Saturday 29 August 2015

Marchin' On - Charity Shop Finds

This morning we were driving through the arse end of nowhere when I spotted a charity shop on the main road of a grim ex-mining town. The pavement was littered with boxes of old VHS tapes and grubby looking pushchairs but Jon parked the van and we jumped out, 'cos you just never know.

On first glance the inside of the shop showed the same lack of promise as the outside, until I spotted a hint of blue fake fur set on a trumpet shaped sleeve. I pulled it out and to my absolute amazement discovered a garment dripping with tassels, sequins, rosettes and metallic trimmings. 

Handmade from Crimplene with a chunky metal zip, this could only be one thing, a vintage majorette's costume from one of the many marching bands popular in the Midlands from the late 1960s through to the 1970s. Find out more on local legend Brownhills Bob's blog, HERE.

As a kid with a bad limp and no musical prowess I was never a member of a marching band. The closest I got was being a cheerleader with our town's American football team in my late teens. We wore orange sweatshirts & black Lycra hot pants and shook pompoms. Away matches would often descend into chaos when we took exception to the terrible abuse we had to endure from supporters unused to the multiculturalism of the Midlands. Pom poms would be tossed aside as we scaled the terraces to punch the racists. You can't say they weren't warned, our theme song went, We are the Titans, the Walsall Titans, you take us on boys, you should be frightened.

 At 48 my scrapping days may be over but an abiding love for dressing up mad costumes remains.

I've had this 1970s pattern in my stash for ages but haven't got round to making it.

I wore this majorette's costume at the End of the Road Festival in 2012 and funnily enough I'm going back next week (as a trader this time).

I think this outfit will be joining me, it'll match my red wellies. I like how the bolero detaches from the dress, it'll be fab over a maxi when it gets chilly after sunset, dead practical you see!

Vintage Majorette uniform (£4, Humanitarian Aid), white go-go boots (courtesy of Emma)
A post on a Saturday, that's something that hasn't happened for an eternity. Hope you're having a fab weekend (a long one for some of us!)

Wednesday 26 August 2015

Buy Buy Baby - Boot Sale Finds

Long time, no see! No excuses really, we worked at a couple of fairs which were good fun but no great earners, where vintage trading is concerned August is painfully slow.

The weekend was followed by a cheeky Monday all-dayer in Wetherspoons, Walsall. Jon's rather attached to his new-to-him pink canvas skinnies by Aussie label Cotton On, one of last week's car boot finds.

Today I'm wearing: 1970s Osti maxi (courtesy of the fabulous Helga) and vintage Anacat waistcoat (20th Century Stores, Stockport)
Which leads me - almost seamlessly - to sharing our latest finds. This fringed bag was handmade by Fran, a fellow trader, using leather & suede off-cuts. 

I've only bought one pair of new shoes in five years and why would I need to when I can get fab footwear like these Aztec-inspired platforms for £2...

and these ankle boots for £1.50?

Who says that all Eighties fashion is all polyester and shoulder pads? This fab embroidered jacket was purchased in Guatamala back in the 1980s.

I can't wait to transform these vintage curtains & bed covers into groovy clothing.

Jon found three pairs of outrageously flamboyant, British-made shoes on the same stall. He's keeping this red leather pair.

Some rather splendid vintage clothing, which was instantly laundered and added to Kinky's rails at the weekend. Here's just a small selection.

Clockwise from top left: 1960s Devonshire Lady mini, green leather jacket, 1960s micro mini, 1970s midi dress, neon pink 1980s Cashmere swing coat, St Michael swirly shift dress

I bought the '70s Tori Richards, Honolulu maxi I'm wearing below from a second hand stall on the market last year. I probably mentioned that the trader let me have it for £4 instead of £5 as he'd had a bet with his mate that no-one would buy anything so disgusting. I think it must be one of the most admired dresses I own.

Taken on Saturday at Bus Stop Vintage , Shrewsbury
We've got the entire weekend off - no fairs, no festivals, no markets, no plans. Fingers crossed for at least one dry day so we can go car booting.

See you soon.

Thursday 20 August 2015

It Began In Afrika

I was planning to post about the dress I'm currently making but I came back with so much stuff from this morning's car boot sale that by the time I'd sorted all out, loaded the washing machine & tidied up I'd lost the will to hem it. I'll never be a professional blogger, will I?

Waxed cotton earrings (Cornbury Festival), Braided cuff (gift from friends, bought in Cuba)

I must have had a bit of an African vibe going on when I got dressed this morning, what with my Rwandan earrings, 

and Ghanaian basket. 

So it was no surprise that this dress called to me from a rail (or it might have been the stall holder, declaring her undying love for the Dollyrockers maxi I was wearing).

From a distance I thought it was African waxed cotton but the lady told me it was Kente from her mother's native Ghana, originally worn by Kingdom of Ashanti royalty (but widespread today). Each of the colours have a symbolic meaning so, according to the internet, my dress denotes high status & spiritual purity (gold), maturity (black), purity (white) and femininity (pink).

Not bad for a quid!

WEARING: Kente dress & head wrap (£1, car boot sale), Bertie cork soled platforms (charity shop), Ghanian basket (Kaya Festival), temple beads (Gokarna, 2015), all other jewellery (India)

The dress came with a head wrap, which I'm wearing as a sash, as I've got an annoying frozen shoulder from too much sewing and can't lift my arm high enough to tie it. I'm sure a therapeutic rum will sort me out later.

As for the rest of our finds, I don't know where to start. There's everything from professional disco lights, Aztec platform boots, sackfuls of vintage dresses & fabric, some prescription spectacles Morrissey would kill for and three pairs of the most outrageously pimp-tastic shoes known to man. Got to love a boot sale!

I'll leave you with the inspiration behind my post title, just in case you think I've forgotten how to use the spell check, you can't beat a bit of full-on trance on a Thursday afternoon.

Monday 17 August 2015

Tales from The Riverbank

After eight years of being self-employed I still have to pinch myself to convince myself that I'm not dreaming, that I won't suddenly wake up, pull on my morning suit and take the 6am express bus to Birmingham. I dress in second-hand from head to toe, I cut my own hair & a treat is a £4.99 vegetarian meal deal at Wetherspoons but returning to my previous life is unimaginable. I may never be wealthy but my life is a hell of a lot richer without the money and status my previous career brought me.

This weekend's commute sure beats the Aston Expressway. 

My office is infinitely more attractive.

Tewkesbury Abbey is just visible over the water.

The view from the office window is a lot more scenic.

WEARING: Vintage Van Heusen "Latitude" shirt & 1950s Levi Pantella shorts

...and the company is second to none!

This weekend took us to Brookestock. Set in the grounds of an Elizabethan coaching inn ,on the banks of the River Severn, opposite twelfth century Tewkesbury Abbey, the event started as a joke wedding invite from Steph & Richard Brookes, keen festival goers who married on the jetty. Their guests had so much fun that they decided to made it into an annual charity event with live bands, a silent disco and family fun.

Steph invited us to trade last year, guaranteeing we'd have a brilliant time even if we didn't make our fortune.

And she was right, we loved it.

We returned this year, looking forward to another chilled out, pressure-free weekend after two months of madness.

My fake fur jacket (borrowed from the Kinky Melon rails)

The days were free and easy. We opened when we were ready and closed when we fancied; we'd cook dinner (our staple camping food, haloumi & cous cous or chana masala), then grab a beer and walk for miles along the river bank.

Wearing: Vintage Swedish army jacket (Ebay), Skinnied-up trousers, cord trilby & fake fur lined walking boots (all charity shopped)

While we love live music and enjoyed Brookestock's day time acoustic sets, after 8 weeks of amplified sound, wandering along the tow path with just the chug of a passing boat or quack of a duck was perfect.

 The sunsets were spectacular.

And not being the last to bed was a real novelty.

The Lower Lode Inn was open to the general public as well as the festival goers and, as a well known biker haunt in addition to a popular spot for overnight moorings, visitors to our pitch were varied and fascinating. We met people who'd sold all they owned for life on the water, ex-paratroopers on an epic canoe expedition to raise funds for post traumatic stress disorder, Hells Angels, NHS workers, taxi drivers, school teachers, club promoters, musicians and wedding planners.

If I'd stayed in my corporate career I may have been able to buy one of these play things, but would it have made my life any better? I somehow doubt it.

Vintage nylon maxi with fringed sleeves (eBay, 2011)

Again we didn't make our fortune but we'll be donating a percentage of the weekend's takings to The CJD Network, Brookestock 2015's chosen charity after the loss of one of their friends from the disease last year.

Chilled, relaxed, sun-tanned and rested. No camping for us this weekend, just back to back vintage fairs instead, one in historic Shrewsbury and another in Moseley, Birmingham's Bohemia. Trading on an area other than grass, it will feel very odd!

Thursday 13 August 2015

Retail Therapy - Midweek Car Booting & Charity Shopping Fun

Just lately it feels that we only exist for festivals, by the time we've unloaded the van, washed the beer and glitter from the stock, caught up with our sleep, tidied the house, made amends with the cats & the tortoise then its time to pack up and head off to the next one. This week we were determined to squeeze in a bit of R&R, after the pub, our favourite kind of relaxation, retail therapy!

WEARING: Vintage Prova psychedelic maxi (Retro Fit, Vintage Village @ Stockport), denim waistcoat (charity shop), Native American wolf choker (car boot sale), basket (made in Ghana from last weekend's Kaya Festival), sun tan (two months spent working outside)
Firstly it was the return of the midweek car boot sale. We hadn't been to the Wednesday one for a while as it was starting to become tedious, the same old sellers peddling the same tired old tat (foot spas, C List celeb bios, over-washed Primark & H&M tat, fake Prada bags). But after a break of a couple of months and some glorious sunshine we thought we'd make an effort and set the alarm for an early-ish start.

I pounced on these groovy 1960s Heals curtains in minutes, recognising Barbara Brown's style from yards away. During my childhood tea always served on her Focus dinner service by Midwinter, my parents received it as a wedding gift in 1966 , I still use a few of the pieces still survive, 49 years on.

I'd love to hang these up at our windows but dislike curtains that aren't floor length, so I'll probably knock up a funky maxi length waistcoat or a dress but not tea towels like the seller (the son of the 88 year old lady who'd owned them from new) suggested.

I do love a retro flight bag. BOAC became British Airways in 1974.

There were a pair of these 1950s wooden Vikings, his brother had lost his weapon but the seller threw him in for free.

I love a Hong Kong-made beaded bag, they remind me of the purses I used to take my dinner money to school in back in the early 1970s. I hadn't seen one in this style before.

Massive vintage sunnies to add to my collection.

Groovy 1960s wellies.

I can't resist a box of sewing notions. The zip puller is brilliant for an arthritic old crock like me who occasionally needs help getting dressed.

I'm not a fan of dainty vintage china but these 1950s Arthur Meakin Mexican cactus plates were too cool to pass up.

Most charity shops price their scarves for more than we sell them for so I always pounce on any I see at car boot sales. When the stall holder told me that they were vintage and that one had a Paris maker's label I began to think she was going to ask a fortune but no, she even chucked a couple more in for free.

Today we went for a quick whizz around the chazzas. A 1960s velvet trimmed jacket; snazzy 80s waistcoat (the festival goers can't get enough of them!); a fab ethnic sun dress; an original Panama hat by top British hat makers Olney ; a crazy 1980s Adini jumpsuit; a vintage Pakistani waistcoat; tooled leather cowboy boots and a gorgeous Cuban shirt.

No rest for the wicked! I'm off to pack the van ready for a 7 am getaway tomorrow.

See you soon. x