Monday, 30 July 2012

Outfit: Red, (purple), white and blue

I don't have time for my usual vintage style posts at the moment, due to working my normal job and my temporary new job at the Athletes' Village for the Olympics.  There's not a day off for the next three weeks! So here's a short outfit post, with apologies for the quietness to come.

I realised on the day of the Olympics Opening Ceremony, I had subconsciously dressed for work in red, white and blue (and then stood in a sunbeam, sorry for the lighting here)...

Ok, so the red was just the Games Maker watch and the lipstick, but still, I was rather pleased with my accidental patriotism.  If you're interested, the t-shirt and tube skirt are both H&M, shoes are Swedish Hasbeens Braided Sky Highs.  Money can't buy the watch ;) but the lipstick is Nars Heat Wave.

And here's what I look like on my 'days off' currently.  Hot stuff, you'll agree.

By the time I'd donned the whole outfit (see my earlier post for what I'm talking about), I felt a) that I looked like a child and b) not only that, but I looked like the unattractive child who gets picked last for sports teams in PE (of course, in the past I was this child). Panicking, I put on my favourite red lipstick to try to age myself a little - it didn't work, everyone I spoke to assumed I was still at school, or, at the very best, university.  My catchphrase from the first two days of volunteering was 'No, I really am 26.'

However, I'm fairly sure the red lipstick (and hopefully not the childlike demeanour) was the cause of so much interest from the army security staff you encounter every five steps in an Olympic venue (it certainly wasn't my figure in that get up).  It depended on the checkpoint as to how much said attention was unwanted, although whereas the Olympic uniform makes everyone automatically unattractive, apparently the army uniform has the reverse effect.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the Games as much as I do.  Go Team GB!

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Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Vintage style: clever clogs

Today's post is going to be about the humble clog.  Surprisingly comfortable considering the sole is completely inflexible, variations are popping up in more and more shops since last summer. In this case, I'm using the term to mean a wooden-soled shoe, rather than just the more traditional clog shape.

I looked into the history of the wooden sole and it was easy to find out that they've been around for centuries, but what was harder to pin down was their popularity in the 20th century - by which I mean pre-70s when clogs made a comeback more generally.  But then it hit me, I'd seen this in my book about 40s fashion!  War shortages meant that wood was a cheap and plentiful alternative to leather and rubber, hence wooden soled shoes were introduced based on the traditional clog, quoting from The 1940's Look by Mike Brown, a Board of Trade announcement:

'You'll soon be seeing more and more wooden-soled shoes about the place. They save rubber and leather - both badly needed for direct war purposes - and are snug, well-fitting and waterproof.'

Various images I came across confirmed the incorporation of wooden-soled sandals into everyday wear - platform heel varieties being particularly popular with pin-ups.  These styles certainly aren't the functional 'waterproof' styles mentioned above, I'm sure, but show the flirty forties having a bit of fun in rationed times.

Some of them, in fact, look just like the modern incarnations offered today by Swedish Hasbeens.

Swedish Hasbeens are pricey, but I can vouch for the good quality!  Here's my pair in pastel pink
Sky high braided Swedish Hasbeens

50s pin up sandals

A pair of high-waisted shorts, sweetheart neck vest, a hair do and red lips and you've suddenly got a nice little 50s pin-up outfit for if the sun ever makes it out long enough in England that you won't freeze a leg off walking around like this (as I write, the sun is out right now, so run!)

Technically, Swedish Hasbeens are 70s clogs - that's when the company started, that's when the styles are from, but it's all in the styling.

And if £165 is too much to spend on shoes (I cheated, I got mine for £61 in the Office sale in winter) some cheaper alternatives are out there if you look hard enough!  They really are both stylish and comfortable.

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Sunday, 22 July 2012

Styling 02: Port Eliot Festival

One of my most lovely and seriously hot friends loved my first styling post so much that she asked me to pick some outfit options for her to choose from to wear to Port Eliot Festival on 19 - 22 July.

Now in its ninth year, the Port Eliot Festival (previously called Port Eliot Lit Fest) is an annual celebration of words, music, imagination, laughter, exploration, and fun and is hosted on the Post Eliot Estate in Cornwall.

Being the typical British Summer, we have no idea what the weather's going to be like, so I styled 3 options - one for if it's chilly and wet, one for sunny weather (unlikely) and one that can be a bit more versatile.

Liv's a pretty stylish lady herself, and is blessed with height, luscious blonde hair and a perfect all year round natural tan (I'm not envious in the slightest by the way - not with my pale skin, short legs and badly dyed brown hair!)

So here's what I picked for her:

Port Eliot festival style

Hoping for sunshine!: Both pairs of shorts are Topshop, bag - ASOS, Michael Kors watch (both Liv & I work for charities so we can't have this beauty, but ASOS do loads of really similar ones), bracelets - ASOS, Converse - Office. I'm not sure where the t-shirt is from now!

Port Eliot festival style

Sunshine and showers: bag - ASOS, Dunks - Office, Sandals - Zara (sale), Watch - ASOS, Bracelets - ASOS, Necklace - Anthropologie, T-shirt - H&M

Port Eliot festival style
Versatile - who knows what the weather's going to do!: Shorts - Topshop, Bracelets - Anthropologie, Converse - Office, Watch - ASOS, Bag - ASOS, Blouse - Topshop, Jumper - Warehouse

Watch this space to see which one Liv decides to go for along with some pics from Port Eliot Festival...

Marie ♥

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Sunday, 15 July 2012

Vintage style: thinking inside the box (bag)

No, the post titles don't get any less obvious.  This is going to be part vintage style guide, part love letter to my most expensive outfit purchase to date - my Lulu Guinness Mary bag.

Let's start with the style bit!

Bags in the 50s and early 60s were an essential part of a lady's outfit; not many would have been seen dead without a handbag that matched their ensemble - and that goes for shoes and gloves as well. They were usually made of leather and had short straps worn over the forearm or carried by hand a la Jackie Kennedy or Grace Kelly. The classic design most people associate with the era is the small rectangular leather or vinyl bag with a frame clasp at the top. The box shape was a popular variation of the theme at the time, meeting the mid-century lady's love for a structured bag.

It's actually surprisingly hard to find photos of women with handbags in the 50s and 60s - perhaps the celebrities like Marilyn had people to carry their stuff and didn't need to trouble themselves with rooting around in the depths of a bag for their keys.  So let's go straight to some vintage styles that you can buy yourself this very day, if you so wish to.

White box handbag, It's Vintage Darling @ ASOS, £51

50s patent black box bag,, £57

Brown snake-skin box bag,, £42

There are surprisingly few good modern styles out there to buy.  But for years, I'd been regularly visiting a very special bag on the Lulu Guinness website thinking wistfully to myself that if I ever won the lottery (which, of course, like everyone else who says that I don't play) I'd one day own it.  Because at £395, there was no chance it was coming out of my pocket money alone.

What was there not to love about Mary? She's boxy, she's leather, she has crocodile skin and silver lips for a clasp... AND she holds stuff.  Oh, I wanted her.

And then one day when I went to see her, after 3 years of visiting like the besotted fool I was, she was knocked down in the sale to £125!  And then she was mine...

Repro 1950s box bag

I promptly bored everyone who would listen (unsurprisingly this was a very limited number of girls) about the story of our love affair and a year later she still goes everywhere with me.  She comes to work and makes me look almost like a grown-up, she comes dancing and effortlessly pulls me a man (this really happened, I winded him with her while bopping a little too exuberantly).  I'm sure if I ever went to anything more formal she'd be the finishing touch to a classy look.

And there you have it, my love for structured bags and for a very special box indeed.

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Thursday, 12 July 2012

Bake: earl grey bread and butter pudding

My parents came to stay this weekend (with Monty the dog). I've been begging them to visit me for months so when they finally gave in and decided to come, I wanted to make sure they thought it was worth it. And boy oh boy did I do that. With one simple thing - the scrumdiddlyumptious Earl grey, apple & chocolate bread pudding from the Spicy Ice Cream blog (another Pinterest find)

And here's how you make it...

Earl Grey, Apple and Chocolate Bread Pudding

Serves 6
• 200ml cream
• 200ml milk
• 3 eggs
• ½ vanilla bean
• 3 tablespoons sugar
• 2 teaspoons earl grey tea (or 2 earl grey tea bags)
• 6 crossiants
• 100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
• Icing sugar, to dust

Poached Apples and Sultanas
• 500ml boiling water
• 2 teaspoons earl grey tea (or 2 earl grey tea bags)
• ¼ cup sugar
• 2 apples, peeled, cored and cut into 2cm cubes
• 1/3 cup sultanas

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) and greast and line a loaf tin. Pour the cream and milk into a saucepan and stir in the earl grey tea. Heat the mixture until not quite boiling, and then leave to infuse for between 10-40 minutes. Strain the tea leaves out and discard. Whisk in the sugar, vanilla and egg into the milk/cream mixture. In the meantime combine boiling water and tea leaves in a saucepan. Allow to infuse for 10 minutes and then strain out the leaves and return liquid to the saucepan. Add sugar, apples and sultanas and simmer for 20 minutes or until apples are tender.

Slice crossiants on a shallow angle so that you end up with 4 thick bread-like slices from each crossiant. Dip each piece into the cream mixture so the slices are well soaked through. Line the bottom of the tin with the soaked crossiants. Sprinkle over a layer of chocolate, poached apples and sultanas (either drain the apple mixture or remove from the liquid with a slotted spoon). Continue with the remaining ingredients, reserving some chocolate to sprinkle over the top layer. If there’s any remaining liquid, carefuly pour this around the edges of the tin so that it soaks into the layers.

Place in the oven and bake for around 40 minutes or until the liquid has set. Remove from the oven, turn out of the tin and slice into thick slices. Serve with ice cream or double cream. YUM!

It really is so simple to make and so delicious. I don't really like earl grey tea though, so I next time I'm going to try and do it without the earl grey infused water for poaching the apples. 

Poor old Monty wasn't allowed any. Look at his sad little face...

Marie ♥

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Make-up: 50s pin-up made easy

This is my first requested post for my lovely friend who is going to an 'alternative' wedding this week.  I realise the topic has been done to death in YouTube tutorials and the likes, but they're of varying quality and sometimes it's just plain annoying squinting at a video and pausing it to see bits more clearly through the gloom of someone's badly lit bedroom, while they send you to sleep by telling you the history of when they purchased this or that blusher in a constant monotone.

And then there's the problem that these endless girls who seem to live in the internet have seemingly an infinite budget for make-up and whip out palettes of eye-shadows you could paint a room in a house with.

So this tutorial is for the normal girl who only owns a handful of products and can beg, steal or borrow the rest.  I'll identify the key elements to making yourself look 'pin-up' and the rest is up to you!

My lovely housemate L has agreed (slightly under protest - you can see it in her eyes) to be my model.  Of course, she's naturally gorgeous especially in my biased opinion so I've got a good base to work with.  It's worth pointing out that I'm going to go for a medium dramatic look that I think befits an alternative wedding - you want something a bit dressier than daytime pin-up.


Pin-ups typically have perfect porcelain skin that looks all the more striking against red lips and dark curls - or platinum blonde if you're Marilyn.  Modern make-up counters usually match you to a foundation a shade darker than your own skin which I just don't suit.  To be honest few people suit colourings that are too far from their natural ones, so if you're an english rose chances are you're going to quite suit this look.

Product: Estee Lauder Double Wear in Bone, their palest warm-toned shade


These are neat and not too thin, but filled in and with a nice curve if you can manage it.  Not that far from your natural brows, but better defined. Some girls take this quite far and go quite dark, but avoid this unless your hair's dark. L is fair, so I've stuck to a blonde eyebrow colour and kept it subtle.

Product: Urban Decay Brow Box in Beige Betty


Step one: White or pale beige eyeshadow across whole lid, up until the brows.  We've gone with white because that's what I had.

Product: Lancome Color Focus Quad 350 - white

Contour this with grey (if you've used white) or light brown (if you've used beige) - shading up to the eye socket about halfway along the eye and then blending the two shades together well.  Remember, this eyeshadow isn't suppose to be dramatic, just enhance what is already there and I think it's partly to emphasise the fluttering eyelashes we'll add later by adding in some shadow.

Product: Lancome Color Design Sensational Effects Eye Shadow in a colour I can't read anymore, but is a dark, sparkly grey

Of course, winged eyeliner is key to a pin-up face!  On L I have started the line not at the corner of the eyelid but where the lashes start - I think this is more flattering on most people as it doesn't make your eyes look close together and it again puts emphasis on full lashes.  The line increases in thickness across the eyelid and then finishes in a sweeping point.  It's easier to draw the line by stopping and checking progress as you go along.  One handy tip is to draw a dot where you want the wing to end and then join it up.

Product: Collection 2000 Fast Stroke Liquid Liner in Black


You can keep these dainty for a more daytime look and just curl and mascara your own, but as I'm thinking of this for a dressy situation where people are taking photos and knowing my friend is a fan of big lashes, I've gone with the falsie option.  First I mascared L's own lashes to get them pointing upwards and then we applied some semi-dramatic falsh lashes on top.  I cut about half a centimetre's worth of lash off from the inner corner to better follow my 3/4 length wing - you can see the falsie and the line are in quite neat alignment.  You can just use the whole lash though, but in that case I'd suggest starting your wing from further in towards your tearduct.

Product: Eyelure Naturalites Eveningwear 101


This didn't photograph that well, but you can just about see an apple of pink on L's cheek here.  You want a rosy glow, not too OTT but not too subtle either.

Product: Benetint Posie Tint (any pink blush will do)


The crux of the pin-up face!

Shape: you should enhance and slightly over-exaggerate what you have for a typical 50s/pin-up lip.  L actually has lovely pouty lips anyway and over-exaggerating them too far would take us into clown territory, but I did slightly enhance her natural bow-shape and slightly thickened her top lip.  A lot of tutorials with red lipstick will go on about lining the lips first, but if you've got a good lipstick and are relatively young you don't need it.  My tip is to use a lip brush, or the tip of your lipstick, to outline the shape you want and then fill it in.

Colour: Red, red, red!  I've posted before about red lipsticks and their varying shades and I think you should use the red that suits you for this look.  L has quite neutral tones - slightly warm undertone with a fair amount of cool pink, so she can handle a quite neutral red with slightly cool tones like the one I've gone for here.  She's pale, so I'm staying away from Dita von Dark territory.

Product: Nars Semi-Matte lipstick in Jungle Red

Et voila!  Ready for a glamorous time.

(We didn't realise Zingy was in shot until it was too late.)

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Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Vintage style: high-waisted shorts for pin-up pins

Following on from Marie's shorts post, here's my own take on using shorts to achieve summery vintage style.  I know it's raining, but we've all got to have something to look forward to, right?? Let me get one thing straight right away - hotpants of any form or description are going nowhere near these upper-thighs.  Like Marie, I also don't have legs up to my eyeballs at a vertically-challenged 5ft 2" and exposing the entirety of what I do have is not going to make them look longer, just blobbier. But I do think when the weather is above 28 degrees - or when you're on holiday somewhere hot where no one you know will ever see you - a well-fitting - and not too short - short is actually a more demure option than most mini-skirts.  Much more practical against the English breeze if you are feeling brave in this country, that's for sure.

Shorts can look classy on the right girls.  Marilyn loved a pair and she certainly had the pins to pull them off.

So to get us in the mood for holidays and summer, here are some fabulous high-street shorts.  They're all under £25 as they're nearly all in summer sales right now.


Dark denim is by far the most flattering.

Warehouse indigo shorts, £20 down from £35
Dorothy Perkins blue high waisted shorts, £23
Oasis denim sailor shorts, £25 down from £40


Polka dots and animal print?  I know, I spoil you.

Oasis multi blue 50s spot print shorts, £20 down from £40

Max C Animal Shorts, £18 down from £28

More likely to be found on the likes of our 50s beauties above, with a cute little jumper perhaps we can all look that glam.

Boohoo Layla high waisted belted shorts, Stone, £15 (also in cerise)

Asos belted shorts with turn up, red, £22 (also available in navy)

And here's my pair that were £15 from Tesco a year or two ago.

Thank you, Marilyn!

My legs are one of my worst assets being not at all as leggy as one would like and refusing to turn any darker shade of bright white, but I might be able to get away with these when not too many people are looking.  Proportionately, my thighs aren't small, but I hope I'm slightly proving a point that a longer - and crucially, not too tight - short isn't that bad. In fact, if you're worried about your thighs or between sizes my advice would be buy a bigger size and cinch with a belt (make sure the shorts have loops mind you!)

If anyone's interested, the top I bought was a Miss Selfridge sale bargain last week at £12 and the sandals are last year's M&S cork-soled wedges, chosen with Marilyn's approval in mind seeing as she's sporting some dainty wedges herself above.

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