Monday, 12 June 2017

Hey Mickey! Curtain Couture & The Story Behind Our Latest Stock






When I wear my hair in twin buns Jon calls them my Mickey Mouse Ears so, after spotting a pair of Disney curtains in the 50p bin in a chazza on Friday, I just had take them home and transform them into a maxi dress.



At the Acoustic Festival last weekend we got chatting to lady about our mutual love for cats, travel, festivals and the Labour party. After we got home she phoned us and asked if we'd be interested in buying some of her late mother's clothes as she'd been hanging on to them for years and felt that, after meeting us, now was the right time to move them along. With a resounding Yes! we jumped in the van and drove over to rural Staffordshire to take a look. While there's always a thrill when we're buying vintage stock, discovering the story of the previous owner makes them all the more special. 

Sadly, nothing in the collection was my size so Ms Kinky has kindly offered her modelling services.


Born in 1927, Betty was just a teenager when WW2 broke out but had an older sister who owned this Utility suit. For thirty years the females of Betty's family borrowed the suit for work, appointments and job interviews until it was eventually packed away in the late 1970s.


Bearing the increasingly rare CC41 label, utility clothing was introduced at the end of 1941 by the British government (To learn more click HERE).


Unlike many 1950s women Betty wasn't a stay-at-home wife, choosing to work full-time as a cashier for a well known (now, long gone) Black Country bakery firm. Outgoing and sociable, she took it upon herself to organise coach trips to the seaside for the bakery workers and their families. This cotton two-piece was her regular day trip outfit, featuring in many photos and hand made by her sister, the dressmaker of the family. The skirt has been painstakingly darned in places, something I love to see. No throwaway fashion back in the 1950s, back then clothes were loved and treasured and often worn until they fell apart.


This was Betty's "good" suit, worn at weddings and christenings throughout the 1960s.


The Acetate blouse was on the same coat hanger, suggesting that this was what she regularly wore under her brocade suit. Take that, fashion bloggers! Pattern mixing is neither new, brave or revolutionary. Betty was rocking clashing prints half a century ago. 


Betty's husband was described as a bit Victorian in his attitude and wasn't much into socialising. Did that stop her going out? Hell, no! She took herself off to the Saturday night dance at the social club with her three kids in tow (to prove to her husband that she had no intention of copping off with a bloke behind his back) and danced the night way.

From left: 1970s Windsmoor gold lurex party dress, 1960s crimplene mini (handmade by her sister) and 1970s-does-the-1930s Lurex maxi dress


What I love about Betty's wardrobe is that she was well into her 40s when she wore these clothes. Bare arms, short skirts, bright colours, loud prints, no toning it down and dressing appropriately. She was just a normal, hard working woman who dressed as she pleased.


On their 25th wedding anniversary in 1975, Betty and her husband saved like mad and went on a once-in-a-lifetime cruise, visiting Morocco, Cyprus, Portugal, the South of France, Malta, The Canaries, Italy and Spain


Her husband (now in his 92nd year) must have looked extremely dapper in this cobalt blue velvet jacket from C&A 
(now in Jon's wardrobe!)


Meanwhile this insanely fabulous lime green maxi was Betty's cruise-tastic choice of dress. 

Betty sadly died in 2008 but her fantastic wardrobe lives on as I'll take huge pride in telling our customers Betty's story when they buy her clothes.



Mickey Mouse curtain maxi (made from 1971 Butterick dressmaking pattern) worn with cropped and spray painted 1960s leather coat (charity shop, 2014), Swedish apple green clogs and Indian tribal jewellery
Good news! I was able to wear red on Friday as Labour won by a 10,000 majority in our constituency, Walsall South. I don't know about you but I'm utterly transfixed by the fallout.

Linking to Patti & The Gang for Visible Monday.

See you soon!

82 comments:

  1. Ooooh, that two piece ❤❤❤ I am smitten! What lovely stories these pieces tell and your dress is utterly mad xxx

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    1. Thanks, Melanie! I knew you'd love the two piece! xxx

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  2. Wish I had some of her clothes, they are all so fun! Especially her lime green maxi! :)

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    1. That's my favourite piece, too! x

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  3. hooray for red friday!!
    gorgeous story about a bunch of very gorgeous clothes! my hard did happy dances as i´d read about lovingly mended cotton skirts, the very useful utility suit or the fab pattern mixed evening suit.......
    your mickey mouse dress is cool and genius - especially with that hair do!
    xxxxx

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    1. You can learn so much about someone from the way they looked after their clothes, can't you? Betty was flamboyant, fun loving and thrifty, too. xxx

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  4. So interesting to read about Betty and her dresses. I reckon it makes the clothes even more special if they have a history behind them that can be passed onto the next owner.

    Love your Mickey dress - that's very inspired! Who can't fail to love Mickey! xxx

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    1. I wish all clothes came with a back story!
      I'm not a fan of Disney films but can't resist Mickey Mouse! xxx

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  5. Love clothing histories. That's something you won't really ever get with Primani!! Zxx

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  6. Oh Mickey, you look marvelous on Vix! You can write a book of dress stories.

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  7. I love, love the history of clothing. Betty was my kind of woman - out dancing in her best dresses. Love the Mickey dress too, and you look marvelous as ever. xox

    Patti
    http://notdeadyetstyle.com

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    1. Thanks, Patti! Betty sounded like the kind of lady you could have shared a bottle (or two!0 of wine with! xxx

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  8. How fascinating to learn about Betty's life. I loved her clothes my favourites were the beautiful brocade two piece and 1970s does 1930s maxi - fabulous!

    I'm loving your curtain couture dress - how clever you are. You didn't mention your little jacket it's lovely, too.

    Bedford, too, swung back to Labour - yay!!!

    The fallout from the election is better than any soap opera...

    Have a great week.

    xxxx

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    1. Yay! Bedford people are obviously sensible types!
      The cropped jacket came already customised from a very odd charity shop in Walsall that closed down a few years ago. Anything remotely vintage was horrendously expensive but the jacket escaped the manager's beady eyes and was just £5. xxx

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  9. Obsessed with the buns and Disney character dress!!!! I actually luv Disney!!!! Bun are TOPS!!!!!!!! Jon's velvet jacket is fucking amazing----CandyMan needs a velvet blazer for real, too. The lewk :D

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    1. CandyMan would totally rock a velvet jacket, they are so sexy! xxx

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  10. Betty had great fashion sense and I'm sure the lucky person that purchases those clothes will be thrilled to know the happy life they previously led.

    I'm speechless (in the best way) at your Mickey Maxi.

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    1. All I've got to do is find Betty's body double....
      In these mad times we need mad clothes, like Mickey Mouse maxis! xxx

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  11. I love Betty's clothes especially that beautiful tea dress. We saw the Cc41 label when we went to the Fashion on a Ration exhibition at the imperial war museum at Salford.
    How lovely to know the story behind those lovely clothes and your Mickey Mouse frock made me giggle.
    Wait till you see the little canvas a friend is making me about Mickey Mouse. You'll laugh your head off xxx

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    1. When I first started work most of my clothes were CC41 suits and swing coats from jumble sales. They were built to last! xxx

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  12. Just realised it's not a tea dress but a two piece. It's fab xxx

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  13. I often wonder about the story behind will loved items how wonderful to know.

    I thought the result was hilarious until deals started getting done with people who make Ukip look fair, well balanced and forward thinking. Scary times.

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    1. Scary times indeed! Thrilled that TM got her comeuppance after the arrogance she showed the electorate but doing deals with the DUP and bringing Gove back are truly terrifying for all of us! xxx

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  14. I love the Mickey Maxi, especially combined with the two buns! How lovely to be able to buy those clothes and know the story behind them. I'm especially taken with the cotton two-piece (I do love a two-piece), and the green Crimplene mini. And what a fabulous velvet jacket! I'm not surprised it ended up in Jon's wardrobe. xxx

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    1. Jon keeps donating his velvet jackets to the Kinky rails when we sell out, how long this one remains is anyone's guess! xxx

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  15. wow, that lime green one blinded me....in a good way. What a wonderful collection of clothes. The lady had taste.

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    1. It's sooo bright! great choice for a fancy cruise. xxx

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  16. Only you would wear a mickey dress lol , I love bettys best suit xxx

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    1. You know me and kids' curtains! xxx

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  17. I absolutely LOVE this type of post!! The domestic history of ordinary people is just endlessly fascinating! What a great lady and what magnificent taste. I adore the floral 2piece!! Thank for immortalizing Betty's sartorial history here!

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    1. Thanks, Kezzie! The lives of seemingly ordinary women are far more interesting than reading about lame celebrity antics, aren't they? xxx

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  18. I loved reading the story behind the clothes. The utility suit certainly got some good mileage
    The Mickey Mouse dress is very inventive and I love the cropped sprayed coat!
    Cambridge was Labour too. I'm also glued to the news. xxx

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    1. Yay! Good news for Cambridge. xxx

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  19. I've got computer problems so can't see all of Betty's wonderful wardrobe but her good suit is gorgeous. What an incredibly fortunate meeting with her daughter... not only to enable you to buy these fabulous garments but also to learn about Betty herself.
    What a bloody shambles at Westminster, I can't believe she's given Weasel Gove a cabinet position. Glad you are pleased with your constituency's result. xx

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    1. Oh no, hope those woes get fixed very soon.
      Gove? What was she thinking...keep your friends close and your enemies even closer? xxx

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  20. Wow! So interesting to learn about the lady behind such a fabulous array of clothes. She sounds pretty darn cool to me.
    www.wholelottarosiesite.wordpress.com

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  21. You know how much I love secondhand, and above all knowing that those pieces of clothing were once treasured is a plus. Well done!!!
    It is very hot in all Spain this days, but in our neck of the woods is stuck in the 27-28. and for that i am soooooooooooo grateful. My family inland is well into the 40s already.
    Fingers crossed this heat wave bypass us
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXx

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    1. Yes, knowing the stories behind the clothes make them even more fascinating!
      I cannot wait to have me some of those temperatures next week...counting the days! xxx

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  22. I loved reading this Vix, thank you for telling us a bit about Betty. I'm particularly fascinated by the suit, and how different family members wore it. I guess it was quite common to do that with high value clothing, like wedding dresses and suits, as not everyone could afford their own brand new one. I recently learnt all about the CC41 label, as I was lucky enough to come across a few pieces. None fit me alas but I enjoyed doing the research and looking at the construction of some beautifully made garments.

    Looks like there's some warm weather incoming this week, hurrahh!! I have a mini break planned so I'm most excited at the prospect of wearing sundresses at the seaside (a novelty in Britain!!) x

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    1. CC41 clothes were quite common finds at jumble sales back in the 1970s and 1980s and I built up quite a collection which I used to wear most days to work before they inflicted pinstripes on me. They were surprisingly well made. The suit is in pretty good nick considering how old it is, no holes or tears! xxx

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    2. PS Have a brilliant time on your hols! Hope the sun's shining and the arms and legs are out! xxx

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  23. Oh yes, I'm utterly transfixed too! It's better than any soap opera! Labour here too, although not impressed with Chris Leslie and his disloyal comments. Anyway, let's get comfortable, I think this going to keep us fascinated for a while yet, Mickey! Gosh, Betty's clothes are great. If you were closer,I'd love to try that CC41 suit on. What a piece of history. And that blue velvet jacket is the best colour, bet Jon looks fab in it. Xxxx

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    1. Disloyal comments? The cheeky low life! I'll have to Google him! xxx

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  24. I'm in Toryville here, they won by 10,000 votes :( But I'm super glad Labour had such a brilliant result overall :)

    Love Betty's stories, she sounds like a fabulous lady!

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    1. Bah! And to think I like Wellington! xxx

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  25. Hi Vix, thanks for sharing some of Betty's story through her clothes, how fascinating. I absolutely love the blue velvet jacket, I'm sure John's very pleased with himself. Haha! Xxx

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  26. What a charming story. I adored your Micky dress. Can't comment on politics as don't take toooo much interest in what can't change. Just glad the name trump didn't come in to it.

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    1. Thanks, Sally. I do feel we can change things, British politics was reeling after last weeks' results, things are changing for the better. Yes, however bad things get at least we haven't got a Trump (although BoJo ain't much better!) xxx

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  27. Betty sounds like a wonderful lady. So nice to hear the history behind the clothes, and didn't they have the right idea - wearing clothes they loved until they could be worn no more. Perfect.

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    1. I know! Darning and mending are becoming a lost art. Clothes are almost disposable these days. xxx

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  28. Thanks for another fabulous post.Micky dress speaks of vitality,joy .

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    1. Thanks, Hope! I even had fun sewing Mickey Mouse! xxx

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  29. What a mad micky dress :) but you so can carry it off, I can imagine you wearing it at a show and how much attention you would get, brill. Bettys clothes were great, love to hear the stories behind things, I wouldn't want to part with anything, although I'm not sure I could see myself in the lime green dress. its such a shame nowadays with the cheap fashion we have, really quite sad to see so much waste. Thank you for sharing the stories on here, its lovely that they are not lost for ever, I'm sure her daughter enjoyed reading this blog post too.

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    1. Thanks, Julie! That lime green dress is my favourite, the colour is almost radioactive! xxx

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  30. Oh Mickey, you're so fine. You're so fine you blow my mind, hey Mickey, Hey Mickey! Oh Mickey, you're so fine. You're so fine you blow my mind, hey Mickey!!! Ok, so Toni Basil I ain't but that dress made of curtains is fab!

    What fantastically gorgeous taste Betty had! Love those smart suits & that maxi is to die for!
    xox

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    1. Stop it, I'm singing it again!
      That maxi is utterly mad, isn't it? I love it! xxx

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  31. Making a maxi from a Mickey curtain to go with your hairdo. How clever! Your creativity never ceases to amaze me. Love the stories about Betty and her wardrobe. And I too love the fact that people actually used to mend their clothing. Nowadays they toss it in the rubbish if it's missing a button! I do love the damask suit and the lime maxi. Those marvelous sleeves. But what I would sell my first child for (if I had one) is that black lurex 30s inspired maxi!!!!
    BTW, I've been following what's going on in politics across the pond. Quite the shock for Ms May. All I can say is just be thankful it wasn't like the craziness that was our last election cycle, the fallout of which we are still dealing with.

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    1. Tell me about it, I've seen £100 shoes donated to charity shops just 'cos someone couldn't be bothered to pay £4 to get them reheeled. Madness! xxx

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  32. Every man needs a blue velvet blazer in his closet! And you are adorable with your "ears" and that dress just made my day!

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  33. My mum has made me many a skirt out of curtain material. Love the boldness. Mickey is great xx

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    1. Cheap, plentiful and huge prints. Curtains as dress making fabric rock! xxx

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  34. Love the hair and Mickey dress! That blue velvet blazer will look great on Jon, glad he's keeping it

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    1. Thanks, CC! Good to have you back! xxx

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  35. This is one of the reasons I love vintage so much...the stories of the people that wore the items are so interesting!

    That Mickey dress is fabulous! Along with your Mickey ears : P

    bisous
    Suzanne

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  36. Beautiful story and beautiful clothes! Too bad nothing fits you, but then there will be happy customers! I agree with you, nothing new in mixing prints, it's been known for centuries, just a look at classical paintings or folk costumes tells it all. It is a little brave though when you do something that's not as common in your own time and/or your own crowd.

    You look insanely adorable in your MM outfit!!

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    1. Thank you! You're right, Renaissance art and illustrated folk story books are full of wild colours and prints. xxx

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  37. You are just WAAAAAAY too frickin' adorable in that Mickey Mouse dress and hair buns!!!!Thank you for showing us some of Betty's wardrobe and sharing stories about her life. I so enjoy learning about the people who owned the pieces of vintage clothing you have in your stock.

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    1. Thank you!! I haven't worn my hair like this in ages, now I'm addicted to it! xxx

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  38. mwahaha, you look adorable wearing those hair buns, and the mickey dress, that's such a stunning combo, with a twist! Lovely attitude and humour!
    And so amazing that all those clothes (with a story to tell) came to you, as they're so fab pieces, worn and enjoyed by real people!, and I agree about all that 'age appropriate' shit, because it is something nobody cared in the past!
    besos

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    1. Thanks, Monica! I do think all this age appropriate rubbish is a modern invention to keep us down. Those who advocate it should sod off! xxx

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  39. I love your Mickey buns and dress.

    Betty was clearly a lady of fabulous taste. If I had a family garment like that first suit, I don't think I'd be able to part with it. Good job you're the right lady to find it a new home.

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    1. Thanks, Mim!
      There were a few things her daughter couldn't bear to part with including Betty's going away outfit from 1950 and her Swiss lace wedding dress. xxx

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  40. I would have loved to meet Betty! This is another fabulous post with gorgeous photos and story, Vix. Utility clothing came up recently in research I've been doing for my next book which begins during WW2 in Britain so to see, particularly the blue suit, up close is wonderful. Such quality fabrics! And I adore the skirt and blouse, Betty's "day trip outfit". Again, I'm sure you can't get fabric like that any more. The blue velvet jacket is so evocative of a time of velvet jacketed pop bands and J.B.'s (maroon) velvet suit which he wore when we married way back then. And, last but not least, your Mickey Mouse outfit, complete with hair, is amazing (and those new clogs looking beautiful too). Looking forward to hearing which lucky people give Betty's clothes new homes. xx

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    1. What a coincidence for you to be researching Utility clothing and for this post to pop up! The suit was exceedingly well made, hard to imagine something worn on a daily basis over 60 years ago looking so fresh! xxx

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  41. OMG what a fabulous collection of clothes, so hard to pick a favourite but the lurex suit and lime green dress stand out. xx

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  42. Wow, Betty had the most fabulous wardrobe (although not a patch on yours). She sounds like a lovely woman. I love that her sister made some of her clothes for her. I am sure that was quite common once as all of my older aunties were accomplished seamstresses and some were even milliners. That Mickey dress is fabulous. I live it with your hair like that. I bet that Lady Gaga nicked it from you. Xx

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