Friday, 23 May 2014

Vintage Fashion - Schiaparelli's Wardrobe Hints & Wool

In the 1940’s and 1950’s, wool was widely used to make everyday clothing. Not only was knitting hugely popular,  fashion designers loved wool fabrics versatility - it could be used for suits, and wool jersey could be draped beatifully for dresses. Many women had a tweed wool suit in their wardrobe  - a basic item that could be dressed up or down. 

1940's stylish tweedy ladies
Fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli was famous for her wool suits in the late 1930s, including this slightly feminized version of a man's tweed suit.

Pantsuit, c. 1939 
Elsa Schiaparelli 

I love this navy suit with it's breast pockets incorporated into the bust form.


Suit, fall/winter 1938–39
 Elsa Schiaparelli 

In this ad from 1952, Schiaparelli advocates 'an all-wool' wardrobe (for the Australian wool board).


Can we replicate that wardrobe today, still keeping a vintage feel?

1. A real tweed country suit

The Weekend in the Country Suit
The Weekend in the Country Suit by Puttin' on the Ritz, $385, a a wonderful 1930s feel.

2. A grey travel and informal suit

Selvedge: Baron Boutique Collection $399


Also available in other colors. I also love this suit with cape style jacket from Puttin' on the Ritz, $350 - available in a lighter grey than in the photo -  how cosy for travelling!

The walk in the park suit

3. A grey tweed travelling sports coat

Womens Tweed Jacket
Not quite tweed, but with a cute 40s/50s look is this jacket from HeyDay Vintage.  Around $161, and there are matching pants available, so it could be the grey casual suit.

Mid 40s to 50s style cropped gab jacket 

4. A grey jersey dress

A wool/lycra 'dance dress' by Stina Sayre $350

5. A black formal suit

Grace suit from Bombshell Vintage
Single breasted suit, with slight flare over the hips and pencil skirt. This suit is made to measure in a tweed like cotton blend fabric (available in black and many other colors) and available from Bombshell Vintage in Australia for $150. 

6. A bright red town coat
This one is in wool polyester, but I just love it!

5th Avenue Coat by Hey Day Vintage Clothing $450
7. A black jersey cocktail dress

Glamorous appliqu├ęs along the right shoulder and neckline of this dress make it a perfect 1940s style cocktail dress. It's made in a black crepe fabric, but a rayon/poly mix with a touch of spandex rather than wool. 

1940s style swing dress, about $250
I love this pencil dress, also available from Bombshell vintage, made to measure in your choice of fabric, including black, $150.

Retro Pencil dress from Bombshell Vintage
Pencil dress from Bombshell Vintage

8. A long navy evening dress

A navy wool evening dress is something that doesn't seem to exist - it would definitely be a made to order or make your self item today. I did find this lace/chiffon dress from the UK, which I quite like. It has a vintage feel, and doesn't show 'the girls' quite as much as some!

Lace Floor-length V-neck Sheath Dress
Schiaparelli herself designed this Navy Taffeta Two-Piece Evening Dress in about 1950, comprising of a skirt with asymmetrical side drape hem, strapless bodice with pleated stand away bust line and attached asymmetrical winged peplum over-skirt.

Schiaparelli Evening Dress, 1950
Schiaparelli Evening Dress, 1950
If you can find a copy, let me know!

9. A white flannel housecoat
So I am pretty sure that Elsa had no children, and didn't have to do her own dishes.  White? Really? Today housecoats have been replaced by terry-towelling robes. Not something you want to be wearing when the neighbours pop in. There are a few vintage patterns to be found for housecoats, this one is from Etsy.

1950's Vintage Pattern Lovely Wrap Housecoat
1950's Vintage Pattern Lovely Wrap Housecoat 

Now that red one looks glamorous enough to wear for cocktails!

It appears that unless you want to sew your own, it is fairly difficult to have a wardrobe made entirely of wool fabric. But then again, wool blends and look a likes are easier to launder, and less itchy!

1 comment:

  1. A wool suit makes me think of something very itchy although as you say a wool blend may not. I love that midnight blue full length dress, I could wear that but sadly never have any where to go that needs a full length gown.

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