Johanna ÖstJohanna Öst

The blog of Swedish artist Johanna Öst.

Vintage reproduction companies

Aug 22, 2011

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While doing an inventory of my wardrobe for the approaching autumn I noticed I own quite a lot of vintage reproduction clothing. I thought I’d make a post reviewing my experiences with various vintage reproduction companies. I didn’t realise I had shopped at so many until I put this post together!

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The Glamour Merry Widow.

What Katie Did

What Katie Did was probably the first vintage reproduction place I ever ordered something from, and a big part of my lingerie collection comes from here. This is where I’ve gotten most of my bras and they’re all wonderful quality.

I have also gotten several stockings, which are beautiful, but snag pretty much right away. I haven’t tried any stockings from other reproduction companies but I’ve gotten the impression that this is the case with all reproduction stockings. After getting a some genuine vintage nylon stockings at a flea market just recently I’ve noticed that the difference in quality is huge. Not only do they not sag after bending like all my stockings from What Katie Did have, but they’re still in perfect condition after several days of wear.

I also have one merry widow from What Katie Did (the Glamour Merry Widow) which is both good and bad. It’s beautiful of course and fits great in the bra part, but since I already am thin with a small waist, the smallest size doesn’t do anything for my figure. It’s just not tight on me. This would probably not be a problem for anyone who isn’t super petite.

Another thing I find problematic is the garters. They’re permanently attached, so if I want to wear it in the summer without stockings, or with thick tights in the winter, the garters just flap around and hit my legs, not very comfortable. The boning also comes down to points in the front, which dig into your legs when you sit down.The points look pretty, but I wish the boning would stop a little higher up. I think it is so beautiful and really wish it didn’t have these problems.

I love most of What Katie Did’s designs, but I am not a fan of their “deep knickers”. I don’t like the “not quite high waisted” cut that comes just below the waist, and on me who is not super distinctly hourglass-shaped, they give the impression that my waist is lower than it is and my torso super long, very unflattering. For this reason I have only ever bought one pair of these, as part of the Josephine set (one of my favourites!). However they turned out to not only be unflattering but very painful. The fabric is very stiff and the seams very bulky, so they dig into my thighs something terrible, and whenever I try to wear them I come away with huge red marks and a burning pain. I hope I may have gotten a bad pair or something.

Despite these little problems I love What Katie Did and most of their designs are wonderful. I have lots of their items on my wishlist and am especially looking forward to trying the new French knickers. I’d even like to have some of their thongs, which says a lot since I usually dislike thongs and can’t imagine anything more uncomfortable.

Secrets in Lace

Another company I shop a lot with is Secrets in Lace. They are my main source for knickers, and I’ve actually never bought anything else from them. The knickers however are perfect. They all look absolutely perfectly vintage, and are so comfortable. I’ve tried a bunch of different designs (though all high waisted ones) and I love them all.

The only negative I can think of is that some of the very sheer knickers can tear easily if they snag on something ( I managed to ruin a pair that got caught on a zipper) but that is just the way with very thin fabrics.

Kiss Me Deadly

Since we’re on the subject of lingerie I can also mention Kiss Me Deadly. I only own one item from them, the Van Doren boned suspender belt, but it’s a great garter belt. Sturdy, basic and pretty.

I think the garters are a little bit short for most of my stockings that tend to come up a little bit higher than mid thigh on me, but it still works well. This is also the only proper garter belt I own so I don’t have anything to compare with. Before I owned this I had only used girdles to attach my stockings, and they go further down the leg.

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The Bombshell Strap Dress.

Vivien of Holloway

I own two items from Vivien of Hollyway. The first is the Pinafore Skirt, which I own in a green houndstooth wool fabric. I should mention that I ordered it a size too big and have altered it to fit, so it may not be exactly like the original. I love this skirt though, it’s warm and looks beautiful. The only problem is that the suspenders tend to fall down, but I’ve been thinking of getting some of that fashion tape stuff to keep them on my shoulders.

After seeing my photos of the green skirt Vivien of Holloway offered me to choose whichever item I wanted from their website, which was just incredible! This is the stuff you dream about happening. I used the opportunity to choose something completely impractical that I could never justify buying otherwise: a sparkly pink cocktail dress (the Bombshell Strap Dress)! I have only worn it about twice since I seldom have the opportunity to dress up, but it’s an amazing dress. It fits like a dream and has built in boning to keep the bodice in shape. There’s nothing subtle or effortless about it and I love it!

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Pace

I own the “022 Hi-Rider Female stretch” jeans from Pace. I have nothing bad to say about these, they’re just great jeans. The waist could be a bit smaller, but pretty much everything that fits my hips is more or less big in the waist.

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Heyday

I own the 1940s style ladies swing trousers from Heyday and they’re one of my favourite items of clothing. I have altered these to fit too since the waist was too big and the legs too long in the smallest size available when I got them. Otherwise they’re perfect, both beautiful and comfortable, and I highly recommend them.

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Tarantula Clothing Company

I also own a pair of pants from Tarantula Clothing Company. They no longer sell this design and only have the capri version. My pants are a bit longer though not quite full length. They originally had turned up cuffs but I turned them down to make them longer, and had to sew them a bit more tapered since the cuff part was almost flared when turned down. I wear these pants a lot. They’re super comfortable and look great. Again, the waist could be tighter, but it still looks good.

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Bettie Page Clothing

My dress from Bettie Page Clothing is beautiful, but I’m not very impressed by the quality. The sewing is a bit crooked, making one pocket bulge out more than the other, but this can be somewhat disguised with the belt. The fabric has also turned quite burled. The buttons have ugly and bulky white plastic backing which is pretty visible from the side, and some of them fell out almost right away. The buckle covering has also started fraying after a couple of year’s wear. I have altered the bodice, making both the “rib cage” and waist smaller, since the fit was pretty weird when I first got it.

Still, I love this dress and wear it a lot. It’s great for winter wear. It’s warm and also fully lined which means you don’t need to wear a slip with it.

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Re-Mix

I recently got the Babydoll Pumps from Re-Mix after having them on my wishlist since forever. My regular size turned out to be too small, and after exchanging for a bigger size, they were still a bit small. However since they are leather I sprayed the insides with water and wore them around the house for a couple of days, and they quickly stretched to a comfortable size. If I were to order again I’d definitely get two sizes up from my regular size though.

Apart from the sizing issues they are amazing shoes. Wonderful quality and so very beautiful. I wish I could afford a pair in every colour (and some of their other styles).

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Mode Merr

My worst experience with a vintage reproduction company has been with Mode Merr. I got their Original Vamp Dress and had such high hopes for it, thinking it would be my perfect little black dress. When it arrived the fabric was so non stretchy that I could hardly get it on, and when I finally got it on the sleeves were so tight they stopped my blood, even though the rest fit. I also remember not being very impressed with the fabric quality, but I really can’t remember what it was like anymore.

Anyway, I decided to return it for a bigger size, and they told me they were trying out a new fabric for the dress and my replacement would have a different fabric. This sounded great since I didn’t like the first fabric, but the replacement dress was just a disaster. The new fabric was some kind of spandexy almost bathing suit fabric, absolutely horrible, but I decided I’d give it a try anyway. After wearing it just twice, once at home and once to the grocery store, I noticed the fabric was completely frayed on the thighs. I don’t know if this was caused by walking or by rubbing against my very loose coat, but it was just unacceptable after such minimal wear. I did end up getting a refund, though not for the several shippings and customs. I really hope they have changed the fabric since.

Have you shopped at any of these reproduction companies, and have your experiences been different or the same? I’d love to hear about it!