As an avid collector of original vintage, there are certain brands that get my heart all aflutter. One of these would have to be Horrockses. The brand made beautiful cotton dresses in the 40s and 50s and even dressed the Queen in their stunning ready to wear collection, I wrote a post on her Horrockses outfits a couple of years ago. Even back then the dresses were very desirable and were a very special addition to women’s wardrobes.
The brand have been much discussed and written about a lot in recent years and have been part of some major exhibitions. A few dresses from Horrockses have passed through my hands over the years as a dealer. I’ve even found a couple for under £5 at car boot sales in the past. Online they sell for big money these days and as most are safely stored in museums and collectors wardrobes they are now reasonably scarce.
The main problem for me, is that they don’t really come in my size. The main collection was only ever made up to a vintage 16, which is a modern size 12. So as a size 14 I just can’t fit into them. When this dress popped up on a Facebook selling page in my size, I just had to snap it up. I was especially happy to get my hands on this one, as I was quite familiar with the print, having seen it in books before. Apparently certain shops did stock Horrockses dresses in slightly larger sizes, so they are out there. One day I might find another!
I found this particular print in Christine Boydell’s book Horrockses Fashions – Off the Peg Style in the 40s and 50s. It was designed by Alastair Morton in 1947 and as far as I can tell the dress was produced in 1948. Christine recently wrote a post featuring this design on her blog, which is a really interesting read and goes into more detail than I could on here. In fact her whole blog is a fascinating read if you’re interested in vintage textile design in general.
The dress cost me £75, this is pretty cheap for a Horrockses dress and this was mainly because it has seen better days. The label is missing, the zip is broken and it has a fair few marks on it. Luckily it is still totally wearable and I just adore it. It just goes to show you shouldn’t give up on a vintage item just because it isn’t perfect. I bought the dress from Liz who’s blog Advantage in Vintage is an incredible resource, she also has a ridiculously large collection of Horrockses dresses. Her Etsy store is also a bit dreamy!
I’ve worn the dress with a cropped cardigan from Tu Clothing, which I picked up last year. I’m wearing the Mimosa shoes from Hotter which I got recently, they are a cute comfy wedge that will look great with some of my vintage summer dresses. My basket was a recent £5 bargain from Ikea and my necklace is an original vintage one. I wore the outfit for a stroll around Richmond and a pub lunch with my dad last week.
I wear a lot of modern and reproduction clothing for everyday, as a mum I find it more practical, but it is lovely to wear some of my really special original vintage pieces and now that the weather is warmer, these will be appearing a lot more on the blog. I’ve also been sharing a lot of my everyday outfits on my Instagram over the last few weeks.
As for Horrockses, after its heyday in the 40s and 50s they continued to make dresses into the 60s and 70s, but those classic cotton and full skirts were a thing of the past. The brand name was recently licenced to another company who have made a selection of dresses based on the original prints. The dresses are available on Asos, but are made with duchesse satins and have a lot less fabric than the originals. As dresses I really love them, but I’m not sure they pay a true homage to the stunning original designs. I did think they were worth a mention though, as they would look fabulous for events. Click on the images below to see them in full. (above pic via Pinterest)
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KarenApril 8, 2017 at 1:55 pm
Ooh, what a lovely dress – and perfect with your pink cardigan. Thanks for all the history about Horrockses too – really interesting! Kx
PorcelinaApril 10, 2017 at 4:34 pm
I have always fancied owning a Horrockses! You look lovely, what a pretty Spring outfit x
Mim McDonald (@crinolinerobot)April 11, 2017 at 12:56 pm
I have a 1960s Horrockses that fits me, and I’m an 18, so there are deffo larger sizes out there. *And* it only cost me a tenner. Bit of a bargain, that. I have a 50s one that doesn’t fit; it just hangs sadly on a hanger in the spare room, poor thing.