Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Sensible tips for timeless style

I get the impression that ‘sensible style’ is rather topical, so I’m going to stick with this theme for a little longer – especially as I’m not feeling entirely convinced that the much cited ‘green shoots of recovery’ are quite so nearby as many seem to imagine. At this juncture, it might be appropriate to look to our forebears for guidance on what to do if times get really tough. The fashion designers of yesteryear certainly came up with some curiously clever ideas for cutting their costs (and their cloth), whilst managing to produce stunningly stylish designs that are still appreciated to this day.

From the late 1920s, for instance, Madeleine Vionnet introduced the bias-cut method of dressmaking, whereby cloth was cut diagonal to the grain of the fabric, creating the flattering effect of clinging to the contours of the body and accentuating natural female curves. Popularized by Mme Vionnet, ‘Queen of the bias cut’, and others during the 1930s, bias cut garments combined ease of movement and comfort with glamorous fabrics like chiffon, silk and satin – as in the dress pictured left.

Vionnet’s designs involved draping and often required much more fabric than would be necessary when using a conventional pattern. However, during the 1940s, the bias-cut technique was employed to enable dressmakers to use up all their spare scraps of fabric. Towards the 1950s, the emergence of factory manufactured clothing meant that the use of fabrics became more standardized and less original. Contemporary British designer, Christa Davis, was one of the first to re-introduce the bias-cut method to dressmaking in the early 1990s. Some of her latest designs, many of which are made with recycled textiles and limited edition printed silks (like the dress pictured right), are now available online from ShopCurious.

Other practical-but-stylish solutions to economic constraints included creating clothing and accessories that were made to last. Have you heard of a world-renowned, original innovation of the 1940s, called the Corde handbag?

We’ve got some fabulous examples of these classic vintage bags on our website – and they’re in excellent condition too, which just goes to show how very hard-wearing they truly are.

By the 1950s, people started to travel more and those that ventured abroad, or on holidays away from home, were careful to be as economical as possible. Ladies siphoned off their perfumes and powders into small canisters to take away with them in compact little vanity cases - especially designed to accommodate everything a glamorous girl might require. They don’t seem to make these sets of usefully designed containers any more, though occasionally you might be lucky enough to find a perfectly preserved vanity case, complete with retro receptacles, like this one.

Do let us know if you’ve got any more sensible tips for timeless style, vintage or modern.

Will you?

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