With my part of the UK back in lockdown, I’ve been thinking about Christmas quite a lot – it’s nice to have something to look forward to.
The chances of us getting together for our usual big family get together are looking very small indeed (at this point, even less likely than me selling my dresses and going back to my jeans-and-a-hoodie style of my university years), and as a result, I’m trying even harder to get thoughtful gifts that my family will love.
As retailers are getting absolutely hammered by the restrictions currently in place, another thing I’m trying to do is to buy from the small businesses I know and love where possible.
If you’re looking to do the same, or if someone you love is into vintage style and/or old things and you want to buy them something nice, this, my friend, is the place for you!
Now I read that back, it sounds like I wrote this list as a giant hint to my loved ones. I promise that was not my intention. I also offer absolutely no spoilers as to what those loved ones might be getting on 25 December, so Katie, Christine – if that’s why you’re here, you’ll be disappointed.
One thing to note – I was getting myself in a bit of a flap while writing the list, so for ease, if a business sells more than one thing (e.g. a vintage clothing seller that also sells hats), I’ve put them in the category that fits the majority of what they sell (so that vintage clothing seller would be under clothes-original vintage).
My lovely friend, and blogger extraordinaire, Georgina at She Might Be Loved, has written a roundup of seven independent bath bomb companies in the UK, which you can read here. I just have a couple to add:
Pretty Suds has an extensive collection, including some rather lovely sounding festive scents.
The Little White Box Company has some lovely scents, and is also the only place I’ve seen a shower bomb, which works like a bath bomb but for the shower! You put one in the bottom of your shower, then turn it on and hey presto, you have an intense scent designed to set you up for the day.
Where possible, I like to buy from independent bookshops that are close by. I live in a very small town where we don’t have any, but there’s a brilliant one nearby.
The Eagle Bookshop in Bedford is a treasure trove of antique and second-hand books. I generally go in without a definite idea of what I’m looking for and come out with at least four new things to read. My favourite so far has been Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford, which I’d never got around to reading, for some reason.
During lockdown, the team is doing virtual browsing sessions, which sound marvellous.
Also in Bedford is Rogan’s Books, a children’s bookshop that I’ve never visited before but will definitely be taking Teddy to when the world returns to normal, as it looks magical. While lockdown’s still going on, you can buy books and prints in the online shop.
I’d love this section to become a list of independent bookshops around the country, so if you have a recommendation, please let me know! In the meantime, here are some suggestions from Stylist.
When I initially wrote this list, it was massive. To make it a bit easier to navigate, I’ve split it out into original vintage and reproduction vintage.
Black Sheep Antiques – a gorgeously curated collection of gems. One of my first stops at any event I go to, now I’m stalking the website and dreaming about the coats (I have a coat stand full of coats. I don’t need another one. But…)
1940s Style for You – if 1930s and 1940s are your eras, 1940s Style for You is the perfect shop for you. You’ll find vintage clothing and accessories along with reproduction knitwear that’s made to vintage patterns.
Cockadoodle Vintage – handpicked 1940s and 1950s mens and ladies wear and accessories. I have a beautiful dress from here that I bought when I was pregnant with Teddy and I have the loveliest memory of wearing it at Pickering 1940s weekend.
Curious Orange Vintage Costume – there’s handpicked vintage galore, including some truly spectacular hats (and I’ve seen some good ones in my time, so I know they’re spectacular).
Elegant Era – based in Harrogate, while lockdown continues you’ll find a range of original and reproduction vintage ladies wear on the website.
Gingermegs Vintage – specialising in Victorian to 1950s, you can find clothes, hats, shows and all manner of accessories.
It’s Deco Darling – specialising in womenswear from the 1930s and 1940s, you’ll find earlier and later items too, including plenty of lovely volup (32″+ waist) things.
Lady White’s Vintage – vintage clothes and accessories are available via the website (including a whole section of volup pieces and wounded ones, for those who are handy with a needle). You can also visit the company’s eBay page and bid on the vintage jewellery they regularly upload
Little Sister Vintage – a very cool selection 1940s and 50s clothes and homewares are available via etsy, including curtains and some rare wall masks that I’ve never seen before.
Maggie Mae’s Vintage – you’ll find original 1920s-1950s, alongside some reproduction vintage in the online store and Shropshire bricks-and-mortar shop (pandemic permitting). Run by a lovely mum-and-daughter team (and newest recruit Arthur, one of the most stylish three year olds I know), there are plenty of clothes and accessories to peruse.
The Queen’s Drawers – you can shop original vintage from 1940s-80s via eBay or Instagram (a bonus of shopping via Instagram is that you’ll also get to see photos of Marie’s cat, who is lovely).
Past Caring Vintage – an amazing range of high quality original vintage, from knitwear, hats, suits, dresses…you get the idea, there’s lots!
Scarlet Rage Vintage – when we’re allowed to go out again, you can book a private appointment at the studio for all your vintage needs. For now, there’s a well-stocked website (helpfully broken down by size, should you wish) and regular Instagram takeovers where you ask for what you want and Jade magically finds it.
Timebomb Vintage – a real mix of eras and items are available to buy here; it’s a lovely etsy shop to browse as you’ll always come across something new!
Vintage Retreat – a relatively new space in Northampton, housing lots of lovely vintage and reproduction vintage traders. Unfortunately closed for now, but the safety measures the team has put in place mean it’s a secure space to explore once shops can open again (and there’s a tearoom. The cake is delicious).
Bohemian Finds – it was a sad day indeed when Bohemian Finds closed its Bedford shop. Thankfully, there’s one in Northampton, which isn’t terribly far away, and you can now shop on the website too. Lots of pretty 1950s, pin up and rockabilly inspired clothes and accessories.
Cery’s Closet – once the pandemic is over, if I ever find myself near Bridgend (not as unlikely as it sounds, I sometimes go that way for work), I am definitely paying this shop a visit. In the meantime, you’ll find a range of rockabilly and vintage style brands in the online shop, as well as Cery’s Closet’s own range of lovely clothes in beautifully rich colours.
Deadly is the Female – the Frome boutique may be closed, but you can still get an Old Hollywood glamour fix online. The dresses are luxurious and super glamorous, and I’m saving up for one of the red sparkly ones.
Gatsby Lady – gorgeous 1920s-inspired designs for all shapes and sizes. These dresses ooze glamour and make me feel mega-sophisticated, which doesn’t happen very often.
The House of Foxy – if you prefer to buy straight from the manufacturers, you can shop online at The House of Foxy. With clothes inspired from the 1920s-1950s, you’ll also find style inspiration in the form of era lookbooks.
Kitty Lou Vintage – a vintage seamstress who can recreate just about anything you ask her to! Her commission slots are full for what seems like years, but you can check out available slots online.
Lady V London – my very first vintage style dress was bought here. Beautiful circle dresses with lovely prints.
Miss Fortune – rockabilly and pin up style clothing, with incredible novelty print skirts and the coolest jumpers I’ve ever seen.
Palava – a family run business that works with other family-run businesses to source its fabric and make its clothes, the company is committed to zero waste and limited deadstock (when an item doesn’t sell). Its prints are incredible too – so detailed and fun.
Pretty Retro – sister brand to The House of Foxy, at Pretty Retro you’ll find classic 1940s and 50s shapes, including dresses, skirts, trousers and tops.
Revival Retro – you’ll find clothes and shoes inspired by 1930s-1950s, and as well as stocking a range of well-known brands, you can also find the Revival Retro range. The London boutique – which really is lovely – has had to close its doors temporarily, but you can shop online.
Rock n Romance Vintage – another family run business that stocks its own range and a variety of others, including Seamstress of Bloomsbury, Rock n Romance vintage has very reasonably priced 1940s and 50s inspired clothes.
Rockamilly Boutique – I have been gazing at the Irregular Choice collection on the Rockamilly Boutique site for far too long, considering I have an epic post to write. You’ll find all the old favourites online, including Collectif and Tatty Devine, and plenty of pretty thing to pass the time in lockdown.
Rocket Originals – where I buy many of my shoes. Made to vintage patterns, these are comfy and built to last.
*NEW* Sink or Swim Boutique – vintage inspired dresses, skirts and accessories. You can order from a ready-made range (which can also be bought at events or Vintage Retreat – mentioned in the previous section – under normal conditions), or why not order something made just for you?
Voluptuous Vintage – although the shop is closed, you can still shop online. With brands including Miss Candyfloss, Pretty Retro, The House of Foxy and Hell Bunny, there’s lots to look at. One of the things I love about this shop is the sizing – no numbers here, just a list of fabulous Old Hollywood lovelies to choose from (you can find details on the sizing here).
This isn’t strictly vintage, it’s true (because much as I adore vintage style outfits, you couldn’t pay me enough to eat spam fritters). However, food is a big part of my family’s Christmasses, so I thought I’d put together a few suggestions of places to buy some treats.
Guns n Posies Bakery – brownies, freshly baked and delivered directly to you, you say? YUM.
The Pink Flamingo Bakes – if you live near Rugeley, you are a lucky sausage. The cakes look, frankly, incredible and they regularly sell out. The shop is open with limited hours, so if you are able to visit, please do so safely.
Hair and beauty (including make up artists)
Carl Brown Hair – you can commission a wig or book yourself onto one of Carl’s wig styling courses.
Dollie Mixtures – based in Hitchin, this vintage-inspired beauty parlour has all the usual services on offer, along with the most incredible false eyelashes and hair and make up. Hayley and Sarah did my and my bridesmaids’ make up for my wedding and they are really, really good at what they do.
House of Drewvid – you can find the salon in Enfield, if a vintage hairstyle is what you’re after. In the meantime, visit the website to browse the gorgeous selection of snoods and hair flowers, or marcel setting spray, which is what I use on my hair.
Hula Beauty – a gorgeous retro style salon based in Hackney, where you can get pampered in glamorous surroundings.
I Love Lucie Hair – a Leeds-based hair salon where you can get a vintage style and mega-cool colour.
Le Keux Cosmetics – you can purchase a range of vintage-inspired make up, including lipstick and eyeliner, or buy yourself a voucher for a makeover and photoshoot at one of the salons around the UK (currently in Birmingham, Cheltenham and Leigh-on-Sea).
Necia’s Hairstyling – you can treat yourself to an already-styled wig, or commission something completely new.
*NEW* The Vanity Box – from vintage-inspired updos to the most incredible hair colours, you’ll find it all at The Vanity Box in Essex.
Hats and hair accessories
Alice Brown’s Cupboard – you can buy a range of turban’s on etsy, or visit Vintage Retreat in Northampton (mentioned under clothing-reproduction above) when it reopens for a range of vintage clothes, accessories and fabrics.
B Millinery – glamorous and fun fascinators and hats, including Halloween-themed berets, gorgeous sun hats and a pair of holly shoe clips that I need.
Flowers by Aurora – vintage hats, and vintage inspired hair flowers and corsages.
The Heritage Milliner – handmade vintage style hats, from berets to super-glam wide brimmed straw hats. My faux fur hat and scarf set is one of my favourite things to wear in the winter months.
Heritage Reloved – vintage and reworked vintage hats (I’ve got a couple and the quality is incredible), along with vintage clothing.
The Little Shop of Gorgeousness and Fripperies – handmade reproduction vintage hats; as well as regular Facebook and Instagram posts showcasing new stock, you can get in touch to have something made to order.
Miss Bella’s Blooms – the marvel who pulled my out of myself after Dorothy died by inviting me to create the Dorothy Collection. You’ll find handmade, vintage-inspired hair flowers and corsages, including the cutest little felt rose clusters.
Ruby Boo Makes – mega-pretty vintage inspired handmade hair flowers and corsages. So much pretty stuff to choose from.
Sarah’s Doo Wop Dos – handmade turbans and headbands inspired by the 1930s and 40s. Sarah’s shop opens every few weeks and the next date is 28 November. Everything sells out mega quickly (because it’s great), so set yourself an alarm!
Shazam Pin Up Hair Flowers – handmade hair flowers and a range of vintage accessories, including belt buckles, earrings es.,buttons and brooch
Homewares (including candles and wax melts)
CW Meltssssss – another recommendation from Georgina at She Might Be Loved (visit her Instagram, she has a really helpful highlight with lots of small businesses to buy from). The CW Meltssssss Christmas slabs are adorable, and you can even buy a wax melt advent calendar!
Hunter Bailey – my sister has a few candles from here and raves about them. The shop opens regularly (there’s a handy countdown on the homepage) and there are lots of themed scents to get excited about!
Lollie Loves – a business created during lockdown, Lollie Loves has a great selection of scents (the gingerbread one is currently merrily melting away in my wax burner).
No38 Vintage Emporium – a shop with over 45 traders in Newport Pagnell, there really is something for everyone (including fans of Pip ‘n’ Mix, mentioned below). You’ll find clothes, paintings, homeware, jewellery, masks, furniture and decorative bits for the garden. While lockdown is going on, the shop’s Facebook page is showcasing some of the a available items and there’s a local click & collect service.
Pip ‘n’ Mix – as well as upcycled furniture, you can find all manner of vintage curiousities, including cameras, magazines, kitchenware and jewellery.
Ward’s Historical Grocers – a treasure trove of vintage items, handily broken down by era if you’re not sure what you’re looking for, but know when you’re looking for.
*NEW* Bow & Crossbones – authentic vintage reproduction jewellery (and some original vintage too) from the 1940s, 50s and 60s. If you’re not sure where to start, you can even pick up a perfectly coordinated pre-made bangle set.
Carnation Retro – a UK stockist of Ertwilder, Daisy Jean and Oh So Flamingo. So much cuteness!
Deer Arrow – another Australian-based acrylic jewellery business (with international delivery), the family who run it design and make every piece themselves.
Dolly Cool Jewels – here you can buy rockabilly-inspired acrylic jewellery. Some of it is cute, some of it is spooky, and there’s a bit of something for everyone.
Erstwilder – established in 2011, this Melbourne-based business (international delivery is available) works with local designers to create its limited-edition (and very cute) collections.
Just_eat_the_dougnut – visit Instagram for hand-stamped jewellery with initials, zodiac signs and cheeky phrases (and as an added bonus, you’ll also find lots of outfit inspiration).
Carradine’s Cockney Sing-a-Long – a main fixture of Twinwood Festival, Tom Carradine’s sing-a-longs have moved online for now. You can watch live streams in a self-isolation sing-a-long or order an album from the website.
Lianna Haynes – a vintage vocalist specialising in the 1950s and 60s, Lianna is also a very good photographer and generally lovely human. She can be booked for events once the world goes back to normal.
Thomas B Wild Esquire – you may recognise Tom as the chap who sings No more F*cks to Give, which went viral last year. On his website, you can order albums and singles that are just as catchy as that one, and a range of merchandise.
The Victory Sisters – Liz, Marcia and Karen are a wartime trio who light up events. Sadly, they won’t be gracing any with their presence for the next few months, so in the meantime you can visit their YouTube channel.
Betty Noir Studio – a makeover and photography studio based in Gloucestershire, you can purchase a range of shoot packages, starting from £55 (or book a vintage hair or make up session). I really want to try the adult cake smash!
Jukebox Beauties – Northamptonshire-based photographers specialising in pin up and cosplay; you can also book in for a pin up shoot with posing tips from a pin up model. I’ve had a shoot with them and I felt 10 feet tall when I left.
Lina & Tom – our wedding photographers, who also shot a pre-wedding shoot, and have since gone on to shoot my sister and best friend’s weddings. They are so very good at what they do, and as a bonus, are both absolutely delightful people.
Nicole Klein Photography – specialising in fantasy and cosplay. While we’re waiting for the world to open up again, you can sign up for a You shoot, I’ll edit package where Nicole does some amazing wizardry to turn your phone photo into something magical.
Tigz Rice – a fashion and boudoir photographer based in London, with lockdown in full swing you can book yourself in for a virtual photoshoot, all done via Zoom.
I’ll be adding to this list (new shops will be marked with *NEW* to make it nice and easy to navigate), so please let me know if you know a small business who should be on here.
Sending all my readers a great big hug – we’ll get through this together my loves.