Book Review: Minxy Vintage by Kelly Doust

Rating: ★★★★☆

That crafty minx is back, this time with a fashionista theme, following hot on the coat tails of her memoir A Life in Frocks. A self-confessed flea market and charity shop-scourer, it’s no surprise Kelly’s latest book has a belts, baubles and a chic ensemble feel – her adoration for fashion is palpable, and coupled with her enormously successful crafting expertise, customising fabulous vintage finds is a more than logical step in the Doust publications line-up.

Minxy Vintage is a beautiful, cloth-bound hard cover book with 256 pages of creative charm inside. Opening it is like opening your great aunt’s wardrobe and finding a heart-rush of vintage treasure inside. You know those finds – that exquisite lined jacket, that incredible pair of button-up shoes, that breathtaking 50s frock with flowers the size of dinner plates, or that striped yellow A-line skirt – crammed indelicately into a musty rack . . . and hauled out to the sound of a thousand angels on high. And all for a measly sum.

But. Then you get it home.

There’s a rip, a stain, a tear. The lining is decimated. It stinks. The buttons are beyond repair. The fit is all wrong (women were completely different sizes in the 50s, after all), the zip is dodgy, it’s just a teensy bit too dated.

What to do?

Enter the Minx.

Opening with a chapter on how to get started, Kelly takes readers on a journey that is peppered with personal anecdotes and heartwarming stories of her own vintage finds and experiences. ‘Wearing vintage clothing is such an adventure’ she says, and so the adventure begins. Guiding the reader through what to look for, top tips for great finds, useful equipment and ‘additional fancy fripperies’ (don’t you love that word), we are also given a repair overview before launching into some seriously fabulous frocks.

Some gorgeous ideas for a white wedding are covered, as are jackets and coats, and too-chic tops and blouses. Sweet skirts, none-too-Nanna knits and foxy accessories are followed by boudoir basics and saucy shapewear – all rounded up with some last thoughts on style.

What I like about this book is the richness of the content. Not only does the author take us through her techniques for clothing customisation, but she offers several helpful tips to maximise a beautiful result, and even gives up era-specific styling advice to really zhoozh up your find. I also love the Work in Progress pages that show a mood-board of lovely ideas and inspiration.

Not all of the featured outfits rock my boat, but then – that is the subjective case in point with fashion, especially when it comes to vintage finds. The whole idea behind this book is not so much a fashion parade as it is a way to inspire you own creations and adaptations.

This is a visually beautiful book – certainly more sophisticated and charming than Kelly’s first craft books. Striking photography by Natasha Milne and Anthony Ong is perfectly complemented by gorgeously-constructed pages and typesetting. Images of the author bedecked in some of her finds are also a visual delight, but it’s Kelly’s own ponderings and literary meanderings that make me smile the most. Crafting, sewing, re-purposing and turning her dab hand to stylish, wearable goodies is certainly her forté. And just like that ubiquitous petticoat slip – it shows.

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