So here are the final must haves for your wardrobe:
Pajamas – So comfortable – I like to imagine a pajama-filled world where Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford swan around in wide-legged satin pajamas, Claudette Colbert in an oversize version stolen from Clarke Gable – the reality is a world full of women in sweatpants, flannels and old t shirts – noooo ban these hideous items from your wardrobe NOW. Replace them with a pair made of silk or the finest cotton – hunt in vintage shops for lovely silk ones or the men’s department for soft cotton.
Pea coat – unfussy practical and warm. They are always in style and available from the high – street, designer and vintage. Go for a classic colour – navy, black, grey or loden green.
Pearls – layer them long and opera length a la Coco Chanel, a vintage single strand with your LBD or twin set, mix them with costume jewellery again very Chanel.
Pencil Skirt – immediately conjures images of femme fatales, there is power in the pencil skirt and a certain sophistication. The hemline should fall just below or just above the knee, it should always be snug but never tight.
Perfume – a scent is a powerful weapon, it can take you back in an instant to moments in time. Some women have a summer and winter perfume or change to what is fashionable or a certain celebrity is launching I personally think that it is fabulous to find a signature scent and stick to it – mine Black Orchid by Tom Ford.
Red lipstick – nothing says Hollywood glamour like a red lip and no vintage girl would be without one! The best ones out there are – Mac Rooby Woo, Chanel Red, Clinique Angel Red for a luxury brand, Cover Girl Really Red and Mabeline and Rimmel do some great ones for those on a more limited budget. A fabulous quote from the late great Isabella Blow who never went anywhere with out her flash of red on her lips – “If you don’t wear lipstick. I can’t talk to you!!!”
Robe – a silk robe is essential for after baths or morning afters. I admire a woman who has good lounge wear – you can open the door or accidentally get locked out without any embarrassment.
Cotton, cashmere and silk are the three standards – no over sizes terry toweling please. Consider a vintage kimono or wearing man’s silk robe is very sexy, and for a cosier option I like the idea of a gentleman’s quilted one.
Silk Scarf – French women know how to wear a scarf if you ever get a chance sit at a Parisian cafe and admire how they wear them – scarves as belts, tied round the handle of bags, tied through the loops of a trench, and around the neck tied in 100 different ways. They are a great way to add colour to your wardrobe, and can be picked up for a few pounds from vintage and charity shops.
Slippers – the finishing touch to your lounging outfit, think of a sheepskin lined pair for cosiness for winter or Moroccan – style which lets you run to the corner shop without looking like a nut. The ultimate luxury – a monogrammed pair in the finest wool!!??
Stilettos – I am a high heel girl and you can never have too many pairs of shoes in my book. The stiletto is the ultimate statement shoe it makes you feel powerful, sexy and taller!! Introduced in the late 50’s, and now available in every colour and shape at every price level. A must have is a classic black, nude – which make your legs look as they go on forever and a bright bold colour of your choice.
Striped Sailor Shirt – French through and through – no French film would be complete without one – think Jean Seberg in Breathless and of course Bardot in Cannes. Wear it with a pair of carpi’s or pencil skirt for total French chic.
Suit – what could be more fabulous than a 40’s suit with a wide shoulder and nipped in waist or a 50’s fitted jacket and a full skirt, whatever your era, make sure it fits your perfectly – it is worth having it altered to get the fit right.
Buy one in a neutral colour and dress it up with bright accessories.
Sunhat – necessary to protect your hair from the sun and put the finishing touch to your summer frock. Wide brimmed, saucer or cloche in straw – accessorize with flowers, fruit and scarves to match with the outfit you are wearing.
Trench – when you are wearing a great trench what you have on underneath isn’t important. Catherine Deneuve in The Umbrella’s of Cherbourgh or agin Audrey in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and any 40’s film noir are the icons to aspire too.
Tuxedo suit – a fabulous and sexy alternative to the LBD – think Marlene Dietrich in gender bending style, Louise Brook’s with her sharp bob and pearls. YSL did the ultimate in 1965, again with your suit make sure it fits you like a dream, add a brooch to the lapel or if your feeling very daring nothing underneath. Just a note to how things have changed – Nan Kemper a noted New York socialite walked into a restaurant wearing a tux suit in the early 60’s and was told that she couldn’t enter wearing a pair of trousers – she promptly dropped the trousers folded them over her arm walked in and sat down at her table!!!
Umbrella – weathermen can’t be trusted and we know from experience that the British climate is nothing but unpredictable. I have the smallest one I can find that fits into all my vintage handbags (except the tiny evening ones) but it is also lovely to carry a stylish vintage one – or vintage style as some of the really vintage ones are so beautiful it seems a shame to get them wet.
Valid passport – just in case – you never know if your other half may surprise you or you remember to book the holiday but forget that your passport runs out the week before you fly. Buy yourself a smart cover for it in a bright leather so you never loose it.
Vintage – what can I say – the only way to dress in my opinion, not as cheap as it used to be but finding a one off amazing dress or suit makes your heart beat a little faster. If you are a vintage virgin start with accessories such as bags, brooches, and scarves. It is the only way to own a little bit of history and turn up to a function knowing that no-one else will have on the same outfit as you.
Watch – I don’t always wear a watch, I tend to use my phone to check the time but I have always fancied a delicate vintage one, I am not one for big chunky men’s ones as I prefer something more feminine.
Wayfarers – worn by everyone from Kim Novack and of course Audrey, they were created in 1952 and have been a classic ever since. You can now buy them in many of colours but black is the ultimate chic and the other great thing they come in prices to suit all budgets.
Wide-Leg Trousers – we owe a debt to Katerine Hepburn for the wide-leg trouser. They offer freedom of movement and are glamorous, think Ginger Rogers tapping with Fred Astaire and you get the picture.
Only wear a wide-leg trouser styles with something fitted on top to balance the look. Look for a pair with a cuff and leave the length long – too short is just wrong. A flat front is more flattering and take care of pocket placement you don’t want to widen your hips. Go for black, white, camel, a grey flannel or pinstripe for enduring style.
Wrap dress– in the 70’s Diane Von Furstenberg made the wrap dress in the go to staple for women of every shape and size. (It wasn’t a new thing I found recently an ad in one of my 50’s magazines for the “most flattering” of shapes for any women to wear – a wrap dress). It hugs in all the right places and drapes elegantly over others, buy it in jersey to enhance your curves – dress it up or dress it down – it will never let you down.
Zest and Zeal – this is my addition and although not a wardrobe item they are essential in my book. This big bad world can be tough but if you dress up look fabulous and live life with zest and zeal it makes it seem a whole lot better.