fashion

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
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

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

Black & White Glamour | Pin Up Photoshoot

What’s black and white and glam all over?
Me, with my fancy pants and giant fluffy stole.

From Coco to Audrey to Cruella De Vil, black and white fashion has always been simultaneously bold and chic.

Often employed for understated elegance or graphic mod style, black and white can be effortlessly cool. However exaggerated glamour is more my jam! Extremes of femininity and texture have inspired my upcoming collectionof uber fluffy faux fur mega stoles! This boa/stole hybrid that looks like a sexy skunk is one of the pieces I’ve been working on, and trust me, it’s so decadently soft and enveloping.

Marlene Dietrich, Cabaret and our Queen Dita Von Teese sparked the concept for this shoot. I wanted to reference the black and white publicity shots of Hollywood’s golden era, but with an intimate, personal edge.

Cruella De Vil meets Pinup Glamour in this black and white photo set featuring Miss Pinup New Zealand Velvet DeCollete and alt pinup fetish photographer Froger

Cruella De Vil meets Pinup Glamour in this black and white photo set featuring Miss Pinup New Zealand Velvet DeCollete and alt pinup fetish photographer Froger

Cruella De Vil meets Pinup Glamour in this black and white photo set featuring Miss Pinup New Zealand Velvet DeCollete and alt pinup fetish photographer Froger

Outfit Details

Mega Fur Stole | Velvet DeCollete
Jacket | Preloved via Trademe
Trousers | Thrifted
Corset | Corset Story
Knickers | Trademe
Gloves | Vintage
Hat | Borrow from my Mother
Fully Fashioned Stockings | Photographers own
Shoes | Thrifted

Love monochrome but hate boring outfits? I layer textures and shapes to create a black based outfit that looks luxe, not lazy. Styled specifically to be shot in black and white, the textural blacks are offset with two bold pops of white; long gloves and my faux fur.
Pairing soft, wide leg trousers with a constricting corset and thick wool jacket creates a silhouette that’s feminine while referencing masculine style elements.

Can you believe the satin trousers and jacket are both from the oppy? ( That’s a thrift shop to my American friends ). So is the hat, an equestrian dressage topper found by my mother in a small town St. Paul’s.

Cruella De Vil meets Pinup Glamour in this black and white photo set featuring Miss Pinup New Zealand Velvet DeCollete and alt pinup fetish photographer Froger

Cruella De Vil meets Pinup Glamour in this black and white photo set featuring Miss Pinup New Zealand Velvet DeCollete and alt pinup fetish photographer Froger

Cruella De Vil meets Pinup Glamour in this black and white photo set featuring Miss Pinup New Zealand Velvet DeCollete and alt pinup fetish photographer Froger

Photography | Froger

That photo above is one of my favourites right now. Froger catches me between full poses sometimes and those relaxed photos stand out from my other facial expressions ( to me at least!).  Pinup and glamour lovers can find the rest of this set over at Froger’s photography website. I highly recommend subscribing to his member’s area because holy hairspray does he photograph some stone cold foxes!

With Style & Sass,

     Velvet DeCollete

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, PINUP, 3 comments

Cadillac Dreams | Hollywood Inspired Pinup Photoshoot

Bad girls may have more fun, but Paramount girls get away with it.

Inspired by the elegance of classic Hollywood and it’s movie starlets this is the sister set to Start Your Engines | A bad Girl Photo Shoot. Shot in the same location with the same magnificent Cadillac this set takes style inspiration from the publicity shots of 1930’s – 1950’s cinema stars. (With a few ‘paparazzi’ style shots thrown in for fun and accuracy).

 

Cadillac Hollywood Starlet | Pinup Photoshoot | Velvet DeCollete

Cadillac Hollywood Starlet | Pinup Photoshoot | Velvet DeCollete

The Inspiration

Back in the golden age of Hollywood film companies like Paramount and MGM would arrange photographers to snap their new stars at home ( usually not even their real home!) and at social events. These not so candid images were vintage equivalent of an intentionally unintentional looking celebrity Instagram photo.

My outfit inspiration was a chic movie star. Is she attending a cocktail party as some luxe resort? Heading to a rendezvous with her lover? Or is she on her way home, in the clothes she wore the night before? Either way, her studio will cover up any indiscretions.

Inspired by these totally posed but supposedly unexpected publicity photos, we shot a mix of classic glamour and paparazzi style images. This is one of the first photoshoots I worked with Froger on and it’s still one of my favourites today.

 

 

Outfit Breakdown 

Wiggle Dress | Velvet DeCollete – sewn from a Vintage Vogue pattern
Gloves, Sunglasses, Bag & Fur | Tock Tick Vintage
Shoes | Pulp Noir
Vintage Imitation Pearl Necklace | Gifted
Earrings | Diva
Hosiery | Pretty Polly

 

Cadillac Hollywood Starlet | Pinup Photoshoot | Velvet DeCollete

Cadillac Hollywood Starlet | Pinup Photoshoot | Velvet DeCollete

How beautiful is the vintage fawn skin bag in the photo above? I nicknamed it ‘The Bambi Bag’. Unsurprisingly it’s part of La Vonne’s personal collection, alongside the fur stole.

Oh and did I mention Elvis stopped by? He’s such a hoot!

Cadillac Dreams | Velvet DeCollete

Photographer | Froger
Shoot Assistant | LaVonne from Tock Tick Vintage
Model | Velvet DeCollete (moi)

With Style & Sass,

               Velvet DeCollete

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by velvetdecollete in PINUP, 1 comment

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

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

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

VIntage dresses at Tock Tick Vintage | Velvet Decollete

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

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

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

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

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

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

vintage accessories from Tock Tick vintage | Velvet DeCollete

Lavonne Says

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

A string of simple pearls, always in style!  

Similarly a black jet necklace!

Clip on earrings!  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My vintage go-to accessories

Jewellery

Handbags

Gloves

Scarves

Classic coat

Fur (or faux fur) collars

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

Vintage shopping tips from Tock Tick Vintage

A few of La Vonne’s happy customers.

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

With Style & Sass,

   Velvet DeCollete

 

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, LIFESTYLE, 3 comments
Florals for a Florist | Sam’s Custom Swing Dress

Florals for a Florist | Sam’s Custom Swing Dress

Some people put a smile on your dial in an instant. Samantha is one of those people!

She’s also a total babe.

Florist and Heritage New Zealand worker Samantha wearing her custom made floral 1950's swing dress designed and made by Velvet Decollete. Velvet is a pinup girl, vintage blogger and clothing designer

We met at The Very Vintage Day Out 2015, in the fruit smoothie queue – as ya do- and struck up a conversation over our outfits. Samantha’s enthusiasm and humour over the glories and pitfalls of pinup style was contagious, and I was thrilled when she contacted me about a custom dress.

Sam needed a dress for a family wedding. She was doing the flowers, so she needed to retain an easy range of movement, but still look amazing ( obviously).  Inspired by her vivacious nature, I designed something bright that showed off her stunning tattoos. I really wanted to make her feel special

The Dress

Bright floral swing dress custom made for florist and Heritage New Zealand worker Samantha by Velvet Decollete. Velvet is a pinup girl, vintage blogger and clothing designer specialising in 1950s and vintage reproduction inspired gowns, made to measure.

Bright floral swing dress custom made for florist and Heritage New Zealand worker Samantha by Velvet Decollete. Velvet is a pinup girl, vintage blogger and clothing designer specialising in 1950s and vintage reproduction inspired gowns, made to measure.
Bright floral swing dress custom made for florist and Heritage New Zealand worker Samantha by Velvet Decollete. Velvet is a pinup girl, vintage blogger and clothing designer specialising in 1950s and vintage reproduction inspired gowns, made to measure.

Bright floral swing dress custom made for florist and Heritage New Zealand worker Samantha by Velvet Decollete. Velvet is a pinup girl, vintage blogger and clothing designer specialising in 1950s and vintage reproduction inspired gowns, made to measure.

The resulting swing dress combined elements from the 50’s style gowns she loved, mixed with the modern comfort of a stretch cotton sateen. As always I tailored the dress to Sam’s shape for a perfect fit ( Well fitting clothes are so important but can be hard to find for our curvy pinups! ).

The bodice is fully boned for support and shaping, and while  bright floral print is colourful it doesn’t clash with her fiery red hair. Stretch mesh allows movement in the folded cowl around the wide neckline. A feminine bow and a line of sassy cobalt blue covered buttons finish the back.

For the Very Vintage Day Out 2016  Sam accessorised her dress with the most gorgeous jewel green hat, green shoes and a wide white belt.

Florist and Heritage New Zealand worker Samantha wearing her custom made floral 1950's swing dress designed and made by Velvet Decollete. Velvet is a pinup girl, vintage blogger and clothing designer
Florist and Heritage New Zealand worker Samantha wearing her custom made floral 1950's swing dress designed and made by Velvet Decollete. Velvet is a pinup girl, vintage blogger and clothing designer

Sam was stoked with her dress and we’re excited be working on another gown later this year!

” Velvet is such a star! We bumped into each other at the very vintage day out in 2015 and early 2016 she finished off a beautiful custom dress for me! She was a dream to work with, a very clever lady and such a sweetheart. ”
– Samantha Keen

 

Photos of Samantha | Fran Robertson – Taken at VVDO 2016

 

If you’re interested in having your own dream garment made, you can contact me here for more information and to discuss your ideas. More happy clients and their stories can be found on my Fashion Design Page for your viewing pleasure!

With Style and Sass,

 

       Velvet DeCollete

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, 0 comments
Vintage Fashion | Glove Etiquette for Beginners

Vintage Fashion | Glove Etiquette for Beginners

I admit, I have a bit of a thing for gloves.

Specifically vintage gloves that are small enough for my stubby hands. They look smart, come in a trillion styles and colours and make you feel like a lady. They are also the one part of my wardrobe that gets consistently noticed.

But since our mothers were freed from the social expectation of hats and gloves, we’ve forgotten how to wear them! Gloves were an integral part of dressing for many eras, but the majority of questions I receive are from lovers of 1940’s – 1960’s fashion. So here, my darlings, is a beginners playbook for the wearing of gloves – information courtesy of several 1950’s fashion etiquette brochures.

When to wear gloves

Gloves should be worn on the streets of cities and large towns.
They should be worn when driving or travelling on trains, planes or other public conveyances.
Gloves should be worn for church and formal occasions including weddings, luncheons, dinners, garden parties or receptions.
The hostess should also wear gloves while she is receiving guests at these functions.

When not to wear gloves

Please remove your gloves to eat, smoke, apply makeup or play cards.

Glove Etiquette

  •  If you are lunching in a restaurant remove your coat on entering but retain your hat and gloves. Removeyour gloves when you are seated at the table.
  •  When attending a party with food or hors d’oeuvres turn your gloves back at the wrist or remove one while eating. ( This is where those gloves with wrist buttons come into play )
  •  When attending an informal event, remove your gloves on arrival and leave them with your coat.
  •  Always remove your gloves completely when seated for a meal. Try to do so discreetly, a lady does not make a spectacle of removing her gloves.
  • Gloves are left on while shaking hands.
  • Bracelets are the only jewellery that should be worn over your gloves.

Miss Pinup New Zealand 2017 Velvet DeColette walks us through the basic rules for wearing gloves, the perfect vintage fashion accessory.

Which gloves do I wear?

Day Gloves 

  • Short gloves in cotton or nylon come in lovely styles. Consider bright polka dot prints for the races, and embroidered or lace-trimmed gloves for summer parties.
  • Black kid leather is appropriate for city sightseeing and theater in metropolitan settings.
  • Crotchet or string gloves for casual garden parties and fairs in the country, or at the beach.
  • Leather gloves are wonderful in winter, especially for shopping and also driving.

Evening Gloves 

  • The appropriate length of glove can be chosen according to the length of your sleeves – the shorter your sleeves, the longer your gloves.
  • White and off white, including ivory, beige and taupe, are the traditional colors for opera gloves. these pale colours are appropriate for virtually any occasion on which opera gloves are worn.
  • Black Opera Gloves should not be worn with light-colored dresses, but can be worn with black, dark-colored or bright-colored clothing.
  • Black gloves are also considered the most elegant with evening dress.
  • Long coloured gloves should really be worn only with dresses of a coordinating colour scheme.
  • Opera gloves should not be put on in public but should be put on in the privacy of your own home. If they must be removed in public please do so discreetly. ( I can only imagine this was included in 1954’s brochure as the sight of a woman peeling off an opera glove could drive a man crazy.)

Lilli Ann inspired gold and black floral ladies suit. Made and worn with vintage hat and gloves and modern back seam stockings and leather heels.

Of course, these are the fashion rules from the era our beloved gloves are from. Modern women have the freedom to disobey or obey them as they please. Personally I find the subtle nuances of wearing vintage clothing part of the experience, so I  hope these guidelines will help you confidently don your gloves like the retro beauty you are! Have fun and be bold!

With Style & Sass

    Velvet DeCollete

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, 4 comments

Honest Review | Collectif Clothing Juliette Pencil Dress

Today we’re talking wiggles. Not the wiggle in your walk and the giggle in your talk, but the Collectif Clothing Juliette wiggle dress.
Being in the Southern Hemisphere we’re coming out of winter as I write this, so I’ve had ample opportunity to test drive this cozy number for our Northern Hemisphere friends!

An honest review of the Collectif Clothing Juliette pencil dress, in green and navy chaise check and dark green fur trim

An honest review of the Collectif Clothing Juliette pencil dress, in green and navy chaise check and dark green fur trim

Let’s talk aesthetics first.

The Juliette pencil dress is a green and navy woven ‘chaise check’ (essentially a slightly glitchy looking tile pattern).
A sexy scooped back offsets the high boat neck front. It has a wide fur trim at the hem and a removable fur collar.
It also has a back split, but we’ll talk more about that later.

Overall verdict? It’s a demure yet foxy dress Joan Holloway style dress.

Now on to the serious stuff. How well does the Collectif Juliette dress wear?

An honest review of the Collectif Clothing Juliette pencil dress, in green and navy chaise check and dark green fur trim

Fab things about wearing the Juliette pencil dress

  • You feel like a sassy 1960’s martini drinking secretary. That scoop back is all kiiiiiinds of sophisticated sexy.
  • The fur trim is soft and snuggly, and the fur pile is long enough that it feels luxurious.
  • While the dress is unlined, the fabric is soft and non irritating.
  • It’s cooooooooozy. I’m not a fan of winter clothes ( I feel so frumpy all bundled up) but this is flattering and dressy enough that I’ve worn it to formal events and haven’t frozen!
  • It makes your butt look great. seriously. Check it out in the next photo.

Sad things about wearing the Juliette pencil dress

  • It’s a bit big in places. I ordered the size 8, which matched my measurements on the size chart. The Juliette dress is non-stretch fabric, so while some ease is required I find the waist and sleeves a bit looser than they need to be.
  • It’s made for someone taller (I know I’m short, I know ). The sleeves and hem are both too about 4cm too long. Which wouldn’t bother me much except… being a wiggle the Juliette has a slim skirt. When a slim skirt extends too far below the knees it increases the risk of the back split ripping when you walk.
    Which is exactly what happened to me. And then it just kept unravelling until it was dangerously high and I had to put my coat on.
  • The facing DRIVES. ME. NUTS. You can see in the photo below that the neck facing has a naughty habit of riding up above the level of the fur collar. This seems to be because it isn’t tacked down at all, so I can fix it, I just never remember to before I put it on.
  • It’s not easy care. Fur goes a bit gross if you chuck it in the washing machine so this is gentle hand wash or dry clean only.

An honest review of the Collectif Clothing Juliette pencil dress, in green and navy chaise check and dark green fur trim
An honest review of the Collectif Clothing Juliette pencil dress, in green and navy chaise check and dark green fur trim

Outfit Details

Dress | Collectif Clothing Juliette Pencil Dress
Shoes | Remix Vintage Shoes
Glasses | Eyebuy Direct
Earrings | Vintage
Hosiery | Columbine 70 denier pantyhose from Farmers

Photos taken at the Wellington Opera House

An honest review of the Collectif Clothing Juliette pencil dress, in green and navy chaise check and dark green fur trim

So there you have it, and honest review of the Collectif Clothing Juliette dress. As you can see, the pros and cons are fairly even, and while I get a lot of wear out of this dress, the length issues mean I wouldn’t buy another one. I just don’t have the free time to fuss around altering the hem with all that fur in the way!

The Juliette dress is also available in black ( which I bought at the same time as the this one ) and a regal gold and black jacquard. I believe all colourways are on sale right now, so if you want to pick one up now is the time!

With Style & Sass,

      Velvet DeCollete

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, PINUP, 4 comments