Happy Jubilee

Yup, here in the UK we’re enjoying the second of our two public holidays, celebrating our wonderful Queenie’s jubilee! I am a royalist through and through, loving the royal family, the heritage they provide and the tether they give us to our fantastic and varied history. So inevitably I got right into the jubilee spirit, and booked a table at the Jubilee Vintage and Handmade Fair in Birmingham city centre alongside the lovely Charlie of Charlie Button Knit Kits.

Sunday’s outfit: dress & belt: charity shops;
cardi: Monsoon; shoes via ebay

Unfortunately, Sunday was dreich! I have never seen Birmingham quite so deserted…

Even the floozy in the jacuzzi looked stroppy! The highlight of my day was running into a familar face in the shape of the lovely Louise & Peter, on their Bebopaloulou Vintage stand.

And bringing Charlie home to one of Dapper’s famous cottage pies!!

Monday was much brighter – so much so that my Mum, who stopped in for the day, was able to take some proper outfit shots on the streets of Brum:

Victoria Sqaure was looking much livelier:

As were the decorations!

Even the floozy looked far happier!

And guess who won a HUGE box of chocolates for her Jubilee inspired outfits?

You can see a round-up of the fair and some more photos over on Down the Garden Path. But do leave m a comment and tell me, how did you utilise your free days off?

Easy entertaining…

Dress: M&S via charity shop; cardi: Dorothy Perkins; hold-ups: Charnos; headband: Claire’s Accesories; belt: charity shop; shoes: M&S

This last week has mostly been about entertaining folks we’ve barely had the time to see since Christmas, and getting over an inevitable bout of holidayitis. For this reason, combined with recent weather conditions, we have managed to complete exactly none of the trips we had planned for the break. We have climbed no mountains, visited no historical high streets, enjoyed no extended country walks… In some ways, a disappointment, although more, I think, for you guys than for Dapper and myself!

But I’m happy to say that every hosting occasion has been an absolute delight. I’m so pleased we managed to squeeze so many people in, despite both feeling pretty darned shoddy for a lot of the week. And Dapper cooked his famous stuffed marrow on more than one occasion, neatly splitting the cooking duties in two and therefore halving my workload – a definite bonus!

I have also taken advantage of the moments between guests, rain showers and coughing fits to really get the herb and vegetable garden going. We have a lovely little suntrap right outside the bedroom door, ideal for pot plants and hanging baskets.

Headscarf: was my Gran’s; navy dress & lambswool jumper: charity shop

I began growing various fruit, veg and herbs from seed last month, and have now transferred seedlings to the great outdoors to see how they fare. Fingers crossed they do well, and we’ll have a variety of fresh herbs, spinach, radishes, beetroot, strawberries, tomatoes, rocket, shallots, etc etc in the months to come!

Meanwhile, maybe next holiday we’ll manage that munro…

Vintage hotspot: The Wear House

We stumbled across The Wear House in Ludlow quite accidentally, and lost three hours inside. It was like falling down the rabbit hole into Wonderland, with three floors of vintage, antique and independently designed goods ready for the perusing.

There is so much choice, a good balance of vintage and antique, clothing, bric-a-brac and interiors, and ladies and gentleman’s fashions. It’s not over-priced, as is often the case – for example, I tried on a gorgeous 50s lime chiffon dress, full-skirted and off the shoulder, in perfect condition for £55. Cheap at the price for something unique that has lasted so well for so long, and half the price of many cotton vintage repro dresses in the high street just now.

Thankfully, after all that browsing, the back-room and garden take their turn as a delightful tea-room, with generous pots of tea (-for-two: £2.50), delicious homemade cake, and if you’re really lucky, one of the regulars, John, to offer advice for the discerning gentleman on where best to make necessary clothing purchases. You know – panama hats, summer weight linen suits and the like…

A jolly fine way to spend a Saturday!

Wishlist: Dolores

Dolores floral sleeved dress, £89 from Lady Jojo’s boutique

Perhaps it is the cool summer we’ve been “enjoying” this year that has turned my thoughts to longer sleeves, but I think this dress is utterly beautiful! A lovely spring/summer fabric, but alleviating the need for a cardi – particularly in air conditioned offices. And the collar detail is just adorable!

I’ve been saving my pennies for my summer hols, which will doubtless include a trip to the ‘burgh and into Lady Jojo’s boutique. If she’s in stock, I may just have to try…

Filmspiration: North by Northwest

On Sunday afternoon, Dapper and I curled up under blankets on the sofa to watch the Hitchcock classic, North by Northwest. There’s no denying that Eva Marie Saint is a beauty, but some of her clothes in this film are simply divine. Take this dress as the most obvious – and stunning – example:

Betty Draper, eat your heart out!

Whilst this is certainly my favourite of her dresses, she actually sports some delightful costumes throughout:

“Don’t shoot!” Note the little boy in the background covering his ears in anticipation.

A simple but elegant day dress

Eve Kendall would almost certainly never leave the house without her hat and gloves – indeed, in the film’s climactic scene, even having kicked off her shoes, she still clings to the cliff edge in her wrist gloves:

We’ve discussed before the etiquette of dressing to show respect for those around you, of taking pride in your appearance as an extension of respecting yourself, and it occurs to me more and more frequently that, for all our girl-power feminism, we’ve lost the strength, poise and self-respect that women of this era were brought up to embody. And with them, so many beautiful but subtle rites of flirtation.

I have also begun to notice certain little gestures made by the gentlemen in movies such as this: the hand to the centre back to ensure a lady passes first, a subtle open-armed sweep to bring his lady escort into a conversation, or a hand taken to lead her forward to introduce someone. I have begun to notice them for the simple reason that they are the kinds of gestures Dapper adopts, and to which I am learning to adapt: because if you aren’t used to having chairs pulled, coats proffered and car doors opened for you, you all to often find yourself directly in the way!

That 50s look

Not long ago I mentioned that I would be working the 50s look for weddings this summer. So when I saw this dress on the Monsoon website I just had to point you towards it! It would look party-tastic with silver platforms , festival funky with gladiator sandals and a slouchy cardigan , and christening appropriate with strappy pink, mint, coral or lilac shoes. At £48 I think that makes it a bargain!

50s pretty

Fusion Oriental Garden Dress: £48

Getting to grips


Remember when I announced that I wanted to do more 40s styled outfits this year? And remember how I was trying to get to grips (no pun intended) with some more complex hair-dos and make-up techniques?

Have you noticed that my vintage styling has slipped somewhat? I’ve fallen back into comfortable modern clothing – little dresses, cardis and coloured tights – my staple wardrobe. After Easter I plan to start making an effort once again.

So, in an attempt to get inspired I have been trawling the interwebs for exciting images and tutorials. I started at the Mad Men blog, where there are behind the scenes features and video clips expanding on the series’ fashion. Through some cosmic coincidence, Lauren also happened to be writing a piece about 60s Mad Men styling for the Queens of Vintage, so I hopped on over there, only to find a tutorial by fabulous blogger Candice of Super Kawaii Mama. Which just goes to show that there is plenty of inspiration out there if you just start looking for it!

It also got me thinking about vintage men’s fashion, and how much I like a man who’s put effort into his dress. I am not one of those women who loves a man in a suit – it doesn’t do a whole lot for me. I actually prefer a man in baggy jeans and beads, but I think that’s because it is a definite “look”. It’s styled, if not individual. But the men on Mad Men are dapper – and dapper IS something I like on a man. There’s a dapper older gent in Leamington in fact – I see him often, most recently at the bus stop near my house last week, in his seamed slacks, navy blazer with red silk handkerchief in the pocket to match his red shirt, and fedora hat. He always says hello and asks how I am, which I think goes along with the outfit. You can’t be rude if you’re dressed politely!

Of course, it’s not just vintage styling and old-fashioned manners that the men of Mad Men epitomise. These are men who not only wear the trousers but have to actually fill them out. A move in favour of the dapper silhouette would eradicate the current trend to squeeze bandy bird legs with knock-knees into denimwear best suited to your average 7 year old. Have you seen the episode of the Mighty Boosh in which Vince Noir takes to a wheelchair in an attempt to encourage his muscles to waste away enough to get into a pair of ultra-skinnies? Satrirical, yes, but representative none-the-less!

This rather fascinating article about male model of the moment David Gandy links the move towards a more manly silhouette to the recession – our need to fall back on the traditional “strong arms” and sturdy shoulders of a man who can bring home the bacon, and who will clearly and willingly eat it! Polly Vernon (yes, her again!) talks about the sudden rise in number of designers requesting men with – shock horror – 32 or even 34 inch waists. Gandy himself (the delicious gentleman boater in those beautiful Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue ads above) describes being put forward for castings when he started out and being told he was too big or too good-looking. For too long waifish 28 inch men were the end-all of the catwalks… but that looks set to change.

I am hoping that, in the same way that women across the globe are taking tips on the old “less is more” technique of dressing (the original art of tease) from Joan Holloway, men will begin to be inspired by Don Draper’s clean lines and broad shoulders. This is not a look that needs the big guns to work any more than it needs the sparrow legs – but it does need a healthy frame to build upon. A man’s frame. Personally, I’ve all had enough of boy-children in skinny jeans and bird-nest hair – it’s time to bring back the real men!

Kitchenalia Collector

This week there has been a brilliant 30 minute programme on BBC2 every evening called Antiques Roadshow Priceless (and yes, even as I type this I am aware that I’ve aged myself by a good 15, maybe 20 years). It’s been a sort of round up of some of the best bits of Antiques Roadshow over the years, with some new features thrown in. On Wednesday evening the show featured collectible kitchenware from the 50s and 60s that, while currently worth little, could potentially become collector pieces in the near future. Particularly notable was the decorated milk glass pyrex, with which I grew up and to which I have a strange attachment.

To the bewilderment of many of my friends, I have been collecting this stuff from charity shops for the last few years, along with other “hideous” odds and ends which I personally find myself inexplicably drawn to. I now have the beginnings of quite a pretty collection, to which I can’t wait to add as and when I find more “bits”. I thought maybe you’d like to see some of the odds and ends I actually have here at the flat – a large number are, admittedly, currently still in Nat and Elena’s attics!


Pretty painted tumblers


Milk glass pyrex – “Carnaby” design, cups, saucers and side plates


Duck egg blue tea pot, milk jug and sugar bowl
Behind: larger, daisy pattern tea pot


60s patterned enamel saucepans/frying pan


More painted glassware


My much beloved 49p thermos lemonade jug!

And this is what I wore on Wednesday.


Yesterday I wore my Ghost Town outfit – worn so often I didn’t feel another phtotgraph was necessary! But Wednesdays was the 70s dress I picked up on Saturday. I felt so ladylike in it – the skirt had real fluidity to its movement, and I really wish I could have created a Farrah flick to finish the look!

Sweet Inspiration

Yup, more 40s chatter. Well, actually, 30s, 40s, 50s – I’m not especially picky!

This afternoon Lauren, Laura and I went to the cinema to watch Baz Luhrman’s Australia. This is a very long film, but I enjoyed every minute! What can I say – fabulous costumes, amazing scenery, a real sob-fest AND Hugh Jackman!! I was very happy! I wasn’t really able to take too much from the costumes, as Nicole Kidman is so beautifully tall and slim – as amazing as she looked I couldn’t pull off the same stylings. I did note her hair though – easy to replicate for a day look.



These are just a few stills from other films I have been drawing inspiration from this week. I’ve been paying extra attention to colour combinations, the shape of the curls in hair-styles, the shade of red worn on the lips and the ways in which colour can be used to make an outfit look more authentically era-specific versus a modern take on a time-frame.

One of my highest ranking blog posts every single day is my Capturing Caroline post, written shortly after I first watched Poliakoff’s Capturing Mary. I was so captivated by Ruth Wilson in this – an amazing redhead wearing bright lipstick and primary colours to striking effect – that I just HAD to blog it. I would never have dared to put someone with such pale colouring in daffodil yellow – but it works! And as for my dream dress in my ideal shade of green with RED shoes… unexpectedly perfect!




The red dress image is actually from Poliakoff’s A Real Summer – but takes us straight back to my post about redheads in red dresses being utterly divine!

Ballet Shoes has also provided inspiration of late. For those not in the know, it’s a 70-something-year-old novel about three orphans who are saved from varying fates and adopted by an explorer. When he doesn’t return from his travels, the girls are forced to go to stage school and act or dance in order to earn house-keeping cash. The story was far superior in the book (as is usually the case), but the costumes in the BBC adaptation were still fantastic. They managed to capture the three unique characters of the leading girls while making all three look attractively land-girls-like. I especially like Emma Watson’s look – the clothes and make-up keep it “of the era” while her hair could very easily be worn in the streets of today without causing anyone to blink!



Of course, Emma Watson is beautiful anyway. I feel strangely proud when I see her act – I feel she’s a real child of Britain having watched her grow up (and learn to actually act!) through Harry Potter. I would never have expected her to turn out to be such a stunner!

Mrs Henderson Presents is a fabulous story, based on true events, of a vaudeville theatre in London which narrowly escaped closure during the Second World War. The costumes in this are good where they exist – there’s a lot of semi-nudity (and some full nudity too) – but the hair-styling is what really caught my attention. A lot of the film involves backstage or rehearsal shots, so the girls are often in rollers or pin-curls. There was one hair-style in particular that I wanted to show (the second image), but I could only find a rather grainy picture, apologies. Still, it looks fairly simple, and one I might attempt to recreate.

mrs-hen-gin mrs-hen-coiff

The lovely Kelly Reilly

Finally, tonight I watched Walk the Line again. And Reese Witherspoon’s June Carter definitely deserves a mention! Those frocks, that hair, that accent, that voice! A performance truly worthy of its Oscar!


If I could persuade my hair to do this I would be truly happy!