Wednesday 30 July 2014

We passed upon the stair

If I were putting together a list of words to describe my wardrobe, it would have to include vintage, 1960-70s, dresses, maxis, print, colour, and cheap.

That's not exhaustive, but you get the general idea.

This dress does a good job of combining all of the above.

A towelling maxi dress in quintessentially early 1970s colours and print, which fits perfectly, and cost £2.50.

 I'd say the whole outfit comes in at under a tenner, including shoes and accessories (all secondhand). 

Now, who else remembers all the orange, yellow and brown around in the 1970s?

I amused myself by browsing Google Images for examples, of which there are many when it comes to home wares (these were all from Ebay and Etsy).

But it occurred to me that I have plenty of my own 1970s kitchen kitsch - just look!

J&G Meakin Studio coffee pot and cups
Baret Ware biscuit barrel and cake tin
Alfred Meakin plates
Kathie Winkle for Broadhurst Ironstone bowls

Apart from the coffee pot, which is for decorative purposes only, everything else is in regular use.

And of course everything was bought in charity shops for not much money at all.

1970s C&A maxi dress - Baklash in Nottingham (bought on a delightful bloggers' day out)
Sandals - Ebay
Sunglasses, belt, necklace, and most of the bangles - charity shopped

Here's another of my 1970s maxi dresses in exactly the same colours.

Kati at Laura Phillips maxi - gift, bought in a vintage shop in Brick Lane, London

It's too warm for any of these.

Mmm... That's better, boys.

 Now, I'm not sure what was going on here...

but you could be forgiven for thinking that I'm waiting at the bottom of the garden for my allotted partner at a wife-swapping party, circa 1974.

So where is David from No. 57?

 Ahh, here he is; I do like a man in orange.

I've no evidence that this dress is from 1974, but I have decided it is, so there.

 And David and Lulu agree!



Sunday 27 July 2014

Sustainable shopping in my green city

Busy busy busy.
Very unusual for me on a Saturday, I'm more often lazy lazy lazy.

But when there is a vintage fair in town, and a focus group to attend, I'm up and off!

First stop; Sheffield's Town Hall for some vintage shopping.

The details of the venue were as interesting as the vintage finery on offer.

Although I must say there were some great bargains to be found, plenty of sellers had sale rails, and I had some birthday money from my mum burning a hole in my pocket.

1970s fabulousness at £5 apiece.
 Floral lace-front maxi dress, St Michael black/gold knit skirt, and green/silver lurex top.
 Can't resist the lure of the lurex. Obviously.

Next stop; Meadowhall.

This shopping centre is not my destination of choice as a rule; in fact, apart from doing my stint as a Christmas temp at Debenhams here, I never, ever go. 

But I was prepared to make an exception for Natalie, who blogs as Pearl at Fashion Pearls of Wisdom; she works at the University of Sheffield in her day job, and was facilitating a series of focus groups about shopping choices.

The research project she and her colleagues are working on is called Transfer; Trading approaches to nurturing sustainable consumption in fashion and energy retail.

The issues we discussed related not only to shopping for clothes/fashion, but also our household energy. These areas of purchasing are being considered together, since "both are things we purchase on a regular basis and their provision impacts on the environment."

Interesting. I had plenty to say about my secondhand shopping habits and why I don't buy fast fashion, but I hadn't considered my choice of energy provider at all, and was amazed to hear how other participants shop around for better deals and change their suppliers reasonably regularly. We were not a group of fanatical shoppers, that's for sure; several people talked about preferring to shop online, some only shopped under duress and disliked the activity, but all of us had an eye for a bargain, we shared environmental and ethical concerns, but this was balanced against price.

I am fascinated by the questions of how and why people shop, particularly for clothes. For leisure and pleasure? Status? Keeping up with trends? Driven by practicality and functionality, or creativity and self-expression? For everyday or occasions? Replacing what has worn out, or buying more than we could possibly need?

And what would encourage us to make more conscientious choices? How will manufacturers/providers, businesses aiming to maximise profit and competitiveness, whose interests are not served by our reduced consumption, engage with an agenda about ethical production and sustainability?

I will follow this research project with interest, I really enjoyed participating in the discussion, and it was great to meet Natalie/Pearl.

(And yes, we were paid for our time. A £30 Meadowhall voucher, which can be spent at any retail outlet in the shopping centre. Rest assured mine won't be spent in Primark!)

An altogether different set of glass-domed buildings were my next destination.

The Botanical Gardens, where I met up with Simon, Owen and Nina (Claud's away for the weekend).

The statue of Pan in the rose garden is always a favourite...

Little cherubs. Or not.

Squirrel whispering...

 and bear hugging.

There was a wedding going on.

Not champagne, sadly; just water in the fountain.

Ninja, Whinger and Ginger.

Me; 1960-70s Hong Kong-made maxi dress - flea market
Sandals - Ebay
Sunglasses and bangles - charity shopped
Pendant - gift

Owen and Nina - t-shirts, shorts and shoes - charity shopped and hand-me-downs

All three of us are dressed in secondhand clothes and proud of it!

And my dress is a perfect example of sustainable fashion; well-made, still going strong after over 40 years, frequently worn and much loved.

 Did you know that Sheffield has more trees per resident than any other city in Europe? And that over 60% of its area is green space?

Our very own emerald city.

Then a leisurely walk home through the beautifully green General Cemetery (the cemetery and the Botanical Gardens both opened in 1836, a little quirk of synchronicity I find ridiculously pleasing)...

 followed by a Chinese takeaway for tea.
 I call that a very good day indeed!

Linking my highly visible and sustainable frock to Patti's Visible Monday gathering.
See you there! 

Friday 25 July 2014

Lavender's blue

Ahhh, what a lovely first week of the school holidays; the delight of waking up naturally, rather than at the beep of an alarm, cannot be underestimated.

Small pleasures.

Several bags of clothes have been donated to the nearest charity shop; the kids took a bag each, I was laden with three, and we tottered along the road in a line like Mother Duck with her ducklings, with varying degrees of complaint.

I was too hot, so I complained the most.

I find myself accepting all offers of kids' clothes, and as a result rarely have to buy anything for Owen and Nina (although I do for Claudia, as sadly we don't have a handy teenager passing things on to her).

This is great, of course, but it does mean I end up with far too much, more than they could possibly wear, so a judicious edit was overdue.
I really appreciate the circuit of children's clothes which goes on amongst my friends, and the fact that my kids have no problems at all with wearing secondhand clothing. I can't imagine the prohibitive cost of dressing three kids at normal retail prices.

It's always a risk to stop and have a look around the charity shop to which you have just donated...

Especially this particular Barnardo's, where everything is priced at £1.49.

Couldn't resist!

I assumed they were new (there is no label), but underneath they are stamped Made in England
Nothing cheap and cheerful is made in England these days, so could they be vintage? It doesn't much matter, I just love them - can't walk far in them, but who cares?

The darker patch on the platform is because I had just sponged off a patch of pink glitter. If that doesn't say 1970s glam rock, I don't know what does.

1970s Debroyal maxi skirt - vintage fair
Top, shoes, bangles, flower, and blue beaded necklace - charity shopped
Turquoise heart necklace - gift
Floral reversible tote bag - made by me

I can't claim that I thought very carefully about the combination of this new-to-me top (yes, also £1.49) and the 1970s maxi skirt, but in the event, I find I like the dainty floral of the top against the bold splashy print of the skirt. 

Same colours too.

The cats are loving the warm weather, and have become real outdoor creatures. Jess always was, she roams far and wide (look at her trotting along, so purposeful) but Min and Willow are homebodies and usually like to be in the house. Not any more, they are all out enjoying the sunshine. Charlie likes to stretch out on the table, doing his Dead Cat impression.


Tomorrow, I'll be having a browse around the Sheffield Vintage Fair, and I'm also participating in a focus group run by the University of Sheffield and the University of the Arts London about shopping for fashion and purchasing energy

Apparently alternative viewpoints are welcome, which is just as well; I know nothing about current fashion, and my purchasing energy is limited, and directed at vintage sellers and charity shops. But I'll let you know how the discussion goes!

Have a great weekend!

Edited to add - I'm taking my hair flower over to Judith's Hat Attack!

Monday 21 July 2014

Her face at first just ghostly

...turned the whiter shade of pale.

I am getting over my tendency to avoid wearing white. 
As long as I don't spill anything (which is a very big ask), I can handle it. 

I know the received wisdom is that pale skin looks washed out in white, but I'm taking a chance that a smattering of summer freckles and red hair will combat any anaemic pastiness.

I'm fair-skinned, burn easily, have freckles, and rarely tan; this, together with a family history of skin cancer, means I have given up on sunbathing and am much more likely to seek the shade than the sun. 
I always use sun screen, slap a bit of fake tan on my legs from time to time, and hope like mad that previous episodes of sunburn and over-exposure won't prove too damaging in the long run.

1970s St Michael cotton maxi skirt, blouse, belt, sunglasses, most of the bangles, and necklace - charity shopped
Striped bangle - gift from Fiona
Cream floral bangle - gift from Tania
Sandals - retail (sale)
 I've never had a great tolerance for high temperatures.
 I remember the hot summer of 1976, and how my class teacher (who had one of those extremely dark 1970s tans which you just don't see anymore) insisted we had our lessons outside on the playing field, presumably so she could sunbathe at the same time as teaching. I recall feeling beside myself with heat, my eyes hurt from the bright sunlight bouncing off the white pages of my books, we had neither sun screen nor water, and I was probably on the verge of heat stroke. 

Seems unbelievable now, doesn't it?

Needless to day, Nina is slathered in sunscreen when she plays outside! We have enough issues with her skin without adding sunburn to the mix.

She's been drawing eyes. I'm sure there is some significance to that, but who knows what?

 "Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
       Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."

She's done an Ancient Greek project at school, and this is her papier mache Grecian Urn.
 Walking home from school on Friday, I was carrying the vase by the neck, not realising it wasn't glued in place. Of course, the bottom fell off and went rolling down the road, with Owen and Nina giving chase. A van driver mercifully stopped before he ran over it, and allowed the kids to retrieve it; I could practically hear the Benny Hill music playing as accompaniment...
Robust quality papier mache though - it survived without a dint!

Unworn 1970s slip, complete with tag. 
If only all my white clothes were dirt resistant.
And crackle free? Bonus!

Linking to Sacramento's Share-in-Style; the theme is white.

Hope this week is going to be a grand one!


Thursday 17 July 2014

Hotter than Hawaii

Oh all right, it probably isn't, but the UK is basking in some high temperatures this week, and what better way to celebrate than with a vintage Hawaiian frock or two?

Colourful, cotton, and with prints bold enough to invite you in for coffee on a first date - what's not to love?

The green dress is 1950s, found on a three-items-for-£5 table at the flea market (which means it cost £1.666666666666667, according to my calculator).

The pink dress is 1960s, and I think it cost £5 on a sale rail at a vintage fair because it had a hole in it. Which I fixed.
Naturally, a frock with a loud print is just the thing to wear for the annual extravaganza which is Park Night.

Liz, Joanne, Karen, me, Sue and Chris.
Excuse the gurning - can't take them anywhere.

Respectable Ladies getting pissed up in the park. 


I had a lovely potter around the flea market in Chesterfield today; Jo and I haven't been for a while, so it was great to be back.

I bought a 1960s curtain for the fabric, and a 1970s crochet hippy top for the fabulous sleeves. It needs taking in to prevent anyone thinking I'm pregnant.
£3 and £1 respectively. 
Hey, Big Spender.

The kids break up from school for the summer holidays tomorrow, and I confess I am looking forward to it immensely. 

One last push though - I will be sticking labels on hundreds of books at school tomorrow. I rather like cutting and sticking, there is something oddly soothing about a repetitive menial task. And our Head Teacher is retiring, so I have to dash to the florist for a bouquet to add to the gifts we have already bought, ready for the presentation in assembly.
Don't worry - these are tasks I am undertaking happily and voluntarily!

Who knows what the summer will bring?

I am hoping for lie-ins, sunshine, sewing, clearing out the Cupboard of Doom, and some trips out and about.

Thank you for all your very encouraging and positive responses to my previous post. I do appreciate you comments very much!

Have a great weekend.