Saturday, 4 July 2015

Thrifty Vintage: A summer dirndl skirt and a retro jumper

Wow its warm isn't it! I can't decide whether I love the warm whether because it is a chance for me to experiment with new outfits, or whether I hate it because EVERYTHING is too warm.

One day when it wasn't soooooo hot I decided to wear a new to me dirndl skirt in a cotton gingham check. It has a gorgeous gathered skirt that manages to be full, but also quite flattering. I also love the black lace trim at the bottom of the skirt as it add a bit more to the look of the skirt (I am a bit obsessed with border print skirts and that type of thing so I have been on the look out for anything with a border feature).

The best part though is that it only cost £9 from eBay!

 Also on a side note words cannot describe how pleased I was with my hair in these photos!

I have also discovered a new brand of shoes, I am sure lots of you vintage lovers will know of Rocket Originals, but if you haven't you should check them out. Their shoes are not cheap (between £60-80) but they are made in the UK from old vintage designs. I want all of the pairs in EVERY colour.

Outfit details:
Skirt: Vintage
Shoes: Rocket Originals
Top: Wallis
Necklace: Vintage


Monday, 29 June 2015

Tutorial: A 1950s pincurl set!

Hello everyone! It's been a little while but I am back, and I have something for you that has been requested by a few people. An explination of how I do my hair!

I have always felt that the icing on the cake of an outfit is the hairdo. I love experimenting with my hair and although I am not an expert at doing my hair I am a frm believer that practive makes perfect, and the more styles I try the better I get.

At the moment my hair is a sort of shaggy bob/midi hybrid and I have tried a few different ways of setting it, such as foam rollers, bendy rollers, curling tongs and using GHDs and I have come to the conclusion that the best, and most authentic way to get the type of set I want is pincurls.

 I am aiming for a sort of Elizabeth Taylor meets early Mad Men Betty Draper:

 So here is how I go about it:

Step 1: Gether equipment
I use the same equipment every time, a tail comb for sectioning, pin curl clips and section clips for holding the curls, hair grips for holding everything secure, a wide paddle brush for brushing out and I use Lottabody setting lotion because it is THE BEST!

 Step 2: Setting
I set on 95% dry hair, I let it dry naturally mostly, but as I am setting it I gently spritz with the setting lotion that has been diluted in a spray bottle. I spritz as I section, just enough to make the hair a bit  tacky.

Starting at the top next to the parting I then take 1 inch squares of hair and curl them around my fingers and clip the curl down flat to my head. I then work back towards the crown and then start a second row. I use roughly 3 rows of pincurls from front to back.

(apologies for the naff webcam pictures, it was all I had to use :S)
Step 3: Waiting
I keep pinning until I have about 25/30 pins and all the hair is clipped up.
I then wait for it to set. Usually I wait over night, but sometimes I will wait for a few hours while wearing a headscarf. I would say you should wait for at least 6 hours, but overnight is better if you have time.

 Here is me putting a hearscarf on, looking like a bit of an idiot...
 Step 4: Brushing out
Once the curls are set I take out all the clips. I don't do anything with the hair until it is all out, then I run my fingers through the hair giving it a thorough comb with my fingers and give it all a shake.

At this point you probably look like a frizz bomb but that's okay, the vital step is going to hapen next. Using a wide paddle brush I take sections of the hair and brush it, I brush flicking the ends as I do so and I twist and shape the curl while I brush. I tends to take a few minutes of brushing and it will get less frizzy as you go, the key is to use your hands to shape at the same time.

I often will add a little bit of pomade at this point to help shape the hair, prevent frizz and give it some hold.

Step 5: Fringe and final shaping
For the front fringe section I always brush the hair straight up and shape into a big barrel curl, this way I get to keep as much of thevolum on the top as possible.

Step 6: Hairspray the life out of it!
Once I am happy with it I give it a spritz with hairspray, either elnette or treseme usually as they hold well.

Aaaaaaand hopefully you end up with something like this:

Now the outcome of these sets is very variable, it depends on the twist of the curl, it depends on the shampoo, it depends on how you sleep on it, but if you follow these steps you should end up with fairly similar results each time.

It did take me about two weeks of experimental setting before I managed to get this one to work on a regular basis, but lets face it, that is part of the fun!

Do you set your hair? Do you have any tutorials to recommend?

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

An open letter to the men who insulted me at Comic Con... Is Snow White supposed to be hot?

Hello everyone I have something a bit different for you readers today, a change in tone from my usual posts, but something that I thought was important to say non-the-less.

Last weekend I went to London Comic Con dressed as Snow White.

Looking neat before Comic Con
Some thoughtful ‘gentlemen’ insulted me from a distance so I thought I would write a letter so that could fully articulate my response.
Here it is:

Dear Men who shouted at me at Comic Con,

Yes you boys that insulted me as I walked past in my Snow White costume. You also sniggered when I turned around to see who had been making fun of me. I hope you are proud.

I just have a few things I need to say to you. I was sad that I couldn’t respond at the time, but by the time I had processed exactly what you had said I had been swept away in the quickly moving crowd. I was also afraid that I may shout at you, or cry, and I didn’t really feel like giving you the satisfaction of showing you how much your words hurt me. But congratulations they did.

I spent hours making that costume, I sewed it from scratch, I researched new techniques to help me put it together and I did hair and makeup trials to make sure everything was just the way I wanted it. I was so proud of my hard work and I was feeling so good about what I had achieved. I didn’t realise that all that good feeling would be so easily spoiled by your throw-away comment: ‘Isn’t Snow White supposed to be hot?’

Is Snow White meant to be hot? Serious question...
Now I don’t know if I am shallow or silly but I was really taken aback by this random verbal assault. I straight away thought ‘Am I ugly?’ Despite the fact I had previously been told how beautiful I looked by a very sweet lady who served us food. My thoughts very quickly moved from a general ugliness to my biggest insecurity - it’s because I’m fat - and you can't have a hot bod if your fat right?

That had to be it, I was too plus size to be a hot Snow White because Snow White is petite with a tiny waist not a 5’7’’ size 14 woman. Right? I’m sure it was meant to be a silly comment, something for a giggle, not to be taken seriously. But it made me feel terrible about myself, it even made me wish I hadn’t eaten the delicious takoyaki for my lunch.

I am aware that I am projecting a certain amount of my own insecurities onto this situation, but isn't that exactly what a comment like this does? It reaches deep inside of you and gnaws at your perceived imperfections. That is why it can be so damaging.

Maybe as UK size 14 I do not fit the typical ideal of the ‘hot’ woman, or heck, even if you think I am completely fugly why should I have to fit in with your ideals of what is hot or not. I can wear what I want. I don’t define myself by what you think is hot. Why should I have to strive to meet your beauty standards? (see #effyourbeautystandards for more on that).

What really infuriates me is that I feel so bad about being upset over a hurtful thing you said? Why do I feel so responsible for my non-hotness. Why do I feel so guilty for feeling insulted? Its only a small thing, I'm not hot, so what, yet it still hurts.

Having said all this, it has also occurred to me that perhaps you don’t actually know what the traditional Disney Snow White looks like? If you google Snow White costume, the majority of costumes available tobuy have tiny skirts (like so many of the costumes available to women these days). Perhaps you don’t realise that Snow White actually has a fairly high neckline and a long skirt? My costume was designed for accuracy, it was meant to be a replica of the design from the film. It was not made to be sexy, but more elegant and regal. Surely you can appreciate the craftsmanship in that?  
Disney's Snow White
 Or perhaps you just think it is a woman’s job to look sexy for you?

I left comic con feeling rather down and in a fluctuating mental state. It was only once I was far away that I could appreciate the more disturbing implications of your thoughts on hotness.

Snow White is a folk tale from the 18th century about a girl, not a woman, a girl who is OFICIALLY 14 years old. She it meant to be fair and beautiful yes, but she is also sweet, shy and na├»ve, and certainly too young to be hot in the way you are suggesting. So sorry if my Snow White costume wasn’t hot enough for you. But with the information above I think it is very clear who actually has the problem defining what should or should not be hot.

Finally, I just wanted to add that I find you revolting. Firstly for your limited view on the female form, secondly for your disrespect for the craft of cosplay and lastly for your inability to keep your mouth shut when a nasty thought pops into your mind. If something similar happens to you in future can I politely request that you take some advice from another 1930s Disney film?

Yours sincerely,

The Not Hot Snow White

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Vintage inspired skirts in retro prints

When I began thinking about this post I very much had Dita Von Teese in mind.

Image from Betty Le Bonbon

I just love her style of big flouncy skirts in vibrant colours or tweeds and sometimes with exciting prints. It is a look I have always liked and the feature skirt and classic T-shirt was a staple of mine in my undergrad days.

I have really struggled lately to find good skirts. Especially when it comes to vintage. I'm not sure if skirts were just worn more so they haven't lasted as long as the more available 'special occasion dresses' of if skirts just weren't as popular (I lean towards the former).

So I decided that the best way to get hold of a 50s style skirt was to make one myself. I wanted to go for a gathered skirt rather than full circle as circle skirts can sometimes look a bit cliche. I used Simplicity 1369 in the longest length with a few minor tweaks.

I found an amazing fabric shop in Scarborough that was selling beautiful print cottons for less than half RRP! So I gave myself a treat and bought some cute fabrics so that I could make some skirts.

The first skirt I made was in the black apple print fabric. I made the size according to my measurements however I found that the waist was too big, so I had to take it in :S whoops... Sorry I don't have a better picture of this one.

The second one I made was in the leaf print. I also interfaced this one with more stiff interfacing around the waist which I found I really liked. I did make the really stupid mistake of having the leaves face up on the front and down on the back however... whoops. Thank goodness the pattern hides it quite well!

The skirt even has a pocket!!

I also decided to make the dress in a really amazing 60s/70s red and blue print. I made this skirt extra full.

I took quite a lot of care with this skirt to pattern match which is not something I've done before. It was quite a bit of a faff, but I think it was worth it when I considered the finished look of the whole skirt.

In these last pictures I wore the most amazing shoes. A pair of Rocket Originals in red leather. The style is called Judy and they are so comfortable and amazingly retro looking, but that is because they are designed based on vintage shoe patterns. I never thought I could wear a pair of sling backs, but these are perfect!

Outfit details:
Skirts: Home made
Shoes: Rocket Originals and Clarks
Top: Laura Ashley t shirt/Primark tshirt
Cardigan: GAP thrifted

Have you ever got an item of clothing in several different colours?

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

A trip to Northumberland

It was spring break recently and I took a bit of time off to visit home and a little bit further north too. My family rented a holiday cottage on the Northumberland coast at Bamburgh and my husband and I went to spend the Easter break there too.

Northumberland is such a beautiful part of the country and I am really pleased to say that I recently secured a new job up there and will be moving to the North coast in the Summer. I'm so happy to be returning home, not that I haven't had a lot of fun in the South, but this last year in particular I have missed home so much that I knew I needed to go back (and I thank my lucky stars that my husband feels the same way).

Who wouldn't want to live in the same county as this after all:

The weather leading up to the trip was not exactly spring like so I packed sensible warm clothes. I never expected the weather to come out as well as it did.

The first day was a bit drizzly so my Collectif rain mac (the 3rd of the coats I bought in the sale) came in very handy for a walk on the beach.

That's Bamburgh castle in the background.

I this picture sums up my husband and I so perfectly. Walking along the beach on a dingy evening, wearing totally inappropriate shoes ;)

I also couldn't resist having a go on the big swing!

But then the weather changed, and it was very different. Bright and sunny and... warm even! I feel like I have been in this uber long mild winter so to get some warm sunshine was completely unexpected.

Here is me next to Dunstanburgh castle after a long walk along the nearby bay. It was such a beautiful day I felt like I was in another country.

And back on the beach at sunset.

We also went on a boat trip to the Farne Islands and we saw Grace Darling's lighthouse and a lot of seals.

This is my favourite photo I took on the trip:

This seal was so angry at my Dad for coming to close to it.

We also went to Holy Island on Easter Sunday and again, the weather was beautiful:

And there were birds, lots of birds... including a cute mallard couple. I had no idea that mallards could live by salt water, but I guess this proves it!

I also took one of my favourite vintage dresses with me a nice green floral number that I got in Pickering a few years ago and I found that is is super versatile. It even went with walking boots ;) 

I had a lovely week I really didn't want it to end. 

Did you do anything nice for spring break?

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Going for the chop: Lets talk about hair...

Just a quick post today. I've been trying hard with my hair lately, trying to learn more styles practising and improving the styles I know. Which has lead to a few good hair days.

For example this one (excuse the coat hanger). Where I backcombed and teased my victory rolls for the first time. Would you also believe I slept in this style and woke up in the morning looking like this?

Or there was the time I learnt to brush out my hair properly by using a proper large paddle brush (thanks to this tutorial).

 Glasses from SpecsPost by the way.

The only problem is that on lazy days when I didn't style my hair, it looked more like this:


This is what I can best describe as a frizz bomb. It was really unfortunate that the leftover perm from over a year ago had taken its toll. The thing with perms is that you need to do regular intensive conditioning and to have it re-permed, which I did not.

So I decided to chop all of that damage off. I had a pretty drastic cut, adding layering, shortening and new colour that is much closer to my natural colour.

Now styling has been fun with this new do, at one point I ended up looking quite a bit like Moss from the IT Crowd...
But I am pretty confident that I have got the hang of styling it now :) I am really enjoying how easy it is to set too as there is so much less of it! I'm starting to feel a little more like Betty Draper than a frizzy lion.

So I will have to give the complex up-dos a miss for a little while but at the moment I am totally not missing them. Several people at work have even told me that I look like Snow White :)

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