Etsy Picks: Vintage Brooches

Call me a magpie but I love to look at shiny things. I especially like to lust after vintage brooches because while they can sometimes be incredibly glamorous, there’s a lot of fun and kooky brooches out there. Here are some beauties that I’ve been admiring on Etsy. As an honorary Dutch person, I especially love the 1930s windmill brooch (The sails actually move!) and how cute are the ruby slippers?

Vintage Brooches Etsy

Flapper Inspiration

clara bow flapper



louise brooks flapper

joan crawford flapper


joan crawford flapper

joan crawford flapper

flappers flappers

Vintage/Retro Style for the Hourglass figure

As a 15/16 year old I aspired to the tall, slim aesthetic of current fashion. I wanted to dress like Kate Moss, Sienna Miller (boho chic was in) and Keira Knightley. The messy festival look appealed. I could kind of get away with it. My boobs were at a C cup and I was a UK size 8.

kate moss

Kate Moss: Not an hourglass…

But as I passed the 18 mark and entered my twenties, my body started to change. My C cup bras were replaced by E cups but unfortunately my taste in clothes did not change. I carried on with “relaxed-fit” t shirts, layering with chunky cardigans and squeezing myself into skinny jeans. So in the past few years I’ve grown dissatisfied with the wardrobe that used to excite me and it’s frustrating to browse through hundreds of untailored clothes in shops. In that time I realised I was an hourglass and that current fashion trends are not flattering for my shape. The hourglass is supposed to be the idealised type but that’s not to say that shopping for flattering clothes is any easier!

The poster girl for the hourglass shape is Marilyn Monroe. She looked great in all kinds of waist-hugging dresses. Formal occasions are quite simple for me. I throw on a dress or a pencil skirt and I’m ready to go but for everyday I prefer a more causal and comfortable style  (at university or when shopping for example). Perhaps hourglasses will always have to look a bit more formal than everyone else in the room. We can’t pull off anything loose-fitting so to look good we have to look neat. No boho-chic for this hourglass!

marilyn monroe hourglass

Trinny and Susannah, the slightly annoying duo from What Not To Wear, suggest the styles illustrated below. This is obviously all very suited to 40s, 50s and early 60s style. The options are very classic looking, meaning that hourglasses will indeed look quite dressed up if they dress for their shape.

Vintage hourglass

The list of “don’ts” is also very enlightening. (from

Baggy clothes – baggy clothes are never a good idea for anyone but where a Column or Pear might be able to pull it off you will not. You must work with your shape for best results and that means fitted clothes.

Tops with extras – avoid an flounces, frills, bows or other decorations on your tops. Also be aware of printed t-shirts. What looks great on the rack may take on a life of it’s own when introduced to your breasts.

Big belts – you have a short waist so putting a big belt in it will make it entirely disappear.

Pointy shoes – a pointed shoe will contrast with your curves and make you look curvier, something you don’t need any help with.

It’s quite simple really. Always fitted on top. Fitted or flowy on the bottom.

Hourglass inspiration

Rita Hayworth <3

rita hayworth hourglass

Sophia Loren

sophia loren

Brigitte Bardot

bardot hourglass

Transitioning from Modern to Vintage: Starting Small

It’s a bit tricky when you realise that you would like to move to a more vintage look. If you have a wardrobe full of modern clothes, only the bravest and wealthiest can afford to replace everything at once. The rest of us have to be patient and “make it work”. So I decided to make a list of small ideas or habits to adopt to gradually transform into vintage goddess.

Experiment with vintage hair styles – Vintage hair styles may require more time but it certainly doesn’t cost much to get started. With just some bobby pins you’re already on your way. You can also speed things up with curling irons or by choosing a quick updo.


Wear lipstick everyday – It’s a cheap way to add a vintage touch to your look.

lipstick, life

Find a vintage style icon – This will help you pinpoint your style for when you end up going shopping. Choose someone you could imagine living your life and with a similar body shape to you. 

rita hayworth

Wear stockings and garters instead of tights/pantyhose – A simple habit to change.

Bettie Page

Start with accessories – With accessories you needn’t worry about fit, which is great! A string of (fake) pearls, some vintage brooches or a 1950s bag is a risk free purchase. They’re relatively inexpensive and easy to work into a modern gal’s wardrobe.

elizabeth taylor pearl necklace

Take up vintage hobbies – A hobby like knitting has two advantages. One, you learn a new skill, two, you might end up knitting yourself a new wardrobe! Other options: dressmaking, embroidery, crochet, quilting, listening to old radio recordings, collecting antiques.

knitting pattern

Cook with vintage recipes – Try Vintage Recipes for some ideas or check out Charlotte’s Domestic Goddess tag at Tuppence Ha’penny for her experiences of cooking from old recipes.


If all else fails hold your head up high and wear a smile. – If the rain flattens your hair, your hat blows off and you misplace your vintage bag, remember when stripped of your vintage regalia, it’s your attitude and the way you treat other people that make the biggest impact.

audrey hepburn unicef

I love the 1960s

I’m loving 1960s fashion at the moment. Probably a combination of window shopping for late 50s early 60s sewing patterns and having come across a lot of 60s influence in fashion magazines. Check out Rose Byrne in the March Glamour UK. I love the prim and proper, coordinated pastels.

















I love the 60s because they offer so much variation sartorially. It ranges from traditionally feminine attire to the wild, eclectic mods and hippies. It’s a rainbow of style :)

jackie kennedy

audrey hepburn

brigitte bardot



joni mitchell

joan baez

janis joplin


Amsterdam through the decades & miscellaneous items

  1. Since I live near Amsterdam I was curious to see what the city looked like in times gone by. Here’s a video from around 1920. I love seeing places I recognise being walked on by people from my great-grandparent’s era.
  2. Speaking of Dutch matters. I love the singer Caro Emerald. Her music and style has a retro feel.
  3. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s going to be impossible to sew anything with pattern pieces bigger than A4/A3 size which limits things to accessories and small blouses like I’m working on now. I have to sit down all the time so I rely on a tray to cut and measure stuff. I should have known really but I was having fun dreaming of pinafore dresses and huge circle skirts. It’s always nice to think you can do anything you want and it sucks when it’s so far from the truth. All the sitting down is making me feel like grumpy cat.
  4. image

    Which is why I’m grateful to live in the era of the internet so I can look at pictures of Katharine Hepburn being nudged by a leopard and feel better.

    Purritos seem to help too.


If the muslin fits…


Yesterday I went on a muslin making spree. I had to resize my pattern first because it was about 3 inches off. I thought the new pattern still looked a bit too big but after I’d sewed the darts on the muslin it fit me like glove. I’m a bit nervous about having a go with the real fabric because I bet I need to make quite a few adjustments anyway. The fabric I used for the muslin is more supple than the one I’ll use for the real thing and has a tiny bit of stretch. Maybe the fabric will soften a bit after I pre-wash it. The fabric is cotton in a mint colour, kind of like this:


One strange thing is that the version I’m making, view 3 (the yellow one in the picture) has no closure in the design at all. I think this is nuts. It would have to be huge for me to be able to slip it on. Or maybe in a stretchy material, but to me it seems like the design needs a structured fabric. Simplicity pattern makers of 1958, what on earth were you thinking? I’m definitely going to have to add a zip. View 1 and 2 have instructions for adding a zip so it shouldn’t be too hard to figure it out.

Sewing the real thing is going to require a lot of patience because this time it actually has to look neat… I’ve also got facings and trimmings to contend with but all in all, it’s going quite well so far!