Monday, 22 May 2017

Only In Your Underwear

Yay! The joys of being self-employed. There's no Monday morning blues in this house. The sun is shining and I'm off to 'Spoons in somebody else's underwear. 

Yes, this cotton top is a Victorian camisole, helpfully labelled by the previous owner's seamstress.

I did a bit of research and discovered it most probably belonged to a young lady called Elizabeth Deakin who was born in 1870, lived in West Bromwich (Walsall's nearest neighbour), had 6 siblings and died at the age of 30.  Yet another reason to embrace shopping secondhand, you wouldn't need spend hours searching the 1891 census if you bought your clothes from Primark. Not only do you get a wardrobe full of all manner of mad stuff nobody else has but you get to learn some local social history, too.

It's not looking too shabby for something 131 years old, is it?

The tasseled choker is made by the Hmong tribe (via Krista) and the earrings were a present from Curtise.

Check out my clogs! I've wanted some Scandi clogs for years and a fortnight ago I bit the bullet and splashed out on these low wood, vegan beauties. Delivered direct from Stockholm, both the alder from which the soles are made and the staples holding them together were sourced in Sweden. To help raise the funds to pay for them I stuck my charity-shopped Stuart Weizmann sandals on eBay and to my amazement they made enough to pay for these plus extra cash to go towards a second pair (which are winging their way to Walsall at this very moment!)

Orthopaedic shoes don't have to be ugly....or neutral coloured! I can walk to the pub in confidence with these and know that even if I am bladdered I won't break an ankle on the way home.

Don't worry, a brand new splurge hasn't dented my passion for charity shopping. Here's Friday's finds:

Clockwise from top left: 1950s horse's head vases; hand painted 1980s shirt; Markus Lupfer cat print sweat shirt (Retail price £168!! One for eBay, I think); Early 1960s Peter Baron day dress; Handmade 1960s shift; 1970s Greek cotton maxi; 1980s swimming bag; Tissavel fake fur; 1960s Moygashel travel blazer; Horse brasses (in the words of Tom Hardy...I have a use for you); 1950s mosaic plate; 1970s Indian block print silk scarf, 1980s day dress; 1980s 100% rayon Hawaiian shirt.

Right, I better make a move. I've got to buy a new iron on the way to the pub....I know, I'm just so goddamn rock'n'roll! 

Antique camisole (£1, charity clearance shop); 1970s Ulrike of Sweden patchwork print maxi (£5.19, eBay 2011), Patchwork and pom pom bag (Birthday present, handmade by Liz)

Linking to Patti & The Gang for Visible Monday.

See you soon!

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Scrap Craft - The Art Of Making Do & Being You

Ever heard of scrap craft? According to gardening guru & Guardian columnist, Alys Fowler, in her superbly sensible book, The Thrifty Gardener, it's when you reuse unwanted items or recycle them into something useful. It starts with ....I wonder if.......and the result is often surprisingly cool. In my case, a bug hotel we made from a 1950s tea chest rescued from a neighbour's skip filled with some broken Edwardian edging tiles, a trio of chipped terracotta plant pots and wood salvaged from a trellis found rotting on the wood pile. Alys describes it as a way to personalise your own environment without it costing the earth, an independent cultural ethos far removed from our commercially driven world.

When antisocial scumbags decide to dump a load of crap over our fence, rather than send a whingeing tweet to the council's overstretched refuse department we recycled the trash into something useful, wooden pallets became raised veg beds and a rusting drum from a washing machine filled with forget-me-nots to make a groovy space-age planter. The Victorian chimney pots I dug from the undergrowth and a 1950s enamel sanitary towel display rack also proved perfect for our plants.

The tacky 1950s glazed Formica cabinet (below) bought for a few quid from a charity shop makes an ideal cold frame, somewhere to start off our seedlings and protect them from the frost and any predators.

 Alys says that by being practical and using our own set of skills we can make our world around us, rather than buying into someone else's bland version. You start to make stuff that suits your home and the way you actually live and, instead of impersonal elegance or, worse still, the mass ugliness of manufactured things, you get something that has a little bit of the spirit and personality of the owner. When you grow your own vegetables or recycle your kitchen waste in a bin you made, you are taking control, rewarding yourself rather than waiting for somebody else to do so. You are transforming your world by your own rules and, by expressing your life creatively, the unexpected thrives.

But you don't need a garden to practice scrap craft. If you're a second-hand shopper you're already doing it, recycling other people's cast-offs and combining them with clothes you already own to create an outfit unique to you. Don't you just love finding something pretty in a charity shop, standing in front of your wardrobe and wondering to yourself... what this will look like if I try it with that? Like this TopShop cropped blouse I found last week, bought for no other reason than it was cheap and cheerful. Little did I know that when I threw open the wardrobe doors it would be the perfect match with the Swagger maxi I made myself from a 1960s curtain back in March.

Alys says that the best stuff comes from limited resources and she's not wrong there. Here's a few of the finds we've made in Black Country charity shops in the last seven days:
Clockwise from top left: 1970s Freya of Australia handkerchief hem dress; 1970s turquoise leather coat; American baseball shirt with tags attached; Dannimac raincoat; Gents' 1960s silk scarf; 1970s navy leather blazer; Rockabilly style bomber jacket; 1960s bangle (Mine!); Repro cloche hat; Celia Birtwell for Topshop blouse (now in my wardrobe!); 1970s midi dress; Jupiter 1980s leisure shirt; Shetland wool waistcoat; 1960s Hardy Amies blazer; St Michael 1980s novelty print shirt; 3 x vintage ties; 1960s suede waistcoat
Clockwise from top left: 1980s C&A fedora; 1970s Hamilton, English-made leather bag; 1980s American-made Chinese-style silk waistcoat (Keeping!); 1980s Alexon midi skirt; Adini velvet dress; Windsmoor edge to edge wool jacket; Handmade linen maxi; 1970s corded cotton maxi (in my wardrobe); Indian block printed silk scarves; Velvet and feather trim pillbox hat; 1960s polka dot scarf; 1980s does the 1950s straw hat; 1970s vinyl bag; Jacques Vert picture hat; 1960s psychedelic sun hat; 1980s tie-front top; Topshop crop top. 

More of her advice for a great garden is something than can equally be applied to your wardrobe and the key is love. The most beautiful, joyous spaces are those created by people who made & tended them and truly loved them. She says that doing your own thing, passionately, wins out. If what makes your heart sing isn't anyone else's cup of tea then don't let it put you off, embrace what you love and go for it unabashedly. 

Being fashionable, she says, is risky. Fashion is all about selling magazines, so what's "in" one year is virtually guaranteed to be "out" the next.  Alys says you should do your own thing, be a little daring, and be inspired. Confidence and originality will win out in the long run.

...but I'm sure I don't need to tell you that, you know that already, don't you? As my fabulous friend Goody says Wear it if you like it and fuck anyone that doesn't.

WEARING: 1970s corded cotton maxi dress & 1980s Chinese style long-line waistcoat with one of a pair of curtain tie-backs worn as a necklace (all charity shopped this week)
No fairs this weekend! What on earth shall we do with ourselves?

See you on the other side.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Vintage Village At Stockport - We Came, We Bought, We Sold, We Posed....

They think it's all over, it is now! Yesterday Stockport's Vintage Village was our last fair before the festival season officially kicks off.  When we got up at 5.30am the sun was shining and it seemed like the perfect day to wear the 1960s barkcloth Hawaiian maxi I bought from fellow Judy's traders, Retro Bambi, last month. By midday most of the population of Stockport were questioning my sanity as they buttoned their coats up against the chilly breeze. Jon was far more sensible opting for the tan leather jacket he bought from Wednesday's car boot sale. It was originally meant for stock but Jon made a fatal error by trying it on and, of course, it ended up in his wardrobe.

Paula, Lynn, Curtise and me!

This photo makes me happy.  Never mind all that b*llocks about women over a certain age needing to tone it down & start dressing like grown-ups and all that tired old tripe. This is what happens when you rip up the rule book, shop secondhand and stick your fingers up at the fashion magazines and so-called style experts, you end up looking like us, a collection of individuals who could never be described as invisible.

Stockport's ace! Over the years we've traded there we've made friends with several of the other traders and customers, like Pat & Matthew (A Vintage Affair) & Lynn & Philip (One I Made Earlier Today), who keep a look out for stuff for us when they're out at charity shops and car boots. Pat found me these 1980s sequined appliques and some pots of coloured sequins (perfect for embellishing) while Lynn snapped up some great clobber for our festival stock.

Vintage Village really is the best place for buying incredible vintage. Yesterday I bought this amazing tab collared 1960s maxi by super cool Carnaby Street label, London Mob from Joan of Mama J's Vintage Goods which I shall be wearing this week come rain, shine or, like yesterday,  f*cking enormous hailstones. The psychedelic pussy bow maxi was from Maggie at Garbo Antiques' legendary £5 rail.

On Mama J's rails I also spotted this 1960s velvet midi. I'd always fancied a vintage one-shouldered dress so this had to be mine. It's by rare fashion label, Annacat. I've got another piece by them, the red waistcoat I'm wearing in my last post (HERE) which, funnily enough, also came from Vintage Village.

Images: Patrick Lichfield with Janet Lyle (Get Some Vintage-A-Peel),  Patrick Lichfield with Janet Lyle of Annacat (left) and Michael Fish (centre) circa 1968 (Dandy in Aspic), 1960s advert (Get Some Vintage-A-Peel), The label from my dress.

Annacat was formed in 1965 by party girls and good friends Jane Lyle and Maggie Keswick and backed financially by fashion photographer Patrick Lichfield (the Queen's first cousin). The shop started at 23 Pelham Street but moved to Brompton Road in 1967. Known as the Biba of Brompton Road Annacat was "in" with the swinging London scene of the 1960s who loved their historically-influenced sexy shapes and extravagant finishing touches which often included ostrich feathers and lace. Annacat was also a firm favourite with British Vogue. In addition to their own line, Annacat offered pieces by other designers (including Lichfield) and was the first London outlet to stock Laura Ashley designs in the late 1960s. In 1968 a New York branch of Annacat opened on Madison Avenue. Annacat began designing for wholesale in 1970 but the venture failed to take off and led to the label's demise.

1960s Annacat velvet midi dress worn with 1970s red leather platform boots (vintage fair, 2014), handmade (by me!) pom-pom choker, vintage umbrella (50p, car boot sale, donkey's years ago)
And that was Stockport, great sales, fab frocks and good company (and I got to meet up with Curtise and her lovely young man!!!)

See you soon!

Linking up with Patti for Visible Monday.

Friday, 12 May 2017

The Love Witch - Vintage Wardrobe Magick

I'm often mistaken for someone who practices the dark arts. I'm asked if I'm a witch, a fortune teller, a psychic or if have "the gift" on a near-daily basis. A group of men I was chatting with a while ago told me that they used to call me Carry On Screaming before they found out my real name and Fenella Fielding's fan club follow me on Twitter.

A couple of days ago my fabulous artist friend Ilaria posted a link to a web page discussing the marvellous psychedelic wardrobe of 2016 film, The Love Witch (HERE) and suggested the costume designer may be one of my most devoted fans. Clicking on the link I couldn't believe my eyes, it was like my much better looking baby sister had raided my wardrobe complete with my trademark turquoise eye shadow and collection of vintage silver pendants.

In this scene Anne Biller, the costume designer, dressed Elaine (played by Samantha Robinson) in vintage Gunne Sax and used a blue eye shadow from Shiseido.

My 1960s silk maxi is by British designer Frank Usher and the eye shadow is by cheap-as-chips, cruelty-free brand, Sleek (£8.99 for a palette containing 12 eyeshadows as opposed to Shiseido which costs £24 for a single colour). The grosgrain ribbon I'm wearing around my neck came with the dress on to which I pinned my Great-Great Grandmother's monogrammed silver brooch.

I love these 1960s-does-Victorian dresses. My lawn cotton dress is labelled You & Me, London and was from a jumble sale years ago. The '70s Celtic pendant was one of last week's chazza finds.

I didn't think posing with a dagger was very PC so I opted for a milk bottle filled with bluebells instead!

Lacking a pentangle I lay on the lawn with Jon overcoming his fear of heights to climb the shed roof and take a photo (....the things we do for blogging!)

I'm wearing a 1970s rik-rak trimmed nylon two piece by Australian label, Michelle Bowen. My amber choker was 50p from a car boot sale.

Elaine's wearing another Gunne Sax maxi dress in this scene. 

Mine's a handmade cotton maxi with a pin-tucked bodice. The 1960s Portmerion Greek Key mug was part of a set I inherited from my parents.

Elaine's in another Gunne Sax dress here. The look Anne was trying to emulate was one of those vintage big-eyed Bradley dolls (which I collect).

I'm wearing the dress I found on my charity shop travels last week (sadly, someone tried it on at the Balham vintage fair and broke the zip so it's currently languishing on my mending pile), the Canadian-made vintage hat is on loan from the stockroom. The can of gin & slimline tonic is my own version of a magic potion.

Anne made this dress using a vintage pattern. 

I'm wearing a vintage St Michael shirt, a Butte Knit, New Zealand wool maxi skirt and an Annacat waistcoat. My 1920s carpet bag was inherited from my Grandma.

I look a bit demented in this photo! I'm wearing a 1970s halter top and maxi skirt by Charma. (I'd kill for the outfit Elaine's wearing). My necklace is a Victorian lead crystal heart I bought from a junk shop when I was 10. 

I've collected coloured glass for years (which was probably the last time I dusted it).

Anne found Elaine's white linen dress in a vintage shop in London.

I made mine out of a vintage Maltese tablecloth I bought at a car boot sale. The 1970s Sheffield Steel cross pendant was also a car boot find.

I didn't find a dress in the film resembling my favourite witchy dress, a 1960s panne velvet maxi by Samuel Sherman for Sambo I bought from a car boot sale 7 years ago. Today was the first time in years I'd been able to do up the zip. That's what I call magick!

Linking to Patti & The Gang for Visible Monday and Judith's Hat Attack.

PS We're at Vintage Village in Stockport this Sunday (details HERE) and it's our last vintage fair before the festival season. If we don't see you there we'll see you on the other side. Have a fab weekend!

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Hot Fun In The Summertime

Hoo-bloody-ray! After a seemingly endless week of icy temperatures and oppressive grey skies the sun has finally burst through and in a fit of solar-induced madness I've banished all my cold weather clothes to the suitcase on top of the wardrobe and unleashed the madness of my summer wardrobe. 

It's been a few years since this 1960s two-piece lounge set made an appearance on my blog and crazy to think that it was originally from staid old Marks and Spencer, isn't it? Whenever I cut through the Walsall branch to get to Poundland or the train station it's a depressing mass of greige polyester and feeble prints.

Wearing: 1960s silk Dollyrockers maxi, gold space boots and a heap of charity shop jewellery

So what have I been up to since I last posted almost a week ago? On Sunday we travelled down to South London to trade at our first vintage fair in three weeks. I'm looking a bit bleary eyed in the photo as it was a 4am start. The fair got off to a slow start and by lunchtime we'd only just covered our pitch fee but by mid-afternoon the good people of Balham arrived en masse and, vastly helped by a visit from our regular overseas buyer, we ended up having a good day. Other than that I've been charity shopping, had a boozy day in 'Spoons and in between I've been sewing like a madwoman (including the 35 vintage fabric wired hairbands I ran up yesterday ready for the festival season).

Me-Made-May: 1970s Moghul print mini, 1960s Scandi fabric skirt-tain, patchwork bathmat made from tatty vintage bath towels and a 70s fringed bed cover

As promised here's last week's charity shop finds:

Clockwise from top left: 1960s psychedelic mini dress (unworn, still with the original inspection label); 1970s gents' printed shirt; Julie & Leonard (a Texan designer label, apparently) metallic jacket; 1980s cropped leather biker jacket; 1970s gauzy cotton maxi; 1970s tab collar shirt; Stainless steel pendant; 1960s Ban-Lon knit; 1970s ditsy print cotton maxi; Tooled leather shoulder bag; Tootal embroidered dinner shirt; 1970s fitted tee shirt; Alice of California psychedelic maxi; 1980s Dutch boating blazer; 1970s Celtic pendant.

I don't know if Walsall's got its own eco-system (which wouldn't surprise me, we're a funny lot) but according to the TV news the UK is having its driest Spring in years and there's a real threat of a drought come the Summer. WHAT? It never bleedin' stops raining here. Every time we've tried to get to a car boot sale it's been too wet to even attempt it. Not this morning though, today we managed to get to our first boot sale of 2017!

You won't find much today, Vix warned Ian, one of the regular traders, when we pulled up in the van this morning. The Wednesday one is rarely amazing - manky Primark tat piled in greying heaps on muddy sheets of tarpaulin, out of date biscuits and fake designer sweatshirts - but it's always worth a look. 

This 1960s three-button worsted wool jacket was one of the first things we bought. A checked sleeve caught my eye, peeping out from a heap of acrylic jumpers and fleeces. Shannon's was one of Walsall's largest textile mills, in 1905 it employed two thousand people and produced over 706,000 items a year bringing much prosperity to the town. For a large part of my lifetime the edifice of Shannon's Mill was an intrinsic part of the skyline, that was until a massive fire in 2007 reduced it to ashes. Jon's keeping this, it fits him perfectly and it's a bit of Walsall history.

A lady called me over telling me she had some clothes she'd long since grown too big for that I might like and she was right, I couldn't say no to this 1980s Phool sun dress.

She bought this heavy cotton wraparound skirt on holiday in Greece in the 1970s. The more I look at it, the more I think I'm going to keep it especially as a trip to Greece might be on the cards.

This Moroccan lantern is going to be planted up and hung on the Kinky Shed. Even the man selling it couldn't understand why he'd only priced it at £1. Bargain!

1960s floppy felt hat, 1980s rose gold leather belt (I might keep this, it matches the sandals I bought in Mumbai last year and, believe it or not, its nigh on impossible to find belts in smaller sizes) and a 1980s chain mail (or, as the Australians call it, Glomesh) cross-the-body bag.

I love this 1960s tan leather jacket, very Fight Club.

Not the most exciting thing, a box of 50 heavy duty skirt hangers, but they are something we always need and average at around £30 on-line. The smell of the seller's spliff was so strong I was getting high just chatting to him. He started off at £5, which I said was a good price but he was so stoned that he haggled himself down to £3.

Jon was very excited to find this Cry Baby wah wah pedal especially as the lads selling it didn't have a clue what on earth it was and charged him £3. They retail at around £79!

My favourite find has to be these sewing notions and zips. I've hardly got any zips left in my stash so I was thrilled to get a carrier bag full for £3 and just look at those trimmings! Belt buckles, needles, hooks and eyes, press studs, beading, 1960s flower braid and metallic trims and white marabou, too - all for £2.

Not bad for a half-an-hour stroll around a field.

1960s St Michael lounge set (birthday present from Curtise years ago)
I'm off the water the plants before they ban hosepipes and, as it's Wednesday, I'll be rewarding myself with a cheeky rum 'n' coke or two after tea.

See you soon!