July 13, 2009

The Grand Elegance of Vintage White {Monday Muses, July 13}

As the energy-zapping, intensely powerful heat of summer weaves its way into our lives, I find myself thinking about the serenely delicate, cooling nature of the colour white.

In a way I think I’ve shied away from this ethereal hue over the years, due in large part to three reasons. One, I was told routinely growing up the white did not suit very fair skin such as my own; secondly, I’m a bit of a clean-freak and tend to find my mind dreading the thought of a white garment attracting every spec of dirt within a five mile radius; and thirdly, at some point in my life I came to think of white as looking best on waif-ish, leggy supermodel types, instead of petite, hour glass figured gals (like me).

While I have certainly owned white pieces (chiefly crisp button town shirts) over the years, it’s only been since this past spring that I’ve begun to incorporate more white into my wardrobe. A ruffle neck short sleeve blouse, a white with tiny black polka dots cotton long sleeve shirt, even a white with black floral print cardigan have all sprung up like svelte calla lilies in my closet.

I’ve learned that pale lasses can in fact wear white, it’s just a matter of finding the right white (one needs only to scope out the paint chip display to discover how many variants of this gentle hue exist), and pairing it with other pieces that work extremely well with your colouring (regardless of your skin tone, I think this approach applies when it comes to wearing white), and that white can (and does!) work well on all types of figures (in my case I tend to feel more comfortable sporting it on top, but am not opposed to a white skirt or pair of pants if they were perfectly tailored to my body shape). As for white acting like a dirt magnet, well, there’s little that can be done about that, other than vigilance and the carrying of purse-sized spot remover pen.

White has a timelessly appealing quality. It calls to mind snowflakes, wedding, sugar cubes, hotel towels, Victorian lace, marshmallows, fluffy kittens, frothy glasses of milk, and tall mountain peaks. Every home and wardrobe can benefit from a dose of white, which can act like a blank canvass or be the star of the show, all depending on what it’s partnered with (or without). Few colours evoke the tranquility and sense of purity and cleanliness that white can; it’s at once lively and subdued, warm and frosty, energetic and relaxed.

In an effort to feel as cool as possible as the high heat of July beats down on my AC-less apartment, I’ve taken to not only wearing white but seeking out images featuring this serene shade. White, sweet and inviting, angelic and iconic, is my Muse for this Monday. Flickr offered up a multitude of impossibly lovely vintage related photos featuring white pieces, which I couldn’t help but fashion into a mosaic and share with you all.

1. Vogue 1952, 2. Vintage Lace: white, 3. April 1953 - Vogue, 4. birdie and lace, 5. My new dressing table, 6. Best Bridal Shoes Ever., 7. 12_7, 8. 1954 LIFE, 9. Whispery White Petals, 10. Vogue 1953 - October, 11. Vintage Treasure, 12. the seafarer's bride, 13. British Vogue 1953 - Actress Jean Lodge. {Click on a link to see a larger version of a particular image and/or for photographer information}

Given their propensity to stain easily, white vintage pieces in good-to-excellent condition are sometimes harder to come by than those in other darker shades, yet a little sleuthing easily turns up a bounty of pleasingly pretty, summer appropriate white items in very good shape.

{I’m the first to admit I am not an expert in hat styles (though I hope to learn more about them in time!), so I’m not certain what the name of this style is, but I do know that that this chicly lovely white hat would look stunning with a myriad of vintage outfits. $68.00 (US) from etsy seller The Vintage Closet.}

{Described by its seller as being a vintage wedding handkerchief, this dainty, beautiful piece would look so elegant atop a table, as a scarf or snaked around pretty bottles and jars on a vanity. $12.oo (US) from etsy seller Zaama.}

{In fairly good shape for its age (it hails from the 1930s) this sweet little white blouse would look marvelous paired with a skirt, high-waisted trousers or shorts all through the summer months. $45.00 from etsy seller Dirty Canvas Closet.}

{Add a subtle hint of shimmer to your favourite looks all year round with this vintage white and silver floral brooch. $22.00 (US) from etsy seller Walker Street Vintage.}

{If a light, pretty frock is calling your name, you’re sure to serve up a lot of vintage "love" while sporting this tennis dress from the 1940s! $40.00 (US) from etsy seller Splendid Vintage.}

{I am awe-struck by the simple yet enchanting beauty of this creamy white hued vintage embroidered parasol. If I had a wee bit of mad money to spend, it would have been added to my cart in a heartbeat! If your pockets are deeper than mine, this incredible umbrella can be yours for $50.00 (US) from esty seller Deja Vu Vintage.}

{Every vintage fashionista needs at least one pair of short length white gloves in her accessory collection, why not make them an authentically old pair like this hand stitched one? $12.00 (US) from etsy seller Vintagous.}

{This stunningly lovely, classically tailored creamy white hued, 1940s, beaded frock is so striking it could even work as a wedding dress. $119.00 (US) from Mystique Vintage.}

{Pretty as a garden of lush blooms, this beaded floral print purse from the 1950s would be the perfect accessory for any summer outing. $58.00 (US) from etsy seller Encyclopedia Botanica.}

{While they do tend to show scuffs and dirt easily, white shoes have the added advantage of going extremely well with a wide array of outfits, and this comfortable looking pair of vintage size 8.5s peep-toe slingbacks from the 1950s would be no exception to that rule. $28.00 (US) from esty seller Mona Sue Vintage.}

Vintage white seems to take on a life of its own, fading a little over time and taking on a sort of ageless patina that speaks of the many days it’s survived in this world. Romantic, cheerful and definitely calming, white might not have the power to turn a scorching day into a snowy one, but it can put you in a serene mood and keep some of the heat at bay, if you opt don to this wonderful Muse of a shade.


  1. I always love your finds, those shoes are my size and am tempted, but I'm being a good girl xxx

  2. Hi Jessica,

    GORGEOUS post! All your photos are so lovely but my favorite is the gingham dress and the white gloves...I want it! I miss the femininity of yesteryear!

    Have a lovely week!


  3. I am a bad girl. I just bought 4 hats and a dress on Mystique Vintage! What a wonderful post.

  4. That bag and those gloves! FABULOUS. I had to be forced to remove my gloves I wore at my wedding, so sweet and old fashioned to wear them. Once upon a time they were a staple in our wardrobes. Sigh!

  5. Oh just beautiful as always my dear. What a truly wonderful dress!xxx

  6. What fabulous picks! I love that brooch!

  7. Hi honey!!! sorry I have not been around much SUPER busy, but I just HAD to stop by to say HI!!! this is a lovely post & the beaded 40's dress is WOW so lovely & I WOULD wear that as a wedding gown :) have a lovely tuesday! mon amour,

  8. Great photos. These are some wonderful things. I love white, but I've never owned much of it myself. I have some white shirts, but that's about it.

  9. Gorgeous! Wonderful post today. It just proves how different white can be. Love the 1940s dress.

  10. I love this post! You make me want to wear white and I have always had the same issues with it as you have. I would love a pair of white pin-up shorts, though.
    And you've also reminded me that I must go to my favourite vintage store and snap up the tennis dresses she has in there. I'm the kind of girl who likes a lot of length in her dresses but a tennis dress is perfect for summer paired with some shorts as a type of playsuit.
    -Andi x

  11. Hi Jessica!
    Just stopped by to say have left a little award for you on my site.

    Lovely post as always!

    Have a wonderful day!

    xxxLOL LOLA:)

  12. Love the photos! I love the brooch that you posted :o)

  13. HI sweets! I nominated you on my blog! :)

  14. @ MissMatlida, thank you very much! Though I find my feet can vary as much as a size in either direction, I often wear a 8.5 as well and was seriously tempted too! It's so hard to find vintage shoes (especially in good condition at an affordable price) in sizes above a (US) six.

    @ Karyn, thank you for the lovely comment, honey! I too pine for the ingrained sense of femininity that ran through the beautiful days of the past.

    @ The Glamorous Housewife, that's awesome (not "bad")! Will you share photos of your treasures with us once they arrive?

    @ Lemondrop Marie, I know, it's absolutely mad that gloves as an everyday wardrobe staple fell out of vogue. I love gloves myself, and hope to find more in the future so that I can better carry on the age-old art of completing my outfits with the proper "handware".

    @ Dustjacket attic, thank you very much, sweet dear. I agree entirely, that dress is magnificent!

    @ Maggi, thank you, sweetie! I think that brooch is fantastic too! The neutral hues and timeless floral shape would make it easy to pair with a myriad of outfits.

    @ GypsyFox, don't worry about it for a moment, darling! Thank you for the cheerful "hi", it's always a treat to hear from you! (I would have worn that dress as my wedding gown in a heartbeat, too!)

    @ Keith, thank you very much. I think it must be even tougher for guys to include a lot of white in your wardrobes. (White) Jackets have the potential end up looking like uniforms or waiter garb, and white pants seem to scream of the 70s disco era. A crisp white button down shirt on a man is one of the best (and most handsome) items he can own, so it certainly never hurts to have those in your clothing arsenal.

    @ Amanda, thank you, my dear, that's a great point. White, for all it's seemingly "plain" properties can be surprisingly versatile.

    @ Andi B. Goode, so happy to know you enjoyed this post, thank you very much for your lovely comment! I fear that I loath my knees (so unshapely, always have been - *sigh*) too much to muster the courage to wear white shorts (or shorts that hit above the knee in any hue), but I would love a really well cut pair of white cotton pants or even jeans.

    @ Nora & Lola, aren't you two just sweeter than ice cream with chocolate sauce! Thank you so very much for the terrific award, I shall pass it along in a future post.

    @ GypsyFox, oh my, you and Nora are making me blush! Thank you so, so much for the awesome award, honey! I'm really honoured!

    Tons of thanks, everyone, for your wonderful comments! I always adore hearing from you, and hope that you're each in the midst of having a stellar week!

    Big hugs!
    ♥ Jessica

  15. @ Tricia, thank you very much for your comment! Warmest of welcomes to Chronically Vintage, it's wonderful to make your acquaintance!

    Wishing you a fantastic Thursday!
    ♥ Jessica