Adventure In A Costume Closet

The past few weeks have left me feeling sort of reeling from travelling about so much at the same time as moving to London; Barcelona, Belfast, Dublin, Newcastle, no two weekend's have been spent in the same place for what feels like forever!

One rainy morning when I was in Whitley Bay, my dad's cousin Jane took me and my dad to see a man the know who collects vintage dresses. An amateur theatre fan, John has hundreds of costumes all boxed up that he's picked up over the years, often for next to nothing at antique markets or simply unwanted cast-offs. He is so adorable, a really cheerful wee old man. John has been friends with my family for a very long time indeed - as a kid, he used to help my great-grandfather on his allotmentHe made us scones while we were there and told us stories about the family members.

Jane and I looked through loads of dresses, and it was an incredible lesson in fashion history. We started with some incredible beaded evening gowns from the 1920s. I was struck, not only by the breath-taking beauty of the pieces, but how although the Roaring Twenties ws meant to be a decade where hemlines shortened, these were by no means the mini-dresses of the 1960s. But it was when we got out the Victorian mourning dresses, which just seemed insane that anyone would wear something so heavy all day everyday, that I realised where the Twenties were coming from. What a revolution to get women out of those corsets!

Unfortunately, as is the danger of digital, I managed to delete every single picture that I took of the collection, but my dad got a few of me in this dress that John actually made himself (what did I tell you? So cute!) and some 1920s shoes he has. We also saw some amazing evening gowns from the Thirties. My grandmother would have been making dresses exactly like those 20s and 30s styles when she was my age for her clients as a dressmaker, not to mention partying in the very same too!

The dresses have been featured in museum exhibitions and worn on stage too. It was a real treat to see them all in his home though, which as you can see, is amazing if you love vintage style, though arguably this isn't out of some hipster lifestyle choice. At the end, John kindly gave me a Jean Muir dress from the 1960s. So excited to wear it sometime in my new London life, will have to post a snap!

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