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Winter Review: Top 5 Vintage Inspired Outfits

Here at Collectif we love finding out about our lovely community, and this month we have a real treat for you! We talk to the queen of dressing up (at home!) and long-time Collectifette Yana Prendergast to give us the lowdown on her favourite pieces from the season and how she discovered Collectif and all things vintage inspired.

Hi Yana. Firstly we have to ask you – what’s a Collectifette??!

Wow that’s a hard one! It grew out of the Facebook group Collectif Vintage Love and Therapy and I think it can mean so many things to its members.
At the heart of it I believe a Collectifette is a true lover of the brand, with a love of the vintage scene and a firm believer in vintage fashion – not vintage values. We love the way Collectif’s clothes make us look and feel and are equally concerned about supporting one another. Whether that’s clothing and hair advice to being someone to lean on, to talk worries through, to ask advice, laugh and cry with. A Collectifette steps up and supports group members. We’re quite a family.

When did you discover Collectif? 

I used to be a reporter on local newspapers – I had to take part in a course learning to jive and then write a feature on it. It was taught by Robin and Collette – who organise the fantastic annual weekender, the Rhythm Riot. Those lessons were my first sighting of the wonderful clothing and friendly recommendations which led me to Collectif. Being able to try the clothes on in a shop with really helpful staff was a great experience. Hard to believe that was actually 23 years ago!

Can you tell us more about your vintage style?

At first I dipped my toe in the 40s with pencil skirts, sarongs and knitwear. I physically suit a 40s style with its more streamlined rationing of fabric but I like to research the history of things I’m interested in and once I’d seen Dior’s Bar Suit, which launched the New Look, I knew I’d found what I really wanted. The elegance of a big circle skirt or dress with full petticoat, matched with fitted tops or knitwear and a nipped in waist makes me a 50s girl through and through.  I actually feel under-dressed if I’ve not got a petticoat on even if I’m just staying at home all day – should I mention I now own 31 petticoats! And don’t get me started on the wonders of great foundation wear – they may be ugly but I find them essential for creating the 50s shape I prefer. Whilst I love swing skirts and dresses sometimes I do need trousers or jeans and again I look to the 50s for inspiration with their high waisted versions and turn ups. I’m fortunate enough to have my own very large dressing room where I can relax and enjoy the “me-time” of choosing my outfits. I wear vintage every day because it makes me smile and feel good about myself. That’s why I like reproduction – the washing machine takes care of everything!

We really love the way you accessorise, tell us how you match different pieces and colour palettes

I like to call the look “put together” where I think each outfit needs accessorising to give it a finished look. I don’t feel I look completed without the little things like a bright snood and hair flowers, bangles or even the right coloured seams of my stockings. I even like to ensure my umbrellas complement my coats and handbags.
When I pick an outfit I look at the most vibrant colour to build upon. Whether that’s the colour of the shoes or the pattern in a dress. If the clothing is a plain or quiet pattern I can brighten it with a bolero (in my opinion the Jean bolero is one of the best products ever created by Collectif and is beautifully designed to keep you warm yet show off the fit of your clothing perfectly. Oh dear I’ve just realised I have 13 – is that too many?).

I recently purchased the Jasmine Floral festive swing skirt because it’s got a lovely Christmas design on it. Its base colour is black but the poinsettia is a gorgeous burgundy. So it was easy to pair it with the Chrissie top in black, and have wine as the accessorising colours for the Jean bolero and my snag tights. And of course I had to find bangles which pulled out all those colours. I’ve quite an extensive collection because they’re such pretty and easy accessories so I’m glad Collectif now stocks Splendette which is one of my favourite bangle makers.

I wear a lot of blue, green and burgundy so I make sure I have plenty of knitwear, jewellery, tights or seamed stockings, and shoes in complementing shades too.
One of my favourite dresses from this season is the Caterina in orange as it doubles up for both winter and summer. I knew as soon as I bought it that it would go with a lot of my current clothing as it’s important to me to reuse things.  But also buying something to add to it would refresh the look – in this case the new Georgia block heel in orange and cream.

What are your top 5 Collectif Autumn / Winter pieces so far?

In the winter it is easy to fall into the trap of wearing only dark colours as a way of keeping warm. I like to offset them with bold colours as a way of keeping my spirits up. Which is particularly important in the current times where lockdown has had an adverse effect on many of us.
My top five autumn winter pieces so far – in no particular order as I love them all – are the Arwen in moss hill check swing dress. It’s a gorgeously soft long sleeved dress with the most wonderful shades of brown, mustard and green. I don’t tend to wear plain brown on my top half as I sort of fade away, so I love this as the colours all work well together for a warm look. I live in layers in the winter and this mustard bolero is an absolutely perfect match. My cat, Olivia-Jane is fond of this dress because it’s soft and always purrs as soon as it comes out of the wardrobe. She has great taste and is almost a permanent feature of my dressing room. Usually she looks like a stuffed animal in my rocking chair but I promise you she’s alive and well!

The librarian Caterina is superb (who doesn’t love a Caterina!) as you can wear it brightened with mustard or toned down with navy. It’s a gorgeously soft plaid too.
The Dolores berry floral doll dress is again a great colour and pattern for all year and it works perfectly with the new green jean bolero too.

Collectif kindly gifted me the gorgeous Suzanne valley check swing dress which is fast becoming one of my favourites. It’s a lovely warm green and orange mix. I love the boat neckline and 3/4 length sleeves because I get very cold so this helps keep me warm but is still very 50s. It’s got a fitted waist and flares into a big skirt so of course I can wear my petticoats with it. It’s yet another dress that goes well with the orange bolero if I need a cover-up or the Molly jacket which I have in green. The Marcia faux fur bolero is also fantastic. I have many swing long-length coats like the Claudia, but if it’s not raining I like short jackets because they leave my skirts and petticoats free and create a shapely silhouette. This is incredibly warm and sooo smart it’s one of my favourite pieces. I often wear it with my black Milla skirt and I’ll be getting that in the yellow too as that will certainly brighten winter time.

I love the glamour of the Dolores glitter drops dress in black. It’s such a simple pattern but so elegant. This is next on my list to purchase for a dinner date with my lovely husband. As we’ve not been able to go out as much as we’d like to I occasionally change for dinner at home and make the most of it in something really beautiful and swishy!
The Atomic Caterina is such a great print and really screams of the innovation and science of the 50s. All those accent colours give me so much to work with for accessories too – I can focus on the yellow, green, red, cream or just the black. It’s incredibly versatile and also looks lovely with the Marcia jacket.

Would you show us a special piece that means a lot to you and tell us why?   

Almost all my favourite clothing is closely associated with good memories. So I’m going to be greedy and mention not one but two pieces.
The first is the Nina dress. I saw it in the Brighton store about 2 or 3 years ago and as soon as I stepped out of the changing room my husband said “we’re definitely buying that, you look beautiful”. We moved house last year and I was up to my eyes in painting and decorating and rebuilding furniture and living in overalls. He insisted we stop for my birthday and I should “put on a fancy dress” to go out for a meal. I wear it because it makes me feel like a princess with its layers of tulle, tiny flowers and sheer elegance.

The second is the blueberries Dolores. It reminds me of my holidays in the sun, and I wore it a lot during the Summer lockdown when walking around my village where I’ve become known as “The Vintage Lady”. I love it so much I had my company mascot redesigned so that she was wearing it!

Can you tell us what you like to do when you’re not putting together fabulous outfits!!? 

I am a very lucky lady because I run my own business, Lovingly Labelled, which makes personalised children’s gifts. I started it because I have such an odd name myself. It does keep me very busy but lockdown encouraged me to take some time for myself.
My workshop is in my garden and it’s large enough to have the space for my personal sewing. I dabble in making myself simple circle skirts and swing dresses. It’s hard work but I like the challenge of trying to make sense of a pattern and creating something from metres of fabric.
When I’m not working or sewing I love to dance, having been a jiver for many years. Live music is so cheering and I’ve really missed events like Twinwood, Festival of Vintage, the Rhythm Riot, and meeting up with my ladies like at the Collectif Summer Party – last year’s was a blast and I’m hoping we can get back to it next year.
I have an Instagram account (@modern_life_vintage_loves) where I share my clothing style. I get asked quite a lot of questions about styling and also confidence issues people have worrying about wearing their vintage look for everyday life. I’m happy to share any knowledge I’ve gained and when I get time I also go into more depth in my blog  www.modernlivingvintageloving.com where I review things I like too.

Thank you Yana, we have loved getting to know you better and can’t wait to see more of your style soon 
xxx

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