Authenticity in my 1940's outfits is very important to me and for many who are involved in historical impressions. No matter what historical period you want to recreate, the principles for creating an accurate outfit are the same.
It must be realized that it is perfectly fine to not create a perfectly accurate ensemble, most especially if you are simply interested in wearing vintage on a regular basis. However, many of us strive for perfection in our vintage style wardrobes. To get to that level of superb authenticity takes time and likely some mistakes along the way. :)
I should say that I don't own any period clothing, only accessories. What is important to me is that I achieve "the look" even if it is achieved with modern garments or clothes that I have made that fit the period. That is my definition of an accurate period outfit. I would much rather be complimented with "You look like you stepped out of a photograph!" than be completely decked out in all vintage items.
I must confess that I have often been in a hurry to get an outfit finished and put together in time for an event, which means that I don't take as much time to find what I really want, or the time to do the research I need to find something that is accurate. I have done quite a bit of shopping in ignorance, which is part of the learning process.
One thing I need to remember is to (if possible) take my time and do my research, and then look long and hard when shopping to find what I really want. (Otherwise I end up with the consequences of less money in my pocket) :) But if you really don't have the time, just go for it and have fun! I think it is better to try and fail, than not try at all! For example see the picture above. The outfit I wore was awfully inaccurate, but I had fun doing it. Recognizing the inaccuracies has spurred me on to try again and again. It will take awhile to get it all right. (Not many people have the budget to buy it all at once, nor the expertise.) Many outfits later I am still working on it. (But I finally did get some seamed stockings!) But do please be careful about making rash decisions just to get into the middle of it. : ) There is a difference between stepping in the water with thought and planning knowing you still have to learn to swim and will occasionally flounder, and jumping in without any prior knowledge of swimming. :) Although this doesn't matter if you aren't going for an accurate portrayal of a period.
I have gotten much more comfortable looking through vintage patterns and approximately dating them to the correct period, pre-war (late '30s), early war (as in pre rationing), late war, and post war, at least to the point where I am fairly sure, and then will look the date of the pattern up to confirm. I am also more comfortable looking for vintage shoes. Again it takes quite a bit of just "hanging out" with vintage styles.
One area, I do hope to grow in is that of period fabric. I know to a certain extent of what the common materials were, but the prints are eluding me. A dress can be made in a period pattern, with the right material, but if the pattern isn't quite right, it about ruins it for me. It has to scream 1940's at me. So that is where my research is being focused. In the mean time, I continue to buy fabrics that seem of the right era. Usually about a few weeks later, I change my mind, but I can continue to hope to improve. :)
I will always be learning more about this period of fashion. I would love to hear how others like to wear vintage, and what their definition of an "accurate" vintage outfit is.
Sarah loves to sew, learn more about sewing, and create items with a vintage flair. Her arch enemy is clipping curves, and she has a tolerable relationship with the seam ripper.
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