Saturday, 31 July 2010

A Century Of Style: The Challenge (1920 -1930)

Ready for some more history? Today it's the turn of the 1920's. Jen, self-confessed loather of the era, should look away now. To be honest I've struggled with the Flapper look, so many of you have commented about it being a particular favourite and the pressure's scared me witless.

Vintage cashmere coat and 1920's leather handbag (Both inherited), Wool leather-trim cloche (Jumble sale), T-Bar heels (Charity shop)

Contrary to popular belief the flapper fashions of the Roaring Twenties were actually only worn from 1926 until 1928. During the earlier part of the decade skirts had only just risen to calf length. The Great Depression led to a subsequent lowering of hemlines and a less decadent way of life.

Previously fashion had been the preserve of the wealthy but Flapper style was the first instance of attainable mainstream fashion. Construction of the flapper's dress was less complicated than past fashions and women were able to successfully home dress-make a straight shift using a Butterick paper pattern.
Hair was bobbed and shingled and the forehead went out of fashion, either covered with a brimless cloche or by an ornate hairband. Make-up was heavy, lipstick was ox-blood red and applying ones' make-up in public, once considered shocking, became fashionable, leading to the craze for mirrored compacts.

Legs seen for the first time were attired in recently invented flesh-toned nylon stockings powdered to reduce shine. Feet were clad in T-bar shoes with 2inch heels.

Flapper Dress (Kate Moss @ Topshop £5), Vintage pearls and Stratton compact (Both car boot sale finds)

If like me you're a history buff and have the time do check out this earlier post.

What do you think? Have I pulled Flapper fashion off?

Friday, 30 July 2010

A Century Of Style: The Challenge (1910 - 1920)

1910's-era hand-made fillet lace & chiffon blouse with crochet ball-buttons at the cuff and pintuck detailing (Car boot sale 50p), Oriental carpet bag and Art Deco buckle belt (Jumble sale finds), 1970's maxi skirt (My darling Helga), Victorian Mother-of-Pearl earrings (Inherited)

I've been set a challenge to dress in the style of each decade of the Twentieth Century over the next ten days.

Day Two: 1910 - 1920

In the years following the Edwardian-era the clothing style continued to evolve. Following the Ballet Russe's arrival in Paris in 1909 the wealthier classes became obsessed with the opulence and exoticism of the costumes and stage sets. A popular trend of this period was Orientalism whereby the wealthy classes dressed themselves as Geishas and harem girls for wild parties.

Great Aunt Florence outside the family home in Chester in 1915. The kimono and obi have hung in the cloakroom of my family home ever since I was a child, but much to my dismay, my father decided to throw them in the bin a fortnight ago. Unfortunately, not all my family share my hoarding gene.

The Great War years of 1914-1918 heralded the invention of the first brassiere causing corsets to be abandoned and tailoring to become softer. Belts were worn for the first time and due to many women working outside the home to help the war effort, handbags became a necessity. In-line with the trend for all things Oriental carpet bags were especially popular.

Jewellery was kept to a minimum and for practicality's sake hair was either cut or worn in "curtains", parted at the centre and rolled up at either side. During this period Henna was used for the first time, due to it being both natural and exotic.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

A Century Of Style: The Challenge (Day One, 1900-1910)

My Great-grandmother's 1906 wedding blouse worn with a vintage Aquascutum waistcoat and a 1970's David Pressler maxi skirt
Yesterday, the lovely Alex challenged me to dress in the fashions of the Twentieth Century, decade by decade, for ten days. 

Leather "Edwardian Lady" Boots (British Heart Foundation £4.99)

Welcome to Day One, 1900-1910
The Period known as La Belle Epoque which commenced in 1895 reached a peak of popularity following the death of Queen Victoria in 1901. An epoch in luxury living and beautiful clothes for the select few born into a life of privilege.

Cameo brooch (Inherited)
The austerity of the Victorian era was forgotten as women of the upper-classes dressed to show their wealth and status. 

Cream and white became the colours of the day to show that the fashionable could afford servants to launder their clothes, made filthy by galavanting around town, riding in motorcars and playing croquet. Handbags were rarely necessary as a maidservant would carry what a lady required. 

Hair became big and extravagent and jewellery was opulent and expensive. A lady put up her hair to show she was mature enough for marriage (hence I'm wearing mine down.)

Edward VII's brief reign ended upon his death in 1910 and he was succeeded by George V.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Forgotten Treasures

I'd completely forgotten this vintage frock that I bought for 40p from a car boot sale earlier this year. Terrible, aren't it? 

As the fabulous Dusk pointed out, people just don't make the effort these days so I'm wearing it to pop down the pub later for a mid-week catch-up with our pals. After all, a day without dressing up is a day wasted.

A few finds from the past week of car-booting:

 More tomorrow? I do hope so. We have a car boot sale and a jumble sale to look forward to. Fingers crossed for vintage bargains.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

A Night At The Opera

Although a rather refined English lady, my late Grandmother adored charity shops and jumble sales. She'd pick out elegant evening gowns, fancy hats and extravagant accessories for me and I'd say they were lovely but pointless as I had nowhere to wear them. Grandma would reply, "My dear, buy something of beauty and the occasion will present itself." How right she was. I have an outfit for every occasion and, unlike many of my friends, never have to panic buy for an event I've been invited to.

My night at the opera outfit:

"Young Mayfair" evening gown (Jumble Sale), Vintage bag (Car Boot sale), Velvet opera gloves (Inherited), Gilt & pearl statement earrings (TopShop via Charity shop), Suede platforms (Debenhams' sale), Vintage opera glasses (Car boot sale), Edwardian Ostrich feather stole (Inherited)

The pièce de résistance has to be this 1950's handbag by Dorset Rex of Fifth Avenue I bought at a car boot sale for 50p, I love the lucite handle and the pearl and diamonte detailing.

Now I just need an invitation.

Who's That Girl? Helen, Queen of the Nautch Girls

To some the beautiful burlesque dancer in my blog title may be a stranger but to millions of us Bollywood movie fans the beautiful H-Bomb Helen is one of the biggest stars in the world, starring in literally hundreds of films since her big break in 1951.

In my opinion her finest hour has to be performing to Asha Bhosle's Piya Tu Ab Aaja whilst knocking back whiskey, cage-dancing and ripping her skirt off in the 1971 movie Caravaan.

Watching this YouTube clip is guaranteed to make anybody smile. The make-up, the hair, the jewellery, the shoes, the sparkly underwear....I adore Helen.

Born in Burma on 21st October, 1939 to an Anglo-Indian Army officer and his Burmese wife, Helen Richardson moved to Bombay with her mother and two siblings after her father died in the Second World War. Her mother's salary as a nurse was insufficient to support her family so Helen left school to support her family becoming a chorus girl in the Bollywood movie industry at the age of 13.

In the mid-Twentieth Century movie industry no respectable Hindi actress would dare risk their reputation by performing scantily-clad or smoking, flirting with the opposite sex or drinking alcohol on screen, therefore the role of the movie vamp fell to Anglo-Indian and Jewish actresses. With Helen's beauty and outstanding dancing ability she was one of the most desirable vamps in the business.

Helen went on to star in over 500 Bollywood movies frequently performing to Asha Bhosle's songs (Brits will recognise Asha Bhosle's name from the 1997 Indie hit, Brimful of Asha by Cornershop). In 1973 Merchant Ivory filmed the documentary Helen, Queen of The Nautch Girls to honour of her amazing career. A book was published by Indian journalist, Jerry Pinto in 2006 entitled The Life and Times of an H-Bomb which went on to receive The National Film Award for the Best Book on Cinema in 2007.

Still beautiful at 39, performing Yeh Mera Dil Pyar Ka Deewana with co-star Ambitabh Bachchan in the 1978 gangster movie, Don.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Born Too Late

I reckon I was born too late. I dream of catching Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock and the Rolling Stones in Hyde Park, shopping at Biba and Granny Takes a Trip and travelling the hippie trail overland from London to India through Afghanistan, Turkey and Iran. 

Modern life lacks the colour and energy of the late 60s and 70s, it's too airbrushed, sanitised and neatly packaged. We're bombarded with advertising and the domination of the great British high street by the big chains mean its nigh-on impossible to buy anything individual or unique. Easy credit means posessions are acquired and disposed of without a second thought instead of being saved for and cherished.

Don't get me wrong, there's trappings of the modern world I love; the internet, Wii Fit, cheap air travel, 24 hour drinking, the fact I can choose to be unmarried and childless without being shunned by polite society but, given the choice I'd definately have been born in a different decade.

Until time travel becomes available I'll just have to carry on living the (day) dream, being chauffeured about in our 1970 VW Variant, playing Psychedelic music, chilling in Goa and dressing-up in vintage clothes.

1970's nylon polo neck and Bayeaux Tapestry print maxi (£5 each, local vintage boutique), Vintage Finnish-made leather bag (£2.95, British Heart Foundation), Macrame pendant (My dearest Helga), Bangles (second-hand and inherited)
The Details:

 The groovy motif on my top

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Grave Concern


We have to pass through the churchyard to reach our favourite public house but we walk back a different way as it soon becomes the hangout of the local downbeats when darkness falls.


Worship at the Parish Church of St Matthew in Walsall dates back to Norman times and the bricked-up doorway to the rear was built around 1150.

This front tower was built in 1775. The gargoyles were my favourite feature as a child attending infant school church services, I loved the imp the most.

I'm fascinated by ancient burial grounds and cemetaries and can spend many hours wandering around, soaking in the tranquility and wondering at the lives of the people buried there. When I first travelled to Paris I was more interested in visiting Jim Morrison's grave at Père Lachaise than the Eiffel Tower or the Arc de Triomphe.

The Wedge family tombstone dates back to 1845.

Last night's outfit was a "Concord" late 1960's maxi dress bought on eBay for 99p.

The vintage lace-up ankle boots were 50p from a car boot sale a few weeks ago and the tapestry clutch was £1.95 from the Hospice Charity shop.