Thursday, 21 May 2015

Riviera Style Via The Black Country

Photograph: Lancashire County Council
What is it they say about life being a series of strange coincidences? I was going to write about something completely different until I opened Facebook earlier & saw that Patti had shared a link from The Guardian about an exhibition celebrating a century of swimwear about to open at the London Museum of Fashion & Textiles. The images had me captivated.

Photograph: Lancashire County Council

Photograph: Lancashire County Council
Photograph: Lancashire County Council

Photograph: Lancashire County Council

The coincidence? I've added another three vintage 1960s swimsuits to my collection in the last few days.

I can't take the credit for this one, Lyndsey Boomerang found the fabulous St Michael floral number.

Sadly it's a bit too big so it'll be appearing on our rails very soon, where it will hopefully find a more buxom wench to adore.

This purple swimsuit is by Silhouette and, together with the Slix black fishnet costume, was from a charity shop in a market town a hour's drive away. We only visit a handful of times a year but the manager always saves any vintage donations for me to look through first. Talk about once seen, never forgotten!

This has never been worn as the plastic gusset is still intact. It must have been bought as a school uniform as the previous owner's name tag is sewn inside. Its a raunchy little number for a schoolgirl, isn't it?

I'm dedicating today's post to Kathryn & the gang, my amazing fan club in St Louis, a seniors' care home in the States who've followed me for years and send the most hilarious emails. Clyde (who is 87) says he'll kick the ass of any haters out there so, if seeing me in swimwear causes you to become so outraged that you troll me, watch it.

See you soon.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

What's Cooking? Bloggers, Brixton, Bristol & Balti

When we get home after a long day of vintage trading the last thing we want to do is cook so, more often than not, we'll just collapse on the sofa and dial a pizza or an Indian takeaway. 

"What we need is a slow cooker" I said to Jon last Wednesday and, lo and behold, moments later we spotted this unused 1970s Gordon Bleu model on a stall at the car boot sale for £2. I shan't be making any 1970s dishes in it though, having lived through them I can confirm that the era wasn't great for us vegetarians, little wonder I was such a scrawny child.

We're trying it out today by cooking one of our favourite dishes in it and the smell of mixed vegetable Balti is almost driving us insane with hunger. 

Talking of vintage selling we did another double this weekend, setting the alarm for 5am to make the journey down to Bristol and the achingly hip area of St Paul's. I was so excited at meeting beautiful Amie, after knowing her virtually for almost six years , that I forgot to take a photo, so I've cheated! If possible she was even lovelier than she comes across on her blog. I can't wait to catch up with her again.

After a successful day trading we loaded the van and took the two hour journey to the outskirts of London to check into a hotel at Heathrow, avoiding the long drive back to Walsall and the evil 4am start the following morning to reach trendy Brixton. Jon and I killed ourselves laughing when, on our way to reception, I was approached by a very posh guest who asked if I was performing at her function later. God knows who she thought I was! We checked in, showered, had a couple of beers and a plate of nachos (the cheapest thing on the menu) and went to bed, setting the alarm for 5.45am.

Despite the hotel being a mere 12 miles from Brixton it took over an hour and a quarter to get there. London traffic really is mad, even on a Sunday morning. Staying over meant we hadn't the facilities to make our usual cheese cobs which was just as well as we wouldn't have had time to eat them anyway, over a thousand people visited the fair, we never stopped all day. I was thrilled to meet the gorgeous Sarah & her lovely boyfriend Sam who'd crossed the river to come and visit. 

My excitement continued when Kezzie turned up. She was as sweet and pretty as she is on her blog. I just wish I'd had a chance to spend more time chatting.

All in all the weekend was a roaring success, our stock went down phenomenally well and the van was a heck of a lot lighter on the journey back to the Black Country. We've got this weekend off which is no bad thing as some serious re-stocking is required. Our rails are decimated.

Despite the heavy workload I did find time for a little treat. I spotted this 1970s psychedelic towelling maxi on a neighbour's stall in Bristol and had to make it mine. You can't really miss it, can you?

I'm off to eat curry and drink rum. See you soon!

Linking to Patti's Visible Monday. Better late than never. 

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Purple Haze

If you're not in the UK you'll probably be wondering why I'm wearing a floor length heavy velvet dress & diaphanous nylon sleeves when my last post featured bare arms, sandals & sunglasses. That's British Springtime, the schizoid season that sees us basking in glorious sunshine one minute and scraping the frost off the car the next.

Not a problem. It gives me the perfect opportunity to wear my new-to-me 1970s maxi dress which was a gift from fellow seller, Mandy. She'd been carrying it around with me in mind since we met at a vintage fair almost three years ago. We bonded after discovering we'd both been crowned Vintage Queens (I'm HERE). You can see for yourself just how fabulous she is HERE.

It looks like the house is quite tidy from this angle but, take it from me, it isn't. After spending the last couple of days vintage hunting there's freshly laundered clothes hanging from every door frame, buffed up handbags and steamed hats cluttering up every available surface and we're constantly tripping up over rows of newly polished shoes (including some amazing vintage Made in England cherry red Doc Martens.....someones going to be lucky). Vintage trading is no career for the house proud.

We don't even need to leave the house to acquire stuff. These tables came from our friend Phil's late Great-Aunt's house. The duck design is completely made from feathers.

This folding tray table is the perfect height for displaying our box of vintage scarves at fairs.

Talking of fairs we'll be trading in Bristol (HERE) & Brixton (HERE) this coming weekend. We won't be upping our prices for the London trip, we'll be as affordable as we always are and if you do come and see us, don't expect the hard sell, we're not like that. Great clothes sell themselves, no need for glib sales talk.

Vintage velvet maxi dress worn with Indian pendant from the gorgeous Ilaria Novelli, Indian earrings from the fabulous Helga. Lime green nails by Barry M
I wonder what I'll be wearing next time, a bikini, a fake fur coat, wellies, all three?

See you soon!

Monday, 11 May 2015

Blue Monday

What a weekend! Another one of back-to-back fairs. We were so busy I didn't get my camera out once. After the shattering disappointment of Friday's election results the good people of Stockport & Leamington Spa went some way to restoring my faith in humanity. Whilst the majority of Brits don't seem to share my political views at least there's a sizable amount of lovely folk who appreciate my taste in vintage clothes.

Is today the start of the week or the end of the weekend? God alone knows. I woke at 8am, three hours later than the last few mornings, showered, dressed and ate buttered toast in front of The Wright Stuff, finally opening The Guardian which had remained wrapped in cellophane since we'd bought it on Saturday morning. Without speaking we grabbed some bags, locked the house up and started walking down the road. What's on the list, where's first? Jon asked. I don't even know why we're going into town, I replied. Our brains are fried after spending 26 hours out of the last 48 working.

Our minds may have gone but the charity shop radar is still finely tuned. Today's finds include this velvet trimmed 1970s dress and two pairs of amazing 1980s elbow length evening gloves by the Queen's glove maker, Cornelia James.

Jon loves Converse All Stars but refuses to buy them new after the company sold out to Nike in 2003. His run of luck in finding them second hand continued today. These black ones were £4.99 from the British Heart Foundation.

I wasn't too busy working yesterday to snap up these three psychedelic beauties from Retro Fit at Stockport yesterday (thanks to Lyndsey Boomerang tipping me off!) I'm wearing the skirt on the left today. 

Wearing: Prova maxi with 1970s suede waistcoat (part of a suit bought from eBay in 2010), Indian sandals & vintage basket (jumble sale finds), Jaipuri leather bag and 1970s sunglasses (car boot sale)  
 No Wetherspoons all-dayer for us today, Jon's bought a 12 pack of India Pale Ale from Lidl and he's roasting veg and Haloumi instead. We're trading in Bristol & London this weekend and need to save our pennies for a hotel. 

See you soon.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Vix's Tips - Vintage 1940s Style for V E Day

Got anything 1940s? It's the question we're asked most by visitors to our pitch. Despite a reputation for selling all things vibrant & groovy and the scarcity of clothing from the war years, we do have a number of genuine pieces on our rails. The trouble is that with the changes in lifestyle and diet over the last 70 years, vintage Forties clothing is usually significantly smaller than your average, modern day Brit. So, I do a shockingly un-British thing, I recommend cheating.

By cheating I'm not talking about going down the repro route (the bête noire of vintage traders the world over), I mean mixing original 1940s pieces with vintage clothing from more recent eras to create a look which is both financially friendlier and easier to find in larger sizes.

Anyone spot a certain Land Girl gatecrashing the party?
As part of the 70th Anniversary of V E Day our beloved Vintage Village @ Stockport are hosting a VE Day Fair. With this in mind I've put together some 1940s-inspired outfits using clothes & accessories from the Kinky Melon stockroom, all of which will be available to buy from us this coming Sunday.

To create a typical daytime you won't go far wrong with a tea dress or a tailored suit. Using 1940s photos of my Grandma as inspiration I've chosen dresses from the 1950s, 1970s & 1980s and a 1950s Harella suit. Add a framed handbag, a slouchy beret (the ones shown here are both authentic 1940s pieces) and some quality leather shoes with a block heel and you're good to go.

Click on the photo to enlarge

Here's a more formal look using a smart tweed suit as a base. I've combined some of our 1940s stock along with a few 1980s look-a-likes. Can you spot the originals?* Again, I've used photos from the family album for inspiration.

* Original 1940s : A CC41 fur coat, the grey worsted wool jacket, the leather handbag & black hat.

Click on the photo to enlarge

How about a working wardrobe?  These 1940s British Army battledress trousers teamed with a Shanghai silk blouse make for an elegant look whilst the patched Holdfast denim jeans are the epitome of the Make Do & Mend era. Sturdy leather brogues and a fully fashioned knit add a utilitarian vibe.
Click on the photo to enlarge
Let's not forget the chaps! I've used photos of my very dapper Grandpa for ideas. I've chosen a CC41* wool overcoat along with a 1960s blazer, some 1940s tweed trousers, a 1950s doeskin waistcoat and a classic Tootal paisley scarf. The English-made leather brogues, traditional Shetland knit & feather trimmed trilby, although from the 1970s, are very much in the style of an earlier era. The vintage camera case makes a substitute for a gas mask.

* CC41 - The Utility logo was a British Board of Trade requirement which appeared on footwear, furniture, textiles & clothing and was introduced in 1941, lasting for ten years. It stood for Controlled Commodity and designated that the item met with the Government's austerity regulations. 

Click on the photo to enlarge

Finally, here's a more casual look. The duffel coat is ex-British Army, the tartan grip is from the 1950s and the rest; the cricket jumper, bush shirt, silk cravat, flat cap and leather sandals are a mix of 1960s, 1970s and 1980s 'cos even with a war on there was still time for fun.

Click on the photo to enlarge

On a WW2 related note I thought I'd share these photos of Jon's Dad (the likeness is uncanny). A war hero, gymnast and keen photographer. Sadly, I never met him.

Hope to see you on Sunday but, if you live the opposite end of the UK, then keep calm & don't panic. My friend Dee is hosting a VE Day Fair in Taunton this coming Saturday.

See you soon!