Friday 27 November 2015

Shorts story

I've had a day off today and have been extremely thankful for it. I'm tired, a bit run down, and slightly jaded. Tomorrow morning's lie-in will be a real treat.

Ooh, how's that for a moany opening statement? You can tell I need an early night.

This is the jacket I bought for 2 Euros at a flea market in Amsterdam.

Sorry to disappoint you, but I didn't buy the Breaks The Wind coat;

I just couldn't resist taking a photo of the label.

It's not exactly chill-proof, but I do like my smart little 1980s checked jacket, and at £1.45, it was a bargain. 

It's a funny thing, but while I wouldn't wear shorts or a mini dress with bare legs, I am quite happy to do so with opaque tights. What a difference that layer of lycra makes.

Google 1970s hot pants and you find some fantastic images.  

Such groovy girls!

I bought this 1970s knitted tank top on my day out with Vix and Tania, intending it as a Christmas gift for a friend.

His and hers Harold Ingram tops, 1972.

1970-80s blouse - gift from Tania 
1970s Harold Ingram tank top, shorts and ankle boots - charity shopped
1950-60s tapestry bag - gift from Emma

I haven't got the energy to chat, so I'll just leave you to ogle Sally Carr's fabulous legs in her hot pants in 1971.    


If you're old enough to remember it, do sing along!


Friday 20 November 2015

A brush with nylon

Certain fabrics get a very bad press. 
While natural fibres like silk and cotton are undeniably lovely to wear, I don't have any problem with synthetics, particularly in colder weather.

I bought this 1970s maxi dress last week on my day out with Vix and Tania. It's handmade (very nicely too, complete with purple lining) from brushed nylon, like my autumn-in-a-frock dress (seen here). 
Often used in the 1960-70s to make bedding and nightwear, brushed nylon is one of those fabrics which divide opinion, rather like Crimplene. 

I'm in the why not? camp. It washes easily, dries quickly, doesn't need ironing, and the Fuzzy Felt texture is perfect for days with a chill in the air. And that groovy psychedelic print makes me very happy.

The history of synthetic fibres is interesting. Early examples like rayon and viscose were organic, derived from cellulose, but with the invention of nylon in the 1930s, fabrics could be entirely man-made from petrochemicals. 

Acrylic and polyester followed in the 1940s and 50s. Whether you like to wear them or not, these fabrics had a revolutionary impact on fashion.
1970s maxi dress, jacket, vintage brooch, bangles and boots - all charity shopped
It's a good thing I wore something quick-drying today; it has been pouring with rain off and on, and I got caught out without an umbrella on my way home from Lidl. 
My life is all about the glamour. 

Speaking of which, I found this little piece of glamour in a charity shop this week.

Yes, I know it could do with a good going-over with a lint roller, but for a quid, it's a lovely little vintage velvet evening bag. And it's probably as close as I'll ever get to the Taj Mahal.
After a bit of googling, I discovered that this type of embroidery using metallic thread is called zardozi, a Persian technique which became popular in India. Designs use silver or gold thread, and can incorporate beads and pearls. This decoration is still produced today, but I think my bag is an old one since it has a internal pocket intended for a small mirror, not a feature you find in modern bags.  
And I found a suitably autumnal vintage copper brooch in the same shop, also £1.
I'm ridiculously easy to please; a nylon frock, a £2 spend in a charity shop, and the company of my cats in the garden. 

I'm really busy at the moment, so in an effort to plan ahead (like wearing a quick-dry frock on a rainy day), I'm linking in advance to Patti's Visible Monday.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Sunday 15 November 2015

Girls just want to have fun

It's always a delight to meet up with my lovely friends Vix and Tania. Busy schedules have meant it has been far too long since we had a day out. 

Last Thursday, we managed to rectify that situation, and thoroughly enjoyed making the most of our time together. We chatted, laughed, charity shopped and Wetherspooned like demons.

I was useless, I took hardly any photos, but you can check out Vix's account of the day and the treasures she found here.

What she didn't show you was this;

a stunning 1960s Jean Varon marabou-trimmed wedding dress which fitted her like the proverbial glove. Tania and I so wanted her to buy it, if for no other reason than to alarm her partner Jon.

(I love the fact that there are customers in the background taking absolutely no notice of a beautiful woman posing in a vintage wedding dress in the middle of the shop.)

The vintage was plentiful and of amazing quality, we came away with some great bargains and left plenty behind too. 

I bought:

a 1970s Harold Ingram knitted tank top, and a 1970s-does-Deco Tina Warren maxi dress.
(photo of me borrowed from Vix). There was another maxi, but I haven't taken a pic of it yet; I'll show you next time.

Tania gave me this 1970s handmade wrap top and skirt set - just look at that fabulous print - and a lavender bag she had made, which is now in my knicker drawer. 

And I also bought this 1980s velvet batwing dress, although when I tried it on in the charity shop and showed Tan and Vix, I managed to put it on back to front...

thereby flashing rather a lot of bra, as you can imagine when you see the deep V at the back. 

1980s dress and 1970s pendant - charity shopped
1970-80s faux fur (again) - Kinky Melon
Ankle boots - Ebay
Belt- retail (sale)  

The go-faster gold stripe makes me smile. I remember wearing batwing sleeves a lot in the Eighties, but I refuse to subscribe to the view that if you wore a style first time around, you shouldn't revisit it.

 Why ever not?

I'll take my Eighties-tastic dress to Patti's Visible Monday gathering.

Life is set to get even busier from now till Christmas, as I'm going to be working an extra day a week, helping out at another shop. But I'll get round to commenting on your blogs soon, I promise!


Tuesday 10 November 2015

Once upon a time when we were friends

Thanks for all your suggestions about helping volunteers to spot vintage donations; I'm going to write up some ideas for the retail managers, and hopefully we can plan a We Love Vintage campaign!

It shouldn't, but it still surprises me when people recoil at the mention of the 1970s.

I was discussing vintage with a volunteer in the shop, and she thought no one could possibly want to buy anything dating from that decade. (I did happen to be wearing a 1970s dress at the time, which made us both laugh.)

1970s German-made maxi dress - Ebay
1970-80s Wallis cropped fur jacket - Kinky Melon
1960s tapestry/vinyl bag - jumble sale
Boots - retail
Vintage Austrian crystal necklace - charity shopped

Oh well, each to their own.

I'll take my Seventies Chic over to Patti's for Visible Monday. 

I have to admit, I don't look as good in fur as this lot.

Jess' fur was being buffeted by the wind, and she does not like that.

She always sits on this particular bit of fence, but both my neighbour and I have noticed that she falls asleep there and sometimes slips off, followed by an unseemly scrabble to cling on and haul herself back up.

My lovely neighbour is such a softie, he's made a little platform for her by nailing on a wider piece of wood. Now she can catnap without losing her dignity.

On Saturday, I had a delightful evening with my dear friends Sally, Claire and Martin.

First - pizza;

then ABC!

The Lexicon of Love remains a favourite album of mine. The lush strings, funky horns and basslines, Trevor Horn's shimmering production, and lyrics full of wordplay dissecting love and relationships all combine to make an epic set of songs.

Released in 1982, it coincided with my arrival in Sheffield, so it's part of the soundtrack of my youth, and accompanied my transition from living at home to being away at university.

So the opportunity to see Martin Fry with the Southbank Sinfonia (conducted by Anne Dudley, who played keyboard and was also responsible for the orchestral arrangements on the original record) was a real treat.

He was in great voice, as were the audience who sang along with enthusiasm, especially to The Look of Love. How wonderful it must be to have written songs which a hall full of people sing back to you over 30 years later.

Of course, the Sheffield crowd were always going to be partial; although Fry is a Manchester lad, he came here to study English Literature at university (the same course as me) and formed ABC with fellow musicians from Sheffield.

And after the gig, as we were deliberating where to go for a drink, who should come and introduce herself but Diane, who features her incredibly fine photography on her blog Heart Shaped. We've been blog and Facebook friends for some time, so it was really good to meet her at last.

Of course, just as there are 1970s-haters, there are those who sneer at the 1980s too. I wonder why some people feel the need to write off whole decades? Ten years; that's a long time, and so much can change socially and politically, and in terms of popular culture, music and fashion. 

For me, both decades were formative, they provide the backdrop to my childhood, adolescence and early adulthood.

And any decade that produced The Lexicon of Love is alright with me!



Friday 6 November 2015

Autumn in a frock

I bought this autumnal dress a year ago and fully intended to shorten it...

but a combination of laziness and shortage of time means it's still exactly the same length as when I first wore it...

Oh well - it's fine as it is.

1970s English Lady brushed nylon dress - local vintage market
Boots - Ebay
1960-70s pendant - gift from Vix

 We're back into the routine of work and school this week

I am still waiting to hear when my new job will start; the shop fitters are in but a manager has yet to be recruited, so I'm carrying on in my current post, but feeling slightly in limbo.

One of the challenges of the vintage shop will be making sure we have appropriate stock in sufficient quantity. As donations come in to the other 12 shops run by the charity, the expectation is that the staff and volunteers will put aside anything "vintage" to pass on. I think they might need some support to identify the right pieces, an issue which the organisation also recognise.

So here's a question for you; if you were a volunteer sorting through stacks of donations in a charity shop, what would you need to know in order to have a hope of picking out potential vintage stock? Most of the shops get a lot of donations; which is great, but it means they are dealt with quickly, and having to consult lists or look things up will slow down the sorting process. Any information I circulate will therefore have to be pithy and easy to recall and act upon, in addition to which I'm well aware that not everyone is as interested in that old shit (and I quote a shop manager) as I am.

So, here's my question; if you had to give some short sharp pointers for identifying vintage donations (including clothing, accessories, jewellery, homewares, kitchenalia, linens and fabrics, pictures, etc - it's so hard to make an exhaustive list), what would you say?

I have lots of ideas myself, but it would be useful to get some different perspectives.

 So while you mull that over (or alternatively, while you think bugger off and do your own homework, you lazy arse), here are a couple of recent vintage purchases I would gladly have in my shop;

a 1970s "Tara" design Taunton Vale storage jar, and a floral still life print of indeterminate heritage. Both cheap as chips, and both from charity shops.

And look what lovely Lynn sent me to wish me luck in my new job - my very own vintage angel!

Do you think she looks a bit like me?

And speaking of look-a-likes;

doesn't the stalk on top of the pumpkin we grew in the garden look rather like Baby Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy?    

 We thought so!

I might just be dancing myself later; I'm off to see ABC. 

Can't wait!


Monday 2 November 2015

Brilliant Orange

We've been to Amsterdam.

It's a very beautiful city. 

A short flight and free wine? Thanks, KLM. That's what I call a good start to a city break.

We stayed in a typically tall and narrow 17th century house in the Jordaan area...

complete with original staircase and stepped gable. 

At the end of our little street was the Brouwersgracht (Brewers canal).

The elaborately-shaped gables on the buildings in Amsterdam are wonderful.

 We spotted one of the the hook and pulley arrangements being used; most staircases are too narrow and steep to get large pieces of furniture into a house any other way.

Canals and bikes are ubiquitous.

This is the river Amstel;

 I fancy staying in that hotel one day.

We really enjoyed our food, coffees, and a Heineken or two... 

and the company of Sabena and Gary is always much appreciated.

There is no way Simon or I would have gone up there with the kids, so it's just as well auntie and uncle were with us to do the fairground bit.

The Beginjhof courtyard...

 so peaceful, it's hard to believe you are in the middle of a bustling city.

We even found a few local vintage shops for a browse...

and a flea market at Waterlooplein.

Vintage fur coats, wedding dresses, heaps of clothing, and boxes of all sorts; it was like an open air jumble sale. Cheap too; I bought a jacket for 2 Euros (£1.45).

Always useful to have a warm coat that breaks the wind. 

As you can see, the weather was perfect; sunshine and clear blue skies.

We couldn't face the lengthy queues for the Rijksmuseum or Anne Frank's house, so those will be on the agenda for any future visit.

Instead, we ambled in the sunshine, took a boat trip, ate and drank, and thoroughly enjoyed this cool and relaxed city.

Oh Nina...

Dankuwel,  Amsterdam - we'll be back!

Linking to Patti's Visible Monday and Judith's Hat Attack.