Right, after that little vent of the last blog post (written a good sixty minutes ago) I thought I’d steer myself back to the direction this blog was originally designed for, talking about gorgeous retro-frockage. And let’s do it with, what I think, are the best retro frocks out there at the moment.
But a bit of a history lesson first (I hear you groan). I promise lots of frock talk later. But a little context will put this post in perspective.
I *love* Vivien of Holloway. Completely and whole-heartedly. And my appreciation pre-dates Sarah by a long way. During my self-enforced (blind ignorance and silliness) period of not dressing, from around 1998 through to 2013 or so, I had literally no interest in female fashion. My first marriage failed due to many reasons, and I fell in love and married again.
My second (and current) wife was and is much more femm than my first wife. My first wife was one of the lads (sometimes a little too literally, see previous painful blog posts for details on that little quandary), always dressed similarly to me. My second wife was and is a fashion buff, always on the cutting edge of what is trendy with a keen eye for current trends. I used to buy her pressies a lot, including clothes when I could, and one day a long time ago I stumbled over a small site that did retro recreations. What struck me about the site was the polka-dots – something inside clicked when I looked at the range of swishy 1950s halter-neck dresses they offered, specifically a lovely red and white polka-dot one which I instantly bought for my other half. And she looked gorgeous in it.
If I’d been a little more honest with myself I’d have admitted back then that BLOODY HELLFIRE I WAS IN LOVE WITH THAT STYLE OF CLOTHING!!!!! But I didn’t, I just put it down to wanting to buy something pretty and different from the norm for her.
Fast forward a couple of years to when Sarah emerged from the closet again and I embraced my inner fashion diva. The first frock I bought her? Straight to that site….
And of course that site was Vivien of Holloway. And since that day I’ve been a fan, completely in awe of the woman who runs the place, Vivien Wilson, and her unerring knack of producing modern versions, in glorious materials that just feel indescribably elegant, of dresses that seem to pluck nerves deep inside my confused feminine brain.
They are just gorgeous.
Of course, when I first came back into the glowing pink light of Sarah-dom I wasn’t as confident as I am now, and I was, well, a little bit more, err, ‘large’. So the first frock I bought, a black and white polka-dot Grace dress, was a couple of sizes too big. But it was just a joy to wear.
Since then I’ve gone a bit nuts when it comes to VoH dresses. They aren’t cheap, but they are so well made and the feel, as I said before, is so elegant you can forgive them the cost.
I’d advise you to go look at the website right now but I’d like you to make it to the end of the blog post first, but if you did you’d find a number of styles, aimed at the retro-girl. Lovely pencil frocks, 1940s tea-dresses, Hepburn style blouses, full-skirts, petticoats and, by far my favourite as I’ve bought ten of them, the Kitty frock.
The Kitty frock is, without doubt, my favourite dress style ever. Padded shoulders, very 80-esque, tapered waist with full 1940s collar, vintage buttons, flowing skirt, it sums up everything I think of when I think of retro dresses. And they are just so nice to wear.
I’ve done a lot of shoots in Kittys, including a wonderful evening spent in an apartment posing with various household items in a completely sexist (but not as it was me) way – posing with an ironing board, a vacuum, knelt down in front of the oven. All wearing a floral Kitty.
I’ve also done shoots with blouses and skirt combinations, a look I don’t normally do but the Hepburn-esque nature of the white blouse/red skirt combo I modelled was breathtakingly femm.
But I gush. You might have worked out I like the clothes.
But it’s not just that. There’s a whole subculture around the ownership and wearing of VoH frocks, one I’m guiltily happy to say I am part of. There’s a private group on Facebook where Vivien Wilson herself hangs out, and I’m always posting pictures there, dreading the moment when one of the real ladies points out that, err, I’ve got something that most of them (there are a number of very passable and beautiful T-girls in the group) don;t have. And it’s not an authentic 1950s handbag. Although I have a couple of those. From VoH. Just because.
And talking of accessories, they do the best hair-flowers I’ve ever seen. Whenever I crack and buy an outfit or four from them I always end up slipping a flower, a handbag, whatever into the shopping cart as well. It’s all just so delightfully femm I can’t help myself.
And I’ve actually started influencing the styles. Well, a little bit. I’m always hinting on the group that Viv needs to do a Kitty in animal print – I cannot gush enough about how sexy that would be. And lo and behold, when she put up a post a while back asking for what the ladies in the group would like to see I was straight on with ‘Animal print Kitty *please*’, to which she responded that that was already in production and coming soon.
There’s something awfully nice about being part of a group like that, posting pictures, getting genuine nice comments from other women who feel the same way about the clothing. I tend to gush a bit, but hell, these clothes tick all of my favourite requirements.
Anyway, let’s do something different – I’m going to share some selections of all the outfits I’ve got from Viviens with personal notes. Because I love them so much. 🙂
Starting right from the beginning….
A Grace frock, black with white-polkadots, with a petticoat of course. This is when I first came back out of the closet, in fact my first dressing session with Alison Dale. I was terrified, didn’t know how to pose, was overweight, but still…… what a frock.
I loved it so much that, when I went to Cindy’s for the very first time I bought myself another Grace to take there, and leave there – it’s still there for any size 20+ babes who want to try it. By now I’d loosened up, a little, so the poses were more natural.
See the difference? Plus a Floral Grace is just divine to wear, again with a petticoat and we’ve added a belt lately as it’s a large frock and I’ve, gasp, lost some of the man-flesh.
Before we get to my favourite, the Kittys, a couple of separates I bought and wore. The first was the Hepburn combo I mentioned earlier, a gorgeous white blouse and full 1950s skirt, combined with a cute little day handbag, again from VoH.
You can see how much I loved this outfit – there was something delightfully house-wifey about it while still stay glamorous. In fact, let’s have another picture, this time of her ‘heading off to the shop to get hubbies favourite meal ingredients’…
I did another look with separates from VoH, this time with a different style of blouse and a black/white polkadot full-skirt. A different look but still indicative of a 1940s/1950s day girl/housewife.
Shoes were from Lindy Bop, very cute polka-dot Mary Janes.
On to tea-dresses now. VoH does a range of tea-dresses which, while not as glamorous as the Kittys are still a joy to wear. Much more of a 1940s style, utilitarian, redolent of the ‘ration’ years and austerity but still gorgeously feminine. I had a couple of these, but this one below, a lilac floral one, was the most fun to wear and the look we realised with it is still one of my personal favourites. She looks so house-wifey I just want to put an apron on her and ask her to cook dinner for me…
So strap yourself in dear readers, this is where we get a little picture-heavy 🙂
This pink number is a ‘Lana’ style, something different to my usual choice. I only bought one, which was this glorious pink number, a real 1940s femme-fatale style that was fun to wear, lovely fabric, but didn’t work for me as much as the others, partly because Sarah is more of a ‘day’ girl when it comes to the Viv frocks. But still, a lovely experiment to try.
When it comes to Kittys I went a bit mad. The first one I ever bought was a ‘pineapple’ one, a red material with white pattern, and it was just so femm to wear and just felt so right on that I knew I had to get more.
I actually combined it with some lovely pink seashell jewellery from VoH and one of their beautiful flowers. Going to be honest, this is one of the outfits I’ve worn where I felt quite overwhelmed and emotional in a way I can’t put my finger on – everything about it was just so wonderful that I wanted to cry. Now *that* is what clothes should do to you.
Now this picture needs a little explanation – VoH produced some Kittys in Taffeta fabric, and I snapped one up the first time they produced them. It was slightly too big for me, but, as a ‘luxury’ Kitty, it delivered on everything it promised. The fun thing about this picture is that this is Vivien Wilson’s style, I look a lot like her in this picture (I’d like to think). Which is a little odd, as I find her very attractive in terms of her style and this look, inadvertently I’ll admit, looked so like her I was loathe to put it on the Facebook group. But I did. And she liked it.
Kittys come in a lot of prints, and I have tended to go for the more colourful ones. This one was a white-lily print which I complemented with a hair-flower and handbag from VoH as well. Again, you can see from the smile how happy this ensemble made me.
Some of the prints are a little wild. I had a soft spot for this but Cindy said it looked somewhat like a clown. I can see her point, but wow, what a print.
I also decided to try another of the Taffeta Luxury Kittys but this time went a size smaller. It was a tight fit, but once we got the buttons done up it was just a joy to wear. The image at the top of the blog post is of this one as well, and perhaps my favourite – very 1950s Movie Star. This one was a lilac colour.
A lovely close-up of another of the vibrant pattern Kittys – check out how beautiful the hair-flower is.
This is one of the later prints, a cute kitten motif Kitty which seemed to make sense. All of the Kittys, except the Taffeta ones, are made of a lovely material that oddly feels elegant in and of itself, can’t describe why buy when you are wearing them you feel closeted, safe, warm, very odd but lovely experience.
And now on to the last two Kittys – the first was a floral one I wore for an evening as a housewife in a specially hired apartment. It was wonderful to spend time doing female things in an environment like that, an added extra rush that every girl like me needs to experience if they can.
This is one of my all time favourite pictures of Sarah. It’s just cliched and sexist, but what the hell – a girl in a pretty floral day frock in a kitchen. Of course, if I was being sexist I’d say something like ‘the latest kitchen appliance that all men need. Stood next to the cooker.’ 😉
Another glorious domesticated picture made a thousand times better by the inclusion of a Kitty frock. My best friend, who knows about Sarah, sent me a text to my drab phone saying ‘You do know they work better if you plug them in?’ with a silent ‘dear’.
Another one of my all time fave pictures. I love the fact she is reading ‘what all women should know’.
But anyway, it’s been a long one and finally we get to my all time favourite dress. When VoH released that they were going to produce the Kitty in this colour and style I *knew* I had to get one, and that led to rabid reloading of the website on the day they were going to be released. The instant they appeared I bought two, a pink and a black, like a mad Black Friday female shopper. Totally worth it, the pink Kitty is just divine.
Just utterly gorgeous, no other words describe what it is like to wear this dress. And that’s pretty much why I am so in love with the frocks from Vivien of Holloway.
You can go look at the website now. Go on. You know you want to.
Stay beautiful and dress in the best dresses….
Pictured – oh, just one more, and add a title as you’ve done all the rest without it. There’s a reason Sarah wears so many VoH retro frocks, and this picture explains why.
2 thoughts on “[Fashion] My on-going love affair with Vivien of Holloway….”
Oh my god Sarah! So much gorgeous, girly goodness! 😊 XX
I can soooo see why you love these dresses! 😍 They are fabulously feminine. XXXX I can see why you love the Kitty dress too. It has pockets and everything! 😮
But I think the Grace dresses are extraordinarily elegant. I think I may have to look at one (or two) of those.
Stay gorgeous yourself hun!
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Hi Sarah. Another thing we have in common is a love of Vivien of Holloway. She designs and produces the most beautiful 50s style dresses and skirts. My favourite period was the 1950s with all those circular skirts and dresses filled out with several petticoats. A Vivien Grace dress would be my heart’s desire especially the floral Grace. In my humble opinion, it’s the prettiest dress you have worn and you look simply divine in it. Before I retired, as part of my job I would often find myself in Holloway Road in the early hours of the morning and I took a lot of photos of Vivien’s dresses and skirts in the shop window, I am also a member of the the Facebook group, “I have a VoH dress and I love to wear it” So many beautiful ladies and gorgeous dresses. Emma Greenlees and Danni Keane are two of my favourites – and your good self, of course. Yes, you do look a bit like Vivien Wilson in your taffeta Kitty. You both have a certain Marylin Monroe look about you. The lovely Vivien has everything a girl could want – brains, beauty and great fashion and design sense.
Another wonderful blog – can’t wait to read the next one.
Love Sylvie xxx
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