Tuesday, 26 April 2011

D is for Donut!

So, it's a Tuesday afternoon and I've got nothing better to do than get my Johnny Cash on, get all my hair 'gear' out and have a good old play. I've been watching lots of Youtube videos on 40's and 50's hairstyles and thankfully, I've pretty much perfected my 40's 'victory rolls' with lots and lots of practice.

I've also been flicking through my copy of Vintage Hairstyles (Lauren Rennells) and have wanted to get the knack of a pompadour. It seems, with a little help from a hair rat, it all becomes possible!

However, being a rather impatient person; my hair rat isn't quite fully formed enough for a pompadour, so instead I bought a hair donut, snipped it, sewed it et voila, a hair rat.

A good tip with a donut hair rat, is to find a little bit of wire (I use a very light gauge silver wire used for jewellery making) and pass it through the whole length of the rat. This makes the rat more maleable so you can create more of a curve with it - the whole point of the pompadour is that it isn't as 'sausage' shaped, but more banana-esque! Looking at my photo, it seems I need a heavier gauge wire, as mine really isn't holding the shape enough for my liking. Ah well.

So, here's a couple of really bad quality pictures from my phone. I've not got my full face of makeup on - just eyeliner and lipstick chucked on for the sake of vanity!

Sunday, 24 April 2011

In retrospect.

I thought I'd write a little bit about a couple of purchases I've made in the last 6 months or so, as some of these items are my favourites.

I've already talked a little about places in Brick Lane like Rokit and Beyond Retro, but forgot to post a picture of my most prized cardigan. It's vintage, but I'm not entirely sure what era it's from, however, it goes perfectly with my high waisted pencil skirts and waisted belts. I bought it one afternoon from Beyond Retro, when I decided to try and buy something '40's or 50's esque'. At that time, most of my wardrobe came from a shop called All Saints. Don't get me wrong, I still love my skulls and there is still a little bit of goth in me, but for the most part, my glamorous history-loving side wanted to take over.

So... I literally just grabbed shirt after shirt, skirt after skirt and piles of high waisted trousers and took them to the fitting room. I must've spent around 2 hours putting things on and taking things off, but I went home with a very large, very full bag of clothing! that made a rather lovely 'capsule wardrobe'. Everything I've bought since, has been bought with my capsule in mind.

Mixing and matching is a huge part of wearing vintage, in my opinion, which is why I think it's important to create a sort of checklist in your mind. A couple of cardigans, a wide red waist belt, a white waist belt, a thin white waist belt, a black wide waist belt, a couple of high waisted pencil skirts, a few different coloured shirts that you can tie at the waist, a few circle skirts etc etc etc.

My favourite cardigan, pictured above.

One shop that I seem to covet, is TKMaxx. I think it's a bit like Marmite, people either love TKMaxx or hate it. I personally love it.
Granted, it's a jumble sale, but I do love a good rummage! You never know what you're going to find. For example, the dress pictured below is a reproduction 50's halterneck full circle dress bought from TKMaxx for around £35. It looks fabulous with a petticoat underneath and will be awesome for the summer when I'm feeling a little footloose and fancy free!

As with all 'fashions' you're totally free to mix and match and create a style of your own. There are people who are devout purists, who only dress in vintage, and then there are people like me who will wear anything as long as I like it and it suits me as an individual.

Another example of mixing eras, is this rather fabulous pair of 80's shoes pictured below. These are my babies (!). For years I've struggled to find court shoes to fit my feet. I have flat feet, narrow feet and long toes (how sexy, I know!) and so I was absolutely floored when I tried these on and found I could not only walk in them, but keep them on my feet too, without straps!

These were bought from a very quaint little antique 'emporium' in Deddington called Deddington Antiques in Oxfordshire. It's such a lovely building - 3 floors of antiques with a linen room and a pre-owned slash vintage room on the top floor, where I found my shoes!
One place I shall definitely be going back to.

Got to love eBay!

It's been a lovely few days given the circumstance - I'm being made redundant in around 3 weeks' time. Whilst I've got some pennies, I decided to buy myself some rather bargainous beauties!

First of all, I bought an absolutely breathtakingly gorgeous and absolutely immaculate 1950's black velvet dress off eBay for the bargain price of FIFTEEN POUNDS!!! I found it completely by accident, just browsing through vintage clothes that were 'ending soonest' and stumbled upon this dress (pictured below). Lucky for me, no one had bid on it, so I whacked a bid on it and hoped for the best. Well, luck was on my side and it arrived in the post a few days later.

As soon as the post man arrived I ran down the stairs and grabbed it off my Dad, chucked it on and to my amazement, it fits like a glove. Admittedly, the bust is a little on the large side, but with some chicken fillets, I'd be able to fill it out a bit better! (Damn being a pear shape, as opposed to an hourglass, but ho hum, you can't win them all!).

To go with my gorgeous dress, I decided to try and treat myself to a pair of Jaeger espadrilles (in black silk!!) I popped a bid on them with about 1 minute and 30 seconds to go before they ended, so I just closed my eyes and kept my fingers crossed.... And they were mine! Mwahahaha... cue the evil laugh! Mine, for the bargain price of £38. I hope to god they fit. Eeeep.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Judy's Affordable Vintage Fair

The internet is a very wonderful resource when it comes to doing a bit of networking slash research. I stumbled upon Judy's Affordable Vintage Fashion Fair (cor, what a mouthful!) and knew I had to go!

So, I plotted in my diary to keep the 26th March available in my diary and when the day came I grabbed my mum - aka my chauffer - and we drove all the way to Oxford, got on the park and ride bus into town. The bus ride was particularly hilarious; you'd think people had never seen a hair flower and red lipstick before! We grabbed a quick bite at one of my favourite eateries Yo! Sushi. I can personally recommend the Chicken Katsu Curry. However, I digress....

So we find the Town Hall in Oxford and climb up the stairs and find an entire hall full of people and clothes (utter heaven!). We paid our entrance fee of £2 each and instantly a gorgeous vintage-dressed lady at the entrance gushed over how much she liked my trousers. Now, I never tell a lie - these trousers were admittedly £9 from Matalan, but evidently, they have a true vintage style about them. So, I gush about the wonders of Matalan in return. A couple of other people asked about my trousers too, so Matalan - beware, you may be inundated with people asking about high waisted Palazzo pants!

I digress yet again. The fair! Not many people dressed for the occasion, but in my limited experience of socialising in full vintage garb, it takes a certain type of personality to carry it off! I've always been somewhat of a show off, so this is probably why I love the vintage look so much.

Back in the hall, and the first stall I come to is a vintage stall called Miniola selling a pair of "vintage" Christian Louboutin shoes - though I'm not sure how vintage they were, they were definitely "pre-owned". I also quickly fell in love with a pair of Tiger print Kurt Geiger shoes. Admittedly they were not vintage (brand new, in fact) but they do look rather stunning with a pair of Capri pants and a knotted shirt! I was so in love with the Kurt Geigers I went back to the stall 3 times to try and haggle with the lady owner, however she was not budging an inch... so I begrudgingly paid the full £55 she was asking for. I have not regretted it, they are fabulous shoes!

The second stall we came to was Scarlet Rage Vintage (a girl of around my age) and instantly my mum grabbed a dress and called me over. Instantly I knew, I had to try it on. I didn't wait and took my top off and chucked the dress on over my camisole. Apparently, I was the first person to fit into the dress in 6 months of the girl having it. Suffice to say, it was meant to be! That was another £55 gone haha.

Just as I was buying my original 50's dress, I spot a lady holding what looked to be a very 40's looking tea dress (pictured below). I was gutted. I thought 'damnit, she's going to buy it'. So I looked away with a somewhat pained expression on my face.

To my utter delight, she put the dress back on the stall and walked away. 'Yaaaay!' I thought to myself. So yet again I whip my top off and throw the dress on over my head in the middle of the fair - when I'm shopping, it's like I'm an entirely different person; I don't see anything but the beautiful items begging me to buy them - and I just knew I had to have it. It was a perfect dress for lounging in the garden on a summer's day. My mum threw caution to me in that she thought it may look a little 80's with the shoulder pads, but she withdrew the comment as soon as I put it on! I had to buy a white waist belt to go with it of course and a white shirt with cherries embroidered on it just because I can always do with more shirts! I had so much fun with the girl at Scarlet Rage. We had a bit of a chinwag and I'll hopefully be seeing her down at the Judy's fair in Brighton next month! Lets see if she's got any more 50's garb for me!

Other items I picked up were a full circle high waisted skirt - blue with red flowers on, £25, haggled down to £24 as I'll have to sew a hook and eye clip onto the slightly dodgy zip (pictured below) and a pair of gorgeous black circular and diamante shoe clips for the bargain price of £4!

After the excitement of the fair, we sat in a Costa with a coffee and a cupcake marvelling at the day's purchases. What a wonderful day!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

"...the most important thing a woman can have - next to talent, of course - is her hairdresser."

....And I agree with Joan Crawford on that one, however, trying to find a decent hairdresser is like trying to get blood out of a stone. Therefore, I've become my own stylist. Obviously, I can't cut my own hair, but I can become my own stylist!

It wasn't an outright decision in the beginning, it just sort of happened. As I picked up a pack of bobby pins (kirby grips) I thought, 'I know, I'll see if I can make a victory roll' - so I got onto youtube and searched 'victory rolls'. I won't lie - it was bloody difficult to begin with. A victory roll is not an easy thing to master, however, once you have mastered the art of rolling, it will be with you for life!

So, I taught myself the art of victory rolls and I knew I wanted to take it further, so I started a collection of scarves for my hair. I'd seen those images of Rosie the Riveter and it's always interested me, so I thought I'd try and emulate it. I now have around 20 scarves, mostly made of silk, in varying colours and patterns. Even a blue leopard print scarf that I picked up in a vintage shop for 50 pence! In fact, most of my scarves were bought from charity shops for 50 pence or one pound each.

Next came the book. And by THE book, I mean Lauren Rennells' book 'Vintage Hairstyling'. My wonderfully gorgeous friend Amy recommended I buy this book, so I got on ebay and paid the small fortune (around £30!) and waited for it to arrive.

The book arrived a couple of days later and I have to say, it was worth the money. I've learnt all about pin curls and the sort-of science behind hair styling. I've gathered all the equipment needed to recreate all the looks in the book for myself.

I often find myself referring back to Vintage Hairstyling when I need some motivation in the morning to put my hair up instead of leaving my hair down.

Obviously, not a very good photograph, but this was the night I did my first attempt at victory rolls.

A few weeks later, and after lots and lots of searching, I bought a snood. It's a reproduction 1940's hair net that the land girls use to keep all their hair protected when working in the fields and factories. For me, it really adds that bit of authenticity to a 40's hairstyle.
I bought mine on eBay, but you can buy hand-crocheted snoods from places like Etsy, though they are more expensive than synthetic ones, but as they're hand made to order, they're that little bit more luxurious. I personally love the snoods with the beads sewn in - adds a bit of glamour, and of course, what girl doesn't love a bit of glamour?

Again, had I known I was going to write a blog, with pictures, I probably would've taken better photographs! Haha. Oh well, these will do. Any new hairstyles I try will be photographed more clearly.

Back when I was 19, I completed a year at college and gained a Diploma in Theatrical and Media Makeup. Included in the syllabus was hair cutting, styling etc and luckily, I still have some of my 'kit' - not all of it, as some of it went on eBay when I was strapped for cash ha. Anyway, I did save one 'training head' so I decided to try and teach myself some new styling techniques.

A vintage hairstyle that had been plaguing me for a while was the 'pompadour' - which to me, seemed like a very complicated style to achieve. So
it took a few attempts and this is what I ended up with....

Monday, 18 April 2011

My first few vintage buys.

There are some places in the world, that you wish you could keep locked away all to yourself. Little treasures or finds that you don't want anyone to know about. I have a few favourite places and I'm going to share them with you, because I'm nice like that. Haha. No, it's because I need to have confidence in myself and not worry about what other people might find. I guess you could say I'm not so good at sharing, so this is my first attempt!

One of my favourite places in the world is Brackley Antique Cellar in Oxfordshire. It's an antique shop, but with a twist - it's a below ground 'warehouse' style store, with many many branches of antique sellers inside. I buy most of my handbags from Brackley; Although, to be fair, the lady who sells the handbags seems to have pushed her prices up somewhat these days. I was paying £12-£18 for a vintage (50's) handbag, but now they're more like £24, which is a bit of a price hike in my opinion, but with the recession, it's somewhat understandable.

This is my favourite handbag so far. It's a genuine Bally handbag, in black suede and leather. It was in immaculate condition and I paid £14 I think, which is extremely reasonable when you compare that to the prices you find in places like Spitalfields in London.

Speaking of London, there are two shops that I could easily call home. They are Rokit and Beyond Retro. As with all vintage shops, there are some real bargains to be had, among the less attractive 70's garb, there are some 40's and 50's gems.

The best tip I could give anyone when vintage clothes shopping is; try everything on. Trust me, sometimes, something will look absolutely hideous on the hanger but look incredible on. So, keep a very very open mind when shopping for vintage clothes, and don't let the smell put you off - dry cleaning is expensive, but if you're serious about buying vintage clothes, it's definitely a must.

Charity shops. These are often stigmatised by some, but to me, they're a necessary part of living life on a budget. I absolutely love rummaging and I love bargains, so what's better than having five shops on one high street, that sell second hand clothes!? It's a gold mine for someone like me.

I remember turning up to school (year 6 I believe) in a faux fur (old lady style) coat. I was ripped ragged by the kids at school because I was honest enough to tell them it was from a charity shop (and cost a tenner too! it wasn't cheap!) and that was the start of my adoration for fur- real and fake.

Now, I know this is a hideously controversial subject. I however, take the stance that if it's vintage, it's fine. I would never buy 'new fur' but once it's been dead for 30 years, me not buying/wearing it isn't going to bring it back from the dead, so it's anyone's game.

Feel free to email me, berating my views on fur, that's fine. It's always interesting to watch the vegetarians complaining about animal rights whilst wearing a pair of leather shoes - double standards, much?

Anyway, I digress...

Vintage; My favourite find has to be my Coney Fur coat, again, bought for a complete steal of £60 from Brackley Antique Cellar.

Whilst we're on the subject of coats/jackets I'll add a picture of my most treasured vintage possession. It's a very large and spacious leopard print coat. I bought it from a work colleague who was about to put it up for sale on ebay! She wanted £15 for it, and of course, I happily obliged. As it's massive (it says size 14) it looks great cinced in with a waist belt, or left open as it has a gorgeous 'drape' to it. It feels divine too, not all cheap like the typical Topshop faux fur coats.

I sing, because I'm happy. I sing, because I'm freeee!

*Takes a deep breath* MUSIC!

This is a big one for me, for sure.

As a kid, I grew up on blues and rock from my Dad's music collection, and jazz, Motown, soul and disco from my mum's collection. According to mum, music has always touched me - even as a baby I sat in front of the telly crying to a song about a Bookworm! Bless.

So what influences me now? Well, I have to say blues is still very much a part of my genetics. It's in my blood. I'll always listen to blues. Jazz is also a passion of mine.

I find that my influence in music has been a great addition to my passion for fashion - the two often go hand in hand and some of the greatest musicians came from the 40's and 50's.

People of note in my musical taste are:
The Andrews Sisters.
Ray Charles.
John Lee Hooker.
Billie Holiday.
John Mayall.
Nina Simone.
Etta James.
Ella Fitzgerald.
Peggy Lee.

However, my absolute IDOL would be a gorgeous Irish lady called Imelda May. She's a rockabilly, blues and jazz singer, and sh
e is absolutely incredible. Every time I see her live, the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. Her vocal power is just something else. If I could sing like anyone, it would be Imelda May.

Imelda played the Roundhouse in Camden on St Patrick's day (last month) and the night was incredible. As it was St Patrick's night, we were in for a treat, we had Paul Brady AND Jeff Beck grace us with their presence. It was truly awe inspiring. I managed to get a couple of pictures during the night, from my iPhone, but they're not that great. I'll post them anyway!

I was lucky enough to meet Imelda May, backstage at the Colne Rhythm and Blues Festival in 2010. She was as lovely in person, as she seems on stage and is so tiny! She complimented me on my 50's style leopard print dress! (Scuse the ginger hair, I was going through an early mid-life crisis at that point in time! lol). But so cute <3

Lights.... Camera..... Action!

I thought I'd write a bit about the movies that have inspired me over the years. A big one for me is The Notebook; a movie every gal out there should have a copy of in her DVD drawer. It's possibly for me, the best romantic story (apart from Romeo and Juliet!) of all time; and, it has a happy ending. Huzzah!

So, we have The Notebook. Rachel McAdams does the red hair and red lipstick to perfection. Her costumes in this movie are breathtaking.
Here are just some images that take my breath away.

Another movie I adore is Easy Virtue with Colin Firth, Ben Barnes, Kristen Scott Thomas and Jessica Biel. Set in the late 20's, it sees a very gorgeous John Whittaker (played by Ben Barnes) come home after being hitched to no other than an American, an older woman, the concubine, much to his family's disgust and horror! It's wonderfully written and very tongue in cheek - and the soundtrack is fabulous with the cast singing on the soundtrack too.

As a Ben Barnes enthusiast, I decided to pop to the Comedy Theatre in January of this year and see (for the second time, I might add!) him in Sebastian Faulk's Birdsong; A war time tale of love, adultery and heartbreak. I was lucky enough to catch him as he was about to enter the back door of the Comedy Theatre and we had a quick chat and had my photo taken with him! He really is fabulous! Sadly, the wind wasn't as kind to my hair, as it was to his!

Where it all started..

I have to thank a shop in Birmingham called Cow vintage for my first ever 50's inspired vintage find. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it and knew I wanted to own it - sadly, it was labelled as a size six, so I put it back.

3 weeks later, I was on yet another shopping trip to Birmingham and lo and behold, it was still there! This was the sign I'd hoped for - it was still there, and that meant it was supposed to be mine. I bought it there and then and grinned all the way home!

It's an 80's dress I believe, but in the typical 80's fashion it's a throwback to the 50's with it's shoulderpads and peplum skirt.

This was the dress that started it all!

And this is what it looks like on me;


Well, hello there! Pleased to meet you. Welcome to 'She's got delusions of grandeur, that girl!'.

This is my first ever blog. I never thought about making one until someone asked me if I had one, because they'd been following and admiring my forum posts and wondered if I had a blog. Evidently, this is where I shall be sending her from now on!

So, a little about me?

Well, I'm coming up to my 25th birthday and I'm passionate about many things. The one passion I shall be blogging about is my obsession for vintage fashion. I am deeply passionate about fashion from the 20's to the 50's, particularly the 40's. In my spare time I am training to be a body piercer, so working in that atmosphere means I can be as experimental and flamboyant as I choose. It certainly creates a talking point with the customers!

And so to begin; I am the youngest of four siblings and live with my parents and dog in the concrete world of Milton Keynes. I went to school in Buckinghamshire, and was always a bit of an outsider; 'a bit' being a rather large understatement.

In school I excelled in drama and not much else. My art teacher wonderfully described me to my mother as 'bohemian' and to this day, I can't thank him enough for recognising my individuality! At 16 it was all I wanted; to be myself and not follow the crowd. That wasn't to say that I was particularly popular at school. I was short in stature and large in width. I had frizzy hair and 'Dierdre Barlow' glasses, however that didn't stop me wearing tie-dyed hippy tops and flared jeans on our 'mufty days' and being taunted for it. I swore I would never become a sheep and look like everyone else; and in honesty, that's one promise I've never broken!

So, that's a little background information and perhaps a little insight into the girl who always marched by the beat of her own drum.

During this blog, I hope to share with you all, a little part of myself and the world that I have created around me from all the wonderful and amazing parts of history that have touched me or my life. I shall be taking photographs of some of the gorgeous pieces of vintage fashion and writing my thoughts to accompany them.

I hope you enjoy your stay and find this an interesting read! Take care x


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