Sunday, January 4, 2015

Romancing The Times

Happy New Year, dear friends and readers!
We are back from our little getaways, reconnected with each other (we had a grown up family vacation, while Anna spent a holiday with her father traveling down to San Francisco and up to Vancouver, Canada), and getting ready to go back to school, work and everyday life tomorrow. I will share some of our trip photos here on the blog, but first I wanted to share our spontaneous photo shoot of a couple of vintage dresses which I found just before Christmas (read the story here). These dresses have no labels on them, and I can only guess the era they were made or, as a possibility, they were custom made later, with those eras in mind, inspired by vintage fashion, using vintage fabrics and even vintage techniques. I'm only writing here about our best guesses as I'm certainly not an expert on vintage fashion.  It was quite intriguing to research these fashions, and if you can tell me more from these photographs, I'll be very grateful.

Dress One: 1930s? 1950s! (see the comments below)

As I said, my daughter showed some interest in one of the dresses I found at our local Goodwill - and this was it. Anna is always taken with intricacy and details in art or fashion - she's been this way since she was little, so I'm not surprised that this dress caught her attention. There are no over-locked seams and the edges of fabric are cut by zigzag scissors. There is a lot of hand stitching used in the creation of this dress. The buttons are covered with the same fabric as the dress, and the button holes are hand stitched. There is a side zipper which bears the stamped words "Iron like nylon" and "Avoid hot iron".

You can see the wonderful craftsmanship and the delicate silhouette which, with a little research made us think that this is a 1930s dress, or possibly made later, as I said, but very much in the spirit of the 1930s, using old techniques. It was $5.99 at Goodwill, in practically perfect condition (there are only a couple of tiny stains which are not even noticeable). Anya and I had fun researching 1930s dresses and found a few which have a similar spirit (sources: 1, 2, 3):

Dress Two: 1999

This is a little departure from my vintage finds. When Anya found this dress in a suitcase packed with old stuff, she fell in love - she can't wait to start wearing it. I know the year when it was made exactly because it's mine. It was custom made for me in the Summer of 1999. I was 26, had long blond hair that year and met my future husband - my daughter's father. It tickles me to see her almost fitting the dress which I wore when she was not even a plan yet. She still has room to grow for it to fit her perfectly, but as life shows, it does not take very long. I love how she styled it with the bead necklace she created herself a couple of years ago and a bead bracelet that I gave to her (it was made for me by my lovely coworker back in Russia).

Since I knew the year exactly, it was not difficult to find what other women wore that year, and one of the very first searches was this magnificent gown Gwyneth Paltrow wore for the Oscars that year - as you can see, spaghetti straps and the general silhouette were practically identical.

Dress Three: 1970s

And finally, another Goodwill find, and again without a label, but obviously very seventies - fabric, cut, color, everything. It also has a wonderful hand made quality (very crafty hands I must say), zigzag instead of over-locked seams, hand stitching, and there is actually a lovely lace trim finishing the lower inner edge of the dress - the inside of both dresses are as beautiful as the outside. There is a modern looking zipper in the front middle seam, but it could have been added later I suppose. Anyway, the dress is spotless, cost $8.99, and I adore the apple green. Even if it was not made in 1970s, it was so obviously created by someone who cared, using vintage fabric and most probably a vintage pattern similar to the picture below. I loved how we came up with a vest and crocheted beret (grandma brought it from Russia), and I hope Anna will grow into liking such dresses (she is not especially keen on this one right now). She looks so groovy in it!

So here are our vintage dress adventures in very early 2015. Is it the beginning of a beautiful friendship? Only time will tell.

Dresses 1 and 3 -  Goodwill finds
Dress 2 - custom made for me in 1999
Anna styled them all with her favorite ANNA boots and stuff from her own wardrobe.



  1. Natalia dear, such beautiful dresses and your daughter is doing them justice in these photos. Anna is such a beauty like her mum. Great photos and post.

  2. wow! anna is a young lady! so beautiful!
    and with a very good hand for styling!
    to the dresses: i think they are early 50´s, home sewn or by a (semi)pro seamstress - in a small town. because the all over look is 50´s but the details seem from an older time, what is, if you think about, a sign for rural area with a modest lifestyle.
    (clothes can tell a lot from history and society, if one looks at)
    i can only imagine how you feel seeing anna wearing your own old dresses - it must be very touching!
    thank you for your new years wishes and lots of good and heartfelt wishes to you and your lovely family!!!!!!
    (did miss you too)
    b. xxxxxxxx

    1. It makes a lot of sense, my dear Beatochka! I thought of the 50s (mostly because of the skirt), but the upper part I guess looked like different era to me. But it does makes perfect sense, everything you said here. And I see that both Vix and Curtise agree with this as well! Lots of love xxxx

  3. Anna has grown from a pretty little girl into a beautiful young woman in a matter of months. She's stunning and models your finds so well.
    I love that she adores your dress from 1999, the print was so typical of the 1990s and it's no surprise its her favourite, nineties fashion is the big thing with Brit teens at the moment.
    The green dress is definitely 1970s and the oyster satin one could be, like Beate says, 1950s. That classic tea dress style regularly comes in and out of vogue and without inspecting the inside it would be hard to gauge. they are both great finds though at at those prices impossible to pass by. xxx

  4. What a lovely post, Natalia! Anna is a beautiful model for these dresses, and it's so sweet to see her in the one you made in the 90s.
    I'm going to guess that the first vintage dress is later than the 1930s as well, because of the length, and the amount of gathering at the waist. I agree that the gorgeous fluted collar seems very Deco-inspired, and since Nylon was invented in 1935, it's possible it could be from that decade, but it still seems more 1950s to me. Yes, the green dress is quintessential 1970s, and doesn't Anna look fabulous in it! What a shame it's the one she likes least, it's my favourite on her! Great frocks at bargain prices - I am pretty sure she's going to like her vintage as she gets older and further develops her own style.
    Thank you for you heart-warming comment on my new year post, Natalia - I'm really touched by your kindness. xxxx

  5. Anna looks so delightful in all of these dresses, she is such a pretty young lady.Glad to see she is taking an interest in vintage, such fun to share with you.
    Wishing you much joy for the New Year, Natalia. Your kind heart shows through in both your posts and your always thoughtful comments,thank you so much, my dear. xx

  6. What great finds! That last 1970s one really caught my eye. Anna styled it so well with the jean vest and booties. That is by far my favourite on her.

    Thank you for adding the Blogger Meet-up button to your side bar!


  7. Natasha, your daughter looks adorable in the dresses! Маленькая модница! Так держать!

  8. Anna is a great model! All these dresses are very cool. My abbsolute favourite clothing set is the last one. I fell in love with the snood.

  9. That first dress is a tricky one. The way the darts go in the bodice are very much 60's. However the way the hem is ruched at the waist are very 50's. Flare on the neckline could be even as early as 30's to 40's style. So to me it looks like combination of many styles. In the 30's there wasn't really any hems that were ruched at waist even though they might have been wider at the bottom, so it is most likely to be newer than that. However, style is very lovely and it suits your daughter nicely. I am guessing it's either 50's or newer. In the 70's it was popular to draw inspiration from the 40's and 50's. It looks really well made. Good find!
    Minidress can be also from the late 60's, that's when the mini-length came fashionable. Of course it continued in 70's, so I think it's safe to say its from the turn of 60's-70's. Both really nice finds.

    1. Thank you for such a thoughtful comment, Rhia! I am in awe, so much you can tell from all these details. I washed the dresses, but haven't ironed them yet (hate ironing...). I'll make sure to take photos of the insides when I finally iron the first dress. It makes sense that people draw inspirations from different eras and came up with such a complicated design. I think we'll keep this dress, it's so special. We'll keep the green one too just because it's cool, and it might inspire Anna to wear it some time. Thank you for this improvised history lesson!

    2. No problem! I'm happy to help when ever I can. I have been studying the vintage styles quite many years now and some details are typical to certain decades. However no matter how well you know the styles and have studied the era's, there is always the chance that something was made later (as a replica) and/or just drawing inspiration from previous eras, so basically everything is always just an educated guess if there is no manufacturer label which pinpoints the exact time. And also theaters create vintage styles, which are not always 100% authentic. But that doesn't really matter as long as the garment is well made and looks lovely :D

  10. Happy New Year Natalia. Good to hear you had a great trip and what a fab way to start the new year with a vintage frock modelling session by Anna. What a gorgeous young lady she is growing into with such a sense of style - I wonder where she gets that from!? xx

  11. Happy New Year to you and yours Natalia! and thank you for your always beautiful comments, I adore you!! Miss Anna is growing up so fast, she is a beautiful young lady with impeccable style, all outfits are divine, she certainly has inherited her Mama's sense of style and vision x x x

  12. How lovely to see your dressup adventure. i miss that side, being a parent of two boys. Although Mr Actor does like to dress stylishly. Anna definitely has her own ideas and style. It's so exciting to see their personality blossom. I do love her namesake boots! A little toughness to leaven the pretty dresses.xo JJ

    1. Anna is her own person, that's for sure. :) I learn a lot from her.

  13. That is such a cool post, mother and daughter sharing and discovering vintage treasures
    I'm so moved and touched by this post - My daughter and I share the same vintage love -
    About my new job, yes new challenges and new things to learn, but they seem nice enough- Will see
    As far as Leo my beloved cat, we are still wondering what happened, we didn't see him fall, or anything...One day we was fine the other he was gone, so sad


  14. Anna looks terrific in all three vintage finds, dearest Natalia...but that green shift dress?? It's MY favourite, too!! By adding a cropped denim vest and crocheted beret (such a pretty colour!) the two of you have created an outfit that's both youthful and retro-chic...and you can tell your daughter that I think her studded boots are totally "da bomb!!" ;)

  15. What gorgeous finds!!! I adore the first dress and the others are pretty cool too! Your daughter is beautiful (and amazing turquoise beret too!! I bought one in an identical weave today but it is more of a mossy green. It is currently perched on my head as I read! I never remember I am wearing berets inside!x

    1. How fun to read someone's post while wearing a similar fun piece. :) Thank you, Kezzie! Glad to see you here!