Monday, 11 November 2013

Knickers to you!

Hello loves

I've been quiet again - have a lot of things to post in the coming weeks though so keep your eyes peeled.

Just wanted to share a quick shopping find.  Now a new one actually but one that deserves sharing in case they EVER stop selling them..

M&S high waisted lace shorts.  Currently 3 for £10.

These are SUPER high waisted, they come in a variety of useful shades that mix and match really well with big name vintage lingerie brands and ...and...they are ridiculously cute.  Plus, as there is no elastic around the waisr / lep opensing you don't get any unsightly lines when taking them off.

You can bung them in the washing machine as they are resilient too.

I just adore them.  I'm chucking out all my other pairs and replacing them with these I love them that much.

Happy shopping!

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Home made beauty - turmeric face mask

I love noodling about on the internet and recently I noodled upon the lovely Vintagious channel which has lots of basic vintage hair and make up tutorials.  Well worth a look.

One of her posts though, really grabbed my attention.  The turmeric face mask, which seemed to really work to lighten and brighten her skin.  Now don't get me wrong.  I'm not after whiter skin, well not really, I'm pale enough - and I'm completely aware that the vintage = pale thing is nonsense.  Look at Coco Chanel and her deep tan, the ruddy faces of landgirls...etc etc.  A tan is much more vintage accurate.

But...but...I have dull skin and patchy areas of freckles post Summer and could definitely do with tidying the whole lot up a bit.

Turmeric masks are an Indian bridal ritual used for thousands of years, using just the contents of your larder.  I couldn't resist.

There are lots of recipes out there but I went for simple: turmeric plus a splash of milk plus a drop of honey.  Slather it on the face and rub in, get in the bath. Wash off a good few times then tone with lemon juice.

It worked a treat and I didn't look like an oompa loompa afterwards.

So here goes nothing, do not run in fear from my make up free visage:

1) The before -

2. The during

3. The after

It is hard to see the results but my skin looked so much smoother and brighter that my good chap, when he popped round soon after, commented on how rested and alive I looked.  I'm taking that as a positive.

The only negative side:  a yellow bath:

I can only conclude it works in a few ways:  the lactic acid in the milk, the acid in the lemon and the exfoliating action of rubbing in the powder all buff the skin while the turmeric and lemon whiten.  Lemon has long been used to whiten dark nails and skin.  Lemon wedges on the elbows anyone?

So, I'm going to do this a couple of times a week for the next month and see if it fades my unevenly freckled boat race.

I shall be sure to report back at the end of the month - wish me luck!

Monday, 21 October 2013

The obligatory vintage inspired Winter coat roundup

Well, Summer is definitely over here in the UK, it has been all torrential rain lately and it will soon be time to dig out those Winter woollens.

My good old stalwart Winter coat, a princess cut number I hunted down in T K Maxx about 5 years ago, seems to be finally looking a bit tired.  I do have a couple of magnificent 30s and 40s coats but they are both too warm and too precious for everyday wear, and so the hunt began for a new everyday coat.  I saw a lot of great options online and thought I’d share them with you.


The "boyfriend" coat is really in this year and I think this is a style that can easily be dressed for a 20s look.  

This Navy wool coat (£210) from Topshop would look splended with a cloche hat or even belted with a scarf.  If you really wanted to go all out a couple of decorative buttons added here or there could amp up it's innate 20s style.  The length is just perfect for the era.

Another boyfriend design, this time feminised by lovely pink mohair fabric.  This model comes from New Look at £64.99 and would look lovely with a vintage style scarf such as this "Greetz from Tiz" number, which is great for a number of eras with its deco design.

I am loving this menswear inspired design from Oasis at £110, the contrast collar and buttons are wonderful and while this is a little short in length for a truly 20s coat it would work well for a mannish style.

My final 20's-esque suggestion is this Phase Eight ombre knit number, again at £110.  It's the length and the shawl collar that does it.  I'd buy this a size bigger to ensure a room fit and team with a repro cloche hat.  


For me at least, the classic 30s coat style is really one of long lengths and big fur collars.  These are always easy to pick up as they are a classic design, but - not being particularly fashionable - they don't tend to come cheap.  John Lewis is the place to go for this sort of style.


This fur collared number from Jaques Vert (£249) comes in a few colours, my favourite being this rich dark blue.  

Again at £249, this number from Precis Petite has a vaguley Russian Military air.

If you happen to have won the lottery you could spend £1,200 - yes - £1,200 on this AMAZING Jaeger cashmere number.  


40s coats were clearly affected by the war, as was most fashion of time, being shorter, neater and more military in design.  The classic 40s coat being the trench, favoured by spies everywhere....

You can find a Trench almost anywhere, I particularly like this one from Joules Maycroft for £129 however, due to the darker tone of the fabric and the wide buckled rather than tie belt.

For a bit of 40's whimsy, this Red Riding Hood number evokes the 40s Skater Style of Hollywood Christmas movies and comes from Collectif at £175

Finally, this J by Jasper Conran coat in wine red crepe - yes - crepe, and with covered buttons is a perfect classic which can work with any 40s look.  currently on sale at only £119.  Thanks to Lori for alerting me to this baby.

In the end, I have plumped for a vintage number.  Purely because, unusually for a coat, it was cheaper than anything I could find on the High Street.  It is currently winging it's merry way across the Atlantic to me.  If it fits, which it arrives, I'll have to take some photos and share.  If it doesn't, I'll be buying that navy Jaques Vert number above.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Vintage TV: The House of Eliott

I've been feeling distinctly under the weather the last few days; achey, stuck in bed and miserable.  Proper cup of tea and an old movie while feeling sorry for myself ill.  OK, that's my usual mood, but you know what I mean.  I get sick at about the same time every year, I am sure it has something to do with the suddenly rainy weather making the Hackney miasma more easily transported into the lungs.

As such, I was in desperate need of something pretty to look at.  Ideally something pretty to look at and essentially non taxing.  this was  no time for trying to work out a whodunit so Poirot and miss Lemon would have to wait.  After a scout about the Internet I fixed on The House of Eliott.

The show was broadcast in the early 1990s and I vaguely recall my aunt being a fan at the time.  Written by Dame Eileen Atkins and Jean Marsh (is she not a Dame yet...tsk) - yes - them what wrote the original Upstairs, Downstairs, it had a good enough pedigree to be guaranteed entertainment.  Plus all available online for free courtesy of the BBC.  What luck!

Episode 1, Series 1.

The story hinges around well to do sisters, Beatrice and Evangeline Eliott (Bea and Evie for short), whose overbearing Papa dies and leaves them all but destitute - have squandered his money on the usual foibles.  The ladies have always been interested in fashion and, through a mix of talent, connections and sheer dumb luck they manage to create a successful fashion house - changing the face of London fashion in the process.  Of course there are plenty of twists and turns along the way in the shape of love, death, swindling bankers and even Amber from the Broken Hearts (joke - but really - Grace in series 3 in the absolute spit of that fine modern day fashionista.

The first two series come in at twelve episodes each and the third and final at just 10, though the ending feels inconclusive. It seems the series was pulled due to budgetary issues.  Unsurprising given the clearly expensive wardrobe.

Unexpectedly, it wasn't the classic bead gowns that caught my eye.  Perhaps it was the cold weather outside but I found myself drawn to the amazing wardrobe of 20s coats and cloches on display.  Here are some of my favourites.

Tilly, the classic stalwart working class heroine in a love two tone coat and matching hat.
Bea and Evie.  Bea in a delicious eau de nil number with collar and cuff detail and Evie with a belted jacket with richly embroidered sleeves.

The girls in some fur collared beauties

A bit part character - can't for the life of me remember
her name, in the most crazy fur collared number.

I was also in raptures at the headdresses and scarves on display, and now quite determined to wear more scarves myself.  I tend to only do the classic 40s landgirl thing but some of these are great.

I love Bea's chunky turban style headwrap.

This sort of "diadem"style headband is absolutely stunning.  I'm thinking about making something similar with some seashells and some broken faux pearl necklaces I have laying around.
I only wish I were talented enough to craft something like this, just wonderful

More thick wraps from Bea and pearl headdresses from Evie

A casual scarf look from Evie

Despite the rather unfinished feel of the end of the show I would still thoroughly recommend this series for the fashion alone. The weather is shocking, so stick the kettle on and immerse yourself in beads.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Review: Dolly Pegs Vintage sew at home kits.

So, those of you who read this blog will know that I've been trying and failing to learn to sew for a while.  While I can handle knitting needles tolerably well sewing is another story - I find it incredibly difficult.  I've several half completed projects littering the flat as I tend to be OK until I get to waistbands, buttons and zips.

Thus, when I saw this kit from Dolly Pegs vintage clothing on eBay I decided to take the plunge and give it a go.

I ordered the kit in a bottle green and it was very quick to arrive.  It comes with everything - the pattern cut out, interfacing applied and tailors tacks sewn in, along with a spool of matching thread and four buttons.

pic from their site, I was too excited to take photos before beginning

The instruction book that came with the kit is really helpful, (there are some flaws which I'll come to later) and so I sat at the sewing machine, reminded myself how on earth to wind the bobbin and got stuck in.

Everything went swimmingly until I got to the buttonholes, and here I discovered that, despite having an automatic buttonhole foot, buttonholes are a b@%!@£d.

Still, I got the things together, they fit and they definitely look like trousers!

excuse the mess, I'm

I've learnt a lot from this project - about darts, buttonhole positioning, adding waistbands and the importance of interfacing and now I feel ready to pick up those half finished projects and tackle them again.

I do have a few criticisms of the kit.  For £20 I'd have expected better fabric - it may just be the green I chose but it seems like 100% polyester, the shiny dinnerlady kind that melts the moment you waft an iron near it (I very nearly burnt them when pressing the waistband).  Unfortunately this fabric, as well as looking ugly to my eyes, is also rather stiff and doesn't drape at all like a genuine vintage fabric which therefore makes these unwearable for me.  I'm rather a stickler for only wearing natural fibres where ever possible and  I'm aware others might not be so fussy.  Also, there seemed to be no right or wrong side to the fabric, which made things a little confusing when working out which piece was which.

The only other things are really niggly: the instructions have quite a few spelling mistakes, not the end of the world of course but they did bother me, and finally, I think the instructions would benefit from photos for some stages rather than sketches.

Despite these issues I would still strongly recommend this kit for anyone starting to sew, it has really given me the confidence to step back into it.

They have other styles of trousers as well as blouses and playsuits in their cloth kit range and are well worth a look.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Leading Lady Hair: Joan Crawford in "The Women"

“I think that the most important thing a woman can have- next to talent, of course- is her hairdresser.” ― Joan Crawford

Everyone loves “The Women” – in fact I could have sworn I'd reviewed it just a couple of years ago but I can't find the damned thing.  Aaaanyway...the one thing I didn’t love then was Joan Crawford’s hair.  I didn’t understand how her character was supposed to be sexy when she was such an ice queen with this curly top just overpowering the screen.  However, on rewatching the film this weekend I have completely changed my opinion.  Yes, her hair is a crazy ball of quite unruly frizz but it represents the wildness of her character – the leopard within...

So, inspired by my new love of Joan’s tresses and my own newly dark hair (courtesy of the lovely Lucie at Rockalily), I decided to attempt this for myself.  The ideal hair length for this is shoulder length and above, a layered middy cut would work amazingly but I got away with this on my one length bob too.

As usual I went for a wet set – the items needed for this are:

·         - Rat tail comb (preferably with a metal tail – the plastic ones aren’t sharp enough in general)
·         - Small rollers and lots of them – I used foam rollers but anything small will do
·         - Setting lotion – I used motions foamy set as it is easy to apply
·         - A brushing out brush – I prefer a Denman
·        -  Bobby pins to match your hair
·       -  Hairspray – I prefer Tresemme freeze hold

First I combed my hair out all over and set in a low side part, I tend to part level with the peak of my eyebrow arch but you can pretty much part yours wherever you like.

I then applied setting lotion all through the bottom half of the hair at the back and to the roots at the top.  Note: you don't want setting lotion on the crown of the hair at the back.

Starting on the smaller aside I took thin sections, about the width of the roller, and rolled four or five skinny sponge rollers in tightly, rolling the hair under.  The key here is to get lots of rollers in – more than you think you need certainly.  This is one style where you actually want frizz.

You then run rollers in the same way down the think side of the hair, just one row, going in no further than one rollers width. Finally, leaving the crown flat, roll the back hair onto the same size rollers, going up no further than the nape of the neck.

I then stuck a hair net on and slept on it.  It was jolly nice to sleep in foam rollers instead of hard perm rods I can tell you!

The next morning, take out all the rollers and brush out the hair. You want to keep the frizz so you don’t want to brush too much, fight the urge!  I started by brushing downward then in an upward direction to fluff it all up.  It kinda looks scary st this stage.

The key to keeping this style looking 30s is the flat crown, here is where your bobby pins come in.  I added a row of bobby pins from ear to ear long the nape of the neck, inserted horizontally, then, to cover them, brushed the curls up and fluffed them over the pins.

Finally, when you have arranged the fluff approximately where you want it (I went for a Joan style slight dip over the forehead)  you want to spray on the hairspray and then, while the spray is still damp, mould the hair into the shape you want by sort of gently pushing it in all over.  This helps make the hair more dense and less flyaway looking. 


Friday, 6 September 2013


I’ve got a few posts coming up that I’ve been sat on.  Sorry and all that.  I’m just not feeling the blog love lately. was my birthday recently and I decided I fancied getting out of London for a few days, so went with the chap to stay at his mum’s house in Hemel Hempstead.  I grew up not far away, in Hatfield, but as a child I never realised how many amazing places were just a short drive away.  To me it was all supermarkets and concrete....  Spoilt for choice it took me some time to decide what to do on the day and after going through a huge list of options we decided to visit Stowe House, a stately home in landscaped gardens just over in Buckinghamshire.

Stowe House and gardens was the brainchild of Richard Temple, the 1st Viscount Cobham, though the land had already been in the family for some time. 

The grounds have been through various incarnations – its fussy gardens, which enchanted the poet Pope in 1731 being swept away by Capability Brown just 10 years later to make way for the majestic rolling landscape that remains.

To build, to plant, whatever you intend,
To rear the Column, or the Arch to bend,
To swell the Terras, or to sink the Grot;
In all, let Nature never be forgot.
But treat the Goddess like a modest fair,
Nor over-dress, nor leave her wholly bare;
Let not each beauty ev'ry where be spy'd,
Where half the skill is decently to hide.
He gains all points who pleasingly confounds
Surprises, varies, and conceals the Bounds.
Consult the Genius of the Place in all;
That tells the Waters or to rise, or fall,
Or helps th' ambitious Hill the heav'n to scale,
Or scoops in circling theatres the Vale,
Calls in the Country, catches opening glades,
Joins willing woods, and varies shades from shades,
Now breaks or now directs th' intending Lines;
Paints as you plant, and, as you work, designs.
Still follow Sense, of ev'ry Art the Soul,
Parts answ'ring parts shall slide into a whole,
Spontaneous beauties all around advance,
Start ev'n from Difficulty, strike from Chance;
Nature shall join you, Time shall make it grow
A Work to wonder at--perhaps a STOWE

The house itself was completely reworked in the Victorian era, with the express purpose of impressing the Queen herself.  The 2nd Duke of Buckingham got himself over 1.5 million pounds into debt doing so, and her Majesty only stayed for three nights.  Following this disaster all moveable assests were sold and the house closed up until his death. 

There were a few attempts to sell the place throughout the early 20th Century but sadly no takers and so in another auction in 1922 most of the statuary was sold.  There were concerns that the house would have to be demolished until it became a private school, it remains so to this day, a very exclusive school to say the least.  Restoration of the house was begun in begun in 2000 and is still happening.

Here are some more pictures of its 250 acres of temples, lakes and follies:

I do love a stately home and a landscaped garden.  What is your favourite grand house?