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.


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
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?

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Old Movie Madness - Heartbeat (1946)

Aaaand - I'm back again.  I've been watching a lot of films lately in my effort to get up to date with my knitting.  This weekend gave me this very sweet Ginger Rogers offering, and who can resist Ginger.

This romantic comedy opens in what appears to be a schoolroom, but it quickly becomes clear that Professor Aristide, in a wonderfully Fagin-esque turn by Basil Rathbone, is teaching them little in the way of morality and everything about survival.

Enter Arlette and her enormous hair (Ginger Rogers), who has just escaped from Reform School without any identification papers and is looking for a new start.

It's enormous, really enormous!

The Professor quickly realises that such a pretty young girl can be an asset to someone living a life of crime and teaches her the tricks of the trade.

Unfortunately Arlette isn't as adept at the trade as expected and is quickly caught stealing a tie pin from a gentleman on the tram.  Said gentleman agrees not to prosecute on the proviso that Arlette help him out with something equally underhand (get your minds out of the gutter people!) and so she agrees to pose as a nobleman's niece at a society party.  Her job being to dance and flirt with young diplomat Pierre, in an attempt to prove that the young man is sleeping with another man's wife.

Arlette finds her evidence, a photo of the lady in his watch, but in a goodhearted gesture intended to save hurt all round she steals the photo, keeping his secret.

Pierre, not realising the beautiful girl on his arm is a thief, is so smitten he drives her home and the pair share a kiss - Arlette's first kiss.  They agree to meet the next day at the station.

Arlette confesses all and Pierre is furious but he agrees to help her and arranges her a sham marriage for her to a friend, to help her get her papers.  He leaves, but realises he might love her and returns to see if his feelings are true.  With him there, Arlette cannot marry another and calls off the wedding.

The question is, will Arlette and Pierre end up together or will they just keep double crossing each other...

It's been a while since I saw something so resolutely mid 40s.  This was '46 - the year before Dior released his New Look into the world - and you can see that '46 was considerably less structured. There aren't the severely nipped in waists we would expect from '47 onwards for example.

The first item of clothing that really caught my eye was this absolutely darling little blouse, up close it is really a chequered print.

 I love the pointy collar, which reminds me of these blouses from Qbiffa on eBay.  I have one of these in black and it's gorgeous.

You can see the print and the little beret it is teamed with here. The film is set on the continent, after all.  You have to have a beret, it's compulsory.

Later Arlette is given a very extravagant gown for the ball.  The skirt is formed of three tiers and the whole thing studded with rhinestones.

More enormous hair, and a massive flower.

 These two tiered dresses are held in the Met Museum and are both from 1946.  It was clearly the done thing to dress like a wedding cake in 1946.

Once Arlette is engaged and has access to some money she seems to love her some sun suits.  The first picture below is a most delightful full-length cover up with big severe military shoulders and two tone stripes across the chest.

As usual she pairs this look with massive hair.  The more you look at it the more spaniely it becomes, unfortunately.

Below you can see a bizarre mohair bra top and high waisted shorts combo.  In fact, I would argue this is an early bikini.  The bikini was officially launched in 1946 and this shows that the wardrobe department on Heartbeat really were making efforts to keep it looking contemporary.

There is also quite an array of striking headgear featured.  The feathery pompom hat below, part of Arlette's dark wedding suit for her sham marriage, is so wonderful and hilarious and so very 1946.  Paired with the freaking massive hair it makes her silhouette almost symmetrical.

In fact it recalled to me this picture from the ever brilliant Fashion Era site

The cheating wife of the ambassador also liked a feathery hat and also had massive hair, here - massive victory rolls.  I'm also more than a little in love with the collarless jacket and the sequinned blouse / jabot.

The lady clearly liked her sparkle, in this scene she seems to have a string of diamonds woven into her updo.

And finally - freaking massive flower style wedding headgear.  Yes, it is petals.  Yes, they are bigger than her forehead.

 This picture, also from, shows some real folk getting married in '46 with the bride wearing something broadly similar.

A great film for fashion, though there isn't a lot of it.  Arlette, being poor, doesn't have a vast wardrobe to choose from.  Still, I feel the outfits here really show fashion on the cusp of change.  The sun suit about to become the bikini, the military lines about to be replaced by the dangerous curves and voluminous fabric of the New Look.

Oh, and restrained 40s practical dos being usurped by the big fluffy hair that the 50s would adore.

For your delectation, two last pictures of the back of the big hair.