Friday, 20 October 2017

India-A-Go-Go! Vamps, Vintage & 1960s Bollywood

Yesterday, when G&T offered me this silver Sixties trouser suit they'd recently found in a charity shop I couldn't take it off their hands fast enough. At first I thought it was a bit Jane Fonda in Barbarella but once I tried it on, H-Bomb Helen, the legendary vamp who appeared in of hundreds of Bollywood films in the 1960s & 1970s, sprung to mind. HERE's a post I dedicated to her seven years ago.

So I put up my hair, applied lashings of matt blue eye shadow (Revlon's Venetian Blue, bought in 2008, now discontinued but you can find it on eBay) and, using a felt pen eyeliner, drew a thick black line both beneath and above my eyes, flicking them out parallel to one another. I used an original 1960s matt lipstick, Max Factor's Teasing Pink (great colour but like all vintage lippie, stinks to high heaven) then added my usual Sleek creme blusher and a pair of cheapo false eyelashes from a discount chemist.

Sadly I haven't got Helen's exotic ancestry (half Burmese, half French) so no doe-like brown eyes, just bog standard British blue ones.

So what's with today's Bollywood love? I'm celebrating! I've only gone and booked our flights to India 'cos there's nothing like distracting yourself with an intense internet search when you've got a full-on weekend of vintage fairs to pack for. Wanna know the best thing? Two Birmingham to Mumbai return tickets with Air France are half the price of the Manchester to Goa cattle class flight we used in January. In fact, at just over £300 each I think they're one of the cheapest deals we've found in 20 years of visiting India (Kayak, I love you). Three months and counting...... 

WEARING: Vintage Carnegie of London, silver Lurex embellished trouser suit (charity shop find by our friends) worn with a pair of early 1970s silver platform sandals by Ravel (Charity shop, 2010)

Talking of India (sorry if I'm alienating non-Brits) but I have to say that last night's new BBC series, Ganges With Sue Perkins, bored the silver lurex pants off me. She seems like a nice enough woman (not that I've ever watched that cake baking programme people seem obsessed by) but haven't celebrity India travelogues been done to death? There's only so many banal comments about cows in unexpected places, interviews with middle class Westerners who've jacked in a corporate life to do something worthwhile and pulling an "ooh, that must hurt" face at bendy yogisYes, Sue's on a quest to achieve inner peace after the death of her father six months ago but having to endure her chucking up due to altitude sickness, moaning about her bones aching and being a bit sarky about the standard of her backpacker hostel don't exactly endear her to me. While the climate change & environmental issues Sue touches on are important I'm inclined to think that if our TV channels didn't show so many celebrity travel documentaries they'd be a lot fewer tourists buggering up far flung places.

And just when you thought I couldn't find anything crazier in a charity shop this week than a pair of suede Lederhosen.....ta-dah! A vintage showgirl costume found yesterday for the princely sum of two quid!

Just what every 50 year old needs in her wardrobe (well, this 50 year old does, I can't speak for the rest of you!) Perfect for dancing around the bedroom to Piya Tu Ab To Aaja.

We're doing the double this weekend and trading back-to-back with Judy's Affordable Vintage Fairs at two gorgeous English Spa towns - Leamington Spa on Saturday (details HERE) and Bath on Sunday (details HERE). It would be fab to see you (and I promise not to dress like middle-aged Bollywood showgirl!)

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

I Left My Lederhosen In Wetherspoons

Yesterday was one of those days when we popped to the pub to meet a friend for a few drinks and lunch, only to stagger out eight hours later singing Smiths songs, arm in arm with a total stranger.

What I wore yesterday: Vintage 1970s elephant & Indian temple print maxi (courtesy of Curtise), flashy but trashy coin choker (eBay), metallic space boots (TopShop, January 2017 sale)

It was a strange day, what with the unseasonably warm temperatures (apparently the hottest October day since UK records began) and, due to Saharan sand blown over with Storm Ophelia, the sun cast an eerie orange glow in the sky. Over the weekend hundreds of fans went on the rampage after a boxing match at Walsall Town Hall went bad, tragically culminating in the fatal stabbing of a 19 year-old spectator (link HERE). As Wetherspoons is next door to the town hall the beer garden was cordoned off while the police continued their search for the murder weapon which, understandably, led to a rather sombre air but, despite this, the pub was full to capacity, more like a Friday night than a Monday lunchtime, as two of the other town centre pubs had been closed due the ongoing enquiries.

What I'm wearing today: Vintage 1960s Crimplene maxi dress (Clothes Show Live, 2009), Vintage 1960s go-go boots (Car boot sale, 2010), Antique velvet jacket (£3, charity shop, last seen HERE), Plum wool trilby (£1.99, Aldo via the charity shop)

As usual, the time flew. We bumped into a pal we'd last seen at a festival over the summer and chatted to a day tripper from Birmingham who we bonded with over 1980s indie music, obscure films and vintage clothes. We contributed to a collection for a floral tribute to the murdered young man started by Manjit, one of the (unofficial) 'Spoons Monday Club and, as usual, giggled at the inebriated pensioners declaring their undying love to me, Bab, you'm* the most beautiful woman I've ever seen. I devoured vegetarian sausages with mash and peas whilst Jon attacked a huge burger and chips. Our last pint for the road ended up as another two and a half more.

*You am - Black Country dialect for you are.

We walked back braving the ferocious gale force winds and were home just in time to catch the last part of the BBC's gory time-lapse thriller, Rellik (sadly, the ending was a bit of a let down) and afterwards, having a quick tidy up before bed, realised that I couldn't find the bag Jon was carrying earlier in the day. With a jolt he realised that he'd left it under the table in 'Spoons.

A frantic phone call later and the bag was located by the shift manager - What's in the bag? Just so we know we've got the right one She asked.  A pair of extra large brown suede lederhosen, Jon replied. Funnily enough he was otherwise engaged this morning so I had to call in to collect the bag from the manager's office in 'Spoons on my own. I don't think the staff will ever look at us in the same way again. 

Just for the record we don't usually walk around with plus sized Bavarian clothing in our possession but if you spot something in the chazza shop opposite the pub, you've just got to buy it when you can, haven't you? 

Storm Ophelia's managed to bugger up our boiler and the crucial element needs to be ordered in. Bloody typical now the temperature's dropped, isn't it? Never mind, the wood burner is on and we've still got a few wet wipes left over from the festival season. I'm sure we'll survive!

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday.

See you soon.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Brought To Book - First Hand Thoughts, Second Hand Clothes

Whilst I disregard 99.9% of the plug my product emails I get, I'm always up for a good book and the premise of In The Jumble, The Joys of Finding, Buying and Wearing Second Hand Clothes sounded right up my street. 

Why couldn't they iron that jacket, untwist the sleeve & use a better coat hanger?

After I'd torn open the package Izzy, our postie, handed over on Wednesday lunchtime I have to admit that I was disappointed, I'd expected a glossy coffee table book packed with photos of the author's, Victoria Lochhead, fabulous jumble sale finds but instead I received a flimsy paperback illustrated with a couple of black & white pie charts defining the lifestyle of a client (the author's a trained personal stylist), although the handwritten letter from Victoria herself was a nice touch.
Glossy illustrations? That's all, folks

Oh well, I'll give it a go, I thought and so I poured myself a rum and diet cola and read it in forty minutes.
Although an engaging writer, I found it hard to identify with Victoria. I couldn't empathise with her having to trundle along to Next in a baby sick stained t-shirt unable to fit into her pre-baby wardrobe and I've certainly never felt the need (or had the available cash) to employ the services of a image consultant to help sort me out, like she had. I get the impression that the book is aimed at affluent middle-class mums and definitely not women like me. 
The title of the book, In The Jumble, seems a bit of a misnomer as Victoria appears to buy mostly from eBay and charity shops apart from camisole tops, vest tops, t-shirts, leggings which she claims aren't readily available from second hand sources. Victoria's jumble sale successes are listed in a single paragraph Hobbs cardigan, a White Stuff top, a lovely floral M&S skirt , a designer merino wrap and a red leather M&S handbag which, although hardly thrilling, surely would have been the perfect opportunity for a few photos? 
Victoria claims that she's not into vintage as it doesn't suit me which instantly got my hackles up, as you well know, I'm a woman who sells vintage clothes for a living. How can she dismiss the past two thousand years of clothing so readily? Maybe she's unaware that her beloved charity shopped jacket featured on the cover is vintage*. She also suggests that car boot sales offer slim pickings for clothes, that they're not ironed or sorted, or have prices on and that sometimes clothes can be thrown on a tarpaulin which, considering the author claims to be a jumble sale aficionado I find a bit curious.
*When I followed the link to her eBay shop she'd recently sold a Jean Varon dress which hadn't been listed as vintage so maybe she's just a bit clueless with regards to what vintage clothes actually are.
The book then transcends into well-intentioned but, to me, the same old tedious advice you'll find for free on many a self-proclaimed style expert's blog - capsule wardrobes, colour analysis, dressing for your shape, assessing your lifestyle needs and even references that bloody Maria Kondo - all folding up your clothes and blessing your belongings. Joyless, limiting & dull.
In short, Victoria's advice is completely at odds with mine - I'm all about wearing what the heck you like, regardless of your shape, colouring or lifestyle and, if you only wear it once every couple of years, but it still brings you infinite joy then so be it. If you can afford to and it makes you happy then why can't you fill your wardrobe with vintage ballgowns, platform boots and crazy 1970s dresses? And, if you need guidance when you're shopping, take along a brutally honest mate (like me) and spend the money you'd pay a professional stylist on getting bladdered in the pub afterwards.
The one thing I do agree with Victoria on is lessening waste and reducing landfill so, if you want my copy of In The Jumble, I'll happily send it to the first person who expresses an interest in the comments section (now claimed by Cathy) and, when you've read it, I'd be curious to know what you thought. 
WEARING: Vintage Dollyrockers gauzy cotton maxi (eBay), 1970s velvet jacket (Liebchen Vintage), Leopard ankle boots (swapped with a customer), vintage tooled leather bag (car boot sale), Indian tribal jewellery
So, on to my secondhand wardrobe, chosen all by myself. 
This what I wore yesterday to meet up with festival trading pals Gaz & Claire, visit Legacies, the JMW Turner and contemporary art exhibit currently running at Walsall's New Art Gallery followed, of course, by a boozy lunch in 'Spoons. After all, Thursday is Curry Club.

I found my hat in a charity shop on Wednesday. It still had the £25 Aldo price tag attached (and I'm so unused to new stuff I accidentally left the tag on when I wore it).

You've already seen the £1.29 beaded curtain and may have noticed my Kashmiri papier mache bangles (£1.49 for eight, I bought two for 50p a few weeks ago). Here's what else we found on our trawls around the Black Country chazzas this week:

Clockwise from top right: 1950s petit point evening bag by Michael Myers of London (wasn't he the baddie in Halloween?); Vintage polka dot mini by Diolen Loft; Handmade waistcoat; 1970s deadstock Permanent Press shirt; 1980s Luigi Rossi shirt; black velvet kaftan with braided trim; 1970s deadstock dagger collar shirt; 1960s beaded shoulder bag; 1960s red vinyl framed handbag

Clockwise from top left: 1960s Peter Baron wool midi (Jon wanted me to keep this but it's too big); 1970s C&A fake fur jacket; 1970s leather bomber jacket, made in Kettering; 1980s West German casual shirt; 1980s Wrangler cowboy shirt; 1950s Crombie overcoat; 1960s Jaeger courtelle polo neck; 1970s Fight Club style metallic leather jacket, made in Brazil; Groovy shirt by Replay.
This morning we visited the tip shop and saved a half a kilo of other people's trash from going into landfill, Jon got a guitar stand and at £1 I couldn't resist this 1960s framed Boots print labelled "Trendy Animals". Grrrrroovy, baby!

This is what I'm wearing today.

WEARING: Vintage Jon Adam teenage maxi (£2.99, charity shop), Printed velvet ankle boots (£7, TopShop end of season sale), Great-Grandma's carpet bag, charity shopped wool felt hat worn with early 20th Century Liberty, London silk scarf (car boot sale)
It's a good thing that I haven't done a pie chart to represent my lifestyle needs and the contents of my wardrobe. If I dressed in clothes appropriate to the life I lead I'd spend most of it in an apron and rubber gloves (and how depressing would that be?)

We've got no fairs booked for this weekend, we're doubling up next week instead. I might try and get our next trip to India sorted although it's already threatening to send me a bit mad.

See you soon!

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Granny Chic - Crafty Inspiration My Way

Granny Chic? That's not the term that immediately springs to mind when I look at the interior of our home. 

But when I flicked through this gorgeous book my friend Lynn sent me I could hardly believe my eyes, it's like it was written with our house in mind.

Even the sewing machine they use is the identical model of the Jones' vintage machine we found dumped in a hedge a couple of months ago (HERE). Spooky! 

A staple gun can become your best friend in no time at all, they write. Be sure to keep stocked up on staples for you never know when a fabby piece of fabric will find you and you'll be rushing home to spend five quality minutes making a chair look peachy with nothing more than your new fabric find, your handy dandy staple gun and a cup of tea by your side.

That's exactly what I did when I snaffled this Afghan war rug for £2 from a charity shop last year. Out came the staple gun and in minutes my £1 threadbare bentwood chair was transformed. Not sure if there's many grannies out there who'd approve of a rug featuring AK-47s, rocket launchers and tanks.

Transforming worse for wear lampshades into patchwork covered art forms?

Yep, been there, done that! You'll find my tutorial HERE.

Dearest readers, writes the author, I am rather fond of garlands, bunting or happy strings around our nest. Call them what you will, at the end of the day they all amount to the same thing, making life and the granny chic home a little jollier. I'm rather partial to making them from scraps of leftover fabrics, old postcards and book pages, along with any other blingy things that may catch my magpie eye.

I agree. This is some bunting I made for our festival trading tent using leftover scraps of wired hairband fabric, Wilko pom-poms & felt from the market sewn on to the longest pair of neon shoe laces in the world (25p in a charity shop).

Giving a new lease of life to tatty vintage bath towels?

Snap! Our patchwork bathmat made from chopped up vintage towels sewn onto another towel and trimmed with fringing chopped off an old bedspread. 

 Old vintage suitcases can be found relatively easily at charity shops, thrift shops and rummage sales. Sometimes its hard to think what you might do with such a thing when stumbling across it out and about browsing the shelves of despair, but if you ever find one in peachy perfect condition, snap it up, for there are many uses for this fine example of a bygone era and the wonder of its aesthetics for even everyday things. You're not wrong there.

Mine contain handbags, scarves, hair accessories and vintage dressmaking patterns.

Cheery coloured clogs and vintage clothes too pretty to hide away in the wardrobe? 

Keep them out on show (pom poms optional!)

As well as nodding along in agreement, there's also plenty to inspire me in Granny Chic. 

It's too gloomy to have a dividing door between our kitchen and dining room so I loved this chain stitched screen weighted down with vintage buttons. I'd made a mental note to get some wool when I popped into town yesterday but guess what? When I passed our local hospice chazza I spotted this retro beaded curtain for £1.29 in the window, cheaper than a couple of balls of wool from the cheap shop.

Once up the curtain looked a bit sparse so Jon broke up some 1980s beaded necklaces from the stockroom and I threaded some Wilko pom-poms on to fishing wire and hey presto, a bespoke door curtain that sums up our style perfectly.

Take several of your favourite sheets, cut them into strips and sew them back together, giving a striped patchwork effect, perfect for laying across tables at parties, the book suggests.

Great idea! I decided to do something similar. Using our well passed its best vintage bed cover and a couple of 1970s St Michael single covers given to me by a friend, I removed the fringe, cut all three into wide strips and sewed them back together, trimming the completed bed cover with some 50p a metre pink pom pom trim from off the market. 

In this space, the book goes on to say, Every piece of furniture, some in view (and others sneakily hiding from you), started life in different decades. This is a perfect example of how a mish-mash of styles, when placed all together, become one big happy family, thus highlighting the wonder of granny chic and its embracing ways.

Those words of wisdom could apply to both the dining room (vintage Afghan rug, Arts & Crafts bench, 1970s cushions, the framed programme from Queen Victoria's coronation in 1837 and the limestone skirting board from when the house was built in 1760) and my outfit (1970s maxi remade into a Afghan style dress using a contemporary Indian bag I chopped up to make into a bodice & homemade pom pom earrings).

If you don't want to line Amazon's pockets you can find Granny Chic HERE (free worldwide delivery and 5% off your first order).

See you soon!

Friday, 6 October 2017

Chop, Chop! Facing My Hairdressing Fears

There's two things in life I'm scared of - spiders and hairdressing salons. Last Sunday, having a wash before setting off for London, I grabbed a towel and a massive eight-legged bastard ran across my face. All I can say is thank feck it was 3.30 am and I was barely awake or the entire population of Walsall would have been awoken by my screams. 

Underneath the raven locks lies a natural blonde. I didn't dye my hair for a couple of months over the summer as I was curious about whether I'd gone grey but no, I'm still the same old blonde. These photos were taken in 1986 (at a student house party) and 1992 (on a Club 18 - 30 holiday to Faliraki).  I'm wearing vintage in both photos!

Having enduring Sunday morning's horror and living to tell the tale, I decided it was time I faced my other fear, the salon. I don't know what it is about going to the hairdresser but once I'm inside, draped in a polyester gown and confronted by a giant mirror, I come over all submissive & feeble minded, invariably talked into something I really didn't want. I've had serial killer fringes, pink highlights, poodle perms & just about everything in-between. 

I loved my first spiral perm, I only used to wash it once a fortnight and it formed dreadlocks as I never combed it. Both photos taken in the 1980s - as if you couldn't tell - in one of my shared student houses.

On my last visit, back in 2005, I went into a well-known hairdressing chain for a trim and came out with the most atrocious layers that made me look like a poor imitation of that woman from Friends (and to make it worse I wasn't even a fan). I couldn't put my hair up properly for over a year. After that indignity I bought a pair of 50 rupee hairdressing scissors from a chemist in Mumbai and got Jon to give me a trim when the ends started to look a bit ratty.  After twelve years without professional attention I knew that my hair was looking scruffy and unkempt but was terrified about going into a salon and being told off about the state of my DIY cut and dodgy home dye job.

High maintenance? These are the only hair products I use - Karma solid shampoo, Jungle solid conditioner & American Dream deep conditioner, all from Lush. I only wash my hair once or twice a week so they last a year.

Yesterday I grabbed my coat, breezed into Walsall and, being thrifty, headed straight for the town's hairdressing academy - only for them to be fully booked. As I passed the newish hipster salon around the corner I saw a cool looking young woman pulling up the shutters so asked if they had any walk-ins available (I knew that if I didn't get a haircut there & then my resolve would crumble). Luckily for me she had a vacancy and, as it was my first appointment, there was a 25% discount, making it work out only a tenner more than having a student cut it at the academy.

Dixe hair powder, I think cost just under £10 three years ago, perfect for hiding my blonde root regrowth when I'm too lazy to dye it.

I needn't have been scared of a telling off, she said that my hair was in great condition, complimented me on its shine and told me that I only needed a couple of inches lopped off the ends. As for my home dye job - half a box of Superdrug's Semi-Permanent in Natural Black (£5 for 2) applied to the roots every few weeks -  she thought it was my natural colour! I didn't get talked into layers, a fringe or any expensive products, the soundtrack was excellent (Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana & Red Hot Chili Peppers), the massive mirror wasn't as off putting as it used to be (maybe I'm used to my face after eight years of Jon photographing me for my blog) and she dried my hair so it looked undone & natural and not typically "hairdresser-y", poker straight and stinking of product.

I was so impressed that I gave the hairdresser a generous tip and promised not to leave it another twelve years until my next visit.

Especially for Vronni, I'm wearing the Frank Usher maxi I wore to work on Sunday. A fiver well spent!

We're trading in Chester tomorrow, if we don't see you there I'll see you on the other side.

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday.