Monday, 23 May 2011

Rickrack & Ruffles

Rickrack and ruffles. As regular readers may know, my favourite vintage frocks usually contain one or other of the two...and the very best ones have both! I absolutely love pinafore dresses and can't wait for the arrival of warm weather so I can wear them. However, I was recently told that, rather than being A Girl, as I suppose I have always considered myself; I am actually A Woman. While I actually love this idea (as long as I don't have to be a proper grownup ALL the time), you can't deny that ruffles are definitely more girlish than they are womanly. This revelation, and the rapidly approaching milestone that is my 30th birthday has brought to mind the question that I addressed a few years back: When is one too old for a certain look? The general consensus then, as it no doubt will be now, is that you're only too old for something when wearing it makes you feel uncomfortable or self-conscious. One could argue that if the question even forms in your mind, then that fateful day might well be near (if not definitively here!). But in my case, it's not really something that worries me too much, just an idle and fleeting thought that occasionally pops into my mind.

The thing that worries me more about wearing pinafores is that you can't really wear a cardigan over them, because it looks like you have a lumpy hunchback, or a pair of stunted wings on your shoulderblades. Not a good look! This means pinafores are only doable on really hot days, when outerwear is not needed. I juuuust about got away with it on Saturday - the Met office promised us a two-week heatwave would begin at the weekend, but I think that was just a decoy to take our minds off the impending Rapture. Speaking of which, on Saturday, The Mafia decided that we'd have a business meeting-slash-end of times in the Vintage Emporium. When the End didn't come, we got to discussing our exciting new projects...

I didn't manage to capture my outfit, so I carted it down to my parents' place on Sunday, where I did a run through the trails of the National Trust. This posing was done post-run... miraculously, my hair seems to have held up!

Excuse the non-smiling, won't you: it was actually quite chilly out! Now this frock is probably not genuine 1940s, despite it being in a quintessentially 40s style. It was a super-bargain eBay find from a few years back, and I believe it is either made much more recently from a 40s pattern, or it is from the 70s, during which pinafores were popular (albeit usually maxi-length). Read on to find out how I (and you, if you're out vintage shopping) can tell...

I'm wearing green bakelite hoop earrings and my new favourite lipstick, Revlon Cherries in the Snow. I also have the matching nail polish and I adore them. It's a deep pink, and a nice change from pillarbox red. Goes better with green too, don't you think?

I've accessorised with a stack of bangles - bamboo mixed with a set of three plastic green ones in varying shades. I believe the green bangles also to be from the 1970s. So I am not mixing eras... heaven forbid! ;) The bag is a 1950s/60s(ish) raffia number from Beyond Retro in Brick Lane, complete with bamboo handle, and the shoes are 40s style tooled wedges from Blue Moon Vintage on Etsy (though they can be bought much cheaper in LA, I hear!).

So what gives this dress away as non-1940s? Nothing on the outside, certainly; apart from the brightness of the print, perhaps. But when you look inside, it's obvious. It appears to be home made, but has serged (overlocked) seams.

Households did not have overlockers in the 40s, and neither did most manufacturers... look inside any dresses from the 60s and earlier, and they will probably have pinked (zig zag cut) or even unfinished seams. It's not a fool-proof way of dating, but it's a good rule of thumb. If it's overlocked, it's probably post-mid 60s, which is when these machines became affordable. I hope that's helpful to someone out there!

I have one announcement to make in this entry before I sign off, it's about an event to which I'd like to draw everyone's attention. Swing For Skin is a 1940s-themed charity event taking place on the evening of the 4th June, on the HMS Belfast.

Here's the info:
Swing for Skin is a 1940s themed tea dance in aid of DEBRA UK. We'll be getting into the Blitz spirit and uniting to overcome EB (Epidermolysis Bullosa), and having jolly good fun while we do it!
We would love to see you there to support a fantastic charity, and dance on the deck of a London landmark.
All aboard the good ship charity!

Visit for more information about the charity, and check out for news on the event.

Tickets are £30 advance and £35 on the door. Included in the ticket price are two free drinks, food, vintage hair and make up styling for the ladies (and any gents who want to indulge), and the chance to tour the HMS Belfast - which would usually cost over £13 alone!

There will be fabulous raffle items (so far including donations from Lulu Guinness, Helen Rochfort, Hotel Chocolat, BLOOM Gin, Lilly Lewis Millinery and more) , so remember to bring your purses and wallets or cheque books!

I'm aiming to be there and just trying to scrape the ticket money together - it's such a good cause and looks to be a splendid night. So, see you there!

Fleur xx

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Fun ting

I've been a member of the rather splendid New Sheridan Club for quite some time. They always organise the most marvellous parties - one in the summer, and one close to Christmas; with various other outings and occasions in between. But one thing I'd never managed to attend until now was the Annual Oxford Punt, where members descend upon this historic town, dressed in their best boating blazers and frocks, hire punts and journey up and down the Cherwell river drinking champagne; stopping in the middle for a picnic. Of the Maf, only Jeni and I could attend the whole day, and Bethan joined us in the middle for picnic fun and the return leg. Here are some photos of the day...

 We were manfully and skillfully punted by Captain Smallwood

 Rachel and C-B were our punting partners. Our puntners.

 Artemis and Edward hired a rowing boat and caused carnage

 Jeni got attacked by strange flying creatures

 Rachel did a bit of blinking while Bethan posed

 I took charge of the bubbly

 We fed Frazzles to the ducks. I got bitten by an eager and evil pale duck.

After all the punting excitement, we went home via Bethan's grandparents' house in a nearby village. We got fed delicious Welsh cakes and tea, and we had a super exciting time riding up and down on the Stannah stair-lift. Seriously the most fun I've had all year so far...!

I rode it up to the top...

And little J rode it back to the bottom, where a Revlon lipstick awaited her on the bannister!

For this watery, stairlifty adventure, Bethan was in a lovely dress you can't see, and a classic tan mac she stole from her Mamgu many years ago, Jeni wore a delightful Horrockses frock; and I'm in an utterly amazing 30s housedress which was a most unexpected and unbelievably lovely present from my dear friend Miss Matilda of Able Grable fame. Do help me repay her kindness by visiting her site and treating yourself to something nice! :)

In other news I am doing my first 5km race this Sunday. My parents will be there to cheer me on and take amusing photos of me crossing the finish line. I am quite excited, really! Even though I came face to face with a TERRIFYING STAG on my training run today... ok it was more of a smallish Roe buck, but I've never pegged it so fast in the opposite direction... those antlers look dangerous!

Until next time...

Fleur xx

Monday, 9 May 2011

Taking a gambol

Do you ever feel like you're teetering on the very brink of something? Something which would either make or devastate your year? Because I feel like that now. I've been waiting, so patiently to hear about something big, nay MONUMENTAL, that I am literally dying to share. I won't share it for fear of jinxing it... not until the ink of the signature on my contract is dried. The idea of getting the terrible news that it won't happen is simply too horrible to comprehend, so I won't dwell on that; but all I can say is that I hope I can share something huge with you all soon. Worry about such important things tends to kick everything else into perspective, and it's been a really weird couple of weeks for me in my personal life. So I am going to try and focus myself on fun things. Silly things. Frivolous things! My world is made up of bright colours and vibrant patterns, because they make me feel happy, even when every hour feels like a struggle. I live to spend time with friends whom I love unconditionally. So here's another glimpse into the colourful world of the Vintage Mafia. This is the day we went to Wisley gardens to see Gemma sing. Then we did a gambol through the grass.

Bethan, Jeni, Shona, Naomi and meeee

 Girl love

 Posing al fresco! My fab playsuit is a bargain from Matalan!

 ...imagine this done to the tune of Chariots of Fire.

 ...hilarity ensued!

 We are La Maf, hear us roar! 

 And again!

 Bonsai godzilla

We even outshine the borders...

 The hills are aliiiiive...

It was a glorious day, though we all missed Lisa.  If you're at all interested, we've actually set up a silly Tumblr account for the VM, to show lots of 'hilarious' (probably only to us, but what the heck!) candids and impromptu photos of all our glamorous adventures. It's also linked to our new Facebook page, from which we'll be announcing some exciting projects run by us; including exciting events with which we're involved. Actually, on that note, come see us all at the Churchill War Rooms this Friday... we'll be doing hair, makeup and dressing people up all night. Such fun!

Fleur xx

Monday, 2 May 2011

The day I overdosed on cake

Thanks all so much for your wonderful comments on my last blog. I'm glad to know I am not alone in my radical vintage mixing opinions...!

So then - Royal Wedding day. An occasion I professed to be slightly ambivalent about (yes, rather than ambiguous as I wrote in my last blog, genuine thanks to the polite pedant), but I will confess I found myself glued to the screen to see Kate's wedding dress. My viewing companion was rather less enthused by its Grace Kelly-esque lines, but I was enchanted, despite myself. So much so that I did arrive ever-so-slightly late for the street party in Vauxhall. I also got funny looks on the London Overground for being so patriotically dressed in my red, white and blue Fleur frock (with matching accessories of course), despite the ceremony taking place at that precise time and me not being able to watch it!

The street party itself was a marvel, with vintage-attired folks mingling with modern-clad residents, absolutely tons of food and drink provided for all to enjoy, including lashings of cake, champagne and Pimms.

I stroked a lamb called Willow.

Then I had the unpleasant task of judging the cake competition... looking at and tasting all these spectacular cakes. What a bind! That's my plastic tumbler full of champagne in the foreground. I'm all class, me.

We awarded first prize to a sculptural battenburg creation (seen below in yellow icing), which turned out to have been single-handedly made by this young chap! He clearly has a stellar career in baking ahead of him!

My friends and I all wore patriotic colours or generally regal attire... Bethan wore an amazing Swirl with navy crowns embroidered on the pockets, Red Legs aka Minna wore red polka dots, and Tiffany the Vintage Poet wore a gorgeous 50s frock and hat.

Miss Yesterday Girl arrived from work looking divine in a splendid new Puttin on the Ritz frock design...

The Royal Wahhh-ding:

We want to be princesses!

And the prize for most rubbish souvenir of the day goes to...

My sincerest thanks go to Harry and Grace Iggulden, and Freddie Lancaster of the Tea House Theatre for organising everything. It was such a smashing day. And somehow, I don't think we're going to look back on it with sartorial horror as everyone did for the 1981 Royal wedding... let's hope not anyway.

Hope you all had deliciously decadent weekends, darlings.

Fleur xx

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