Monday, 24 October 2011

How to do...the 1940s

How to do...the 1940s

The fashion of the 1940's, in the UK at least, was very much dominated by WWII. With the introduction of rationing and many imported items being unavailable, the 'make do and mend' ethic was in full force. From curtains to eggs, everything had an alternative (and sometimes bizarre) use, and this was certainly evident in fashion too. Many items were repaired and re-worked until they literally fell apart, and even then they were repurposed for dusters or hankies! Part of the charm of vintage 1940s clothing is seeing how many alterations and repairs you can spot - sometimes there are more patches than garment. However, a few distinct fashion styles emerged in the 40's, marking it out as an era of elegance and glamour despite the war.
With the menfolk off at war, women adopted a more masculine style, evident in the wide shoulders, nipped in waist and sharp tailored look which became so synonymous with this era. Women wanted to be seen as important and useful as men, whilst maintaining a glamourous edge for their loved ones and sweethearts when they came home. No woman would be seen out without her hat and gloves, and in the absence of silk for stockings, gravy browning worked a treat to create that distinct seam line at the back of the leg! The 1940s is often viewed as a really important time for women as they kept the home front running, with landgirls keeping food in the fields and machine girls keeping the factories ticking over. Meticulous hairstyles were kept neat and tidy under headscarves, and cherry red lipstick brightened up an otherwise makeup free face. By the late 1940s, Hollywood film stars like Rita Hayworth and Lauren Bacall dominated the fashion scene, and paved the way for the softer, girlier fashions of the 50's.

To recreate this look like I have done here, you don't necessarily need to invest in vintage 40's clothing, which is not only expensive, but hard to find in modern sizes too. The 1980s copied the 40's look to a certain extent, and as you can see from the 80's dress here, a delicate cotton print, nipped in waist and shoulder pads give just the right shape. Accessorise the look with a veiled hat (another 80s find) and perhaps a real or fake fur stole (a real fashion must-have in the 40's) As I mentioned earlier, no outfit was complete without a pair of gloves - check out these lovely cream crochet ones. You can buy modern versions of these on the high st, or scour your local charity shop. Finally, an elegant snakeskin handbag and low heeled, lace up shoes finish the look. These are both original 1940s ones, and can be found on ebay or your nearest vintage shop (Urban Village of course!) All of these items are available in our ebay shop in the next few weeks, so keep an eye out.

Monday, 17 October 2011

“Scooter, Suit, Haircut, Parka…

“Scooter, Suit, Haircut, Parka…

The Visual Mod Stereotype.”

There a 2 types of 'Mod' Parkas. The M-51 & the M-65. The 'M' standing for Military and the number the year it came into issue. Both had a 'Fishtail' which was designed to "be tied around the upper legs...for added wind proofing as they are not, as some think, waterproof (1)". Both have a liner but the main difference between the two is that the M-65 has a removable hood and the M-51 an attached.

The US Parka - A little bit of history.

The Godfather of the all Parkas Is the M-48. A sturdy no nonsense piece of Military Kit hard to find, and highly collectable due to the limited numbers that were made. When the Korean War started there was a need for a similar coat that could be used in combat but was much cheaper to mass produce than the M-48 hence, the birth of the M-51.

The first ones were made of the much heavier cotton as used in the M-48's but this proved both costly and impractical due to the drying time once they got wet. This is the reason why we ended up with shinier 'Sateen' material.

Made in the US up to 1956 and in Germany up to 1958 there was a second run "around 1963 for UK & Canadian specification (1)". No more M-51's were made which takes us up to 1965 with the M-65 Parka – now a cheaper alternative to the highly prized M-51.

Why the US Fishtail Parka?

Most countries have their own versions but it was the US versions which made it onto every self respecting Mods back.

Firstly, it was cheap and widely available. For the same reasons Mods could often get hold of Levis maybe the American G.I's populating the Soho Jazz clubs were pawning their Army issued clothing for Bourbon money.

Secondly, and more importantly, were the dimensions and construction. They had both a liner and a shell so were suitable for both summer and winter wear but they were also fantastically roomy as they were made to fit over uniform. Many other Parkas seemingly aren't designed to get much under them. As a result you could get in one with your suit on and with it being longer than a German Parka, for example, there was much less chance of getting your sharp attire marked by an overflowing London pothole.

The Parka Today

The function of the Parka for todays Mod is different. It is very much emblematic than actually role playing - It is a want rather than a need. Where the 60s mod needed to keep their clothes neat and dry todays needs to show he is ‘in the club’ – it’s very much part of the Uniform.

Of course it still kind of fulfills a role for the Scooterist but chances are that underneath the Parka is a pair of 501’s and Fred Perry Polo – the big, baggy cover all coat again is to meet criteria. Further more it’s ironic that the initial attraction was the availability and the price. Kids getting into the scene who want the ‘uniform’ usually have to make do with a high-street imitation.

Still, this doesn’t detract from the fact that people still want, what is effectively, army surplus. And the rising price of these fast disappearing relics only makes them more desirable.

Urban village stock M-51 & M-65 Parkas - prices dependant of condition but as a rule of thumb £100 for the M-65 & £150 upwards for the M-51..


(1) - Wikipedia

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Warm woollys and cosy knits

Now the cold weather is here, it is time to stock up your wardrobe with warm woollys and cosy knits. We have a fantastic selection of Aran and cable knit cardys and jumpers for men and women - these just remind me of long winter walks and hot mugs of cocoa (or drizzly rain and luke warm tea, depending on how rose tinted your glasses are...) The only problem with vintage knitwear is the dreaded moth holes! These little blighters turn a fabulous garment into a ruined mess, that is unless you know how darn and make that hole disappear. Darning is really easy and if done correctly, creates an almost invisible repair, bringing your clothes back to life. It works best on chunkier, knitted clothes, but can also be applied to finer wool and even silk, if done with care and patience.
So, what do you need? Depending on the weight of your fabrics, a darning or embroidery needle. (Heavier fabrics need a thicker needle, light fabrics a finer one.) Let's assume you're repairing one of these lovely cable knit jumpers. You've got yourself a nice thick darning needle, now you need some thread. If you can find some wool to match your jumper that would be perfect, but failing that some embroidery thread would work almost as well. (Normal sewing thread would probably be a little thin for this repair.) Don't forget it needs to be a close a match to the colour of your item as possible.
The idea behind darning is to recreate the weave of the fabric, so look closely at the hole. Can you see where the threads have broken? You should be able to spot the horizontal and vertical threads, and you want to follow these with your needle and thread to 'fill in' the hole, rather than pull it together. So, put a knot in the end of your thread, and pull the needle through the top left hand side of your hole, with the knot on the inside. (Leave some space between the edge of the hole and your stitching, so that it doesn't pull through the broken threads and create a bigger hole!) Work down in long stitches to join the fabric on the other side. Don't pull it tight, as this will make the fabric pucker up. Imagine you are filling in the gap with thread. Now make a small stitch across, and come back up to the other side, continuing this until you reach the bottom right of the hole. It should look a little like a sideways ladder, with small stitches all round the outside of the hole. Now do the same again but this time working left to right, weaving the needle up and down through the first layer of stitching. You should start to see your woven patch filling in the hole and creating a nice flat repair in your knit. Check out this vintage example from a wartime 'make do and mend' leaflet!
Oh, and if you want to get your hands on one of the lovely aran jumper of cardigans (without holes of course!), check out our ebay page now, for gems like this:

Oh, and if you fancy buying one of our lovely jumpers (without holes of course!) Check these ones out on our ebay page now!

Ruth, Urban Village

Monday, 10 October 2011

'Whole lotta love'

The Strange journey of 'Whole Lotta Love'

"Talent Borrows, Genius Steals" - Oscar Wilde

Now, Urban village doesn't just love vintage clothes. It loves the culture, the tunes, the ideas and sentiments which forms what we love about vintage. 'Whole lotta love' is the pure definition of a vintage tune. On the face of it it's a great timeless tune, but on the flip-side there's another vintage. A vintage that takes into account decades of influences that merge to form a confluence of cultures, people and ideas.

To get slightly technical - there are but 12 notes a musician can compose with. Of course these 12 notes can be combined in inumerable ways to create harmony. But because there are but 12 notes some songs, tunes, ditties, describe them how you will, step on each others toes from time to time and sound the same.

Sometimes this happens by accident (ask Coldplay but possibly not Joe Satriani), sometimes it can be much more deliberate....

...and this is where our Urban Village Vintage blog takes a look at the strange story of Page/Plant; Marriott/Lane & Dixon/Morganfield (Muddy to his friends).

I paraphrase Jimmy Page when questioned on the overt nature of L.Z's borrowings. 'If Robert had have just changed the words I don't think people would have noticed'. Plant didn't change much, especially on the 1st two albums, which much later led to Willie Dixon being given joint credit for a lot of the tunes (after a 1985 lawsuit).

So where should we start? At the begining or the middle? The beginning I think.

Chances are that if it was on Chess & the first time you heard it it smacked you straight in the face it was written by Willie Dixon. Dixon wrote for all the big names in the Chess stable as well as being the bass player on many-a-tune. "You need love" was recorded by Muddy Waters and released by chess in 1962. Many an ear was cocked in the 'Thames Delta'. As we shall see.... Check this out.

The Small Faces debut album in 1966 was much rawer then the immediate stuff which most people remember. Marriott/Lane where just taking their first steps in the songwriting game with support from the band and Kenny Lynch. As a result they needed a bit of help from the past. 'You Need Loving' would later escape the courtroom wrath of the Willie Dixon case but Heaven knows how or why - maybe the knots that the Small Faces had tangled themselves in mangement-wise was just not worth the investigative time or money.

And so we end with Page, Plant, Jones & Bonham. The tune, now a rock classic, powered by one of the greatest riffs of all time has its roots planted firmly in the Dixon penned tune but the phrasing and delivery is all Marriott.

Plant would later go onto say: "Page's riff was Page's riff. It was there before anything else. I just thought, 'well, what am I going to sing?' That was it, a nick. Now happily paid for. At the time, there was a lot of conversation about what to do. It was decided that it was so far away in time and influence that...well, you only get caught when you're successful. That's the game".

In a statement that you wouldn't expect from a rock god he also went onto say "I could never be compared with Steve Marriott because he's too good, unfortunately! He's got the best white voice, for sheer bravado and balls."

Now let's not even get started on the Back door man reference in the Coda :o)

Richard, Urban Village.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Animal print

I love a bit of leopard print (I also love gin and Dolly Parton - it's a lethal mix) and I firmly believe it is something which is never out of fashion, and apparantly I'm not alone! Animal print is big news this season in the world of fashion, and although I know you lovely Urban Villagers don't need to follow the catwalk to look stylish, I do like to promote the leopard print look wherever possible. So if you want to channel your inner Bet Lynch, check out the glorious selection currently available in the shop, on the website and on ebay. We have leopard print, tiger print, snakeskin, ponyskin....
Ruth, Urban Village.