Friday, 29 October 2010

Haberdashery heaven - Maculloch and Wallis and a quick outfit post

I'm coming to the end of my week off, sadly, but have managed to fit quite a lot in.

On Thursday I met up with one of my best friends for a quick jaunt about town and a visit to famed haberdashers, MacCulloch and Wallis.

I first discovered this place way back when I was doing my millinery course (see earlier blog posts if you are interested) but never managed to make it there.  I'm glad I finally did though, the place is a treasure trove of millinery basics and trims, fabrics of all kinds and oh my good lord the buttons!

I didn't buy anything as the place isn't cheap and I'm not yet an adept enough sewer for fabrics of over £5 a metre!  I will be going back though, for some of this deco print and floral print fabric to make blouses.

 After the visit I then had the pleasure of meeting  My Vintage Dresser, her chap and another lovely chum, for a drink in posh old Holland Park.

I'm glad I had got myself suitably attired for such fine company:

1940's jacket in yellow, green and brown tweed with brown buttons, brown GAP 40's style trousers, Primark brown leather belt, 40's blouse with jet buttons, charity shop brooch and my lovely bakelite earrings.

Unfortunately I lost a single earring at some point in the day.  I didn't realise until I got home.  These things happen though.  :-(

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Beauty Review - Maybelline Superstay 18 Hour Wear in 510 Red Passion

Red lipstick - it is one of the cornerstones of a vintage look and there is no getting away from it.  While I dabble with Coral and Rose and Pink and Plum my heart belongs to Ruby...

The problem however, with such a strong colour, is that it is more obvious when the colour transfers to your cup, cigarette, lover...and thus also more obvious when it has worn off your lips.  Not a good look.

Following a recommendation from one of the most perfect looking vintage gals around I recently invested in Maybelline's 18 Hour Superstay lipstick in Red Passion (colour 510).  Its one of those double ended (phnar) things with the colour in a lip gloss type pot with a sponge applicator on one side and a clear gloss on the other.

The packaging is quite nice actually, not as cheap looking as similar products from L'Oreal and Max Factor, despite Maybelline being a cheaper range.

I tried it first on Saturday afternoon, I was heading over to a friends for 6pm and so got ready at about 4pm (I like to faff, so tend to get ready early and then have plentiful faffing time after).  I used a lip liner (MAC Cherry) just around my lips and filled in with this.  The colour is a perfect match for the MAC pencil.  Once the Maybelline was dry I applied a very light amount of the gloss, let it settle and then used my usual MAC Ruby Woo over the top.  I then headed our the door for funtimes with the Vintage Mafia.

Luckily, given I didn't take any lippy with me, it lasted a good 12 hours, through eating and a lot of drinking.  And I really do mean a lot.  This is me, very drunk at about 3am, posing about and still with my lippy on.  Huzzah.  And around 40% of it was still there when I crawled from my bed some 10 hours later...

Yesterday I tried it without the Ruby Woo on top.  The pic below shows my lips just after applying, not a great photo as my camera is useless but you can see that its a strong, clean red.

It lasted a good 12 hours again, even through the eating of a very greasy pizza.

Sadly I haven't given it the kissing test, but when I do I'll let y'all know.

I have to say I'm very impressed with it, great colour, not as drying as expected and it does last very well!  A bargain at between £6-8 (cheaper online, as all things are!).  I might even give some of the other colours a go...

Below is a silly I took while trying to get a lipstick image - just for your amusement n'all.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Just a quick thank you

I just wanted to write a couple of lines to thank the folk who have put me on the list for the "one lovely blog" awards thing that's going round.  I try not to get involved in things that require you to renominate, I'd like to say I have a good reason for this but its just that the requirement to renominate makes me feel a little awkward and I don't want to spread the awkward on.  That and I'm MASSIVELY lazy.

Anyway, its been really lovely to see my blog pop up on more than five of those lists now, wowzers!  Thank you all, it is just what I needed to give me some motivation to keep going with this.  You are all lovely.

Basically, if I'm bothering to follow you and/or read your blog then that means I love ya.  :-)

Night peoples and sweet dreams to all.


Monday, 25 October 2010

Vintage knitting finds and shopping on the darkside.

Well hello there!

I had a fabulous Saturday! Despite a crashing hangover from too many grape juices with a pal the night before I managed to hoist my feeble frame out of bed and to the local charity shop.  My local shop isn't a big chain like Oxfam, instead its a hospice shop. I tend to find these are much better for a bit of vintage luck, both because they don't have "experts" on hand to price things up and because grateful people leave their worldly goods to these shops so you find all sorts of interesting bits and bobs that elderly folk have hoarded away.

In particular, this place is a gold mine for knitting supplies and lo and behold, what did I find on Saturday morning but three skeins each of some beautifully coloured vintage wool, one being Paton's, a brand I have seen listed in several 40's patterns.

I also found three vintage knitting patterns.  There were more but I really only wanted these three.  The red 50's cardigan is knit in one large piece, so no seaming (yay!) and the little evening number is just beautiful.  I'd really like to post the full patterns up but I can't work out how to get scanned images onto my blog...any tips welcome.

 The whole haul only cost me £3.50, unfortunately not enough to remove the stain on my soul for following this up with a quick trip to Primark, where I picked up a leopard print brolly, leopard print socks, a peacock feather fascinator and some leather gloves and a belt.  The belt, being plaited, is pretty 70's looking, but I'm sure I can work this into a more 30's look with a hand knitted jumper, my new pleated skirt and the right hair.

I also bought some incredible (read incredibly bad) jeggings as a joke gift for my friend Fleur de Guerre which I gave to her that night, as we attended the inaugural Candlelight Club.  It was a fabulous night that I've only just recovered from.  I'd like to blog about it but I didn't take any photos so hopefully someone else will post something soon.  I thoroughly enjoyed my weekend, even yesterday's long slow recovery.

I hope you all had a fab time yourselves.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

30's hair - Mervin wave'o'matics and pincurls - first attempt.

Well, I'm simple thrilled, I've been trying to get my hands on some Mervin wavers for so long.  They only come up on eBay occasionally and go for silly amounts of money, but I've finally got my sweaty little paws on some, mwahahahahaaaa!

My recent acquisitions are thanks to the lovely proprietor of my favorite vintage hair accessory site, Taste-T Vintage.  I have often looked longingly at this fabulous site but have never bought anything before, but this time I decided to bite the bullet.  The item I really wanted was sold but I emailed them and they went out of their way to dig out two wavers for me which were unlisted on the site, sent them promptly and included a full copy of the instructions.   I'll definitely be buying from them again.  I have to say I have rarely experienced such efficient and plain wonderful customer service.

I had the package delivered to work and my colleagues were stunned at the contents, I think they thought I'd bought some sort of kinky torture device!

It took me a few weeks to gather up the guts to try these out but I finally did it.

These things need to be used on very wet hair, so the ideal time is after you have washed it.  I simply side parted my hair and set a clip in each side, and pin curled the ends and back towards my face in quite small curls.  Please excuse the tired and sleep-bloated face, these pics were taken the morning after sleeping on these beasts!

So, what was the result of my slightly awkward nights sleep!  Well, I'm very pleased with the first attempt.  The waves didn't take quite as strongly as I'd hoped but I hadn't used setting lotion so I'm confident that things can only improve.

I took the pin curls out first and brushed out gently and then took out the clips and brushed over the waves even more gently.  I shaped some curls around my face using my Hold-Bob curling tool. and sprayed into place with Tresemme Freeze Hold hairspray.  I didn't sort the flyaways, I was running late for work and had to sprint out the door.

I also exaggerated the 30's look with elongated brows.

I've found the waves last a few days if you simply clip them back in at night, on dry hair, with some of these:

Do you have some wave clips?  How do you use them?  What do you think of my new do?

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Revlon Emerald City matte polish review

So, I finally got round to trying this baby, and I have to say I'm thrilled so far.

I applied the hole reinforcers for my half moons and then applied a basecoat, and then painted on two coats of the Revlon "Emerald City" polish.  It went on very smoothly and the brush is the perfect width for an easy paint. 

I used my usual Leighton Denny Miracle Drops to dry the polish but I have to say, it dried quicker than other polishes do with that so I'm fairly sure its a quick drying polish. 

The matte effect is really unusual, especially a matte with sparkle, its almost suede-like and because of that I decided not to use a top coat - it would be a shame to waste that unusual finish.

I've worn it for a day now and though there is some light fade at the tips there is no chipping so far depite two baths and some washing up. 

I've had a lot of comments on it today, so its certainly an attention grabber.  All in all, I'm very happy with this polish despite the slight sparkle which I thought I'd find off putting.

Here is a pic, pardon my bad moonicure, I did a bit of a rush job as I had a guest and two playful kittens present at the time!

Has anyone else tried this?  What did you think?  i'm definitely buying the red colour in this line next!

Monday, 18 October 2010

A very lovely giveaway

Now, I don't make a habit of publicising other peoples giveaways because I'm usually too lazy or self obsessed to be bothered, but this one got to me.  Why?  Well I've been wondering about hair adornments lately, its too cold here for my hair flowers - they look wrong on a wintry day and when worn with knitwear.  I need something more...substantial.

...and lo and behold what did I stumble upon this evening but Vintage Belles - Belle Blossoms blog giveaway.  Just look at these beautiful treasures:

Pop over there and take a peek!

I'd love to try making my own too, I'm sure I have a crochet pattern around for some cherries and I could go and gather real conkers and acorns...naaah, it'll never happen!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Oops, I did it again - more shopping!

After a fitful night's sleep following the consumption of an entire bottle of red wine and shouting from the estate opposite that went on until 6am, I really didn't fancy going to the car boot sale this morning, but thanks to a winning combination of Ibuprofen and my avaricious nature I managed to rally enough to get there for 11am.

My local car boot really is wonderful - several stalls specialise in vintage and you can find everything from 40's clothing and 30's crockery to weird and wonderful 80's eveningwear.

The first thing I spotted was a Carlton Ware biscuit barrel in the shape of a house, but sadly the seller wouldn't budge from his £10 asking price and as it had a few cracks I decided to leave it be. I don't understand why people who want that sort of price for their item and / or do not wish to lower their prices bother with car boots, the whole point is that things are cheap and you have a bit of a haggle.  Grrrr.

Things looked up as I wandered around and found a couple of vintage / inspired items that will be perfect for work.  The first is a pretty wool tweed skirt, Marks and Spencer, probably 80's, but the perfect length and with an interesting front pleat and ruching at the waist.  The second a George cardigan, I know, hardly a special item - but the colour will go with todays and yesterdays skirt purchases and I think it will look very vintage fastened with a brooch.

I also picked up this darling little deco picture frame for on top of the TV cabinet - it is walnut stained and so matches the decor perfectly (agh - look at the cat claw marks on my furniture....weep)

I'm not sure what I'll put in it, not having a loved on.  A picture of a 40's movie star perhaps, the cats...all suggestions welcome.

 I then wandered up to Mare Street to buy some curtains and popped into ShoeZone - a VERY cheap shoe shop, and what should I spot?  These lovely leopard print plimsolls for a bargainous £1.99.  Not strictly vintage looking, though plimsolls were around in the 30's and 40's, but much more in keeping than my current gold trainers (bought in my bling phase - don't ask - really...)

I also popped into a sewing shop in Stoke Newington on my travels (forgive me for the lack of link, I can't find the place online anywhere) and bought pretty vintage looking buttons for my knitting projects and, wonder of wonders, a retractable measuring tape on a lanyard.  I always carry a tape measure when vintage and thrift shopping, where you can't always try things on, and this one can be hung around the neck and so will make it all the easier.  I'm in love.

Plus, I did buy some curtains, so I'll be able to walk around the flat naked without the creepy neighbour staring in at me.  Hurrah!  A successful day all round.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

New old purchases

First off, I feel crapola for not having blogged for ages - there is so much I want to write about but I've just not been in the right frame of mind over the past weeks; the combination of a sick kitten, a sick self, a Mad Men addiction and a house guest haven't helped urge me on either, so this is just a small post to ease me back in.

My guest and I went charity shopping today, taking the bus from sunny Crackney all the way to...North London.  Golly, I'd forgotten what the wilds of Seven Sisters Road were like, and it was a football match day so all the beer drinking and loudly swearing burly blokes ended up giving me quite the headache after a couple of hours.

Anyway - I had some shopping success and managed to purchase for myself a really beautiful biscuit barrel which I shall use to keep my teabags in (I know I should use leaf tea, and I do have some, but I prefer PG Tips and from a pyramid bag by jove!).  It really is a pretty little thing, off white with a gold floral design and wicker handle, with the original lid, and only £2!  I'm very happy with it, as is Marlon:

Egad!  In that first picture you can see my chipped nail polish.  I'll have to fix that this evening!

The barrel is made by Sadler, a UK based teapot manufacturer.  The company started in 1882 and is still making its famous "Brown Betty" teapots to this day.  The mark on this piece dates it to the late 40's.  Hurrah!

There was another lovely pair of biscuit barrels which I considered buying too, but they were £17 for the pair and while lovely I resent paying that much when thrifting and left them behind.  I am slightly regretting it now though as I'd like one for sugar and one for coffee (not that I drink the muck but still, its good to have it in for guests and the like).

In another shop on our trek back eastwards I found a lovely wool tweed skirt - probably 80's I'd say but it looks incredibly 40's on.  Its a brown check with dark red, mustard and blue accents, mid calf length with large wide top-stitched pleats.  It is from Kinloch Anderson and, having looked at their website, my £3.50 was a bargain.  I'm at a bit of a loss at what I've got to pair with it - might knit something.  Any ideas welcome.

Finally, this wasn't a purchase today but I'm just thrilled with it  A knitting bag.  Its huge and so contains all three current (and neglected) projects.

I do so love shopping.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Nailed it! Vintage manicures - history and a little bit of technique

So, as some of you will have seen, I recently posted a picture of a vintage manicure as done by the wonderful Kay at The Chapel.  I decided to have my nails done as a treat and also in an attempt to spur me on into taking more care of my talons, as I do tend to neglect them and I'd like to look more polished...pardon the pun.  Anyway, I think they turned out great!

It has traditionally been pretty difficult to get a good vintage manicure at a salon, as the modern (and in my honest opinion, ugly) trend for squared off nails has meant that most manicurists look at you with bafflement when you request almond or, heaven forbid, pointy nails!  Personally I aspire to razor sharp talons a la Joan Crawford!

Thankfully though, following the popularisation of the vintage manicure (otherwise known as the moonicure, half moon manicure or reverse French manicure) by celebrities such as the impeccably groomed Dita von Teese, it is now becoming much easier to get the vintage nails you want from a salon. 
So, lets have a little look at this history of nail prettification.

A brief history of nail decoration:

It seems that, as with most things, those wonderful Ancient Egyptians invented nail art; using henna in various shades to denote social standing; the darker and redder your talons the higher your caste, it is surmised.  It seems nail colour was also an indicator of social standing in China (around 600BC) with silver and gold nails being used to denote Royalty.  I cannot imagine how this was done - gold leaf perhaps?

While different methods of keeping the nails tidy were used throughout history it wasn’t really until the 1900’s that we started taking our manicuring seriously – the early part of the century apparently saw both the invention of the emery board and cuticle remover, with nails being polished with either cake, paste or powder formulations and a chamois leather to add shine and a little rosy colour.

However, the real invention of nail varnish, as we would recognise it now, came with the start of the automobile age.  The product was based on car paint! It didn’t take off however, it was seen as something tacky and  there was a strong belief that people who used it were trying to hide something - for example dirty fingernails from manual work.

Following serious promotion in salons, magazines and on the cinema screen in the 30's, this look finally started to filter down from Hollywood into everyday use, and after Revlon released the first easily available nail paint into salons and department stores across America in 1932  it wasn't long until many other cosmetics companies such as Cutex had followed suit.

Magazines held wonderful ads for these innovative products showing the wide range of colours available  – there were far more options than just red, though of course that is the vintage classic.

In fact, by the end of the 30’s a landmark film for us vintage girls showed just how important the manicure and the beauty salon had become, at least to society women.  The Women (1939) centres around salon gossip – where a woman discovers her husbands infidelity whilst having a manicure with the latest colour “Jungle Red.”

By the 1940’s it became fairly commonplace to paint the nails and nail polish was used to give a bit of much longed for glamour to our wartime sisters.

So, here endeth the history lesson – now for a little on style and colour.

Styles and colours:  
most info blatantly gleaned from Return2Style (links included below) - the site is so fabulous that there is no point me reinventing the wheel, so to speak!

Long and pointy in shape, as in the pic of Joan Crawford, above.  The moons and a sliver of the tip kept clear of polish.
Colours - red, black, silver, gold, emerald green, coral
Pictures and more info at Return2Style

40s:Nails not as long and the point slightly less vicious looking, more almond in shape.  Similar polish style with moons kept free, polish more likely to go to tips with some ladies painting the whole nail (less likely for manual workers who risked their polish chipping more easily)
Colours - every red you can imagine, navy, dark green, plum,
 Pictures and more info at Return2Style


50s:Nails more almond to oval in shape - the entire nail being painted.  
Colours - More pinks, corals and pastels with pearl finish polishes beginning to appear.

My polish recommendations:

Barry M - a great bright red, a beautiful navy, a very rich black and a very 30's looking grey can all be found at Barry M.  In my experience (and the recommendation of my manicurist) the Barry M range is the best budget range out there.  Applied properly it really doesn't chip as quickly as many other brands.

Leighton Denny - Glamour Puss, and Pillow Talk are great 50's pinks, there is also a range of classic reds.

Revlon - Still make some classic reds, corals and pinks and a great colour - Emerald City - yes it has sparkle but I love it, so there!  ;-)

Basic vintage manicure steps.

It is possible to do this freehand but I personally can't do it that way, so this is my own method...
  • File your nails into an oval or almond shape (or a vicious point if you so wish - mwahahaha).  I would strongly recommend the glass nail file from Leighton Denny for this – available on the internet
  • Soak the nails for around 5 mins in a warm bowl of water and then remove cuticles in any way you see fit (I personally don’t do this bit as I don’t think I have cuticles really, I certainly have never noticed any difference between when they have been done and when they haven’t...)
  • Ensure you remove any dust or traces of product on the nails by wiping with nail polish remover
  • If you wish, cover the whole nail with with a base coat, I’d go for something matte as it helps the polish cling to your nail later.  Allow it to dry completely.
  •  Then apply....wait or it....hole reinforcers like you used at school!  You know, the things you put over the holes in whole punched document so the pages didn't fall out of your folder.  No?  These I mean.
    I find the paper ones best.  Make sure they are stuck HARD!
  • Apply two coats of your favourite colour, slightly overlapping the strips
  • Peel off the strips just before the final coat is completely dry, I use tweezers for this.
  • Once dry either remove the varnish at the tip with a cotton bud soaked in polish remover VERY carefully or say to hell with it and leave it, topping it all off with a coat of clear polish.
  •  I then like to use Leighton Denny miracle drops to set the polish – this stuff dramatically reduces drying time!

Tada – lovely vintage nails

Useful tutorials:

Blogger is being a pain in the buttocks and won't let me imbed a video so -clicky here.

There are plenty of great tutorials out there on YouTube but I had trouble finding any I really liked as they almost all had contrasting base coats and the whole point of this look is that the tips and moons are without colour - this look was designed to make a manicure last longer as the moon and tip are prime chipping areas.  Anyway - that's my personal bugbear, so if you like that two colour look there are loads of  tutorials on there for you!

That's all folks - let me know if you have any comments or questions!