Monday, 30 June 2014

Ballet Skirt

I've said before on this blog that my wardrobe is a bit tutu-tastic.  I certainly love me some tulle and the weather was good enough a couple of weeks back to pull out this pale blue confection which I've had for a number of years.  In fact I went the whole hog and put it with a matching tee with lace inserts and a pink ballet wrap to indulge my inner ballerina, only stopping short of matching footwear.  I went for a diamante flip flop instead of ballet pumps to break the ballet look up just a bit.

I wore this to lunch out in London with Mr V and it poured with rain.  When we came home it cleared up just enough for us to have tea in the garden where the flowers are in full bloom.  The giant red oriental poppies were out, our white climbing rose is heavy with blooms and there are daisies galore lining the garden path.

It's been ages since I last wore this skirt and I felt very feminine wearing it.  At first I did wonder whether I would be too dressed up, but these days if I have that kind of doubt about whether to wear something dressy or not I call to mind some bloggers for inspiration.  The tulle skirt I will always associate with Melanie of Bag and a Beret, who has a rather nice saying that amazing things happen when you wear amazing clothes.  Now there was a strange coincidence here when I pulled out this skirt on this day thinking of Melanie's tutu post of old, the global tulle movement it inspired and the inspiration it gave me to wear my tulle skirts more often, whatever the occasion.

Whilst on the bus ride home from lunch Mr V and I copped an eyeful of dozens of naked cyclists pretty much all of them men.  They were riding along the road side at top speed completely starkers, some covered in body paint, and some blowing whistles to attract as much attention as possible.  Everyone on the bus burst out laughing.  We could not believe our eyes and nobody on the bus had any idea what it was all about.

A couple of days later I checked into Melanie's blog.  She started her post with "Remember how I said in the last post that amazing things happen when you wear amazing clothes? This is what I saw today.." and there was a picture of a group of naked cyclists.  Apparently she'd seen this phenomena too but all the way over in Canada, whilst wearing something amazing of course.  We're all connected in mysterious ways it seems!

You could say it was the fact that it was World Naked Bike Ride day that day so it wasn't that much of a coincidence that one blogger in London wearing a tulle skirt inspired by another all the way in Canada both saw the same parade, and that it's not particularly scientific to attribute said coincidence to a mutual choice to wear amazing clothes on that day.  But I still like to think it was the tulle skirt and Melanie's print trousers!

Linking up to Visible Monday over at Not Yet Dead Style.

Also linking up to Spy Girl's 52 Pick Me Up where the theme is Fairy Tale because the ballet loves a good fairy tale!

Tulle skirt and lace insert tee: Chine; Ballet wrap: Max Mara; Embellished diamante flip flops: Betts & Betts

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Vintage Unbranded

This post is in solidarity with Vintage Vix - some of you may already know that she was in the running for Vintage Personality of the Year at the National Vintage Awards.  If anybody embodies the spirit and ethos of vintage shopping and dressing it is Vix.  Despite leading the public vote she lost out because the judges got the final overriding say and were judging on very spurious criteria for a competition supposed to be about vintage.

The thing that depressed me the most was points being allocated to candidates for "representing vintage brands throughout their work".  I'm sorry but since when was vintage ever about brands? Unless we are talking vintage YSL and Chanel here I assume the re-appropriation of the term vintage in this sense is solely for commercial purposes to promote repro clothing.  Well that is not what vintage was ever about surely?  Vintage is originality and history, it is anti-brand and anti-consumerism, it is about reuse and recycling.  It is not cookie cutter design and consumerism which is what repro reeks of.  Anyhow, see Vix's post here - although I thought she was an extremely good sport about it all I'm floored as to how someone so utterly fabulous, and moreover someone who always champions real vintage, could not be a winner.

Now I know I may be a bit of a designer label diva and high street brand whore in equal measure on this blog and I have never attested to buying second hand only, but vintage makes up a significant and much loved part of my wardrobe.  I love a good vintage shop and when it comes to dressing in vintage, let me tell you, I can vintage things up with the best of them.

Buying vintage is about the thrill of finding an original garment that nobody else has and being sure that when you are wearing it you'll never been seen in the same thing as someone else.  It is about finding a piece of sartorial history to treasure and marvel at workmanship that often no longer exists.  For the record I'm not someone who wears vintage head to toe or adheres to trying to recreate a period look religiously.  For me most of the fun of wearing vintage is the challenge of making it relevant to your own personal style and wearing it in a way that makes it as relevant today as it was when it was first made.  I like to mix up my vintage clothing with modern bits and pieces or just throw a few different eras together.

I pulled this strappy fifties prom dress out last night in honour of Vix to wear to a friend's birthday party last night.  Her motto of "a day with dressing up is a day wasted" is one I often recite when I'm debating whether or not to go the whole hog dressing up.  Actually the fifties is Vix's least favourite era but it was actually a post on her blog about fifties dressing that was the first post I found on her blog and she was wearing an amazing fifties outfit that floored me.  I was impressed with her knowledge of vintage clothing throughout the eras, and guess what, she can rock any era she chooses!

I've had this dress in my wardrobe for years but believe it or not, last night was the first time I wore it out.  I think I was naively waiting for some sort of special occasion of the grandiose variety to wear it to.  Great expectations indeed.  I shouldn't need a summer ball or wedding every weekend to wear my nice clothes and if the birthday celebrations of a dear old friend isn't going to be special occasion enough than nothing ever will be.  So determined was I to wear this dress it that even when a stitch came away between the bodice and the strap while ironing, causing the bodice to flop down where it met the strap, I just pinned it back together with a vintage pearl brooch and wore it anyway.

The dress was a charity shop find by Mr V's sister who nabbed it for under a fiver with me in mind.  Eerily it fitted like a dream!  The fabric is a stiff taffeta in a gorgeous shade of teal shot with gold and black metallic stripes.  The bodice is lined and boned and the skirt has a wonderful full flare to it.  You can see that the hemline and seams are all hand stitched which leads me to believe this is the real deal vintage wise.

Despite the weather being quite glorious at the moment it is still a bit nippy in the evenings, so I decided to cover up with a vintage beaded cardigan in duck egg blue, however the shape of the cardigan over the dress ruined the latter's lovely feminine lines.  So I belted it to maintain the nipped in waist and flared skirt and got a profile typical of the era of Christian Dior's "New Look" in the 40s and 50s.  My favourite thing about fifties dresses is the swishiness of the full skirts and this one has some serious swish factor!

Whilst I'm rabbiting on about vintage you might note a couple of vintage items adorning the flat.  My love of vintage extends to home furnishings as well.  Why buy all new furniture and decorations for your abode when there's plenty of vintage and antique beauties around to lend your home a more eclectic look?  They are likely to be be better made than modern cheap furniture given that they are still in one piece and entirely usable after decades or in some cases centuries!  And like buying vintage clothing, in choosing vintage items of furniture over new you play your part in reusing and recycling and ensuring that less Ikea MDF ends up in landfill in the long run.

A lot of our vintage furniture pieces are hand me downs.  The Victorian vintage dressmaker's mannequin next to the hearth and the wooden gun chest propping up a Moroccan lamp you can see in the corner are heirlooms we've inherited from Mr V's parents who are downsizing.  Also taking pride of place in our home from them are a vintage Victorian kitchen table, a vintage seventies chrome and lacquered wood dining table, a Victorian wrought iron umbrella stand and some vintage cantilever chrome and leather dining chairs.

The money we've saved on having to purchase those items meant we could get a fireplace insert and surround installed in the dining room.  To be in keeping with the architecture of our Victorian flat, we sourced an antique Victorian cast iron insert from an architectural salvage yard which had been restored.  We had to go repro for the Victorian corbel style marble surround as original antiques were way out of our price range.  But rather than buy totally new, we got it made out of reclaimed marble that apparently came from some mansion in Belgravia!  Honestly the things people throw away!

So Vix this outfit is for you - you'll always be a winner to me and the best example of the vintage ethos.  Now I'm off to soak up more sunshine in the garden.  In the meantime I'll leave you with a few of my favourite vintage garments that take pride of place in my wardrobe:

Do you buy or wear vintage?  Are you a head to toe vintage wearer or do you mix and match with modern clothing?

Teal Taffeta Fifties Prom Dress: Vintage; Gold tone Brooch with Pearls: Vintage; Pearl stud earrings: gift from Mum; Cardigan: Vintage; Satin Kitten Heel Shoes: Aldo; Mint Belt: Jigsaw Australia; Basket bag: bought in a market in Thailand
Linking up to Monday Bloom at DC in Style.

Monday, 16 June 2014


Guess what arrived in time for me to take it with me to Spain to wear at the feria?  This amazing rendition of a bullfighter's jacket by H&M's recent Conscious Exclusive collection.  As this was a collection apparently inspired by flamenco dancers and bullfighters I was always going to be all over it.  And it was an environmentally friendly collection to boot being made out of recycled or sustainable materials.  I actually bought this jacket to serve as a flamenco costume but it was also just perfect for a bit of Carmen inspired drama on Ladies Day.

Ladies Day at the Feria de Caballo in Jerez (essentially a horse fair) is when the women dress up in a traditional traje de gitana (gypsy dress), a romantic confection of Andalusian flamenco frills much like the red lace one my friend is wearing in the photo above.  Women prepare for weeks before the feria for this day. They either make their own dress, shop for one at numerous stores that bring them out in endless variations around this time of year, or to ensure they have one that nobody else will be seen in, they enlist the help of a tailor to custom make one for them.  Woe betide you if you arrive in Jerez in the run up to feria and expect the attention of a tailor!  They'll all be booked!

This was my fourth feria which according to the locals now makes me a veteran.  And I always relish the opportunity to dress up on ladies day! In the past I've worn my own version of a traje de gitana using things in my own wardrobe, such as the outfit in my last post, or one of my flamenco costumes.  This year I thought I'd add an element of the gypsy torero to my outfit.  Now I've never been to a bullfight, nor do I ever intend to go to one and nor do I support it.  But strange as it may sound, in order to understand flamenco you have to understand bullfighting as both have strong links with gypsy culture.  There is a good article here for those interested in understanding more.  I actually recently performed wearing the jacket at a concert having choreographed a dance around the idea of the bullfighter because it went with a particular piece of music.

I have some wonderful photos of what the women were wearing on Ladies Day that I hope to share with you at some point.  In the meantime I'm joining Patti over at Not Yet Dead Style for Visible Monday. Was I visible?  Hell yeah!

Also linking up to Share In Style at La Moda Vita where the theme is Gold. 

Jacket: H&M Conscious Exclusive Collection; Skirt and top: Chine; Espadrilles and accessories: from Spain.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Frills and Fringing

Well hello there!  What's been happening in blogland?  I've been away in Spain for some time, had my parents descend on me in London for a week and had a flamenco performance with a concert pianist to prepare for which has put a stop to any regular online activity for a good while.

A longer break in Spain was just what I needed.  I managed to pack in my dance classes, get a couple of new costumes made, catch up with old friends, show my parents around Andalucia and attend the local feria (more of that in posts to come!).  I'm feeling recharged and inspired and have some wonderful moments from our trip to share.

In the meanwhile here is what I wore to the feria one evening.  A lesson I've learnt from Andalusian women about how to dress: regardless of whatever the current fashion may be, learn the art of wearing frills and fringing to flatter the female form and they will always make you feel womanly in a good way.  So I'll go for both together.  More is always more in my book.

Joining Patti and the ladies over at Visible Monday!

Dress: old Topshop; Jacket: Kate Moss for Topshop; Bag: gift from Mum; Earrings: Bisturia Brigette; Espardrilles: bought in Spain


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