When I was just a small girl, I had a china collection. Little ceramic squirrels, a tiny tea set (with a teeny teapot, obvs), dainty vases and other little pieces. I was taught from a young age an appreciation of beautiful things. When my great Aunt Betty passed away, I was given her costume jewellery collection of paste sparkly brooches, clip-on earrings and random other pieces to dress up in. They weren't worth anything money wise, but to me they were treasures.
Around the time grunge came along, I was a sullen teenager, obsessed with Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love. (I still look a tad sullen in this photo. It's just that I'm rubbish at photos!) Inspired by Love's baby-doll dresses and torn tatty slips (with good dose of my own gothic tendencies thrown in), I spent my weekends trawling Auckland's charity shops and markets looking for vintage clothing (in-between trips to the record shops). From the gorgeous old lace dresses to the nylon slips that I wore paired with fishnets and my Babes in Toyland t-shirt, it was a fun obsession and that's never really gone away. While I pass over anything nylon these days and I no longer wear slips as skirts, I'm still fairly obsessed with anything old and lacy. Unlike my teenage friends who wore ripped jeans and flannel shirts during the grunge years, I still have some of my more precious dresses packed away in boxes at my mother's (along with that Babes in Toyland t-shirt).
My sleepwear collection started with an incredibly delicate bed jacket in the softest pale blue silk, trimmed with cream lace. I found it tucked away in a tiny antiques stores in the historic small town of Akaroa, way down in New Zealand's South Island. London has obviously fuelled my obsession no end. Antiques markets, junk stores, charity shops, overpriced vintage stores - I'll always have a good rummage for the perfect piece. My eBay watch list is full of silk sleepwear - bed jackets and nightdresses, slips and sleepwear. The majority of my sleepwear and slip collection is from the 1930s through to the 1950s. Embroidered pieces in the palest of blush, peach and dreamy cream are my favourites.
"That's your colour," the old man on the antiques stall said to me when I recently bought a 1930s slip in pale rose. Made with the tiniest of hand stitches, miniature buttons, teeny tucks, hand embroidery and the prettiest laces. Old labels from New York, London or Paris only makes each piece even more charming. Some have never been worn. Others have tiny holes or marks. All are very much adored
I'm still looking for a pair of peach tap pants to add to my collection, although vintage underwear kind of grosses me out a bit. Preferably they'll be unworn, thanks. Do I wear the pieces from my collection? Rarely. If I do throw on a bed jacket like a blouse on a balmy summer's day, I spend most of it in fear of someone (probably me) spilling something on it - red wine, beetroot, coffee, makeup.
I know they should be worn. They're too beautiful to be tucked away in a drawer. Maybe I could just wear them I get up in the morning? Couple of problems there. 1. The majority of the time it's too cold in England to wear anything but a cosy robe first thing, and 2. then I'd definitely be guaranteed to get coffee or makeup on it in my half-awake state. Maybe one day, I'll have an old dressmakers dummy for displaying my treasures instead... What do you collect? I'd love to know! xx