I just wanted to let everyone know about a FABULOUS even that is taking place next Thursday (31st May). Which looks like is not only going to be filled with vintage but is also raising money for a good cause too!



Vintage Shopping – Fashion & Styling Advice – Music from the Three Belles
Love to put a fabulous retro look together but unsure where to start? Then come to Mary’s Living & Giving Shop at Primrose Hill on Thursday 31 May 2012, 6pm-9pm, to hear Naomi Thompson, vintage stylist and shopping specialist talk about all things vintage.  Naomi will be reading from her new bookStyle Me Vintage’ which is packed full of fantastic tips. She will explain what to look for when shopping vintage, when to part with your cash and most importantly what to avoid. In addition to signing copies of the book on the evening itself, Naomi and her trusted cover girl, Jennifer Siggs, will be on hand to answer your personal questions  – anything from ‘How to buy and date vintage?’ through to ‘Is Fifties à la Mad Men or Sixties Le Chic best for my body shape?’  No need to book an appointment for a one-to-one session with Naomi or Jennifer, just come along on the evening and pop your name down on the list (first come first served basis).

The sensational 1940s inspired trio The Three Belles will provide live music whilst you shop pieces that have been donated by some of the most coveted vintage stores in London as well as vintage inspired pieces from an A to Z of designers, Allegra Hicks to Zandra Rhodes.

VIP  queue jump entry is offered to anybody bringing a vintage donation. Any donations donated before the evening will also be hugely appreciated.
Whether you want to buy a glamourous 50’s inspired dress, learn how to mix modern and vintage together, or enter the raffle and be in with the chance of winning several fabulous prizes, then this is the event not to be missed.  Rumour has it that Naomi will also be donating a few personal pieces from her wardrobe, so you never know…you may even find that special something you’ve always been searching for!
Naomi’s Top 5 Tips for Shopping Vintage:
1.       Be prepared. Arm yourself with garments that are easy to get out of; something you can slip on and off without fuss
2.       Always check the armpits.  Before the days of deodorant, sweat had a habit of damaging fabric due to the acidic qualities of perspiration I have seen some amazing dresses (at amazing prices) ruined by sweat marks.
3.       Don’t pay any attention to sizes on labels. Sizing is completely different nowadays, and if there is a size label I’m afraid the best option is to ignore it. To give you an example, I am an 8 but fit an 80s 10, a 60s/70s 12 and a 50s 14.
4.       Shop with your hands. The best indicator of the quality of a garment is how it feels: This will help you identify the difference in quality between two similar dresses or suits of the same cut.
5.       Don’t be tempted by garments that need altering above and beyond a simple strap shortening or a dropped hem. Scant few alteration shops will do it justice and if the fabric is raw, frayed or thin, it may not last even one cold wash!
Naomi Thompson says:
I am delighted to be hosting this very special event supporting Save The Children, a wonderful charity saving the lives of children all around the world.  I am so looking forward to sharing my secrets and meeting all of you for a vintage shopping extravaganza, whilst raising money for such a fantastic cause. “
Paul Hunwick, Mary’s Living & Giving Brand Manager says:
“It’s interesting that the areas of retail showing growth during the recession are luxury brands, vintage and ethical shopping.  Here we offer all three together.  What could be more ethical shopping than that which helps save children’s lives.”
Prices: items starting from £10
100% of proceeds from the evening will go to Save the Children.
For more information or images please contact Lynsey Pollard at Save the Children on 0207 012 6872

The tale of a showstopping wedding dress

Today I wanted to share with you one of my latest additions to my collection and a piece that I know will never leave me.

The dress in question is this stunning wedding dress. The dress date to 1948 and demonstrates the vogue in the UK for 30s styled bridal gowns in the late 1940s when the “new look” was still in its infancy. The dress features typical characteristics that replicate Hollywood style 30s glamour with its gently padded shoulder fishtail hem and slim sleeves.  The dress- to my mind- also has elements of Queen Elizabeth’s wedding dress,  with the shaping at the neckline and slim sleeves (I am sure she had a huge influence on wedding fashions seeing as she married just a year before this wedding dress was produced!)

                                                                    (apologies for the wonky pic, i was trying to show off the hem to its best advantage!)

This dress though is not just any old (beautiful) wedding dress. I recently acquired two pairs of beautiful platform 1940s shoes and this is actually the wedding dress of the same lady. You can read all about them here. This means that I now have her wedding ensemble dress, shoes and veil. I feel a certain sense of pride and happiness that i can keep the legacy of this evidently very stylish woman going by keeping the three elements of her wedding ensemble together. What I found amazing is that such glorious items could have been purchased on post war ration coupons. I imagine that she must have been a relatively wealthy lady to have afforded such beautiful shoes and dress, although she must have had to scrimp on other items of clothing to have enough coupons to buy the dress and shoes.
The original owner of the dress and shoes died in April and I hope that I can keep a little bit of her legacy going by keeping the items together. Whilst I don’t intend to wear the dress (despite it being a perfect fit) it really does demonstrate a certain vogue in wedding dress styles at the end of the 1940s and will still  be put into good use, as I will be taking it to talks with me in the near future.

A VERY special Horrockses

Last week I added another Horrockses to my ever expanding collection, and needless to say it was rather an exciting one!

Here is the dress in question. I purchased this from What the Butler wore in Lower Marsh (near Waterloo). It is a really ace shop and on the same road is Radio Days another high quality veritable emporium of vintage (seriously they have EVERYTHING in that shop!). I have to say actually that my trip up to London restored my faith in vintage shops in London. I had become a bit apathetic towards them and the prices charged, but I went to Brixton, Brick lane and Lower marsh and on the whole found that prices were quite reasonable. I’m not sure whether this just means everyhwere else has come into line with London prices or whether London prices aren’t as high as I remember them being two years ago when I did so much vintage shopping in the capital.
Anyway, after my divergence back to the dress itself. I knew when I saw the dress that it was familiar but I couldn’t quite place a reason as to why. So, on saturday evening I got my research head on and managed to do a bit of digging. The dress in question dates to 1950 and actually feastured in one of Horrockses many advertisements amongst the pages of Vogue, worn by Barbara Goalen.

A little bit more on the dress… this is one of the very few early Horrockses I own. An early Horrockses can be dated by the label (almost a papery feel and printed rather than woven) As a general rule this label is found in dresses dating between 1947-52. Thankfully because of the advertisement this can be accurately dated to 1950.

What I find even MORE interesting about this dress is the fact that it features lots of different Horrockses prints rather than just the one (i’ve tried to photograph as many different elements as I can).And I have seen other Horrockses here and there which feature similar element to this dress- For example this amazing housecoat (I’m afraid it isn’t mine- but the image does come from one of my all time favourite blogs!)

My research has suggested to me, although i never like to say these things for definite, that the print design is by Alastair Morton, certain elements of the overall print are so characteristic of his style I don’t think it really could be by anyone else!

As an aside I highly recommend Alastair Morton and Edinburgh Weavers: Visionary Textiles and Modern Art which features some wonderful examples of Morton’s work (I still don’t own a copy myself yet but spent faaaar too long perusing it in the Victoria and Albert museum bookshop. (*ahem* if someone wants to buy me a copy i would be eternally grateful ; ) )