vrijdag 7 juli 2017

Catch-up: spring & summer outfits and activities

I've been wanting to do a post for a while but somehow never got round to it. So now I have a lot of catching up to do. As a consequence this post is quite long, has lots of pics and no real theme.

Tweedride Breda

In the end of May there was a Tweedride in Breda. I had the most perfect little tweed suit to wear but alas it was hot (like last year) so I went for a more tropic proof outfit. Last year I persisted, wearing a wool sweater and hat and it wasn't comfy. This year's fluttery summer dress and boater were much better. I almost did not buy this 1940's dress because it looks a bit repro. Ironically many vintage inspired dresses are red with polkadots but actual garments from the period a rare.
I chose tropical accessoiries to finish my look: pineapples and parrots ;)

And a pic of me actually cycling. Whilst the Tweedride is about cycling it is even more of a social event were lots of great people come together.

With a friend. Her outfit was the best ton-sur-ton!

With Angela who was so brave as to wear a long skirt and a wig!  

With Tom and Josephine

Well deserved winners Tom (who made his own outfit) and Charlotte in jodhpurs.

As always many photo's were taken. This might be my favorite. It is not only a pretty picture but it also captures a lot of things I like to dream about. As a child I loved the swing best on any playground, I even had one in the attic. The feeling of floating through the air still has a magic effect on me. I also like that it reminds me of the famous painting by Fragonard, like it is a more modern version seen from the back. There is that same suggestion of voyeurism as it looks like the people in the front might be looking up my skirt like the man in the painting (in reality my skirt was safely held in place between my legs;))

Another good pic

The Tweedride was sold out, here you can see how large the group was!

The next day was even hotter so I fled the city to my parents and swam in the 1930's open air pool near their house. I wore this for travel. A summer fave of mine for years, a modern piece I bought in Florence on a study trip. No pics of me in my wool bathing suit though ;)

Interbellum Camping

Then it was time for the 3rd Club Interbellum camping weekend. This was the first time everybody actually slept in a tent. We were a small group of only 4. It turned out I was the only girl and at first I was a bit apprehensive about how that was going to work out, but it was just fine. It was a great weekend.
I was wearing shorts I have made after a pattern from 1937. This was the mock-up for a pair made of pretty fabric. But these of sturdy dark-blue fabric are so practical, they have quickly become a new favorite.

And for the record all the men had way more clothes with them than me.

And yes even whilst camping I set my hair. Wearing flannel men's pj's though, nice and warm.

The day after was a Whitsun holiday and after a few days of practical outfits I longed for extravagance. It took the form of a hat. I went out for coffee with my friend Noortje, who loves the from 'hat' to toe idea of dressing vintage just like I do ;) She also took the first picture of this post that shows off my hat even better.

The rest of my outfit was in different shades of blue. The shoes have a 40's look but are actually much newer and by the Dutch shoe designer Jan Jansen. The little jacket belongs to a set and has a matching dress. It was made by my gran and all the flowers were embroidered by hand. Blue was her color as it is mine. Because her shoulders were broader than mine the jacket fits very well over boxy 40's dresses.

A few days later I had a photoshoot at my house so I dressed to match my interior.


The next Saturday I partook in a living history event for hab3045 on the Dutch coast: Bunkerdag
On this day many of the old bunkers of the the Atlantikwall are open to the public and we were hired to enliven the experience for visitors.

My friend Jip and I played resistance girls who made the children visiting smuggle secret messages past the 'German soldiers' .

In the evening I had to rush back to be in time for the 'Young patrons Gala' of the National Opera & Ballet. I only heard the day before that I could get a ticket, an opportunity I wouldn't have wanted to miss.
The dresscode was propper black tie. So I had to change dress in the lavatory of the train, the things you do to wear an evening dress ;) I went for an airy 40's/50's cotton dress I had bought on my last visit to my favorite stall at the Waterlooplein, just before it closed. Because I'd been on the windy coast the entire day, curls had vanished and I went for a chignon with a large velvet bow to match the dress.

This is the only full-length photo I have of my outfit. We were a lovely little group: Morschi & Wendeline who work there and made it possible for us to attend, my good friend Annemarie and Tom who invited me :)
Such a special evening, so many people in full-length evening dresses an smokings, very very rare in casual Holland, a good performance and party!

The next weekend I had a day about town with my friend Marinka.

It was the first time I wore this new to me 1940's floral dress I had bought in a sorry state (for next to no money) when it was still cold outside.

Next to quite a bit of shopping we visited the Amsterdam City archive which is housed in a monumental building built for the Dutch trading company in the 1920's. The vault is spectacular and I always fancy it filled with water for an art deco pool party.

Being naughty ;)

The next day I went for a picknick and wore a blouse I found the day before. Between all the cheap machine embroidered examples in a vintage shop was this rayon hand embroidered Hungarian blouse in the best color combo. Not 100% sure but I'm guessing it is pre-50's. I'd been looking for an affordable one for a while so once I got it I had to wear it! 
Also 'new' are my sunglasses. Got them from a friend from Club Interbellum and had them reglazed.
You may have noticed quite a few outfits with shorts. I've never been a big fan of my legs but this year I decided to no longer care and wear those cute outfits anyway.

Summer perfection!

Weekends in Germany

The weekend after I stayed with friends in Germany. The reason was a living history event but ofcourse also a nice visit to friends.

Dressing up: because we can ;) Borrowed the hat and shoes for the photo.

The focus of the living history event was the time just after the war in Germany.
Below are some pics of the displays but for more info you can visit their website: www.lg3949.de

With food being rationed and some products not being available at all many there were many recipies that made do with what little was there. The visitors could literally get a taste of history.

Everything was used from potato peels to nettle soup.


Make do and mend dresses and shoes with wooden soles.

I wore a similar dress to another event with the same group about a month earlier, just some pics:

This event was in the open-air museum Roscheider Hof and they had chicken walking around. They loved the crumbs of mais-bread I fed them (much better than we did)

We slept in the museum houses, quite the experience!

Knitting and another display of make do and mend clothes.

And back to two weeks ago & dressing up in finery again:

The day after the event we went out for a bit and took some pictures. I borrowed a hat again.

We wanted to make pictures in a nice historical housing block, but there were so many cars it was difficurt to find a good location.

And bak to Amsterdam and more days about town:

Went for coffee and shopping with Noortje again. Wore a pale yellow dress that is new to me and paired it with my black pixie hat and a black loose fitting coat.

Somehow Noortje always seems to find lots when she goes shopping with me. This late 40's dress looked like it had been waiting for her.

I left some outfits out because they feature home-made clothes. I wish to dedicate my next post to my sewing projects, my mothers knitting and some clothes made by my gran.

So hope to be back sooner


vrijdag 2 juni 2017

Modemuze collaboration: Vintage style

In this last blog in the series I'm writing for Modemuze (find the Dutch version here) I'll go into creating a vintage look with the help of styling guides from the past. Women knew exactly what should be worn with what and when, all these rules seem quite unattainable to us. Still it is interesting to look at old guidebooks and styling advice, albeit more for inspiration and enjoyment than to strictly follow up on.

The style of the past

Colorful ensembles from Vogue Paris, 1938

Most people wear vintage pieces as part of a modern outfit but some choose to go for a look that entirely fits into the style of a bygone era. This is my personal preference and I see it as a challenge to find ensembles that do not only look like they're from the same period of time but also adhere to the etiquette of the past. In general outfits were more 'matchy-matchy' than what we're used to today, but not neccesarily more 'ton-sur-ton'. Contrary to what many people think (probably because so many black Sunday best dresses survived) bold and bright colors an color combinations were frequently used.

What could be worn during morning, afternoon and evening

Up until the 60's a woman of leisure would change several times a day. Mornings are for simple skirt and blouse/sweater combo's, whilst more dressy frocks and suits are reserved for afternoon visits. You could then change again for dinner, before WWII often in a floor length evening dress. Cocktail dresses came into use in the 1930's and are more versatile as they can be worn during the afternoon as well as the evening. Most vintage that has been preserved consists of the more dressy clothes as these would be the things people kept.

Accessoiries were an important part of an outfit: a lady would not leave the house without a hat and gloves. The hat did not leave her head during the day and it was normal to keep it on in, for example, a restaurant or when visiting friends. Gloves were only taken off for eating. In het booklet 'Fashion and Style' fashion journalist Constance Wibaut writes one should sooner go out without a hat than without gloves. This is almost unimagineable for us and to be honest: I usually pick out gloves to match my outfit and put them on, but they disapear into my purse rather quickly because having them on all the time is cumbersome.

What accessoiries were suitable for which occasion looks like a puzzle to us now. This page from Marie-Claire from 1940 makes a game of it: find the right accessoiries for each of the three suits.

'Game' from Marie-Claire 1940

To the sporty tweed suit with parted skirt (left) belong the felt hat (G), the most sporty material and the only one without a veil, the shoes (D) and bag (H) made from box-calf (also 'sporty') and the gloves of pigskin.

With the blue pinstripe suit (right) bag (J) and shoes (C) of crocodile can be worn because this material is more dressy and types of leather were often matched. The suède gloves (A) do not only go with the color of the suit, suède was considered a more fancy material. The outfit is topped with straw hat with velvet ribbon (B)

The black silk 'visiting' suit (middle) is well matched with the patent leather shoes (E), the handbag with bejeweled clasp (L), the mais yellow embroidered gloves (F) and mais yellow hat with 'birds wings' (K). In short the most fussy accessoiries. Also the gloves and hat are the same color.

When buying accessoiries Constance Wibaut advises women to buy them to go with most of their wardrobe. Because clothing was more expensive than today even 'rich' people usually didn't own nearly as much as we do today. Her tip might be helpful when you start wearing vintage too, as you may find yourself with a limited wardrobe in the beginning.

Personal style

To conclude a few words on my personal style: Though the 'rules' mentioned above interest me I do not always follow them, but I do like to match colors and materials and wearing a hat to finish my outfit. Below you can find some examples of outfits I've worn recently. For more check my Instagram (@birtheweijkamp)

Spring and summer: straw hats and flowers

Early spring: fresh colors

Winter: more subdued colors

I'm not only inspired by sources from the 20-50's I also love to look at others in the vintage community. Social media like Facebook and Instagram play an important part in this. Eventhough most wearers of vintage have a thing for the past they tend to embrace these modern ways of communicating. It is the best way to find likeminded people from all over the world. Sharing what you wear makes creating a vintage look even more fun and also facilitates the sharing of knowledge.

I'll end this post with another game. It is from a Dutch women's magazine from 1937.
Poor Mrs. Ixe had to dress hastily for a ball and it shows. Can you spot the six mistakes?

Her mistakes are:
1 Her beret, should be used as a sports cap
2 She's buttoned her jacket the wrong way (like a man's)
3 She's wearing short gloves, for eveningwear she should have chosen long ones
4 The raincoat over her arm should be an evening cape/coat
5 Two different shoes
6 No evening purse

Will be back soon with regular blogs, planning on a post about some spring acitivities.


donderdag 18 mei 2017

Modemuze collaboration: How to care for your vintage

In this second blog I'm writing for Modemuze (you can find the Dutch version here) I'll go into how to keep your vintage treasures in good shape and get maximum wear out of them. Of key importance is to be aware of their age and handle them conciously of that.

Tips for caring for your clothes from a women's magazine, ca. 1940-45, mending thin spots before they become holes.

Wearing vintage
Where museum pieces may never be worn vintage is something that can be used on a daily basis. Wearing vintage however requires a different mindset towards garments as when you are wearing modern pieces. This does not mean you can't do your everyday chores in a vintage dress, though there's always a chance of things getting damaged. Working with museum collections has made me more relaxed when wearing vintage through the knowledge that truly expetional pieces are being preserved in these institutions.

Tips for caring for your clothes from a women's magazine, ca. 1940-45, hanging out your clothes instead of throwing them over a chair
It is a good thing to check how strong, water risistant or special clothing is and to keep this in mind when planning what to wear it for. A wild party in a fragile dress that can hardly be cleaned is not a good idea. Also when putting on a dress with a side closure some care must be taken as they tend to be less easy to put on. You have to more or less 'dive' into them whereby you should avoid any sharp accessoiries getting caught and keep lips with lipstick on it tightly pressed to avoid damage. Because we've gotten used to stretchy fabric it can all feel a bit tight-fitted, which is a thing you have to get used to.


Illustrations from a booklet with washing instructions (ca. 1937), washing carefully, rinsing with vinigar, rolling into a towel and drying on a hanger.

Most old clothes are not made to be washed frequently as they used to harly wash them at all back in the day. The Dutch fashion jounalist Constance Wibaut advised women to wash their nylon underwear once a week, even if it was black, in 1958. And that's underwear, the layers that came on top were hung out and only washed if they were really dirty.

You can wash a lot of vintage but just like grandma's old dishes can't be put in the dishwasher you'd be wise to wash your vintage by hand. Instructions from the period are often handy when figuring out how to do this. They unanimously advise to check if the color will bleed before washing first. This may be done by rubbing a wet piece of cloth over a piece of the fabric in a place where a stain would not be visible. If there's a lot of color on the cloth washing has to be done carefully and rather quickly. To reduce colors from bleeding vinigar or salt can be added to the water.

Another important point is to use water that is not too hot and to take care the water for washing and rinsing is of the same temperature, to prevent shrinking. Rayon crêpe is prone to shrinking but can be pulled or ironed back into shape. Washing is always a gamble though. When in doublt or with dresses with a lot of embelishment it is better to go to a good dry-cleaner's. Be careful with early plastic zips and sequins though, they can melt when being dry-cleaned (sequins may also dissovle in water).

Body odour

Add for deoderant from 1939, showing that it's use was all but common, Odo-ro-no add from 'Het Rijk der Vrouw'

Because clothes were not washed as often and deoderant was not at all generally used clothes smelling of sweat is a common problem. I smell the pits of clothes before I buy them but the smell can also only become noticeable through heat (from wearing or ironing).
Washing or dry-cleaning does not remove old sweat most of the time. There are some cheap trics to tackle the problem like treatments with vinigar and/or baking soda. More extensive descriptions on how to do this can be found in two blogs I've written a while ago (see links at the end of this blog).


A large tear in a vintage dress is mended with several shades of embroidery yarn. Back and front of the fabric.

As vintage is often in need of repair it is handy to have basic sewing skills. Popped seams for example are very common but as the fabric isn't broken (only the threads are) it is solved by stitching it back togehter on the original seam. Darning is unkown to many of us but it can save many dresses with wear, holes or even tears. Especially when the fabric has a print many things an be mended almost invisibly. When the fabric is thin putting a piece of fabric underneath can also prevent the forming of actual holes.

I'm very careful when altering a piece of over 60 years old and won't do anything that will drastically change the original design or cut away any fabric. In the back of my mind are all the lovely 30's dresses I've found that were cut short in the '70's.

Because clothes were made to measure there's a good chance they will not fit exactly. This may not always be a problem but sometimes alterations are benificial. Taking things in is not that hard especially when there are darts already. Taking things out is more of an effort and can be visible, but because seams were more generous at least there is more fabric to work with.

A dress has been taken in by adding darts at the back and a sleeve has been laid out by adding a gusset from extra fabric that has been cut away from a seam.

To conclude this blog I'd like to stress that you should enjoy wearing vintage and not be affraid of things getting damaged. Something can always go wrong but they are only clothes after all, and with some common sense a lot can be prevented.

In previous blogposts I've described washing and mending in more detail:

From frump to fab: mending and washion a vintage dress

Cleaning my summer coat: how to use baking soda to remove body odour

More information on caring and cleaning can be found on the website of The Vintage Fashion Guild

In the next and last blog in these series I'll discuss my personal style, etiquette and styling rules from the 30-50's and how to compose an entire vintage look.