Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Outfit: the brooch, the beret and the trench

I know, I know, this outfit features yet another coat that's not been on this blog before and how many coats can one woman own..? But no, I haven't won the lottery, I just can't throw things away and this is another one that has been lurking on my coat-rack for years but these days barely gets an outing. It's a simple winter trench coat with wide 60s-style lapels and a short length that works really well for making me look taller (and believe me, I'll take that illusion any way I can get it!). Like a lot of my coats, it was a cheap purchase from a supermarket, from the days where I was on an entry level media salary, so it isn't going to win any awards for quality any time soon (the internal fastening snaps have been threatening to fall off every single time I wear it but have somehow hung in/on there). I'm all for making sure I justify the reasons I hoard clothes, so I'd been pondering how to style it again, especially in the light of some of this year's winter purchases. I really like using the odd new thing here and there to revive older clothes... which is of course why I hoard them all, honest ;)

You probably know where I went with this already... a beret. Quelle surprise! But also, those gorgeous little furry boots I splurged on from Miss L Fire because they really haven't had enough wear yet. The problem is they're so bulky because of the fur that with tights and a skirt my feet feel huge. It dawned on me - pair them with jeans! It really works and I was so warm and snug.

This look needed something else to make it a bit special though - berets, boots and a splash of red were all very well, but it was feeling a bit ordinary still. Step in Eternal Collection, who got in touch to ask me if I'd like to review a piece of their vast jewellery collection. My first thought was 'Ugh, jewellery - I'm so hopeless at knowing what to do with jewellery!'... but then I spotted the huge brooch collection. And Fifi the Poodle in said brooch collection. Anyone who knows me will know that if there's one thing I can't resist it's dog anything when it comes to clothing and accessories, but especially big dogs like poodles. And here's a fact for those that don't know - my parents have a labradoodle called Harry who is, of course, half poodle (you can see him in this post - the cute poodle curl got lost somewhere in his genes and turned into what my hair basically is - fluffy, scruffy mess). B's grandmother also bred and clipped poodles (the big, standard poodles, not those little miniature toy ones) and I liked the idea of having something with one on even more thinking about that (especially as she very sadly recently passed away). All in all, I couldn't resist Fifi and I knew exactly where she was going to go when she arrived...

She would be the cherry on top of the whole outfit! She really is stunning - so super sparkly in real life with such attention to detail (thanks so much to Eternal Collection for sending her along). I was generally really impressed with the range of items Eternal Collection had on offer - the necklace collection, as well as the brooch, is particularly impressive. Amber (from Forever Amber), I realised, also recently reviewed another dog brooch of theirs so do check that out too if you want to see it in action.

60s style trench coat with beret

Poodle brooch - vintage style

Beret with cute 40s style hair roll

60s style trench coat with beret

Beret with cute 40s style hair roll

60s style trench coat with beret

Brooch worn on beret

Fifi the Poodle crystal and silver brooch by Eternal Collection

Vintage style winter outfit with 60s shape coat
Beret: Joy (similar)
Scarf: vintage via eBay
Coat: Tesco (old)
Gloves: Sainsburys (check stores)
Bag: Ollie & Nic (similar)
Jeans: ASOS
Boots: Miss L Fire (other colours still available)

Don't you think the brooch adds just the right extra touch here? I want more for my berets now!

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Thursday, 19 February 2015

Hair how-to: the cheat's retro roll - video & step-by-step

So, here we go, my first hair tutorial complete with video! One of the simplest things I do with my hair is also the thing I get asked about the most - the little 'roll' I wear at the front of my head. 

Here's the story: I made up this little hair twist to give my super flat hair some volume and because my hair is so long trying to do proper rolls is quite a frustrating and time-consuming experience (not to mention they end up gigantic!). In the old days, I actually used to do more of a double faux victory roll thing, but find this single roll more flattering for my face shape. Because it's something I made up as I went along, it is incredibly easy and quick - as I am that brilliant mix of very lazy and impatient - and I actually had to exaggerate the various stages in the video below as the whole thing takes me about a minute these days, having done it surely over a thousand times by this point... My favourite way to wear my hair down is with this little roll at the front and some gentle backcombing for volume through the rest of the hair, so this is what I'm showing you in the video and the step-by-step guide below which will be best to use as a reference point having seen the video, as some bits were hard to capture by photo. 

For me, this is a great look to have to hand as I am just so bad at curling my hair - it's a way to still have vintage inspired hair but without the beautiful waves I have zero ability to create.

You will need
  • A narrow (i.e. not wide paddle) hairbrush or fine-toothed comb (to allow for backcombing)
  • 2-3 kirby grips in your hair's colour
  • Hairspray
You don't need the sound on as I've added captions (note: I don't think they work on phones, but you probably won't need them anyway). Enjoy!


And if you're someone who prefers to work from photos, or wants to see a fuller explanation of any of the steps in the video, here you go... 

1. Prep and section the first side
Here's my hair as its flat, limp self. I've run my hair straighteners through it because I'm going to wear it down, but find this roll works just as well on my naturally wavy (and fluffy) hair if I'm going to put it up straight after. Curled hair would be doable, but because this isn't a proper roll with the ends tucked in you'll end up with a curly 'tail' which might look a bit awkward. Starting with a side parting that's roughly in line with my fringe (although this works just fine if you don't have a fringe too, you'd just start further forward), I section off a 'triangle' of hair about three inches wide starting halfway between the top of my head and my ear. You can see the shape in the second picture and how the line slopes up towards the back of my head - this is made clearer in the video.

2. Back-comb and flip; section the other side
Gently backcomb this section from behind from the height you see in the left photo - about a dozen times will do. Make sure the front stays pretty smooth - you can run the brush gently over it if it gets untidy. The backcombing is just to give the hair some texture so that you can mold it into the twist later and to give it a bit of volume, hence it's only gentle. In the video, at this point I then take a further smaller section of hair to the side and repeat, which is because I kind of messed up my initial section and I know from experience if the initial selection is too narrow you won't get quite the right shape - do take a look to see the rough size that works best, but otherwise it can take a bit of practice to nail it. Once it's done, flip this section over your head and it'll sit there quite happily while you now take the second section of about the same size and height on the other side of your head, using the brush to scoop it up - as in the picture on the right. This is quite hard to describe, so see the video if you get stuck here. Keep hold of it...

 3. Merge the sections; push into position and pin
Merge the first section of hair with the second - use the brush to do this, brushing the first section across and into the second, without brushing the backcombing out. Again, the video will demonstrate this better than I can describe it (particularly as I didn't get a photo of this bit), if you get stuck. Once it's all been brought together, backcomb the other side another dozen or so times. Now, use your fingers to push the piece of hair from behind essentially into a subtle S shape - or what looks like a roll from the front. It should keep its volume. Using 2-3 kirby grips in your hair colour, secure 'behind' the roll, to lock in its shape and height. Again, you can see better what I mean in the video. Make sure there's at least two grips inserted from either direction, with a third being used to secure it if it feels a bit loose.

 4. Spray the roll; optional - back-comb surrounding hair
Smooth over any straggler hairs gently with your brush/comb and when you're happy your roll is neat, spray it in place. Now, if I'm wearing my hair down with the roll, I go around the top of my head behind the roll picking up sections a couple of inches wide from the top and backcombing gently to give gentle height. Again, this is gentle backcombing from the underneath so that the top of the hair that's on display stays neat looking.

 5. Smooth over and you're done!
Tidy up any backcombing fluff you've created by smoothing the brush over the top of your hair and that's it! Hair that's no longer flat as in the first picture and has a cute vintage-inspired roll in the front. As I say, I will also do this roll before putting my hair up - as it only uses a tiny section of hair, you can do pretty much anything else you want with it! Of course, the section of hair you've pinned will lay against your head as this isn't a proper roll where it's all tucked in - because my hair is all different colours you can just about see it blending in with the rest in the picture on the right.

Do let me know if you liked this and want to see more... Is it useful to have the step-by-step too?

Although, I probably need a bit of a break after this one as when I went to upload it to YouTube I noticed a glitch with one of the slides... tried to replace it and the whole video editing software completely broke and I had to start again. Was someone trying to tell me I shouldn't venture into the video world?! I certainly have a lot more respect for anyone who's done videos of their own now! This took so much longer than I thought it would.

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Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Outfit: all of my winter favourites at once

Yes, yes, it's Valentine's Day this week. I find myself trying hard to care though - once upon a time I'd go around wearing dozens of sparkly mini heart clips on my head, but those days are gone (and I wasn't working then - I'm not sure how much my colleagues would appreciate my love-sick Medusa 'do). As far as I'm concerned, the whole thing is a bit cringy. Ironically, I enjoyed it more when I was single and could be bitter about it. But anyway, this is my longwinded way of saying this outfit features no pink, red or hearts... Maybe one year I'll suddenly get really into all this malarkey, but for now, I'm still feeling pretty irritable about winter and waiting impatiently for the real event of the month - Pancake Day. Now that's a day I can get behind. Maybe I should have dressed in a nod to my favourite filling? There's always next year...

Back to the whole point of this post (whoops)... In the old days, when I was a student and living on a tiny budget, I tended to only buy clothes if they could be worn for every occasion. I honestly wouldn't buy something if it couldn't be worn for every season and for work, play and dressing up. Needless to say I owned a total of three incredibly thin jumpers and spent most of the cold months absolutely freezing... But my cost per use in those days was frankly unbeatable! My style, however, was pretty dull... quite literally speaking as 80% of my clothes were grey (because grey went with everything and wasn't black, because black would be boring, right? You can't beat that logic.).

While I've found this mindset of only buying clothes if I can envisage multiple uses for them quite hard to shake off completely now I've got a bit more disposable income, I'd say it's a bit better in that now I'm a bit more 'seasonal' in approach (and wear colour). And in the winter, the following things are fairly multi-purpose for me, depending on what you put them with: plaid, fluffy knits, berets, faux fur and the colour tan (at least it's not grey). If it fits into one of these categories, it's a winner as far as I'm concerned. It was therefore high time that I did the original thing and wore all of my favourites in one outfit! I even have a hat that is both a beret and fluffy.

I rediscover this jacket usually round about the end of autumn when it's just about getting too cold to wear it and I kick myself because I love it when I put it on. I've had it for years but you can tell it's neglected because it's the first time it's ever shown up on this blog! I've never seen another like it and it always gets compliments, so, thank you, lovely jacket. 

Fluffy beret, fur collared jacket, plaid dress and tan knee-high boots

Purple fluffy beret with vintage inspired jacket

Fluffy beret, fur collared jacket, plaid dress and tan knee-high boots

Plaid wiggle dress, cropped cardigan and knee-high boots

Plaid wiggle dress, cropped cardigan and knee-high boots

50s inspired winter outfit - plaid dress, cropped cardigan and fluffy beret

BAIT footwear Hazel boots in tan

Tan jacket with purple beret

Fluffy purple beret

Vintage inspired winter outfit of all my favourites
Beret: Boohoo (similar)
Jacket: Topshop (old)
Cardigan: H&M
Dress: Boohoo (similar)
Boots: BAIT Footwear (BAIT)

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Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Photo diary: London Edge fashion show for Voodoo Vixen and meeting Porcelina!

It's not often I do things that are completely out of my comfort zone, but as soon as British brand Voodoo Vixen started to advertise for bloggers to represent them at the London Edge fashion show this year, the cogs in my head started turning... then I heard the words 'complimentary dress' and, well, it was rude not to, right? By nature I'm very introverted and the idea of being surrounded by a load of strangers in an event this size was pretty terrifying... but I realised I didn't have to be on my own! It dawned on me that my long-time blogger friend Porcelina of Porcelina's World might find the thought of a pretty dress and seeing the new ranges of some of the best vintage repro brands as exciting as I do. And she did - and fortunately Voodoo Vixen were keen on the idea too, or that would have been a bit disastrous!

More on meeting Porcelina (and what we wore thanks to Voodoo Vixen!) later, but first there's the small matter of many photos of dresses etc to share... 

And for those of you who didn't read my interview with Sammi a while back, unsurprisingly my real name isn't CiCi... (I know, you're stunned, right?)

The fashion

First things first, as this is the main reason we were all there. Being a trade show, primarily London Edge is about brands bringing along their new ranges and hoping to tempt buyers into stocking them (as I understand it), so being a blogger there felt like being let in on a world of fashion secrets! As anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, I'm obsessed with Collectif and was desperate to see their stand and indeed, pretty much loved everything on it (a lot of which they're previewing in their SS lookbook), but there were also a few newer, less well-known (to the UK at least) companies there and it was amazing seeing their stunning pieces too.

Highlight for me had to be the amazing chocolate print dress below. Chocolate print! How did they know?! Victory Parade who make this dress had some absolutely gorgeous and unusual prints, from dalmatians to kitchen utensils - definitely one to watch this summer. Another new favourite are Whispering Ivy, who have really hit the nail on the head with attention to detail in terms of authentic vintage necklines and trims. They didn't have a huge range on show, but what they did have was outstanding.

Whispering Ivy at London Edge 2015
Whispering Ivy

Victory Parade chocolate print dress
Victory Parade

Collectif strawberry print dress with winged bust


It is worth mentioning that while we are probably all familiar with Besame, LeKeux Cosmetics seem to have a pretty wide range now - and just look at those brushes! They were as soft as they were pretty. I'm intrigued by their lip paints as you can see below... but mostly I really want that brush set!

The immensely knowledgeable UK distributor for Besame had some great previews to show us - from a squeezy tube of mascara you can apply with your utensil of choice (very authentic) to something it was impossible to not feel incredibly nerdishly excited about - fragrances that were each a tribute to a particular vintage decade! We smelt the 30s, 40s and 50s and let me tell you, they smell GOOD! And like they'd last an entire day. Apparently the perfumes are already out in the US with the 40s fragrance selling exceptionally well thanks to a certain Agent Carter... but what you might not know is that there will be some beautiful vintage style bottles with atomizers for them soon. In the UK, the fragrances are due to be on sale in 6 weeks' time, we were told.

LeKeux Cosmetics

Besame cosmetics display at London Edge 2015

Meeting Porcelina!

Really, the fact I got to experience this day with Porcelina was the entire reason I enjoyed it as much as I did. Fact: she was one of the first people to ever comment on this blog, before I'd even fathomed blogging could be a conversation and not just me monologuing my wardrobe... and we've been in touch ever since, for what must be over 2 years now (EDIT: actually it's just over 1 year, but I clearly feel like I've known her longer due to how often we talk!). I was so excited to meet her for the first time - although we both felt like we were going on a blind date, which is somewhat ironic considering I've probably seen more photos of her than of my own boyfriend. But as soon as I saw her waving with a huge smile on her face and a flower crown on her head I wondered why on earth I was so anxious! I'm happy to report she is just as lovely, if not more, in person and so gorgeous, as these photos demonstrate... She even gave me a little gift bag of goodies <3

I'm also grateful she was not wearing her heels in the below picture of us together, as there would have probably been a foot difference in height - fortunately for me, she had flats on to my heels!

Porcelina from Porcelina's World

CiCi and Porcelina

The outfit (and the jukebox)

I should also mention it wasn't just Porcelina I spent the day with, as we met Kariss from Shy Strange Manic along the way, who helped take a couple of the photos in this post. Another example of a lovely fellow blogger and I had to really admire her as she turned up solo, which is more than I could ever manage. How lucky to spend the day in such good company (for me, I mean, not Kariss!).

So, the dress! We were given a selection to choose from and because I have peculiar taste I managed to choose one I didn't see anyone else wearing... I don't understand it as I love this dress - although I did choose it as it was above knee length on the model, so I knew it would be more flattering on my short self. I love a shirt dress and it fit really well, which is always a risk for buttons and I was panicking about it a bit before I got to try it on - but Voodoo Vixen's size guide was spot on for the bust (and waist) measurement. It'll be great for summer and I can't wait to try it with a petticoat. And even though it was about 3 degrees outside, there was no other way to dress it than with pink and flowers. This Banned bag is one of my favourite recent purchases and if you love it as much as I do - heads up - it will be out in mint green soon. It has a long shoulder stap too - I've started to realise that bags with multiple straps are one of my favourite things, all bags should have them!

Oh and on the hair flowers, if you're in the UK you should check out Sink or Swim Bowtique for a huge variety of inexpensive but very pretty handmade retro hair pieces - these flowers were £2 each in the sale! I had a problem with my first order and the lovely owner was so helpful in resolving it quickly.

Voodoo Vixen Tilly dress in black
Hair flowers: Sink or Swim Bowtique
Dress: c/o Voodoo Vixen
Belt: eBay
Bag: Banned via Audrey Stars Boutique
Shoes: Clarks (last season - similar)

We each walked away with huge goodie bags and gifts from various stalls, some of which will no doubt feature on here soon. I'm really glad I pushed myself to do something I found so scary - and have to thank Voodoo Vixen for the great opportunity :)

Anything from the above catch your eye? Oh how I want a dress (or anything, really) with chocolates on...

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