Saturday, 23 July 2011

Business Wear Part 4: Belt Up

So, you've ventured down to your local charity shop/vintage shop/car boot sale/second hand market stall and you've found a jacket you really really like...but it's just too big. No point buying it right? Well not necessarily. My favourite jacket is a white, 1980's lightly shoulderpadded, gold buttoned summer jacket from the Antoinette range at Harrods. It's a size 12 so, rather than wearing it loose and unflattering, I wrap it round and chuck a belt on it. The silhouette it creates with it's nipped in waist and structured shoulders is flattering and the awesome Harrods quality is obvious (I'll put up a photo when I get a mo!). Adding a waist belt works great with a lot of jacket styles, but my personal favourite is adding it to 80's jackets (which were often originally worn over-sized and a little loose) to create a sharp, updated, smart look. And let's be honest, if belting a jacket is good enough for Coco, it's good enough for me!


Monday, 18 July 2011

Super Summer Sale

I'm back from holiday and partially I'm launching a 20% off summer sale! Yes that's right, using the discount code SWIVSUPERSUMMERSALE you can get even more money off my already highly reasonably priced items. What will you buy? A sweet summer dress for just £12.80 down from £16?

A quirky-awesome summer skirt for just £7.20?

Or a pair of simply stunning Bally bow front heels for a mere £10.40?

We've got a little something to suit every style and, with prices like these, every pocket too. So update your wardrobe without maxing out your overdraft, buy something unique safe in the knowledge that your getting a bargain and do a good little deed too, by helping to save me from the wrath of my boyfriend by helping me pay him back for the EuroStar tickets he was lovely enough to buy (sorry!)


Friday, 8 July 2011

Holiday Break!!

I'm off on holiday!! So the etsy shop will be down for a bit but be ready for more bargain hunting hints and tips, the conclusion of this month's feature on working vintage into office wear and some brand new stock when I return :D
See y'all in a week!


Business Wear Part 3: Dress It Up

So far we've discovered that suits don't have to be boring...but what if you don't want to wear a suit at all? There is, of course, another easy option the smart dress. A great quality office worthy vintage dress will see through everything from an average day at work to job interviews, networking events and presentations in a way that will ensure you appear both smart and sophisticated.  Avoiding dresses that are skin tight, noticeably short or cleavagey is always recommended of course, but aside from that go with what you fancy, there's quite literally, something for everyone in the wonderful world of vintage and second hand fashion. However my personal favourite options (examples of which I also happen to be selling in my etsy shop :p )  involve distinctive though not excessively vocal prints and a silhouette that involves elements of both tight fit and loose flowing fabric.

Make: JaegerMeasurements: Bust: 15.5", Waist: 12", Hips: 17", Length: 40"

UK 6

All measurements taken whilst flat

Condition: Fantastic vintage condition, no signs of wear and tear


I absolutely adore this dress: I love the vintage 70's details with the neck-tie and long buttoned sleeves, I love the nipped in waist with loosely falling neckline and the skirt detail and I love the stylized snakeskin pattern. In fact were it not for the fact that that particular midi length is less than flattering on petite frames (at 5'1" midi lengths in general are not exactly complimentary) I doubt I'd be selling it. But for any of you lucky average hight or above size 6 ladies this dress is an absolute dream. Jaeger have always been renowned for top quality clothing (even though their designs saw them fall out of favour in the 90's before their a 21st century rebrand)  and in this dress it is immediately apparent. 

Make: David Emmanuel Collectables


Measurements: Bust: 19", Waist: 17", Hips: 22", Length: 37.5", Shoulders:14.5"
All measurements taken whilst flat


David Emmanuel didn't always design for low cost, older demographic targeting Bon Marche. In fact in his time he was a highly well regarded, he was even part of the team  that designed Princess Diana's wedding dress along with his wife Elizabeth. This 80's example retains the good quality tailoring prominent in his earlier work and is the perfect dress for looking chic and respectable around the office. I also love the quirky take on polka dots! 

Again, if you're not a fan of either of the items I personally have to be selling there are plenty of good quality vintage dresses out there. As they tend to be a bit more popular then other items of clothing they also tend to be more expensive than the equivalent jackets or shirts etc on sites such as ebay and etsy. They also don't seem to show up quite so often in charity shops and car boots (again, presumably due to the popularity of the vintage dress) but there are still a fair few bargains to be had out there for the canny shopper.


Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Business Wear Part 2: Beyond the Black, Navy or Charcoal Suit

One of the most common complaints I've encountered at networking events is that shopping for office appropriate clothing is boring. The more interesting stuff either looks (and is) cheap and faintly unprofessional or is way out of the budget of the average shopper. Well that's where buying vintage comes in. 

If you're the kind of lady who likes to stand out from the crowd then there are a whole host of stunning options out on the web, in charity shops, down markets and at carboot sales that will turn heads for all the right reasons. After all, both vintage and adding a pop of colour to outfits are very very fashionable this season (Cheryl Cole's love it or hate it orange and purple American X-Factor combo anyone?).


Make: Kasper for A.S.L
Size: UK 8-10
Label states USA size 6
Condition: Fantastic condition, no signs of wear and tear
Measurements: Bust: 16", Waist: 15", Hips: 18", Length: 25.5", Shoulders: 15.5"
All measurements taken whilst flat
Care Instructions: Dry Clean Only

Make: Bianco
Size: 8-10
Great Condition, No Signs of Ware and Tear
Bust: 17", Waist: 15.5", Length: 23", Shoulders:14"
All measurements taken while flat
Care instructions: 30oC gentle wash, use non-bio, do not tumble dry

Personally I love the look of a brightly coloured, good quality vintage jacket but for plenty of women, and in plenty of working environments, this just doesn't quite feel right. Fortunately there are plenty of other ways of brightening up a dull office outfit, a statement shirt, for example:
Make: The Edinburgh Collection
Size 14-16
Measurements: Bust:20”, Waist: 20”, Length: 25”, Shoulders:17”
Please Note all Measurements Taken Whilst Flat
Good Condition, shows some slight signs of expected wear and tear but generally very good vintage condition
Care Instructions: 40oC synthetics wash, do not tumble dry

Meduim-Large size, all tags have been removed probably due to the fact they would have shown through the slightly see through fabric.
Measurements: Bust: 20", Waist: 20", Length: 26.5"
All Measurements Taken Whilst Flat

White, late 80's blouse with floral embroidery running down the front
Make: St. Michael for M&S
Size 12
Measurements: Bust: 19”, Waist: 19”, Length: 25”, Shoulders:15”
Please note all measurements taken when flat
Condition: Great quality, no obvious signs of wear and tare
Care Instructions: 50oC Synthetics wash, to not tumble dry


So as you can see, a nice suit and blouse combo doesn't have to be boring, or expensive.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

This month's feature: Business Wear, Part 1: The Black Blazer

It's amazing the difference a good quality suit makes. We've all noticed it. Even if a particular person's style is not to our taste a top quality, well fitting outfit gives off the immediate impression of success, competence and business know-how. This kind of stereotyping should, in a dream world, be considered a little inappropriate but rather than fight it us canny bargain hunters can use it to our advantage by avoiding the horrendous costs of expensive first hand business wear and buying second hand and vintage. 

Take a look at these jackets:

All three are standard, run of the mill, black blazers and show quite clearly that you wont even find a quite good quality one for under £65, or under a couple of £100 for the very best. Fortunately for us, the good quality blazer is a wardrobe staple for a whole lot of ladies and thus regularly finds it's way into local charity shops and onto ebay. Just today I purchased a perfectly fitting, practically unworn French Connection Blazer for a mere £4 from my local Marie Curie charity shop (see below).

[Jacket, French Connection, £4, charity shop, Broach £2, charity shop, Blouse, TopShop about 6 years ago, approx £30, Necklace £4 on sale, Eclectic Eccentricity, Belt £18 TopShop, Lace Covered Vintage Skirt, £3, charity shop, Shoes, vintage heeled brogues, £3.50, charity shop. Total cost of outfit: £64.50, the price of one new blazer.]

Some retailers (such as Topshop ) have even started selling the style of late 80's/early 90's double breasted suit jackets that have been somewhat out of favour with younger shoppers for the last decade or so. Whilst I'm not necessarily saying that this is a trend that is going to catch on, if you like it you'll certainly be able to find a fair few vintage examples down your local charity shops for a fraction of the £65 price tag.


Monday, 4 July 2011

A Rather Fabulous Vintage Birthday

When did life get so busy?! This last month has been ridiculous. In between moving house, finishing exams, finishing a leadership programme (yeah leadership programme! Being an entrepreneurial nerd is more fun than it sounds ;) ), running a social action project, starting a new job, attending mentoring meetings and networking events, being a council member on a university society, writing articles for a new online magazine on South East Asia, attempting to have a social life and unexpectedly meeting a rather fabulous new man, frustratingly, I haven't been able to give So What It's Vintage the attention it deserves. 

So in between a family holiday to Greece next week, the excessively elaborate garden party I'm planning for my 21st and spending much of August inter-railing round Eastern Europe I'm going to attempt solve this issue. Starting with blogging about my Rather Fabulous Garden Party.
Now, considering that So What It's Vintage is supposed to be about looking classy and vintagey on a budget you might be thinking 'posh garden party? Inter-railing round Europe? Doesn't sound cheap to me!' well you'd be surprised. About that garden party that is...Europe will probably consume the vast majority of my savings (meh, you only live once).
How to throw an expensive looking party without horrifying your bank:
Step 1) Insist on a classy dress code. Take a second to think about every really posh event you've ever been to. If they are anything like the ones I've attended it's not so much the food, the music or even the venue that creates that classic ambience; it's the clothes. Encountering ladies in gowns and demure dresses and gentlemen in sharp tailored suits and crisp shirts ups the respectability factor no end, without any additional cost to you. The theme I've gone with for for my garden party is 'Posh From the Past' and I shall be wearing a floor length, off the shoulder, figure hugging 50s black velvet dress at a cost of just £24 (£9 from a charity shop plus £15 for alterations). This party is also set to be the best attended of my birthday parties in years, partly due to the fact that a surprising amount of people will, quite literally, go the extra mile(s) for an excuse to dress up nice ;)
Step 2) Send real invites. Everyone loves getting post and nothing makes someone feel more excited about an event than receiving a little personalised invite in the post requesting a formal RSVP. Again, this doesn't have to be expensive, I just made mine myself, printed them on card then spent an evening sticking on little vintagey pictures tailored to the individual guest...though if you don't have the time or inclination to do that bulk printed invites are still lovely!
3) Cater yourself and plan in advance! There are going to be around 30 guests attending my garden party so, as I'm sure you can imagine, providing them with a variety of classy nibbles, snacks, treats and drinks seems quite an intimidating feat in terms of both cost and the amount of work involved. However, I've found a way to spread the cost and time and effort involved: preparing in advance. Yes, even though my party isn't for another month, I've started already. Some things such as the cup cakes (like the maple pecan cupcakes shown above) will need to be prepared in the hectic 24 hours previous to the event, but a surprisingly large amount of stuff can be prepared well in advance and frozen. This evening for instance I made some rather large batches of mini standard and savoury cheese and onion scones and tomorrow evening I'm going to prepare and freeze some home-made pizzas. Although on the day I will probably cheat a little and use some of ASDA's finest ready made snacks and starters mixed in with the home-made goods. Another sneaky little cheat I can recommend is serving 'champagne' cocktails. There are some great recipes you can use to posh-up cheap fizzy wine including adding a small amount of strained strawberry or lychee juice and a piece of fruit. 
4) And Finally, don't forget the little details. Small things like decorating the garden with home-made bunting (easy enough to make from fabric scraps and string), pretty napkins, place settings and candles (most of mine are coming from pound land, but don't tell the guests!) as well as old fashioned music from whichever era of your choice (in my case a variety of charity shop CD's) really do make a huge difference. Don't fancy doing it all yourself? Recruit some friends! It's actually quite fun making bunting over a cup of tea and of course, if it does pour with rain (ever a danger in the British summer), it's all easy enough to set up inside too...even if it does end up a little cramped.
And that's my advice! Having said all this doubtless I'll find myself under prepared, over budget and highly rushed at the last minute but, in theory, I should be on for a cheapish but classy day of vintage inspired garden party fun. Fabulous.