Carrie-Ann loves vintage fashion (original, repro - as long as it's '40s or '50s inspired, anything goes) and her husband, and has an unhealthy attachment to Doctor Who, confectionery, and the Oxford comma.
Carrie-Ann loves vintage fashion (original, repro - as long as it's '40s or '50s inspired, anything goes) and her husband, and has an unhealthy attachment to Doctor Who, confectionery, and the Oxford comma.
The Pin-Up Pop-Up Shop came back to London for the third year, so I decided to get dressed up in my vintage finery for the first time since before my daughter was born and brave the crowds in London. My hair was a mega-easy vintage poodle style; I followed this tutorial from Cherry Dollface (if I can do it, it must be easy…). From the moment I arrived, everyone looked after me; I’m still a bit up and down and likely to burst into tears at any given moment, so I really appreciated their kindness (and clothing/lunch recommendations).
I was really pleased to see plenty of plus sizes available to try on in the shop; there’s been many a shopping trip where I’ve been waiting outside, browsing online while my friends head to the fitting rooms with piles of clothes, so it was nice to have a pile of my own to try on.
Six vintage reproduction brands, all run by women, have teamed up in one place. There’s glitz and glamour, kitsch and cute, or funky and…well, my alliteration skills have let me down here. I wanted to use fun, but it seemed a bit too close to funky…
Anyway, there’s lots to love. I tried on many, many dresses (making it out relatively unscathed with two Gatsby Lady purchases, although I wanted so much more).
Gatsby Lady – 1920s vintage style gowns, up to size 30
This is a size 18, and makes me feel like the tallest woman in the world (no small feat, as I’m 5″1…pun intended).
Silly Old Sea Dog – quirky print dresses, skirts and accessories, up to size 28
It’ worth mentioning that Silly Old Sea Dog sizes are generous. I’m wearing an 18 here (I’m between and 18-20) and could have possibly sized down to a 16. It makes me feel like I should be running around with Jodie Whittaker shouting ‘Doctor!’ while she points a sonic screwdriver at aggressive aliens.
In case you were wondering, this is a very good thing.
Love Ur Look – vintage style dresses up to 3XL (size 22-24)
This is a size 18-20 and I adore the rainbow stripes.
Palava – vintage style clothing and accessories for women and girls, up to size 28
Swimmers, swimmers everywhere! This lido print dress is fabulous and a size 20, and the cardigan is a large. Oh I do love them so.
If you can’t make it to the pop up shop, Palava is offering our readers 15% off, use the code PINUPPOPUP15
Dolly Cool – rockabilly style jewellery
Look at this octopus. Look how friendly he is. I don’t know what it is about him, but he makes me smile.
Fairytale Collars – handmade felt collars and corsages, funky pin badges
Seashell brooch! I shall say no more.
The team is planning more fairs, so if you can’t make it to this one and would like to go in future, I’d recommend keeping an eye on the event’s Facebook page.
***Trigger warning – neonatal and child death***
On 31 May 2018, I became someone’s mum. My daughter, Dorothy, was born at 11:30am, weighing 2lbs 7oz. She was 13 weeks early (taking after neither of her chronically late parents), and while she was the most beautiful child I’ve ever seen, she was also very, very poorly. Despite the best efforts of an outstanding NHS team, she died soon after she was born, as we told her how much we loved her. I am indescribably sad. Honestly, I can’t find the words to tell you how sad – and I’ve tried.
Sadly, my husband and I aren’t alone in our grief, even in our friendship group. One of my closest friends lost her little boy, Miller, in January 2016. He was born sleeping at 36 weeks, and she and her husband (two of the strongest people I know) set up a charity, Miller’s Stars, to help parents who find themselves in a similar position. According to Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, 15 babies die before, during or shortly after birth every day. I understand from both sides how difficult it is to know what to say. I’ve found myself speechless when one of my loved ones was in unspeakable pain, and I’ve watched friends and family scramble for words to comfort me and my husband as we face up to our own loss.
Everyone is different. I’d never dream of speaking on behalf of all bereaved parents, but this list is some of the things I’ve found useful, comforting, helpful, or – in some cases – the opposite.
You might think you don’t have the words, you’ll mess it up, or make them sadder. That’s incredibly unlikely. It’s more likely that they’ll be comforted to know you’re thinking of them. And believe me, as someone currently on the receiving end of this, it hurts like hell when you hear absolutely nothing from someone you thought was a friend. If these are proper friends of yours (y’know, more than a Facebook acquaintance), say something, even just ‘thinking of you’.
I understand the impulse to ignore the fact they had a child. Your friend is grieving. Perhaps you want to spare them more pain. Maybe you’re worried you’re going to make one or both of you uncomfortable. Unless they explicitly tell you they don’t want to talk about it (and, in my experience, they will), please mention their child. I carried Dorothy for seven months. I felt her kick, and talked to her about how much Doctor Who she was going to watch, before pushing and shoving her into the world. She was a real person, she was here, and you’re damn right that I’d like to talk about how beautiful she was. And if you want to see a photo, please ask. I wait for people to approach me because I don’t want to upset them, but I can assure you that I’m armed and ready to bore you with a seemingly endless stream of photos of my daughter and thoughts on whether she looked like me or my husband.
Some days, I want to talk about Dorothy nonstop. Others, I’d rather talk about (almost) anything else. So I’ll steer the conversation in a direction I’m comfortable with, or if I’m in a group, I might just sit back and let everyone else talk for a change. Don’t make a big deal about it (and for God’s sake, don’t press the point), but let your friend tell you what they want to talk about.
It’s not just the parents who have lost a child – whether it’s the child of a friend or family member, you’re grieving too. That’s normal, and please don’t feel that you can’t show emotions in front of the parents. This comes with a caveat – don’t expect the parents to emotionally support you. It’s not up to them to make this ok, or to minimise the pain they’re in; please don’t act as though they can.
I know. Children can be amazing, frustrating, brilliant, annoying, cute and teeth-grindingly tedious (usually all within one afternoon), but please try to talk to someone else about all the ways your children are irritating you. I want to sympathise, but as I’d give almost anything to be surviving on 30 minutes of sleep a night, worrying about nurseries and at what stage I should be applying for a school place, I can’t.
Unless you, too, have lost a child (and I am so, so sorry for your loss if this is the case), you don’t. I understand the need to empathise, but saying this is unhelpful and – for me – rage-inducing.
Losing a child is horrible. Watching a friend or family member deal with the aftermath of losing a child is horrible, and I can only speak for myself (and occasionally, my husband). It’s difficult to navigate what to say (and steer clear from). If you’re not sure what to do or say, ask the parents how you can help, and what they find useful.
As you may know, I’m a bit of a vintage hat fan. Nothing makes me happier than scrolling through pages and pages of the things on etsy, Facebook and Instagram.
When I first started searching for vintage hats, the number of different types absolutely baffled me. A perch, you say? What the heck’s a cartwheel? And so on. Well, if you fancy curating a vintage hat collection, I’m here to help.
Here’s my starter list of terms to look out for. (Please note, I am an enthusiastic amateur, and am fully prepared to admit I may have gotten some (perhaps even most) of these wrong. If that’s the case, I am truly sorry. And please, let me know so I can change them!)
Still popular today, the vintage beret is a flat hat, usually made of felt, which sits flat on the head at an angle (or, if you’re me, sits on the back of the head with the top raised)
Disclaimer: these are my favourites. Featuring a very wide brim, they’re unapologetically big, bold and generally fabulous.
A 1920s, fitted sort of a hat, this is an option sadly closed to me, thanks to my large head. It’s bell-shaped and fits close to the head.
Similar to a cartwheel hat, the halo hat sits at the back of the head, with the wide brim framing the face in a halo effect.
A small hat that perches (see what they did there?) on the side of the head.
Part of the late 1940s New Look, the vintage pillbox hat is a small, round hat that perches on the back or side of the head (you’ll need a hatpin). Often seen with small veils attached.
Looking like a Victorian top hat, these are ridiculously fabulous. Often adorned with a veil, feathers and various other fancy accessories, I absolutely adore mine (picked up at Twinwood Festival last year).
And finally, the tilt hat. Similar (but bigger) than the perch hat, it sits on the side of the head and makes a statement.
If you’d like to read more about my passion (read: obsession) with vintage hats, you can do so right here.
I’m sure you’re probably aware, but we’ve had some truly horrid weather in the UK recently. If that’s not an excuse to curl up on the sofa, reading a good book, I don’t know what is!
As much as I love reading new books, I find it comforting to re-read old favourites. And as I know the storylines so well at this point, I can have several on the go at one time.
Here’s what I’m (re-)reading right now.
I first read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone when I was 15, I think. I was staying at my dad’s, borrowed it from one of my brothers and never looked back. If memory serves, I read the first three books in one weekend.
I like to return to the series at least once a year now. This time, I started re-reading it over Christmas, and am now 3/4 of the way through Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It’s been emotional. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, and I’ve accidentally shared spoilers with my husband (who’s currently on Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban), because I keep forgetting he’s never read the books.
Although my sister loves them, I can’t watch the films. I spent so long imagining the characters in my head, I get cross when they don’t match my imagination.
I’ve been reading this twice a year now for over 20 years. I first read it in my last year of primary school, and it’s just lovely.
Full of warm, lovely characters (and one absolute rotter), it warms my soul. William, an evacuee, goes to stay with Tom Oakley (or Mr Tom, if you prefer), during World War II. It’s a children’s book, but deals with some big themes in a sensitive way. And despite having read it at least 40 times, I still cry every time.
There’s also a TV adaptation starring the late, great John Thaw, and watching it is a splendid way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
I’ve been a huge Marian Keyes fan ever since I picked up Angels while feeling particularly homesick during a long-ago Freshers’ Week.
Anybody Out There might be my favourite (this changes on an almost weekly basis). Another Walsh family story (for those of you not familiar with her work, Keyes has a series of novels that follows the antics of the Walsh daughters; Clare, Maggie, Rachel, Anna and Helen), Anybody Out There is the story of Anna, and with most Keyes books, it deals with some distressing topics (I won’t say more, because spoilers). Anna lives in New York with her husband Aiden, but at the start of the story we find her living back with her parents in Dublin.
I won’t spoil it, but it’s another book with genuinely gorgeous characters that makes me cry (read: sob uncontrollably), laugh and eventually, feel like everything’s ok.
Fun fact: I met Marian Keyes while she was doing an event to promote Anybody Out There in Canterbury. I went to get my book signed, and couldn’t utter a single word. One of my friends had to tell her how to spell my name.
Still one of the best nights of my life.
What about you, lovely readers (see what I did there)? Which books are you getting stuck into now?
Hello lovely people!
It’s been a while since my last post, and I’m very sorry about that. Life has gotten in the way somewhat.
However, I’m very pleased to be back and thought I’d start by styling one of my very favourite vintage style Lady Voluptuous dresses three ways. My dress of choice was the teal Lyra wrap dress which is available in sizes 16-32 and is a dress that is so easy to dress up or down.
This outfit makes me think of cosy country pubs, open fires and mulled wine (which I’d inevitably spill down myself, but that’s by the by).
Faux fur Gilet from Oasis Curve (via Simply Be)
Boots from Simply Be (I think these might be my favourite thing about this whole outfit)
I’ve clearly been influenced by the festive season when it came to choosing this evening outfit. But as my nan (a very wise woman) used to say: “You can’t go wrong with a bit of sparkle!”
Someone at work once told me I ‘bring something different to the office’, while staring quite hard at my hair flowers. I took it as a compliment.
This is the sort of thing I’d wear on a grey and gloomy Tuesday to cheer myself up (while keeping myself nice and protected from unpredictable heating!).
I’m well into my Christmas baking (mostly sausage rolls and mince pies, in case you were wondering). We’ve had a surprisingly early fall of snow in the UK (which I loved and my cat didn’t). The soundtrack to The Muppet Christmas Carol has on repeat for some time. That can only mean Christmas is nearly here!
I really, really love Christmas. One of my favourite things to do at this time of year is to get stuck into a festive book, and I thought I’d share some of my go-to novels with you lovely people. I’ll be completely honest with you, none of these are books where you’ll be dazzled by plot twists. They are books where you’ll genuinely care about the characters (even the background ones). You’ll also feel a nice dollop of festive spirit by the time you’ve finished them.
First up is Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweet Shop, by Jenny Colgan. I’m a huge fan of Jenny Colgan; her debut novel, Amanda’s Wedding, was the first ‘grown up’ book I ever read as a teenager and she writes Doctor Who books – she’s fantastic.
Of all her characters, the ones in the Rosie Hopkins series are my very favourites. Combined with the fact Rosie owns an old-fashioned sweet shop, I want to climb into this book and live in Lipton.
Given my love of Lipton, it makes sense that The Christmas Surprise, the last in the Rosie Hopkins trilogy, also makes my list. Trigger and mascara warning for an utterly devastating event in the first part of the book (that hit very, very close to home for me).
This unfolds into another wonderfully warm read. Even the dastardly characters aren’t really that dastardly and you know everything is going to work out for the best.
To round off the Jenny Colgan love, I’m currently re-reading Christmas at the Cupcake Café. It’s a sequel to another Jenny Colgan book, but you don’t really need to have read that to enjoy this one. My favourite bit is the recipes at the start of most of the chapters. I’ve already made the mince pies and gingerbread, and next on my list are polar bear cupcakes (just as soon as I think of an alternative to liquorice, because I hate it with a burning passion).
When I’m not reading Jenny Colgan’s festive novels, you can probably find me with my nose in Calling Mrs Christmas, by Carole Matthews. It’s the story of Cassie, who is made redundant and then has a rather wonderful idea for a business (can you guess what it is?). My sister recommended this book to me a few years ago and I’ve read it every year since. What it lacks in twists and turns it makes up for with snow, Father Christmas and well-rounded characters. I want to adopt Mrs Ledbury.
New on my list for this year is Snowflakes on Christmas Street, by Ivy Pembroke. Told from the point of view of a few different characters, it’s the story of the residents of Christmas Street. I’m especially interested to find out more about Jack, the dog who’s a central part of the action and who seems like my kind of chap.
I’m sure there are tonnes and tonnes of books I’ve missed out of this list – what are your recommendations?
Lovely SMB readers, I’ve entered a competition. An exciting one too, it’s to be Vintage Life’s October cover star! And I’d like to ask for your help please (I promise it’s nothing too time-consuming).
But first, a story!
A few months ago now, I won a photoshoot with Jukebox Beauties. a Northampton-based photography duo who specialise in pin up style photography. While I’ve done a couple of vintage-themed shoots, pin up is a teensy bit (read: a lot) out of my comfort zone. I was a bit nervous before I got there. Would I have to parade around in my pants? I don’t really do sexy pants. Could I pull the poses off? I suspected not.
I had a little wobble early on in the shoot, but a short tutorial in posing later and I was strutting around the place, pulling faces and kicking up my heels. With a selection of dresses and a whole vintage suitcase full of props, I felt ready to take on the world and generally had a whale of a time.
This photo was inspired by a picture that makes me smile every time I see it. All that’s missing is the little black dog, and if that’s not an excuse to go back, then…well, I’ll have to find a better one.
My favourite photo from the shoot is one of me holding my vintage umbrella and looking upwards hopefully. After the shoot, Jukebox Beauties added in some rain and a street scene, but on the day, I used my (overactive) imagination. I may not use the skills I learned during my drama degree every day, but they do come in handy sometimes.
When I saw that the lovely team at Vintage Life were running a competition to find their October cover star, I thought of this photo straight away. Brolly? Check. Driving rain? Check. Hopeful expression because maybe, just maybe, the rain’s stopped for a second? Check! The only thing missing was a pumpkin.
But, I wasn’t feeling very brave, so I talked myself out of entering. Then I talked myself into it. And so on and so forth, for a couple of weeks. The other entries were rolling in, and there wasn’t really anyone who looked like me among them. Then I saw some of my friends had entered (including the fabulous Steff) and that made me even more nervous about doing it.
Then, I took a deep breath, thought ‘What would Georgina do?’ (a handy life motto, and something I should think more often) and clicked submit.
So, I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you have a second I’d love it if you could click here and like the photo please!
When the invitation to my auntie’s birthday arrived, I had a bit of a panic. The theme was glitter, bling and more glitter. I loved all of these things when I was younger, but it’s been a while since I slicked on some sparkly eyeliner. It doesn’t really go with my vintage style.
After spending weeks searching online, I was looking through my wardrobe with increasing despair. At one point I was considering the sparkly hot pants I wore for a theme night at university (they’ve been at the back of my ‘I’m sure I’ll find a use for this one day’ drawer ever since).
I’ve been lusting after the Carolyn dress for some time, and was pretty darn excited when it arrived just in time for the party. A 1920s inspired style, it has subtly beautiful beading detail to the cape and bottom of the dress. Luckily for me at 5″1, the elasticated waist meant I could pull the dress up a bit so I didn’t end up trampling all the lovely beading into the carpet.
The dress was easy to pull on over my pin curls and it slipped down to my feet nicely. No need for any pulling, tugging or manoeuvring!
I did a wet set and backcombed the heck out of it to get this vintage-inspired hairstyle. Vintage can be quite restrictive while backcombing, so usually I have to do my hair, pull on a dress and pray to the hair gods. However, this dress was so floaty, it was easy to sort my hair while wearing it. I cannot stress enough how much I loved this!
I don’t often wear full-length dresses, as I worry they make me look shorter, but I felt elegant and a little bit classy. Which made a nice change to the ‘little girl trying on her mum’s clothes’ feeling I sometimes get in longer frocks.
It was mega easy to move around, get in and out of cars, drink, talk and dance in. Even though 1920s is out of my style comfort zone of 1950s swing dresses, I felt incredibly comfortable.
The subtle bling meant I could dial up my accessories.
With a 1920s-inspired dress, I decided to wear my vintage sparkly bug earrings. But I forgot to get a decent photo of them. Of course. Two hours into the party, my earlobes were two throbbing balls of pain (the perils of clip-ons), but they looked fab while they were on!
I wore my wedding shoes, glittery court shoes from Agnes & Norman (it’s not trading any more, but was a sister brand to wedding shoe specialist Rachel Simpson) and topped it off with a fascinator from Pin Up Curl. Sarah makes these by hand and I managed to nab one just before they sold out last Christmas.
My bag is vintage, purchased from Elegant Era. It’s beautiful and delicate. As a clumsy person, I have to try very hard not to trip while using it, lest it smash into a million pieces.
I had a lovely time, and I think we’re pretty clear that I would recommend the Carolyn dress.
***Although this dress was gifted to me, this has no bearing on my thoughts and opinions expressed above – I’d have loved it regardless.***