Thursday, 29 March 2012

Happy snaps

So the other day, I got an exciting text from Shona Heyday, telling me that the latest incarnation of our Fleur dresses had just been delivered. She had to remind what they actually looked like, since we've got SO many exciting fabrics up our sleeves (both literal and figurative), that I was no longer sure what was coming next. The two that just dropped have a very classic floral/stripe/mini gingham print that's incredibly authentic for a late 40s to early 60s housedress. It was used in a black colourway on the skirt of our Green & Gingham version, but this time it's an all-over print and in a beautiful mid-blue and a dusky pink.

When the parcel arrived this morning, I whipped it out of the packaging and let out a little squeak. I also happened to be heading to my parents' place this afternoon for a work project tomorrow, and there was room in my heavy suitcase for one little frock. And, as the sun went down, we popped down the road so I could take a couple of impromptu pictures.

Unfortunately, my mum doesn't believe in ironing, and thus doesn't own one. These photos, therefore, depict a dress that has literally come out of its packaging, been folded into a suitcase and then put straight on. So please forgive the creases! I'm actually surprised how *uncreased* it seems to be though. Not that I should be, Shona and I only choose lovely quality cotton... ;)

Proper photos will be coming soon... some will be taken tomorrow, in fact. But the light was just too nice to ignore!

I had very boringly unstyled hair, so I whipped up one of my patented faux fringes (link is to tutorial!), and paired it with my beloved (but as yet unworn this year) pair of Rocket Originals Nancy in cream. Supporting British repro brands all the way! 

A little bit closer on the lovely fabric... excuse my golden skin (again), but it does lend a beautiful warmth to the lighting here.

Do go and check out the brand new Fleur dresses on the Heyday site (and her other great wares of course) - we've got plenty for now, but they won't wait around. Thanks, as ever, to my lovely mum for taking the pictures. I'll have lots more (uncreased) pictures to show you soon!

Bye for the noo...

Fleur xx

Tuesday, 27 March 2012



A straightforward outfit post for you today, with a few more on the way... I've been slightly neglecting the fashion side of my blog recently. Consider that worked upon, beginning now.

We've been having some rather glorious weather over here in the UK, not exactly as scorchio as some of the outfits I've seen on others would suggest, though. At the appearance of even the merest ray of sunshine, many British men experience an inexplicable urge to take their tops off and wander around half naked. Other people get their pasty feet out in flip flops and generally make ill-advised outfit decisions, usually resulting in them shivering at 9pm, when the temperature drops back down to zero and they wantonly left their coats at home. Anyway! It has been genuinely lovely, and, I'm delighted to say, warm enough to get the first Swirl dress of spring out. Worn with tights (I've run out of stockings - sad face) and a cardigan, I was at the perfect temperature for posing in the golden, late afternoon sunshine on Saturday.

 Vintage gingham wrap dress, peach bolero from a 40s pattern
(sadly gone all baggy now, but I still love it), white canvas pumps...

Side note: I may have had to whiten my teeth slightly here, as the golden sunshine effect also made said teeth appear rather on the golden side...
I do love a bit of embroidery! My lipstick is Boots No. 7 in Classic Rose. It's a classic for sure!

That's all from me today, nothing more insightful shall emit from my typing fingers, but when does it ever? ;)

Hope you're all having a smashing week!

Fleur xx

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Play Time

Writing this here blog, I get invited to lots of things, most fabulous and others, not so much. I go to some, and turn down still more. But the occasional invite makes me do a little jig of joy, and this was such a one. Last week, I got to go and see the acclaimed West End Show One Man, Two Guvnors. This play has received rave reviews, from when it opened at the National Theatre with prime time comedian James Cordn as the eponymous Man Francis Henshall, to now in its latest incarnation at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. The lead role is now played by Corden's understudy, the very Welsh and very, very funny Owain Arthur; and he's so good, I can't even imagine James Corden playing it. I don't find the latter very funny at all, usually. So I was pleased even before I'd sat down!

What was even better, as we did sit down, a skiffle band was playing live on stage! Excellent.

The story goes, that Francis Henshall has been booted out of his own skiffle band, and starts a new career as a henchman to a dodgy gangster type named Roscoe Crabbe. Crabbe actually turns out to be his own sister, disguised as a her brother, who is trying to extort some money out of said brother's former fiancée's father... who has her own lover... who ends up hiring Henshall to be a minder for HIM... and it all gets hugely complicated, farcical and rip-roaringly funny.

The acting is impeccable, and the accents (both real and put on) are perfect. The characters are all wonderful in their own separate ways, from the major to the minor. Posh public schoolboy Stanley Stubbers was definitely my favourite after Francis himself - he had some great lines, too.

The scene with the doddery waiter as shown above is widely regarded to be the most hilarious in this brilliantly funny play... though between you and me, I thought the slapstick went on just a tiny bit too long. I was just as amused by the guffaws of laughter coming from the people around me, though!

The wonderfully upholstered Dolly is definitely the best of the two (technically three) female characters, with her amazing hair, feisty ways, and perfectly fitting Vivien of Holloway ensemble! Made me covet a new pencil skirt, I can tell you.

Hannah from S Club 7 is perfect as Pauline, the unbelievably simple (thick) former love interest of the dead gangster (confused, much!), and her boyfriend Alan Dangle is an over-the-top,  polo-necked and winkle-pickered wannabe thespian who had me laughing and cringing at the same time.

You all know, I hope, that on this blog, I only endorse things that I genuinely enjoy. And from beginning to end, One Man, Two Guvnors is an absolute triumph and I actually really, really want to go and see it again. Perhaps for my birthday! Do, please try to catch it if you can - there are some brilliant deals on seats for £25 according to the official website, but even if you can only stretch to a £15 seat all the way up in the gods, go, go GO AND SEE IT!

Fleur xx

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Fast forward

Hello and welcome to another slightly rambly update on my life at the moment!

To coin a cliché: what a difference a year makes. Yesterday afternoon, at about 4pm, I was walking along the seafront in Portsmouth, talking life and business plans with my dearest friend Naomi, after spending the day doing a promotional photoshoot for a very exciting project (which I will come to very shortly). The day before, I'd finished my third long-distance running race - a ten-mile scarper through a World War Two aerodrome and the nearby, rural Surrey town.

I'm not naturally an early riser, so to be greeted by this, at 6:30 on a Sunday morning is rather nice.

 Dunsfold Aerodrome was built by the Canadian Army in WWII. Now it's home to the most
laddish of TV shows, Top Gear. And some planes. Which I saluted.

I finished it in an all-time personal best of 1:24:44, which means I ran at an average pace of 8 minutes 30 seconds per mile, 15-seconds per mile faster than my pancake-flat half marathon a few weeks back, even despite the hills, even though I had a stinking cold. My dedicated training over the last few weeks paid off and no mistake (my brother pacing me also helped!).

I'd chosen to do that particular race for a few reasons: the picturesque and indeed historic location (which also happened to be in fairly close proximity to my parents), and the fact that it nearly fell on my running anniversary. My runniversary, if you will. Because, at 4pm yesterday as I gazed out to sea, the ghost of my running past was pulling on a pair of borrowed running shoes, a t-shirt and a pair of American Apparel shorts; and heading out the door to see how far I could go. And how fast.

The answer was, of course, not very, and really not very. I think I did a total of two miles around the block, the first in a very slow and painful time, the rest punctuated by stops and walking. I sweated, I puffed and panted, it hurt. But there was absolutely no doubt that after I got in, collapsed on the sofa and had a bit of a breather, I was extremely proud of myself for taking that first step. And many more continued. I went a little further each time, felt a little fitter, puffed a little less... hurt a little less, too! It wasn't long before I'd got myself some properly fitted trainers and some lycra (because clammy cotton is not fun to run in) and started evangelising boring all my vintage enthusiast readers about my newfound hobby.

It's not that running and vintage style are mutually exclusive - they're not. I've done training runs in lipstick and with my hair pinned in a sort of retro-esque updo. This fabulous lady, Sheryl Yvette manages to go running and look amazing from start to finish. So does Sofia Hedstrom. But I always seem to chicken out at the last minute. I think that despite everything I've just said, I don't know if I feel like a 'proper runner', and that once I crack 8 minute miles, maybe I'll do it then. When I can run a half-marathon in 1:45 or something. Once I'm doing so well that people will be judging me on the start line for wearing lipstick but then see me fly past... or maybe I'll keep these two parts of my life separate forever. Who knows! I do know that I intend to get even better at running, I just need to keep reminding myself that it's only been one single year since I started.  I've always been the kind of person who will unfortunately put absolutely no effort into things that don't inspire, move or motivate me. Put me in a boring job with nowhere to go, and I will underperform. But when I get it into my head to do something, I work and work at it until I have achieved my goal. From passing my driving test within months when I decided I wanted to, to getting into my chosen field after uni (then finding it cripplingly dull, but that's another story), to forging my current career, to building my vintage wardrobe, and now running. Improving at running is a metaphor for chipping away at any of your goals in life - you get out what you put it. It's also, as my mum would say, like eating an elephant. You can do it, but only in small bites.

Maybe this is a little tangential here, but indulge me for a moment. Because I've been thinking recently about how well-suited running and vintage are as lifestyles, and am surprised more don't do it (though I know I've inspired lots of you, and that's why I keep including it instead of moving it elsewhere).
The fact is, that most women who wear vintage each and every day are strong minded, thick-skinned, fierce and quite frankly bad-ass ladies, who do as they please. Sure, there are plenty of more gentle girls who claim to simply long to be old-fashioned housewives, and that's absolutely fine too, but on the whole, the act of simply wearing these weird old clothes every day requires a certain confidence and single-mindedness. Otherwise we'd all be nervous wrecks, frankly. Above all else, running has made my clothes fit better. When you've got a natural girdle and waist-cincher, everything hangs as it should. We won't talk about my monstrous calf-muscles though.

My friend Bangs and a Bun recently started a site aimed at bad-ass ladies of all sartorial persuasions, Spikes & Heels. Her intent is to take the pink/fluffy/weightloss aspects out of ladies' fitness; and I'm finding it super inspiring. But I won't lie, I'd like to feel more fabulous on race days as well as rest days. But having followed her life for the last couple of yearsm I keep thinking that maybe I can learn (or rather borrow...or even pinch) from her and get a group of amazing vintage running divas together for a future half-marathon... I keep thinking about how I'd feel so less self-conscious if I was in a starting pen with a group of other girls in indelible red lipstick and a tightly pinned victory roll or two. We could get Maybelline to sponsor us with some 24-Hour Superstay. 13.1 miles of red-lippied smiles. What do you think? ;)

Anyway, back in reality, as I celebrate my year of running, I'm starting to knuckle down on the others things I really want to make happen in the next year. I have a particular goal that is in sight and I look forward to filling you all in with my progress as and when it happens. And don't worry, it's actually got nothing to do with running!

But after nearly three years of being self-employed and doing things I enjoy and am good at every day, things are starting to happen. It's a struggle at times and I could do with any number of tips about hustling for work. I'm great at networking and making friends, but less good at approaching people and asking them to hire me. It's also definitely time to add some new business strings to my bow. But when I'm working, it's joyous. Take yesterday, I was hired to do some modelling, for promotional materials about the new Victorious Vintage festival that's going to take place at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on Jubilee Weekend. I'll be posting more about this as details are confirmed, but here's a sneaky peek of the photoshoot!

I'm wearing a playsuit/skirt set by Miss Hussy, which I believe is sadly defunct. Miss L Fire shoes!

Finally, I'm going to leave you with what is probably going to be my new favourite outfit for the spring. I rarely buy new clothes these days, so when I do, I like to really treat myself. I've wanted a pair of Bernie Dexter Pin Up Capris for absolutely ages, and finally, a couple of weeks ago, I gave in. I am SO glad I did as they are absolutely amazing! I asked Bernie herself about sizing and went for the small as my measurements are 26 waist and 39 hip and she said the 26/36 would fit. She was right! But crikey, I better not put on even an inch. Sorry for the rubbish backdrops...

 Plain outfits allow loud jewellery, of course (not that I usually follow this rule, the louder the better!), and I LOVE this Carmen Miranda inspired necklace that was generously sent to me by Bow and Crossbones. I've actually bought a number of their lovely bamboo bangles in all different colours in the past, and I'll be digging the credit card out soon, to buy the matching pieces of the fruit range as well. So THANKS B&C for enabling me so perfectly with your 'kind' gift. ;)

Actually, I'll leave you with a different thing: my favourite Instagram picture since, well, the last pug I photographed. My neighbour's 11-week old pug puppy. I am dead from the cute.

Fleur xx

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Legs Eleven

Well I had meant to post this on the 11th, but it's now (lucky for some) the 13th. Always full of good intentions, me.

Great minds in the vintage word often seem to think alike, I've noticed. Probably because we've all got such super fabulous taste... ;) But another awesome coincidence popped up the other day when I posted a picture on my Facebook page. I took a couple of outfit shots for a forthcoming article in my regular spot in Milkcow Magazine. All winter, I've been hankering after one of the little Skater dresses that are oh-so-trendy at the moment, with the aim of putting together a sort of 1940s ice-skater look. But getting ones pins out is quite daunting and so it took me a while to take the proverbial plunge. Lots of pictures were saved to my inspiration folders, these two in particular...

 ...forgive me, but I've no idea where these came from. Anyway, I happened across a cute dress in high street shop River Island the other day, and I had to have it.

Here I am wearing it, and posing in a silly bugger fashion.

River island dress, Topshop tights, super old boots,
handmade scarf/hood and belt from another dress!

You'll have to read my article in the forthcoming Milkcow to see what I'm going on about in regards to this outfit, but while I love it and plan to get several different versions of it (RED must be next), I was delighted to see Solanah from Vixen Vintage post this very picture on her own Facebook page only one day later!

Hurrah for something a little different, even if I did find it very odd having my legs entirely on show. But it's good to step out of your comfort zone, after all. What have you done to challenge yourself lately?

Fleur xx

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Bit Bobs

Yoo hoo! I did plan to put this up yesterday, but the cretinous people at o2 Broadband ruined that plan. I'd love to have a full day of internet connection at some point... but enough about that.

I'd like to announce the winner of the Vintage Trudy card giveaway, before regaling you with some more tales of my exciting* life recently, so imagine, if you will, a drumroll ringing out...

Comment number 60 was left by one Miss Polly Garter! Congratulations Polly! Please can you email me:, with your address and I'll forward it on to the Trudy team! Thank you all for taking part, I'll have more little giveaways soon!

So what else have I been up to? Well. There was a wedding, at which I got the opportunity to wear my smashing sarong dress from Miss Bamboo again.

Now in colour!

My fab red shoes were bought from Shelley's, which you may or may not know is owned by Miss L Fire... which brings me neatly onto my next point! For at the tail end of last year, I was hugely honoured to have been asked to model for none other than shoe brand of dreams, the same Miss L Fire!

We shot this summery picture in a diner near owner Lynsey Hand's amazing house... it got me more than ready for the warmer weather, I can tell you! I'm modelling the gorgeous Monterrey in Red here, and I also sported the Carnivale style, which is a SHOE with BUNTING on it. Could there be anything better?

Do head to the Miss L Fire Facebook page to see the full and AMAZING range. It's painful to see, frankly. 

Ooh my calves are a bit big these days, aren't they... that's what running does for you, I guess. And with that razor-sharp segue, I'm going to mention running again briefly. Feel free to switch off now...!

Last Wednesday, it was, of course, Leap Year Day. My thoughts weren't on proposals though, but on 'Making it Count'. Nike, who support my running club, Run Dem Crew had put on a mind-bogglingly big event to mark this extra day, with over 400 members from all the different Nike Run Clubs in London setting off from their individual HQs, wearing custom t-shirts and high-viz bibs, ending up at the Southbank. They'd turned the London Eye green for the occasion (it's usually blue) and had all sorts of activities laid on. It was amazingly good fun, not least because I got to run with super cool people from the crew who are usually in different (read: faster) groups. We all ran together through the highways of London and the skyways of Barbican. Just glorious. 

Mubi CT and my actual back, from the 1948 Instagram

Watch this super slick video and see me jogging on the spot on the far right at 0:36. Away away away!

NIKE 29.02.12 – An extra day to #makeitcount from NikeRunningUK on Vimeo.

Just awesome. Really.

Back with more vintage for those of you mentals who don't like running soon. ;)

Fleur xx

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Tuxedo Row

Number seven in my series of gingery jaunts for The King's Ginger, and I thought it was time to pay a visit to that most famous of Rows... Savile Row! Take it away, me!

Savile Row isn't a place I've had much occasion to visit until now. A street of huge sartorial and historical significance, no doubt; but one which is very much for the gentlemen. Gentlemen of considerable means. It's most famous for being the home of bespoke tailoring, with most of the longest-established tailors in England having their headquarters there. In times gone by, commissioning a bespoke suit from a Savile Row tailor was an even more exclusive affair than it is today. You had to know someone, who probably had to know someone, who would be willing to make an introduction or recommendation to the tailor of your choice.

Henry Poole was (purportedly) the first tailor to open on the Row, when he added a new entrance to his father's shop, which was technically situated on Burlington Street. Other tailors soon flocked there, with many having never left.

Both as Prince of Wales and later as King, Edward was a dedicated clothes-horse. As with his food, cigars, sports, cars and women, he adored fine tailoring and was never less than perfectly turned-out. He and his entourage made Savile Row properly fashionable for the first time, and his favourite tailor of the many inhabiting that Mayfair strip was the aforementioned Henry Poole. And, as well as that Royal Warrant (and many in the proceeding years), Henry Poole & Co has another, very significant claim to fame: they are the original designers and creators of the Tuxedo... actually for Edward when he was the Prince of Wales.

Click to read!

Prince Bertie commissioned Henry Poole in 1860 to make him a short evening coat in the standard midnight blue silk of the time's longer formal eveningwear, something that had never been done before. Legend has it that 26 years later, a Mr James Brown Potter, native New Yorker and dashing gent with a beautiful wife, was invited to dinner at Sandringham. Potter ordered a short evening jacket in the same style as the Prince, and, when he returned to New York and attended the highly fashionable Tuxedo Club, the style took off and was ever more referred to as a Tuxedo. The above booklet from Henry Poole does slightly question this apocryphal story, since the Club's actual founders were Poole customers at the time of the original commission... but it makes for an interesting anecdote nonetheless.

But the short evening jacket is not the only sartorial flourish made famous by His Royalness. The origin of the custom for chaps leaving the bottom button of their waistcoats undone is often attributed to Edward. Two theories abound: one that his fondness for fine food and good living, and the resultant expanding waistline, was to blame. And the other is that as a chap who was far more obsessed with his clothing, even than most fashion-devoted ladies today, he used to change his whole outfit up to six times a day; and would forget to do up the bottom button. Looking at these theories objectively, neither makes much sense - he had so many garments made, they would have fitted him like a glove, despite his er... stately embonpoint... and his valet would never have allowed him to leave his room without being fully buttoned. Not only that, but many, many pictures survive of Edward fully fastened. Either way, though, it was a craze that caught on, and endures to this day.

The above photo, snapped with the kind permission of Anthony Rowland at Henry Poole, also explains the story behind Prince of Wales Check cloth - originally adopted by the Seafield family, and later favoured by Bertie, who adapted it and added a coloured overcheck.

Anyway, I know you're all DYING to know how *I* dressed while on this little excursion to the spiritual home of gentleman's tailoring, so I shan't keep you in suspense any longer.

Spring has very much sprung in London (for the time being, at any rate) so I was plenty warm enough in my Heyday trousers, white vintage-inspired blouse from H&M in the mists of time, and my pinky peach hand-knitted 40s bolero. White plimsolls (very impractical), carefully curated bangles and a miniature bottle of King's Ginger (of course), finished it off. Do please go and visit the KGL site today, as it's just been relaunched after a mini-facelift, and I think that, much like its namesake, it's looking really smart.

Soon going to be time for summery, gingery drinks, and I really can't wait! For now, why not try KGL with a drop of tonic - refreshing and warming!

Thank you to Mr Rowland at Henry Poole for letting me chat all things Bertie with him.

I leave you with my new mode of transportation... I wish.

Fleur xx

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