Thursday, 30 September 2010

Caruso Steam curlers - thoughts so far

Well hello there my dearios,

Yesterday my Caruso Molecular Steam curlers arrived, these curlers have great reviews all over the interwebz and after a personal recommendation from a very glamorous vintage loving friend I decided to take the plunge and just grab myself some.

The company making them are US based but also have a factory in Germany, so I managed to snag some German ones from UK eBay from this seller.  They arrived very quickly, were well packaged and, as the instructions were in German, the seller had gone to the trouble of writing their own guide on how to use them.  (Though I'm trying to get hold of a proper set of instructions anyway, I'm a stickler or stuff like that.)

This set comes with the base, and 6 each of the following roller sizes - mini, small, medium, large and extra large, as well as a selection of other clips and bits that I have no idea how to use yet!

Its a nifty little idea this, the curlers are made of a dense sponge with a plastic core and a plastic case holds the hair to the roller.  To set them up you fill the tub with water or a water / setting lotion combo and just plug it in - it heats in about 5 seconds!  You then place the curlers over the steamer to heat.

You can only heat one curler at a time, but as they only take 3-5 seconds to heat that isn't a problem.  You then roll your hair and secure the curler with the plastic case/grip (which you can also heat if so inclined - I've tried with and without and it hasn't made any difference so far.)

Once you have rolled the whole head you are recommended to leave the curlers in for around 15 minutes - though the instructions state that you can speed this up by blasting your head with a hairdryer.  You then take the rollers out and style as normal.

The idea is that as the rollers do not get very hot, then damage to your hair is limited.  Always a good thing when you put your hair through as much stress as I do.

So, my first set.

I added a little setting lotion the the water and plugged the set in, it really was a matter of seconds before it started chugging out steam and I had to evict two intensely curious cats from the vicinity for fear they would burn their noses!

I curled my hair in the mini, small and medium rollers, heating each roller for 4 seconds:

I then left the curlers in for 15 minutes before taking them out and giving my head a good shake:

Attractive huh?

I then brushed the curls out very gently to achieve the below.

I'm not 100% sold on it, its a much softer look than I'm used to and I keep seeing the late 1950's, but perhaps I should have combed it out more gently for my preferred, slightly stronger, 40's look.

I'm definitely going to keep using it and might try to get hold of more of the smaller sized rollers for a tighter curl.

All in all I'm happy with the product so far, its certainly more effective than normal hot rollers or curling irons on my stubborn hair.  It will definitely be useful for those days when I haven't set my hair the night before.

Have you tried these?  Do you have any hints and tips?

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Suicide blonde - or how to survive severe hair damage.

I'm off to the salon tomorrow for my regular monthly root touch up (if I don't go every 4 weeks my hairdresser gets vicious!) and that put me in mind of putting together a blog on hair care for stressed out hair.

For a barnet that gets so much battering mine is holding together very well - my hairdresser is always surprised at how soft it is given the endless vintage styling - so here are my tips for taking care of damaged hair (whether blonde or not).

A good shampoo and conditioner:

This really is an essential - my recommendations are:

Goldwell Kerasilk:  This stuff really has been a revelation, especially the Ultra Rich Care shampoo and treatment conditioner.  I was introduced to this by the Nina of Nina’s Hair Parlour   and have been a convert ever since.  It smells wonderful and is the only shampoo that really makes my stressed locks smooth and silky.  I can’t see me changing products for a long time and, though pricey, as I only wash my hair once a week it lasts AGES!  I get mine at Sally’s.

Kerastase:  Also pricey but VERY, VERY good.  They also do a great range to protect your hair from the sun. This saved me on holiday. It comes highly recommended.

Tresemme:  Yes, Tresemme.   I have always been a big fan of Tresemme products (I suspect I’ll be raving about their Freeze Hold hairspray in a later blog post) and their range for coloured hair is excellent.  Also these products are SUPER affordable and VERY easily available – as they are stocked in most chemists including good old Boots and Superdrug.

Setting without tears

Hair setting and styling can be a damaging old business; heated tools, teasing the hair, tons of tips are:

Avoid heat styling where possible – it really is much healthier and not that much harder to achieve a vintage look with traditional methods.  Personally I adore pin curls and perm rods (I get mine from the US via eBay - on the advice of fellow blonde Miss Lolita Haze at Vintage Starlet)  It did take me a while to get to grips (pardon the pun) with setting my hair cold but now t really is my preferred method.

Setting lotions – I’ve tried a few setting lotions in the past and my favourite is Lottabody – the classic purple kind, diluted 4:1 or so. It actually seems to do my hair good!  You can usually find this in ethnic hair shops or or eBay.

Maintaining your colour:

This bit really is for the blondes but a lot of ranges have similar products for other hair colours - I'm fairly sure Redken make a great shampoo for the redheads amongst us.

Blue shampoo – Personally I have the fear regarding brassy yellow hair (even though it suits me quite well – its my working class roots doncha-know!) and so finding something to tone it out is essential.  My favourite product for avoiding the brassies is Proclere Blue Frosting , again available from Sally's, but I have also heard great things about Lee Stafford's range at Boots.   I’ve already tried the hotshots which warm the scalp and these are fantastic for boosting the blue.

Rinses:  You can also buy products called "rinses" which last only one wash, for example La Roux – Fancifull.  Another recommendation from the wonderful Miss Lolita Haze.  This can be hard to get hold of in the UK and so I tend to rely on eBay.

Other advice and products:
And some final tips that work for me:

Silk pillowcase – this is the one thing I do not think I will ever change!  It has been positively miraculous!  As recommended to me by Billie, my colourist, a silk pillowcase really is a godsend for any kind of damaged hair.  Buying a pair of these has considerably slowed hair breakage at my temples and, as an added benefit, I wake up without pillow creases on my face.  Apparently in the long run sleeping on silk helps prevent wrinkles as their isn't so much "drag" against the skin.  We shall see!  I get mine from eBay but their are companies which specialise such as SilkSkin.  These babies seem pricey but they are 100% worth it and they last for ever!

Oh, and sleeping on silk makes me feel like a princess.  ;-)

Protein treatment – no matter how moisturising your conditioner is you should still regularly give your hair a protein treatment.  This helps prevent breakage, strengthening the protein in your hair ready for all that setting, teasing and brushing out that vintage sets require.

Don’t wash too often - dry and damaged hair needs gentle care and daily washing does it no good.

Trim regularly, even if you do it yourself!

 I hope I've given you some ideas for taking care of your ravaged barnet.  Let me know if you have any other hints and tips - I'm always glad for more ways to treat my hair.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Shame about the shoes

OK - so this is a slightly different blog post to the one I was intending to do tonight for a couple of reasons, firstly I decided to do an outfit post instead and secondly, I can't find my darn camera so am stuck using iPhone pics which won't do for the other piece I wanted to write.  Meh, where is that camera?

Anyhoo - I had one of those days where it all goes together. My hair worked out. My makeup looked good as my skin seems to finally be settling down following the change of seasons and I wore a new outfit.  All in all I felt good about myself today.

I set my hair in a similar fashion to the "Glamorous Casual" setting in the post just previous.  This time however I used one finger pin curls on a dry set with a couple of wave clamps in the front.  It worked really well, though as usual the wave didn't really take.

Look at my massive mouth - I look like a cartoon fish.  Heh.

Outfit wise, I had a burst of organisation last night and have laid out my outfits for the entire week.  Today was a jumper I knit from the "Two Hour Sweater" pattern as detailed in good ole Livejournal (I never did get that site but it is full of useful info).

This was my first real knitting project and I foolishly used some genuine vintage 50's wool to make it up.  It turned out OK.  I just wish I'd know about only joining at the ends of rows when making this up.

I really like the patterns at the sleeves and neck and the wide ribbing.

Anyway, I put it with a vintage 40's black crepe 'A' line skirt (its a cat fur magnet this thing, but lovely) and a wide belt and pinned one of my favourite reverse carved lucite brooches on it.  I think the whole thing worked well.  It could have used a hat but I was going to work and that's just too much, even for my workplace.

It was really good to go out wearing something I'd made.  I got a lot of compliments on it, despite its somewhat primitive appearance.  It has inspire me to sew the rest of my knits together so I can wear them out too, instead of them just slowly building up in the craft cupboard.

The only low point of the outfit was that I had to wear silver ballet flats with it as I have no comfortably, non-vintage buy vintage style black shoes.  I am hunting for something with a low-mid heel, that can work with 40's outfits, that is comfy enough to wear for long periods and that doesn't cost of GBP 50.  If you have any ideas please, point me in their direction!



Saturday, 25 September 2010

Hair set - "Glamorous Casual" pin curls

Hello dearies

Well, as mentioned yesterday I have a new, professionally done, middy hair cut and last night I set it for the first time.  I decided to choose the "Glamorous Casual" pin curl set that you can find all over the Internet (a great example of this set can bee seen on Screen Siren's blog) as this was the first pin curl set I tried when getting into vintage and I know its a fairly simple set to put in and brush out.

So, I put Eastenders on the telly, got the mirror off the wall and sat down with a glass of wine to set my hair.

As my hair is fine and prone to frizz I used fewer, larger pin curls than the diagram suggests, so three rows of standing pin curls on top, two rows of two on the side and three rows at the back.

I put these in on dry hair using a rat tail comb wet with a 4:1 water and Lottabody setting lotion mix.  You can buy Lottabody online or it can usually be found in ethnic hair and beauty shops.

I'm not good at rolling pin curls, as you can see from my messy pic, so I tend to roll them around something - usually a mascara tube, or, if I want tight 30's frizzy curls I have an original "Hold Bob" pin curl roller.  I'm planning  blog on weird and wonderful vintage hair tools so you'll see that later.

So, I put all the curls in and slept on them to let them dry and I've just brushed them out.  They didn't turn out frizzy but I do wish I'd done slightly tighter curls at the back.  Still, not bad for a first attempt on a new cut, I hope you'll agree.  I arranged small curls at the front rather than a wave, I got a bit overexcited.

Just look at that MASSIVE wave in the front I'm rather pleased with her.

Happy hair day one and all.

Paper Dress Vintage - birthday party!

A direct repost (below) of the invite I received.  This is a lovely vintage shop, on Curtain Road in Shoreditch - they have a wide selection of beautiful and reasonably priced vintage from 30's - 70's and a cute little tea room.  Worth a visit if you are ever around.

I'm still hankering after a certain 30's evening dress I saw last week...



Third Birthday Party and new Autumn Apparel
I am very happy to announce the celebration of Paper Dress' THREE YEARS in business on Friday 1st October from 6-11pm. It's been a turbulent few years, but with your help we have survived and blossomed, so please come and enjoy free live entertainment, drinks and a 20% discount (which will last all weekend) at this riotous event.

/// Live music from Jukebox Collective & more to be announced ///
/// Hoola hooping highs ///
/// Face art ///
/// Rum punch ///
/// DJs ///
/// 20% discount ///
/// Free cupcakes ///
/// Fire poi show ///

info and event details or join our group HERE

I am also welcoming the cold with some fab new Autumn stock. Cosy cream cardigans, furs and fakes, pretty eiderdowns, dreamy day dresses and slinky nightwear, check out the pics below...

Love all at Paper Dress x

Paper Dress 114-116 Curtain Road London EC2A 3AH Tel 02077294100 Or email us at


Friday, 24 September 2010

Broadwalk Empire - I gotz high hopes!

So, there I was casually flicking through Stylist magazine today and I come across a beautiful image of a Depression era bar.  I read the article and it turns out there is a new Mad Men on its way - or at least that seems to be where most of the comparisons lie.  Boardwalk Empire is set in the Prohibition Era in Atlantic City, US, the time when, as the tagline states "Alcohol was outlawed and outlaws became kings." 

Its been written by Terence Winter, who penned The Sopranos, it stars Steve Buscemi, the delicious Michael Pitt (he always did have a vintage look) and Kelly MacDonald.  What's more, the first episode is directed by Martin Scorsese. 

It all sounds too good to be true right, its bound to flop, well the first episode aired in the US on 19 September to what seem to be rave reviews (Newsweek called it "naughty, shocking and decadent" while Metacritic, a review aggregate site ranked incredibly high reviews) and the second series has already been commissioned.

I'm looking forward to gorgeous styling, a great script and some damn fine acting.  I've also heard great things about strong female characters like Mad Men (which I've never seen - for shame!)

It comes to Blighty in January on Sky1.  Is this enough to convince me to sign up...?  Hmmmm, almost.

Now, anyone wanna lend me their Mad Men box set until this starts up?

Good Hair Days - recent vintage hair fun

Hello lovelies!

I just wanted to let you know what I got up to on my three days off this week. 

As some of you know I’m devoted to my bottle blonde hair – it’s my main beauty extravagance and though I keep thinking I really should try a cheaper alternative (a different salon, an easier to maintain colour...whaddeva), I just can’t break my blonde habit.  The evil dealer in this tale of addiction and woe is Billie Crago – colourist at my favourite salon, The Chapel, in Islington.  She is just too good and has recently taken my hair from Kelly Osborne grey to Mrs Slocombe pink and back to a lovely creamy blonde – which, to my chagrin, suits me much better.

Billie and her business partner Georgia set up the salon in 2007 (though I was a customer of Billie’s at her previous place of employment ) and the place has gone from strength to strength since, winning multiple awards.  The salon is based in Islington, on the Sadlers Wells side of Angel station, and is an absolute haven of tranquillity.  It has been designed to feel calm and airy – it really is a huge space - being on the site of a former pub – and even when busy the place feels spacious.  

Well, last time I was in getting my roots touched up and working my way through a few glasses of the house red, ahem, Billie asked if I’d be willing to be a hair model for their next training session on vintage hair.  Of course, I accepted, but I had to point out that I’d been cutting my own hair for the past year and that it might not be ideal for her to play with.  Well, bless the angel, she only went and offered me a free cut into the bargain (a benefit of being a long standing client) and lo and behold that where I ended up on Tuesday morning. 

Ironically, that morning I got up and styled my uncurled hair into probably my most successful quick victory rolls to date.  I really didn’t want anyone touching these magnificent beasts but hey – I’d promised...

The cut:
I took along my diagram of the middy cut (a little history to come) and asked the lovely stylist, Lucinda, to cut mine into the longest version of it she could manage with what hair I had.  Being a bit of a vintage fan Lucinda understood what I wanted straight away and she did a fine job, I must say.  Though I love cutting it myself it is nice to have a pro do it occasionally, I felt lighter afterwards!  Here is the cut in its unstyled state (scuse the tired face, its been a long, slow day at work here and I don't wear foundation in the week).

The middy is really the classic 1940's cut, you will see it referenced all over vintage sites and there is a whole thread devoted to at it on the Fedora Lounge.  In essence its heavily layered, which allows the curls to fully billow.  I managed to get hold of a scan of a certain famous vintage hair book by Daniela Turudich and so took in the pages from that.  I think mine would count as a middy plus (4 1/2 inches all over with an elongated U shape at the back).

I have yet to style it myself but that’s tonight's project and a future post!

The styling:
So, back I trotted on Thursday all ready to be thoroughly fiddled with (ooerr!) Unfortunately however, I’d made a bit of an error, and hadn’t managed to wash all the oil from Wednesdays effective, but very painful, massage from the back of my hair so poor Billie had to work around that.

In any case, she decided she didn’t want to do hair up, as everyone else was going along those lines with their models, but instead wanted to try and recreate a fingerwaved look with a curling iron.

With the help of a super hot curling iron and about 10 litres of Redken spray starch (yes, spray starch) we manage to coax my recalcitrant barnet into this wonder of wonders.  I’d have been quite happy to leave the salon like this but I think Billie wanted her clips back...

So, after it was left to cool for around 10 minutes it was taken down and gently brushed into shape.  We went for a sort of pageboy look with soft waves at the front and a little kisscurl.  Sadly the photos don’t really do it justice but I can assure you it looked lovely and I got lots of nice comments on the way home.

It was a really enjoyable day and the updos the Chapel team were putting together were incredible – sorry I didn’t get pics of those, I was being fluffed at the time.  There were lots of great victory rolls, rolls at the neck and a couple of quite spectacular Mad Men style dos.  Such a talented team.

I’m back again for my root touch up next week, I think they should give me my own chair.

I can’t recommend this salon enough – they really are wonderful.

Oh, AND you get a Tunnocks teacake.  <3 <3 <3

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Singing in the rain? Surviving miserable weather vintage style.

Oh its mighty strange weather out here in Blighty.  I know we are famous for our weather obsession but it actually IS worth talking about right now.  Yesterday was so gloriously sunny that I was sat outside a pub with the lovely Naomi from Vintage Secret having lunch, today however has been one long rainstorm.

This set me to thinking - how to cope with miserable rainy Autumn weather without sacrificing your vintage credentials.

Here are a few ideas I have come up - feel free to suggest any others - I need all the help I can get being a summer child.

Its not always cool enough for a coat at this time of year (unless you are me and even one cloud in the sky sends you shivering) but I am rather taken with the PVC macs from Suzie High Gloss.  I know, PVC, a little....kinky..right?  Not really.  I'm thinking more 60's Mary Quant cool.  Suzie High have this great coat in two different lengths and several patterns.  I'm rather taken with the clear one - after all sometimes its a shame to hide a great outfit and at under £40 its a bit of a bargain too.  It even featured in this months Elle in a retro fashion shoot.

I'm also rather smitten with the waterproof cape from Cyclechic (above), its meant to be a cycling cape (very district nurse) but I don't see why it couldn't be worn just as everyday rainwear.  Apparently they have matching spats too!


For me there is only one way to keep my set from drooping in the rain and that is the classic rain bonnet.  I wore one today in fact, and while it does raise the odd eyebrow, frankly I don't care.  My hair is worth it.

Again you can find these at Suzie High Gloss, they are also available super cheap at dotcomgiftshop.

Personally, I get mine from the local cheapy shop - three for a pound - can't argue with that, eh?


Ah - a tricky subject for the vintage maven.  Sites like the Fedora Lounge are humming with sightings of vintage rain and snow shoes at this time of year.  These are usually fur / sheepskin lined and are very hard to find.  I think similar shoes were still being made until recently as I'm sure my Nan had some.  The closest I've been able to find to those classic granny boots are these expensive little numbers from Drapers, out of stock currently but, according to the sleuthing powers of a certain Fleur de Guerre, due back in stock in October.

An easier though less authentic option would be to get a pair of wellies.  Either classic Hunters for the Sloane Ranger in you or something fun like the Cath Kidston's below (there are also loads of cheap knockoffs in the likes of Primark, Matalan etc etc).


...and finally we get to good old  brollies - if there is one thing every Brit should own its a good brollie.  Sadly, this is also something I lack.  I just lose them.

It can be hard to find vintage umbrellas, though they do crop up on eBay, and even if you do find one with all its spokes attached and no tears in the fabric you may not want to use it.  I really think that repro is a better option in this case and one of the best places for beautiful umbrellas is Brollies Galore, the two below can be found on their site.

For a more classically British look the tartan brollies from Cox's are rather fab.

Or, if you are even sillier (like myself), then one of these spotty or  leopard print babies might be just perfect to get you Singin' in the Rain!

Happy showers folks, don't forget to share your rainy weather tips!

Anyone for tea?

Well, I bought the set I was after and it arrived this morning at the undignified hour (for a day off anyway) of 8am.

It is beautiful, a cream background with tunning and somewhat loosely painted orange, yellow and grey flowers.

I've got a teapot, 6 trios, 4 side plates, 2 cake plates a jug and a sugar bowl. Gorgeous! I also picked up some lovely silver tongs and a 4 matching teaspoons for 50p recently so I'm all set in the tea party department.

Here is my new baby in all her glory!

  I've tried to find more of that rugged yorkshire dales pattern but there isn't a bean on the 'Bay.

Anyway - my yellow pattern is called "Sunburst" and while there are a lot of tea items available there isn't much in the way of dinner sets.  Infact I saw a tureen on eBay with aprice of £119!  It must be quite rare.  I might try and find something complementary but easier to find for my dinner service.

I also treated myself to a lovely new (old) sewing box today - and have totally tidied my craft cupboard.  Look at this lovely thing.  I think its possible the cats like it even more than me!  It was from my very favourite second hand shop - Past Caring on Essex Road in Islington - an absolute treasure trove of vintage lamps, glassware and sewing paraphernalia.

I also had a fantastic hair day today - but that's all part of tomorrows post!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Quick catch up

So, I've been lax again, and have neglected this little corner of my life.  I have however been rustling up a whole host of weird and probably not that wonderful ideas to blog about.

I've been speeding through the knitting too, so once sewn together, I should have a few things to show you too.


Sunday, 5 September 2010

there is always something more I want...

Yep, I'm never satisfied me, and following Helen Highwater's recent post on her vintage china collection I've decided I really need a pretty tea and dinner service.  I've persuaded myself that this is OK because it means I'll invite people over for tea / dinner rather than meeting them at the pub and drinking.  That is blatantly an excuse though and I just want to buy pretty things.

Thing is china is such a new thing to me that I just don't know where to start.  I've been trawling eBay looking at china patterns and one I like is Paragon "rockingham" which featues incredibly over the top filigree type decoration and pictures of birds.  It comes in both red and green and there seems to be a fair bit about.

I've even seen a few pink and yellow pieces though these seem to be much rarer.

Probably too grand for me but I've enjoyed looking at it.

On the other hand, I also love this deco design.  Its more homely and yet much rarer.  It makes me smile just looking at it:

I think this might be the one.