*PREVIEW* Style Me Vintage, 1940s by Liz Tregenza


liz book cover

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NB – no matter how high the res, WordPress is blurring all my pics – does anyone know how to sort this?

This week my publishers Pavilion and dear friend Liz are launching something a little bit different: A Style Me Vintage book dedicated to one era: the 1940s. There was only ever going to be one person to do this era justice. Having recently completed an MA on ‘British ready-to-wear 1946-66’, Liz knows this decade inside out. We are talking about the woman who can spot a Horrockses from a mile off, date it to the year and tell you the person who designed the print.

The 1940s is a divisive decade for vintage lovers. People either seem to love the ‘make do and mend’ element or loathe it. Reenactors can obsess over it yet it has been somewhat marketed as drab in this country.  This is about to change: Liz is on a mission to dispel myths.  The look and palate of her book are instantly 1940s  – but the drabness associated with this era is very much absent. Nor is it full of clichés or stereotypes and the abundance of novelty prints and evening dresses is a visual delight. The level of knowledge shared in this tome is astounding, but this will come as no surprise if you are a follower of her blog.

Liz effortlessly seams together the decade on both sides of pond, with nods towards trends in Germany and France. One forgets just how much went on fashion-wise in the 1940s. Being the decade primarily associated with wartime frugality in this country, we forget that the second half of the decade saw the explosion of another kind: The ‘New Look’. Liz dutifully takes us full throttle into post-war milestones and beyond.

As a dealer I love discovering information that helps to identify a dress. Who knew that black garments were rarely found in the UK as too much dye was needed? If that is not enough, Liz really flexes her historian muscles with her introductions on the Theatre of Fashion, Parisian scarf hats and the Zazous – an early French subculture. The book also covers weddings, swimwear, uniforms, as well as hair and make-up. In all, a complete compendium to the 1940s look.

Even if the 40s is not the era that most piques your interest, this is an excellent read for any vintage lover, history buff or fashion aficionado. This book is saturated with history, tips and insider knowledge that can only come from the rare, if not unique, combination of being a top notch fashion historian and fully paid up vintage lover, wearer and collector. This book certainly does not provide style at the expense of substance. This is just a hunch but I have a funny feeling this book is probably superior in its content than the one created to go alongside ‘Fashion on the Ration’ – the current exhibition at the Imperial War Museum… Style Me Vintage, 1940s  is published this Thursday by Pavilion.

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