FASHION STORIES

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My Strawberry Hat + Easter Bonnet-Along Roundup!

Hey there!

I hope you all had a lovely Easter weekend, whatever your beliefs. Personally I connect to the pagan origins of Easter as a celebration of life and the arrival of spring. Sadly here in the southern hemisphere it’s Autumn, but that won’t stop me creating my own spring with a bright Easter bonnet!

The Inaugural Easter Bonnet-Along has come to a close and I’d like to thank everyone who took part. Your inspirations, creativity and vibrant Easter hats are bringing me so much joy! I hope you enjoyed experimenting with millinery techniques, sharing your ideas and making yourselves something fun and beautiful.  I can’t wait for next year to roll around so we can do it all again ( but with prizes, and maybe a parade!).

 

I made a vintage inspired straw hat for my inaugural Easter Bonnet craft and sew along. Inspired by novelty hats of the 1940's and 1950's it's trimmed with handmade felt strawberries, white flowers and a birdcage veil.

My Easter Bonnet

 My Easter Bonnet is a strawberry patch!

Inspired by novelty hats of the 40’s and 50’s and my Nana’s gardens, my hat is cute and whimsical. I wanted to balance natural fibers and bright trims, with a summery feel as New Zealand goes into the colder months. You’ll find my strawberry novelty hat inspirations on the Easter Bonnet-along Pinterest Board.

Strawberries are often grown on straw or sawdust to protect the fruit from ground moisture. I wanted the same pale gold straw for my hat base, so I picked up this natural straw hat from an op shop. Child sized and round wasn’t an ideal shape, but I knew I could reshape it into a 1940’s tilt hat style.

 

Round second hand straw hat, used as a base for my Easter Bonnet

 

First I stripped off the hideous synthetic ribbon, carefully scraping off the hot glue with a scalpel.  Then I steamed the crown, molding it with my hands to make it flatter and shallower. I also steamed the brim into a jaunty swoop. There are tons of tutorials for steaming hats on Youtube – I used the technique from this one.
* Disclaimer: I use that tutorial because the man is hilarious. A quick search will reveal videos that stay more on task .*

Once my sassy new hat shape had dried it was time to trim! I always get carried away and forget to take photos during this stage, sorry about that!

Half wreath of creamy white imitation flowers became my strawberry flowers. These were stitched on to fill the upturned portion of the brim and I added a thick brown raffia covered wire around the base of the crown to define it’s shape.

My strawberries needed to be bright and fun, with homemade charm. Using a vintage technique, I made fat red felt strawberries. The strawberries and their stems are hand stitched, stuffed with wadding and have individually stitched white beads for their seeds. Their rounded, graphic shapes balance out the fluffiness of the flowers. I arranged them with a couple of felt leaves, growing out from under the wreath.

 

I made a vintage inspired straw hat for my inaugural Easter Bonnet craft and sew along. Inspired by novelty hats of the 1940's and 1950's it's trimmed with handmade felt strawberries, white flowers and a birdcage veil.I made a vintage inspired straw hat for my inaugural Easter Bonnet craft and sew along. Inspired by novelty hats of the 1940's and 1950's it's trimmed with handmade felt strawberries, white flowers and a birdcage veil.

 

Originally I wanted to have a full brim of strawberries, but it looked too heavy so I took the extras off. Sometimes less actually is more! The remaining three berries trail down the brim in descending size, just like on a plant. I crafted my surplus strawberries into a sweet matching corsage.

The finishing touch is a nod to the huge white bird nets my Nana stretches over her strawberry patch. Held up by bamboo scaffolds I was forever getting my hair tangled in them! Using wide white net I draped a birdcage veil around the hat. Gathered into the upturned back brim, the veil can be worn folded up over the hat or down over the face, where its edge accentuates your jawline.

 

I made a vintage inspired straw hat for my inaugural Easter Bonnet craft and sew along. Inspired by novelty hats of the 1940's and 1950's it's trimmed with handmade felt strawberries, white flowers and a birdcage veil.

I made a vintage inspired straw hat for my inaugural Easter Bonnet craft and sew along. Inspired by novelty hats of the 1940's and 1950's it's trimmed with handmade felt strawberries, white flowers and a birdcage veil.

 

An Easter Bonnet needs an Easter outfit. I felt like a picnic in a strawberry field!
With a vintage dress of green and white gingham, a white belt and my strawberry corsage I was ready to be Miss Strawberry Patch 1952. Vintage lovers can find more photos of this dress and its tiered skirt in my pictures from the Ngatea Water Gardens.

Outfit Details

Novelty Strawberry Hat | Made by me
Strawberry Corsage | Made by me
Vintage Dress | Tock Tick Vintage
Petticoat ( unseen) | Facebook buy/sell group
Shoes | Preloved

Photos | My ever patient husband James

Easter Bonnet Roundup

This wouldn’t be an Easter Bonnet-Along if I was all by myself! Feast your eyes on some of the incredible Easter Hats made by Bonnet-Alongers all over the world. A huge thank you to everyone who shared their photos, they made me so happy! Not everyone finished their hat on time and that’s okay, it’s all about getting those creative juices flowing!

Rose set herself a 10 minute, no sewing required challenge and made this stunning feather trimmed bonnet!

Rose Jackson trimmedher Easter Bonnet with feather pads, vibrant fake flowers and ribbons for the Easter hat sew along.
Jasmine and Katie drew their inspirations from vintage bandeau and tilt hats with a floral focus.

Miss Foxy Locks and Katie Lee created floral Easter bonnets for our Easter millinery craft along.
Lacey covered her wide brimmed straw with pink fabric and an exuberant wildflower garden.

Lacey Maddison created a riot of colour with artificial wildflowers on a wide brimmed pink covered straw hat.

Fanciforia likes big brims and she cannot lie. With her wide satin bow and face framing trim she looks straight out of a 1950’s musical.

NZ burlesque peformer Fanciforia Foxglove trimmed a large straw hat with pink flowers and ribbons for a dramatic feminine Easter Bonnet

Tracey’s Easter hat is like a meadow in spring, bursting with daisies and a cute fluffy chick!

Tracey created a joyful Easter Bonnet piled high with daisies and a fluffy spring chick!

I’m excited to start planning next year’s Bonnet-Along. This years crafters  were so impressive that I’ve decided to organise some prizes for next year, and maybe even a parade for those in New Zealand! Feel free to join the Easter Bonnet-Along Facebook group to get all the updates for next Easters craft along.

With Style & Sass,

Velvet DeCollete

 

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, LIFESTYLE, 3 comments
Vintage Corsages & How To Wear Them

Vintage Corsages & How To Wear Them

From the 1930’s to the 1950’s corsages were mainstays of fashion. While we reserve their floral beauty for formal occasions, women in the past wore them daily and far more inventively! Corsages are versatile accessory often overlooked by modern aficionados of vintage fashion, probably because we’ve never been taught how to wear them.

But those days are over.  I’m about to walk you through some gorgeous vintage corsage styles and ways to wear them.

A Brief History Of Corsages

The term “corsage” is French and originally referred to the fitted bodice of a dress. The reason the flowers worn to adorn formal attire are now called corsages is because women once wore these flowers pinned to the bodices of their dresses. These flowers were known as the “bouquet de corsage,” and over time this phrase was shortened to just “corsage.”

In ancient times, flowers were often to ward off evil spirits during special events. The scents of herbs and flowers were thought to keep evil at bay, especially during weddings or other momentous occasions. During the reign of the black plague people carried flowers ( A pocket full of posies ) thinking the smell would keep the disease away.

The Victorian era saw a single flower worn at the center of the neckline ( drawing attention to those assets ladies ) or a huge cascade worn on the shoulder. By the 1930’s people were less afraid of evil spirits, and more interested in the fashion aspect of corsages.  Styles and positioning became more creative and it’s the 1930’s to 1950’s era that I’ll be focusing on today!

 

Norman Parkinson for Vogue 1946. Woman in striking purple dress with large floral corsage on the shoulder

Basic Corsage Styles

Looking through photos of vintage fashion, you’ll notice three corsage shapes that pop up again and again. I haven’t been able to find any ‘official’ terminology for these, so this is how I refer to them. Obviously there are exceptions, but these are the basic styles.

The Posy: Designed after a bouquet of flowers, the posy corsage generally looks like a bunch of flowers with the stems still attached.

The Cascade: My personal favourite, the cascade corsage looks like a vine or tumbling row of flowers. This corsage usually features larger flowers at the top and smaller flowers or buds at the bottom.

The Buttonhole: The buttonhole is a floral arrangement that sits flat and has no stems. Usually smaller than other styles, the buttonhole could be a single large flower, or an evenly shaped group of smaller flowers which are often backed by leaves or a bow.

Corsages could be made of fresh or artificial flowers and greenery embellished with ribbons, small ornaments, beads or glitter. War years saw a surge in fabric and felt corsages which could be made at home from small fabric scraps, with magazines publishing corsage tutorials and patterns.

The war bride below is wearing a cascade of pink roses and leaves , while the lady in the left is pinning a posy to her friend’s dress. You can just see the stems underneath the ribbon bow.

 

A war bride wear a blue suit and hat with a pink rose corsage. A girl pins a corsage for her friends in the 1930s

 

Posy style corsages were immensely fashionable in the 1950’s and early 1950’s.  From left to right below you’ll see a large round posy on a 1940’s summer outfit, a long posy placed diagonally on a 1950’s suit and a cascade worn on a 1930’s ensemble.

 

Photos of women wearing corsages in the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's

 

Where to Wear Corsages

The short answer? Wherever you want.

The long answer is that corsage placement changes with the era.

Early corsages were worn on the low shoulder and the center of the bodice. The thirties and forties saw corsages climb to the high shoulder, often pinned to a jacket’s shoulder pad or gown strap. Ankle and wrist corsages made an appearance in the thirties. The forties were a bold time for fashion with corsages worn everywhere from the hat to the shoulder, glove top and waist to the ankle.

The photos below show Rita Hayworth and a Vogue magazine cover showcasing waist corsages in the 1940’s, while the middle image features a striking glove top corsage photographed for Vogue. And that flirty flapper? That’s Anita Page accessorising her beaded dress with an ankle corsage.

 

In the 1930's and 1940's corsages were worn in the shoulder, waist or arm, as seen in these images including Rita Hayworth and Lisa Fonsagrives

 

You’ll see that corsages were mostly asymmetric and worn on one side of the body. Symmetric dress clip style corsages did exist, as the photo below demonstrates, but don’t seem to have been as popular. Matching accessories were fashionable, so go ahead and wear matching corsages and hairpieces.

* Can I draw your attention to the plunging low neckline in the 1930’s portrait on the right!? How stunning is that!*

 

1930s and 1940s fashion ladies wearing floral corsages

Vintage Marie Claire cover of a model wearing a white dress with a large brightly coloured floral embellishment

How To Attach A Corsage

Okay so you’re sold on wearing corsages, but how to you actually wear them?

Vintage corsages don’t always have a pin or brooch back attached. Using pins, women would just pin them on wherever they wanted, so you could attach the corsage to your clothing, hat, hair or a wrist or ankle ribbon without a back fixture getting in the way.

I attach a brooch backing to all the handmade corsages in my Etsy boutique for your convenience, but I do recommend tacking them with a few pins as well. The extra pins help distribute the weight of the corsage and allow you to position it exactly how you’d like it! You can get extra long, thicker pins just for corsages, but I find they can leave bigger holes in my clothes than I’m comfortable with.

 

1940's photo of woman in navy blue suit, hat and large orchid corsage Beautiful colorized photograph of young fair haired lady with rose in her hair.

Marlene Dietrich wearing a tuxedo with a white corsage, and a headpiece consisting of two large roses.

Glamour goddess Marlene Dietrich rocked a large buttonhole corsage with her signature tuxedo, and could be seen wearing large corsages and hairpieces on a regular basis.

Now you’ve seen how fantastic corsages can look, go experiment! Be bold! Explore the different styles, textures and colours artificial flowers and materials can offer. Whether you’re a vintage purist or a modern pinup babe there is a corsage that’s perfect for you. I prefer wearing vintage inspired corsages with my dresses from the 40’s and 50’s. You can find my designs in my Etsy boutique and I love making custom orders if you’re after something extra special.

With Style & Sass,

Velvet DeCollete

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, 3 comments
Finding Your Personal Style – Insider Secrets From Pinup Stylist Fran Robertson

Finding Your Personal Style – Insider Secrets From Pinup Stylist Fran Robertson

Some people have an impeccable sense of personal style. They know exactly who they are, and exactly how to express it.
They’re the ones that make us say “That jacket is just so –insert name here-“…

This outward expression of your inner soul doesn’t come naturally to all of us ( I’ve had some horrific style phases over the years) so who better to share her innate style knowledge than the queen of colour – makeup artist, designer and Viva Las Vegas 21 contestant Fran Roberston?

No one. That’s who.

Keep scrolling for her expert tips, plus a bonus section on building your own capsule wardrobe for easy outfit creation!

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Meet Fran

Among many other things, I work as a personal shopper and wardrobe stylist!
People often employ the services of personal stylists when they’re going through a period of change in their lives – a new job, a big move, or a fresh start – and want an opportunity to re-invent themselves, but maybe need help figuring out a style that works for them.
It’s such a rewarding job – People don’t always realise how important style can be to the way people perceive themselves. If you know you look good, you’ll feel good and be more confident, which is so so so important!

How To Find Your Personal Style

1. Only wear things you like.

This might seem like a no-brainer, but unless something makes you feel happy, there is absolutely no point in owning it. Obviously work uniforms are exempt from this rule, but there are ways to make them less awful – Get your corporate uniform shirts tailored to fit you properly for example!

 

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2. Take inspiration from your accessories

Most people start with the dress, or the top, but sometimes you need to shake things up a bit, or you end up just wearing the same combinations all the time! Rather than viewing your accessories as an afterthought, basing outfits around them forces you to think about the clothes you own in a different light. Pick out a necklace and choose a shirt with just the right neckline to show it off, or choose a pair of earrings and then do your hair around them.

 

Miss Pinup nz Fran Robertson | Velvet DeCollete

3. Find a silhouette that works, and own it

My wardrobe is full of swing skirts, and dresses with nipped in waists and full skirts. This would still be the case if I had no interest in vintage, because this is a silhouette that works for me and my body shape. Jackie O almost exclusively wore sheath dresses, because that was her silhouette of choice.

 

Miss Pinup nz Fran Robertson | Velvet DeCollete

4. Keep track of what you have, and what you need

Take note (on your phone, or in your diary) of your favourite wardrobe staples, and the things that you are missing. This way, if you pop into a shop on your lunch break and they have brightly coloured belts, you know which colours you actually need rather than just buying double ups.
I also have close up photos on my phone of the prints in my wardrobe that are tricky to match things to. I can look at them when I’m out, which reduces the chance of buying things that don’t match anything!

 

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5.Break the rules!

There are so many ‘rules’ that just shouldn’t exist – Fat girls shouldn’t wear stripes, no pink over 40, ‘less is more’, short girls can’t wear maxis, etc.
( Side note from Velvet: Amen girl! Where did these rules even come from?!)

The only rule that matters is that you have fun putting your look together.

 

Miss Pinup nz Fran Robertson | Velvet DeCollete

 

Bonus Info!
What’s a capsule wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is a collection of clothes that all go together. It leaves you open to a whole bunch of different combinations, you can choose shapes you’re comfortable wearing, and you can add to it easily enough as you become more confident choosing pieces.

This is the basic formula I follow when building a ‘capsule wardrobe’ for someone, which can apply to almost any style!

  • 1 x Printed Dress
  • 1 x Plain Coloured Dress
  • 2 x Printed Tops
  • 2 x Plain Coloured Tops
  • 1 x Jeans / Pants
  • 1 x Printed Skirt
  • 1 x Plain Coloured Skirt
  • 1 x Jacket – Blazer / Motorcycle Jacket / Denim Jacket / Lightweight swing coat
  • 3 x Cardigans / Boleros / Casual Cover-ups

Tips for getting the most out of your capsule wardrobe

  • If you are starting from scratch, pick a colour palette that you like, and buy things that fit within that. A favourite of mine is White or Cream with Navy, Red, and Tan, but I am also partial to Black, Cream, Tan, and Gold.
  • Make sure your plain coloured items match the colours in your printed pieces, so you can mix and match
  • There’s no hard and fast rule about accessories, but they can really transform an outfit. I try to have necklaces, belts, and scarves in all the colours that show up in my printed pieces.

 

Thanks for sharing your style tips with us Fran!
Fran has a treasure trove of outfit inspiration on her website, Facebook and Instagram which I’d really recommend following if you need some style motivation! You can also hire her to make you exuberantly colourful things or do your hair and makeup.

Photos | Elizabeth J Photography, Zandy J and Glory Days Magazine

After more style inspo? Check out these posts!

Learn my three step technique for wearing 100% colour with zero percent effort in my Blue Hawaii post.

Drink up some pinup and vintage fashion goodness with my Inspirational Instagrammers roundup!

 

With Style & Sass,

Velvet DeCollete

 

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, LIFESTYLE, PINUP, 0 comments
Feline Fine | 1970’s Pinup Vibes

Feline Fine | 1970’s Pinup Vibes

It’s not all about the 1940’s and 50’s around here ya know.
Sometimes I dress like a jungle cat and feel those sultry 1970’s vibes.

There’s something about the Seventies that’s just so glam. Not the fleuro daisy print costume shop Seventies, the cool Seventies. The Bianca Jagger wearing Halston at Studio 54 Seventies. How could you not fall in love with the booty shorts, big hair and exuberant debauchery of an era where cocaine was harmless and Donna Summers was queen?

I feel like this shoot is set in the wind down after a heavy night ( or day ) of partying. In that golden space where you’re tired but still riding the party high. Right before complete exhaustion and a killer hangover put you to bed for twelve hours.

1970s-classic-car-pinup-girl-Velvet-DeCollete-carrying-guitar-case

1970s-classic-car-pinup-girl-Velvet-DeCollete-summer
1970s-classic-car-pinup-girl-Velvet-DeCollete-black-and-white

Outfit Details

Chiffon Leopard Print Top | Valley Girl – I’ve been wearing this top for 5 years and I’ll wear it until it falls apart.
Booty Shorts | Thrifted
Bikini Bottoms | Victoria’s Secret – Preloved
Shoes | Pulp Noir – Old season
Bangles & Earrings | Thrifted
Sunglasses | Boohoo.com

Inspired by the metallic bronze paint and black interior of the Plymouth this outfit is all earthy neutrals and black. Natural wood, gold leopard print and carved bone bangles catch the evening light. Their textures balance my matte fabrics with the metallic sheen of the car, and pick up the gold of my vintage hoop earrings. Bigger is better in my book, but man are those clip on earrings heavy!

My shoes play with contrasting textures too. Leopard print satin sits above glossy black patent platforms and heels. ( Yes, you can wear two sizes of leopard together. As long as they’re similar colours I figure they’re both neutrals right? ) These babies are my favourite shoes. Flattering on a shorter figure and reasonably comfy, I will legitimately cry when they eventually wear out.  I actually have the same style in all black!

All those different textures and patterns mean this sexy feline outfit photographs equally well in black and white or colour.

1970s-classic-car-sexy-pinup-girl-Velvet-DeCollete

1970s-classic-car-pinup-girl-Velvet-DeCollete

Photos | The most excellent Mike Froger
Mike also imports badass guitars with nice cases. Like the one I’m carrying in that first photo. So if you need a guitar call him or something.

Before you go, take a moment to appreciate 1970’s leopard clad babes Donna Summers and Jerry Hall. Meeeee-ow! Two totally different ways of wearing our favourite feline neutral.

1970's-leopard-print-Jerry-Hall-and-Donna-Summers

With Style & Sass,

Velvet DeCollete

 

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, PINUP, 1 comment
The Bride Wore Black | A Gothic Wedding in NZ

The Bride Wore Black | A Gothic Wedding in NZ

I spent hours trawling through images of artist Vivien Master’s amazing big fat gothic wedding trying to pick my favourites.

They’re all gorgeous… It’s a hard life…

But two cups of tea and many biscuits later, here they are – wedding photos proving that brides can wear black, gothic weddings can be classy, and that getting married your way is the best way! For all the wedding details visit the photographer’s blog, she’s captured them so well.

Fashion geeks can find full details and workroom photos of this bespoke wedding gown and it’s layers on my workroom journal post. ( I know you’re wondering how we supported those dramatic skirts, or how she no one tripped over the incredible veil!) I designed and made this black bridal gown back in 2014 and it’s still my favourite. Probably because I would 100% wear it myself!

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This is my favourite photo in the world right now..

Outfit Details

Couture wedding dress, foundations & veil | Velvet DeCollete ( That’s me!)
Floral Headress | Created by the bride, Vivien Masters
Shoes | Pinup Couture

Vivien looked like some kind of aristocratic vampire queen and couldn’t have been more beautiful. Imagine how those taffeta skirts rustled as she walked down the aisle. Imagine Nick’s jaw dropping when he saw this vision in lace, her ivory skin glowing against the black. It’s just too perfect.

I can never stress enough how personal wedding gowns are, and how the right one can fill you with confidence. It’s not a day to compromise on style, to bow to someone else’s demands or to water down your own unique flavour. It’s your day to celebrate your love. So be you! Be the most you possible and experience the pure joy that brings.

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I often make little information sheets for my clients, because it’s easy to forget hidden closures and details when you’re excited. While my info sheets look a lot fancier these days I found it so sweet that the wedding photographer decided to include Vivien’s in her photographs.

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

Making once in a lifetime dream gowns makes me happier than anything else. Nothing beats seeing someone put on their custom made dress and absolutely light up because they feel so confident! If you’d like to chat about having a unique gown of your own feel free to drop me a line, I’d love to make you feel like a million dollars x

With Style & Sass,

Velvet DeCollete

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, 4 comments
Workroom Journal: A Terrifyingly Beautiful Bride

Workroom Journal: A Terrifyingly Beautiful Bride

Eighteen meters of fabric. Seven meters of netting. One bag of Polyfill. Around ninety hours of work. One rock star of a bride.

A while back I introduced you to Vivien Masters , one of my gorgeous brides for the season. Apart from having impeccable taste (obviously), she’s also stunning. Like,  ethereal creature stunning. At first sight her future husband described her as ‘terrifyingly beautiful’.

Needless to say, her wedding gown had to be equally majestic…
I think it was…

Photo: Nisha Ravji Photography

Photo: Nisha Ravji Photography

 

Photo: Nisha Ravji Photography

Photo: Nisha Ravji Photography

Those first photos are by the immensely talented Nisha Ravji Photography. I’m following her Facebook page with baited breath, and letting out an excited squeal with every image she posts! ( You can see more glorious wedding photos in my full feature post now! )

The following photos are from my workroom records, showing you a bit more detail that you might otherwise see.

Dramatic goth rococco black wedding gown custom made in New Zealand

Bespoke gothic wedding dress with lace over sweetheart corset bodice NZ

 

The Dress

Fully boned and stiffened, the structured sweetheart bodice gives a corseted effect, slimming and supporting the bride. I created the bodice overlay by hand cutting and appliqueing delicate French corded lace over fine sheer mesh to achieve invisible stitching and closures. The lace looked incredible over Vivien’s porcelain skin!

The pleated overskirt allows the most beautiful light play on the textured silk taffeta fabric, showing off the texture and volume of the skirts. As a firm believer in wearability, I hate seeing brides hobbled by wrist loops on long trains – so Vivien’s dramatic train features bustle loops and ribbons hidden on the inside. A few quick adjustments and the gown’s train gathers into structure voluminous folds, leaving Vivien free to dance the night away unencumbered!

A smooth fronted underskirt, pleated around the sides and back, finished the visible elements of the gown. ( Viv actually took this underskirt with her when she moved overseas, and continues to wear it.)

Gothic Bespoke Wedding dress dramatic gown
Bespoke black rococo corseted wedding dress with bustle ties and train New Zealand

The Veil

Let me introduce you to the fairy gothmother of all veils.

An extravagant gown deserves an extravagant veil, and Vivien’s didn’t disappoint. With three layers of fluffy net at royal, cathedral and elbow lengths this was a gothic fairytale come true. The Royal and cathedral layers are trimmed with more painstakingly hand cut and stitched French lace.

You remember how I said I love wearability? The royal length layer of this veil – That’s the really long one – is detachable. Vivien wore it for the ceremony and photos, before removing it for the reception. No one’s standing on her veil!

Bespoke black rococo corseted wedding dress and custom made black veil New Zealand

The Foundation

So you’ve been wondering how the gown keeps that divine Rococo inspired shape?

I design and create customised foundations for specialty garments. Supporting the sides and back of the wedding gown is the sweetest lace trimmed bustle you ever did see! Inspired by structures used through the Rococo and Victorian eras this soft pillowy bustle is light, squishable and comfortable. No awkward seating issues or stabby crinoline here! I couldn’t resist designing a heart shaped pad for the back in celebration of such a romantic couple.

The best part? Vivien actually squealed with girlish excitement when she saw it. Her reaction made me so happy!

Bespoke heart shaped pillow bustle NZ

 

If you’d like to find out more about my bespoke bridal gowns you can contact me here ( I don’t bite! ), or take a stroll through my design gallery to see more of my glowing clients. Don’t forget to check out the official wedding photos, they were also featured in New Idea magazine and on the BBC news website!

With Style & Sass,

Velvet DeCollete

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, 1 comment
Inspirational Instagrammers | Pinup & Vintage Edition

Inspirational Instagrammers | Pinup & Vintage Edition

Hi, I’m Velvet and I’m addicted to Instagram.

No lie.

As a visually focused person Instagram is like crack. I can lose hours ( easily ) scrolling through those glossy pinup photos and dreamy vintage styled sets. But ya know what? Ain’t nobody got time for that! With so many amazing Instagram users out there and a frustrating algorithm, accounts that speak to you can be like needles in the photographic haystack.

But before you get out that pitchfork, take a look at these inspirational IG handles. Nine Vintage and Pinup Instagram accounts you should be following.  The women and men I adore for outfit inspiration, joy, education, or simply for beauty.

Vintage VandalInspirational Instagram pinup and vintage model Vintage Vandalizm aka Jazmin

If you’re a pinup or vintage enthusiast, chances are you already follow and adore Jazmin of Vintage Vandalizm. If not, get over to her IG feed asap!

Jazmin’s fierce yet feminine style throws vintage, pinup and eighties inspirations in a blender and somehow comes out looking like a stone cold urban tigress. She’s all curves, all sass and her images absolutely make my day. If we could magically change our appearance, I’d choose to look like Jazmin.
As a model, blogger and style expert Jazmin is showing us how it’s done and I’m continually inspired by her work ethic and achievements.

 

Vintage EgyptologistThe Vintage Egyptologist - Inspirational 1920's Instagram User

Egyptologist Colleen Darnell lives, works and plays in the roaring twenties.

She explores Egypt, teaches Egyption History at the University of Hartford and looks like a sleek 1920’s panther when the lights go down. Every look Colleen creates just kills me, and if you love 1920’s fashion, Miss Fisher and the allure of archaeology you’ll be an instant fan.

 

Dandy WellingtonBig Band leader, singer and fashion forward (or is that backward?) vintage instagrammer Dandy Wellington

Band leader and vintage lover Dandy Wellington is a hot cuppa coffee on a winters day; High energy, smooth AF and a guaranteed pick-me-up.

His IG feed is vintage lifestyle diary, serving live action shots from his shows alongside fashion focused images, and a side of candids with various pinups and vintage lovers.  Dandy’s style is an exuberant celebration of masculine fashion with bold three piece suits, dashing hats and rich textures. He is, after all, a dandy.

 

Rachel Ann JensenVintage and Pinup Instagrammers you need to know about. Rachel Ann Jensen's glamorous vintage wardrobe

If there could be only one glamour advocate in the world, it would be Rachel Ann Jensen. The woman is IMPECCABLE.

From her corseted waist to her coiffed hair and unmistakable wiggle walk, Jensen epitomizes the golden age of glamour. Her Instagram feed is a dreamy indulgence of 1940’s and 50’s style set against a chic city backdrop.

 

Daniel James BrownMale vintage style Instagramer Daniel James Brown

Daniel James Brown looks like a man who’s making the most of prohibition. His style is gritty, layered, reminiscent of Peaky Blinders gangsters and moonshine runners. His girlfriend Rosie features occasionally, sometimes pulling out earthy androgynous looks that are worth scrolling through for.

If you like your vintage gents looking real and a little dangerous, this account is a must-follow.

 

Jessica Out Of The ClosetInspirational Instagrammer Jessica Out of the Closet, shares her pinup style, spoonie life and her lesbian love story
With her megawatt smile, beautiful wife and adorable dog, Jessica Kellgren-Fozard’s Instagram is just too sweet for words.

Jessica is one of my favourite Insta pinups because not only is she an accomplished, stylish, gorgeous woman, but she does it while living with disability. Check out her Youtube channel for awesome (and cute) videos about living with disability, deafness, lesbian pride and travel!
( I especially like 13 Things My Hearing Friends Should Know )

 

 

Miss Alba BananaMiss Alaba Banana is a Parisian Pinup with a gorgeous Instagram gallery.

She’s beautiful, stylish and Parisian. Need I say more?

While there are a number of incredible French pinups, Miss Alba is hands down my favourite. Her romantic Instagram gallery looks like a dream issue of Vogue sprinkled with lush vintage artwork. The fact Alba is a total sweetheart and you’ll want everything in her wardrobe makes seeing her posts in your IG feed even more delicious.

Miss Tammi SavoySinger and pinup Tammi Savoy is a pinup and vintage style instagram account you need to be following!

Personally I’m inspired by pinups who can rock different styles from different eras, and Tammi Savoy does so with ease.

Her 50’s glam is perfect, her 1960’s hairstyles are to die for and she’s an absolute queen in 1970’s threads. She’s stunning, STUNNING I tell you. I’m constantly floored by how calm and confident she looks – whether she’s singing with the Lovettes or hanging out with her daughter Tammi is an absolute vintage dream girl.

Vanessa Frankenstein1970's inspired red head pinup Vanessa Frankenstein is one of the best vintage and retro instagram accounts to follow

Innocently sexy and effortlessly cool, Vanessa Frankenstein has seventies vibes for days.

The fiery haired model and makeup artist delivers 1970’s inspired looks, film stills, art and psychedelia in a way that keeps you scrolling. Her feed feels warm, intimate and oh so retro – just how I like it. If you’re a fan of New Romantic art and wish you’d been at Woodstock, you’ll love Vanessa’s images.

 

Of course this isn’t an exhaustive list of the best vintage or pinup Instagram users. But they’re my personal favourites.
Some of them you’ll know and maybe some you won’t. I’m always on the lookout for more gorgeous Instagram galleries to feed my IG style addiction, so please share the handles you love! Leave them in the comments below or DM them to me at my Insta account x

With Style & Sass,

Velvet DeCollete

 

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, LIFESTYLE, PINUP, 0 comments

Blue Hawaii | How To Wear All Colour With Zero Effort

It’s summer, and in summer I like to dress like a tropical island. Probably one with an early 1960’s themed resort and 24/7 kitschy soundtrack, because that’s how I roll. ( If these still exist, please tell me and I will 100% go there to live out my retro resort dreams.)

So in honour of pastel stucco’d resorts and mid century vacation-wear, this week’s look is all about COLOUR. Colour is synonymous with holidays for me, I can’t image lying on a beach or drinking cocktails poolside in neutral tones!
I’ll explain how I put together outfits that are bright and bold with almost zero effort. It’s actually so easy.  In fact, it’s how I taught myself to wear colour after my goth phase haha.

Just read on and join me in a tropical fantasy.

Pin up model and Miss Pinup New Zealand 2017 wearing retro tropical vintage reproduction summer tiki fashion

How To Wear All Colour With No Effort

Step One

Okay so step one is actually not even a step, it’s just having a vaguely organised wardrobe.

I’ve starting using a closet organiser app so I can search my clothes by colour, but before that I just hung my clothes in garment and rainbow order. Mostly because it looks pretty, but also because if all your clothes are organised by colour and clothing type it’s waaaaaay easier to find stuff.

Step Two

Start with the one thing you know you want to wear.
For me, it was this tropical print crop top.

Now if the garment or accessory you picked has a pattern this is a piece of cake. Just pick two or three colours out of the pattern that you know you have clothes and accessories in!
For this outfit I picked the blue, purple and bright green from the tropical print.

If the garment you picked is a solid colour you can pick any two colours that you like with it. OR you can pick something with a pattern that uses the colour of the item you picked and use colours from that.

That sounds super confusing so lets break it down; let’s say you picked a solid yellow skirt.
You might pick a yellow, orange and pink colour scheme because you like those colours together.
Or you might choose a floral top to wear with the skirt. The top has yellow and green on a pink background, in which case you’d have a yellow, green and pink colour scheme.
Make sense?

Step Three

Here’s where it all comes together.

Look at your wardrobe and pick out things you have in the colour scheme you’ve chosen.
I had a purple belt, some green and blue bangles, a pair of blue shoes, and a pair of multicoloured shoes.

Basically you can throw on any clothes and accessories in your colour scheme and your outfit should look sweet as tropical punch. Because we limited the amount of colours we’re using it won’t look chaotic.

BUT if you’re worried about your outfit looking too busy – which can be overwhelming if you’re a short, small person like me – you can split your outfit into two halves. I like to keep either the top or bottom half of my outfit a solid colour. Choosing the solid blue shoes and pants keeps my lower half looking streamlined, while the patterned top, bangle stack and belt accentuate my upper body and waist. Patterned clothes and pops of colour can draw attention to the parts of yourself you like the most!

 

Velvet DeCollete in the Remuera Gardens wearing sixties fashion colourful summer pinup outfit

 

Uh Oh?

What if you get to step three and realise you don’t own anything that goes with the garment you chose in step two?

Do you know what that means? You’re buying or keeping clothes that don’t match anything else in your wardrobe.
Do you always wear that top or skirt with neutral tones? Or do you never wear it at all? If you’re staring at your wardrobe and nothing seems to go with anything else, you might need to have a clear out and create a capsule wardrobe!

Kiwi pin up icon Miss Victory Violet has a fantastic capsule wardrobe section on her blog. She shows you examples of capsule wardrobes and all the outfits you can make from just ten well chosen pieces!

 

Miss Pinup New Zealand 2017 Velvet DeCollete wearing modern retro inspired colourful pin up clothes


Outfit Details

Crop Top | Custom by Velvet DeCollete ( me!)
Pedal Pushers | Pin Up Girl Clothing – Preloved
Belt & Bangles | Thrifted
Shoes | Number One Shoe Warehouse
Sunglasses | Boohoo.com

See this top with it’s original skirt and bangles

Style Tip | Mixing smooth and carved bangles of different sizes kept my lil’ bangle stack looking ‘ equal parts curated and haphazard‘, as accessory maven Fran Robertson puts it. Fran is the unchallenged queen of stylish overkill and she wrote all about building the perfect bangle stack! I highly recommend giving her post a read if you need some bangle inspiration.

Would you look at my fluffy hair!!! The humidity was killer when we shot this outfit, and my beautiful Priscilla Presley curls and bouffant just turned into frizz and fluff. What a waste of setting spray. For makeup I went with a neutral eye and a 1960’s inspired nude lip.

 

Velvet DeCollete blue and green retro pinup girl style

Velvet DeCollete at the Remuera Gardens wearing a sixties tropical style inspired outfit

Shoot Details

Photos | Froger
Model, HMUA, Styling | Me

 

Velvet DeCollete soft summer colours retro style pinup photo

With Style & Sass,

Velvet DeCollete

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, PINUP, 5 comments
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 Incomparable Edith Head

“A dress should be tight enough to show you’re a woman, but loose enough to show you’re a lady”

Wise words from Edith Head, the most prolific costume designer of the 20th century, and the creator of the tight but loose dress I sketched for my Miss Pin Up New Zealand 2017 talent. Edith’s costumes fueled my early love affair with the transformative power of fashion. Elegant, luxurious and crisply tailored her signature style was the epitome of vintage glamour and everything I wanted to be in life.

 

Costume Designer Edith Head helped define old Hollywood Style and paved the way for women being recognised in the male dominated film industry.

Costume Designer Edith Head helped define old Hollywood Style and paved the way for women being recognised in the male dominated film industry.

Ginger Roger’s Wearing an Edith Head costume in ‘Lady in the Dark’.

“A designer is only as good as the star who wears her clothes.”

Involved in over 1100 movies Edith helped define silver screen style. She worked closely with Hollywood actresses designing costumes that they actually loved, believing that you can lead a horse to water and you can even make it drink, but you can’t make actresses wear what they don’t want to wear. This close working relationship made her a favourite of actresses in the 1940’s and 1950’s, who would demand that studios rent Edith from Paramount for their films.
Edith created iconic costumes for screen legends like Audrey Hepburn, popularised the sarong dress with Dorothy L’Amour and delivered fierce glamour in films like Sunset Boulevard. Grace Kelly was a favourite client and wore Edith’s designs in the classic film Rear Window.

Costume Designer Edith Head helped define old Hollywood Style and paved the way for women being recognised in the male dominated film industry.

Edith Head with Gloria Swanson who she dressed in the fabulous film Sunset Boulevard

Costume Designer Edith Head helped define old Hollywood Style and paved the way for women being recognised in the male dominated film industry.

“Building a proper wardrobe is like building a home. Indeed, you should think of it like a home, because it is something you’re going to live in. It must be comfortable and suit all your needs.”

Film costuming didn’t command all of Edith’s time however. With no nonsense approach she designed everything from full wardrobes to uniforms for the United States Coastguard. I adore her power dressing philosophy, which encapsulates her opinion that fashion changes not only our physical proportions, but how we feel and what we can achieve. Daily style didn’t require money, it required thought, practicality and imagination. Edith advocated dressing for the life you want rather than the life you have.

 

Costume Designer Edith Head helped define old Hollywood Style and paved the way for women being recognised in the male dominated film industry.

 

In 1967 Edith’s style book “How to Dress for Success” was released. Containing this gem which is possibly even more relevant today!

‘No matter in which direction your strivings for success are pointed, what you wear and how you look can make the difference between moving steadily toward your goal or just rocking back and forth in the same spot. In these days of mass-marketing techniques, you know that when a product lacks eye-appeal it gathers dust on the shelf. So at the very outset, we say, “Think of yourself as a product.” In order to achieve success you have to sell that product, so start right now thinking of how you can improve it.’

 

Costume Designer Edith Head helped define old Hollywood Style and paved the way for women being recognised in the male dominated film industry.

Costume Designer Edith Head helped define old Hollywood Style and paved the way for women being recognised in the male dominated film industry.

 

Edith may have created glamour, but she didn’t embody it herself. Known for her diplomatic skill with tempestuous actresses Edith dressed to blend in, not to stand out. Edith preferred conservative skirt suits in neutral tones, with a wardrobe that reflected her low key personality.

“I always wear beige, black or white. For one thing I look good in them. For another, when I’m beside a star at a fitting, and she looks into the mirror, I don’t want to be competing in any way.”

Even her distinct blue tinted glasses weren’t the bold fashion choice they appeared. The blue lenses muted colours, helping Edith see how costumes would appear on black and white film.
But Edith wasn’t without scandal. She scammed her way into her first Hollywood job using sketches that weren’t even hers! Her talent was undeniable though, and she went on to win 8 Oscars, becoming the most awarded WOMAN AND COSTUME DESIGNER ever in the Academy’s history! ( Can you tell I’m excited about that? )

 

Costume Designer Edith Head helped define old Hollywood Style and paved the way for women being recognised in the male dominated film industry.

Costume Designer Edith Head helped define old Hollywood Style and paved the way for women being recognised in the male dominated film industry.

 

Today Edith’s legend lives on in popular culture. Pixar‘s The Incredibles character Edna Mode is based on Edith. She’s adorned a postage stamp, a google doodle, and will forever be imprinted on our idea of classic pinup glamour. Above all, Edith was a role model, proving that women could excel in the male dominated Hollywood industry.
I’ll leave you with one final quote from my design idol;

“You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.”

With Style & Sass,

     Velvet DeCollete

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, 1 comment