The vintage crew goes to Kew

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Today, I am suffering quite badly with hayfever (love the warm weather, hate the sneeziness that comes with it), and my brain isn’t firing on all cylinders. I asked The Boy what I should write about, and he told me I should write about the amazingness that is the new Legend of Zelda game.

He’s a helpful sort.

Instead, I think I shall write about another sunny day just a couple of weekends ago, when I met up with some of my lovely vintage-loving friends at Kew Gardens.

Quite often, when I meet up with my friends who don’t have an interest in vintage, I’ll tone down what I’m wearing, so whenever I get together with my vintage chums, I have a tendency to go all out (or over the top, if you prefer).

Case in point – my fabulous, Gone with the Wind, 1940s hat:

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I also wore a coat dress by Trashy Diva, which would usually have been far, far, far out of budget for me. However, back in January there was a 50% off sale for one weekend, so I put a tonne of my clothes up for sale, and managed to order one about 30 minutes before the sale finished. It was an exhilarating Sunday!

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I’ve wanted some Rocket Originals for ages and ages and ages too, so with the proceeds of the aforementioned wardrobe sell-off, I treated myself to a pair, then kept them under my bed up until the Kew Gardens visit, because I’ve never quite gotten out of the habit of keeping something new for ‘best’.

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After what can only be described as a frustrating journey (I decided to drive because I couldn’t be bothered with changing trains/tubes/and so on, but traffic on the North Circular almost defeated me), I parked up and managed to meet my lovely friends just in time for lunch. I made creme egg brownies and gluten-free savoury muffins, which worked surprisingly well as ‘please forgive my lateness’ bribery.

Then, a couple of us got side-tracked by a few people who wanted to talk to us about what we were wearing, whether there was a special occasion, and so on. It shouldn’t, but this always takes me by surprise; I think I’ve dressed this way for so long now that I forget it’s a bit out of the ordinary! Two of us ended up simultaneously reminiscing about Kew Gardens of old (despite my never having been there before) with a 70-year old lady, and trying to convince a 20-something new mum that she should give vintage style a go and see what she thinks (just in case you think I was being incredibly nosey during our chats, or that I’m making a lot of assumptions; another interesting note – when people talk to you about dressing in vintage, they tell you a lot of things about their life).

Where was I? Ah yes. After running to catch everyone up (thank heavens my shoes were comfy), we decided to do an impromptu photoshoot. One of my lovely chums (you can find him on Instagram under Dark Tech Support) took some lovely photos of the group. Well. Some lovely photos and some great silly ones, including these three.

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Resident botanist Rhina (aka: Fabulous Rhina) works at Kew, so she was the best kind of tour guide, telling us all about what we were looking at and remaining cheerful and enthusiastic, even in the face of my alarming ignorance about plants.

(This photo shows Sarah, Rhina and Chereeka, who were mega-excited about our trip on the land train. It was awesome – we got to see most of Kew with extra commentary and without wearing out our feet!)

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Sarah took this photo of me, pretending to know about trees by nodding sagely and saying “Ah, blossom, yes, I see.”

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Rhina then took us into the palm house, which was fascinating and very, very hot. We all took a LOT of photos. Some of them were even of the plants.

In the first of what I think may be an occasional series, titled ‘Careers my friends should have had’, I would like to suggest that Amelia should have been an explorer. She’s pretty much nailed the ‘Oh, would you look at that!’ face, which surely means she’s halfway there.

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It was a lot of fun; I laughed, talked and took in spectacular views, and generally had a marvellous time.

This is one of my favourite photos of the day, and one of my favourite photos ever of me and Chereeka; we’d discovered that we were both wearing corsets from What Katie Did and were pretty excited about it.

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I think Kew might be one of my new happy places. Even though it’s so busy just outside the gates, you’d never know. It was peaceful and tranquil (a large part of this was down to it being sunny and glorious, I’m sure), the flowers were pretty and I saw not one, but two peacocks. Who I have christened Stanley and Timothy.

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My photos don’t even begin to do it justice, but look how lovely it all is.

 

As someone who’s wanted to visit Kew for well over 15 years now (ever since I read a Pat Barker book in sixth form where a key part of the action takes place in the Palm House), I’m annoyed with myself for not taking the trip sooner, and vow to make up for lost time from now on. Hands up who’s in for the next trip?

 

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Hats, glorious (vintage) hats!

As some of you may know, as well as my blog I also write for She Might Be, an online community full of plus size fashion, beauty and a whole host of other fabulous things. One of my recent posts was all about my love of vintage hats, and as I’ve added a few more to my collection since then, thought I’d share some of the love over here!

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One of my newest additions, an original 40s feather hat

For a long time, I didn’t think I suited hats – with the exception of a brief flirtation with baseball caps as a 16 year old, and to be frank, the least said about that, the better. But the more I got into vintage dressing, the more I found myself drawn to hats.

And as a friend once said, and I’ve covered here before; once I decide I like something, I really go for it. So of course, I’m now building up quite a nice hat collection. Most are vintage, but I do have a few from The Little Shop of Gorgeousness and Fripperies and The Heritage Milliner, two companies that use vintage patterns to make fantastic reproductions.

 

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When the weather ruins your hair, but your hat game is strong…

 

While my clothes veer towards 1950s, I have a huge range of 1940s and 1950s hats. My head seems to be slightly bigger than average, so I tend to go for any sort of hat that I can perch on top of my head. For modern hats, I’d be stuck with fascinators, but for vintage style, I can choose from tilt hats, saucer hats, platter hats…oh, the list is virtually endless my friends! Or, as I did with this straw hat, I just pop it on the back of my head anyway and fix it with bobby pins (a girl has to improvise every now and again).

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Hat accessorised with hair flowers

As well as helping my outfits feel more authentic, I love the way hats frame my face, add a bit of something extra to my clothes, and hide a slightly dodgy hair day (see above photo of a March weather-related hair incident).  They make me feel a bit more snazzy while going about everyday life, and that’s never a bad thing, in my humble opinion!

So, what am I planning next for my collection? While I have a couple of straw hats, I’ve noticed that most of my hats seem to be darker colours or what I’d call wintery fabrics.

Now the weather’s getting warmer, I’m on the lookout for a cream saucer hat (or pink. I’ve just come back from watching Hidden Figures, which quite apart from being an absolutely fantastic film, had the most amazing costumes I’ve seen for some time. I’m a particular fan of this one Katherine wears quite early on.)

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So, there it is; a whistle stop tour of my hat collection!

 

Review: Dolly & Dotty Veronica dress

Long-time readers of the blog may remember my review of the Dolly & Dotty May dress (which, coincidentally, I reviewed in May last year). I loved the dress, so when the nice team at Dolly & Dotty asked me if I’d like to review something else, I jumped at the chance.

The Veronica is a 1950’s inspired dress, which sites just below the knee on my 5ft and three-quarters-of-an-inch frame, the perfect length fora spot of 1950s elegance.

I’ve accessorised here with a poodle updo, pearl and diamante comb and vintage paste necklace to flatter the neckline, and my shoes are from New Look a couple of years ago. I’m also wearing a black petticoat under the dress, but it would look just as lovely without it.

The sweetheart neckline is super, duper flattering, and I think the embroidery adds a little something extra. I’m also a big fan of the way the dress nips in at the waist, it really does feel like a 1950s sort of a dress, and I felt mega glam taking these photos.

Sorry, no idea why I’m winking in the middle photo. I think I was trying to look foxy.

And, in mega exciting news – the dress has pockets! I’d say the colour in this photo is closest to the dress in real life, for some reason it’s come out quite dark in a lot of the photos.

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And that’s before we even get to the back! Usually I shy away from showing my arms (that one place left for me to love), but the back of the Veronica dress is so pretty that I’d quite happily bear them for all to see. Possibly on a warmer night than when I took these photos though, as I was bloomin’ cold!

There are three lovely bows to the back of the dress, as well as a fancy bustly-type thing (there’s a technical name for it, but I think I’ll stick with bustly-type thing) at the waist, which I adore. One of my friends popped over for tea last week, and I took her upstairs specifically to show her the bows and bustly-type thing. She was suitably impressed).

I’d recommend buying your usual size in this dress; I’m wearing a size 16 and it fits really nicely all over.Veronica costs £39.99 and comes in black and red as well as blue. I love it and I think you might too…cheers!

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Party dress = party photo, right? This was essentially an excuse to get rid of some of the wine we’ve had hanging around the house since our 2015 Christmas party.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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*Note: while this dress was a gift, all opinions are my own*

 

Z is for zzz: sleeping in pin curls

It’s the very last week of my A-Z of a vintage girl in a modern world, how did that happen? Let’s celebrate with my first ever hair tutorial!

This post is all about wet sets, which is what I usually do on a Friday night (I know, so rock & roll), as it means my set will last for longer. I use pin curls and pins, as I’ve tried foam roller sets before, and they don’t work for me. If you know they work better for you, or you fancy giving one a go, Miss Victory Violet has a great two-part tutorial – this one tells you how to roll, and this one focuses on the brush out.

So, let’s start with what you’ll need (Cath Kidston bag optional).

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  • A mirror – for obvious reasons
  • Hairspray – I go for extra firm hold, because I have thick, unwieldy hair
  • Setting lotion – please note, the pink bottle is just what I put it in. You can buy setting lotion from pretty much any Boots/Superdrug-type shop, and then just follow the instructions on how to dilute it
  • Comb – for sectioning
  • Clips – to secure your curls in place
  • Back combing brush – for fun stuff
  • Paddle brush – for smoothing
  • Turban/scarf/other hair covering – to sleep in/cover the curls while you go about your daily life

You will also need damp – not soaking wet – hair. Well, if you’ve got a week free, you can have soaking wet hair.

Take your setting lotion, and spray it all over your head. Then, use your paddle brush and give your hair a good brushing – this will ensure your whole head is covered.

Separate a section of your hair, around an inch thick (for me, this is just behind my ear). Try to make the section as straight as you can.

Now comes the fun bit! Separate the front section into (roughly) inch long smaller sections. Then, using two fingers, wrap the top section into a curl. Then, pin it into place – you can either do a flat curl, where you pin it to your head, or a standing curl, where you just pin the bottom. As you’ll see, my setting pattern (I borrowed it from Jane Russell), uses both.

Once you’ve finished the first section, carry on until your whole head has been curled and secured – it should look something like the above.

Then, spray your hold head with setting lotion again, and follow it up with a healthy dose of hairspray.

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Once you’re happy that you’ve sprayed the living bejesus out of your hair, pop on a turban or hairscarf (tutorial to come later), and secure it with a few more clips. Then, off you pop to bed. I usually sleep in a turban (my husband LOVES it) because I find it’s thicker than a scarf, making it more comfortable to sleep, but experiment a bit to see what works for you!

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Zzzzzzzzz…… [Note: I do not sleep in full make up]

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Eight hours later, awaken feeling refreshed and ready to face the day!

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Before you do anything else, give your hair one more burst of hairspray, for luck.

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Then, start by unpinning all your curls, except for your fringe (you’ll be doing something special with that).

Once they’re all unpinned, run your fingers through your curls to break them up a bit.

Now, for the backcombing!

Take a section of hair at a time (I like to start at the top and work my way down) and backcomb it until you look daft. (This will give you lovely volume when you start brushing out, I promise). And this is where your paddle brush comes into its own!

Using your paddle brush and your fingers, mould your hair into curls (as you’ll see, I brush over the back of my hand, because this reduces frizz). Brush until your hair is smooth (the longer you brush, the smoother it will become, and don’t worry about losing the curl).

I tend to do my hair in three sections – each side of my parting, and the back, and I like to start on the smaller side. I also tend to tuck the hair behind my ear, which is why the Jane Russell setting pattern works well for me. Once I’m happy with the curls, I smooth the hair down and use my lovely grips (formerly used as pin curl pins), to secure it in place.

Once you’ve styled most of your hair how you’d like, it’s time for the fringe. Unclip it, and as you’ve done before, backcomb it like nobody’s business. You then brush it out as normal – over the back of your hand to smooth, and try to make sure you don’t lose too much height.

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And once you’re happy with the height, it’s time to style again (as you can see by my expression, it’s a very serious business). Use your fingers to sculpt your fringe how you’d like it (you may also need to bring the paddle brush into service again if it’s being particularly stubborn).

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Then, that’s right – you’ve guessed it – one more burst of hairspray for luck!

Et voila, one completed set!

 

Review: Collectif Pearl coat

I’m a little bit late to the party, but Happy New Year everyone! We still have one letter left in my A-Z of a vintage girl in a modern world, but it’s going to be a photo heavy one and unfortunately I’ve not been able to get the photos done.

Mostly because I’m lazy. So, there’s something for all of us to look forward to next weekend.

In the meantime, I thought I’d write a rather handy review of my Collectif Pearl coat, which, rather excitingly, is currently in their Winter sale. (And having seen it’s still available in my size, I shall be repeating to myself ‘I don’t need it in burgundy. I don’t need it in burgundy’.)

Do I need it in burgundy though?

Moving on, swiftly, onto the handy part of the post. Some quick things to note about Pearl:

Sizing: Generous – possibly to allow for layering underneath. Also, to look at sizing vertically, I’m 5ft and a bit (a doctor once told me that the ‘bit’ is very important. And I believe him), and the coat finishes mid-calf on me. It makes me feel a bit like a Hollywood starlet, and I’m ok with that.

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Photo by Lina & Tom

Pros: It’s super, duper warm – I wore mine during our honeymoon in Finland and was pretty darn toasty.

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It makes pretty much anything look glamorous – this was also taken during our honeymoon in Finland, and I think it sets off the walking boots and big, snuggly socks nicely.

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I’m including this photo for no other reason than I love it.

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Photo by Lina & Tom

Related, you’ll feel like the most glamorous creature on the planet. It could be the faux fur, it could be the…no, it’s the fur. That’s definitely it.

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You make a lot of friends when you’re wearing it. I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve approached me to tell me how much they love it, and/or the ladies I’ve chatted to because we’re wearing the same coat.

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Photo by The Street Style Carousel

Cons: You’ll spend a lot of time talking to people about your coat. If you’re planning on popping into town to do a couple of quick errands, it might be an idea to put something else on.

I won’t keep banging on about our Finnish honeymoon, but one of the loveliest ladies I’ve ever met worked at the place we stayed (Kakslauttanen in case you were wondering, home of the glass igloos), and we chatted every day about my coat and where she could buy one. I ended up writing down all the details for her, with specific reference to the burgundy colourway, and I really, really hope she got her hands on one!

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The buttons on both have mine have been a bit loose (but then I’m not known for being delicate with my outfits). Nothing a needle and thread haven’t fixed, but something to bear in mind if you’re planning to wear it out and about immediately.

So, to conclude: the Pearl is pricey (even at sale prices), but she’s a good coat that’s built to last, and I’d definitely recommend getting your hands on one if you can.

 

 

 

 

Y is for (Say) Yes!: the A-Z of a Vintage Girl in a Modern World

Happy Sunday y’all! (Hmm. I’ve never typed ‘y’all’ before. Not sure I successfully pull it off.)

So, it’s the penultimate week of my A-Z of a vintage girl in a modern world, and I wanted to take some time to talk about being positive and saying ‘Yes!’ to things, even when they’re terrifying.

I know that this advice isn’t exclusive to vintage, but I think it’s good advice all the same, and is something that I had to really work on when I started to dress like this every day.

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There are many times I was nervous, but did something anyway. That time I went to Collectif’s 100 Dresses event on my own, which was terrifying (not least because I got lost walking around Camden and thought I’d never find the shop). But, I ended up enjoying it so much that last year, I convinced one of my friends to come with me and we had a whale of a time (except for getting lost walking around Camden and thinking we’d never find the shop). You can read more about it here: https://somethingdefinitelyhappened.com/2015/11/13/bonus-post-i-said-yes-to-100-dresses-15-and-a-bit-weeks-to-go-2/

Then there was my visit to the Classic Car Boot Sale and Cahoots this year, where lots of women I admire/read blogs of/stalk a bit on social media were going. I was incredibly nervous, but they were all so lovely and kind, and I’m proud to call them my friends now (they didn’t even mind about the social media stalking, that’s how nice they are).

And, of course, there’s every time I leave the house dressed in my vintage (or vintage-inspired) outfits. I love them, and it’s become much easier to do as time has gone on, but when I first started, I was incredibly aware of what I was wearing and waiting for someone to point and laugh. And even now, when people can point and laugh as much as they like and I won’t mind, there’s still a split second before leaving the house where I wonder if it’s a bit much. The Boy combats this by telling me that yes, it is, but then so am I, and it seems to work pretty well.

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And then, of course, there was this year’s Miss Vintage competition, which I was desperate to get through to the final of, then spent the entire time between being told I was a finalist and actually being in the final alternately crossing my fingers and wondering what the heck I’d done.

I was terrified. Right before going onstage, I thought I was going to faint (surprising, I know, but I suffer from pretty terrible stage fright), and when the competition finally got underway, my hat – which I’d been struggling with – nearly fell off. But, I had a great time, and got to meet some very lovely ladies (and gents). I’d do it all again, just perhaps with more gin!

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Every time I’ve done something that scared me, I’ve come out the better for it. Whether it’s making new friends, achieving something I never thought I would, or just generally having a lovely time, there’s nothing that I look back on with regret.

So, next time you see something that you quite like the look of but which takes you a little (or a lot), out of your comfort zone, give it a go. Even when things don’t go to plan, there’s something to be gained from the experience; nearly losing my hat taught me to bobby pin the crap out of any future headwear, which is a handy lesson to have learned.

Take a deep breath, and just say yes!

X is for eXciting news!: the A-Z of a Vintage Girl in a Modern World

This week’s blog comes to you from my comfy sofa, where I’m under a duvet with Agent Carter on in the background (side note: I want ALL the costumes. All of them. If someone can point me in the direction of someone who can recreate them, I’d be ever so grateful). Especially this dress:

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I’ve reached X in my A-Z of  a vintage girl in a modern world, and, I’ll be honest, I’ve been struggling for inspiration. Which could go some way to explaining why I’ve not written anything for a little while. Along with us being on our honeymoon (we went to Rome and Naples in Italy, then Kakslauttanen – the place of the glass igloos – in Finland, where we saw the Northern Lights twice in three days. It was glorious and I miss it every day).

 

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Wearing a sunny honeymoon outfit in Rome

 

 

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Wearing still-sunny-but-significantly-chillier outfits in Kakslauttanen

 

There are lots of things X could stand for – as The Boy suggested, I could talk about the perfect vintage Xmas (it’s not so terribly far away, and I’ve been feeling curiously festive since our return from Finnish Lapland. Possibly because we stayed close to where Father Christmas lives, and saw his office and everything), but it still feels a teensy bit early. I could use it to talk about pinup icon Bettie Page, or perhaps burlesque, but I think I covered burlesque pretty well under B, for burlesque and body confidence.

So instead, I’m going to use this week to share some rather eXciting news (see what I did there? I cheated. That’s what I did). I’ve recently started writing for She Might Be, the UK’s first completely body positive, online magazine and community that is written solely by bloggers, created by Georgina of She Might Be LovedXXXXXX. where I’ll be talking all about vintage things. Other stuff too, I’d wager – you know me, I love a good tangent, but mostly vintage.

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Collectif coat, BAIT shoes, hair flower from Sophisticated Lady hair flowers and bag from Jools the Vintage Bag Lady. Photo by Street Style Carousel

My first post is live now, and can be found here: http://shemightbe.co.uk/rocking-true-vintage-accessories-series-bags/. You’ll get to read all about my collection of vintage bags (photos and everything), and hints and tips on starting to build your own collection.

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One of my favourite bags, from Elegant Era in Harrogate. Photo by the lovely Vintage Frills.

In other very exciting news, The Boy and I’s wedding was recently featured on Whimsical Wonderland Weddings, surely one of the loveliest of all the wedding blogs. If you weren’t a reader of my blog when it was the countdown to our wedding – or perhaps you’d just like to see some more of the photos – you can find it here: http://whimsicalwonderlandweddings.com/2016/10/vintage-inspired-doctor-who-wedding.html

If you weren’t a reader of the blog then, I should warn you: it was vintage mixed with Doctor Who (which The Boy and I pretend was a compromise because I love vintage and he loves Doctor Who, but we both know that’s bordering on a lie, because I love Doctor Who almost as much as he does). Also important to note – my sister made the cake. She’s a genius.

 

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Traditional wedding cake with a hint of TARDIS and a heap of deliciousness

 

So, now that I’m back, let’s crack on with this A-Z shall we? Next week I’ll be talking about saying yes and positivity and all that jazz. It’s going to be delightful!

 

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Yes, this is a TARDIS onesie