Sunday, 19 August 2012

The Ghosts of Owners Past

These strangely ghostly apparitions were the fruits of my rummaging through the village Vide Grenier in the South of France.  A couple of unusual and very pretty vintage pieces to add to my collection of summer whites, both of which are fashioned in a heavy cotton linen mix jacquard. The stall owner I bought them from believed them to be from the nineteen fifties.

I'm not sure if any other vintage lovers ever wonder briefly on the lives of the people who wore their new preloved purchases before them, but I always do. I let my imagination conjure up a previous owner, in this case an elegant French village woman who took pride in her appearance, treasured her clothing and who took great care to keep her garments pristine and in perfect condition.  Despite their age there is not a single stain on either of these pieces.  There are no tears, nicks or pulled threads, nor is there any yellowing of the fabric as is so often the case with whites.  Like a phantom still inhabiting her clothing, you could almost imagine that she is there in the room, with her dignified form proudly illuminating the cavities where her body once was, rather than the sunlight that now streams through them.

I tried the jacket on which is a very close, cropped fit on me and flares gently out at the hem.  Left unbuttoned it looks fresh and modern.  The stall owner declared I was "impeccable" and an image of the "impeccable" Frenchwoman, perfectly turned out and with exquisite taste in clothing, came to mind.

There has been a resurgence in fashion lately of the use of jacquard so it was quite exciting to find some vintage versions.  I love textural effects in fabric and tend to gravitate towards clothes made from cloth with an interesting texture or finish.  Below is a close up to show in more detail the variegated woven pattern of the fabric.  The jacket has raised diamonds and leaves while the skirt is covered in a tessellation of raised diamonds grouped within diamonds.

The voluminous bell shaped skirt was actually once a petticoat and fastens with stays that tie at the back.  I think it is far too lovely to stay as an undergarment and I have plans to wear it as outerwear.  When I tried it on Mr V helpfully said I looked like a milkmaid in it!  Men!  I bought it anyway and am happy to say, when showing what I'd bought to our friends later, that it got the seal of approval from my similiarly-minded, vintage-hunting girlfriend who, as I did on first seeing it, immediately appreciated its romance!

Cotton linen mix jacket and petticoat: Vintage
Print skirt: Mango; Lace T shirt: Zara


  1. I was excited to see these treasures! They are really gorgeous and the fabrics are exquisite. Now I can't wait to see how you style them.

    My wonderful husband doesn't get a lot of my choices either. He tries not to say anything negative but I can always tell. The milk maid comment sounds like him, though. And then he'll say, "I like milkmaids! Really!" At which point I decide to wear it when we're not together. It works out fine.

  2. Yes, romantic is the word that comes to mind for these gorgeous pieces. The design is delightful, and I can imagine the skirt with so many pretty, feminine tops.

  3. Lovely pieces...I look forward to your posts wearing them.

    Its funny you mention imagining the lives of women who wore the pieces originally; one of my readers sent me the title of a book called the Secret Lives of Dresses and I am going to order it tonight!

  4. This is just lovely--and I always admire a pattern in white.

  5. IT's so beautiful and so perfectly you! trust a bloke to give it some kind of Carry On comparison. I'm sure their isn't a Carry On Milkmaid but I can just imagine the kind of saucy wench who'd wear that! x

    1. Hah! Carry on Milkmaid! Oh Vix you do crack me up! I'll have to go find a corset to wear with it now...

  6. That jacket is amazing and beautiful! I love the last picture of the pieces hanging on hangers, it's lovely! I wanted to tell you, if you can't find Essie Ballet Slippers where you are, let me know and I will send you a bottle. I'm serious! XO, Jill

  7. What beautiful pieces, I love to think about the past lives of my clothes it is one of the reasons that makes vintage pieces so special x

  8. Damn my comment just deleted :(

    I think I said - What beautiful pieces! I love think about the past lives of my clothes, it is what makes vintage so special x

  9. Beautiful vintage pieces and I know that you will make them shine. I sometimes find myself catching my breath when I find something that I adore in mint condition. I too think about the 'ghosts of owners past' when I find the perfect prize during the hunt.

  10. These beautiful pieces would definitely make me wonder about their previous owners... Often it's more the fabric than the actual garment that fascinates me. And I bet you'll look all 'impeccable lady' and not 'milkmaid' wearing your finds! X

  11. I love mixing vintage with newer pieces and these are beautiful. wonderful finds.

  12. These are gorgeous finds! I find half the thrill of vintage shopping is imagining the journey of the clothes. Now, I'm wondering if a Vermeer milkmaid ever wore that petticoat ... -- J xxx


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