Monday, 27 January 2014

Last-Year Buys: Alice's Pig, Miss Patina and VV Vintage

Not just a chance to look at my overflowing bookcase, here are a few of the things that have found their way into my wardrobe so far this year/month. (You wouldn't be able to guess I'm trying to cut down on how much stuff I accumulate, would you?)

While I managed to resist most of the sales this year, I had to take a peek at VV Vintage's £30 sale. This top barely scrapes into my definition of vintage being, I'm guessing, early 90s at the very earliest. But I was seemingly unable to pass on its combination of denim, embroidery all topped off with a velvet collar, which are all the things I seem to be liking at the moment.

I discovered Brixton-based Alice's Pig through a post by Sian on Domestic Sluttery, and found myself buying the entire combination above - Clara Bow does Burns Night as I described it on Saturday (in case you have any doubt, that's definitely a good thing).

And, after I wrote about them for Domestic Sluttery, Miss Patina were kind enough to send me their Hampton dress. It is beautiful in the flesh, and I'm definitely planning on accessorising with book and glasses, a la the model above. They're also a south London-based company and one of the things I love best about working for Domestic Sluttery is being able to support and promote these independent brands. Go and explore them for yourself - there's lots more pretty things to look at.

Have you made any good new clothing discoveries recently?

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Friday, 17 January 2014

Last-Week Links: 17 January 2014

Good evening, how has your week been? Have you been stocking up on check shirts and excellent knitwear? My last post suggested we should all dress like a sub-deb for Spring 2014 and - appropriately - the Teenage blog did an entire feature on these pre-the-age-of-teen tribes, again thanks to the Life archive. It was in the Teenage book I first heard the term sub-deb, and they feature in the Teenage film too (its full UK release is 24 Jan). Read the piece to find more about the JILTS, JERKS and SWARMI (and to plan your spring wardrobe, obviously).

Sometimes I think this weekly post should be called Last-Week's Life, because there's always a couple of great posts out there based around their archive. Such as their collection of photographs of Gypsy Rose Lee - this picture of her dates to 1949. The whole collection is evocative of what life was like on a travelling carnival at that time. Honey Kennedy also featured Life's fab 1940s pictures of ornate perfume bottles - it's that bamboo shop fitting in the final picture that really makes me marvel.

Do you ever read Port? It's quite a smart men's magazine but their newsletter always contains something interesting. This week's had a glimpse behind the scenes at historic wallpaper company Cole & Son, and an insight into the pattern above, taken from the Carven Menswear autumn/winter 2014 collection: tattoos and street art as glimpsed in the photography of Brassai apparently.

Shortlist have said these are the 25 most stylish men in literature. Do you agree? Although Ignatius J. Reilly is probably one of the most memorably dressed book characters, I don't think he can count - even with 'hipster' logic.

If you watched the drama about the Great Train Robbery over Christmas, you'll remember the controversy that surrounded the posters appealing to the public for their help. Such is the notoriety of this particular case, this poster is going up for auction with a £5000-£6000 estimate. Not quite 2.6 million, but a lot less risky.

[Obligatory Girls link:] masses of press, you'll have seen it all - from Vogue to the Sunday Times. I've not seen a single episode of the new season but still I enjoyed a glimpse into the show's wardrobe (though we probably don't need to see this yellow mesh vest ever again).

I signed off last week's Last-Week's Links hoping for some 1940s fashions in the current stage adaptation of Strangers On a Train. Instead, the costumes seemed to have been drawn from every decade from the 1920s to the 50s. It was so strange, I felt like it must be deliberate - I just couldn't work out why and it became a huge distraction for me. Oh well, there's my theatrical review over. I'm going to see American Hustle this weekend - this time, I'm pretty sure that means I'm going to see some full-on seventies style. Fun.

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Monday, 13 January 2014

Dress Like A 1940s Sub-Deb for Spring 2014

I was enjoying my flick through Vogue's Spring/Summer 2014 Catwalk edit when I realised the fashions looked strangely familiar. If you've looked at any 1940s pictures of sub-debs (a term used for young people before the invention of the 'teenager' - you can see it used on the 1945 Life cover below) and 50s teens, particularly those taken by Nina Leen for Life magazine, you'll recognise some of the new season's styles 

Oscar de la Renta, Spring 2014 Ready-To-Wear, via

Nina Leen for Lifevia

Silence + Noise tartan coat, via

Teenage girl in St Louis. Photographed by Nina Leen for Life, December 1944, via

I never though I'd been comparing Oscar de la Renta, Balmain and Carven to teenage fashions but all displayed a love of checks you can see worn by the teenagers in the period photos today. Margaret Howell showed a skirt and shirt combo that would happily sit alongside some of the school outfits. Marc by Marc Jacobs, meanwhile, featured some sporty collegiate looks as part of the collection, and without the rest of the ensemble, these Prada's socks could be more sports club than catwalk.

Prada, Spring 2014, via 

Girls basketball team, 1957. Photographed by Francis Miller for Life, 1957, via

1940s note-passing in class, via

Life, 1940s, via

Students at Warren G. Harding high school, Ohio, c.1950s, via

Take a look at high street style and it reflect  a similar look - the shops are full of sports jackets, plaid skirts, check shirts. Okay, these are more influenced by a 90s take on these preppy looks (think Audrey Horne), just as Marc Jacobs is seemingly more seventies sports luxe than a sweaty kid in a field, but it's ridiculous easy to recreate a version of these 40s and 50s teen looks using mainstream fashion at the moment. And looking down at myself, wearing my Topshop Mom vintage jeans, an old French Connection 'F' sweater and the vintage sports shoes I bought in Berlin, it appears I have done already. 

New York teenager. Photographed by Nina Leen for Life 1949, via

'Sub-Deb Clubs', Life 2 April 1945, via

Plaid dress with pleated skirt as the 'right' schoolwear. Photographed by Alfred Eisenstaedt for Life, 1939, via

What I love about the vintage pictures is how they illustrate the tiny styling details that are such an important part of school life whenever you attend - the height of your socks, hanging your jacket over your shoulders rather than using the arms, wearing a precious ring on a chain around your neck. They're fascinating to observe but it makes me thankful that I longer have to subject myself to the microscope of high school life. 
Schoolgirls photographed for Lifevia

Nina Leen for Life, December 1944, via

Girls football game, LA, 1939. Photographed for Life by Peter Stackpole, via

Marc by Marc Jacobs, Spring 2014, via

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Friday, 10 January 2014

Last-Week Links: 10 January 2014

Before I went to Scotland, I cleared out my blog roll and deleted 2000 emails. I felt fantastic for it. Now, of course, I'm drowning in them again and feel like I've barely scratched the surface of all the good things on the internet this week. I'm also feeling slightly behind the times by only just posting the Leith Clark x Warby Parker collection, dream stuff for girls like me who wear glasses. Zoe Kazan looks predictably adorable in the press shots.

I'm not as behind the times, however, as this Parisian apartment, its contact left intact from when its owner fled Paris for the south of France in 1942. Check out the extreme taxidermy and the Boldini portrait of the apartment's owner.

My personal new discovery is the Voices of East Anglia blog - retro pop culture. Masses of stuff on there to explore but this Swingers and Singers in the Kitchen book especially appealed. On the subject of popular stars choosing to impart their wisdom to us mere mortals, American Age's piece on a Joan Rivers book chimed with me as I'd been thinking about attitudes to ageing in beauty books - vintage and otherwise - thanks to all the ridiculous press about the new French Women Don't Get Facelifts book.

Much cheerier than people telling us we should have facelifts is this gorgeous Jaeger leaflet, taken from Shelf Appeal's marvellous collection.

You can get British pin-up style in your bedroom, or your bathroom, or wherever else you might like thanks to this new blinds collection, featuring David Wright's 'lovelies' of the 40s (via Lobster and Swan). I've picked out the least risque image from the collection - it originally dates to 1943.

I've also been drooling over the photography of the shop Where I Was From, found thanks to Thrills and Frills. It's a masterclass in how to make vintage look utterly contemporary. With the exception of this piece.

For proper contemporary design and for those interested in dressmaking, there's a JW Anderson pattern available to download on SHOWstudio.

Finally, to return to one of my reoccurring topics, Girls starts again soon - exciting! (I'm going so slowly with Season Six of Mad Men, a bit disappointed). The Telegraph interviewed the show's costume designer Jenn Rogien on her career to date. I do enjoy an unconventional career path.

Have a lovely weekend, whatever it entails. I'm off the theatre tonight to see an adaptation of Strangers On a Train - hopefully there will at least be some late 40s fashions for me to lust over. Aside from that, it's the usual January-style action plan: some exercise, some clearing of my wardrobe, and hopefully some classic films. For more January inspiration, you could take a read of this post I wrote for Domestic Sluttery featuring some of the UK's most fun short courses and classes.

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Thursday, 9 January 2014

Knoydart New Year

Happy new year! I hope 2014 is treating you well so far. Well, aside from the wind, and the cold, and the rain, and everything else it's thrown at us so far.

After a run of celebrating each new year in London, this year I escaped up to the wilds of Scotland to Knoydart. We stayed as a group in some accommodation in the tiny village of Inverie. The pub in the village has the claim of being the most remote pub in the UK, with good reason. The area is inaccessible by road vehicle and to get there you need to take the 'ferry' from Mallaig.

New Year's Eve itself was completely joyous. Imagine a whole load of visitors crammed into Inverie's village hall with a few locals, then imagine a ceilidh with a live band but very scanty instructions - so scanty, in fact, a dance has to be stopped part way through because two of your friends are doing it so badly. Then a fabulous disco - which goes completely mental to this - face paints, and lots of bartering to get the bottle of rum given away for the raffle prize. All fabulously silly.

With no phone signal and no wifi, and definitely no vintage shops to offer distraction, it was a case of making your own entertainment, and many a silly game was played during our evenings. And, of course, there was the stunning scenery to be explored in the daytime in walks and (in one brave case) a swim.

It's hard to be somewhere that remote - and especially at new year - without making a few resolutions. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll know how I love a resolution. Needless to say, I made a few biggies, but some fun ones too. I'm aiming to read 50 books this year (now I'm freelance and don't have a daily commute, I can feel my reading for fun time rapidly plummeting). I also want to watch more 'classic' films - Golden Age of Hollywood kind of stuff. Where on earth should I start with that? Your recommendations please. Oh and, because of my Knoydart new year experience, I have definitely decided 2014 should contain more ridiculous dancing.

Happy 2014!

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