Sunday, 18 May 2014

The Twenties with a Twist

A blog post with a twist today, good readers!

We're here to show you how to work a vintage look with a high street twist today. We realise that whilst some of you readers adore the vintage lifestyle, you might not find the time, or have the patience to rummage round charity shops and vintage fairs looking for those perfect pieces. It's totally understandable.

What you can do, however, is find some great copycats on the high street, which is fantastic for those one off retro parties, the 20's themed nights out, or maybe you're just dipping your toe in the vintage water and want to try something on for size. It's not everyone's cup of tea, looking like they've stepped out of the wrong era, and whatever you wear you should feel comfortable in. If you leave the house in full forties dress and feel, well, a little bit silly, then that's okay. By choosing certain pieces or styles you can still work the retro look, from a splash of red lippy to a sixties shift, or a flapper dress for the big night out.

And that's what we're here to show you today. We've chosen to emulate a look from the twenties today, because that era is HUGE at the minute (thank you Baz Luhrmann and The Great Gatsby)! It seems that we can't escape sparkles, drop waist dresses or fringed hems at the moment, so here's our easy peasy guide to getting the look.

Helen's working a dress found in the Topshop sale for £40 today. It's fantastic because the colour is perfect, a bang on trend peach colour, with the scalloped edges and embellishment that harks back to the era of the Charleston and Fitzgerald. This dress is great purely because of it's shape. If you don't have that straight up-straight down figure that was oh so popular back then, like oursleves, then this nipped in at the waist t-shirt style is not only comfortable but flattering too.

Helen's got her hair in classic rolls, which wasn't huge in 1920's - think more slicked down hair with a prominent parting, but her make up is spot on. Heavy eyeliner, creating a smoky look, and of course a slick of red lipstick.  And of course it wouldn't be complete without a little bit of liquor, so bring forth the gin and whip up some fabulous cocktails to get the party started!

Catherine is modelling a dress from Next (£38). It’s light, cotton material make it a summer classic. And if you’re brave enough, it can easily be dressed down with a cardigan and some sandals, perfect for a European city break. It's quite short, in hindsight, she may have bought a top for a tall person, but being a hobbit does have its benefits, and if you wear an under dress, it works perfectly. 
As you’ll have guessed by now, Cath is lucky enough to be blessed with natural 20’s hair, but you don’t need to spend hours teasing your hair into finger waves, oh no! Simply head on down to Accessorize or Marks & Spencer and pick yourself up a cloche hat. Place one of these beauties on your hear and you'll feel like Daisy Buchanan in no time. Again, a summer staple for those lucky enough to be heading off to exotic climates!

So head down to your high street and keep a sharp eye for anything that touches on that retro look. But don't become too reliant on these high street giants. Remember - one of the brilliant things about leading this lifestyle is supporting independent shops and retailers. Trust us, there's fun to be found in wandering around vintage fairs and charity shops.

H & C

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Vintage Girl Problems

Visiting National Trust properties, going on days out to antique tea rooms, making jam...these are just a few of the past times of these two vintage girls. Last week we visited Nostrell Priory, a jewel of Yorkshire designed by James Paine and the remarkable Robert Adam, who also designed the beautiful Kedleston Hall near Derby.

We wore some lovely vintage dresses, bought some elderflower wine, and, awed at the incredible house. One of my favourite parts of it was the hand-painted wallpaper in the bedrooms, and, wait for it, the bathroom. That's right. The tiny bathroom, with a rather fetching bathtub, was adorned with the most exquisite, oriental, peacock decorated wallpaper. I was in love! It really was the most stunning, elegant decoration. The only problem? I wanted it. I wanted an exact replica of this antique, hand-painted wallpaper to adorn my bathroom, so that when soaking in my roll-top bath (yeah, right!) I could admire it. And pretend to be a duchess. 

   Thus, we arrive at the subject of this post. Coined by my friend Clare when telling her of this tragedy, the title 'Vintage Girl Problems' is rather self-explanatory. The trouble is, we do tend to live in the past a bit; we have an aversion to technology and live for a house crammed with antiques. Vintage isn't just a look: it's a lifestyle. So, we've put together a little list of our vintage girl problems- the cost of living, the woes of wanting some of the wonders of yesteryear that sadly, you can only find in a museum now.
  A bit like us, but to hear more about that, scroll down to Number Three...

Vintage Girl Problems: 

1. Finding Antiques 

As you probably guessed from the peacock wallpaper rant, we are both proud National Trust members. In fact, fanatics would be a more apt description. On visiting these places, we become quite sad that we can't fill our own homes with these magnificent tapestries, vases, beds, bedding, tables, chairs...basically anything of beauty. Of course, antique hunting is always fun, but the problem nowadays is good quality antique shops are SO EXPENSIVE. Dressers and wardrobes can go for thousands, and my dreams of a Victorian desk are slowly diminishing. If you're a fifties kind of lady/gent/person, then you can usually recreate a fifties house for relatively cheaply. But for us? Its tricky one. Never will we find furniture like the John Lindell chairs from Kedleston Hall (above) at our local vintage market. 
However, there's always great bargain finds, like this handmade, one of a kind dresser, that is now covered in bunting and pearls. Keep your eyes peeled and you always find goodies like this, my pride and joy! 

2. Doing One's Hair 

Here is my hair in thirties rolls. It looks, if I may say so, rather elegant.
However, here is my natural hair before I make it this visually tame:

My hair requires so many pins that walking through airport customs sporting victory rolls could potentially end up in an awkward encounter with a security guard. Sadly, not many ladies pre 1970 could sport their hair as free and flowing as this; therefore a lot of my prep time in the morning is taken up by pinning, curling and setting this mad mane.
  Annoyingly, this is Catherine's natural hair:

Natural fingerwaves. Curse you!

3.Walking Around Museums 

I work in the museum sector, and we are both massive museum enthusiasts, hence the attachment to the National Trust and other various heritage sites. The thing is, when you look like us. You get stopped a lot. About 90% of my museum visits have ended in somebody, sometimes including the staff, mistaking me and Catherine for part of the exhibition. We've been stopped countless times for photographs and stunned visitors. It's fun, flattering, but if you want a quiet afternoon wandering around a heritage house, you're not going to get it. Be prepared to be approached by tourists. Here are a few photos of us where we've been stopped, mistaken for the lady of the manor and Elizabeth I...
At Knightsbridge Hall, Devon

At Coleton Fishacre, Devon

At Lyme Park, Stockport
And some Tudor fun at Ordsall Hall, Salford! 

4. Looking Like a Housewife

We're both, as everybody should be in this day and age, feminist. Give us equality. As history fans, we've both studied the struggles of women through the years and the fight for equality. So we don't quite appreciate being referred to as 'housewives' 'trophy wives' and 'domesticated' just for wearing vintage clothes and enjoying baking. Listen up- we've got degrees. We're smart. We work. We write. We don't just look quirky and bake cakes. Stop calling us housewives. That's not us.
  And if I'm going to bake, I'll be doing it in this smashing apron.

Anyway...this is a very grumpy blog post. You may well say- so why do you do it? Because at the end of the day, these things aren't that annoying. They make the whole thing hilarious, and that's what living the vintage lifestyle is all hand me the pins and lead me to the National Trust house. There's no stopping us yet!

Have any vintage girl problems? Share them with us!