Do you ever look at the relaxed yet oh-so-chic styles of yesteryear and wish that you could find the same types of clothing today?
No need to answer.
Of course you do.
(You and I know each other quite well by now, don't we?)
I have always admired this photo of Duncan Grant in his slouchy linen jacket. It's so effortless, so breezy, so perfect for an idle summer afternoon. What else do you wear perched on a table in the garden waiting for your bohemian friends and lovers to arrive?
(Duncan Grant at Charleston House, 1930's, via here)
Thanks to my friend Megan over at Ancient Industries, I have discovered a company called Old Town that recreates vintage clothing for 21st century people with antique sensibilities.
Check out this jacket they make called "The Marshalsea." (Dickens aficionados will remember the Marshalsea as being the Victorian debtor's prison that featured heavily in "Little Dorrit"; hence, I assume, the jacket's shabby-chic vibe.) It comes in twill, linen, canvas, denim and something very intriguing called "cavalry drill."
(Grey stout twill, via here)
Isn't it so D.H. Lawrence/Thomas Hardy meets Spitalfields/the Lower East Side?
(Navy irish linen, via here)
It's perfect for wearing to dinner at Freeman's restaurant in the Bowery.
(photo via here)
And what about this smart 3/4 length coat? I find it to be both sensible and alluring, with its very 1940's, very WWII-ish, very "I'm just off to Bletchley Park to help Alan Turing crack the Enigma code" vibe.
(Ladies Cow coat, available here)
Wear it and if you're very lucky, you might even be mistaken for a Persephone Books heroine.
("Good Evening, Mrs. Craven", available here)
This smock dress will probably draw either gasps of envy or hoots of derision, and that's fine. I realize the shape is not overtly sexy (okay, it's not even remotely sexy) but to me, it's just heaving with understated style. And it has possibly the best fabric name ever.
(Jaywick dress, "Bermondsey in Bloom" fabric, available here)
Look for me wearing it on Saturday morning when Piero's on a bike ride, Luca's on a play date and I'm making a batch of scones while pretending I'm under imminent threat of an air raid.
Once again, the cover art of this Persephone book illustrates the authenticity of both the dress and its fabric palette.
("Kitchen Essays" by Gertrude Jekyll, available here)
If the dress doesn't speak to you, perhaps the smock top does.
Golden boy writer F. Scott Fitzgerald always dressed with a certain sartorial elegance. Isn't the suit he wears in this photo with Zelda...
(Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1921, via Time Life Pictures)
...almost a dead ringer for Old Town's "Fitzrovia"? It comes in corduroy/moleskin, wool serge, flannel or Harris Tweed. No poly-rayon here, no siree.
(Fitzrovia, available here)
Lastly, I was taken with this lovely A-line skirt and had a nagging feeling that I had a photo of one like it somewhere.
(Skirt in Harris Tweed fabric)
Sure enough, a quick look through my vintage photo albums (the ones I purchased years ago at a London flea market; for the story, click here) revealed these young women on the lawn of a grand country house. The skirt second from left looks quite similar, don't you think?
In one of those strange twists of serendipity that makes me think there are no coincidences, click HERE for the name of it.
(Skirt in navy Irish linen fabric)