ava gardner in winter suit 1940

It has been a long time since I was last excited by the thought of an impending winter. Over the last few years I have been travelling through the most of those months and have missed out on those deep grey and rainy days.

Since being in Philly and getting a rough idea of what winter is like here (to say nothing of Chicago), I feel for you my American readers. The early spring days were cold enough for me, colder even than most of the Melbourne winters I’ve ever seen. The stories of snow so thick you have to stay indoors for days, that towns almost shut down as people struggle to go about their business. Rugged up in my thick winter puffer coat, furry collar and gloves, I was still so chilled by the wind that it gave me a headache. Putting winter into perspective has given me a whole new wave of inspiration and, as I think about all the lovely things I have in storage, I’ve started planning what I’d like to wear in these coming months.

With only a few days before I’m back on a plane to Australia, my friends at home tell me I had better be prepared for the cold grey days. And I remember, that being prepared, having a plan for go to outfits on those “freezing” days when you simply don’t want to get dressed, is the best way to get through those grey days with a smile on my face.

Oddly, I find that each season has a certain era to it in my mind. Spring and Summer are all 1950’s and 60’s, Autumn is more 1930’s, and Winter seems very 1940’s to me. I imagine that this is because there are certain iconic pieces from each era that work so well for those seasons. The 50s floral day dresses and 60s shifts, 1930s wide leg pants and jaunty knit tops, and those stunning 1940s waisted suits.

While I love, and have quite a collection of those suits, they really aren’t the most comfortable or practical option for someone who spends most of their time working from home. I also draw a very big line at working in my pyjamas or anything resembling a tracksuit, yet the appeal of soft warmth on those days is quite intoxicating. It has given me an idea.

What if, just maybe, I could find a way to work some nifty pants in a soft, track pant like fabric (gasp!) into my 30s and 40s inspired wardrobe?

I have so many patterns, I have my sewing machines and I have a very creative way of piecing things together. Why not? I know I won’t wear leggings or yoga pant styles, and as much as I loved jodhpurs, my hips don’t. What if I can find just the right kind of fabric in navy, black and chocolate brown, then perhaps I may be able to make something so versatile and comfortable it could be the vintage lovers alternative to the jegging?

Perhaps I have gone completely mad, but my instincts tell me I may be onto something.

So I’ve been poking around to find the right inspiration for patterns and ensembles. Looks that are appropriately polished enough, yet will still work with these sort of stealth slacks.


Of course the success to this idea (other than the construction) will be all in how they are styled. Here’s what I’m imagining.

winter outfit ideas vintage

Toasty chocolates and camel wools. Tan leathers and knitted berets, all ready for adventure.

winter outfit ideas vintage

Rich berries, tone on tone with soft and cozy wide leg pants. A belted vintage blazer with a strong shoulder line to dress it up.

Winter outfit ideas vintage

A simple boucle knit with the same wide leg pants makes lounging around a pleasure. Add a fabulous cape, turban and these incredible gloves to head out for a spectacular evening.

I’d love to hear from my fellow sewers as to what you think of this idea. I’ve worked in all kinds of fabric, including fleece for blankets, but I’ve never tried to create something more structured from this fabric. Have you done anything like this? Have I gone completely mad?


  1. It sounds completely doable to me! I have both a trench coat and a motorcycle style jacket that are made from fleece-lined sweatshirt material, and I’ve seen all kinds of things being made out of neoprene now (talk about bulky weird fabric!). And I’ve made all kinds of things out of home decor/upholstery fabric.

    You will just have to experiment with ways to eliminate some of the bulk, especially if you’re putting pleats in your pants. And you might want to make your waistband (or at least the facing) out of something thinner. If you already have a well-fitting pattern (make a mockup!) and can find the right kind of fabric with the drape you want, it shouldn’t be too hard – just make some small stitch samples and see what works best with your fabric.

    Good luck and happy sewing! =)

  2. I’m all for the comfy wide leg pants, perhaps I’ll have a chance to whip a pair up before I head home for a month of winter ………..I’ll let you know, BTW will you be in Sydney anytime in July ??

  3. Hello Candice,

    Would it be possible for you to link the articles of clothing in your capsule pictures above? As usual, I find that the very items I am dreaming of and can never seem to find appear on your gorgeous site.

    On the topic of the trousers, from a non-sewer, go for it!! I would dearly love to find a pair of vintage inspired trousers made from comfortable and luxe fabrics. I find housework, office work on Sundays and playing on the floor with my 7 year old all cry out for trousers such as those described above, not stiff fabric, suits and foundation garments.

    Many thanks in advance!


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