Vintage finds #1: Birdcage boutique dress

IMG_3428Despite many years of buying, selling and wearing, I seldom come across those vintage gems that others seem to find so effortlessly. It’s possibly my fault for being lazy (I can’t always be bothered to trawl through rails and rails of clothes) or maybe I’m just unlucky. But I’ve had a couple of strokes of luck recently and have found some pieces of clothing that I’ve been really excited to add to my collection.

One find was this simple blue and white striped cotton mini dress by ‘Birdcage Nottingham’. You may or may not not have heard of Birdcage – I won’t go into too much detail as it’s already been extensively covered in Marnie Fogg’s Boutique, and there is also a really informative post on the Sweet Jane’s Pop Boutique blog – but, basically, it was one of Nottingham’s hippest boutiques in the 1960s and the place where Paul Smith started his career in fashion. And I’m think I’m correct to say that 60s Birdcage items are as rare as hens’ teeth 🙂

IMG_3436It did cross my mind that the dress might actually be a shirt, but the ever-helpful people over at the Vintage Fashion Guild were certain it was a dress and dated it to about 1966. The shape and style certainly fit in with the trend at this time for looking young and doll-like. Also, a friend recently sold a Twiggy label dress in an almost identical style and the ‘Twiggy Dresses’ range sold from 1967-69. So I guess we’re looking at around 1966-68.

IMG_3430More about the dress: it’s made from a lightweight shirting cotton with blue and white vertical stripes of varying widths. It’s unlined, so feels quite flimsy. The length is mini, measuring 32 inches from neck to hem. The collar is a buttoned ‘Grandad’ style and down the front of the dress runs a ruffled jabot. It has a button-front opening, so you can step into it or pull it on over your head. The sleeves are long with buttoned cuffs and the shoulders have quite an exaggerated puff, which, unfortunately, doesn’t come across too well in the photos. A couple of bust darts give the dress a little bit of shape, but not too much. Underneath the Birdcage label there’s another small, faded label with the dress size – I can just make out ’10’, which in terms of 60s dress sizing runs pretty small.

I found the dress in a shop in Nottingham itself, so it was likely donated by a local. It’d be great to know about its history – who originally owned it, where they wore it and what they wore it with. I’d also be interested in seeing other Birdcage items, so, if anyone has any, please get in touch!