As furs were more common in the past, there were expert furriers that would care for fur treasures.  These are now difficult to find and possibly quite expensive. I personally use common sense with my fur care.  If you pay $100 for a vintage fur stole you may not necessarily wish to go to the expense of paying a professional to care for it.  The silver fox fur I owned is still as immaculate as the day I purchased it some 20 plus years ago just by using some common sense. That said, if you own a top quality blue fox coat that cost thousands of dollars, I do recommend getting it the professional care it requires.  

I don’t know of any furriers in Auckland but I am sure if you check with your trusted dry cleaner they could point you in the right direction.  I would imagine in cities with colder climates where fur coats might be worn more commonly due to temperature, more places would be available to purchase and care for fur.

This all sounds very in depth.  It is actually relatively simple.  I make small mends when seams come apart and I spot clean if I have to.  When buying a vintage item there will often be imperfections, these items have been lovingly worn over time and that is to be expected.  You will lovingly wear it and care for it too.


Top tips for keeping your vintage clothing in good condition from vintage store owner LaVonne


What do you feel are the most important accessories for vintage style?

It’s no surprise I’m obsessed with vintage accessories.  I would toddle off to Secretarial College in the mid 1980’s wearing my Nana’s 1950’s houndstooth coat with black fur collar, my Mother’s 1960’s patent handbag and a pair of slingback black suede winklepicker shoes.  Ironically I never questioned my ‘look’, whether is was current or relevant, whether it was appropriate even, I just loved those items and I felt fabulous.  Those vintage treasures brought me real joy.  They in some way transported a piece of me back in time, gave homage to those I loved and were different to anything I could find in high street stores.  I guess that was the beginning of the obsession.

Whether fully immersed in vintage styling or you have alternative or eclectic tastes, or just love the beauty of pieces crafted in a time of quality and attention to detail … vintage can be a great way to individualise your wardrobe with things you’ll love.

Vintage accessories are so great for this.  My collection of vintage handbags is vast however I always recommend to my customers that owning a black and a neutral vintage handbag is a great start as then you can always add that vintage flair to your outfit .  You can add a brightly coloured hair flower to your classic handbag to tie in your look.  

My vintage go-to accessories





Classic coat

Fur (or faux fur) collars

It really is fun hunting out those vintage pretties to tie an outfit together.  Don’t be afraid to experiment and enjoy.  Remember; if you love something .. isn’t the joy you get from that piece what’s special? ♡


Vintage shopping tips from Tock Tick Vintage

A few of La Vonne’s happy customers.

And there you have it, expert do’s and dont’s for protecting and laundering your vintage treasures! I recommend you bookmark or pin this post, I come back and refer to it whenever I have a new-to-me vintage garment that needs some TLC.

With Style & Sass,

   Velvet DeCollete


Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, LIFESTYLE, 4 comments
Why I’m Not Setting New Year Goals

Why I’m Not Setting New Year Goals

Are you like me? Every year I set wonderful New Year Goals, and every year I forget about them by February 1st.

This happens for a a variety of reasons. I don’t put them somewhere visible, I set goals that are too broad, too specific or my situation changes and they lose relevance. It just doesn’t work for me.

So this year I’m changing it up. My 2018 new year’s resolutions aren’t goals. They’re behaviors.

– Discipline Gratitude –

With no numbers to hit or immovable destinations I can focus on what’s really important. Creating content that matters. Focusing my creativity where it makes the biggest difference. Changing my destination if I need to.


While discipline sounds boring, it’ll actually allow me to be more creative. Removing unnecessary busywork and distractions will strengthen my  focus, creating more efficient work habits and an environment in which success happens smoothly.

I won’t lie, it’s going to be hard. I’m one of those messy creatives who struggles to finish projects without a deadline, jumping from one idea to another as inspiration takes me. My commissions are always completed on time, but my personal design collections and projects pile up unfinished. Wah wah waaaaaaaah.

Schedules and turning off the WiFi will be key this year. Disconnecting from distractions to reconnect with my purpose!


People have been throwing around the whole Gratitude mindset for years now, and honestly, I always thought it was a bit airy fairy.  It seemed like something for serene people who do yoga on the beach at dawn, not cynical realists like me. I struggle with mental illness, particularly self doubt and the impostor experience. I was having a major self doubt moment questioning my past decisions when Miss Lily Kate ( seriously the wisest person I know ) turned on the light with this gem…


“Self degradation stops where gratitude begins. You’ve got so much to be thankful for based on many decisions, some made for you, many made for yourself- a roof, food, a loving partner and friends, put that thought out with all that goodness”


The whole Gratitude shebang suddenly made sense.

It’s not just about being thankful for what other people do for you – which I am – but which also makes me painfully aware of my perceived personal failures. It’s about being grateful for where you are and what you have, and sometimes that means acknowledging that you made some of that happen yourself. The occasional fuck up doesn’t seem so crushing when you can appreciate all the small things you’ve done right.

I’m hoping adopting an attitude of gratitude will lessen my FOMO too.
While I’d love to be globe hopping with all my seemingly highly successful friends, that’s just not where I’m at right now.
And ya know what? That’s okay. I’ve got time. Time to make my mark by making other people feel amazing in their dream clothes. Time to get my husband and I’s business running so we can spend some off together. Time to build a pin up brand and community I’m really proud of.

My Goals Aren’t 2018 Goals

They’re life goals.

I’m excited to enter 2018 with clarity and purpose. I truly believe I’ll achieve more than ever, and I hope you’ll be with me when I do!

Creating content that’s valuable to you is important to me. I’m here to help you feel confident, own your body and dress like the pavement’s a catwalk. So tell me what you want ( what you really, really want ).  You can let me know what pin up, vintage or style related posts and videos you’d find helpful by leaving me a comment here, or on any of the social links below.

You can also join my pin up Facebook group the Pinup Posse. The Pinup Posse is a supportive space for vintage and pin up loving women and LGBTQ+  to share style, beauty and life tips in a bully free environment. I created it specifically for those new to the pin up lifestyle – no question is a silly question, and our established pinup mentors ( Including three Miss Pinup New Zealand winners!) are on hand with advice and inspiration.

Lets make 2018 our strongest, sassiest and most stylish year yet!

Join Me Here

The Pinup Posse

With Style & Sass,

      Velvet DeCollete

Posted by velvetdecollete in LIFESTYLE, 2 comments

Food That Makes Memories | My Favourite Christmas Recipes

Christmas is one of those times that can really divide people. The Christmas carol lovers vs the Grinches, the maximists from the minimalists and the restrained vs the festive feasters. But celebratory preferences aside, for most of us it’s a time of traditions, memories and people we love even if they drive us crazy.

I fall on the “more is more” side of Christmas. Overwhelming decorations, Christmas carols 24/7 and pass that second bowl of trifle thanks! I got this obsessive festive joy from my Mum, whose Christmas decor looks like an editorial in Home & Garden ( even if that did mean redecorating our childhood tree in the night after we mashed the ornaments on!). And it’s not Christmas until she brings out a massive plate of glossy chocolate dipped strawberries.

Christmas pinup Velvet DeCollete shares the classic Kiwi dishes that make her Christmas memories

Food is inextricably linked to my memories of family events, with reoccurring dishes defining birthdays, holidays and seasons. While ham and turkey are great, for me these are the festive foods that make Christmas, Christmas. As Kiwi as Pohutakawa and Boxing Day BBQ’s. Like a Labrador I don’t know when to stop eating, overindulging until I have to lie on the floor because my stomach is crushing my internal organs! But even then there’s probably room for a wafer thin mint, a tiny little thin one


Lolly Cake

Classic Kiwi Christmas foods the festive season isn't complete without.

If you’ve ever been to a bakery or a birthday party in New Zealand, you’ve seen lolly cake. This humble no bake slice is uncomplicated, easy to make and while it’s not classy, it’s a classic. My Nana has been making this for god knows how long. It’s not a special occasion without her producing at least one wax paper wrapped log, usually two. I can reliably tell the date in December by it’s appearance in the fridge.

While recipes may vary slightly depending on the family, the most common recipe is something like this one from Foodlovers. I remember using a can to crush the biscuits in a big metal bowl as a kid – no food processor required!

Classic Kiwi Christmas foods the festive season isn't complete without.


Steamed Pudding

Classic Kiwi Christmas foods the festive season isn't complete without.

Steamed pudding comes in various flavours, but this is the one I wolf down every December. ( Well, the closest recipe I can find anyway, I have a photocopy of my Nan’s recipe but the cursive handwriting is intelligible ).

Firm, moist, spiced and sweet this is my ALL TIME FAVOURITE festive treat. While it’s traditionally served warm with custard I’m quite happy slicing off a chunk and eating it cold while helping in the kitchen. Stuffed with fruit it’s an energy rich snack in my opinion! Best of all it’s actually best to make this plum pudding at least a month in advance. It gets better with age and is one less thing you have to do during the silly season!



Classic Kiwi Christmas foods the festive season isn't complete without.

Love it or hate it, it wouldn’t be a NZ Christmas without a marshmallowy, crispy shelled pav piled with whipped cream and fruit. And if you’re an Aussie – you’re dreamin’ mate, it’s Kiwi as. As Kiwi as Edmonds, whose recipe book and it’s pavlova recipe are a quintessential gift for New Zealanders leaving the nest.

At least one of my aunties brings a pavlova to Christmas every year. The sugary clouds of meringue challenge even my sweet tooth to handle more than one generous slice, but you can’t resist a second helping. Strawberries are my ideal topping, balancing the sweetness with their tart summery taste. That and I’m not a huge fan of the traditional Pavlova dressing – kiwifruit – eurgh.


Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Classic Kiwi Christmas foods the festive season isn't complete without.

Chocolate + strawberries are a no brainer right? This classic combo makes me nostalgic for lazy Christmas brunches at my Mum’s house. Plates piled high with fruit, muffins and fresh bread, wrapping paper everywhere and new books to read. No matter where I am these have a direct line to my memories and stomach.

The recipe is so basic it’s not even a recipe. Melt chocolate over a low heat ( I like Whittakers ), dip your strawberries in and sit them on a wax paper covered tray to set in the fridge!

Christmas pinup Velvet DeCollete shares the classic Kiwi dishes that make her Christmas memories

Food Photography | As linked
Pinup Photography | Bay Glamour
Find more of this domestic pinup photoshoot in the September ’17 issue of Delicious Dolls Magazine.

I’m off to wrap gifts and sing along to White Christmas now, but I’d love to know what your festive foods and traditions are! Please share your Christmas classics in the comments below, on this post on my Facebook page, or on Instagram!

With Style & Sass,

     Velvet DeCollete

Posted by velvetdecollete in LIFESTYLE, 0 comments

Velvet 101 | Frequently Asked Questions About Pinup, Fashion and Shark Attacks

I love it when people aren’t afraid to ask me questions in person or on social media, curiosity is how we learn! I also know some of you are shy so I thought I’d answer alllllll the questions I get asked in one post.
I’ll update this post when I get new questions so it’s your one stop shop for Velvet 101.


I also made this dorky video for ya’ll answering some of the questions.

How did you get into modelling and what was your journey like? – Miss Katie Darling

I got into modelling through burlesque, which I started doing to boost my confidence. I had some photos from shows, and was told I should get in front of the camera more. The idea of pinup modelling appealed to my love of vintage and creating characters and context through style, so I entered a contest to become the ‘face’ of a local pinup photographer. While that didn’t work out well, it did give me a few photos for my portfolio. After a while my now regular photographer Froger asked if I’d like to work together. His alternative take on pinup appealed to me, plus women he’d photographed said he wasn’t a creep, so we organised a shoot and the rest is history!

My modelling journey has been positive. I attribute that largely to being VERY picky about who I work with. If a photographer contacts me and their photographic style doesn’t suit my personal brand, or I get a weird vibe from them, I say no. This means I’ve said no to quite a few people, some take it well and some don’t, but as a result I’ve never felt in danger or taken advantage of at a shoot.
My journey has also been slow. At 5.3″ tall I’m too short for commercial work so carving out my own niche in the small world of alternative and vintage pinup modelling is taking A LOT of work!

How long does it take to do your makeup?

About an hour for makeup and an hour for hair. I’m by no means a professional at either so I’m probably pretty slow. I have super fine, thin curly hair so taming it is always a struggle for me!

If you were a cake, what would you be and why? – Fanciforia Foxglove

I put a lot of thought into this because cake is important to me.
I’d be a carrot cake. Not because I like carrot cake ( I don’t ), but because it has all these weird ingredients that I don’t think should be in cake, but people like it anyway. That’s kinda how I feel about myself, I have lots of weird ingredients but people seem to like me anyway!
PS: eating carrot cake is essentially eating a waldorf salad and a bread roll. bleurgh.

Are your glasses for seeing or for fashion?

For seeing! I have degenerative myopia and astigmatism in both eyes, and can only see clearly for about a 30cm distance. My contact lenses irritate my eyes and can’t completely correct my sight so I only wear them for photoshoots, events and swimming.

modern pinup girl and Miss Pinup New Zealand wearing her large tortoiseshell glasses


What’s your favourite red lipstick?

Both my favorite red lipsticks are from New Zealand companies
Bright red – True Love from Karen Murrell
Deep red – Casablanca Luxury Matte from Face Me Makeup

Where and how did you learn to sew? How long have you been sewing?

I’ve been sewing for roughly thirteen years. My mother is a very talented dressmaker so I picked up the basics watching her. I then did one term of fashion technology in high school which was a COMPLETE DISASTER and almost put me off sewing forever! The majority of my learning happened during my fashion design degree which was largely practical work, and from vintage sewing and millinery books which I teach myself from.

What draws you to the silhouettes you tend to use in your outfits? – Mrs Greatnews

I’m drawn to exaggerated or dramatic shapes that hyper feminise or accentuate my curves. So If I’m going for a sleek hourglass shape I’ll choose streamlined, form fitting clothes that nip in at the waist and enhance my shoulders and hips. Or If I’m going for a full skirt, I want the BIGGEST skirt I can get, paired with a fitted top to make it look even bigger.

What’s your Hogwarts House? – Miss Scarlett May

According to the Pottermore quiz I’m a Ravenclaw. I haven’t actually read many of the Harry Potter books, but I do like the movies!

What’s that big scar on your arm from?

Contrary to popular belief it’s not from a bar fight or a shark attack.
I was standing on a wobbly chair to reach something , fell and snapped my elbow joint. The ligaments tore off the bone (taking part of the bone with them) and I needed major reconstructive surgery. Followed by a small surgery to remove some metal parts that were threatening to pierce my skin. I now have metal buttons and wires holding my joint together and a scar half the length of my arm. The photo below is what it looked like when it was stapled up and healing.

How do you deal with your body issues?

Like most women, there are things about my body that I don’t like. Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of things about my body and I feel very comfortable naked ( you can read about my nude modelling experience here) , but being a model opens you up to people critiquing your physical appearance. Mean people choose to do this in an unkind way, which can make any insecurities a hundred times worse.

Here’s how I combat those insecurities and negative inner voices. Notice that I say ‘I try’ because there are days when none of this works. Usually when I don’t look after myself or when I’m in a bad mental health space.

1. I try to be realistic about my body and my expectations of it. I can’t make myself taller, fix my sensitive skin or change my features, so I try not to compare myself directly to other people.
2. I try look after myself with exercise, reasonably healthy eating and not too much alcohol. I feel better about my appearance when I’m mentally and physically healthy.
3. I try to surround myself with body positive people. Hanging out with people who constantly put their own bodies down will only make you question your own.
4. I try to be aware of photoshopping in images I see online, in social media and print media. DO NOT think that everyone looks perfect in real life.
5. I try to remember that I am more than my body. Emotion, poise and style play a huge part in successful modelling.

Would you rather be attacked by a shark or mauled by a bear? – Miss Monique Sweet

Bear. Once you bleed in the water there’s going to be more than one shark, and I’m not a great swimmer. At least with a bear I might be able to play dead until it gets bored?

If you didn’t dress pinup how would you dress? – Xamia Arc

Probably still in the goth / metal / alternative style I wore until I found pinup. ( I used to wear fourteen eye Doc Martins everyday and a lot of fishnet, black bootie shorts and camo pants ).

When did you discover pinup?

Around 2014. I went to my first Very Vintage Day Out in 2015, but didn’t start moving my daily wardrobe into pinup style until mid 2016.

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What inspires you to make new creations? – Miss Honey Bee

I mostly make custom clothing so my creations are inspired by the personalities, figures and lifestyles of my clients.
If I’m making ready to wear or for myself I draw inspiration from vintage fashion, films, books, music and locations. I try to imagine a character and what they would be wearing and doing in a specific setting.

What are the top five tracks on your go to playlist? – Ginger

I have extremely varied and often dubious taste in music so my top 5 changes on the regular.
Right now it’s…
Safari – J Balvin ft Pharrell
Despacito – Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee ( NOT the Justin Beiber version )
Hollywood Nights – Bob Seger
Love on the Brain – Rihanna
American Woman – Lenny Kravitz

Do you wear makeup everyday? 

Hell no! My skin is super sensitive, it goes red and peels off if I wear makeup for more than a day at a time. I constantly have dermatitis and allergies so I only wear makeup for special occasions, events and photoshoots.

What do you love most about vintage fashion? Do you have a most treasured item? – Miss Foxylocks

The quality, attention to detail and inventiveness of vintage fashion appeal to me. Fashion in the 1940’s, 1950’s and 1960’s was far more adventurous than fashion today, with more thought put into accessories and fabric use.
I don’t think I could pick a favorite piece of vintage! I have some special pieces of jewellery and accessories given to my by family members so probably those.

What is your favourite type of accessory?

Gloves! I have tiny hands so vintage gloves fit me beautifully. they also hide the fact that sewing and working in hospitality can leave my nails and skin looking awful! I even wrote a blog post about vintage glove etiquette.

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What made you move away from the steampunk style you used to design? – Fran Henricksen, decorator of people and things

While I still love steampunk style I made a conscious decision not to create steampunk stock anymore for the following reasons:

1. Plagiarism of my designs. People (and a film crew) openly taking photos of my garments at steampunk events and markets while unashamedly telling me they were going to copy them.
2. A decrease in the appreciation and support of quality construction from the steampunk community. There are people in every style circle who would rather buy something cheap than invest in a quality item, but it seemed  to be especially bad in the NZ steampunk community where a “just glue some cogs on it” attitude was becoming prevalent.
3. The ‘anything can be steampunk’ idea. While I encourage creative expression, steampunk style was originally based around an fairly specific imagined literary past, future and set of technological ideas, and as someone who does their research I found the lack of knowledge in members of the community about what steampunk actually is very frustrating.

I still make steampunk designs and automated, realistic props to order, but choose not to create off the rack items anymore.

What is your favorite style of clothing to design?

Evening wear and bridal! I adore the drama and elegance of special event clothing and the sentimental value that becomes attached to it. Helping someone feel incredible for an important occasion gives me a real sense of purpose and happiness.
* I like big dresses and I can not lie* My favourite creation is this black modernised rococo gown for artist Vivien Masters.

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If you read this far, well done, this post was longer than I expected!
If you have any questions about pinup life, vintage fashion, modelling or just about me, feel free to ask me by leaving a comment on Facebook or Instagram x

With Style and Sass,

Velvet DeCollete


Posted by velvetdecollete in LIFESTYLE, PINUP, 0 comments

Jilted Brides and Moldy Cake | Miss Havisham’s Day Out

What do you call a group of jilted brides? A Flock? A Murder?
Let’s go with a Murder, because hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Last weekend a murder of brides descended upon Newmarket’s historic Highwic House for Miss Havisham’s Day Out. Part of the Til Death Do Us Part exhibition currently housed at Highwic,  it was a day of cobwebby cakes, vintage games and wedding gowns themed around the eccentric spinster from Great Expectations!

Dressed in wedding gowns from all eras guests competed in ring finger races and White Wedding lipsyncs ( yes that’s me jamming air guitar in the middle, any excuse really! ), created centrepieces and sand saucers before dining on sandwiches, scones and an incredibly moldy, spider infested wedding cake created by Miss Charlotte Cake. ( I can vouch for it being as delicious as it was spooky!)

Miss Havisham's Day Out | Velvet DeCollete

Miss Havisham's Day Out | Velvet DeCollete

Clementine joined me to model the most feminine of lace foundation garments from House of Satin. Strolling around the manicured grounds in lingerie has never been more glamorous! They’re even giving away a glorious set of lingerie, so visit the exhibition before it closes this weekend to be in the draw!

I had quite a conundrum over which wedding dress to wear ( I have four vintage gowns, plus the gown I was actually married in!) but finally settled on this Edwardian inspired lacy number. Made in the late 60’s or early 70’s this confection of swiss dot tulle and satin was just begging to be worn with a dramatically long veil. The rumpled satin flowers in my hair are made from off cuts of bridal gowns I’ve made and altered over the years.

Miss Havisham's Day Out | Velvet DeCollete

An enormous thanks to Rose and Glory Days for putting such a wonderful afternoon of high jinks! All the vintage gowns on display at Til Death Us Do Part are available in a silent auction ending this Sunday, with proceeds going to The Aunties, a group supporting victims of domestic violence. Make sure you hop online here, place a bid and hopefully take home a beautiful piece of history while supporting a more than worthy cause.

Photos by
David Watson
Peter Jennings
Charlotte Cake
 Velvet DeCollete
 Sarah Tallentire

Posted by velvetdecollete in ADVENTURES, LIFESTYLE, 0 comments

5 Ways to Buy the Right Vintage, Not Any Vintage.

Do you love vintage clothes?

I love vintage clothes.

I love them with a magpie-ish, kid in a candy store fervor that has lead me to buying things that have never and will never fit, that are falling apart, or that I’ll just straight out never wear but I wanted them anyway.
To curb my dragonish hoarding tendencies I’ve developed a five point checklist to ensure I’m buying the right vintage garment, not every vintage garment. It really does help separate the investments from the impulse buys.

So if you have overflowing wardrobes, empty bank accounts and still nothing to wear, this might help! Shop wisely and dress well…

Velvet’s ‘The Right Vintage’ Shopping Checklisthow to buy the right vintage clothes

1.  Does the garment have any damage?

Vintage garments are generally preloved and made from different fabrics than the hardy synthetics popular today. Holding that dress up to a window or light will show you any holes or patches of thinning fabric. Perspiration is acidic so check under the arms for any discoloration and damage caused by sweat.

2. Are the fastenings intact?

Check the zips, buttons, hooks and eyes, eyelets or pop studs. Are they damaged or missing? Is the fabric tearing or fraying around them? There may be enough spare fabric in a hem to replace a covered button, but don’t buy anything with very damaged fastenings unless you know it can be fixed, or you’re happy to have it replaced with a modern equivalent.
( Check those belt loops and belts for damage while you’re at it. )

3. Does it fit?

Ignore size labels and try it on. Female proportions and sizing have changed a lot through the decades and you’ll find a 1950’s size 14 is around a modern NZ size 8. If you’re buying online make sure you check your measurements carefully.
Circa Vintage Clothing has a handy guide to the alpha sizing system used in some New Zealand and Australian vintage clothing.

4. Can you wear it right away?

Unless you’re a highly motivated seamstress with plenty of free time, damaged items and those needing large alterations will sit in your wardrobe forever. (Trust me, I have a whole drawer of things needing alts or repairs but I never have time!). Some vintage fabrics will be too delicate to withstand alterations and most seamstresses aren’t familiar with the era appropriate sewing techniques.

5. Does it suit you?

This is imperative. Put the garment on and be honest. Does it reflect your personal style? Is it flattering? Does it coordinate with things you already own? If not, it might be best to put it back on the rack.

best vintage shopping tips

With a few alterations this checklist can be applied to vintage shoes, accessories and furniture as well as clothing. While leaving that eye catching but not-quite-right piece in the store can be gut wrenching, it’s better to leave it for someone who’ll use it or restore it and keep your valuable space for things that are perfect for you!

Now you’re all set to find those perfect pieces, you’ll want to read vintage doyenne LaVonne’s tips for storing and laundering your vintage clothing.

Happy shopping x

With style and sass,

                   Velvet DeCollete




Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, LIFESTYLE, 2 comments