I spent yesterday afternoon in Kalk Bay, and had the privilege of wearing the most beautiful, diaphanous drape of a silk shirt, courtesy of my friend Olivia’s mom.
I had been umming and ahhing over an over-sized GAP men’s button down over cut off denim shorts, which I had cinched with a broken chain necklace of Olivia’s (for lack of a belt on hand). Her mom, seeing my dilemma, disappeared into her room and returned bearing an armful of vintage printed silk blouses – my true weakness in life (along with Daim, musicians and outlandish headgear). Profusely floral, with glistening umber buttons and a notched neckline, the blouse is transparent enough to be provocative, but full enough to be sophisticated. And I positively frolicked whilst wearing it. (I do have one full length shot of me in it, which I will post later on today).
This particular blouse is a case in point. The first thing I hunt for when entering a vintage store is the silks – often they are paired with an offending pants partner; something overly pleated and unflattering. Many times I have bought such pairs and turned the trousers into a skirt or used the fabric for some sort of belt later on. But my silk shirt collection remains my pride and joy. Light as anything, floaty and cool, I reserve these vintage gems for occasions when only utter comfort and luxeness will do. And you can find the most unusual things.
Take for instance the most prized of my collection – this purple print Celine beauty. I found her in the Knysna Animal Welfare charity shop, along with an alarmingly pleated skirt. My fingers glanced the cool, golden links of the chain sewn into the neckline and I was sold. Celine! Silk! In Knysna? It’s moments like these that make me a little delirious – they are the catalyst for an all day high.
The print is almost, but not quite snake print, and it has a pussy bow at the neckline, along with a row of gleaming purple buttons. The cuffs are tight as can be at the wrist and I just love it. I had a mini freak out when my mother ignored my serious instructions, while she was visiting recently, to please NOT machine wash my silks. The result was that Celine emerged two shades lighter – no longer the jewelled purple I had come to caress in my cupboard. She is now a fetching shade of lavender. I say fetching with emphasis, because I have had to begrudgingly get over it and deal with her metamorphosis graciously.
Another favourite is this grey and white print, double-breasted blouse I got at a vintage fair during the Grahamstown Festival years and years ago. I love, love, love it to death. It is floaty as anything, looks great by day or by night, and is such an unusual and elegant cut. The neckline is slightly pleated and two hidden press studs along the way that allow you to wear it either low cut over something else, or buttoned almost to the neck. I always receive compliments when wearing this blouse and I honestly believe it was meant for me.
Most of my silk blouses were discovered in my hometown, Knysna. And for that very reason I am extremely excited to be returning home for the holidays at the end of this week.
First on my list of things to do is to hit all my favourite vintage grottos – often I go there before I even drop my bags at home, because they insist upon being fickle and having strange opening hours, on strange days. This is, of course, all the better to preserve the most rare of their gems for those of us that are willing to make sacrifices to have the privilege of finding them.
And that is the true beauty of the perfect vintage silk blouse – elusive, enduring, endearing.