My style consultation with Naomi from Vintage Secret

26.3.09

styleconsult

I have been in touch with Naomi for a little while, but it's only recently, when I confessed being stuck in a fashion rut that she offered to give me a vintage style consultation. She knew what I liked from reading my blog, but we discussed my tastes (and body shape!) further by email for a couple of days so she could narrow down the type of clothes she wanted me to try on.

Naomi- When Mademoiselle Robot approached me with her dilemma, I must say I was very flattered to be asked to help, seeing as I couldn’t imagine her ever being stuck in style rut, but the gauntlet has been laid, so I scooped it up with both hands.

Before I went through 300 odd dresses (and other accoutrements) at my home/boutique I took a good hard look at her yummy mummy shape and figured out that something that cinched in the waist with an eye catching pattern would work well. I still managed to bring a ton with me!


before

She arrived at my flat on a Sunday afternoon, carrying a mountain of vintage dresses, skirts, tops and accessories. It was like Christmas all over again. When she showed me her choices, I was expecting to dislike at least a few things, but not at all. Everything was absolutely spot on. She even got the sizes right.

dresses

At first, she let me go through the dresses to try a few on for size and to get an idea of what she really wanted to see me in. I tried everything on! I have never tried on so many dresses in such a short time before! It was quite tiring I have to say, but I am not complaining, it was a dream to get to wear all those beautiful vintage clothes. She had brought mainly 50's stuff as it is my favourite era for fashion, but she also had me try on some 40's, 60's, 70's and 80's dresses.

Naomi - Eras are very much defined by shape so it was important before hand to figure what bits she liked and what bits she was less fond of to maximize the wow factor.

In terms of mixing up eras it pays to know a little about cuts. Padded shoulders in the 40’s were then used in the early 60’s by Biba, and then of course were prominent in the 80’s. The straight up and down silhouette of the 20’s came back in with the Mods and their shifts. Interesting 50’s full skirts and nipped in waists also made an appearance in the 80’s, which you have to watch out for as a lot of 50’s clothes sold on the internet are 80’s replicas (especially on e-bay) Want to know how to avoid them? Anything with an elasticated waist, most likely will not be 50’s.

naomiadvice

Everytime I showed her a dress, she gave me her opinion about the way the dress looked on me, told me if my bum looked fat in this, if it gave me a monoboob, or if it made me look like a Hollywood queen. I really liked having someone there telling it like it is. It can be so hard sometimes to get an unbiased opinion on clothes when you try them on. She also gave me ideas on how to wear certain dresses, said which skirts and dresses are worth shortening and which ones are best left as is. Very useful advice all around... Especially for a serial shortener like me.

Naomi - I hate it when shop assistants tell you what you want to hear, and I wouldn’t dream of doing that to my clients. The aim of the game is to find a new look that will make you feel like a queen, so there was no point holding on to pieces that didn’t do her figure 100% justice, though most of them looked great, and it was hard to whittle down the options. On Mademoiselle Robot’s point about shortening, I am a great fan of nothing below the knee, but as a vintage purist, I have to point out that cutting a very old piece is likely to reduce the value (as does any alterations) so choose carefully what you chop and always get a seamstress to do it.

eveningday

The first outfit she built for me was a day look, based on an evening dress. The dress is a beaded satin number, with a sash at the back. It is totally over the top and putting it on makes me feel like Rita Hayworth. So I don't really see how she is going to turn this into anything day like. But she does! Pairing this dress with a pale yellow beaded cardigan actually makes it a good option for the day. Obviously, it makes it super easy to go from day to night - bonus!

Naomi - I think there is something quite exciting about mixing a glitzy number with something much more low key. I predict this year there will be a lot of pretty dresses with slouchy cardies or even better, tiny leather jackets. This soft lemon 50’s beaded number came form the iconic Steinberg and Tolkien shop and the dress I found in Devon. It tones down the dress and relaxes the outfit.

daylookbowjacket

The second outfit is also a day look. I am worried as she piles layer after layer of clothes on me, and then proceeds to add accessories... However, once I look in the mirror, I am really pleased with the result. I haven't worn blue for years, as I somehow convinced myself it doesn't suit me. Naomi changed my mind! I also fell madly in love with this jacket and have to have it!

Naomi - I couldn’t believe that MR didn’t think she suited blue. With her dark hair and pale skin, it gave her a fresh and breezy spring look. The jacket is actually part of a rather fabulous suit. Don’t be afraid of accessorizing. It’s a cheap way of really making an outfit yours. I always look out for scarves in charity shops for neck ties and to wrap around your head. A good one will be hand rolled and signed. Hold them up to the light to make sure there are no holes. The suitcase in this pic actually came form the children’s section of Monsoon.

alwayswearpetticoat

My favourite dress (the one she kindly lend me for Dress Up) was this green bejewelled 50s party dress. Worn with a lot of black, it wasn't too girly and too 50s, so I didn't feel like I was wearing a costume. It shows how much she listened to my descriptions of my tastes and style. I love vintage clothing, but I don't really like when I look like I am dressed head to toe in vintage clothes. I like to keep people guessing and to make vintage look modern. It is sometimes quite hard to achieve, and Naomi helped me figure out new ways to do it.

Naomi - Jewel colours really suit Mademoiselle Robot as they would anyone with dark hair. Ruby, emerald and sapphire are good vintage colours without being too over the top (not that it usually bothers me!) As mentioned above my fave spring/summer look is a 50’s dress with a teeny fitted leather biker jacket. This one has a belt for added cinch and gives the outfit quite an edge.

eveninggreenleather

Below, you can see how she gradually built our favourite outfit of the day. First, she put me in a 50s day dress, cinched at the waist by a wide red belt. But she decided it wasn't quite enough, so she added a full skirt on top of the dress. It is really clever layering because the dress is used as both a top and a petticoat, and once the skirt is on, you really can't tell that I am wearing a dress underneath. She added a few bright accessories in pinks and reds to finish off the outfit and ta-dah!

dayoutfit2

This is typically an outfit I would never have thought of by myself, as I never even look at skirts that long! The fact that it became my favourite outfit says a lot about Naomi's mad skills! She really did shake my little routine and opened up my mind to new possibilities. Since then, I have felt really inspired and I look at my wardrobe in a completely different way.

Naomi - I was really pleased with this look. I think it gave Mademoiselle Robot a timeless elegance. 50’s skirts are still a bargain compared to dresses and a nice one can be found for around £20 to £40. I spent quite a lot of time in Asia and I just love the bamboo and elephants on the print. Again, the flower was dirt cheap - £3 from Peacocks. The top half is actually a plainer blue dress underneath the skirt, which is a good way of adding an underskirt if you don’t want to wear a full crinoline

favurite

Naomi - I love these pictures. Above all vintage for me is about having fun and being adventurous. After all you are not going to find another one so each item you try on is a completely new experience. We had loads of fun and Mademoiselle Robot was a really good model for my clothes.

If you are interested in purchasing one of Naomi's vintage dresses, go and have a look at her website.

Photos by Federica Bardelli
All clothes from Vintage Secret.
Shoes - my own.

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It was such a great experience for me that I decided to let one of my London readers win a style consultation with Naomi where I will be taking photos and doing an interview that will then be published on MademoiselleRobot.com.
I don't mean to discriminate against my readers outside of London, but Naomi and I are both based here so it is easier to organize.

To enter, it is easy: simply email mellerobot@gmail.com with a photo of you in your best vintage find, telling me the story of how you found it and how it makes you feel.
Best story/photo wins!
The runner-up will have their photo and story published on the blog as a separate post.
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