Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Outfit: beret? check. check? check.

So far this autumn, I've brought you berets and plaid. I knew I liked these things, but this year I really like them. So you're getting some more...

This time I've put a bow on my beret, so does it count as being different? I'm assuming you're all nodding. Good. Today's plaid is in the form of this Karina dress and I was a total skeptic before it arrived. I haven't got any jersey dresses in current rotation because I felt like every time I've worn one that isn't a wiggle style I'm a bit of a frump. It's all in my head, for sure, but that's how I felt. So yes, I agreed to review this dress with slight hesitation, but I'd seen others in the vintage community wearing them so thought there must be something in this stretchy dress malarkey. 

Oh, that was a good move - I am head over heels for this dress! It's incredibly flattering and so comfortable it would easily pass for loungewear. Just when do you get that in vintage style dresses? Not very often, let me tell you. Not only that, but the waist tie on this style somehow defined my waist so much that I didn't feel the need to wear my girdle. Any dress that can do that is a winner in my eyes. The other big selling point for Karina dresses is that the fabric doesn't wrinkle, oh and it's super soft. So very strokable - I've not had jersey like this before, for sure.

This is just the beginning of my Karina collection, I feel! I love that the fabrics usually come in many of their classic styles and there's skirts this length great for shorties, and skirts calf length if you want an authentic vintage look. This skirt isn't a full circle, but it's not far off - I got my canvas underskirt under it no problem for these photos and I think it would take a fuller petticoat too. The only gripe I have is that the fabric clings to tights. I didn't notice it until I took the underskirt off, and genuinely I could live with it - or try wearing my woolly tights or a slip in the colder months. I also imagine a lot of the styles, like this one, would be fantastic maternitywear that helps the vintage-inclined lady to keep her stylish edge. 

It's a big thumbs up for me, but see what you think! Oh and the trench coat was a summer sale purchase that I would also rave about but it's hard to get hold of now and I feel a little mean... I did find somewhere that still has most sizes though, linked to below.

Ruby dress in red plaid by Karina Dresses review

Ruby dress in red plaid by Karina Dresses review

Ruby dress in red plaid by Karina Dresses review

Collectif Korrina trench coat in beige

Ruby dress in red plaid by Karina Dresses review

Ruby dress in red plaid by Karina Dresses review

Ruby dress in red plaid by Karina Dresses review

Ruby dress in red plaid by Karina Dresses review

Ruby dress in red plaid by Karina Dresses review

Korrina trench coat by Collectif in beige
Beret: ASOS (last year's)
Bow: eBay
Trench coat: 'Korrina' by Collectif (still in stock here)
Boots: BAIT Footwear (similar)
Bag: Primark (very old)



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Saturday, 14 October 2017

10 essential tips for planning an alternative diy wedding - from decor to suppliers

This isn't a wedding blog, but my vintage inspired seaside wedding was a big part of my life this year and I learned a lot about planning it. You might have thought I was done with the wedding posts, but I have more to say (it's just taken me a while to get round to it)! I always knew I wanted a wedding that wasn't quite 'the norm' - the thought of a country hotel package was so unappealing I'd rather have not done it if that was my only option. That's not to say that everyone who does is wrong, there are a huge amount of reasons to do it this way that avoid many of the headaches I had, but it just wasn't for us as a couple. It was also seriously expensive to go this route and I wanted to work with a budget that meant I didn't spend the rest of my adult life paying one day off.

But planning an alternative wedding - by which I mean one that is unique, perhaps unusual, and off your own backs from start to finish with no wedding professionals to help you - is no easy task. I will never forget phoning my bridesmaid at the start of this year basically in tears because my venue contact was abruptly leaving and I was convinced the whole thing was going to collapse as a result. (There's more to that story than simply me being a diva, but it's not one that's worth digging up.)

So where do you start? You know you don't want the conventional, but the conventional is easy. There's a team of people who'll do the hard work for you and for many decisions you just have to pick what you want from their list of options. Having been through the alternative, I wanted to summarise some important tips for how to plan your own unique day (or help someone else with theirs!).

Note that this advice is pertaining particularly to the UK, where you can only get married in venues with licences (and the legal bit has to be done inside).

Wedding guests beside the seaside

1. Guestlist before everything

First of all, you can't book a venue or start mapping out your day until you know roughly how many guests you're likely to have. You don't have to know exactly, but the maximum it could be will really help you out. So sit down with your partner and work out who should come to the whole day and who could just come for the evening reception and have these numbers in mind for every venue conversation. You just can't do it later - some venues just won't be able to accommodate your numbers, particularly if they're not a typical wedding venue and have space restrictions. 

Wedding day on Cromer Pier

2. Then the venue/s

Probably the single biggest factor in having an unconventional wedding day is your unconventional venue/s - it is the basis your whole wedding works around, from your dress (I couldn't have one with a train and take photos on a beach!), to the theme, to what fun 'extras' you have. I say venue as singular or plural, but if your day is unconventional you're likely to have more than one because you'll likely be getting married somewhere with a license and having a reception somewhere that doesn't. Doing it this way opens up a huge number of options to you, because a lot of places can throw a party, but there's not going to be oodles of venues in each district that hold a marriage license. So you need to know roughly where in the country you want to marry and then you can find a list of places that are licensed (EDIT: I'm talking about England here - I hear it works differently in Scotland!0. The good news is that most councils host a list of ceremony venues on their websites - my council of choice had a whole Marry in Norfolk website that lists approved venues. It was very important to us that we really got married on the day and didn't do the legal bit some other time (I'm looking at you, Don't Tell the Bride), so this list was our starting point. If you're not fussed about the legal stuff, you'll actually open up a lot more options because you won't be restricted to proximity to where the ceremony is.

We quickly found a venue in a fantastic location that could do 'duo' ceremonies, which is where the vows are exchanged outdoors before coming inside to do the legal signing. But the next part of the puzzle was: is there anywhere nearby that could host the reception? What followed was a lot of googling places within the surrounding area that said they could be hired for events - and I also put some more 'wishlist' places down. These were venues I couldn't see had ever hosted a wedding or event, but looked to have spaces to hold a large number of guests and we loved them. As it happened, our #1 wishlist place, Cromer Pier, was exactly where we had our reception, within 3 minutes walk of our ceremony venue. With planning an alternative wedding, one of my tips is 'you don't know unless you ask', so why not drop that quirky place an email and see what they say.

Tides Restaurant Cromer on wedding day

3. Colour-scheme is useful to know early

You might be thinking you don't want a colour-scheme because that's very 'conventional wedding', but my advice to you is if you have one it helps make your quirky day retain a little bit of what makes a wedding a wedding. You don't have to go crazy matching everything to everything else, but having a running thread that connects all of the decor gives a slight degree of formality to proceedings that you might be lacking if you have an alternative kind of day.

Admittedly, I went crazy matching everything to everything else, but that's because it's the kind of person I am. Someone who routinely matches their shoes to their handbag not having a strong colour-scheme would have been a bit out of character, frankly. Anyway, one of the best things I did was decide what my colours were early. This meant that I started picking up bits and pieces for the day a long time in advance and started to picture it and ironed out the kinks a lot sooner. I knew I wanted bright red to feature because I wanted to wear red lipstick and selecting baby blue as the second colour was a no brainer to give the day both a seaside and a vintage feel. Armed with this knowledge, I got the bridesmaids dresses for a bargain about a month after we got engaged, within a week of getting my dress and they were perfect.

Hair by Flamingo Amy

4. Ignore most suggested timelines

The internet is full of these timelines that tell you what you should be doing 12 months, 6 months, 3 months etc etc before the wedding to make sure it's planned smoothly. I looked at these and was incredulous about many of the pieces of advice, but in particular the parts about booking any kind of external supplier. If you follow these guidelines I'm afraid to say you're probably going to be disappointed - but not least if you're trying to book something that's perfect for your unconventional wedding day as you may have fewer options to start with. Most of them say book your make-up and hair artists 6 months before the wedding. I can tell you the best vintage style professionals get booked up a lot sooner before that for peak times, especially Saturdays in peak season (late Spring/Summer/early Autumn/Christmas). You're probably talking more like 1-2 years before.

Also bear in mind that if you're doing things off your own back at a venue that's not done weddings before, or often, that you need extra time to figure out how to convert it into a suitable space. I started having conversations with an events decor company about ten months before the wedding and we needed several meetings on site to talk through what would and wouldn't work logistically. If you've booked a conventional venue you probably barely have to think about this (unless you want to!), as they'll already know what's possible and quite probably can provide it for you. You, however, may have to book outside help and really work through the options with them.

Beach hut table name cards

5. Work out your DIY as early as possible - and do it bit by bit

On a related note, one of the most fun ways to add some quirk to your day is to have some unique decorations. You may also have a bit more to do for this if you're hiring a venue that's not a typical wedding venue. Again, a lot of suggested timelines put DIY decor right down the list, usually at around the 6 month point to merely 'start thinking' about it. I think you want to be making them by that point, thinking about them sooner. If you work in a full-time job and only have two days a week to work on this stuff, it's amazing how pressured your time becomes in the lead up to the wedding. Maybe if you could dedicate every weekend in the lead up just to making your decorations it would be fine, but life doesn't work like that. For a start, you've got dress and suit fittings to do and probably trips to meet suppliers or go back to the venue. I genuinely lost count of the number of times we went back in the end and each time was a 5 hour round-trip.

So, the sooner you're able to work out what you're doing, the sooner you can make a start. Some things you won't be able to finalise until nearer the day - you may not know your exact number of guests for the wedding breakfast until the RSVPs are in, so while you can get started you could make too many or too few until you have that information. But what you can do is buy the materials and have a trial run. I was lucky I had a lot of help with the trial stuff (more on this coming), but for example, our crab name-cards took a few goes to get right, both for the origami pattern we used and how we got the lettering on them. Having lots of time to do this meant I was a lot more relaxed about it going wrong.

House of Mooshki Mae wedding dress back view

6. You don't have to have a 'proper' wedding dress

Ok, I could write a whole post about bridal shops and my utmost loathing of them following my own experience, but the bottom line is that given my time again I wouldn't have bought my dress from one. Simply put: you just don't need to spend that kind of money to get a fantastic wedding dress. If you want to have a more conventional white dress as the part of your day that nods to tradition, you can still do that without involving a bridal shop. If you want something more unique, and if you're reading this post you might well do, don't even set foot inside one, these places aren't for you.

The wedding industry really wants you to believe your dress isn't a 'wedding dress' unless you spend £1.5k+ on it and have a glass of bubbly while you try it on in front of your crowd of adoring friends and family who promptly burst into tears the second you emerge from the dressing room, but it's just not true. If I hadn't happened to have found my dress years before I was even engaged, and then bought said dress as a cheaper sample (and I don't think anyone cried unless they hid it really well), I may have gone into one of these shops once before I learned better, but I wouldn't have gone back. The prices are eye-watering and there are just so many good options out there, particularly if you're looking for something a little different. From ASOS's huge bridal range to companies like Honeypie Boutique who make custom designs, for hundreds not thousands, don't feel you have to do the wedding dress shop thing. I really believe you don't have to. I certainly didn't for the bridesmaids' dresses, which were £40 bargains in the ASOS sale and couldn't have been more perfect.

Origami crab wedding name cards

7. Work out your strengths and get help with your weaknesses

Circling back to those crabs and our decorations generally, I worked out pretty early on that I sucked at crafts. Or at least, I sucked at the practicalities of them - I'm good with my hands when under instruction, but I'm not good at working out how to get my ideas into reality. I knew I wanted crab namecards, but I couldn't work out how to make it happen. That's because this side of crafts is not my area of expertise. It never has been, it never will be. Luckily, though, I had a bridesmaid who is fantastic at this stuff. I just let her get on with trying things out and then I could pop back for the execution - making 54 origami crabs is no quick job, let me tell you.

What I am good at, is having those ideas and the vision in the first place. I'm also really good at logistics and big-picture thinking. This meant I was perfect for working out what needed to happen in the venue, where and when. But I suck at talking to people - I tend to be too details-focused, as well as thinking I can do everyone else's job better, and bombard people with overlong, micro-managing emails that could have said the same thing in half the word count (yes, I'm a delight). I also panic when I'm told 'no' or 'I don't think so' and that could literally cause a nervous breakdown (and did). Having figured this out early on, we gave some of this side of the planning to my husband who is great at dealing with people and isn't phased by a negative response. I'm sure the suppliers he spoke to had a much better time of it than my lot.

The bottom line here is planning a wedding, especially an alternative one, is going to involve a lot of different skills needed for different tasks and if you can be honest about your flaws there will be so many people willing to help pick up the slack.

Candy striped paper bag fudge favours

8. Supplier enthusiasm can go a LONG way

8 and 9 go hand in hand, really, but one of the biggest lessons I learned is that if you're planning an alternative wedding, having suppliers who get nearly as excited as you do about your vision can make a real difference to how the day goes. My hair and beauty ladies were excited to do something a bit different to usual and we had such a great morning with them - and they've been sharing photos on social media ever since, so I think they liked it! The pier staff were also 100% on board with the day and excited to work at it - and that actually made all the difference when...

... our one supplier who wasn't ever as enthused, our decorators, failed to show up to dress the wedding breakfast room. My husband now says he had a feeling from the start that they weren't that engaged with the plans and in hindsight, when I compare dealing with them to everyone else I completely agree. What it meant, though, is that they messed up... but fortunately for us the pier staff took the initiative, mucked in and fixed the mistake before we even got there. In fact, we didn't even find out about it until we went back and saw them a week later. I'm convinced it was to do with levels of motivation and investment in the whole day that made the difference here. And if you don't agree with me, put it this way: we didn't pay them for this part of the proceedings (whereas we had paid the decorators!).

I heart Cromer Pier staff badge

9. You can't over-manage some suppliers

Like I say, this relates to the above. I worried towards the end that I'd been too micro-managery with some of our poor paid help and I started to relax a bit. Probably the main time you shouldn't relax, can I add. If I'd just acted on my first instinct to check the decorators knew where they were meant to be and when on the wedding day they wouldn't have failed to show up the first time they were supposed to.

When you've got a more unusual day planned, really you as the planner is the only person who knows exactly how it's meant to play out. I knew there were two occasions the decor staff were supposed to show up on that day, but that is quite an unusual circumstance that was unique to the fact we actually had two reception venues in one place. If I did this again, I would just stop trying to feel bad about over-checking things - as it happened I'd had at least three conversations about the timings of the day, but clearly a 4th time would have been good for something that important!

Pavilion Theatre Bar Cromer wedding dancefloor

10. You might not need a DJ, but you do need time (and ideally no agenda!)

Our venue, quite frankly, didn't have the space for a DJ and all his/her gear, let alone a band (nor could we have afforded the latter). Add to that that B and I know our music and had quite strong views about must-have songs and it was a no-brainer to make the playlist ourselves. It was actually an integral part of our day and theme - we wanted to take our guests through the decades, starting in the 50s and ending today. We knew we could do just as good a job of this as anyone we could hire.

The only piece of advice is that creating a playlist, in our case for 6 hours worth of music, needs a fair amount of time investment to do it well. In fact, we started building our playlists before we even got engaged - as we love making them for car journeys and we kind of knew they'd come in handy one day. It took probably a solid weekend altogether of editing these drafts down, testing the playback (we used Spotify's gapless playback feature but it took some tweaking) and further time to run them past other people to see what they thought of our selections. Because that's the other thing, while we do have perhaps alternative tastes and added in some songs you probably wouldn't hear on your average wedding playlist, we still wanted the songs to achieve one thing: make everyone want to dance! Looking round the room in the 90s section of our playlist, when Backstreet's Back came on and everyone went crazy for it, was a great moment in knowing we were right to DIY this part of our day!

So there you have it, these are the key things I learned from planning my unconventional wedding day. I hope you or someone you know can benefit from these tips! Anything crucial I've missed from those that have been through it?

Oh and if you're new around here, check out some of my previous wedding posts to see the details!



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Monday, 9 October 2017

Outfit: the perfect coat, part ii

If you've been following along since last winter, you might remember I raved about this beautiful green swing coat from Hearts & Roses London, while looking like Mrs Claus... That coat was probably the best thing I bought all last year, being the very first swing coat I'd found that wasn't laughably long on my short self, but still long enough to cover up most of my midi skirts. It seems quite easy to find above-knee length vintage inspired coats, or calf length (ankle length on me) but something that's closer to just below the knee is a bit trickier.

That was, until Hearts & Roses launched their new design last year that I'm so pleased is back again this one! I was a bit annoyed with myself that I didn't manage to grab another colour last year, but at the time I was trying to be 'sensible' and reasoned with myself that buying two of the same coat at the same time was mad, even for me. Then as soon as it had gone out of stock in my size I kicked myself... until now, when this gorgeous coat is back for the new autumn/winter season. Hurrah!

This time I've opted for the neutral camel colour, because between this and my green one I've pretty much got an option for most colours I'm likely to wear. I never like to buy black coats because they feel so severe and, well, boring, but beige is a pretty good option for everyday wear. As is navy, but I already had that box ticked with another coat I'll show you very soon. There's something very glamorous and a little dramatic about this coat in this colour... It does look like a dress in itself, I think.

But let's see what you think!

Hearts & Roses London beige camel 50s style swing coat review

Hearts & Roses London beige camel 50s style swing coat review

Hearts & Roses London beige camel 50s style swing coat review

Hearts & Roses London beige camel 50s style swing coat review

BAIT Haku black boot

Hearts & Roses London beige camel 50s style swing coat review

Hearts & Roses London beige camel 50s style swing coat review

Hearts & Roses London beige camel 50s style swing coat review

Hearts & Roses London beige camel 50s style swing coat review

Hearts & Roses London beige camel 50s style swing coat review
Beret: John Lewis (old)
Coat: c/o Hearts and Roses London (available here and here)
Bag: c/o Sourpuss Clothing (last year)
Gloves: Ugg (last year's)


When I reviewed the green version of this coat, I had a few queries about sizing. First up, I'm 5'1" and I'm wearing the smallest size available (XS/8). I'm usually a size 8-10 and this size is a close fit on me over the chest - I wouldn't get chunky layers underneath it. If you want to be able to do that and are blessed in this area you will probably need to size up. The waist I found a touch roomier.



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Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Outfit: perfect plaid

You know how I was just banging on about how one of the only things I enjoy about autumn (apart from berets), is plaid? Surprise! More plaid. 

More green-based plaid in fact, but this pattern from Collectif's new range is pretty different to Hell Bunny's, necessitating getting them both. No really, they're pretty different - this green is brighter and the check is in a more 'grid like' style I rather like. This skirt is another Jasmine style and that makes it my third one of these - and there's a reason for that. They're full (I'm not wearing a petticoat here), they have pockets, and they aren't too long for the short-legged among us. This is the first one I have that is a different kind of material - my other two are cotton/elastane types, but this fabric is soft and more of a woven type suited to colder weather. I rather like it! The only thing I'll add about this skirt is I found it came up half a size smaller than my others - you may need to size up if you're between sizes in Collectif.

Of course, it dawned on me after I took these pictures that I'd styled this skirt in almost the exact same way as the previous dress with a black high-neck top. How's that for originality?! But if you can forgive me the fashion faux pas, I need to tell you about this polo-neck, which is from Collectif's Bright & Beautiful brand, because I've been searching for it for ages. Yes, it's just a black turtleneck jumper, but do you know how long it's taken me to find a fitted one of these that doesn't itch the heck out of me? About three years. And finally, this jumper comes along. It's warm, super stretchy for a great fit (and pulling on over hair and makeup!) and best of all it's soft and not remotely scratchy. I definitely want to nab it in the other colours too now!

Bright & Beautiful Tova Turtle Neck and Collectif Jasmine Evergreen Check Skirt review

Bright & Beautiful Tova Turtle Neck and Collectif Jasmine Evergreen Check Skirt review

Bright & Beautiful Tova Turtle Neck and Collectif Jasmine Evergreen Check Skirt review

Bright & Beautiful Tova Turtle Neck review

Bright & Beautiful Tova Turtle Neck and Collectif Jasmine Evergreen Check Skirt review

Collectif Jasmine Evergreen Check Skirt review

Bright & Beautiful Tova Turtle Neck review

Bright & Beautiful Tova Turtle Neck and Collectif Jasmine Evergreen Check Skirt review
Beret: ASOS (old)
Shoes: Lindy Bop (old)

And now for some bonus pictures of B's parents' dog, Teddy! We snapped these on our village green, and a bit mortifyingly I was mid pose as B's mum stopped by, out on a walk with Teddy. Teddy was super excited to see us - see if you can tell from these photos... (in the second one, he is mid 'pirouette of excitement', not leaping away from me in fear, promise!!)

Jack Russell in autumn leaves

CiCi Marie with a dog

CiCi Marie with a dog

Teddy the Jack Russell

A dog and autumn leaves, what's not to love...


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Thursday, 28 September 2017

Outfit: a very pretty pinny

As promised, I'm going to flit about the seasons now and head into autumn... Thanks for all the love on my bikini post by the way - you guys are the best :) I don't get as excited about the autumn/winter ranges as I know a lot of my fellow fashion enthusiasts do - I just can't get enthused about all those dark colours. Or knitwear. Or coats. Just not for me. Pretty much the only thing I look forward to wearing is berets because they are the ultimate lazy-vintage-girl's answer to fast hair in the cold weather. And you all know when the weather turns here because suddenly I'm wearing one in every post :D

Whether I like it or not though, I live in a country that sees a lot more cold than hot weather, so there's nothing for it but to try to get on board and, not gonna lie, this dress is really helping. While I'll always choose cheerful summer colours and prints every time, I do have a firm fondness for plaid. You can pretty much rely on a lot of it being around this time of year and I look forward to seeing the colourways my favourite brands bring out. There seems to be a nice amount of rich green-based plaids around this year and the Slytherin in me is quite ok with that. I particularly like Hell Bunny's new Peebles fabric (code CICIM20!% for 20% off) and knew I had to get my hands on something from the range. Choosing was tricky though - but finally after much deliberation I thought I'd try something a bit different and opted for the pinafore dress.

I'm so glad I did, it's such a cute style! I love the cross-straps (which are adjustable, win), the square neckline at the front and the waistband and most of all I love how full the skirt is. The plaid itself has a stripe of burgundy running through it, so I chose to pick that out in my styling. It feels like such a standout piece, but it's easy to wear and not too 'dressed up' for daytime.

The 40s style green plaid Peebles pinafore dress by Hell Bunny review

The 40s style green plaid Peebles pinafore dress by Hell Bunny review

The 40s style green plaid Peebles pinafore dress by Hell Bunny review

The 40s style green plaid Peebles pinafore dress by Hell Bunny review

The 40s style green plaid Peebles pinafore dress by Hell Bunny review

The 40s style green plaid Peebles pinafore dress by Hell Bunny review

The 40s style green plaid Peebles pinafore dress by Hell Bunny review

The 40s style green plaid Peebles pinafore dress by Hell Bunny review

The 40s style green plaid Peebles pinafore dress by Hell Bunny review
Beret: can't remember! 
Top: New Look (old)
Dress: Peebles Pinafore c/o Hell Bunny (get it here)
Shoes: ASOS (old)
Bag: Lulu Guiness (old)


Unusually for me, I'm wearing a berry lip in these pictures, which is thanks to the people at Influenster and Bourjois for sending me the entire range of their new Rouge Velvet The Lipstick collection (complimentary, in exchange for reviews)! I wanted to give this lipstick a special mention because it's really very good - it applies very buttery and then dries down to a matte finish. Bourjois say it has up to 24 hours wear - I wouldn't go that far, but I do put it on in the morning at 5:15am for work (I know) and when I return at 7pm (I know) it's still 90% there with no touching up (I'm too lazy at work). It's also super comfortable to wear and doesn't dry my lips out and the shade range is great, so really, check these out if you get chance. 

I'm wearing shade 11 Berry Formidable here :)


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