Black and white, always eye catching and in clothing usually chic; or smart at the very least. Hence a ubiquitous combo in workwear of all kinds (and understandably a favourite of WonkyZebra).
The late sixties took it to a new level fashion wise, with an explosion of Op Art looks in shiny new textiles. Courreges took it space with his futuristic shapes and outrageous plastic and metal textures; but Mary Quant was our local heroine using it to great advantage with her signature daisy motif, simple mini dresses and lots of wearable looks. And yes, she even endorsed some crochet and knitting patterns! Anyone with needles or hooks could easily make these fashions for themselves.
Crochet patterns had been quite vague by modern standards, but pattern writers began to produce really usable patterns aimed at fashion conscious women who wanted “the look”. For me, some of the best crochet patterns were from Twilleys, as the “Barbara Warner couture crochet” range. These were always super stylish, really pushing the boundaries for homemade fashion, yet written in a clear, easy to follow format aimed at newbie fashionista crocheters. The patterns are written in a logical way, really embracing the 3D possibilities of crochet compared to the standard knitting pattern format of the time. They are usually worked top, or waist, down and often in the round, without side seams etc.
Here are two garments at different ends of the crochet spectrum but both would be great for creating your own vintage fashion. A great example for some easy-super wearable class is “Barbara Warner” WZ157 monochrome “mod” dress…
This simple but stunning dress is made in stripes of bog standard trebles. Sounds boring, but is anything but; by using big, bold, blocky bands, across the skimming a line shape it has instant fashion cred. They have separated the bands with a little bobble row, in a glint of silver “Goldfingering” thread; well, they were a yarn company so you can’t blame them for promoting the product! I like that for a quite subtle hint of evening glam – but for daytime I think it is not needed, the black and white is stylish enough. To change the pattern up you could just contrast the yoke and do a single solid body colour, still a truly vintage look. However the concept would work in other colours such as chalky summer pastels; just think of those retro Neapolitan ice cream blocks… or a layered angel cake. Yum! Here is a slightly wonky concept image:-
And another dress with a similar idea, the “vintage Paris chic” WZ395 in bands of “spider web”stitch lace. I love the white one with black velvet ribbons- but this is a good example of how the other versions change the look considerably.
Lots of other pattern houses also produced stylish crochet patterns; Lister developed their own distinctive look in their “Crochet Festival Set” range (appropriately named for us now with all the music festivals; but the name inspiration was the new, brutalist, South Bank Festival Hall, as shown in this image). They had stitches and weren’t afraid to use them – creating dresses, tops and even trousers, in fab lace textures. These are great if you really like the lacier possibilities of crochet.
At the full on crochet glam end of the spectrum this “festival” evening outfit has it all”! Crochet lace, crochet flowers and crochet trousers – with more crochet flowers… yup – she crochets! This looks intricate but is surprisingly simple crochet work – very clever! The tunic over trousers look goes on and on as it’s always so wearable; but either of these pieces would work on their own too. Of course you would need a crop top, to wear with the the trousers; which is still a very retro style! You could even just make the flowers for a fab festival head band!
The flowers are made then crocheted together along one edge (after which the marathon of the trouser leg continues). If you crocheted around the other side instead… instant headband.