Monday, 1 October 2012

Vintage TV Programmes

It's easy to say that all period dramas are vintage, but are they really? I like to watch them, whether it's a 1920s drama series saga like Downton Abbey, or the thrilling ITV drama The Bletchley Circle, and I count these as true vintage dramas, but in my opinion, anything before the 1920s is not vintage, but nostalgia. 

Vintage means something different to everyone and I will not try to debate what is the true era range of it, but I will give my views on the best Vintage TV Programmes.

Firstly, although I like the new channel named 'Vintage TV' it is basically for music only, which is a shame because it could be really good. It has a lot of potential to broadcast vintage events, maybe do a tie in with The Vintage News ( to report on all the nostalgia events? 

Just a thought.

Anyway, my top three Vintage Programmes:

Goodnight Sweetheart: 

 This amazing series launched in November 1993. the same day as Radio Days in Waterloo opened (coincidentally of course). The series tells the story of a modern day TV repairman called Gary Sparrow who lives with his wife Yvonne in Cricklewood, London. Whilst on a call out he stumbles across a time portal and is transported back in time to Wartime London, where he meets a lonely barmaid called Phoebe and begins a relationship with her across the times. 

Series 1 to3

Series 4 to 6

 Reasons to watch this: It has a terrific cast, fantastic one liners and although towards the last series vintage experts will spot that Phoebe's clothes are most definitely NOT authentic 40s but badly adapted 70s and 80s, it's definitely worth watching for the sheer audacity of some of Gary's claims. 

Rating: *****

Best to watch: On a rainy Sunday afternoon.

The Darling Buds of May:

Kent in the 1950s. An oast house cottage. Seemingly eternal summer, it could only be The Darling Buds of May. based on the novels by H.E Bates. This series encapsulates a rosy depiction of life in the 1950s and revolves around the many members of the Larkin family. 

The Larkin Family

 (From Wikipedia)

"Pop" Larkin is the eccentric and loving father. He has no regular employment but several projects and a succession of jobs provide income for the family. He invents things. His money-making schemes are often a side plot in each episode.
"Ma" Larkin is the mother of the family. She is usually cooking food, tending the garden or caring for the children.
Mariette Larkin is the eldest child. Her name was created by combining 'Marie' and 'Antoinette'. In the first episode she is shown to be the family beauty and slightly wild. However, she quickly marries Charley and settles down with him for the rest of the series.
Montgomery Larkin (played by Ian Tucker) is the eldest son. He only appears for part of the series before joining the navy and attending college.
Primrose Larkin is the second daughter. She reads romantic poetry and dreams of love. Her full name is Primrose Violet Anemone Iris Magnolia Narcissa Larkin.
Zinnia and Petunia Larkin are the twins. They attend a boarding school, which they love. They share the middle names June Florence Nightingale.
Victoria Larkin is the youngest daughter. She often plays with the twins but feels left out.
Oscar Larkin is the youngest child. He grows from an infant to a toddler throughout the series. His full name is Oscar Columbus Septimus Dupont Larkin.
Cedric "Charley" Charlton is Mariette's husband. He was a tax collector but gave up his job after falling in love with Mariette and the Larkins' life. He and Mariette eventually own a brewery .
John Blenheim Charlton is Mariette and Charley's son. 

The plotlines of the episodes are generally very good, although some of them can seem a bit too sweet at times. 

Reasons to watch: The incredible 1950s costumes, (look out for Primrose's birthday dress and matching bolero) the beautiful Kent countryside and the nostalgia.

Rating: ****

Best to watch: On a Sunday evening.

Pan Am: (Or rather, the Mad Men that didn't take Off)

Not many people seemed to like this series, which was a shame, because the plots were very well written and the actual design was fantastic. I particularly liked the costumes, most of them from a specialist costume outlet, but some from American vintage boutique, Posh Girl Vintage. 

The characters were very well acted, Kate's exploits were always thrilling, and Christina Ricci as Maggie with her quick one-liners were brilliant, creating comedy in a very dramatic series.

Somehow, despite all the hype and merchandise, Pan Am failed to make a second series, which is disappointing as it is a very good programme. Still the series is available to buy on DVD.
The Girls: Laura, Maggie, Colette amd Kate
Reasons to Watch: For the costumes, sets and retro souvenirs.

Rating: ****

Best to watch: Vintage Night In.

So there they are, feel free to add your favourites in the comments. Still, all of these are about the fashion!


Sunday, 30 September 2012

John Lewis' 'Goodnight Sweetheart' Inspired Advert

So Downton Abbey is back! Yay! It's the Roaring Twenties, bringing with it a tidal wave of nostalgia-led advertising, including the amazing and enchanting John Lewis ad!

This lovely advert tells the story of a boy and a girl separated by time, the girl in the 1920s and the boy in modern day. I absolutely love EVERYTHING about this advert, from its catchy Paloma Faith soundtrack 'Never Tear Us Apart' to the beauty of the photography, and ESPECIALLY the vintage clothes, which I would guess are all authentic. It also captures the essence of the lesser known drama series Goodnight Sweetheart, which is definitely a must see for anyone who loves time-travel, vintage or just great TV!

 However I digress. Pursuing the line of clothing used in this advert I did do some research and the only item I can actually find is the cute cloche hat worn at the beginning:

 Alice Isaaz tries on a gorgeous 20s hat which I think is this one?

Can someone confirm?

Also, there's a pair of incredible Mary Janes at the beginning, vintage versions of John Lewis' Bertie Shoes:  

As seen here:

Or if you prefer a cheaper alternative to these, try New Look for these, a bargain at £45!

 There are so many 1920s inspired items out on the High Street at the moment and with Downton Abbey's return and The Great Gatsby release in November, it's sure to continue. With this in mind, to capture the style of the 1920s in the John Lewis advert, here are my picks:

 I love Alice Isaaz's cute cotton coat, and this one is the closest:

 I like these coats as they look very authentic for the era without looking like cheap costumes. The little buttons only add to the kitsch quirkiness, and the colour is perfect for anyone to wear!

To get the sweet feminine look of a true 20s girl, combine neat pastels and lace collars with dainty jewellery. The day look of the 1920s was generally a drop waist dress or a pretty blouse and skirt.  Fortunately I've found this little top:

 Of course the 20s girl also enjoyed a night or two at a speakeasy or cocktail bar, where she would dance the Charleston as seen here:

There's also fashion for this too:

  So why not try out the fashion for this era and get yourself some true glamour!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

A Day in Greenwich!

When we Vintage fans normally think of hitting the vintage hotspots of London, Greenwich doesn't immediately come to mind, it's seen as Maritime Greenwich, with very little to do here, but take another look, there are some real vintage attractions here!!!

The Clock Tower Market:
I've only visited this place twice now, and to be very honest, it doesn't offer much, unless you're interested in 'junk' but if so, I would visit The Junk Shop which is just opposite Greenwich Station. In this weird and wonderful building you can find pretty much anything, for those who have been to Brighton, it's like The Emporium in The Lanes.

Anyway, the Clock Tower market offers some very strange things besides vintage jewellery and retro housewares, and sometimes you can find something very special at a very cheap price. On my round of the market, I didn't find anything.

Greenwich Market:
I am not a food snob, generally, but in some markets I feel very uncomfortable. This cannot be said of Greenwich Market, which has such a diverse range of stalls, it's impossible to see everything at once. Tucked away in one of the rows of shops is a wonderful vintage shop, filled to the brim with goodies.

360 Degrees Vintage stocks fashions from 1920s-1980s, with more emphasis on classical military uniforms and high quality vintage. Most of the stock is generally donated by local residents, and the owner takes really good care of each item, you'll find no snags or tears here!
They can always be relied upon to have a beautiful window display, showcasing the very best of the stock, on my visit I found two incredible 50s dresses with very unusual patterns, one patterned with 'The language of flowers' in delicate squares (designer unknown) and the other in gentle grey with pretty orange and yellow flowers. Both were shirtwaisters priced at £120 each!!!!

Obviously, I didn't buy them, although I did try on the square patterned one but it was too big for me (sad face) I did however purchase a gorgeous 50s skirt in pink check and two scarves, which I found after raiding and ransacking the entire scarf trunk. If anybody can help to identify who designed these scarves please leave a comment.

The label attached to one reads 'Nylon Made in Italy' but apart from that they are completely anonymous. The print on them is very unusual, depicting scenes of almost cartoon like people doing various things (see pictures)

My next stop was a knick knack shop on the other side of the market, which sells Radley and other designer goods, including some sweet retro accessories, from little clutch bags to purses.

After browsing around the olde sweet shoppe in the corner and grabbing a sandwich at the cute Red Door Cafe, which I really recommend as a good independent snack shop, I turned my attentions to Greenwich's best known vintage shops, Beehive (now UMI and CO) and The Emporium at Greenwich.

The Emporium at Greenwich is a fairly reasonable shop, double fronted with lots of interesting items, but generally very high quality, here you'll find Barbie cases from 1959, which are on display yet not price marked, an area for women's couture and a rail filled with rental items. The rail does have some really unique items however they are not easily visible. 

Next door but one is Beehive, run by a lovely lady who is ever so helpful at finding the right items. The shop also stocks some of the finest working radios and record players in London, the neighbouring shop, which is part of Beehive but run by a separate manager stocks records of all eras, including some of the best bands in excellent condition vinyls.

Beehive is a hub of exciting clothes, bags and accessories and generally everything is fairly priced, making it a great place to shop in Greenwich.

So those are my tips for shopping in this lovely little London town, do make a visit if you are intending to attend the Olympic Games!


Sunday, 17 June 2012

A Day at Vintage Nation!!!

It's the first year of Brighton's newest vintage event, Vintage Nation, and I went along on Saturday 9th June to see it for myself!

It took me an hour on the train to get to Brighton and when I arrived I found myself completely lost, not knowing how to get there as my map was slightly confusing! Fortunately I spotted two people dressed in vintage attire and after a small chat we shared a cab to the Festival itself.

The Brighton Racecourse is situated high up on a hill overlooking the sea, just a few miles along from Roedean School and is a beautiful place. I managed to get in using my contact at the event, Ellie, even though I'd already purchased a ticket online.

So after making a base for my stuff at Darlings Vintage where I got to meet Ellie, I decided to take a walk around.
There wasn't much on offer, sadly, a lot of 60s, 70s and 80s but hardly any what I would call, quality vintage, apart from on Ellie's stall, where I purchased the most gorgeous coat which looks 50s but is likely to be more late 70s. I then took a walk around the site, in the bar they had special dance classes but the music wasn't up to much, then upstairs in the Reception rooms a tea party was being hosted, so I sat down and waited for about fifteen minutes before deciding that it was useless, nobody was bothered about the new people who were entering the room, just the ones who had already made their orders.

Anyway, I politely left without complaint and rejoined the hubbub of excitement downstairs in the market place. There I bought two pretty pictures, each designed for fashion magazines from the 60s and after making these purchases, had my hair done in a very Pan Am style to match my genuine 1960s Pan Am bag, bought in Brick Lane in March for £30!!!
I had so many compliments on both my bag and my 1950s Marks and Spencer aka 'St Michael' blue and white stripe dress, but my bag especially. Apparently they're really hard to find and I have one!!!

I enjoyed a special Orange Crabbies Ginger Beer in the Crabbies area, along with a gorgeous cupcake, followed by scones with cream and jam in the tea party rooms, which had got their act together and were actually serving new customers.

After that, I made my way back downstairs to the marketplace, where I met up with two friends and we went to the evening Cabaret show together. The show was really good, a singer got me up to sing 'You Make Me Feel So Young' as I was eating a sweet and wearing a suitable dress, which I really enjoyed.

Despite the journey home, it was a really good day, although Brighton may want to think about the quality of vintage it accepts into events such as this, for real collectors this was a bit of a let-down. That said, I really enjoyed Vintage Nation!!!

Friday, 8 June 2012

The Horrockses Dress

I am not one of those vintage lovers who buys dresses simply for a collection, I like to wear my vintage and mix my brands. That was until I found a Horrockses dress.

*cue the sighs of whimsical Horrockses devotees*

It is in that one moment, when you see a dress for the first time, that you know if will fit you, and if it doesn't, well, you're not going to let a tiny little thing like that stop you?

Are you?

So, after much deliberation, advice from a Horrockses expert (namely Liz) I decided to purchase my very first Horrockses dress. It was seen, tried on (twice) and bought at What the Butler Wore in Waterloo for a considerable amount, but I'm trying not to think about that!

Most Horrockses dresses range from £50-£500 (if you're fortunate enough to see one so cheap, snap it up!) and Horrockses fans will say that the more unusual a print, the more desirable.

Which may have you asking why I chose something so simple.

My answer being, I haven't seen another polka dot dress like this one.

Not that I begrudge a Horrockses dress at all, I'm just more of a California Cottons fan (see post) but even I have to admit that this label is stylish, elegant and truly artistic in very sense. Being able to try on a Horrockses was a new thing for me, I haven't a clue about their style of fitting for vintage but I loved the dress straightaway.

 Here's a picture of my new purchase:

The First of Many!!!

I often make a visit to What the Butler Wore, it's one of those shops I keep going back to, usually to increase my vintage collection, but sometimes just for a whimsical browse. Bridget always has something new, whether it's a new 70s blouse by a high street retailer or even something really incredible like a Horrockses, you're nearly always guaranteed to find something.

 Strangely, this dress cost the same as a dress I nearly bought back in 2011, which was an early Marks and Spencers dress in lilac with white stripes, however funds meant that I couldn't afford it and when I eventually returned to the shop to purchase, it had been sold. Fortunately, my friend took a picture of me wearing it outside the shop, so I can look out for it!

If anybody knows who has this dress now, please contact me!

Still, now I have a Horrockses and a 1950s Marks and Spencer dress, purchased from The Vintage Emporium and Tea Shop in Brick Lane. I spent ages thinking about that one, too, even though it is a lovely dress and a very pushy friend persuaded me to buy it. Marks and Spencers seemed to have a trend for striped dresses, as my other dress from The Vintage Emporium is blue with thick white stripes!

Still, from what I know about Horrockses this is probably from the later part of the 1950s, as the waist is slightly dropped, but it still has the most amazing fit with a big ruffle! I have a pair of tangerine wedge heels which look perfect with it, add a bag and it's a gorgeous vintage ensemble!!!

I have looked at Horrockses before, but they haven't really appealed to me in the way that other brands have. I saw a navy spotted one at the Vintage Festival in 2011 with a really unusual collar, but it didn't catch my eye quite in the way that my California Cottons dress did when I saw it on the first stall!!! However it seems that I have now found another brand to look out for, one which I know suits me and like all other vintage finds, is totally unique!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

California Cottons! How Can Anybody Not Love These?

So, it's my first blog.
I'm going to start by talking about my favourite vintage designer from the 1950s and 1960s, California Cottons. These dresses are absolutely beautiful but are incredibly hard to find, especially with the tags still attached as I realised yesterday whilst searching for more on the internet! It seems I might actually own two California Cottons dresses rather than just one, so maybe there might be others lurking around in vintage shops?

I'd like to think so.

From my own research I know that California Cottons was a popular brand sold in the department stores of America and Britain during the 1950s and 1960s as this advert shows:

Courtesy of Hannah Asprey on Flickr

I personally think this is one of their most modern designs, note the keyhole bodice? Although small, I have a feeling that this might have been a little controversial for the conservative 50s girl making her first steps into womanhood. 

That is not to say that I am not fond of this particular dress, I actually think the cut of it is very flattering, the pattern is pretty without being frumpy, I've tried on a few dresses in various vintage shops that make some of today's designs look very appealling! Still, we can't look good in everything!

I'd love to know what other people think about this lovely brand, feel free to comment.


How to do Vintage on The High Street

Vintage has exploded onto the High Street, as many magazines will claim, but has it REALLY?
Are these cheaply made reproductions really worth the prestigious title of Vintage, or should they only be allowed to use the name if the quality matches the authenticity of the real thing?

Personally, I think shops should only use the title of 'Retro' to describe reproductions, don't we see enough of them in my personal hate Primark?

Only a couple of years ago, I came across a dress from Topshop which had an identical pattern to one in Prim Vintage, Norwich, if anybody has a photo of the modern version, please add a comment with a link!

The Original Dress from Prim Vintage

As for other high street retailers...

 I like Oasis, their clothes are very high quality and when they do their Vintage collections, it is obvious that they really study the originals to capture the authenticity. For example, Oasis' Some Day My Prints Will Come Collection for Spring/Summer 2012 is based on original vintage pieces from

One of my favourites from this collection is the 'Floral Print Skirt':

I actually bought this skirt after eagerly anticipating its release and it is absolutely darling! It has that gorgeous 50s length and can be teamed with lots of different colours and styles. I'm not sure I'm as fond of the original skirt's length though:

The little skirt looks so 50s when teamed with a blouse and yellow cardigan, like this one from Dorothy Perkins:

The collar on this cardigan is frilled slightly and the buttons are quite dainty, making it look very vintage, although D.P simply titles it as 'Lemon Scallop Cardigan' and even better, it's available in a variety of colours! A real bargain at £18! 

Miss Selfridge is known for its gorgeous selection of embellished dresses, boleros and generally exciting clothes, but for Vintage lovers, it also provides some of the best retro wear as well. Who can forget the sell out Victorian boots which graced the shelves back in December 2010? 

How much did I want these shoes? Well...a lot.

Fortunately I managed to get a pair from Office in the sale which are very similar and I think may be better quality!!! They were a bit more expensive even if they were in the sale!!! 

Back to Miss Selfridge, well, I'm not always fond of their collections, some can be a little too outlandish for my tastes, but I do like this at the moment:

I seem to have a thing for yellow! 
The collar on this is really dainty, but the material is almost jersey making it very tight however in terms of Miss Selfridge's current trends, this is on the most appealing side. It's pretty without being too modern, whereas most of the dresses in store at the moment are very...unusual, to put it kindly. This is really one of a kind in terms of what styles they have to offer and vintage girls will like it!

Apart from that, not much is available if you like authenticity, although the Winter collection was very preppy and retro!

 I refused to enter a River Island store for years until I saw their Chelsea Girl range and the release of their Peggy Olson-esque check dress in 2010, prior to that I considered their clothes to be very mainstream and dull with neon prints and awkward styles. 

Recently I made a few purchases and realised that perhaps River Island isn't as bad as I thought for the vintage girl. One of my pet hates is when shops refer to normal length 50s style dresses as Prom dresses. THEY. ARE. NOT.

River Island's Current Collection of Vintage Style Dresses

To the vintage girl, these are simply reproductions of the type of dresses she normally wears and therefore should have the tag line of 'prom' stripped to make them less 'occasion' and more 'everyday!' River Island does not classify its items as vintage, only retro, and has recently moved to producing some decent versions of originals, 50s style crop tie-tops and shirt waisters (to you and I) but 'shirt dresses' to those not familiar with vintage.  

TopShop is one of those shops which tends to flit in and out in terms of vintage. Their 50s Diner collection for Spring 2012 was a very poor attempt at capturing 50s Americana. Pastels, yes, I can kind of get the whole 'pretty pastels' thing, but since when did the 50s do crop tops with a netted maxi skirt? The 50s Diner look was just wrong, wrong, wrong apart from the colours.

Anyway, the current stock is a little...well...

Which I don't mind...


I'd like to know why...

Actually, let's just move on. 

TopShop have some concessions which are good for vintage style, particularly in their Oxford Circus megastore, but in general seem to be more interested in producing mismatch than good fashion.

But hey, that's only my opinion.

So my Vintage Picks at the moment are:

Sweet and demure, this works really well with the 'matching' skirt:

 At Dorothy Perkins there are many midi dresses, but this one from concession brand 'Paper Dolls' really captures the 50s to a T.

Team with a pair of red heels and a cute vintage clutch bag!

But haven't I seen this before...?

Well...not quite, but could be. 

This is just a cute blouse, but I do think it does work as a vintage style:

I think this might work well with this Warehouse skirt:

I haven't actually seen this item instore yet, I think it might be available soon though. In the meantime, Warehouse's aptly named '50's full skirt is here:

I'd love to put some patterns on this, it does look a bit plain, but I suppose that is the effect. 

Those are my picks of the High Street!


Jaeger Boutique: New Vintage or Nostalgic Reflection?

Over the past few months, I have come to love Jaeger. Previously it just seemed like one of those luxury brands to look but not touch because of it's mumsy corporate suits and plain dresses and as I type this I'm thinking, is it really possible for someone who loves vintage to choose such a brand?

Apparently, yes.

This is to do with the fact that suddenly, Jaeger has gone all nostalgic and retro with their Jaeger Boutique range, just take a look at this:

Is this a vintage 1940s tea dress or just a retro copy?

Yes, it really is what it looks like!

That's not to say, though, that this is the only piece in their collection worthy of an award for reproducing such authenticity, just look at this truly gorgeous 60s style jacket:

This says: BUY ME!

Everything about this jacket says: Mad Men or Pan Am (whichever is your favourite!) in fact, I'm pretty sure I have seen something very similar on one of the shows! I have been looking at this jacket for a long time, I would love to be able to afford to buy it, but as an apprentice, some things can only be for dreams, although I am keeping an eye on eBay...ah, one day it will be available at a cheaper price.
The skirt that matches is also very pretty, a little bit short unfortunately, so the jacket makes it quite hard to balance in terms of wearing it as a suit.

However, Jaeger's bestseller this season has to be this little beauty:

 Jaeger Boutique's 'Maria' Dress

 I have seen this in so many department stores and shops, it must be one of the most stocked dresses in the UK at the moment. I think Jaeger have done really well with this, the dimensions are accurate and the style is very flattering, the only thing I don't like is the fabric. It is VERY thick and has an unusual pattern. Apart from that, I really do like this dress! 

I'll be updating my High Street Vintage blogs regularly, so please keep checking!