I don’t know why it took me so long to write about 20th Century Foxy, because I’ve been eyeballing things on their website for over a year and I’m firmly convinced that I just need to buy a plane ticket and go shopping in the UK with all the great vintage repro I’m seeing. With a pun-tastic name, this line of womenswear takes its inspiration from the early to mid-20th century, citing the years 1925 through 1964 as inspiration. With an obvious passion for vintage style, 20th Century Foxy also has the goal of selling “top quality clothing produced locally and in ethical circumstances and using local or regional businesses where possible.” Further, they also want to appeal to a wide range of shapes and sizes – “there is the perfect outfit for every woman of every shape and that it will make her feel like a goddess.” YES THERE IS.
In addition to solid reproduction and vintage-inspired garments, they offer style guides for the 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s, with a bit of history, etiquette, key looks (with photos from the past paired with looks from the website), and a shopping list.
Here’s what I’d love to add to my closet from 20th Century Foxy:
I saved the dress so I could wear it this past weekend at Jammin on the James, a Lindy Hop workshop weekend in Richmond, Virginia, so that I could give it the full dance treatment of wearing it to dinner, social dancing, competing, and singing with the Blue Crescent Syncopators. It survived all of these activities without incident and remained fresh, from late afternoon through the late night dance with Naomi and her Handsome Devils.
The fabric is rayon, which has that wonderful “cold,” silky feel, with a bit of a textured sheen. The color is rich and the dot pattern on the fabric provides just enough decoration that it doesn’t compete with the little details in this dress that make it pop, like the wide collar and the pleating on the bodice. The dress zips up the side with a metal zipper (bonus vintage points!) and the skirt is cut on the bias, so it will lay nicely on the hips without hugging or bagging. My only complaint would be that the arm holes were a little low on me, but this is a common problem I have with garments – someone taller than my 5’2.5″ will be fine – and it didn’t noticeably inhibit my movement while dancing. I finished the look with Re-mix wedges and a fakelite rose pin to complete the repro ensemble.
I hope this Ithaca-based shop will continue to create reproductions, in addition to tending their vintage clothing shop – years of being around vintage clothing will make you want to re-create it and Petrunia has done so with all the right details.
I was in Bygones in Richmond, Virginia a few weeks ago and noticed a label that I had never seen before on their reproduction dress rack, attached to a very attractive dark teal rayon print dress. I, of course, forgot to write it down, but Bygones was able to connect the dots for me about Petrunia via Facebook…
…and, upon further investigation, it appears that Petrunia has an entire line of dresses and coats, many in shapes and fabrics reminiscent of the decades when swing dancing was popular.
From the website: “As specialists in vintage apparel and textiles we know that the most-cherished pieces that are kept and worn for decades share the traits of extraordinary quality and a style that serves the wearer as well as the latest trends. Certain pieces are so feminine and flattering that they are truly transformative, making the wearer look and feel her best. With this in mind we have recreated the fabrics and the fit and feel of some of the best coat and dress designs from the 1930s to the 1960s, and we have added modern fabric and design innovations.”
This is all very reassuring, inspiring confidence in a Petrunia purchase that it would have those qualities of vintage clothing. Regretfully, I didn’t purchase that dress at Bygones, but the fabric did feel like a dreamy cool rayon and the construction details were lovely.
It looks like there are only limited quantities of certain garments available for purchase directly through them, but there is an extensive list of retail locations around the United States where you can purchase Petrunia garments. Hopefully, this will change and you’ll be able to purchase everything online, but I don’t see any news to that effect, so we shall have to be patient.
(Edited to add that the owners of Petrunia contacted me to let me know they just launched an online store at http://shop.petrune.com/)
I am still on a peplum kick and fell in love with this 1940’s Asian novelty print dress with a lovely peplum. The combination of the cheerful color, the shape, that amazing cutout at the neckline, and this whimsical Asian print featuring little boats makes this dress. The only drawback is that this dress is from a NYC seller, which means it has a NYC price tag. Still…pretty fabulous. Perhaps a tongue-in-cheek wardrobe selection for the upcoming Eastern Balboa Championships?
This past weekend was my first trip to New Orleans, LA, which meant I was going to get a double dose of nerdy obsessive bliss – trad jazz and Trashy Diva. The occasion was to celebrate, bachelorette style, the upcoming nuptials of my dear friend Danielle McQueen, who also loves good music and beautiful dresses. On our Saturday in New Orleans the bride and bridesmaids headed over to Chartres Street to shop…
I blubbered like a blithering idiot when I got into the store, I was so excited to be there. The shop attendant was skeptical as I introduced myself as a blogger and asked if I could take photographs of the shop, but I probably sounded like a lunatic. The store was beautiful, so quintessentially French Quarter (but without all the Mardi Gras beads), and, most importantly, it was stocked full of every lovely Trashy Diva dress you can see on their website.
I’m pretty adventurous about buying clothing online, but it was so nice to be able to try on the dresses in the store. Candice Gwinn‘s designs are even more fetching in person. We all leaped in with gusto, each of us hitting either the jewelry counter, the dressing room, or both to take in all the wonderful things we spotted that wanted to come home with us. Danielle left with the dress of the day, the gorgeous deep red velvet Natasha dress, with beading at the shoulders and all around the waistband. The photo on the website doesn’t begin to do this gorgeous dress justice – it’s simply to die for – and it’s perfect for a Christmas or New Year’s Eve cocktail party or a winter dance opportunity.
We were running out of time, so we peeked into the Trashy Diva lingerie store next door to take in the wares. So many lovely, tiny, lacy things on racks! Of note, there are (what looked like) some excellent reproduction slips and nightgowns.
The bachelorette ladies flew out the next day, but I opted to stay an extra day so I could go dancing at d.b.a. to Tuba Skinny (so worth it! I even ran into Lindy Dandy!). This left me with most of Sunday to myself in New Orleans. Since the girls didn’t have time to visit the Trashy Diva shoe store the day before, I headed back to Chartres Street. The shoe shop is truly divine – an entire table is devoted to Re-mix shoes, a selection of the most adorable Aris Allens, and then there were even more fantastic and unfathomable shoes, as well as some more practical-yet-fabulous flats.
I struck up a less blubbery, but excited conversation with Rachel Scott, the keeper of the shoes, and managed to introduce myself like a human being, with coherent words and a Lindy Shopper business card. We proceeded to chat about so many wonderful things over the next hour and a half or so, shopping for shoes all the while, and the whole experience was delightful. After this conversation, I’m definitely looking forward to what Trashy Diva has in store for us in the future and have a greater appreciation for what Trashy Diva offers now in terms of products. Rachel also referred me to some other keen places in the French Quarter, where I could find bakelite, wigs and sparkly hair accessories, and some amazing pralines. To top it all off, the weather was perfect and sunny all day and I didn’t even need the sweater I packed in my bag.
I was scanning through my eBay search emails today and came across a listing for this 1940’s rayon print dress that showed a detailed photograph of the fabric and a button, rather than a photograph of the entire dress. Some sellers choose to do this, but don’t always capture the detail in a way that is compelling, the way the a photograph of the entire dress would. This listing, however, caught my eye because of this fantastic punctuation-themed print and the butter-colored buttons with metallic trim. On closer inspection, there were even more details in the dress, like smocking at the shoulders and what looks like smocking on the bodice just above the skirt. This seller, mir.a, is smart because just looking at the dress by itself, at a distance, it appears nondescript on its own and somewhat shapeless without a model – but showing off the dress’s fantastic details is enough for me to give this dress a further look (to discover it’s not in my size). Laid flat, measurements are 38 waist, 43 bust, free hips.
My love for Trashy Diva and their rayon print dresses knows no bounds. Their latest collection of dresses is no exception, with bright and cheerful summer prints in their classic dress shapes that are so flattering on so many figures. Here are some of my favorites from the collection:
I found two dresses on eBay today with a sort of…aquatic theme. The first is this hilarious yet fetching off-white dress with lobster detailing, a cut out midriff, and a matching lobster hat. I’m with the seller on this one, if it would fit I might consider picking this up for a 4th of July gig. The other dress is a wonderful blues-and-greens cocktail dress in a scale patterned rayon. I love that the skirt has two layers and the fabric is just gorgeous!
Emerald City Vintage on eBay has done it again, this time offering this fantastic 1940’s rayon dress with a print of ladies in gowns in silhouette, with a background of fans. How girly is this? The scene depicted in the fabric sort of screams gossip in the powder room, with the ladies checking their hair and bustles. I think it’s a really interesting piece because of this unique fabric and the way it is used on the bodice and at the hem. Pockets are also helpful and I like the way the skirt pleats come down from the pockets.
It seems that every clothing source I obsess over is doing something wonderful this week – Leluxe samples, 70% off at Mod Cloth, and – to put the cherry on my week-long clothing smorgasbord sundae – Trashy Diva has posted new dresses and some reissues of some of my favorite dresses, all in period-perfect, dance-perfect rayon prints. The pièce de résistance is one of their new fabrics, a charming fan print in Mardi Gras colors!
Love, love, love…and there’s many more than these styles on the website!