Saturday, 26 May 2012

Vintage style: cute capris

Audrey Hepburn liked a pair, so did Brigitte Bardot... and now the incessant rain has miraculously transformed into bright sunshine, I might even like some too if it'll only stay away a bit longer!

From the Berg Dictionary of Fashion History, 'capri pants' are:

Period: 1950s onwards

Close-fitting trousers reaching to just above the ankle, not dissimilar to leggings, but usually of a sturdier fabric. An American style popularized by the film star Audrey Hepburn (1929–1993) in various films, such as Roman Holiday (1953) and Funny Face (1957).

Apparently they were invented by Emelio Pucci, who sold them in his shop which opened in 1949.

As usual, there are some wonderful modern designs that hark back to more glamourous times to be found online.  Somewhat surprisingly, I found that high street shops aren't really offering any nice capris so far (high-waisted of course) - sort it out, British high street!

Trusty retro repro brands Collectif and Freddies of Pinewood have some lovelies to offer and ASOS has some more mordern designs...
Fabienne Trousers, Collectif, £37.50 (also in black)
Francine Denim Capris, Collectif, £40
Red Denim Capri Pants, Freddies of Pinewood, £45
Skinny Crop Trouser, ASOS, £22
Gingham Trousers, ASOS, £24 (in sale)

Imagining how pretty life might be in the Francine capris (and other items of Collectif clothing, I don't think I can ever have enough)... teamed with my beloved Swedish Hasbeens, of course.

Collectif Francine Denim Capris

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Saturday, 19 May 2012

For the love of craft: Screen Printing

I've loved the idea of screen printing for a while now, ever since I worked for The Papered Parlour in London. The girls at the Parlour run workshops from jewellery making, dress making, and domestic sewing goddess, to photography and screen printing.  I particularly love their print your own wallpaper workshops using block printing - there are some great photos of people's beautiful creations on their Facebook page.

Despite working at the Parlour, I never got round to actually taking part in one of the screen printing workshops and now I live in Nottingham it's a little too far to go for a lesson. So I decided to teach myself and I've just bought a screen printing starter kit from Amazon.

My kit didn't really come with any instructions and there are so many books out there about printing and all the different methods and equipment you can use, it's so confusing! Because I blew my craft budget for the month on my kit, my lovely Mum and Dad bought me 'Printing by Hand' by Lena Corwin to get me started.

Great book for beginners - and has made me want to start potato stamping. Book review post coming soon!

But for now, here's my first screen printing attempt, using a paper template (OK, technically this is my second attempt because I used screen filler rather than a paper template the first time and it was an epic failure)

Here's what you'll need:
  • Silk screen
  • Printing medium
  • Acrylic paint
  • Squeegee
  • Paper

1. Decide on a template - something simple to start with. I went for a flamingo silhouette (really want to print a cushion with flamingos all over it when I've fully mastered this craft)

2. Draw your shape on a piece of paper about the thickness of newspaper and then cut it out with a craft knife

3. Position the paper or card you want to print onto with your template on top, the place your screen on top of them

4. Mix your acrylic paint with screen print medium and dollop it on the screen

5. Squeegee (fairly sure that's not how you spell it!) the ink down the screen, covering your piece of paper, because you used fairly light paper, it should now stick to the screen so you can continue printing on other areas of your paper

Et voila - a terrible example of a flamingo... but not the worst second attempt... 

I will master this... eventually! ;-p

Happy crafting,
Marie ♥

Vintage style: a very glamourous graduation

It's been four years (!) since I graduated and although I wasn't clever or dedicated enough to do any more studying than I absolutely had to, I had the opportunity to live vicariously through my housemate recently at her MA graduation.  If you don't already know, Cambridge students work so hard during their BA that 3 years later they are automatically given an MA - and then they are paraded around the centre of the city like prize ponies with passing tourists stopping to take photos and video them.

Not content with just styling myself, I was also let loose on L's hair and we opted for a subtle 40s look with two small asymmetric victory rolls and loose curls. She also added some Rockette Red Rockalily lipstick (sadly discontinued now). It was the only thing that could be done with that glamourous fur hood. She was the best-dressed there by miles and it's a testament to 40s styling and modern hairspray that those rolls didn't budge an inch all day, even if the rain and wind pulled some of the curls out!

Vintage graduation look

This is nothing but a shameless post about outfits really.  I haven't been to nearly enough weddings or formal events in my 20s so I made the most of my opportunity as Friend of the Graduate, going for a classic structured dress-and-jacket look, teamed with nude heels, red lipstick, faux-hair rolls and hair flowers (you can see them poking out on the right).

Dress - navy shift, New Look
Jacket - white floral lace, M&S Limited Collection
Hair flowers - two small white lily clips put together, Accessorize

I took my brand new (arrived in the post that morning) Nars Heat Wave lipstick out for a ride which you can vaguely see here - loved it so much a review post is bound to follow shortly!

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Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Vintage style: blousing around

It's by now quite clear that as much as I'd like it to be, writing this blog isn't my day job.  I'm a 5 days a week in an office kind of girl where my love for all things a little bit retro has to be channelled through an outwardly professional appearance.

I'm a big fan of a pencil skirt and blouse ensemble - it's feminine but it means business.  There's some great blouses out there at the moment, so I thought I'd share a few of my favourite styles.


Pussybow short sleeve blouse, ASOS, £25

I've seen pussybows on shirt patterns from the 30s right up through the 70s - they're so versatile for creating different looks depending on the material or colour.  Not enough people wear them today! I like the coral colour of this shirt too, very Joan.

Winged collar

Long Sleeve Blouse, Vivien of Holloway, £39

I love this one - again, a popular collar style that you see often through the 40s to 60s and even better, Vivien of Holloway offer it in just so many different patterns.  I think this one is kinda delicate 40s, but there's some fantastic 50s-style ginghams too.

Peter Pan collar

Chloe light brown top, Rock Steady @ Retro Vixens, £26.97

This one has a 60s mod flavour with its peter pan collar and contrast details. Good sleeve length too.

Revere collar

Gretta shirt, Retro Vixens, £36.97

This is on my wish-list for as soon as I get paid - simple but classic.  Again the collar gives a 40s/50s appeal, along with the sleeve-length. Surely an office staple.


Greta shirt, Collectif, £30

The pleating and draping on this blouse hints at the 40s - although the anchor print is a modern rockabilly twist.  Collectif have also just released plain versions of this blouse.


Black floral print peplum top, Dorothy Perkins, £17

Floral print? Check. Peplum? Check. Cute 40s style shirt? Check. And all for the bargain sale price of £17 - thanks, Dorothy Perkins.

Cute print

Shirt with elephant print, ASOS, £35

Ok, so maybe elephants aren't going to appear on any shirt you find in a vintage shop, but I couldn't resist.  Actually, the shape of this shirt is quite classic and you can either wear the sleeves down or shorten them to almost a bracelet sleeve length using a concealed button fastening.

Two office looks... (the left skirt is mine and the right skirt is this 40s skirt I wish I owned from Collectif)

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Saturday, 12 May 2012

Vintage style: puttin' on my Top Hat - and a fabulous 30's dress

For anyone that doesn't know, Top Hat is a classic Fred and Ginger film from 1935 featuring such memorable songs as Top Hat, White Tie and Tails and Cheek to Cheek.  It's also now a West End musical and a couple of days ago my friend and I tottered over to the Aldwych Theatre in London for their special 'tails and tiaras' night for which members of the dress circle were asked to wear full evening attire.

How could I resist!

The musical was brilliant - it's worth seeing especially if you're a fan of Fred Astaire because Tom Chambers has clearly done his homework; not quite like watching the real thing, but probably as close as you're ever going to find in 2012!  My friend and I also decided that he also looks like Orlando Bloom and Danny from The Scripts' love-child, so if that floats your boat...  I wasn't as much of a fan of Summer Strallen's Ginger - she doesn't quite have her elegance and the Dale in the musical seems much more bad-tempered and hormonal.  It's also worth noting that the musical is actually much funnier than the film; the crazy Beddini steals the show in the second act.  They've clearly had a think about the differences in humour between the 1935 and 2012 audiences and as such some of part two was unique to the musical - but completely worked.

But I especially loved the musical because the costumes were absolutely stunning.  They covered so many bases of 1930s looks - from swimwear, to ladies trouser suits, to showgirl outfits.  I will share two of my favourite evening dresses - and you'll have to bear with me here as I use my new fashion sketchpad for the first time and draw largely from memory (with only black ink)...

The left dress is one that Dale wears in the scene where she is trying to seduce Jerry (with a matching bolero that isn't in the photo).  It's all black apart from gold trims.  And on the right is a pale green silk number which was by far the best costume that any of the extras wore.  I love the cut out sides and the back had criss-cross straps holding the small sleeves in place off the shoulder.

And here's a waist-up shot of the dress I wore (the full-length photos were shocking), which was this Sirens and Starlets purple satin halterneck I mentioned in my beautiful dress post before - a steal at £29.99 (the label said £69.99, so perhaps this is an error and you should all run to buy one!) On my 5ft2" frame the dress finished a good few inches below the knee so looks quite classic.

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Monday, 7 May 2012

For the love of craft: Blank for your message

I'm always looking for crafty ideas that I can try and make some pocket money from.

I came across this idea when I was perusing Pinterest (oh I do love to peruse Pinterest... in case you hadn't noticed!)

It's such a simple idea and one I think could take off if I package it nicely and include a token piece of chalk for the sender ;-)

Chalkboard Cards - blank on the front for your message.

What you will need:
Blank card
Chalkboard paint
Light coloured marker
Gold pen
Coloured chalk

1. Draw whatever silhouette shape you want as your 'chalkboard' on the front of your card

2. Paint the silhouette shape with chalkboard paint (don't use water with the paint, or it won't work as well)

3. Leave the chalkboard paint to dry

4. I put a message at the top of the card in gold pen (I chose gold on brown because I didn't want my message to be too obvious, but thought it would be fun to have 'blank for your message' on the front)

5. Write your message on the front using coloured chalk.

And the best thing is, if you change your mind about your message, you just rub it out and start again!

So quick and simple.  I think it would probably work better with blackboard spray paint and proper stencil, but not bad for a first go.

Happy crafting,
Marie ♥

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Vintage style: catseye glasses

Unfortunately I am cursed with vision so poor that without contact lenses or glasses I'd trip over/walk into things even more than I do with them. Contact lenses are my faux-sight of choice, but glasses are fun for a change and when you've had enough of jabbing your finger in your eye (or if you manage to scratch your eyeball so badly you can't wear lenses for a week - it happens.)

For me, it is just yet another excuse to spend a while browsing the many lovely things there are to buy online and throw a little period research into the mix as well.  I don't care much for the quaint round-rimmed glasses of the 40s - a bit too Postman Pat for me - but I do find myself a fan of the winged styles of the 50s/60s.  There's something enduringly feminine about the catseye frame and it's also an incredibly easy way to make any outfit look 'vintage.'

Grace Kelly in catseye glasses
Grace Kelly

Marilyn Monroe in catseye glasses
Marilyn Monroe (from How to Marry a Millionaire)

You've got two choices, as ever, for buying 'vintage' style frames - you buy the real deal, or you look for the modern (and often cheaper) alternative.  Here's some of my favourites... (and most of these you can buy without prescription lenses, if you don't need them)

It's worth noting that some websites I mention below, like Lensway, offer the whole glasses buying package - they'll put in your prescription (if you have one) and put special coatings on the lenses.  Others, like Jeepers Peepers, only offer non-prescription or reading glass strength lenses, so you'll need to take them to an opticians and have your lenses put in, probably at a cost of around £40.

My top tip is if you're nervous about buying online where you can't try them, if you already own a pair of glasses that fit you well for the width across your face, on the bridge of your nose and for the arms length, measure these and use them as a guide on websites where they provide the frames' measurement (Lensway do this well).

Classic Tortoise 1950s Cats Eye Spectacles, Dead Men's Spex, £55
Klasik, 1960s black, £125


Jeepers Peepers Retro, Lucy black, £18

And my choice - the Love L748 from Lensway above...

Love L748 glasses tortoiseshell

I can see!  I like these frames as well because the slightly thicker plastic and rounded winged edges lend them a bit of a more modern look.  These were a present for my birthday yesterday - which is probably fitting, seeing as I'm now the wrong side of 25 and my eyes are only going to get worse from here...

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