Friday, June 14, 2013


Back at the start of Autumn I spied this image of Celia Birtwell and Cathy McGowan in simple plain coloured shifts. No bishop sleeves, dropped waists, smocking or psychedelic patterns. Just simple and casual.

So chic!

And then I noticed more....

Clock wise from top left - Jean Shrimpton, France Gall, Julie Christie, Model 

So I began to think about how easy it is to forget that people dressed rather simply in the 60s and a lot of other decades as well. I've been to a few 60s themed parties and there's always someone in tie-dye hippie attire with a marijuana leaf headband or someone in a Pucci style mini with white plastic go go boots.

Ugggghhh... (Don't Google it. Your eyes will surely bleed)

Obviously I was never there to witness it and I'm sure these styles did all exist to an extent, but now they have been made to be so... well, ridiculous! Like a cartoon!

It's certainly makes committing to dress to a certain era harder as you don't want to look like your in costume all day. 
Every era has its stereotypes. Vintage lovers surely would agree not all 40s women wore victory rolls, and not all 50s teenagers wore poodle skirts everyday?
TV and movies will always romanticise the past but its so refreshing to know that there are those parts of the 60s that are nothing like the horrors in the costume shop.
I try to dress 60s or be influenced by it everyday but these fantasy rags are not something a 60s lover could wear to work or out shopping

So what does a seamstress do!?
She sews! (And then vents on her blog...)

I picked up some plain cotton from the Vietnamese fabric store My Hung. They have great cheap fabric in a million colours and styles - perfect for making multiples of the same dress to wear regularly.

Purple polka Dot

Green flowers

Navy floral
The Navy one reminds me of some 90s styles I remember seeing when I was a kid - appropriate for the 90s revival going on at the moment

I used Burdastyle Shift dress 09/2012 for the pattern and changed the bust darts from french darts to plain ones. The original darts came out looking like I was wearing a cone bra

After that I was so happy with the outcome that it make one for work

I made this in Cotton Sateen from Spoonflower in print Almiros by Siya 

So now dressing a little 60s on my off days can be a bit easier. 

Do you try to wear vintage or vintage styles regularly? 
What is the worst stereotype from your favourite era? 

Cat xo


  1. The sixties is my favourite fashion era too! I have been meaning to make myself some shift dresses and you have inspired me with your lovely creations!
    I love your blog :-)

    1. Thanks Kath! Shifts are so easy to make. Once you've made one its easy to keep going!

  2. Such great dresses! I hate it when people associate the 60s with white boots and tacky dresses. I often get asked if I have/want white boots and I have to politely tell them how that isn't really the look I'm going for and how I go for more of a mod look. I dress 60s pretty much every day, unless it's really hot and then I go for more of a 70s or retro style (fat chance of that happening in blighty anytime soon though!). Today I'm at work so I've got an early 60s look going on - 60s pencil skirt, cream vintage blouse with pleated collar and 60s shoes. At the weekends though I go full on crimplene! x

    1. Sounds like you have great style for work! I have a few paisley dresses that I dress down with black tights and block heels. I have a similar problem with your boots question - if i tell people of my 60s love, they ask me if I have any tie-dye or if I wear wiggle dresses - I own neither, but it still doesn't rub well that this is all people think the era was.

  3. Oh I completely understand about the stereotypes! I remember I was going to meet someone for the first time and they wanted to know what I was wearing so they'd more easily be able to pick me out from the crowd, so I told them that I was dressed in my 60's clothing. I was wearing a plain black polo and vintage skirt with tights and my hair teased a little. After searching we finally met up and they said where are your 60's clothes. "I'm wearing them!" They were expecting me to turn up dressed head-to-toe in tie-dye, ha! I very much love the dresses you've made and envy the fact that you can sew. The purple polka dot dress is my favourite <3

    1. Your outfit sounds exactly what I would expect to see if you had said you were wearing 60s. If you were wearing tie-dye I would have been a bit concerned! haha!
      Shame you don't live in Sydney - I would've offered you sewing lessons!

  4. Super cute dresses! I think I want to make some! They'd be fun.

    And yeah, 60s stuff is about minimalism which some people tend to forget. Crazy prints sure, but minimal styling. That's what I love! I feel like it takes more skill than one would realize to balance minimalist and still make it look interesting.

    1. Thanks!
      I agree - the minimalisim is very much a part of the mid 60s Quant look - a fantastic style which is easy to do when you think about it. I try to balance out the minimalist on the days ill be busy, and the more fun and colourful stuff on the boring days. there is definitley a a skill in balancing it - especially with the late 60s stuff which I think is the part that can easily turn costume-y

  5. I adore your dresses especially the one you made for work. I don't see that color worn very often, and its so attractive.

    I wear authentic vintage, vintage reproduction, and vintage style/vintage inspired clothes in a modern way almost every day. My fave eras to borrow from are 50's, 60's, and 70's.

    1. Thank you my dear!
      If I could find/afford the real 60s stuff I'd love to dress vintage - but I have a sewing machine so why not just reproduce it?

  6. Ha! If you really into the 60's , the best thing to do is to avoid '60's theme fancy dress parties' if you don't want to get annoyed.
    I really like the go-go boots/short skirt look for girls, and as long as it's done properly, I'll take it over generic 'mod' look any day. My girlfriend has a collection of vintage 60's/early 70's go-go boots - you'd be surprised how hard it is to get a pair that looks ok (as in: not like it's a fancy dress) and fits properly.
    The problem with the mid-60's minimal mod look is that it kind of got kidnapped by high street shops these days. It's quite easy to get mod-ish looking skirts in Primark, H&M, Topman and so on (and that goes for male clothing, too: button-down shirts, 3-button suits, etc.). It's an ok look for a daytime, if you want to blend in with a crowd, I suppose. But it's just my personal taste. I prefer late 60's psychedelic look(but not necessarilly hippie) and I think it's possible to do it tastefully - pull off the look without looking like you're in fancy dress. And even if some people still think you are, that scarcely matters. There will always be people who get things wrong.

    My girlfriend wears vintage clothes on a daily basis, I hardly ever do. It's very difficult to get good male vintage clothing (in the style I like)

    1. Oh if I could have I would! Unfortunately they were the parties of some very good friends so it would be silly of me not to go!

      I agree - the boots/skirt combination is gorgeous and has a fine line to costume-ness but it is more exciting and interesting - and to tease observers with the idea of are you going to a party or to work?!
      I have now started to notice some high street stores (ASOS for example) start selling some late 60s/ paisley type dresses - but not too much to start a revolution like Mad Men did to the minimal look(and yes sadly has been hijacked into boring-ville)
      I like that its available and I prefer it really, but I hope it doesn't turn tacky

      My boyfriend prefers the mod suit and winkle-pickers style so he's well catered for in that sense. I was trying to explain to my hairdresser today then men's 60s wasn't just about 2 button suits - I showed him your blog and he was amazed! He was very much interested in the Nehru jackets and Brian Jones' pictures.

      Your girlfriend has an amazing collection - which I saw in your post. Id love to be able to pull of those yellow high waist trousers. She's definitely someone I admire style wise

  7. Hello, dear Catherine! First of all I sincerely thank you for choosing to follow my blog! I am very excited to have you as a follower. Now let's break through the natural barriers of age and gender that tend to separate us and build a genuine friendship.

    I always favor the color green and therefore I like you best in the dress with green flowers.

    This post of yours brings up a very important point. When most people think of the 60s, they are actually thinking of the mid and late 60s (and, in some cases, the early 70s) and all the familiar trappings and stereotypes - hippies, flower power, psychedelic neon colors, long hair on boys, bell bottoms, Woodstock, the Vietnam War and the protests against it, etc. They usually forget about the early 60s, the pre-Beatles years, which were quite different. Likewise when most people think of the 50s, they are actually thinking of the mid and late 50s (and, in some cases,the early 60s) - poodle skirts, rock 'n' roll, rockabilly, Elvis, James Dean, etc. They usually forget about the early 50s, the pre-rock 'n' roll years, which were quite different. This overlap effect is a curious phenomenon on blogs and in discussions of those two decades and something for you, Lucy and all of our other vintage obsessed friends to keep in mind.

    Once again, dear Cat, I am thrilled to have you as a new follower. I can't thank you enough for taking an interest in what I'm doing. I hope you'll come over soon and express yourself. A warm welcome awaits you, my dear friend!

    1. No worries! I only just figured out which widget to use for Google friend connect, So I was a bit slow on that part. Also because I thought Google was shutting it down so I didn't want to add it, but what the heck!

      You make a very good point - especially about the 50s styles. All of these wonderful parts of the 50s and 60s go unnoticed in favor of the sterotypical - I think with my blog I would like to explore those parts that are forgotten and flesh them out through sewing. I've been trying to read a lot more books from and by people who experienced the 60s so that I can understand what the excitement was all about and how I can try to bring a small part of that into the modern day. I definitely love the looks that are typical of the age, after all that is what I fell in love with first, but discovering those small things that have gone unnoticed is also very exciting

      Thanks for popping in!

  8. First ... I really love your dresses :-)
    I wear 60's inspired clothes mostly sewn and knit by me. The difficult thing is to find the balance that I look not dressed up. The older I get, I'm 46 now, the harder it is. At the moment my everyday favorites are mini skirts that are not too short with shirts or sweaters and flat boots. Otherwise ... the hair makes the 60s look ;-)

    1. Thank you!
      I love your style. I hope i can look that good when i am older! And your hair is perfect for the style!
      I used to have a little pixie cut - like the Sassoon 5 point but i decided one day to have long hair like Pattie Boyd.
      Thanks for coming by!

  9. Very cool and chic looks and your photos look like they could totally be from that era! You could get a date with Don Drapper!

    Ali of

    Dressing Ken

  10. WOW. the spoonflower print is my favorite, though I love all of them. Sometimes I too struggle with incorporating vintage into everyday life without exactly looking like a costume but what you have done is perfect. I usually wear more early vintage stuff to church on sundays, just because they seem to be more dressy. but my goodness do I want to wear dresses and vintage clothes everyday. But with my job and lifestyle, it's just not practical, though I wish I were :(
    But thanks! this post has inspired me to get some more casual stuff worked up. I LOVE that first photo. So glam yet so simple

    1. Its is my favorite too! i even had enough left to make a skirt for work. i know what you mean. Sometimes i feel too dressed up even for work. I wish there was a party every weekend to go to or that i worked in some funky boutique where i could dress up every day!


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