Friday, 27 January 2012

Spring out of season

Ordinarily, I wouldn't be posting another round of sponsor adulation so soon after the last one, but this is a bit of a special case. This dress has traversed the world like a little cloth-based gap year student before landing in my eager mitts after what seemed like an absolute eternity. Oh, but it was worth the wait! Behold the glory of the Jitterbuggin Bybee dress!

If you know me at all, you will know that the words 'Forties' and 'peasant' are like music to my ears. So when Kim from Jitterbuggin got in touch last year and asked if she could sponsor my blog by sending me a Forties peasant dress from her collection, I considered it for approximately 0.237 of a second before shrieking, 'Bally right you can!' (or possibly something similar with an expletive). The dress then arrived in England some time in November, and due to our useless postal system, then found itself flying back across the Atlantic. Or, actually, it must have sailed, or even swum back with a quick party stop in Cancun, because it took weeks to sheepishly reappear. Kim stuck it back in the post, and this time it dropped on my doormat, a few days ago. And because it is SO AMAZING, despite it being pretty darned nippy over here in Blighty, I'm bringing spring back a couple of months early. And why not, indeed?

I put it on yesterday, and did a wee bit of posing with some greenery, English rose-meets 40s Spanish señorita style. But I also had a big mission yesterday (the earlier discussed Ginger-based jaunt to Brighton), and so the frock took a trip to some very different British scenery. To the seaside!

Can I just say it was blooming parky. Cor blimey, the (hair-ruining!) wind! Sheer brass monkeys, coldy freezingness. Most of the rest of the photos from my trip (which will be revealed early next week) were taken with me firmly wrapped up in my winter coat, but the sunshine was so glorious that I could kiiind of pretend to be on a warm, spring trip to the coast. Brrrrr-acing!

These pictures show the exact colours of the dress much better too - deep grass green skirt paired with an amazing feedsack top in cream, scattered with blue, red and leaf green birds and yellow swirls. Click on the picture to see the print in more detail, or go to the Jitterbuggin site for more angles if you so desire.

Now obviously, Jitterbuggin clothing is not at the cheap end of the repro spectrum. But it is astonishingly well-made. I know a lot of vintage ladies who are big fans of her blouses as they're both authentic and durable for daily wear, this dress seems the same. I know you'll see a LOT more of it on here (I may never take it off), and if you want to treat yourself (or better yet, get someone to treat you) to something really, really lovely, then please go to Kim.

But wait! What about a special Fleur discount deal, you cry? Your wish is my command!

If you enter the code 'Vintage Diary' at checkout, you can get 15% off anything and everything in the store. This deal will be on from now until 12th February (anyone else thinking of a certain present-based event around then? Start dropping hints now!) so do use it if you can. Thanks a million to Kim for setting that up.

And if you, like me, are a social networking fiend, please go fan, follow or blog-subscribe to find out about more special offers and new designs and suchlike straight from the source.

Peasanty smooches to you all,

Fleur xx

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

A little sponsor love...

Sooo... how are we all? I see my last post garnered lots of lovely replies, and I am so glad that it left you all feeling motivated. I'm also really relieved that my inclination to wear lycra and run around hasn't scared you all off in droves. I'll always try to keep my posts on the subject relevant and interesting, I promise.

Anyway, back to the vintage style. I have a full on fashion, history and booze based picture post planned for you in the next couple of days as I set off for a new King's Ginger adventure to a far flung place (er...Brighton), but I wanted to pop in before that and show a bit of love for one of my most loyal and lovely sponsors, 20th Century Foxy. This fab site has long been a supplier of all things slinky and sultry, carrying Stop Staring dresses and Trashy Diva pieces among others. And, as you know, I've been a staunch advocate of authenticity for years and it's led me to eschew bengaline in favour of cotton and full skirts. But 2012 is, I've decided, the year I'm going to bring sexy back (to myself), and thus have accepted a wiggle-tastic Stop Staring frock as part of my sponsorship deal from 20th Century Foxy, which will be making its debut on here in the next few weeks.

But the big news is that in response to the rising prices and atrocious dollar exchange rates that has made importing repro items a little too expensive, owner Clare has just started up her own line which will gradually replace the brands on her site. And as she's been so lovely to me, I volunteered to showcase one of the first items in her collection, the 1940s Swing Trousers, just to say thank you. So here they are!

These trousers are lovely, made from a wool and linen mix tweed in a wearable colour that can only be describes as 'Ginger'. Not an itch to be found either, so no worries there. They're high waisted, but without a waistband, and I'd say quite generously sized on the hips. I'm in a 10, which is purported to be 27.5" waist, 37" hip, but my hips are definitely closer to 39 and they fit beautifully.

Why am I sitting down, you may ask? Well the inside leg appears to be around 32", and me being a lanky git has an inside leg of 33.5". They would be absolutely spot on if I had let down the hem, but I am not keeping these trousers - not because I don't like them, far from it; but because I have approximately 4 million pairs of trousers (give or take), and 20th Century Foxy's own label range is so newly launched, I do not need or want to take gratuitous freebies from it. So I was reluctant to unpick seams for the sake of a photo. I also would buy them, but you know... tax return poverty time. :(

I hope you'll go visit 20th Century Foxy if you find yourself in need of some new clobber, and support this hard-working, homegrown company! I thank you.

Fleur xx

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Best Foot Forward

January. It's such a cliché. Everywhere I look, there's diet food on discount, gym membership leaflets being handed out, blog posts on resolutions and people vowing to take up this, and give up that. It's nothing more than a recipe for failure, for the solution is probably just as cliché - you have to change your whole attitude and approach, but only little by little; because nothing is more doomed to disaster than going cold turkey on the things you enjoy or committing yourself to a huge amount of something you don't.

 Nothing wrong with a bit of pie & mash... all in moderation of course!

I'm not immune to the hype, of course. I have made some promises to myself for this year - a combination of personal challenges to push myself further, stand for less nonsense and, most of all, to believe in myself a bit more, and stop putting up with situations, people and things that are in turn stopping me from achieving my dreams. Though really, in my life, the biggest thing that's stopping me from achieving said dreams is myself.

As you all know, I have become something of an evangelist for all things sporty in the last ten months or so. It seems hard to believe that this time last year, I hadn't put foot to tarmac for any reason other than getting from A to B, and not run for any reason apart from catching public transport in well over a decade. It's now one of the most important things in my life, and one of the main things that keeps me sane. Furthermore, it's caused me to meet lots of amazing new people and the most fantastic thing of all, it's even build a better, stronger relationship with my sporty brother. While we've always got on fine, we've never been hugely close, but now we're WhatsApping each other several times a week, planning training sessions, signing up to half-marathons together and we even went on holiday back in November. It's wonderful!


But I am a firm believer in doing things that scare you. Last night, I did something that made me super nervous - I put on my running shoes and long-sleeved lycra and headed into London to meet up for the first time with the Run Dem Crew - a 150-strong collective of creative minds that get together once a week to run London under cover of darkness. I'm so glad I did, as I got to meet Bangs and a Bun, who is a HUGE inspiration to me, both as a blogger and as a woman; as well as lots of other awesome people. I won't bore you all with an account of the run itself (though hot-footing with a group of 30 people it around the areas I know so well through driving and socialising was rather smashing), but the whole experience has filled me with inspiration and motivation - something I would like to pass on to you. I did promise motivational posts for this January, and I will try to make it relevant to all you vintage-minded souls; but the sentiment is universal. The message put out during the rousing speech before last night's session by Run Dem Crew's founder and leader Charlie Dark can be summed up quite simply: 'Be the best you can be'.

This struck a chord with me, because I have always strived to make the best of myself... albeit not in any way that benefits society. I have never been career-minded in the way many others are. I have now made a career out of doing things I love and will hopefully continue to do so for many years to come, but my clients tend to find me, not the other way round. I am not all that good at pushing myself to get work, which is why I've quietly launched my 'Hire Me' section above... I will be plugging it more in the future, of course!

The things I want most for myself have nothing to do with careers or material possessions: a loving, fulfilling relationship, marriage, children... these things are kind of beyond my control, so I can't push for those either. But something that occupies me constantly is the desire I have always had to look my absolute best. That's why I've dedicated my whole adult life to my various looks (vintage being the longest lasting and deepest passion), and the result is that I have become known for how I style myself. It's vain, it doesn't change anyone else's life except mine. But it makes me happy. And, actually, it HAS improved some other people's lives - the emails I receive every day would seem to illustrate that!

 The What Katie Did girls gamely pretend to be fascinated... like THEY need any tips! ;)

You could quite rightly say that me taking up running doesn't really benefit others, either. But my enthusiasm HAS infected others - both friends and readers. And the difference being fit and healthy has made to all areas of my life can't be denied. I know I'll never be an Olympic athlete, nor the next Chrissie Wellington, but I have the drive to constantly improve and be the best I can be at that given time. Improving by small increments is better than standing still or sliding backwards. Just getting out there is the key, whether you walk round the block or run a marathon. Charlie Dark put it best last night when he said that he's not impressed by someone who can run a marathon in two and a half hours. Someone who runs one in six however... to be out on the road, striving to succeed for that long... that takes some serious guts. But the rewards of achieving your goals are phenomenal: when you do, no matter how modest said goals are, it makes other aspirations seem well within your reach. You'll be surprised at how this attitude inspires others around you into making their own inroads!

So, set some achievable goals this year, and really start to better yourself. Do things that scare you! Take up a new hobby and meet some new friends (even if there's nothing wrong with your old friends), find an activity that fits in with your life - be it running, cycling, yoga, zumba or swing dancing. Wear that dress you've never felt brave enough to sport in public. Try bright lipstick, a new hair-colour. Start looking for a new job. Ask out that boy or girl; or ditch the one that's making you miserable. Cut down on smoking, eat more vegetables, drink more water! Don't try to change everything in one go, because it's way too hard.

And it is a cliché, but 2012 should be the year that we all try to better ourselves, in small ways or large. Taking on projects that will help others is brilliant, and I applaud and admire altruism in anyone. I aim to do more myself in that vein this year. But we all need to be happy within ourselves first. And I am on my way to achieving that - let's do it together! Share your goals with me here, and we'll revisit this over the course of the year. If we don't prove the Mayans right and get wiped out by a giant asteroid or alien invasion, or whatever.

My goals:
  • Run faster and stronger.
  • Cycle more and save up for a road bike.
  • Eat more protein, and drink more water.
  • Meet as many new people as possible, from different walks of life.
  • Do some more acting!
  • De-clutter my home and donate all the clothes I haven't worn in a year or more to charity. NOT the vintage, I hasten to add!
  • Go on more dates. Even just with my girlfriends! ;)
  • And because we need at least one vintage-themed goal: acquire one of those 1940s phone cord handbags in red, yellow, blue, green and white!

That's it for now, but I'm sure it'll grow as the year marches on. And other exciting things are happening soon, too. My new Heyday Fleur dress design will be out this spring, you will LOVE it! I have secret projects in the works, of my own and with the Vintage Mafia. I have races, and possible holidays, and potential acting gigs, and a BIG MOVE TO LONDON, where I'll be living with VM girlies in a massive and awesome VM HQ. Far too much going on to feel glum about the things I *can't* change.

 This year will be sweeeet. Thanks to Olivier Rogery for these unused Figaro photos!

It's going to be a good year, I feel it in me bones. Let's make it happen together!


Fleur xx

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Visiting the past

I would like to announce that I have failed on the 12 Days of Christmas Outfits. I spent the proceeding three days from my last post, holed up in my flat, wearing little of note and seeing no one to take photos of me, even had I been wearing something nice. Not wishing to subject you to a further three self-taken, cameraphone mirror pictures, I decided to quit while I was behind. I will make it up to you with some future, fancy pictures, promise.

But here's something a little different for you.

I have often posted here about a photographer I've now collaborated with several times, Tobias Key. Toby and I have done several shoots together with some of my very favourite pictures produced as a result. One picture I haven't shared with you is this one.

I'm not sure why I haven't posted this portrait. Taken by a large format camera straight on, I think it is quite uncompromising. But maybe it's just because I'm so thoroughly used to exploiting my 'best angles' and turning to just the right point to look as aesthetically pleasing as possible.

But actually, it's good to show a different type of picture once in a while, and even more so when it's part of a quite exciting project.

Toby has just posted up a blog with his latest portrait in the series, which he's tentatively named 'The Past is a Place I Like to Visit'.

This beautiful lady is called Simone, but she is not nearly so fabulous as my dear friend Miss Cherrylicious (who I haven't seen in ages and this must be rectified soon!), who has also been captured recently by Toby.

The sharpness of the large format camera gives the images a haunting property that works really well with the primness of vintage, and makes such a change from the cheery cheesecake that abounds these days. I hope to do another shoot for this series at some point. And if any vintage ladies and gentlemen (as I believe he wants to include the chaps but has trouble tracking them down, hence needing my help!) want to get involved with Toby's project, please contact him here, and tell him I sent you!

Fleur xx

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Sieben, Acht, Happy Neu(n) Year!

And a very happy new year to you all!

England is currently in the throes of the Apocalypse, as I write, rain pelts my window and my parents sit shivering in the cold due to gale-induced power cuts. But all is not lost, for if it is the end of the world, at least the last thing you see will be pictures of my outfits from the last three days. I can't think of a better way to go. Assuming, that is, that checking blogs is on your 'to-do-before-imminent-death' list.

Anyway, enough typing, more visuals. The seventh day of Christmas is a biggie. New Year's Eve. I had been looking forward all week to partying with La Maf (only four of us as geography and germs sadly kept Naomi and Gemma away). We went, as previously mentioned, to Die Freche Muse - a decadent, vintage-themed night that saw the other girls dressed in floor length gowns and furs. Since I didn't have a new gown to wear, and besides which I am already heartily sick of winter, I decided to summer it up completely. I did have one rather snazzy new frock, which came from the amazingly lovely Miss Bamboo, and I wanted to wear it, weather and theme be-damned. So I did.

What I didn't do is remember to stop enjoying myself long enough to pose for a full-length picture. Nor did Hanson take any pictures in colour. I hope the official pics pop up soon, so in the mean time, use your imagination and the link to the Trashy Diva dress to imagine the colours....

Trashy Diva Trixie Sarong in the 'Pearl Harbour' print from Miss Bamboo, bangles in white, blue, green, red, yellow and bamboo to complement, bamboo earrings and white wedges from Remix, topped off with a large helping of gin. And that was NYE.

New Year's Day started with a rather piercing headache, soon assuaged by a delicious burger and viewing of Sherlock Holmes at the Hackney Picturehouse. This is what I wore.

A skirt which I had made for me, years and years ago, by TopRunway, a vintage 40s blouse (eBay), stockings and my winter boots again. Also, the last remaining undrunk booze from New Year's Eve, a delicious bottle of artificially flavoured Pineapple Daquiri. No one fancied it, either on the night or the next day. I wonder why.


And finally, yesterday. We're back to phone cam again, and an underwhelming post climax (probably). Because the only 'outfit' I put on yesterday was my newest running gear to go and pound the streets of Surrey and work off some festive pounds.

This is me as a Nike Ninja.Full length leggings and a long sleeve turtleneck. Snug!

I also downloaded some audiobooks to listen to as I run... which turned out to be a great idea as I didn't get at all bored, though I think it made me run slightly slower as I concentrated on listening. Or maybe that was the mince pies and wine.

Anyway, here's hoping 2012 brings you all your hopes and dreams. But you have to be the one that makes it all happen!  I'm penning some inspirational, motivational posts which will be coming up soon, to help you be the most kick-arse, high achieving vintage (or modern) girl out there. But until then, look after yourselves.


Fleur xx

Take a look!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin