Wednesday, 29 February 2012

What a card!

Just nipping in with a little giveaway for you all. I was emailed a week or two ago by artist Twinkle Troughton with a really interesting little story about her Nanna Trudy, who moved to the UK in 1951 from Holland, after it was devastated by WWII. Here is some blurb, lifted straight from the press release (sorry for being a lazy, or rather time-poor sod today)...
Born in Amsterdam, Trudy’s childhood fell apart when in World War 2, her father joined the resistance movement and the family had to live under assumed names, in hiding, often eating no more than tulip bulbs.

At the age of 19 Trudy came to study nursing in Rugby, England and within months met the man she soon married. No guests at the wedding, just two witnesses, no honeymoon, but a trip to London Zoo. Pale, beautiful, thin, afraid of the sound of planes, in a foreign country, slowly Trudy saw a life that held promise and joy. Her pictures, all originals, drawn in 1951-52, reflect the life she so wanted to live.

Years later after Trudy passed away, these drawings by a much loved Nanna resurfaced. The family felt the drawings were too beautiful to be hidden away in an old sketchbook. In honour of Trudy and her dreams, and for thousands of women like her in those post war years, these drawings have been given new life. The drawings are not nostalgic reflections of an era gone by, but were created at the time and are as authentic and original as any vintage artefact you might find.

Vintage Trudy includes greeting cards and gift tags, aprons and cushion covers. The range will be expanding with new lines added as the venture grows. Vintage Trudy merchandise will be available online at http://etsy.com/shop/VintageTrudyOriginal
I thought it was a lovely story and I really like helping out little companies, so in return for a couple of the cards (which I'm going to frame), I said I would host a giveaway. One lucky reader will win a set of all eight Vintage Trudy Cards, worth £20. Perfect for the upcoming wedding season, or birthdays, or just in time for Mother's Day!



To enter, you know the drill, please leave me a comment below!  If you'd like another entry, please follow @VintageTrudy on Twitter and do a tweet mentioning the Prize Draw on my blog. Leave me a second comment to say you've done this (though I will check!). This is simply to spread the word a little bit, and get more people buying these cute cards with their awesome backstory.

Yes, it's open to anyone in the world!

I'll announce the winner on Monday 5th March.

Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Run, Walk, Party.

 Oooooooh, what a week it's been since my last post! I honestly thought it had been a few days, so I was quite surprised to see it had been an entire seven. Let's have a quick recap of all the things I did in that time, mostly in picture form.

Last Saturday I ran a half marathon! It was at Dorney Lake, near Eton: home of the Olympic Rowing venue for London 2012. It was a relentless 4 laps in an equally relentless wind. Here I am in my ninja gear, ready to run!


My goal was to cross the line in under two hours, to beat my previous best (at my first half-marathon back in September last year) of two hours, two minutes... And I did! Final chip time was actually 1:56:14 (the silly Garmin auto-stopped a couple of times as I paused to gulp a drink). Pleased as punch, I was!


Later that night, following lots of stretching and refuelling with pasta, was the Vintage Mafia's Ric Rac Club. It was, as mentioned in my last post, a launch party for Style Me Vintage: Clothes, by my dear friend Naomi. It was an absolute triumph, and despite feeling my self-inflicted weariness, I performed my usual duties as the Ric Rac Raffle Mistress of Ceremonies and sent many guests home clutching prizes.


Viv the Spiv lent me a helping hand with the ticket jar (and in this shot I'm holding our infamous Pork Pie). You may also be able to see that I was, in fact, wearing my medal. I kept it on for most of the night! What you can't see are my leg-healing compression tights, which I wore underneath my gown. I wore the long gown on purpose, obv.

Find a lot of photos of the night on Hanson Leatherby's site, and look out for the official portraits which will be coming soon!


Accessorising is everything!


On Sunday, I had to give my mum her car back. I crashed mine last week, you see. My fault (even though it wasn't, a silly woman stopped in front of me). So I drove to the sticks and treated my aching gams to a scenic, countryside walk. They didn't thank me during it, but they loosened up a lot after. I highly endorse a recovery stroll.



Isn't England beautiful sometimes?


On Monday and Wednesday, various members of the Vintage Mafia were taking part in a slightly secretive project... one which we hushed up mainly because we didn't believe it would actually happen... but it did. The VM will be featuring in a forthcoming edition of Marie Claire Taiwan, in both a fashion editorial and an interview! We shot a mixture of our own clothes and some of the very, very latest designer gear, including the above Prada outfit, as seen on the front cover of this month's Vogue! I loved it, with its cut out lace and shirred, pleated, full skirt. I posted this composition on Twitter asking who wore it the best, and everyone was kind enough to say me (although several people said they hated the outfit). I'm just hoping someone designs a high street version that I can actually afford to buy.


On Tuesday, as every Tuesday now, I ran with Run Dem Crew. While last week, I thought I might be ready to step up into the Baby Cheetah pace group, this week I actually went down again to Fast Hares, to give my battered legs a slight rest. We ran to the 'secret' graffiti tunnels under Waterloo Station, and got a real buzz from tearing up the tunnel to cheers from the other groups, plus a buzz from the solvent fumes as well.


Photo stolen from cedric_sneer - I'm sure you can spot me, in my pink and throwing my horns. There is some really fun stuff happening in my life at the moment, and much of it is down to joining the crew. Nothing but immense amounts of love for RDC right here. If you're a runner, a Londoner, and a wannabe-RDCer, then please come and join us all on the special Leap Year run next Wednesday the 29th. It'll be super fun and only 3 miles, so perfect for beginners. Get involved!



 Last but not least, I went with my brother to a book-signing given by the legendary Chrissie Wellington - reigning Ironman World Champion and unbeaten in any race she has ever done. She is an absolute machine (and my fingers can vouch for that after her handshake), but is so tiny, friendly and smiley. She told me she loved my Jitterbuggin dress and I told her I loved her (not really, but I thought it). I did declare my desire to do a 'vintage' triathlon in a swimsuit and flowery cap, Pashley and so forth. She told me to let me know when I did... now I had better do it!

So that was my week. How was yours?
Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Now taking BOOKings...

Always one for leaving things to nearly the very last minute, I think it's about time I filled you all in on a very exciting thing, a very wonderful person, and a very fabulous event that's taking place this weekend. 

If you're on Twitter (and even if you're not), you will probably have heard about one Miss Naomi Thompson's first published book, Style Me Vintage: Clothes. I may even have mentioned it on here before (mind like a sieve and no time to check!), but if I haven't, here's the skinny. And the large.


The cover features Miss Jeni Yesterday in a delightful 50s dress. Jeni also models a less usual 50s look inside as I will show you shortly...


La Thompson herself, looking radiant...


Oh! It's me! In the intro bit...


There are sections on looks - formal and informal - from the 20s, all the way to the 80s. Check out the painfully lovely Miss Annie Pancake, flapper extraordinaire.


Jeni in the aforementioned 50s capri look. Each section is replete with swatches of fabrics from that era. The one on the left is one of my absolute favourites.


And the whole Mafia feature. Miss Gemma King looks like a 30s starlet on her page....


Bethan looks absolutely stunning as a 70s girl...


And Lisa looks flawless in 40s formal wear.


Finally, Noms' sister stars in the 80s section... by far the most stylish 80s recreation I have ever seen (and I mean that!).

I realise I'm biased, but this is a stunning book. It's got absolutely everything a vintage newbie could need to know, as well as tips even we old hands would find vastly useful. I'm just so proud of Naomi, I could burst. So it's been an honour to have been working my behind off for the past month or so, helping her create the launch party of her dreams! It takes place this Saturday, and everyone can come along!


We've been running these shindigs for a while, but obviously this one is a little bit special. We've got some truly amazing raffle prizes to give away, many based around our highly tenuous 'literary theme'. *deep breath*

FOUR signed copies of Style me Vintage.

A year’s subscription to BBC Homes and Antiques Magazine.

A bottle of The King's Ginger Liqueur.

Two bottles of bubbly from Freixenet.

Hair flowers from Now Voyager.

A stunning hat from Yellow Bird Hats

Another gorgeous hat from Strumpet Hats

A copy of Am I A Chap? The essential guide for every modern gent!

A pair of What Katie Did seamed stockings and a CD of songs from Fiona Harrison aka Evette the Spivette.

A copy of Learning to Live out Loud by Piper Laurie (of Twin Peaks fame)


Plus lots of food items and other bits we've rustled up on the night. But the raffle is FREE for every Ric Rac guest. We're also planning a 40s DJ set by MOI, a 50s set by Jeni and our famous 60s and northern soul set by All Fringe, No Knickers.

Plus free drinks for everyone at the start of the night, courtesy of our sponsors King's Ginger and Freixenet! Yippee!

 Mmm..fizzy!

There's no pretension at the Ric Rac. We like to think of it (and it has been described thus), as a house party in a pub. There's a fair few people coming on their own, too, so we're going to be mingling like the devil and introducing everyone to everyone else. A truly social occasion for all like-minded folks! Anyway! If you'd like to come, head over the the Vintage Mafia site and follow the links to buy tickets. We will have some on the night, but not many... and the event is Critics Choice in Time Out this week. Eeek!




Hope to see some of you there..and winning those amazing prizes!

Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Beaus & Arrows

Not to jump on a topical bandwagon or anything, but it's Valentine's Day. Did you notice? I certainly did. As virtually the only single one left of all my friends, from school mates, to college buddies, university housemates and all the people I hold dear in my adult life, this occasion does wear on one rather. I made the decision very early in 2012 to do everything in my power this year to 'make things happen'... a deliberately vague resolution! In terms of finding love, it's more that I'll ensure that instead of wasting more of my own time on pointless things, instead I'm a free spirit, doing my thing and ready for that cupid's arrow when it finally strikes both me AND the object of my affection. As opposed to the singular stabbings I've had to endure over the last few years. But said stabbing scars are nearly healed, plus I've read two very useful blogs in the last couple of days. Ladies, if any of you are suffering from badly implanted arrowheads, I encourage you to read this post by Bangs and this blinder on HelloGiggles. They both contain so many truths for me as over the last 3 years I have managed to fall for a succession of massively unsuitable and/or emotionally unavailable men. Not even their fault in most of the cases, but mine for not looking after number one. Never again! It's way better to be single than torturing yourself, say I... And if you're lucky enough to have a mutual adoration this V-Day, for gawd's sake go and snog/grope your man/girl/undetermined. Now! FINE, when you get home then. ;)

I'm going to the special Love Dem Crew tonight so I won't be at home moping. And throughout today I will be saying a silent thanks to the relationships I do have, that make my life better. My family, my pals, my previous lovers who are now friends and confidantes. I'm even thankful to those I have loved and lost for making me realise both what it's like to feel love and what it's like to hurt so much you can barely go on - it just means I will know and when I do, I'll be even happier than I could have been before!
Let me leave you with some photos that make me happy and thankful for my life and my friends this Valentines. As I said a few posts ago, on Friday night, all six of the VM girlies got together in our rainbow frocks for the first time this year and put our skills to work on the hair and lips of visitors to the Churchill War Rooms after hours event. We left lots of ladies feeling like beautiful 1940s starlets. Lovely! Who needs a man when you have that in your life, I ask you.







As you can see, we even sneaked (with permission) into the cabinet room itself, and posed being Winston Churchill's chair. Fun fact, that wire behind my bum is one of the most important in the whole bunker - it called the tea lady!

All photos by Hanson Leatherby Photography and more can be seen on the Vintage Mafia blog.

Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com

Monday, 13 February 2012

Celluloid clobber

... as opposed to the rather boring 'Film Fashion'. Writing posts about outfits I like in films I have watched is not something that I have ever done before, but I have often thought about it. I don't have a huge amount of spare time, and, much as I'd like to spend it gazing at a screen, in reality it doesn't happen all that often. But when I was contacted last week and asked if I'd be interested in reviewing the film Restless (mainly from a sartorial perspective) which comes out on DVD today, and after seeing the outfits, I thought, 'nothing ventured and all that'. So, for a bit of a break from the blogging norm, I said I would. So here goes nothing!



I watched the DVD of Restless last night. It was directed by Gus Van Sant, he of such award-winning (or at least award-nominated) films Good Will Hunting and Milk. Neither of which I've seen! But this only meant I didn't have any preconceived notions of what it would be like. It's a very gentle film, and a cross between a teenage love story and a supernatural fairytale, with ghosts and themes of love, loss and sadness. The main characters are Annabel and Enoch, the former a terminal cancer patient with only three months to live; and the latter a slightly strange young man who lost his parents in a horror smash that left him in a coma and gave him all sorts of behavioural difficulties (as well as a ghostly friend in the form of a Japanese kamikaze pilot from WWII). It's gentle in that the subject of death is mostly glossed over - there's not much raging or angst about it, just a calm serenity and acceptance of fate with occasional tears from loved ones. And even cancer is not portrayed as the horror it really is, with Annabel never really looking particularly ill, just pale and fragile. She acts beautifully though! As I say, it's gentle. But it is an exceedingly sweet film, and I enjoyed watching it.



There was obviously a lot of thought put into the costuming by a designer who has a very evident penchant for vintage. Annabel's outfits are by turn 60s inspired and 20s bohemian - this is probably more due to the close crop of her hair (the Hollywood sign of former chemo), which gives her a definite touch of the Mia Farrow (apt, given the actress is Mia Wasicowska, an Aussie with no trace of accent), crossed with a 20s Eton crop. Capes, tweed, cardigans, gloves and hats abound, and one outfit I don't have a screenshot of, but which I loved was a 60s shift dress and vintage shoes, plus a gorgeous statement coat in a dalmatian print. It's given me a real hankering to dog out my old rockabilly faux fur! But the above shot gives me a chance to finally plug a combo which I have seen in the flesh and which I adore - the Tara Starlet cropped cape!


I saw Tara at her last collection launch party looking just as she does in the photo, wearing the red/white houndstooth colourway. But can I just point out how utterly amazing the skirt is as well? It's super high waisted with the most gorgeous notched detail at the waistband... Tara, you need some shots of the skirt on its own! Looks absolutely fab paired with contrasting accessories, just like in the film shot, too.


Mustard yellow and red are a colour combination I LOVE, but am often too chicken to actually wear together, for fear of looking a little Ronald McDonaldy (technical term), but the above photo is proof of that theory being incorrect. But let's talk about the lovely BICYCLES for a minute! As you all know, I'm quite keen on the old cycling lark (and looking fab whilst doing it... though I do want to get all lycra-y and find myself a road bike as well... a blog for another day!), and while I obviously have nothing but love and praise for my beloved Pashley Britannia, there is a new option on the market.


Olympic cycling heroine Victoria Pendleton has teamed up with car parts superstore Halfords to produce some gorgeous retro bicycles for ladies. I stumbled across the photos the other day, and fell in love with the baby blue Somerby. I don't think they're out yet, but when they are, they will be a pretty reasonable £299. There's also the rather smashing Bobbin Bicycles who have their own range of 'vintage' bikes, including one that's the spitting image of the one above. If you're going to wear a hat on a bike, it probably should actually protect your head, of course... so have a look at Cycle Chic for a range of stylish helmets (including some with actual hats on top of hard shells).


There's a lot of good trouserage in the film, too. Apart from the fact it's warmer and saves one shaving one's legs in the winter, wearing trousers also saves a thrifty girl a lot of money on stockings and tights in the winter. A winner all round, then. I'm a fan of the 1920s-1930s college girl look that Mia is sporting in the above picture. I'd put more of a 40s spin on such a look, of course, so here's an outfit inspired by, but not really the same as the above!


Here's yours truly in a pair of herringbone tweedy trousers from Heyday, and a Pendleton 49er repro from Freddies of Pinewood; plus my current covet - Veronica shoes from Office. Vintage Pendleton jackets are easy enough to find, too. Etsy is full of 'em!

So all in all, Restless is definitely worth a watch in my opinion, for the sweet story and quirky fashion alike. It is out on DVD now, available from all good retail emporia. And with that, my first foray into film fashion is finito! What do you think? Personally, I think I need a prompt like this to get back into the old V.I. Buys segments I used to do with such enthusiasm when I had time to browse sites for fabulous things. Let me know if you'd like me to do more of such things, won't you.

Toodle-loo for now!

Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com

PS. This post was sponsored, but I decided to do it as a good excuse for a new type of post. All opinions are my own and none of the product links are sponsored*, they are all my own picks. Just sayin'.

(*except Heyday, technically; but our partnership is based around the Fleur dresses).

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Drumroll please...

The winner of a bottle of delicious King's Ginger liqueur is...

(43 comments plus three statements of following on Twitter or Facebook)

And that is Straight Talking Mama! aka Fiona! I absolutely cross my heart and hope to die that I pressed that button only the once, but I'm so glad it's Fiona as I know she a. loves booze and b. works hard and deserves a reward. So, hurrah! Email me your postal address please, me dear.

And so this isn't simply an announcement post, here's a photo of the Vintage Mafia in our matching Heyday Fleur dresses (which are still on sale I see!), taken on Friday night after we had finished styling in our little vintage boudoir at the Churchill War Rooms after hours event! Come to the next one, won't you (or hire us for your event)?


Back tomorrow with something a little different - a film review post. It's good to change things up a little, don't you think?

Have a glorious rest-of-Sunday, all!

Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com

Friday, 10 February 2012

Gingembre Libre

I spend a lot of time writing about the King's Ginger on here, but it's been a while since I offered any up to you lot. So I'm rectifying this!

As all you Brits know, we're suffering from something of a cold snap at the moment. Not only that, but it's also nearly Valentine's Day!  There's no better thing, surely, that warms not only your cockles, but your loins too! For ginger is, of course, an aphrodisiac. A glass of champagne with a dash of King's Ginger is perfect for serving to your loved one (or the object of your desire) on this coming St Valentine's Eve. You could also treat said paramour to a box of Charbonnel & Walker truffles, flavoured with that most majestic of... flavours.

But for those of us, who, like me, are single this Hallmark holiday, you'll be glad to know that ginger also has another very healthful property! You can actually use it to detox your body - when grated into a bath, the effect is apparently astonishing! Sounds from that article like it gets one rather hot and steamy, which is a good substitute for the other kind of steaminess, I guess. And good if you've overindulged in too much King's Ginger, probably. Not that I ever would, of course.



Of course you could save yourseld the bother of grating ginger, and pour KGL into your bath. OR, you could save wasting KGL and simply drink it in the bath. It worked for me!



So anyway - here's how you can win a bottle of the gingery goodness for yourself.

To enter, you simply need to leave me a comment below. It needn't be insightful or witty, but I encourage that all the same.

If you would like another entry, do please follow @TheKingsGinger on Twitter and/or become a fan on Facebook. We're going to be posting fun stuff over the coming months and no boring stuff is allowed (and I'd appreciate it immensely). If you do either or both of these things, please leave me a comment below to say so.

OBVIOUSLY, you need to be over 18 to enter.

And UNFORTUNATELY you can only reside in the UK as we can't post booze abroad.

But those are the only rules.Winner will be drawn by random number generator or possibly an owl pecking at numbered sunflower seeds.

I'll announce the winner on Sunday 12th February.


NB. To save me headaches, please don't comment unless you're entering the draw. I thank you!

Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Getting 'Real'

I'm going to have a little bit of a rant. The opinion I am going to air is not unique to me, but it's not something I have written about before on here. But here it is anyway. I have a massive problem with the term 'real women'.

It's a phrase that abounds on the *cough* Daily Mail showbiz pages (I only ever accidentally spend several minutes reading those articles, of course), and also used in association with a lot of vintage and pinup discussions or Facebook posts, et cetera. It seems to mean a particular type of woman - one with an undefined but nonetheless significant amount of flesh. Christina Hendricks is real, but Victoria Beckham is not, apparently.


Let me make one thing completely clear.

All women are 'real'. It's a very ridiculous thing to say that by virtue of anatomy, which is very often out of our control to some extent, one woman is somehow more womanly than another. The above picture is absolutely ridiculous. I prefer this one.



Why the media keep recycling the stupid phrase, which is then picked up and echoed by those thoughtless enough to use it to belittle thin ladies, is beyond me. I know, I know, the general idea is to encourage the media to show pictures of unairbrushed flesh, with its blotches, marks and all; rather than a photoshopped vision of unreality. But it's now extended to people deciding that those who are lacking in those important but painfully vague 'curves' are somehow less than those that do have them. But unless we're Kryton from Red Dwarf, we all have curves. Some have a greater degree of curvature. Some have 'too much', apparently. And even that is a bone of contention, as illustrated recently by Karl Lagerfeld declaring Adele to be 'too fat', and the justified outrage that ensued.You're only 'too fat' when you feel yourself to be so, or if it's preventing you from doing things, threatening your health, or making you miserable. Similarly Kate Moss I think once said, 'Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels'. Well if you're weak from hunger and can't function properly, that probably feels pretty rubbish. I often look at some of the painfully thin celebs out there (Angelia Jolie is one), and wonder how they manage. But it doesn't occur to me to judge her appearance and think she is less of a woman.

I read yesterday, and with some interest, ReeRee Rockette's fab post about thighs, and her desire that we should all love ourselves the way we are. We're all different, and we should be fostering a positive body image, and I wholeheartedly agree. BUT. I don't really agree with the theory of working on loving yourself just the way you are, if there are parts of you that make you utterly miserable, and that are within your power to change.

Yep.. I'm about to evangelise about my new healthy lifestyle again... you have been warned!

There are parts of my body that I dislike. I think my calves are horrible, wide and stocky. I like my slender ankles, and I think they're ruined by my calves. Running has not made a difference to how I feel, as while they haven't changed got smaller or bigger, but they have become even more muscly. I know I'm not alone in this, world Ironman Champion triathlete Chrissie Wellington also hates her calves. But could she has broken so many records without their sheer power? Probably not. There are lots of bits of my body that I've never been a big fan of - always thought my legs too short, torso too long, thighs too wobbly, tummy too flabby, bum either too big or too flat depending on my weight (it's the first thing to disappear when I lose weight). You get the picture. Bits I have always quite liked include my collarbones, upper arms and waist to hip ratio. Overall, I always felt I was B minus, could try harder. Especially as I approached 30 last year, single, unfit and slightly depressed. I felt like my face looked haggard, lined and older than my years due to eating badly and weight loss (the heartbreak diet), my limbs were skinny yet flabby, the other dislikes listed above making themselves known and overriding the likes.

My first public Lycra photo! This was 8 months or so ago...
time to do a new one and show you what's changed!

And then I plunged myself into training for a half marathon and watched everything change before my eyes. Nearly one year on, I can wholeheartedly say I am really proud of my body. Nay, chuffed with it. Not just because of how it looks as ultimately it's not *that* different* - though it's leaner, toned and my skin is better - but because of what it can DO. It can run for 10 miles and still get stuff done (whether I can say the same next weekend after a half marathon followed by the Ric Rac Club, we shall see...). It can dance to swing all night, it can cycle, it can carry me everywhere. Exercise has had a positive effect on both my physical body and my mind. Exercise can make you smaller, or it can make you bigger and more powerful. It's flipped a switch so that I focus on the good bits and not the other bits. It therefore makes me feel a bit sad to hear that people 'loathe' bits of them, when it's absolutely in their power to do something about it. It takes only 21 days to form a habit, whether that's exercise or diet. 21 days is nothing when you've hated your body for years, or even a whole lifetime.

I'm all for learning to love yourself, but if it's in your power to change something that is making your life miserable, then do it. Just do it. Not tomorrow, or next week, or when work's calmed down, or you've finished that box of chocs. I'm not telling you all to take up running, but to make positive changes towards your own happiness in yourself. One step at a time.

Make this the year that you do everything in your power to make yourself the happiest you've ever been. And then treat yourself to something fabulous for being so gosh darned 'real'. And by real I mean awesome.

Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Style signatures

Obviously, dressing and looking as I do (and the various incarnations of different alternative styles I've sported over the years) shows that looking unusual and drawing others' attention is not something I have a problem with. And while I'm most definitely not an attention seeker in any way (it's a by-product of dressing differently rather than a goal in and of itself), I do like belonging to a subculture. That vintage is no longer a subculture is a longer discussion for a different day, but I do find that by wearing vintage it's easy to stand apart, even from your peers. The chances of seeing another girl in your dress is minimal, to absolute zero when it comes to home-made garments, and I love that! I do, however, as you all know wear repro nearly every day. As do most of my friends. The small pool of brands out there makes it more likely that you'll see someone else in the same top or dress as you if you go to a vintage event wearing repro or high street finds. This is why adding style signatures and putting your own spin on things that set you apart are so important.

I spend a lot of time thinking about what makes a person stylish. I love bright colours, loud jewellery and patterns; and am good at colour coordinating, but I don't possess the style nous of, say, the Bright Young Twins. These painfully gorgeous and upsettingly young things have that uncanny ability to put Edwardian blouses with Primark trousers, adding belts, jewellery and other accessories to make an outfit that is utterly unique. Add to this the dedication, eye and sheer LUCK to find original millinery pieces, showgirl costumes and suchlike, and their wardrobes are the stuff of dreams. I love them, and am also hugely envious, can you tell?




I've known a fair few ladies throughout the years who have this style sixth sense, and an alarming array of accessories that can be used to create these one-off looks. It's something you either have, or don't have, I think. I don't really have it, much as I'd like to.

I do have my own style signatures, though. Not unique to me of course - what is, these days? Though my blog and general existence I've probably inspired people to adopt certain things, but I wasn't the one who dreamed them up in the first place anyway, so it doesn't matter at all. But rather than just putting on an outfit that's easy, safe or straight out of a magazine page or catwalk, everyone should put their own spin on it. A change is as good as a rest, after all!


I love bangles. You know this! I like to wear a giant stack of them at the same time. Lots of girls do, of course, and a lot of my girlfriends even have the same ones; but the chances of you wearing the exact same combination at the same time are slim. Combined with different earrings, handbags, shoes and cardigans, even samey outfits can look different.

Some of my friends always seem to have on a different, fabulous coat, a signature hairstyle that no one else could master, a penchant for outrageous shoes that no one else would or could wear, a very precise look that differs from the popular vintage ones out there, but which suits the wearer down to an absolute T. So despite knowing a huge number of dedicated vintage gals and despite the fact that literally every time the Vintage Mafia get together, at least two or more of us will be in the same Heyday trousers, the same Freddies jeans or the same Rocket Originals shoes, I hardly ever wind up feeling like I'm wearing the same, or looking the same as anyone else.

 errrrrmmmm.

In all seriousness, modern fashion and its conformity baffles me. I've heard mothers of teenagers (both sexes) say their kids would rather die than stand out, and if you've ever seen a gaggle of trendy 15 year old girls together, it's hard to tell where the first skinny jean, Ugh boot and long tousled hair stops, and the next begins. Alternative fashion among 6th form age kids is also absolutely massive now compared to how it was when I was 17, so even they look quite similar to me these days. Showing my age in one sentence, there! But while there's probably no such thing as a unique look in itself any more, I encourage everyone to put their unique spin on an outfit. And upon your life generally. If you can stand out in how you look, you can make waves in anything in life, believe me.

Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Ginger rocks.

In my latest and sixth adventure for The King's Ginger, it was time to make a flying visit to the seaside. It's true to say that Brighton does indeed rock, or so thought his Majesty King Edward VII!



It was a cold, crisp January morning in the Home Counties, when I set off on the road to the coast. Brighton is a place full of history, and I can't really claim to do it justice in this short story, but I shall try nonetheless. While the town is full of beautiful Georgian architecture, it first gained its reputation as a fashionable and slightly daring resort town in the early 1840s, when Victorian ladies and gents would hop on the newly finished railway and head down for some sea bathing (paddling in the water wearing more clothes than you or I would wear on most winter days). The proceeding decades saw huge numbers of people flock there to stay, and indeed to live; and the now-famous Victorian landmarks began to spring up.

The Encyclopaedia of Brighton has this to say about our friend King Edward.
The young Prince Edward first visited Brighton with his parents, Victoria and Albert, in 1842, aged less than one year. Edward came to the town many more times as Prince of Wales, and after he had succeeded his mother on 22 January 1901 at the age of fifty-nine, he convalesced in Brighton on several occasions in an attempt to improve his health; he suffered from bronchitis. He stayed with his daughter, Princess Louise, at her house, 1 Lewes Crescent, for a week in February 1908 and was afforded exclusive use of the Kemp Town enclosures. He was also a friend of the Sassoon family, and often stayed with Arthur Sassoon at 8 King's Gardens, Hove.
So good provenance then.

It was an utterly beautiful, if absolutely freezing day as I promenaded up and down the sea front, trying to imagine being a Victorian lady taking the air. Blue skies and glorious sunshine made the buildings and structures magnificent. 



I was here to visit the Peace Statue, a memorial to King Edward VII, and unveiled two years after his death, in 1912. One of Edward's more salubrious nicknames was 'Edward the Peacemaker', for although he is probably more remembered for his love of the finer things in life, he was also a terribly nice chap, and this fact had wide-ranging influence. I hope to cover one of the more famous incidents at some point in the near future, but suffice to say, his peacemaking was such that it was rewarded with this statue - a draped, female angel holding an orb and an olive branch. The memorial fund also paid for a home for the Queen's Nurses.

But why was this memorial placed in Brighton? Simply because old Bertie was a huge fan of the place. He spent a lot of time relaxing and convalescing in Brighton and nearby Hove (the boundary of which is marked by the placement of the winged Peace). As I walked the seafront, I imagined how it would have looked in his day...


Pretty different, then.

While the Palace Pier, glorious in its tat, it still going strong since 1899 (with no really recognisable Edwardian features after the 1901 music hall was removed in the 80s), the West Pier, a much more elegant structure was lost to us in 2002. First the walkway fell into the sea, followed by the collapse of the Pavilion. Then, in 2003, in a suspected arson attack, the whole thing caught fire and the concert hall was consumed. This is all that is left now - a ghostly reminder of its former glory. Edward would have wiled away happy hours on the end of this pier, looking out to sea.

A short walk down the front to Hove, and another of his favourite spots can be found, albeit one that bears little resemblance to how it would have been back then. His alleged 'favourite seat' in Queen's Gardens is now only imaginary, but I didn't let that stop me from having a bit of a sit.



I'm a bit further down, but there were no seats to be found in that short strip of seafront... though the beach huts are quite cute (and quintessentially British). The Georgian building in the middle is dwarfed by high rise flats and choked by concrete... though I imagine the views from said blocks are probably marvellous. And they do at least make the original bits look even better!

One of my favourite places is the little Victorian bandstand that's found almost smack-dab in the middle of everything. It's played host to untold numbers of musicians over the years, and can now be hired for weddings (how lovely). More recently, Mr B. The Gentleman Rhymer filmed his Chap Hop History video there.








I wanted to get some shots in, and, in the late afternoon sunlight, they came out quite well!


Silhouette-y!


As I mentioned in my last post, it was mighty nippy down on the coast. I had intended to take lots of lovely outfit shots, with the sea behind me, and the wind whipping my hair elegantly about; but unfortunately, real life isn't quite like that. I shed my heavy black coat for mere moments, and, while you've already seen a couple of sneaky previews, here are a few more of my outfit, and my winter warmer (of course), in all their  glory!


Here I am again in the magnificent Jitterbuggin Bybee dress... please visit my last post for a rather smashing discount code... but back to the subject in hand. Honestly, and with no fibbing whatsoever, I felt distinctly, no, remarkably warmer with a glug of ginger in my belly. It warms you up as it goes down, and sits there, pleasantly radiating warmth. It also felt like it was helping digest the rather delicious if terrifyingly fattening lunch I had on the front. Fish 'n' chips ('n' other assorted fried sea treats), naturally.

YUM.



Cheers to you all... I shall leave you with a recipe for a cocktail, well a punch really, of my own devising; to warm you up on a crisp winter's day. Though it probably helps if you're not wearing a thin cotton frock!
Fleur's Ginger Warmer

Three parts pressed apple juice (not that concentrate muck!)
One part King's Ginger liqueur
cinnamon sticks and cloves
dash of cinnamon and nutmeg

Heat all the ingredients and simmer for a wee while (all the measurements and timings are highly specific, as you can see), until all the flavours are released... then drink! 

If you are a bit lazy though (I know I am!), you can simply mix a measure of KGL into a hot mug of Copella Winter Warmer, which is unbelievably delicious (and I shall mourn it when it's gone).

Speak to you all again soon!

Spicy kisses,

Fleur xx
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