March 17, 2015

Making suits from separates, pale late winter sunshine, and happy St. Patrick's Day wishes to everyone!




Outfit details

1940s/1950s turquoise hat with white flower: Dragon Head Jewels Too
Turquoise and white floral cameo earrings: Handmade by me
Vintage blue patterned scarf: Acquired in person from a fellow vintage seller
White button front shirt: Talbots (this shirt has the most amazing tone-on-tone jacquard pattern to it - I'll have to wear and photograph it sans jacket so that you can get a better view of it one day)
1960s blue and gold tone flower brooch: Thrifted (I think)
Black velvet blazer: ???
1950s royal blue gloves: (probably) eBay
Gold tone metal bracelet: Payless
1950s black velvet skirt: Etsy seller Lady Kitschener's Vintage Emporium
Tan coloured cross body purse: eBay
Royal blue tights: Ardene
Black pumps: Payless
Lip colour: Clinique Raspberry Glace


Photography by Tony Cangiano





















































Let me preface today's post by saying that this outfit is not St. Patrick's Day themed or intended to celebrate this festive Irish holiday per se. Instead, it was a recent look sported on a chilly late winter afternoon when Tony and I were in Kelowna running errands.

Between doing my business taxes, ups and downs with my health, and lonnnnngggg work days, I didn't get in a specifically March 17th themed outfit ahead of time, but may wear green and gold today and post about it later, if we go out.

This outfit is the absolute epitome of the sort I wear when bopping around town (or neighbouring towns, as the case may be :)) during the late fall and winter months, when it's still chilly (usually at, or right around, freezing), but not quite so cold that a heavy duty overcoat, boots, knit hat and scarf are truly required for the sake one's own safety from the elements.

Though you might at first glance think that my (modern, but strikingly vintage appropriate) black velvet blazing and matching 1950s black velvet pencil skirt were a suit, they are indeed two separate items purchased years apart from one another.

As I've chatted about here at various points over the years (such as this post from 2013), my figure - short, curvy, and complete with small shoulders - does not jive well with the sizing of most vintage skirts. If it fits in the waist, it's too small in the bust and vice versa, or both work, but the shoulders stop nearly at my elbows, the skirt length is all wrong, the jacket length is unflattering, or some other point trips the whole equation up. And yet...

I madly, completely, head over-heels adore mid-century vintage suits and will try on hundreds of them, if need be, to find one that fits (or can easily be tailored to fit) just right. That said, especially when I do the bulk of vintage shopping online due to serious lack of old school clothing purveyors around these parts, it be tricky to find even that one suit that hits the jackpot and so I've become a die hard fan of combining separates that look strikingly similar to create the appearance of the suit.

Naturally, this tends to work best with neutral coloured pieces, especially those on the darker end of the spectrum, such as black, brown, navy blue, and grey, but in theory any colour is fair game and you don't have to hit on a 100% match. Similar shades, especially if the material at hand - such as velvet in this case - is virtually identical, can often trick the eye into scarcely noticing that there's a wee discrepancy in terms of the colours (if there’s one at all). Plus, and this is worth keeping in mind, sometimes one encounters genuine vintage suits where the skirt and jacket have been worn or laundered in different volumes and thus they themselves very a touch in terms of the intensity of the colour at hand.

Sometimes, too, it's fun to intentionally mix things up. Say, for example, partnering a navy blue linen jacket with a navy cotton or wool skirt. The cohesiveness of the palette and the general lines, so redolent of a suit, are more then enough to convey the general concept. I'm not alone in doing this and know that many of my fellow vintage lovers, such as Stephanie from The Girl With The Star Spangled Heart, enjoy piecing together "suits" of this nature as well.

Whether you find suits tricky to obtain, are short on them at the moment, are just getting started with vintage, or simply want to give yourself more styling options with the pieces that you already have to hand, this approach to creating a "suit" is a great one to take. Be it the dead of winter (wools! tweeds! thick velvets!) or thick of summer (silk! linen! cotton!), making your own two-piece ensembles from matching separates is well worth giving a spin if you're a fan of vintage suits.

This winter, while long and still underway a touch, wasn't, thankfully, a particularly brutal or snowy one (in fact, there was so few big falls that I didn't even get in a photo winter wonderland sort of shoot this season). It was however, as most tend to be in Canada, rather devoid of sunshine. Thus, as it slowly began to creep out of hibernation at the end of February and throughout March, I have flocked to it faster than the neighbourhood cats.

Meek and scarcely warm (by the time it reaches us down here on earth, that is) it may be, it's still sunshine and that fact alone gives me a massively needed jolt of energy - not to mention cause to smile, reach for the camera, and scamper outside with Tony to start off a new year of photo shoots.

Being a busy workday for both of today, again, I wouldn't bank on a shoot happening on St. Paddy's Day, but you never know. Either way, now that we're on the cusp of spring, you can (theoretically - one technically never knows what the future holds in store) count on lots more outfit shoots going forward throughout 2015. I'm really looking forward to in fact, as I've purchased and received a number of garments over the last half a year that suit spring and summer best, and which I'm chomping at the bit to share with all of you (including my first four Lindy Bop dresses).



{I'm not sure what the inside of this adorable vintage St. Patrick's Day card said, but I like to imagine it went along the lines of "Because it's so very heartfelt!". Image source.}


To one and all who observe it, may you have a positively fantastic and very happy St. Patrick's Day today, and to those who do not, I hope that you have a terrific Tuesday all the same!

53 comments:

  1. I love your hat and coordinating earrings! The blue accents throughout the outfit are a really nice touch. A good chunk of my heritage is Irish but I've never done a thing about St. Patrick's Day--I only know the typical American caricature of it, and that I've always ignored, for some reason...

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  2. Happy St. Patric's day, dear gal!
    What a wonderful post.. I'm not briging this out of proportion; you've done us proud by wititng about a theme that some might find "touchy" - since,
    I can recall it - it used to be a "no-no" to miss and match things. I can still see my grandma (in her good days, and my childhood) as she puts on her coat over her suit. And the suit must (emphasis on "must") be a matchy-matchy. No way she would be seen in a skirt and a blazer that are not made together, from the same piece of cloth, in the same shade.. you get the picture.
    Well, unlike gramda and much like you - I do not fit into a matchig-system; being so masculare (you know, the dreadful "rectangle with same widthe of shoulders and hips), when put in a single-color suit I look like a lost little girl in her grandma's suit - and not a "glamour-gal in ther best" :)

    Marija

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  3. I would have never known they weren't a set! Looking forward to seeing what you have picked up for spring your outfit shoots always make me want to dress up a bit more than I do:)

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    1. That is a compliment of the highest order, my lovely friend, thank you very much.

      Happiest St. Patrick's Day wishes!
      ♥ Jessica

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  4. What a great outfit! I love the turquoise in the hat with your coloring

    retro rover

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  5. What a lovely outfit! I adore the hat!

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  6. The hat and earrings are my favorite by far!!!! Love that gorgeous color blue

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  7. My great-grandfather was Irish, is it enough to celebrate St. Pat? No, just kidding, although I both love green and all kinds of holidays and celebrations. What a lovely set you've made, and I cannot see it differs in colours. I really like that you have brightened up the black with bright blue, such a great detail. I'm not much of a suit-lover myself, and I don't know why, because I love them when I see them, but I always take of the jacket, ha! :) Wishing you a lovely day, dear.

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    1. Definitely! One doesn't need to have any Irish blood in them to celebrate this day though and growing up, in school at least, it was an annual event for us here in Canada. Shamrock themed crafts, green foods, and lessons on Irish history being the main themes of such celebrations. :)

      Thank you very much for your lovely comment (separating suits is something I do, too - you get so much more versatility out of them that way), my dear friend. I really hope you're having a festively fabulous March 17th and that the luck of the Irish is with you all year long!

      ♥ Jessica

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  8. Damn. That hat is stunning. Beautiful color and beautiful shape. It really looks lovely with your red hair.
    I really dig your "suit", and the general idea of making a suit out of separates. That's a really sensible thing to do, and a really handy thing to keep in mind if you're trying to thrift a suit, for instance. It can be hard to find two pieces together, but, say, a gray pinstripe jacket and a solid gray skirt in a similar shade can be much easier to put together. Your example is just delicious - I love that velvet, and I feel like I would just walk around all day surreptitiously petting myself.
    <3<3<3
    Jessica, Zella Maybe

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    1. That I do, that I do - and, you know, pluck cat and dog hair off it like doing so was an Olympic sport! :D

      Thank you very much, darling gal. It is really is a charmingly fantastic hat and one that, surprisingly given that I've had it for years now, I don't think I've shared here before. It sort of amazes me that I still have older (as in, I didn't buy them in the last couple of years) pieces where that rings true, One that I'm sure that list will run out, but not yet and that bodes well for coming up with fresh outfits for sure! :)

      Sending tons of hugs & happy St. Patrick's Day wishes your way,
      ♥ Jessica

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  9. As a velvet addict, I am always in favor of a velvet suit! Also, your hat is adorable and the perfect shape! I can envision so many things a nice aqua hat like that would go with, I'll have to keep my eye out for one!

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    1. Me too! I'd love to put some together in other hues, too. Thank you very much, sweet gal. I've had this hat for a few years now and was a bit shocked when it struck me that this is almost certainly its first time appearing on my blog. It is quite versatile and looks especially nice with red, pink, peach, lilac, grey, and navy blue outfits, too. I hope you're able to find one that's similar to it and will certainly let you know if I come across one on my end (and will let you know about it before even thinking about listing it in my shop).

      Big hugs & happy St. Patrick's Day wishes,
      ♥ Jessica

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  10. I am always in awe of your lists of component outfit parts - they serve as proof of how meticulously styled even your bopping about town outfits are! You are a style inspiration! I never wear suits as my face screams 'child trying mother's clothes' but they are gorgeous on you - you were made for them! And as ever, I feel your pain about sizing!! x

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    1. That is a splendidly kind compliment, my dear, thank you deeply. I get that for sure - it's very easy for suits to "swamp" me, especially (almost always, actually), if the jackets don't stop up upper hip/thigh height. I love the look of longer 30s and 40s suit jackets, but they usually don't do my figure a lick of good. Do you like blazers unto themselves?

      Thank you again deeply. I really hope you're having a marvelous St. Patrick's Day!
      ♥ Jessica

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  11. That's absolutely a very lovely outfit, it suits (no pun intended) you so well!

    xxx

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    1. Thank you very much, honey. I love vintage suits or pieces that look the part so much and the older I get, the more I feel myself pulled towards them.

      Big hugs & happy springtime wishes,
      ♥ Jessica

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  12. I love your hat and the splashes of cobalt blue, I'm always in awe of how perfectly and seemingly effortlessly you accessorise every outfit. The shape of the suit is lovely, and you're right, I'd never of guessed you hadn't bought them as a pair! Definitely a good tip to remember, as I love the tailored look but usually shy away from it unless it's custom made as I'm pear shaped and would need the top and bottom to be a difference of 2 whole sizes. I'm desperately looking forward to spring too, and looking forward to seeing what outfits you'll put together for the season! :)

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    1. Thank you very much, darling gal. That is such a fabulously nice compliment to receive, especially since I do really strive for cohesiveness and colour coordination in the overwhelming majority (re: 99%) of my outfits. It sincerely means a lot when someone picks up on that fact and takes note of it.

      I'm really excited about that as well! It wasn't until I went to do a closet tidy up recently that I realized just how many pieces I picked up in the fall and winter for the warmer half of the year, and am now all the more excited to share many of them (I hope!) here this year.

      Thank you again. Oodles of hugs coming your way!
      ♥ Jessica

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  13. OH, Eeeeeeeeek! The hat is absolutely wonderful!
    The suit looks adorable, aswell.

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    1. Thank you sweetly, my dear friend! I swear, I had a feeling that you'd adore this charming vintage aqua coloured hat as much as I do. I bet it would gorgeous on you, too (total shame we don't live closer, I'd happily lend it to you any time).

      Big hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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  14. Oh the blues <3 that brooch is beautiful!

    captaincharghley.blogspot.com

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  15. I love blue & black together! That hat is amazing! :D I love suits - they just look so polished. One of my sisters picked me up a lavender wool suit at a thrift store. It's very 90's, but I want to try to refashion it into a 1940's look. It's the perfect color for Easter. ^_^
    I know exactly what you mean about the sunshine. I've found myself closing my eyes and soaking it in whenever it pours in through a window.

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    1. Ooohh, a lavender suit from any era sounds beautiful! I agree, that is the perfect colour for Easter and spring in general. I hope things go swimmingly on the revamping front!

      Big hugs & happy start of springtime wishes,
      ♥ Jessica

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  16. Jessica, I always admire your use of color and with this outfit in particular the blue and turquoise accessories are really striking against the chic black velvet suit. Black with blues is a fav color combination of mine and your outfit is a gorgeous example of how great that color mix looks!

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    1. That is a wonderfully lovely compliment, Theresa, thank you very much.

      I hope that things are well on your end as we steady ourselves for spring's return.

      Big hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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  17. Love this suit dear Jessica. It fits you so well. I hope you have a great St. Patrick's Day. Your accessories are so lovely and I love that you are also wearing a nice cheerful scarf.

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    1. Thank you very much, lovely Joanna. It is a cheerful vintage scarf, I agree - and just the pick-me-up to transition into spring with. I wear scarves quite often, but usually on my head or as a belt. it's nice to bring them back up near my neck again sometimes. :)

      Wishing you a splendid, sunshine filled start of spring!
      ♥ Jessica

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  18. That's a beautiful outfit! If you hadn't mentioned that the jacket and skirt didn't originally go together, I would have never guessed.

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    1. Thank you sweetly, dear gal. Black velvet may very well be the easiest fabric to create a "suit" like this with, which helps there for sure. :)

      I hope you had a marvelous St. Patrick's Day!
      ♥ Jessica

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  19. making suits from separates. smart! it can be hard to live with yourself and figure everyday, but i admire your optimism. personally, i've always thought you have a smashing figure. dear Jess, you embody everything i feel like vintage ladies and well dressed women in general strive for. good, practical, stylish, self representing clothing that works with body type/flaws/perfection while having a wonderful time.

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    1. My very sweet dear, you're as kind as they come! I could launch into a lengthy spiel about the 1,001 things I dislike about my figure/body, how it's been through the wringer and back due to my health, etc, but instead I will just float on the marvelously lovely cloud nine your awesome comment/compliment put me on and use as it fuel to continue to focus on appreciating and accepting my appearance as it is (substantial lifetime struggle for me).

      Huge thanks & equally hefty hugs coming your way,
      ♥ Jessica

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  20. graf zeppelin would be proud to have you as a stewardess in his airship :-)
    you look wonderful and very put together in your "suit"! and the bright blues suit your complexion and hair so well! my beauty!
    you know - love suits too - and do the same often: putting together different pieces which have some (color/material/style) in common to create a suit. because when one wears a suit one looks automatically well put together plus feels warm because JACKET :-)
    hope your st.patricks day had some festive fun for you in the pockets!!!!!
    xxxxxxxxx

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    1. Would you believe it, Tony made a rather similar joke when I put on this outfit. Great minds! :) I see the airline hostess quality to it for sure and in a way that makes me like it even more. I've always wanted to own a genuine vintage 1940s or 50s flight attendant (to use the current term) uniform in my own size, but as that may never happen or might be a long time in coming looks like this are a good way to quell that desire for the time being. :)

      Thank you very much for the blush inducingly lovely compliments, dear Beate. I had a nice, highly productive St. Patrick's Day, so I certainly can't complain. I hope your March 17th was lovely as well.

      Big hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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  21. You look so gorgeous, Jessica!! I just love the classy black with the accents of cheerful blue! Your hat and brooch are just beautiful as well.
    :)

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  22. Seems absolutely ages since I read blog posts. Always love coming to your posts and seeing what creations you have shared. I love your style, and how you share it with such generosity and joy. I too like suits but find them hard to wear or, at my age, I look like Miss Marple, ha ha! Mind you, I do like her .... x

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  23. Ahh, Happy St Patricks Day (belated anyway)! I love the light blue of the hat! I hear you on the different sizing of the suit - being so short I often struggle!

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  24. I love the color pairings of this outfit. It looks great and professional. Thanks for sharing.

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  25. Wow, I really thought you were wearing a suit. I like your advice re matching up separates to make a suit; personally I prefer mixing up different tones of the same colour to make an outfit, ie light green on top, deep forest green on the bottom. It's a lovely outfit, you're lucky to own it!

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  26. So beautiful and interesting post! Like your blog and the way you write!
    I’ll be happy to see you in my blog!)

    Diana Cloudlet
    http://www.dianacloudlet.com/

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  27. I love the blue and black together. Especially those tights! I know what you mean about searching for that item. I love high-waisted flared shorts and jumpsuits, but I'm tall and thin, so everything is usually too short. I know that, yet I will keep trying them on. I do a lot of online shopping and not trying stuff on can be problematic, especially when I am having difficulty matching a size. My straight-up-and-down figure means that my waist (while still being the smallest part of my torso) is a size bigger than my bust and my hips are usually somewhere in between... I also have to be careful of my shoulders as they are slighlty broad and tops that fit my bust perfectly tend to cut into my arms . I'm slowly getting the hang of shopping for my shape, but it's always a gamble.

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    1. It really is online, I agree. I must say, knock wood, I've had a lot of good luck there, but of course somethings haven't worked well enough to keep (chiefly pants and shoes). I find that buying a touch big than my actual measurements, especially considering that sellers don't always nail measurements correctly, can help a lot, but then there's the risk of something being under measured and turning out to be far too large. Are you a fan of 1920s and 30s fashions? As you described your lovely figure, I kept thinking that it sounds like you might be made for some of the styles from those two decades, which generally do not work well on short, curvy figures (and many other types, too), such as mine.

      Have a wonderful weekend!
      ♥ Jessica

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    2. I love the twenties and thirties! I'm starting to find way around this for other eras, such as creating a peplum effect with baggy tops and a belt.

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  28. Such a beautiful hat! You really have the best hats :)

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    1. Thank you very much, my darling friend. What a wonderfully lovely compliment - my hats and I are all blushing and smiling up a storm! :)

      Joyful start of spring wishes,
      ♥ Jessica

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  29. I'm so in love with your hat, it has a nice spring feel without being to floral :)

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    1. Thank you very much, sweet gal. It really does have a great understated springtime feel, I agree.

      Big hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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  30. That shade of blue goes particularly well with your hair. I love velvet so this suit made of separates is right up my street. It is a very good way to increase the number of outfits one's wardrobe can provide!

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    1. Thank you very much, my lovely friend. It truly is! In fact, since posting this, I've made a mental note to try and find more vintage or vintage appropriate blazers to go with my suit-esque skirts.

      I hope you had a great weekend and that all is well on your end!

      Big hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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  31. I would have never guesses these were separates… they go together so well and perfected by the blue scarf.

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  32. This is a very cute outfit! i have very few vintage suits where both pieces fit me. It's always one or the other. So I wear the piece that fits and keep the other until I decide to sell it.

    Lisa.

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    1. Fantastic tip, sweet Lisa, thank you for the helpful reminder that one can easily take that approach with suits that don't fit off the rack as well.

      Big hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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