Tuesday 29 October 2019

Super Styling - My Latest Finds in Outfit Form

 You've always dressed like that haven't you, Vix? One of my favourite charity shop ladies said to me this morning. She told me that it was because I was the only person she knew who could walk up to a crammed rail and pull out a single item, never needing to shuffle through everything on display. It's true, when you know your own style, secondhand shopping is a breeze. 

It works for on-line shopping, too - in a sea of a hundred thousand eBay listings I can spot that single perfect piece which will fit seamlessly into my wardrobe, like the vintage '70s Indian block print midi skirt I snagged last week. I love that it's quilted, it was like wearing a tea cosy this morning, perfect for such a chilly day! 

WEARING: Quilted midi skirt, felted wool hat & vintage 1970s polo neck (all eBay), 1960s-does-Edwardian boots (car boot sale), Russian folklore belt & 1960s suede coat (charity shop)
Silver from Lebanon, Yemen, Nepal, India and Morocco, nails by Barry M.

I had a plan in mind when I spotted this gauzy Indian cotton blouse on eBay, feeling it would work well under my 1970s Anokhi pinafore dress.

It did! (and the hat wasn't a bad match either.)

Why stick with one vintage Indian block print when you can have three? 

Vintage sellers please take note - the label on the bottom right is a genuine 1970s label, if a garment doesn't bear this then it isn't a Vintage 1970s Anokhi and, if it hasn't got a label at all then it's neither a "Genuine Anokhi" or "Anokhi-Type". I do get exasperated by sellers wrongly describing Indian block printed clothing and even more so when I see modern Anokhi clothes listed as vintage or even worse, Rare, when you can still buy them in the store. Arghhh!

It's not just me who knows what they like when they're rummaging around the chazzas. Jon found these two pre-loved beauties this morning - a cotton biker jacket which originally retailed in Reiss for £195 and a paisley button-down shirt from Liam "Oasis" Gallagher's clothing line, Pretty Green, still available on the official website for £70 - that's £265 worth of gear for less than the price of a Primarni tee shirt (the only reason I know this is because I looked on the website, I have yet to set foot in the place). 

In other news here's what I've read recently. This Is What Happened was incredible, a taut psychological thriller I finished in two sittings. If you can track a copy down I can't recommend it highly enough. Breakfast with the Nikolides is one of Rumer (Black Narcissus) Godden's Indian novels, as my next trip gets closer my reading tends to lean towards books with an Indian theme.

Neither of the lads would stay still long enough to capture them on camera although you can see that Stephen Squirrel is getting used to the gravel.

Much better behaved is next door's silver tabby, Layla. What do expect, she's a lady.

 See you soon!

Friday 25 October 2019

Talkin' Bout A Revolution

In a fashion system that operates on disposability, where we’re told that beautiful garments have trend-based expiration dates, keeping our clothes is a revolutionary act. The global movement, Fashion Revolution, who campaign for greater transparency in the fashion industry, say that the only antidote to a throwaway society is to keep. 

By wearing my 1960s Wetherall of Bond Street cape I'm doing just that. I bought it from a charity shop almost 20 years ago and its been a regular fixture on my blog for over a decade. As capes come in and out of fashion with alarming regularity, the way it's regarded when I wear it differs according to current trends, sometimes it's stroked and swooned over and at other times I'm subject to many an odd look.  Do I care? Of course not, I'm a revolutionary!

Although I'm wearing two items of clothing that are new to me, they're not new new. The early '70s Indian block printed suit by Phool came from a fellow vintage trader and the black wool trilby, originally from high end British clothing chain Reiss, was listed for sale on line at a fraction of the retail price by a lady who'd bought it in error and never got around to returning it. My entire outfit cost less than the original purchase price of the hat.

I couldn't help myself. On Wednesday I made the mistake of trying on Monday's chazza shop find, the late 1960s Suede & Leathercraft coat and fell in love so I've decided to hold on to it for a while before it goes into the stockroom. The beauty of selling vintage clothes is that everything has already had at least one previous home so another owner only serves to add to its already rich history.

Underneath my newly acquired coat is a vintage cotton dress by Interlinks, London (a company that supplied British boutiques with imported Indian-made clothes in the 1970s & 1980s) and last seen on my blog HERE. The River Island velvet ankle boots & 1970s tooled leather belt with a lion buckle were both charity shop finds. The 1950s leather bag was a 50p jumble sale buy years ago.

My hair seems to be changing by the day! I haven't dyed the length (only the roots) since December and I quite like how the colour has lifted. I was horrified to discover that Lush had discontinued the Karma shampoo bar I've been using for over a decade and bought a cheaper non-Lush one to eke out my remaining bar. It was awful, leaving a sticky residue on my hair that I couldn't shift. When Jon commented that my hair looked clumpy & weird it was the final straw. After persevering for over a month I had to admit defeat. I've got enough Karma to last another month or so then I'll just order another of Lush's shampoo bars - it's false economy to mess around looking to save a couple of quid.

Here's proof that us Brits don't need to swap over our wardrobes according to the season, I last wore yesterday's outfit back in June (albeit with a different hat), sheepskin-trimmed suede jacket and all! In fact it was so cold that day I was reduced to wearing the dreaded tights - something I've not been forced to succumb to yet!

We've been doing more charity shopping since I last posted. Here's what we've picked up since Monday.
Clockwise from top left: 1980s Italian leisure shirt; Indian cotton waistcoat trimmed with bells; Current FabIndia wool tweed sleeveless Nehru jacket; Italian-made floral shirt, 1970s Elgee of London wool belted coat; 1980s paisley dressing gown; 1970s wool maxi skirt; 1980s cerise suede boots and emerald shoe boots

Penelope Chilvers leather Chelsea boots; FabIndia block printed maxi skirt; 1980s Jupiter leisure shirt; 1980s cotton midi dress (with pockets); 1960s Keynote raincoat with tags still attached; Gunne Sax watered satin maxi skirt; 1980s Gabicci leisure shirt; Deadstock boiler suit.

The weather's pretty grim today so Jon's cracking on with the accounts whilst I've managed to conquer both the mending pile and hand-washing mountain. Being so pale this 1960s Indian cotton maxi dress isn't the most practical choice for a rainy Autumn day, just as well I'm not planning on going further than the Kinky Shed.

While we've done quite well with the secondhand finds this week I've also do rather well for myself. 

  • This hand-painted Kashmiri tiffin tin will be perfect for zero-waste packed lunches when we trade at vintage fairs, go National Trust visiting or venture to charity shops further afield - they retail on line (HERE) for £39.99 but ours was a mere £2 from the clearance charity shop. 
  • A girl can never have enough wide brimmed hats so I had to buy this one for £2 from the British Heart Foundation. 
  • With the prices of vintage Indian cotton clothing continuing to go through the roof I've managed to find a quilted block printed midi skirt and a 1970s gauzy cotton pussy bow blouse to add to my collection for a combined price of £20. It's all there on eBay, you just need patience.
  • I'd been after a pair of Clarks' Orinoco Club black nubuck boots for my India trip for ages. Apart from them looking good, the heel height is perfect for my unoperated hip, they have side zips so I can take them on and off when we visit temples without too much hassle. I didn't want to pay the current £75 retail price but, after a few weeks of trawling eBay, I found these unworn ones in my size (UK 6.5) for under £30, I'm India ready!
Who needs to buy new when there's so much good stuff secondhand? 

Have a fab weekend and see you on the other side.

Monday 21 October 2019

Wearing, Watching, Reading, Buying...

After two days of laying gravel plus a weekend doing the kind of mundane jobs we spend most of the year avoiding; chopping logs for the wood burner, defrosting the freezer and cleaning windows to name but a few; it was feeling like an age since I'd worn anything decent or had ventured further than the confines of the garden. I was beyond excited to throw on a vintage dress and go out treasure hunting this morning.

WEARING: Original 1970s Indian cotton block printed maxi dress, Doc Marten boots and Anokhi shoulder bag (all eBay), Vintage velvet jacket with wizard sleeves (Liebchen Vintage, 2016), 1970s wool felt hat & vintage Indian screen printed silk scarf (both charity shopped)
The temperature's dropped to 12°C today but I'm still wearing my Indian cotton clothes albeit with a jacket on top and a bodysuit and knee high socks underneath!

I bought the earrings from the Tibetan market in Goa in 2004. The bastard massive bangle is a 19th Century Indian tribal piece I found on eBay - it's actually an anklet but thanks to my manly hands it sits on my wrist perfectly.

WEARING: Vintage 1970s Afghan dress (my Happy Birthday to me gift last year), Doc Martens (as seen previously, you'll be sick of the sight of these by next year) and a 1970s wool felt hat (Age UK, £1 earlier this year)

The last time I'd worn lipstick and a dress was last Wednesday, thank goodness I had the where-with-all to capture it for posterity.  My amazing bejewelled North African perfume/snuff/kohl bottle pendant used to belong to my friend Maxine who runs the Pop-Up Vintage Fairs, she was having a clear out and thought it was my style - it was!!

Outfits aside, how did we fare in the charity shops?

Clockwise from top left: 1950s gents wool car coat by Shannon's (once Walsall's largest clothing manufacturer); 1970s Chinese Cheong-san; 1970s Leyjon of London tie-neck kaftan; A gorgeous 1970s Suede & Leathercraft maxi coat - this fits me perfectly but I've already got a suede coat and a customer waiting list! 1970s Weekender herringbone wool bomber jacket; 1960s hooded modette scooter anorak; 1970s gents suede waistcoat; 1970s Lotus Club anorak (sold!)

Clockwise from top left: Gents wool duffel coat which still had a ticket for a model railway exhibition in Devon in 1989 in the pocket; 1960s Susan Small metallic mini dress and jacket - the photos don't do this suit justice, it's extremely cool and totally Barbarella in real life; 1980s embossed satin jumpsuit; 1960s suede mini skirt; 1970s Moffat Weavers pure new wool frog jumper (I wanted one of these in 1977 but they were far too expensive for an 11 year old!); 1960s Courtelle modette twin set; 1960s belted shift dress; 1960s reversible Chinese brocade jacket

Not bad for a morning's work. I wonder if our luck will continue tomorrow...

Up until the beginning of June I'd recorded everything I'd read this year on the blog but with the excitement of festivals and our trip to Greece, my efforts had fallen by the wayside - that's the recording and not the reading, I don't think there's been a day in my entire life when I haven't had a book on the go. Fortunately I managed to photograph my completed reading piles before re-donating them to the charity shop, the list on the left of the collage are eBooks I've finished. Actually, that's not quite true, I abandoned The Matchmaker of Perigord halfway through as I couldn't get into it - life's too short for boring books. I should have taken more notice of the rave review by Joanne Harris on the cover - I can't get on with her writing style either. 

My favourite reads were The Looking Glass War (I adore Le Carré's books and for some reason had missed this one) and Bodies, written by Jed Mercurio, creator of hit BBC drama series, Line of Duty & Bodyguard. Mercurio started his career as a hospital doctor and Bodies is a shocking story about the pressures facing Rob Lake, an NHS hospital registrar, who discovers that his senior surgeon is totally incompetent. Bodies was aired on TV in the mid-2000s and is currently available to download on the BBC i-Player. I'm not generally a fan of hospital dramas but this is totally compelling with a dose of very dark humour, even though you might need to watch it with a cushion in front of your face whenever you see anyone pick up a scalpel.

Talking of TV we're both thrilled that bleak French cop thriller Spiral is back on the BBC and are enjoying both the BBC's The Dublin Murders, based on Tana French's books, and Belgian murder mystery series Hotel Beau Sejour on Channel 4 (we don't have Netflix or satellite TV, all our viewing is done via Freeview). As well as Bodies, in recent weeks we've loved BBC 4 Danish thriller, Darkness:Those Who Kill and Peaky Blinders (obviously!) I think we'll give Giri/Haji, the BBC's new London/Toyko based thriller a go next - you can keep Hallowe'en, pumpkin lattes and cardigans - the best thing about the Autumn is the telly.

See you soon!

Friday 18 October 2019

Stone Love - Do or D.I.Y

Couples who lay together, stay together - isn't that what they say? Never mind date nights, mini breaks and surprise gifts, twenty seven years of unmarried bliss is down to us tackling all manner of projects together such as this week's gargantuan task - laying ten tonnes of gravel.


When we bought Stonecoft back in 2005, re-graveling the driveway was on our to-do list but after laying the initial hardcore somehow we never quite got round to finishing it. In recent years it was in such a state that we were probably the only household in the UK who had to mow their drive. Enough was enough. After a friend kindly donated some excess weed suppressant membrane we were spurred into action, Jon laid it out, pegged it down and we flew off to Greece leaving it to do its magic.

 Inspired by Corfu's beautiful pebble beaches, on Tuesday morning we ordered ten tonnes of ocean flint chips from a local builder's merchant and forty eight hours later it was dropped off by grab lorry.

Between the two of us we managed to lay the lot in two days. Not bad considering it took us 14 years to get round to it!

Oh, the glamour!! 

We live in an affluent part of town where the residents usually employ people to do their manual jobs so, as you can imagine, we've been the talk of the neighbourhood this week. Passers-by came to see what we were doing, the local minibus slowed down so the passengers could get a closer look and even the bin men and postman gave us their opinions (a thumbs up from both!) 

Today Stonecroft looks more like it did when my maternal Grandparents lived here....

Taken in 1954. 

Mum on her 21st birthday in 1963.

Those gates are still standing.

Dad admiring Grandpa's new Rover.

Mum and Dad showing off their new baby (me!) in December 1966

I'm off for a long soak in the bath followed by a congratulatory beer or three.

See you soon!

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Winterising My Wardrobe

Living in the UK there's no real need for a dedicated Autumn/Winter wardrobe, apart from the odd blip here and there, we never really experience the extremes of temperature my blogging friends in other parts of the world have to cope with. Despite the incessant rain, the past couple of weeks have remained a steady 17°C, pretty much the same as we had throughout August. Whilst my skimpier dresses and bikinis have been stowed away in the suitcase on top of the wardrobe in readiness for January's Indian adventures (which we booked last week - yay!) and the peep toe clogs & sandals packed away in my straw basket at the bottom of the wardrobe, with a bit of creativity there's no reason on earth why I can't keep wearing the rest of my wardrobe all year round. I love my vintage clothes far too much to mothball them for six months.

At the height of the summer I wore this 1970s Rumak cheesecloth dress, which I found in Oxfam, with clogs, sunglasses and a vintage straw basket.

Fast forward two months and I've added a 1970s deadstock skinny rib polo neck (eBay), my vintage lace-up boots and tooled leather bag (both car boot finds), a charity shopped wide-brimmed wool hat and a tooled leather belt from out of the three for £1 basket in the charity clearance shop. I bought the enamel Rajasthani earrings in India. 

I swapped this vintage Phool block printed midi with a trader friend the week that Slow Fashion Season kicked off back in June. 

Showing uncharacteristic restraint I decided to wait until I was back from Greece to wear it - which cheered me up no end.

I teamed the dress with an early 1970s Phool quilted block printed waistcoat (EyewoodWake Vintage), Aldo wool trilby hat (charity shop), a late 1960s Pakistani mirrored velvet bag (jumble sale) and the chazza shopped olive green velvet boots I acquired the same day, they seem destined to spend their lives together. I'm not a typical blogger in that I get no pleasure from wearing tights and I'll prolong the agony of having to wear the hateful things for as long as possible. I spotted a basket of brand new TopShop lurex lace-trimmed ankle socks in a charity shop last year and, at three pairs for £1, bought the lot. The lace trim is perfect for filling that annoying gap at the top of the ankle boots.  

This gauzy Indian cotton dress was a £10 bargain from eBay back in March and worn with clogs was a go-to dress for much of the Summer. On closer examination, it appears by the ginormous hem that she's actually a maxi dress but I'm keeping her midi length, I think she'd look a bit nightie-like if I mess around unpicking it.

This morning I've popped a bodysuit and a pair of leggings underneath and treated her to an exciting visit to the builder's merchant!

The 1950s leather bag was a jumble sale find and the lion buckle leather belt another bargain from the 3 for a £1 basket. The silver Turkoman earrings were a lucky eBay discovery as were the Doc Marten oxblood Darcie boots. I've been kicking myself not buying these boots when they were launched back in 2006, I've only had to wait 13 years to find a pair within budget! Of course the best thing about buying your Docs secondhand is that someone has already gone through the agonies of wearing them in so they're insanely comfy!

During Slow Fashion Season I made a decision not only to refrain from buying new clothes, which as like-minded women, I'm sure you'll agree wasn't really that much of challenge, but not to buy any new cosmetics, instead using up what I'd already got.

Talk about good timing. Just when the challenge came to an end my beloved Barry M launched their new 70% organic Green Origin nail paint, so I splashed out on three classic Vix colours.

Apart from wearing clothes, booking flights to India and embarking on a DIY project (more on that soon!) life's pretty much as normal as our life ever can be. Now that the festival season is over we can go back to buying our fruit and veg from the market - look at all this for less than £10! There were actually three cauliflowers but I couldn't fit them all in the photo....

We've found a few proper vintage gems in the chazzas. Last Tuesday BBC's Bargain Hunt did a feature on the desirability of 1950s Horrockses dresses (HERE) and the following day I found one in a charity shop, talk about a bizarre coincidence.

On Sunday we traded with the fantastic Pop-Up Vintage Fairs in London's super posh Hampstead. Both my late 1960s psychedelic maxi dress and Jon's Leon Patton 1970s wool blazer were charity shop finds during the week both of which we decided needed to be in our wardrobes rather than on the Kinky rails.

Photo courtesy of Pop-Up Vintage

The venue had changed since we'd last traded in Hampstead and our hearts sunk when we were told that we'd be trading on the fourth floor! Luckily the ground and first floors were below street level so the fourth floor was actually the second floor and with a ramp, two lifts and our trusty sack truck (bought after Jon injured his back last year) we were set up and ready to go in less than an hour and a half. Phew!

We had a fantastic trading day selling to vintage enthusiasts from as far afield as Canada, Australia, Japan, India, the USA, Italy and Spain and, of course, the Horrockses dress was one of the first things to go. We chatted to film makers, Helena Bonham Carter's next door neighbour, Johnny Marr's best mate and spotted a few celebs. As always I was thrilled to see these two incredibly stylish women and, as always, they found a few pieces to tempt them on our rails.

Thanks so much for all the 10th blogoversary wishes and all your lovely messages and emails, I promise to reply individually as soon as I can!

See you soon.