Fashion’s future

So, did anyone remember Ruby Shoesday this week? Major kudos if you did! I personally opted for the burgundies that lovely Corey sent me…

At the bus stop today was a chubby pre-teen girl wearing a pair of sequined harem pants. We’re talking hideous black harem pants with sequins sewn ALL OVER. Over at The Fashion Police we mock the harem pant, and I believe I can promise you NEVER to succumb to their siren call myself… yet I found it impossible to look at this girl with anything but respect.

When I see these pre-teens trialing fashion-forward styles I can’t help but be impressed by their courage. I can imagine this little girl getting slated by her peers for her choices, and therefore have to applaud her bravado. What I see, rather than a fashion victim, is a fashion blogger of the future.

Would any of us be the stylish ladies we are today had we not gone through experimental phases when we were younger? How do we learn what does or doesn’t suit us if we don’t try everything once? And do those mocking schooldays not prepare us for the strange looks we might one day garner as we board the bus in our own, somewhat daring outfits?

That chubby wee girl made me feel quite proud!

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Things for Cie…

I know, I’m not even in the country right now, but while I’m off enjoying the French sunshine/wine/probably cheese I thought I’d share some of the lovely gifts I’ve recently received with you! I know, I know, such a lucky girl!

First up, last weekend my friend Adelle came to visit, an presented me with the prettiest housewarming present:

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Isn’t she gorgeous? She matches my doily-coasters and reminds me of a lot of the Laura Ashley stuff. And I can tell you with some authority now that those chocolate flowers? Were delicious!

Second up, mid-last-week a parcel arrived for me from Nottingham. It was from Laura, who works in a library and had seen this book consigned to the rubbish and salvaged it for me! It’s a beautiful book with pages and pages of clothes, shoes, accessories and beauty products from 20s catalogues and advertisements. It really is AMAZING!

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It was so difficult to choose pages to show you, there are so many…

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…So I just opened it twice at random and took pictures of those!

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Finally, on my way back from the ball in Cornwall two weeks ago I got an excited text from Lauren saying she had a present for me! Remember my Lord Nelson 60s casserole dish that I loved? Well, she’d been to a car boot sale and picked up the dish that the Lord Nelson cruet set sits in!

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The cruet set no longer sits in this one… my cheese grater lady does though!

As she bought this the stallholder said it was a real pity she hadn’t been 5 minutes earlier as he’d had a storage jar in perfect condition in the same pattern… but a chap had just bought it. When Lauren got to the car she discovered the “chap”? Was her Dad! And he let her have the jar for lucky lil’ me!

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It now has pride of place on my windowsill!

Decadence

Think carefully about the trends of the last few seasons. We’ve had maxi lengths sweeping their way into summer and creeping their way into winter looks. We’ve seen the waist “return” (I had wondered where mine had gone!), with the 40s look reigning supreme and tuxes and tail coats jostling for our attention. Gothic black has been glamourised with embellishments in the form of sequins, beading, feathers and lace, and big satin bows have adorned fuller, more textured hair. Capelets and shrugs have evolved into capes and shawls.

Add to this some key pieces from the coming AW catwalks – broad shoulders (all the better to emphasise that waist!), small autumnal hats that perch atop soft, dishevelled up-styles, and the lace-up ankle boot, and this winter’s direction becomes very clear.

Still I didn’t fully appreciate where we were heading until, flicking through Elle last night, I came across this Chanel advert:

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I love the mix of full-length skirt with latter century (and typically Chanel) tweed jackets, the chiffon overlay to soften and romanticise a hard edge, and the (barely seen) pork-pie-esque hats to modernise the look. These elements add up to an undoubtedly new styling, but the silhouette remains unarguably Victorian.

Of course, the look is very era specific. With none of the hoops of the early- or bustles of the mid-Victorian era, it’s all about turn of the century decadence, a slightly less-structured yet more elaborately embellished style, dark, rich tones and layers both suited to colder months. I imagine street style will lift elements of the whole, mix-and-matching heavy full-length skirts with crisp officewear shirts or 40s tweed jackets as seen here, or combining a full gothic, corseted and embellished tailcoat with a shorter-length skirt and ankle boots, not unlike last AW’s Luella. Personally, I’ll certainly be running up a wool maxi skirt, most likely in a nice charcoal grey wool, before winter rolls around…

I’ve also been contemplating a trip home to pull out my old seaman’s trunk and unpack some of my Mum’s 70s maxi dresses. Most are real hippy floral numbers, but a couple follow that Laura Ashley Victoriana trend, featuring high collars and lace bibs. I’ve only worn one, once, to a halloween party as a Victorian ghost, but these things are often all about the accessories. I reckon as long as I don’t flour my face, smudge out my eyes, back-comb my hair and carry a candlestick this time no-one will get too scared…

Pattern-happy

After the weekend’s fun-filled scheduled bus-rides I had thought that I would need some recovery time (read: sleep) before going back to work. So I booked yesterday and today off. Yesterday was, indeed, spent sleeping, catching up with a bazillion (read: 221) emails and doing the general house-keeping chores I usually do on a Saturday afternoon. Also, it was raining and storming like nothing on earth. So, I only left the confines of my flat for a 5 minute jaunt to the corner shop for milk and crumpets (essentials, you understand!), a jaunt which left me looking like a drowned rat:

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Today I had a cheque to pay in and parcels to post, so had to head to town. I was determined not to spend, and actually halfway home when I remembered I had promised to pick up a book I’d spotted in a charity shop for my Mum. So, back I went… and once I was checking out one charity shop it seemed rude not to check out the rest! I was looking for books on our book club list, a spacious summer bag I could take to work that would actually carry my lunch box, and other oddments that caught my eye. I came home with:

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Spacious summer straw bag: £2

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Not on our book club list but very pretty!
The English Roses by Madonna (HB): £2.49

Save the Children on Regent Street is a mid-priced shop particularly good for bric-a-brac (pretty dishes, crockery, baskets, picture frames), 70s bedding and particularly sewing and knitting patterns. Many of you know I can’t actually knit… but I do intend to learn, and at 25p per pattern, these four in particular leapt out:

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Three knitted dresses (well, two knitted, one crocheted) – so delightfully 60s and 70s! I’m unlikely to knit the men’s sweater, I confess… but as I said to the lady behind the counter, they’re so pretty, I might just frame them!

And finally, a Vogue dress pattern. The patterns are priced between 50p and £1, this one coming in at £1 as it’s un-cut. I love this dress, with its pleated bodice, full skirt, pockets and button-through styling – a definite summer project.

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I like the maxi dress best – what do you think?

Not a bad haul for an impromptu shopping trip!

ASOS Inspiration

This was in my daily ASOS e-newsletter this week. It’s just the sort of styling I’m planning for this summer’s weddings, so I had to share!

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Also, it allows me to indulge another girl crush – the lovely lady Scarlett!

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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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

Capturing Caroline

Around the same time that I was dreaming about being Mariella Foster and marrying a Scottish Laird to be swept into the highlands to ride horses and attend flings I first dreamed up my perfect dress. Not my wedding dress, you’ll note, just the dress of my dreams in which I’d make my breathtaking entrance into my first society ball…

These dreams grew suddenly vivid once more as I watched Capturing Mary on BBC2 last Monday. Because, on top of having my beautiful coveted auburn hair she was wearing my dress. EXACTLY as I had magined it.

The best pic I can find is this, though, it barely does it or Ruth Wilson justice.

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Picture taken from BBC website

This re-awakening of my dreams sent me off on the trail of my ideal 50s dress, which eventually led me to the wonder that is Posh Girl Vintage. I visit Posh Girl Vintage sporadically, when I’m feeling rich or indulging my vintage fantasies. The dresses are mostly between $200 and $300, which is actually quite reasonable. One that drew my eye particularly, for example, was selling at $245, which at today’s exchange rate comes in at £117.60 odd – far less than you would pay in Karen Millen, Coast or even Monsoon for something equally pretty! But it was this little beauty that caught my eye:

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Is she lovely? Isn’t she wonderful? I wanted her! But, naturally, she was Sale Pending (you have to get in quick at Posh Girl – check regularly if you’re serious about buying). So I wrote a cheeky email to the Posh Girl Vintage gals. If anything goes wrong with the sale, they’ll be letting me know!

Of course, with a beauty like this that’s highly unlikely to happen.