Friday, 25 July 2014

Andale, andale, arriba, arriba!



I’m sitting in the office working whilst waiting, very impatiently waiting, for the delivery of a long anticipated vintage staple.  Yes, I have finally found the Mexican Souvenir Jacket of my dreams and it is being delivered today.

Most vintage lovers have one of these on their list along with green shoes, fur lined winter boots and a telephone cord purse, though it could be argued that the jacket is the most useful. 

Classic red Mexican jacket - AS IS £25


Decent vintage outerwear is hard to find, decent casual wear even harder.  People just wore things longer and a lot of people would either save for a proper overcoat or wear suit jackets.  

I’m a casual kind of girl a lot of the time – as much as I’d love to wear vintage suits every day I don’t have the energy or the job to allow it – I like my jeans (Freddie’s naturally) and my flat shoes for schlepping around town.  Finding a genuine vintage jacket that goes with a casual vintage look is a nightmare. 

All hail the Mexican souvenir jacket.  Usually made of wool or occasionally gabardine (how I long for one in gab – if anyone sees one – holler at me!)  the Mexican Souvenir jacket is both short, casual and fun, plus it looks great with jeans and saddle shoes.

Cream 50s jacket, £32

I do apologise if I cause any offence but I am putting issues of rich Americans culturally appropriating ethnic clothing aside (this is both 70 years ago and the styles were deliberately Americanised rather than aping traditional costume).


These items were made and sold in Mexico from I believe the early 40s and right into the 70s.  I have seen a couple which I would swear are late 30s but these are few and far between.  They were primarily bought by American tourists visiting Mexico and I understand they were often simply sold at the roadside by local women although there are certainly some which are “labels” and would have been available in the shops.  There was even a sewing pattern issued so you could make your own without the need to travel.

Vintage pattern £40


The jackets tend to come in few basic colours and designs, though almost always the same cut.  The main colours are red, green, turquoise and cream.  Black jackets are a lot rarer and you will occasionally see a yellow one or sometimes something in two colours. 


The embroidery usually features Mexican motifs.  These are often scattered horseshoes, sombreros and cacti on the front, often featured on the collar and pockets, then either a very large dancing couple on the back, sometimes with the word “Mexico” sequinned on, or a scene showing small figures going about their day to day business.  These are usually embroidered on using yarn but sometimes appliqué is used as well, especially on more large scale designs. The borders of the jacket are usually blanket stitched in a contrast yarn. 

Jacket with a boating scene £30


Most jackets are pretty brash in their design, which is incredibly fun, and I do want one of these, some however are more muted, the decoration being in just one or two colours.

A much simpler style £50


The very simple cut did not change much over time – the jackets tend to be long sleeved do not have fastenings – though some short sleeved and even poncho versions appeared in the 70s.    Some stylistic details to keep an eye out for are little tucks at the sleeve cap and some are round necked while others have collars. 



I have finally chosen a dark green design, very simple, and unusual for having very muted colours in the decoration – I’ve not seen one like it before.  I cannot wait!




And lo, I’ve been called to reception, it’s arrived!


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Lucky Dog!



In a big city like London there is always something interesting going on.  So much so that I often succumb to apathy and give up, choosing to sit inside with a glass of wine rather than make a decision regarding what to do and where to go.    Still, some things cannot be missed and it is with thanks to this blog that I have managed to get myself onto a few very useful mailing lists and get notified of interesting theatrical events in time to organise myself for a visit.

When an email popped into my inbox for a silent movie screening evening I jumped at it, especially as it was being held at Wilton’s – my very favourite theatre in London .  I hope to visit them for their theatre tour soon.

The Lucky Dog Picturehouse were hosting the event.  Perchance many of you will have heard of them but they were all new to me.  They specialize in screening silent films from the end of the 1800s to the 20s – with the aim of providing an authentic silent film experience.  

I watch silent movies at home but I had never seen one in a cinema with live musical accompaniment.  I have to say it was an incredible experience.  Hearing the crowd gasp or laugh in unison really heightened the drama playing out on screen. 

We were treated to five wonderful films:

Une Homme de Tetes (1898)

George Melies, the actor and magician, using film in an amazing inventive way for the time – by removing his head!  Special effects have been around for a very long time.




The Adventurer (1917)

A Chaplin short I had not had the pleasure of seeing before and probably my favourite film of the bunch.  This was where the audience really started to react as one – the laughter was loud and joyous as the Little Tramp tried to escape the cops.  As usual there is that sentimental side – Charlie saves a beautiful woman and her mother from drowning (though he caused the accident in the first place) and ends up trying to convince everyone that he is a rich yacht owner.



The lovely Edna Purviance co-stars.






Never Weaken (1921)

Ah, Harold Lloyd doing what he does best – stuntwork.  The audible gasps as Harry dangled high above the streets were fantastic to hear.  As usual, Harold’s unlucky everyman is in love and believing his betrothed has agreed to marry another man he decides to kill himself.  Of pourse things don't go entirely to plan....




 Felix in Hollywood (1923)

Felix the cat – in Hollywood – nothing more to add really – Miaow!




Sherlock Jnr (1924)

A Buster Keaton film was chosen to end the night – Sherlock Jr sees a down on his luck Buster working in a cinema.  He day dreams during a film and we are treated to some amazing special effects as his character joins the action on the film he is projecting.



Now, I'm desperately in love with Buster so this just made the evening for me.



Look at that face!

It also features the adorable Kathryn McGuire in one of the most incredible dresses I have ever seen, with a long beaded fringe down the back which trailed as she walked.





It really was a marvelous evening, finished off with a couple of drinks in Wilton’s gorgeous Mahogany bar.  

If you are able to attend any of TLDP events then I really encourage you to do so, they have a couple 









Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Easter bunnies (s)hop hop hopping!


I'm warning you now, this is the blog equivalent of inviting your friends over to show them your holiday snaps.

I've been taking a few jaunts out of London recently - I used to love this city but I really am starting to get sick of it now and am taking every opportunity to escape where I can.

I have some catch up posts to do about recent visits to Eastbourne and Poole, but, because I happen to have the pictures here, I am starting with the most recent.  for Easter we decided to go and visit the chap's Mother, who lives in Hemel Hempstead.  I know, not the most glamorous of locations - but it turns out that there as acres of beautiful countryside surrounding the Hertfordshire new towns that I'd never knew of as a child. My mother didn't like to drive, she didn't like much really - but that's another story!

Anywhoo - off we went on the train on Friday arriving just after lunch.  While visiting the mother in law is always fun, I have to admit to my primary aim for the weekend being a selfish one.  It is bluebell season here in the UK and I have always wanted to walk in a bluebell wood.  Off we went in search of flowers and lo and behold, in a section of Ashridge forest known as Dockey Wood, we found them.  

Sadly the pictures don't really do the colour justice, digital cameras being notoriously bad at richness of colour and me being notoriously bad at photography - but it really was gorgeous!







The next day we ambled into Berkhamsted to do a little charity shopping and I had quite the score - three pairs of vintage seamed stockings, a sewing pattern, some fabric with a passably deco-ish print and some crochet gloves - whole lot £20




We then went for the best pub lunch ever at the adorable "Valiant Trooper" in the sleepy village of Aldbury.  After two pints of local ale we needed a walkabout and went wandering.  
The village grew up around the Church of St John the Baptist, which dates to the end of the thirteenth century.

The church is home to the marble tomb of Sir Robert Whittingham and his lady.  This was brought to the church in 1575 and was originally housed at Ashridge.


These tiles are also from Ashridge



I have no idea what this is.  there was a handkerchief and some nails in the sand.  some sort of depiction of the resurrection I assume.







I was also fascinated by the first metal grave markers I have ever seen, from the late 1800s.

Oh yeah - and i also met the sweetest cat!


So all in all a lovely weekend.  Chocolate, food, cats, beer, walking, history, shopping and family time.

Here's to many more jaunts this year!






Thursday, 17 April 2014

Full book to download - Wartime Cookery - 1939

Hello all

A double post from me today but I wanted to share my latest adorable find with you.  If you click on the link below you should be able to access a copy of a 1939 Wartime Cookery book my dearest bought me as a gift at the weekend.


It has some wonderful advice regarding diet and some really interesting recipes.

Enjoy!

Wartime Cookery from 1939

Pantone colour of the year - Radiant Orchid - a shopping review



It's that time again, Pantone colour of the year.  This year is a shade from the purple family - not my favourite colour at all.  Purple, for me, reminds me of my mother, the 1970s and hippiness. 

Still, it's a great colour visually, and has been highly prized since the Phoenicians first squashed a sea snail in 1570 BC.  in fact, due to it's rarity and consequent expense it has long been seen as the colour of royalty.

The purple Pantone have chosen for 2014 is more on the violet side, a bluer tone than the grand purple of the Catholic church and is named "Radiant Orchid."

In fact Leatrice Eismann, of Pantone states Radiant Orchid "encourages expanded creativity and originality" and that " the hue 'radiates on the skin, producing a healthy glow when worn by both men and women.'

Well, there you go then!


So, as I did last year for Emerald Green, I decided to take a little jaunt through the web for some vintage and VI listings that fit the colour palette.

The first place to look is the glorious Dorothea's Closet website, where the lovely owner has herself
created a palette based on Radiant Orchid.  Sadly I couldn't steal the pics for the blog but do take a look.

The wonderful Rosie Alia has some beautiful orchid hair clips in her Etsy store, and if I'm not much mistaken is also making some Japanese style orchids with waterfall effect that are not yet listed.  I'd also recommend perusing her other listings.

Set of two orchid hair flowers, £7 - RosieAlia designs



This 1920s sailor dress is simply incredible - if it fit me I'd snap it up in a second.

1920s sailor dress, £134, Vintage Runway



I'm always on the lookout for blouses and this 40s/50s number is divine.

1940s Orchid lace blouse, £18, HomeIdaho


Everyone loves a squaw dress, surely, and while this 50s set has a few issues it is a steal.

Squaw dress, £38, rockthatfrock


These shoes from FabGabs are a delight, look at the heel, the cut outs, the colour!

Shoes, £90, FabGabs


In terms of vintage inspired finds I love the Heyday Elizabeth dress in purple, £150 but aside from that there isn't a lot out there.



I'll admit I'm still not sold on purple, of any kind, but looking through the listings was jolly fun.

Do you like purple?  I'd love to hear about your favourite purple vintage items.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Make a spectacle of yourself



The sun is out!  It's April in the UK and the bloody sun is bloody shining!

And now I'm going to jinx it with a Summer based post...

I couldn't find my sunglasses this morning, I lose things all the time, usually within the confines of my small one bedroom flat. Le sigh.  So it looks like a need a new pair.  Then I thought, ooh, a brief history of sunglasses might be fun, along with some shopping ideas.

You really didn't need my train of thought there, did you?

Anyway, according to Wikipedia (why reinvent the wheel?):

Inexpensive mass-produced sunglasses were introduced to America by Sam Foster in 1929. Foster found a ready market on the beaches of Atlantic City, New Jersey, where he began selling sunglasses under the name Foster Grant from a Woolworth on the Boardwalk.[6] By 1938 Life magazine wrote of how sunglasses were a "new fad for wear on city streets ... a favorite affectation of thousands of women all over the U.S." It stated that 20 million sunglasses were sold in the United States in 1937, but estimated that only about 25% of American wearers needed them to protect their eyes.[7]


Styles have changed a lot over the years and so below is a potted history and some modern examples:

the 1930s and 40s - the originals!

Early sunnies weren't necessarily the most face flattering but I love them nevertheless.  Look at these examples.  The shape tended to be round and the specs rather large

Life Magazine Archive
Bette rocking some white framed sunnies
stylesight.com
The 1930s and 40s - the vintage inspired finds

The gold floral numbers below are uncannily similar to the top pair above - TopShop round sunflower glasses, £20




For the more demure: Black round sunglasses - £4.99, New Look


And some lovely white frames, £9 - ASOS




The 50s and 60s - the originals!

The 50s and 60s really had three main looks.  The cat's eye - which epitomised the glamour and fun of the 50s, the large Wayfarer for mid 50s to mid 60s and the giant bug eye which look great with the more mod-ish 60s styles, taking influence from the space race.

Marilyn in cats eyes

Audrey in oversized Wayfarer frames

Jackie in bug eyes
The 50s and 60s - the vintage inspired finds

These pearl encrusted specs from Jeepers Peepers are just perfect! £18


These are a tad less OTT, Brown animal print half frame sunglasses - £4.99, New Look



Metal frame cats eye sunglasses - oh so Marilyn! - £20, TopShop


Those transitional large Wayfarers - £10, ASOS

And the perfect bug eyes, Jeepers Peepers £18


You may even prefer to find original vintage frames. Through I would recommend getting these reglazed with more modern sun protective glass if you want to take care of your eyes.

I've always had a great service from Dead Mens Spex.  They always have a large range of everything from Victoria to the 80s and can glaze your choice of frame using a prescription sunglass if needed.

These are fab!



What are your favourite glasses styles?  Do you change up depending on your outfit or choose based on your face shape?