Thursday, 21 September 2017

Hey Ho, Let's Go...Charity Shopping! What I Found This Week

We've found some fabulous stuff on our charity shop jaunts over the last couple of weeks & the stockroom rails are positively groaning under the weight of crazily printed maxi dresses, capes, leather coats, tweed jackets and 70s dagger collared shirts but that's work and I'm on holiday so here's what I've added to my wardrobe. 

It's all about me, me, me!! 

I went a bit weak at the knees when I spotted a black velvet sleeve adorned with gold soutache poking out from a rail in the local charity clearance shop, in fact I nearly broke my neck clambering over a Black Country granny's tartan shopping trolley in my rush to get at it. 

This exotic vintage beauty was a mere £3 and matches my favourite bag, a 1970s Pakistani tote I bought for pennies from a jumble sale years ago. I did think of it putting on the Kinky Melon rails...for about a second.... it might be boring old black but it's still a work of art!

I've got a couple of black wide-brimmed hats but neither feel quite right, one is so tight that it leaves a particularly unattractive red crease across my forehead when I take it off and the other is too shallow in the crown which means that if I go out wearing it on a windy day my hand is surgically attached to the brim to keep the bloody thing anchored on my head.

My latest hat isn't in the least bit vintage, its H&M and is still on their website, listed as Premium Quality Wool and priced at £17.99 but cost me just £3. I know £17.99 isn't a fortune but why on earth would you buy something and give it away unworn days later? The £15 I saved is the equivalent of three nights accommodation in Goa or eight pints of lager in Wetherspoons!! Now I've got one well fitting black hat I can donate the other two to the stockroom.

I loved these mad rose gold catseye sunglasses when I saw them on a neighbouring trader's stall over the festival season but, with a collection I struggle to contain in the dressing table drawer, felt £15 was an unnecessary extravagance. Spotting them in the 50p box on the charity shop counter, well....they were meant to be mine!

 Like she needs another bangle, Jon said to the chap behind the counter when I asked for a closer look at the textured silver cuff in the display case underneath. You never know, one day there may be a worldwide bangle shortage and my arms will be naked, I replied, handing over my £2 coin. The 1950s ceramic hand was £1.50 in another chazza.

This House of Fraser 100% cotton, pom-pom trimmed duvet set (sorry, I couldn't be arsed with ironing it) was £2.49! It originally retailed at £80.

How about that then? Last weekend I was trading at Wayne Hemingway's Classic Car Boot Sale and just over a week later I'm in possession of a pair of his Red Or Dead shoes. My size (40), unworn and still bearing the original £65 price tag. Cost to me? £3!

More bangles? It would be rude not to! These are papier-mâché and from Kashmir - I know because every Kashmiri shop in every tourist shop in the whole of India have them in their windows. I couldn't resist the wooden frog earrings either. You never know when you'll need some amphibians threaded through your lobes. I remember the parrot earrings from the 1980s - not that I ever had a pair, I didn't get my ears pierced until I was 25 (in 1991). All three were 50p each.
This zingy 1970s Melamine spice set was still in the original wrapping (not Taunton Vale but a cheeky lookalike) and reserved especially for me by the lovely shop manager when I popped into the local hospice shop. It was £1.99 and will go in Gilbert next Summer. The set came with the original labels but, as you know, 1970s Britain was the land that culinary excellence forgot so only offered the choice of thyme, parsley, pepper, sage, ginger and salt!

My heart might belong to Barry M but I'm not adverse to trying new make-up if I find any decent colours in the 3 for £1 bargain basket. All the lipsticks were still sealed - not that I'd be bothered if they weren't. I've bought secondhand make-up ever since I was a teenager and I've yet to contract Syphilis, Bubonic plague or whatever else the hygiene freaks are scared of.

I can't resist a souvenir doll especially a raven haired, kohl-eyed Spanish senorita. My Dad used to bring them back for me from his business trips abroad. As soon as I got a new one I'd get it out of the box, inspect the construction of the skirt and check whether she'd got any knickers on. I wonder if that's where my passion for foreign costumes came from?

WEARING: Vintage kaftan (Age UK, £3); Maroon jersey maxi dress (Bought to travel around India in last year, new from eBay, £2); Stuart Weizmann suede ankle boots (Cancer Research, £2), Pakistani soutache tote bag (25p, jumble sale): H&M wool hat (£3, Scope); Vintage brass bangles & rings (mostly belonged to my Mum)
Another weekend off, another date with friends. I could get used to being a lady of leisure!

See you soon!

Monday, 18 September 2017

What I Wore To Wetherspoons

I lived like a normal person at the weekend - a leisurely breakfast eaten at the kitchen table, The Guardian Weekend read from cover-to-cover, a few hours spent pottering around the garden and an evening hanging out with friends in 'Spoons. 

This is what I wore on Saturday night - a 1960s silk Dollyrockers dress, a psychedelic mu-mu worn as a coat, vintage suede go-go boots, a charity-shopped 1980s raffia clutch pimped up with Poundland pom-poms and a stack of secondhand plastic bangles collected over the summer.

Apparently some branches of Wetherspoons have a dress code (see HERE). If you're not a Brit this probably won't mean a thing to you but, if like me, you're a fan of the super cheap pub chain, you'll be cackling away to yourself. Unlike the pubs themselves, often found in historic town centre buildings, usually rescued from dereliction and the bulldozers - Walsall's boozer, St Matthew's Hall (see photos above, courtesy of 'Spoons) was the town's first permanent library, built in the Greek Doric style in 1830 - the clientele aren't quite as stylish. You might get a better dressed crowd in other pubs but I'll put up with the saggy jogging bottoms and grubby trainers for £1.80 a pint.

And, 'cos I'm not at work until 1st October I'm off for another cheeky session this afternoon. 

Today I'm wearing a 1970s dead stock Horrockses cotton maxi skirt, a pressie from Curtise and not seen on the blog for a couple of years - it's taken that long to get back into the 24" waist. A lady in a charity shop refused to accept my 99p when I tried to pay for my 1960s vinyl handbag last week, saying that I could have it for free 'cos it was rubbish!! I wore the charity shopped fringed body on Friday but I doubt the 'Spoons clientele are bothered. 

Cheers & see you soon!

Linking to Patti & The Gang for Visible Monday.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Little Green Apples

What's this, three posts in a week? A sure sign I've got loads of stuff to do and can't be arsed to get them done. Blogging is a wonderful distraction.

There's an abundance of apples on our trees this year and the freezer is full to bursting with blackberries I've been picking since the end of July. The berries should see us through till January, whizzed up with natural yogurt and served with fresh fruit for our breakfast. I had to laugh at one of the neighbours who came over to see why I was in the avenue up a stepladder, Why are you bothering picking blackberries? They're only £1 in Tesco. There's no hope for some people, is there?

But what to do with the apples?  Other than some cereal bars (you'll find my recipe HERE), the odd apple oat crumble (bearing in mind that I'm not keen on sweet things) and a few jars of chutney, I'm a bit stuck. Goody suggested drying them which sounded like a good idea but there must be an easier way than slicing 1.5 kg of apples at a time and sticking them in the oven for six hours, the only recipe I can find. The electricity bill might bankrupt me! 

Chutney making back in 2013

Using last year's crop.

Kitchen dilemmas aside this week I've reorganised the stockroom to make room for the motherload of vintage gear I picked up at the Classic Car Boot Sale last weekend. This is the womenswear (Mim - check out that trio of 1960s Tricel shifts!) We also bought a 1960s Dhobi tweed overcoat, an extravagantly ruffled dinner shirt in red and a chocolate brown braided dinner suit by Mr Harry (now residing in Jon's wardrobe).

As you can see there's a veritable archive of vintage clothes dating from the 1930s through to the 1970s....with labels including Ricci Michaels of Mayfair, Liberty of London, Selfridges, Fenwick, Veronica for Rembrandt and good old 1950s St Michael.

I'm dying over that emerald green embroidered cotton maxi dress by Gonzalo Bauer for Girasol - if only it was a few sizes smaller. Still, I suppose finding two perfectly fitting Mexican designer dresses in a week is a bit too much to expect.

In other news I've managed to knock up another batch wired headbands using fabric from my stash and clothes too tatty to sell (currently awaiting Jon & his wire bending skills) and I've customised ten gents' waistcoats - which I'd love to share with you but want to get them to out to our next vintage fair without my idea being pinched before we get there. I've also taken advantage of the end of the season sales by snaffling a fabulous crochet bikini and four bottles of our favourite Once A Day sun screen - next on the to-do list - find our flights to India!! We've also managed three charity shopping expeditions, the washing machine feels like it's been on non-stop and if I have to replace another button on I might not be responsible for my actions. I'll have to show you what we found next week, right now the rum is calling!

WEARING: Fringed body (£2.49, Age UK), 1970s printed cotton maxi skirt (99p, eBay), Native American turquoise & copper pendant (A gift to my Mum by a boyfriend in the early 1960s), Topshop bejewelled Indian belt (present from the lovely Kelly)

For the first time in months we living the life of normal people this weekend, meeting friends in the pub and going for a curry. I'm beside myself with excitement, I've forgotten what a Saturday night out on the town feels like!

See you soon.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

¡Ay, Caramba! Vintage Couture For A Fiver

Unlike elsewhere in Blogland, you won't find any Autumnal fashion or earthy toned outfits in tweed and wool here. They may look great on other people but they aren't for me, it'd be a dull old world (and a bloody nightmare for the second-hand shoppers amongst us) if we all liked the same thing.

No, I'm quite happy to live on my own happy little planet of seasonably inappropriate, flamboyant cotton dresses and bare legs, worn until my skin turns blue and I'm forced to bust out the thermals and fake fur coats.

Remember me mentioning buying rather a lot of vintage gear at last weekend's Classic Car Boot? Well, here's the first of my finds. Browsing a sale rail (naturally!) some extravagant ruffled sleeves in a vibrant shade of turquoise ribbed cotton caught my eye and, on closer inspection, the label intrigued me. Although I wasn't familiar with Mexicana I knew Lower Sloane Street to be a posh part of London and when the seller told me that the dress was £5 I handed my cash over like a shot. 

Needs TLC wasn't an understatement. With questionable stains and ripped-to-buggery side seams, the dress was crying out for attention but, to my surprise, the marks sponged off easily and sewing it back together was a doddle. 

My next job was to research Mexicana. God bless Google!


Created by couturier & sack dress innovator, John Cavanagh (top photo with model) and celebrated fashion illustrator, Alfredo Bouret (the handsome devil in this photograph by Norman Parkinson), Mexicana was said to have been home to some of the most fabulous dresses of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Here's Dollyrockers model Patti Boyd wearing a Mexicana dress
Born in Mexico in 1926, Alfredo Bouret's love of fashion and illustration won him a scholarship to Paris during the golden age of couture. His illustrations were in high demand and he attracted the attention of the greatest designers of the day, creating work for such luminaries as Balanciaga, Valentino, Chanel, Dior and Pierre Balmain. 

Even if you don't know his name, I'm pretty sure, like me, you'll be familiar with Alfredo Bouret's illustrations. 

Although I couldn't find any, Bouret was widely admired for his illustrations of native Mexican costumes and, during the 1968 Summer Olympics, held in Mexico City, many people become interested in having the country's textiles referenced in their clothing.

During this time Alfredo was working for British Vogue and was approached by John Cavanagh, who asked him to assist opening the Mexicana boutique on Lower Sloane Street which went on to delight the London set for many years.

This 1960s pin-tucked Mexicana dress can be yours for £3,800 (SOURCE)

I'm not one of London's smart set, I'm just a vintage wearin' bird from the Black Country.

As opposed to my Great-Grandmama's pearls I'm wearing my Mexicana frock with a Frida Kahlo pendant (handmade by much-missed blogger, Tamera)......

My latest Frida earrings from good friends, and End of the Road trading neighbours, Shilpa Silver....

Vintage Mexicana frock (Kings Cross Classic Car Boot) worn with 1960s lime green suede go-go boots (from blog reader Vonda)

...and shaking a pair of maracas bought from a jumble sale.

I'd celebrate my £5 bargain with a shot of tequila but I hate the stuff - a rum and cola after my tea will have to do.

See you soon!

Monday, 11 September 2017

Kinky Boots - A Weekend At London's Classic Car Boot Sale

Talk about a rude awakening! On Saturday morning, the alarm went off at 3am and, less than an hour later, we were on the road, knees draped in blankets (Gilbert's heating system is non-existent) heading towards Kings Cross, the destination for Hemingway Design's Classic Car Boot Sale in London.

Gerardine, Wayne Hemingway's wife, greeted us and directed us to our pitch. We parked Gilbert, popped his top, unloaded our stock and in less than an hour we were set up.

Lyndsey & Steve of Boomerang Vintage & Retro's fabulous stall

Freshly brewed mug of tea in hand we spent an enjoyable hour catching up with the other vintage traders, many of whom we hadn't seen since before the festival season, whilst awaiting the Classic Car Boot Sale to open to the public.

Lyndsey and I left the boys to it and went for a look round before the hoards arrived. Not only was there some incredible stuff to buy but the cars, location and the people were rather splendid to look at, too.

As you know, I dress the way I do all the time. When I've worn the psychedelic Ricci Michaels of Mayfair number I wore on Saturday in Walsall I don't think anybody batted an eyelid, but the number of people in London commenting on my outfit and asking if they could take my photo (& the many more who did it surreptitiously) was utterly mad. If I'd have charged a fee I'd have gone home a rich woman. 

We sold a groovy 1960s Crimplene shift dress to this super cool Mod mum & daughter. They're fellow traders and regular visitors to our pitch when we trade in London. 

This beautiful teenager is a model and insisted to wearing the Barbie pink catsuit she bought from us for the rest of the day.

The boss, Wayne Hemingway. I've been a fan ever since I saw him chatting to Terry Wogan about reselling the second hand clothes he'd bought at jumble sales (back than vintage was only used to describe wine) back in the early 1980s when I was a teenager doing the same thing. We never did get to speak - maybe next time.

Mother of Reinvention blogger, aka the truly fabulous Kelly, dropped by to say hello on her way to the Grayson Perry exhibition. She brought me a fantastic tribal belt.

At 6pm, after locking our stock away in Gilbert for the night, we started the ten minute walk towards our budget guest house stopping off at a cool looking Greek restaurant on the way.  Dinner was delicious but, with a couple of pints of pale ale each, ended up costing more than our accommodation. At £6.50 a pint if we lived in London we'd have to go teetotal. 

After collapsing into bed on Saturday night at 9pm, the following morning we strolled back towards Kings Cross relaxed and refreshed in the glorious September sunshine. We unpacked Gilbert and while I set up for a second day of trading Jon cooked veggie sausage sandwiches & brewed coffee- the joys of campervan ownership!

Sunday's weather forecast had looked pretty iffy all the week but although the predicted rain didn't set in until late afternoon, the early morning sunshine had disappeared behind the clouds and the strong wind made the day feel really chilly (and a freak gust shattered our full length mirror into a billion pieces). By the time we opened I was back in my suede coat.

The regulars had told us that trade would be brisk on Sunday but - possibly due to the predicted weather and several events going on elsewhere in London - business was rather slow, although trade was helped a little by a visit from a regular foreign buyer who always hunts us down when we're in London.

 I'm pretty useless at recognising famous faces but knew these two immediately, British actors Martin Freeman....

And his mate Jason Watkins, who I loved in Line of Duty and Taboo (sadly no sign of Tom Hardy). I couldn't believe it when they popped over to chat to us.

After I'd gone for another look around with Lyndsey, Martin Freeman came back, introduced himself to Jon and spoke with him for a bit longer.

How fabulous are Tina (in the jumpsuit) and Lucy? I was thrilled to see quite a few women (and men) sporting psychedelic era clobber - usually it's all 1940s and 1950s types at vintage events. 

Faye popped by to say hello, she reads my blog. Don't she and husband Jamie make a stunning couple? 

We had a fantastic time, met some brilliant people, smiled for photos until our faces froze and spent far too much of our takings on stock. The dining room table behind me is currently hidden under a mountain of clothing - in fact, not so much a mountain than an archive, with dresses dating from the 1930s through to the early 1970s. 

See you next April, Kings Cross!

Courtesy of Yotam Kellner
That's it for a fortnight - our Autumn fair season kicks off on 1st October (click HERE to find out where to find us for the rest of 2017). Let the charity shop shopping and Wetherspoons all-dayers commence!

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday.

Some incredible professional photos of the event HERE and HERE.