Monday, 29 February 2016

Chickens and parrots

Last month, my lovely and funny blog friend Connie asked her readers to recall their Very First Personal Fashion Moment.

I left a comment about my Chicken Dress...

...and here it is.

This photo was taken in 1967; I was 3, and singing into my skipping rope.*

The dress was a hand-me-down, it had been worn by both of my older sisters and dated from the 1950s.

Bright colours, a great print, secondhand - a pattern was established with this dress.


Parrot print, plus a peacock.

1980s Hawaiian dress, cardigan, bangles and tights - charity shopped
Peacock necklace - vintage market
Boots - retail (sale)

 I had an interesting exchange with a couple of customers in the shop last week. I heard a man telling his wife how much he liked 1970s styles, and we got chatting. I was wearing a 1970s maxi which the couple admired, but the man said that he could never wear a Seventies suit (he had been trying on jackets and browsing the suits).

Why? I asked. He spoke at length about living in a small village, and speculated about what his friends, neighbours and colleagues might think if he wore something unusual and different. I listened, then suggested that maybe he was overthinking things. If he liked a certain style of clothes, perhaps he should just wear them without worrying about anyone else's opinion.

His wife clapped her hands, and said she met you 5 minutes ago and she's got you pegged. You overthink everything!

Sadly he didn't buy a jacket, but I'm hoping a seed was planted. What's the worst thing that can happen if you wear what you love? The couple were visiting their son who is a student in Sheffield, and maybe next time they're here, they will call back into the shop and make a purchase.

What sort of a vintage seller would I be if I didn't wear it myself, and passionately advocate for the beauty and value of old clothes? What I wear is proving a talking point, and I love having a job where my eclectic wardrobe is a positive benefit.

I'll take my parrot dress over to Patti's for Visible Monday.

 This outtake is the real me rather than the posed me - a bit gawky and inelegant, but friendly, fond of laughing, and usually talking. I'd spotted a friend working in a nearby garden and we were shouting across to each other while the camera snapped away on the timer.

*Perhaps that skipping rope prefigures my penchant for karaoke just as much as the chicken dress sets the scene for my style preferences? My mum helpfully wrote on the back of that photo that I was belting out Puppet on a string, the UK's Eurovision entry in 1967. I still know every word.




Mother of Reinvention said...

What a lovely memory, and a fantastic chicken dress. That is a great photo of you. You have hardly changed. I agree about wearing what you like rather than worrying what people might think. I am sure that that man would have been pleasantly surprised by peoples' reactions and if not then, bah! Oscar W had it right when he commented on being talked about. :) So happy that things are fab at your shop. Xx

Ivana Split said...

I hope the seed was planted indeed...and I hope that man you chatted with in the shop will find the courage to wear what he likes. Sometimes people do overthink things...I mean most people won't mind if someone wears something bold, right?

Anyhow, back to topic of seventies fashion...I love it. I must say that childhood photo is so lovely....and you look adorable in that dress...such a sweet kid! I love bright coloured dresses too. Especially when they have a nice print and even more so if it is a seventies kind of print.

I like you just as much in the grown up version...that dress is divine...and you styled it perfectly!!!!!!

Sheila said...

I love the chicken dress, and that you're singing away into your microphone! Great story. I also love that you (gently) pushed that gentleman to wear what he loves - I wish more people would just do that instead of looking wistfully at we adventurously-dressed types and saying, "I wish I could wear that."

Patti said...

Oh you are so darling in your chicken dress! Love the modern parrot version too. And good on you, encouraging people to take a chance and try a vintage look. xox


Fiona said...

What a lovely photo of you singing into your skipping rope Curtise!
(You never see them nowadays do you?) And how striking you look in both of your avian themed frocks. It's a shame that customer couldn't be persuaded to buy some seventies gear, I can imagine the conversation between him and his wife after they left your shop.

Kezzie said...

I sincerely hope the seed was planted too! I feel sad when people feel like that. I wear what I want and most of the time, people take it positively! If they don't, I don't care. One of my favourite moments was overhearing a conversation between two year 6 children:
"Is she wearing a DINOSAUR BONE necklace???"
"Yes, she is."
"That is so cool!"
I love your parrot dress, that is uber cool! So glad you are an passionate advocate for Vintage clothing!x

Val said...

I can almost feel the sunshine in that old photo, shining on worry-free shoulders while there's a gentle hum of happiness in the air. What a lovely photo! Were your sisters similarly inspired by fowl frocks?

The Hawaiian dress is so cool! Even better paired with a purple cardi and tights. And I like seeing the unposed Curtise, ready to sing more karaoke!

Suzanne said...

Your comment to the man was of course dead on.

My husband has a couple of items from the 70's and happily wears them. People over think far too often.

You look so happy in your chicken dress! Love the bow : )


Goody said...

An heirloom chicken dress is the best sort of heirloom, I think. How adorable you are with the skipping rope singing.

I can sort of understand not wanting to draw attention to yourself in a small village where the people might think you've started to, "lose it." When I get the stink eye from people I don't know, I find it a triumph of sorts. But yes, ultimately it is best to wear what you enjoy because most people aren't even aware anyone else exists-they're too busy tapping into their phones, or what nots.

Kylie said...

Love that photo of little you Curtise!
(we all used to sing into our skipping ropes, didn't we?!)

Sue @ A Colourful Canvas said...

I sang into my skipping rope too...must be a family thing. The fact that your Mum took the extra time to note the song you were singing is really touching.

Your are SO in the right environment work-wise Curtise. Not only the freedom of wearing the clothing you love, but interacting with like-minded, or those that want to be like-minded, people.

Melanie said...

Now I know why I went so terribly wrong - I never sang into my skipping rope! What a fantastic photo of you singing. I'm glad you urged that man and maybe someday he will assert his tastes without a care. Your dresses are fabulous - carrots and chickens and parrots and peacocks. Cute then, gorgeous now. Sing on!! Oh, and that's one of my favourite photos of you, yelling to your neighbour.

thorne garnet said...

lovely chicken dress. I'm intrigued by Sandy Shaw's outfit. At first I thought it had strange sleeves. Then I realized that those things on her arms are bracelets that match the choker. And the bottom of the dress. Wonder who designed it?

Porcelina said...

So much cuteness!! I love the print on the parrot dress too, so bright and cheery. Have a super week xx said...

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Unknown said...

aahh love the photo of you as a little girl in your adorable dress. when I saw chicken post I was thinking oohhh have you gone and got chickens to :-) I am sure a seed was sown with that chap and his wife there visit with you most certainly will have been a talking point afterwards :-) So good to hear you are loving your job love the natural laughing photo to, dee xx

Mim said...

That chicken dress is ace. It was clever of your mum to write notes on the back too.

If the bloke comes back, you could suggest he starts with a jacket or tie, and works on it from there. He doesn't have to go the full Jason King. (It's a slippery slope, vintage, one accessory and down you slide...)

Unknown said...

Such a cute little chicken dress! Most of my clothes were hand me downs or hand made but I still loved them! And I love the Hawaiian dress too! I've never heard that song before but it is very catchy, I can see why you'd be singing it. :)

Lynn Holland said...

What a fabulous read. You have also said out loud something I quite often think when I visit Vintage Fairs. It would mean more if the traders were wearing the style of clothes they are selling, like our lovely Vix and Jon do.
You are wearing a fabulous dash of colour Curtise. Bright clobber does it for me everytime
LYnn xxx

Connie said...

The chicken dress! The CHICKEN DRESS!!! There it is. Even more adorable than I imagined it. And "Puppet On A String"!! This is almost too much for me. I swear you have grown up to be Sandy Shaw. Seriously. You look like her and you dress like her and you undoubtedly sing like her. And now you have become a clothing therapist. I just know that you have changed that poor repressed fellow's life for the better helping him to release his inner hipster and improve his marriage and bring business to your shop. And your grown up bird dress is the sweetest thing ever. Just like you! XXXXOOO

bahnwärterin said...

oh my - i remember that song very clearly - although i was born one year later! so it really was a hit. but what i had forgotten was the great voice of sandie shaw!!

but - the best thing on this post is your toddler self!!! sooo cute! and i´m glad you got infected with the need to wear cool frocks!!! the parrot&palmtree one is a stunner!
poor overthinking chap - i hope he will jump over his shadow and start to have fun!
i wish i could visit you in "your" shop!!!

mondoagogo said...

Love the outtake photo! And the chicken dress photo is pretty cute, it's lovely to know you were singing Puppet On A String.

Perhaps that self-conscious man could start by wearing 70s ties and move up to shirts, then suits, when he feels more confident...

Natalia Lialina said...

Vintage runs through your veins! Love the opening photo of the little you, so adorable. You haven't changed much. Just got taller! :)

Vix said...

Oh yeah, that out-take is the Monk and I know and love. Huge smile, head thrown back, laughing her head off, don't ever change!!
Gorgeous first dress and vintage at that. No bandwagon jumping for you.
Loving the parrot dress, you can't beat a Hawaiian print.
I usually find its the women who are scared of wearing 1970s and the men who embrace the loud shirt and fuck-off wide lapels. I bet he'll ponder on your assessment of him and come back and buy something next time.
I can't get over how many vintage sellers don't wear vintage. It's like a vegetarian working in the butchers.
16 days!
Love you! xxxx

Unknown said...

Oh so cute !

Vronni's Style Meanderings said...

Oh you do look sweet in your chicken dress!

Your parrot dress is fab and the whole outfit looks lovely and colourful.You look so elegant, including chatting away to neighbours across the fence!

I'm sure you're the best advert possible for your shop dressed in your lovely vintage gear - I bet that bloke comes back....

Have a fab week


diaryofapennypincher said...

I so want some chicken fabric now! Love your hand me down chicken dress, even as an only child I wore hand me downs, my clothes came from other members of our extended family and were passed down to younger cousins. Like you say, it sows a seed somewhere! Your parrot dress is gorgeous and the length suits you and your fabulous legs so well!

Lisa said...

What a lovely picture of you singing away and in such a cute dress too!
Love the bright colours of your parrot and purple combo.
Fingers crossed Mr 1970s takes the plunge, life's too short!
Lisa x

Sue said...

It is like we had the same childhood. I used to get to wear frocks that my two older sisters had worn, our mum sewed an awful lot back then. I also used to think my skipping rope handle was a mic. I absolutely love the last photo of you having a laugh, you so look like you are enjoying yourself. Oh, and glad your job is working out, but then I think all of us knew you and it would be a perfect match.

Charis said...

Oh no, the song is now in my head! LOVE your Hawaiin print dress Curtise it's gorgeous.

Lakota [Faith Hope and Charity Shopping] said...

Oh you were too cute! I used to sing into my skipping rope too, those wooden handles made the perfect microphone didn't they?

And you look so good in bright colours - and even better in that candid shot with a big smile, more like that please!

You are quite right about wearing what you want, that's why despite my slightly rude comments about Lady Gaga and the like, I hope they never change!

The Vintage Knitter said...

Ah, such a cute, happy photo. You're even colour co-coordinated with your hair bow and the flowers behind you. Those childhood photos always seem to be sunny don't they?

I'm totally loving your purple and red outfit, and good for you for giving that man some encouragement. Perhaps he might just take heed of your advice xx

Mrs Bertimus said...

O the chicken dress!
My heart has melted xxx

Forest City Fashionista said...

I do hope that man thinks about what you said, and stops in next time to buy a jacket he likes. I grew up in a small town, and any little deviation from the "Norm" in dress was noted and commented on, but at a certain point, you stop giving a f**k and wear what makes you happy. Good for you for being so perceptive and encouraging.

I love the photo of the little you in your chicken dress, and the grown-up you yelling at your neighbour. Both are great captures of you being completely yourself. Great colours in the parrot dress outfit.

freckleface said...

I love everything about this post. Teeny tiny Curtise with her skipping rope mic is one of the cutest things I've ever seen, and I have to say every time you wear that purple cardi, I slightly covet it. Now I know there are matching tights, I'm practically breaking a Commandment. Yes, that's you with the big happy grin. Very much looking forward to seeing that again! Although I don't think you ever look unelegant.
The conversation sounds like fun, and I really like that both you and the wife supported the idea of him wearing something a bit more unusual, that he might love, once he gets over his shyness. Good work Psychologist-in-Chief Monk! Xxxxx

Beth Waltz said...

So glad that the little girl happily wearing her Chicken Dress grew up to be the lovely woman happily wearing her Parrot Dress!

I'll be watching for news of the man who's teetering on the edge. Methinks that you and his wife will nudge him into the shallows on his next visit...

Emma Kate at Paint and Style said...

Just goes to show how perfect your job is for you! xxxx

Trees said...

The chicken dress is incredible - such a cutie and your current dress is amazing. I love fabric with birds, I need more fabric with birds. I feel a little bummed with that chap in your shop - hopefully he comes back rocking a sweet 70's look!

Anna's Island Style said...

It's the first time I've visited your blog, and I love it. Puppet on a string takes us all back in time, and don't you look cute in that chicken dress! Your comment about over thinking was spot on, so ought to pay dividends later, hopefully. Great to meet you x