Retro, Faux Vintage, Vintage and Vintage Style 

Retro, Faux Vintage, Vintage and Vintage Style are all terminology regularly used by businesses when advertising their “historical fashion” garments.

Is there a difference between these phrases or do they have the same meaning? In a brief blog post I hope to answer this question. 

Retro, with its roots in 1960s France is an abbreviation of retrograde (rétrograde), and imitative of a style or fashion from the past. The crucial word is “imitative”. In other words it copies the style or fashion as a modern representation. The garment itself is not old and not from the era that it attempts to represent.

On the other hand we have vintage. Vintage denotes an item from the past. Vintage garments are items that were actually manufactured in the era that they represent as opposed to being imitative of it. 

(Vintage item from the 1950s)

With Faux Retro the crucial word is “Faux” meaning “made in imitation, artificial, not genuine, fake or false”. 
With Vintage Style the word “Style” indicates that the item has a vintage appearance and is styled in a vintage manner but again is a modern reproduction. 

So Vintage equals old whilst Retro, Faux Retro and Vintage Style equals new.

Happy shopping. 



The circle skirt swings around the dance floor.

The hourglass figure was a dominant feature of the 1950s; the desired silhouette enhanced by the fashion of the time.

Skirts were tight at the natural waist, and fitted as such to promote the female waistline; a prominent feature of the 1950s. 

The style flattered the figure; with the fullness of the circle skirt disguising the hips, and making the waist look smaller. 

The fuller the skirt the greater the appearance of slimming the waistline; with the addition of a belt to cinch the waist enhancing the effect. 

Circle skirts were simple to make and as such often home sewn; being cut from a single piece of fabric in the shape of a doughnut. The inner circle was measured to fit the waist with the outer circle creating its fullness. When sitting the skirt would form the shape of a perfect circle.

The garment was popular with teenage dancers; providing lots of fun when twirling around the dance floor with its potential for swing movement.

Quite rightly many will consider the circle skirt as an essential garment to include in a retro/vintage wardrobe. I have heard it intimated that’s its popularity amongst teenagers of the 1950s suggests that the wearing of a circle skirt by the more mature amongst us may be a modern misrepresentation. 

Whether this is a conclusive argument or not I would prefer to consider that a lover of retro/vintage fashion is free to make her own choice and as she would with any item of clothing.

Thank you for finding the time to read this blog post.


From the Flappers to the Fifties; a tale of trousers in women’s fashion.

Many items of clothing may be traced back to ancient history, and indeed the same is true with trousers; being shown on women as early as two and a half thousand years back.

The late 1800s saw women wear trousers for industrial work but, generally, pre-20th Century Western culture dictated that trousers were considered as exclusive to men.

It was not until the early part of the 20th Century that trousers were started to be regularly worn by women although, at first, still only by those whose jobs necessitated it for practicality. This was particularly true during the World War One years; in factories and on farms, where women replaced men who had been called to military service.

The 1920s, and the dawn of the Flapper, heralded a boyish more masculine look and loose “sailor-style” leisurewear trousers emerged to be worn at home and on the beach. 

Although made more popular by 1930s fashion icons such as Marlene Dietrich and Katherine Hepburn trousers were still not generally regarded as being acceptable attire for women. 

Katherine Hepburn.

The actress Adrienne Ames is quoted as saying, ” I am not ashamed of being a woman. I intend to keep on looking like one. Trousers on women are quite hideous. You will never; I repeat never, see a woman wearing trousers on Park Avenue!”

Actress Carole Lombard was not a fan either. ” I have never seen a single woman who looked well in trousers”.

The 1940s saw World War Two and trousers again worn for practicality in war work. 

The “Make Do and Mend” campaign encouraged people to make their existing supplies of clothes last longer. 

In a bid to conserve clothing coupons women picked up their needle and thread and adjusted their husband’s trousers to fit themselves. As such they would hardly have been figure-flattering but, at a time of true hardship, “needs must”. 

After the Second World War the wearing of trousers by women became more socially acceptable as more began wearing trousers for leisure activities.

Film stars like Marlene Dietrich, Katharine Hepburn, and Audrey Hepburn had made wearing trousers seem cool and sexy.

Audrey Hepburn.

The fifties was the first decade where many women were able to enjoy the freedom and comfortability of choosing trousers; styled for the female form, as an acceptable item of clothing. 

In conclusion it seems apparent that an item of clothing that is nowadays as much a part of every woman’s wardrobe, as it is a part of every mans, did not always hold this position.

Historically trousers were either worn for practicality in the workplace or as rebellious statement against convention.

As said by the Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin in 1985:

“Sisters are doin’ it for themselves. 

Standin’ on their own two feet. 

And ringin’ on their own bells. 

Sisters are doin’ it for themselves.…”

Thank you for reading our latest blog post.


The shape of time gone by.

As decades have ebbed and waned like the tides on a beach, and hemlines have hovered from where in olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking to a position where it was difficult to preserve ones dignity, the female form has seen a number of cyclical changes. 

In the 1920s curves disappeared; to be replaced with small bust and hips.  In fashion, the waistline moved several inches below the navel; making narrow hips a necessity. 

The 1960s saw the cyclical return of the 1920s boyish silhouette where slim was in and underweight women became the ideal image. 

Nowadays it is lifestyles that are under scrutiny rather than body shapes, with it generally being acknowledged that body shapes of all sizes are acceptable. Emphasis has shifted to an individual leading a healthy lifestyle in terms of a balanced diet and regular exercise. Models are more diverse in shape and size than ever, although most will accept there is still a long way to go before diversity is truly universal. 

It is the 1950s to which we will turn now and a decade in which long legs and a busty hourglass figure was prized. 

Hollywood actresses such as Jayne Mansfield, 

Jane Russell

and Marilyn Monroe 

became pin up girls; their curvy figures craved, as society actively shamed skinnier girls. 

Advertisements from the era depicted skinny women as being romantically unsuccessful; encouraging weight gain and adding glamorous curves, as their only hope to attract a suitor. 

This body type was showcased in the fashions of the time.

– Cinched waists.

– Circle skirts.

– Fitted cardigans.

– Pencil skirts.

– and Sweetheart necklines.

We may now look back with affection for the fashion of the 1950; and with the knowledge that we may recreate it willingly, without the pressure that many women would have experienced in a quest to emulate a look that may have been quite unnatural for them.

From make up foundation to foundation garments…..

…..a modern girl’s guide to recreating the 1950s modern girl’s look.

Following the cessation of Second World War hostilities, and in the aftermath of the austerity that the conflict caused, Paris glamour was back on the map with full skirts, tiny cinched waists and prominent busts. Women enthusiasticly embraced the chance to be truly feminine again. 

The Christian Dior New Look of the post war years and into the 1950s gave way to the Body-line; a shapely silhouette with more angular hip lines. The pencil skirt emerged; girdles and corsets re-emerged, although now made from more glamorous and softer materials than before. 

To identify one dress or skirt, and claim it is as representative of an entire decade would be an inaccuracy, but we shall focus on one; that being the pencil skirt.  Those of us of a certain age will recall that the pencil skirt made a resurgence in the 1980s and hence we have selected this familer item as a worthy representative of the 1950s.

The first pencil skirt was designed by Christian Dior as part of his “H-Line” collection of 1954. “H-Line” referred to the silhouettes Dior was creating with parallel lines. With the “H-Line”, the emphasis was shifted tfrom the waist to the hip.  The skirt was tailored to curve over the hip and narrow towards the knee. 

This silhouette both looked different and felt different to wear; sometimes known as a “hobble skirt”, encouraging the wearer to walk with a  Marilyn Monroe style “wiggle”.

The skirt should be calf length to accurately recreate the 1950s look.

Worn with a tight sweater; thus recreating the iconic “sweater girl look”, a style that originated from the 1940s and remained popular throughout the 1950s. The aim was to emphasise a thrusting conical shaped bust; achieved when worn with a bullet bra. 

Foundation garments were a vital part of 1950s fashion, as they should equally be if     looking to emulate the style nowadays.

Briefs should be full brief style with the waist at the area just above the belly button. 

The austerity caused by rationing, and the diversion of nylon towards the war effort during the Second World War, caused a shortage of stockings; that no self-respecting women would choose to be without.  The post war prosperity in the 1950s was coupled with a desire for women to achieve a glamorous femininity. Nylon stockings were an essential part of this and, as such, a garment to support stockings was an essential foundation of any outfit.  The girdle provided such support.

Stockings were Fully fashioned; manufactured from nylon, knitted flat with the two sides sewn together to form the seam. An iconic fashion image when paired with a pencil skirt.

                         Secrets in Lace

The 1950s saw a number of innovations in the manufacture of footwear. With a shoe for every occasion a myriad of styles existed.  The stiletto heel saw a dramatic increase in popularity and the style best suited to accentuate the slimness of the calfs when worn with seamed stockings.

Hollywood actresses such as Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn were fashion and beauty icons.  Their make-up looks defined the 1950s; an era that oozed elegance, glamour and femininity.

Pale skin was back in with foundation as the blank canvass for the look. Rouge was used sparingly and was not a prominent feature of 1950s makeup. Soft pinks were the colour of choice.

Eye shadow came in a variety of colours; usually applied to coordinate with eye colour, or as brighter shades to match an outfit. 

The 1950s saw the emergence of tube mascara with a wand. Mascara was mainly applied to the top lashes only and came in a variety of colours.

Eye liner was also only applied to the top lash. A black line with a little outward flick was the fashionable look, creating an almond-shaped eye. 

Well defined eyebrows were the iconic look of the 1950s, with most women plucking their natural eyebrows to a thin, shapely line, and then darkening them with eye brow pencil. 

Lips, coloured to their natural shape, were the dominant element of 1950s makeup; with red being the most popular colour choice although, lighter shades of other colours such as coral and pink were also very popular. 

And the topping to 1950s fashion; the Marilyn Monroe look, and Hollywood curls.

Recreating the 1950s is easier than many may imagine but, before we continue, a very brief explanation of the difference between vintage and retro.

Vintage items are items from an era whereas retro items are reproductions of an era. 

We shall be suggesting modern reproductions to emulate the 1950s look.

First of all the pencil skirt and, from Secrets in Lace; Erica.

The sweater girl look can authentically be recreated by allowing ones creative juices to flow by way of a vintage pattern.


Within the U.K. the recognised premier retailer of vintage style lingerie is probably not in dispute.

From What Katie Did the Maitresse Nouveau Bullet bra. 

For an enhanced pointed breast shape What Katie Did also offer Bullet bra pads.

Matching lingerie is always desirable and also from What Katie Did.

Maitresse Nouveau Knickers


High Waist Pull On Medium Support Open Bottom Girdle with six Metal Suspenders.

Fully fashioned nylon stockings are remarkably easy to procure from a number of retailers; including

Fully-fashioned plain colour 100% nylon point heel stockings.

Whether it be on Etsy, online or in store the availability of shoes is limitless and so we shall not dwell but move on to, and end with, make up and hair.

To make it easier we have selected two YouTube videos to demonstrate recreating 1950s make up and hair.

Tutorial: AUTHENTIC 1950s Makeup

Marilyn Monroe Hair Tutorial

Thank you for reading our latest blog post and we hope that you have enjoyed reading it.


From the Music Hall stage to the Highlands peaks – The 39 Steps (1959)

Spanning almost three-quarters of a century there have been a number of movie versions of the 1915 John Buchan novel.

As has proved often to be true it is the first version that we watched; released in 1959 and starring Kenneth More, that has remained our firm favourite.

It is probably not advisable to outline the plot of a film new to the cinemas but, almost sixty years after its release, we are likely to be safe in publicly analysing why we love this tale and, in particular, the 1959 version.

The film sets the 1915 novel in, a contemporary to its release, 1959 setting that, together with Kenneth More playing the lead role of Richard Hannay, are essentially the reasons that sets this version head and shoulders above other versions.

Whilst we accept that not everyone will agree we find the 1935 version, starring Robert Donat, to be too dated; the 1978 version, starring Robert Powell, to lack true movie quality and the 2008 version, starring Rupert Perry-Jones, we are unable to recall at all. 
That leaves the 1959 version; the first colour version of Buchan’s novel, on which we shall concentrate.

Diplomat Richard Hannay arrives in London and inadvertently becomes entangled in the death of a female British spy; chased by assassins, and following an organisation known as “The Thirty Nine Steps”. The group hold the plans for a secret British missile project that would tip the balance of power in Europe.

Hannay continues the mission of the assassinated spy; a trail that leads him by train to Scotland.

He encounters Miss Fisher (portrayed by Finnish actress Taina Elg); a netball coach at a Boarding School for girls, but she reveals him to chasing police detectives.  Their paths meet again when Hannay further attempts to avoid capture, by assassins posing as detectives, when he masquerades as a lecturer at the boarding school.

Hannay is taken into custody, as is Miss Fisher, when the assassins fear that she may reveal all to the authorities.
A punctured tyre gives the, now handcuffed couple, an opportunity to escape and they find themselves in Bed and Breakfast accommodation posing as a runaway couple.

Miss Fisher overhears the sympathetic landlady in discussion with their pursuers and finally realises her error in not believing Hannay.

She informs him of the conspirators’ rendezvous in London and the film’s finale returns to the Music Hall where; it goes without saying, that our hero triumphs.

The film is the perfect stage for Kenneth More. It allows him to bring a subtle humour to his character. In fact the film has a number of humorous moments.

From London and the disguise of a milkman with unique characteristics to the Highlands and the disguise of a cyclist with inappropriate attire. From embracing a complete, and unwilling, stranger on a train to the pair handcuffed together in a bedroom. Miss Fisher removing her wet stockings whilst still under restraint and attempting to protect her modesty.

This may not be a film to showcase the fashion of the time but it’s presentation is uniquely British. The characters are uniquely British and their characteristics charmingly represent a reservedness and demeanour that is no longer evident in today’s society.
We enjoy this film every time that we watch it and hope that you have enjoyed reading our blog post.