FASHION STORIES

Vintage, reproduction or custom, fashion can empower and entertain. Find it here.

Vintage Brooches | Thrifted, Gifted & Carefully Chosen

In April last year (good gods has it been that long!?) I wrote a guest post for the delicious Miss Charlotte Cake, featuring 10 ways to style vintage brooches! Visit misscharlottecake.com or click the image below to see the juicy frump free brooch wearing inspo for yourself.

Vintage lover and Fashion Designer Velvet DeCollete shares 10 non frumpy ways to style your vintage brooches and pins.

Following on from all that post, I thought I’d share some of my new-old favourite pieces with you. I’ve collected most of these vintage brooches over the last year –  some were thrifted, some gifted, some carefully chosen, but all have a special place in my heart and wardrobe.

Green With Envy

A green iridescent rhinestone and frosted glass vintage starburst brooch

Green can be hard to find in accessories, especially when your older sister is equally obsessed! When she snapped this rhinestone starburst up in a Facebook group I thought my chances to claim it were long gone, but she kindly gifted it to me for my Birthday! I love how the softness of the frosted rhinestones contrasts with the sparkling iridescence of the circular ones, making the brooch seem both bold and refined.

I usually pin this large brooch to a fur stole or the self fabric belt on one of my cocktail dresses.

Deco Dame

A vintage enamel brooch in the shape of an art deco woman in profile with a butterfly

When I saw this regal portrait brooch in Tock Tick Vintage I knew exactly what I would wear it with. The powder white face and jewel tones of this 1920’s style enamel brooch look beautiful against the navy and emerald of my favourite travelling outfit. I love how uppity the woman looks, and how different this is from my other vintage brooches.

Lazy Daisy

A Vintage blue and gold enamel daisy flower brooch with red ladybug

$2.
A measly $2 bought me this cute 1960’s daisy brooch. Doesn’t it look like it’s skipping along on those two bottom stems? Okay, maybe I’ve watched Alice in Wonderland too many times, but you have to admit it’s cute. Just look at that little ladybug!

I had no idea what to pair this metal and enamel brooch with when I bought it, but I’ve mostly styled it with air hostess worthy neckerchiefs and mod peacoats.

I’m a Fan

A retro silver fan shaped brooch with floral lily pattern

Understated, with hints of Victorian Orientalism, this fan shaped brooch came to me in a sad but sweet way. When a local elderly woman passed away my friend Nicolette’s mother helped sort her belongings. There were a number of vintage jewellery pieces that her children didn’t wish to keep, but didn’t want to throw away. Nicolette’s mother was kind enough to put them aside and Nicolette re-homed them with me!

This brooch bears a subtle lily design, and its small size makes it perfect for wearing on blouses or knitwear.

Beautiful Butterflies

A Three vintage gold and shell butterfly brooches

These shell butterfly brooches did feature in my brooch styling post, where I used them to demonstrate my ‘rogues gallery‘ method for wearing multiple pins at once. Found at different locales, but all thrifted, these kitschy carved butterflies are souvenirs of my travels around New Zealand. The blue dyed one is my favourite.

Leafy… Blues?

A 1960s silver, blue iridescent rhinestone and turquoise stem and leaf brooch

Not to be confused with leafy greens, this brooch is all about leafy blues. A curved branch sprouts silver leaves, tiny pearls, rhinestones and what *might be* faux turquoise. I don’t know why, but it reminds me of how I imagine Tuscany to be.

I was lucky enough to win this brooch in the True Vintage category of the Very Vintage Day Out 2016f best dressed contest! It looks rather fetching placed on the high shoulder of a gown, or on a plain clutch.

Leopard is a neutral

A 1980's vintage gold and enamel Carol Lee jaguar brooch

He isn’t strictly vintage by my standards, but this big cat is fabulous enough that I’m including him anyway. This feline brooch came to me via a Facebook group.  I’ve seen identical 1980s gold leopard brooches attributed to Sphinx and Carolee, but I’m not sure who’s responsible for my one! Regardless of his origins he makes me feel fierce.

With his climbing pose, this jungle cat looks best pinned to the inner edge of a collar, or onto a fur where he can snuggle in.

Flower Power

A Vintage 1960s yellow glass rhinestone daisy and bud brooch

Another op shop score, this determinedly mustard yellow number set me back about $2.50. I love the depth of colour in its cut glass petals, its childlike geometric appeal and the way the bud curves out from the main flower.

I wear this retro flower brooch with baby and cornflower blues to highlights its unusual yellow tones.

 

Photos | Velvet DeCollete (that’s moi)
Props | Vintage books, leather satchel, and 1920’s spectacles all from my own collection.

 

Join me on Instagram to see more vintage brooches and clothing, or visit my dedicated Brooch Pinterest board !
If you enjoyed this visit to my personal vintage collection, you may like my post about vintage earrings.

How I found my favourite vintage earrings, and became a vintage jewellery addict

 

With Style and Sass,

   Velvet DeCollete

 

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, 0 comments
Replicant Style | 1980’s Neo-Noir

Replicant Style | 1980’s Neo-Noir

When Blade Runner 2049 hit theatres in 2017,  every pop culture fan and their sister Halloweened in re-runs of 1980’s fashion, styled with a hefty dose of 1940’s noir. I don’t blame them, it’s a badass look. But it wasn’t a look I put my own spin on until my Mum thrifted this eighties-does-forties dress. After all, who am I to question the Universe’s fashion whims?

This dress is by New Zealand designer David Pond, who estabilished his brand in 1987, meaning this dress was probably released within a year or two of me being born! It features leg o’ mutton sleeves, a plunging wrap bodice with buttons at the waist, and a sassy peplum. It’s also a size 12, which gives you an idea how how different clothing sizes were historically. ( I wear a modern size 6-8!)

When life gives you killer shoulder pads, dress like Rachael Replicant.

 

Velvet DeCollete Bladerunner inspired 1980's Neo Noir outfit

Hair & Makeup

I didn’t originally intend to reference 1987 Replicant Rachael’s hair so strongly. BUT my plans for a sleeker, modern hairstyle went out the window when I arrived in Auckland the night before the shoot… and my hair curlers and straighteners didn’t. doh!

My natural curls work easier into vintage styles than modern, so I tamed my mop into a 1940’s rolled bangs, two small victory rolls, and a roll at the back. Froger and I shot this Blade Runner inspired set in an alley next to Newmarket train station, fighting the blustery wind and midday humidity. As it turns out, even half a can of hairspray can’t stand up to New Zealand weather! Some people hate frizzy hair, but in this case I feel it makes the images more convincing.

 

Velvet DeCollete Bladerunner inspired 1980's Neo Noir outfit

 

My makeup had to do double duty.(I went straight from this photoshoot to judge Press Play Improv Burlesque!.) Because trying new things under time pressure is always a marvelous idea, I attempted my first cut crease eyeshadow! To my admitted surprise it wasn’t a complete disaster, and I look forward to trying a more dramatic version. I kept the rest of my face classic with a red lip, a little cheek contouring and subtle blush.

 

Velvet DeCollete Bladerunner inspired 1980's Neo Noir outfit

 

Outfit Details

Dress | Thrifted
Belt | Alannah Hill
Gloves | Gift from the vampy Von Vonski
Shoes | Overland – A gift from my Mum many years ago
Stockings | Voodoo Hosiery

Large shoulder pads and I have a strained relationship (They make me look like I have a tiny pin head).  However this dress’s plunging neckline is just what we need to get along. Its low, defined ‘V’ draws the the eye downward from my face, and dividing the torso into two angled panels, rather than a chunky square with my head balanced precariously on top. The neckline also keeps this batwing sleeved, peplum-ed dress looking dystopian chic, rather than like something Karen was still wearing to the office in ’94.

Streamlined accessories unified in black matte leather finish my neo – noir outfit. The bold lines of the belt, gloves and shoes provide focal points amidst the dress’s small, busy print. Being a smallish dame at 5.3″, I often forgo jewellery to avoid looking cluttered. When I do wear jewellery for photographs I favour statement pieces, and nothing I had quite fit the Blade Runner vibe.

You can see this amazeballs belt styled with a different outfit in my Start Your Engines bad girl photoshoot.

Style Tip: Accenting areas like your hands, waist and feet with solid colours gives the eye somewhere to rest when viewing a printed outfit. Those rest points will help define your shape and  poses when wearing a printed outfit.

 

Velvet DeCollete Bladerunner inspired 1980's Neo Noir outfit

Velvet DeCollete Bladerunner inspired 1980's Neo Noir outfit

 

Photos | Froger Photo
Styling + HMUA + Model | Velvet DeCollete

With Style and Sass,

Velvet DeCollete

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, 0 comments
Spotlight on Spots | Vintage Fashion Inspiration

Spotlight on Spots | Vintage Fashion Inspiration

From Dalmatian spots to polka dots, no one can argue that fashion went totally dotty from the 1930’s to the 1960’s. Balmain, Dior and Schiaparelli made spots a glamorous choice for well dressed women.

At some point, mainstream fashion saw spots go from stylish to childish, relegated to the playground and Disney characters. They’re still popular in vintage reproduction clothing, where in my (probably unpopular) opinion they’re horribly and un-inventively overused. A default print alongside cherries and red roses.

I’d love to see spots brought back in a thoughtful, sophisticated way, taking inspiration from our favourite fashion decades when the versatile dot was anything but twee.

Delightfully Dotty Daywear

Today’s style lovers are likely most comfortable with spotted fabrics being used for daywear. Their simple charm lends itself to casual trousers and blouses, but also to feminine shirt dresses and full skirts – silhouettes less common in 21st century ease-focused dressing.

Polka dots have also been popular in beachwear through the decades. Appearing in swimsuits and resort wear, spots seem to capture the carefree mood of vacationers. How fantastic is the woman in eye catching polka dot beach pajamas? (And why is she holding a fake pig!?)

My personal favourite garment here is the 1957 silk crepe skirt with huge balloon dots in pinks, reds and oranges. It’s a novel approach which stands out in a sea of evenly spaced polka dots.

Polka Dot Eveningwear 

Polka dots aren’t something modern fashionistas associate with formal wear, but vintage designers couldn’t get enough of the simple dot in woven or printed patterns. These gowns showcase the romantic allure of spots when paired with hourglass silhouettes, sensual off-the-shoulder necklines and romantic full skirts.

There’s nothing childish about Suzy Parker in that slinky cowl back, or the sensuality of Schiaparelli’s daintily dotted, figure hugging gown from 1953. These dots are decadent, mature and oh so elegant.

Spot On Suits & Coordinates

Woven silks, textured spots and natty polka dots made an appearance in chic coordinates, especially in fifties and sixties fashion. Layered spots made for graphic suits and two pieces, while solid colours made contrasting polka dot blouses and bows look sharp and fresh.

I’m absolutely in love with both the green outfits, from 1958 and 1945 respectively. Having gloves made to match your dress feels like the ultimate in intentional style.

 

Outerwear, Underwear & Accessories

Spots of all sizes pervaded the realm of accessories too. Spotted gloves and hats, worn with solid fabrics or matched to yet more spots. (If there’s one thing we know, it’s that the 1950’s were not intimidated by matchy-matchy outfits).  Outerwear and underwear featured decidedly bold dots in polka and irregular styles.

 

I became slightly obsessed with spotted clothes while researching for this post. The variety of patterns, colours and dot sizes is incredible, and I truly believe that the designers of the past were more inventive with how they used prints than designers are today. There were far too many photos for one post, so I’ve created a Pinterest board dedicated purely to polka dots and spots!

Do you have a favourite dotty design I didn’t feature? Slide into the comments below, or into my Facebook or Instagram DM’s so we can swoon over it together!

 

With Style & Sass,

Velvet DeCollete

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, 4 comments

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, 1 comment
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