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.
Ah, May. The month of two bank holidays and just enough sunshine that my thoughts are turning to summer holidays, and along with it all the accessories that are missing from my summer wardrobe. I say missing…what I really mean is, all the accessories I want to add to my summer wardrobe.
As you may know if you’ve been following my vintage fashion series I’m a big fan of all things vintage, so I’ve rounded up some of my favourite summer accessories with a vintage twist. Enjoy!
Very important. They need to be big enough to hold the essentials: book, biscuits, beach towel during the day and purse, keys, phone for the evening. I’ve narrowed it down to two (and a half) favourites:
First up, how lovely is this reclaimed vintage ASOS beach bag? I love the summery colours and it’s more than big enough for a book or two, a bottle of water, biscuits, a beach towel and a few other bits I reckon!
For evenings I prefer something a bit bolder. This shell-shaped rainbow bag by Banned is wonderfully retro!
And, finally – a picnic basket (here’s where the half comes in). Beaches aren’t my husbands thing, so we rarely head there for a day trip. Instead, you’ll find us popping to the park for a picnic, and I have this very picnic basket. As you can see, it’s perfect for scones.
Reading forms a massive part of my summer holidays, my record is 9 books read during a two-week beach holiday in 2009. Next on my list is Their Finest Hour and a Half by Lissa Evans. I’ve recently been to see the film version starring Gemma Arterton (she’s wonderful in it), and now I’m desperate to read the book.
Whether you’re heading to the beach, walking in the Lake District or off on a jaunt in the car, sunglasses are a must! I adore these vintage-inspired cat eye sunnies from New Look.
I love, love, love sandals! Rocket Originals is a vintage reproduction brand that use original 1940s and 1950s patterns to create their shoes. They’re on the pricier side, but are mega-comfy on my wide feet, and I can walk for miles in them (always a plus during vintage festival season). These red ones are definitely on my wish list!
These tan beauties from Evans also feature on my (fairly extensive by this point) wish list. They’re a lovely muted colour that goes with pretty much everything and look like the sort of thing you could wear to the beach then out for dinner. As long as you get the sand out first, of course.
As someone who burns easily and who’s obsessed with hats, I love a good straw hat! This one from ASOS has a pretty bow detail at the back which makes me think of summer picnics and frolicking through fields (I think it’s the gingham).
I adore hair flowers, but don’t tend to wear them in winter except at Christmas, when I go all out! However, as soon as the warmer weather hits, they adorn my head pretty much every day. Pin Up Curl and Shazam! Vintage both have some amazing summer-inspired original designs out at the moment. I love this sunny yellow pansy from Pin Up Curl, while this lobster claw hair flower from Shazam! Vintage puts me in mind of exotic locations and cocktails!
And, finally, of course you can’t go anywhere without a suitcase! I’ve had my eye on a vintage inspired one for a while. As much as I love original ones, I like to pack for all eventualities and then some, so I need wheels! This London Fog suitcase from Amazon has a lovely retro twist while being sturdy enough to hold all my bits and pieces (read: books and shoes).
How about you, lovely readers? Anything you’ve come across that I should be adding to my holiday wishlist?
There are few things I love more in this world than vintage fashion and looking at pretty things (read: clothes). So I was pretty darn delighted when my suggestion of a ‘Date night outfit’ post was met with positive noises from the SMB team! As you lovely readers will know, GatsbyLady, creator of 1920s-inspired dresses, and Nine X Lingerie, creator of pretty plus size pyjamas, are two of our sponsors. So I thought they would be an excellent place to start! (And hey, if this one goes well, I may look into doing a series. I bloody love a series. Just ask Netflix.)
As it’s a dream outfit sort of a post, I’ve decided on a dream-date sort of a scenario too.
The preparations would begin mid-afternoon, with me running a rose-scented bath at exactly the right temperature. (Never mind that I usually end up with one that’s tepid or boiling thanks to a temperamental boiler. I generally find myself faffing with the taps until I’ve lost all enthusiasm and have a ‘sod it’ shower instead.)
Around an hour – or four chapters of my book – later, I’d rise feeling refreshed and rested, putting on these pyjamas and this dressing gown so I could feel like a glamorous Hollywood starlet who’s about to get ready at a fully-stocked dressing table, in front of a mirror surrounded by lightbulbs, instead of my spare room with its piles of stuff that needs sorting and slightly grotty 3/4 length mirror.
Possibly because of all the old films I watch on Sunday afternoons (or Tuesday evenings), whenever I think of a glamorous night out I always think of dancing. And not the ‘jumping around, singing made-up lyrics’ dancing that I do in the kitchen. I mean the charleston, lindy-hopping, jiving – all those funky dances that look amazing but I’m not confident enough to attempt, having only done a couple of mediocre years of modern jazz and cheerleading, which seem a long time ago now.
But, this is a dream date scenario, my friends! And that means not only can I dance like a dream, but so can my husband (he occasionally joins in with the kitchen dancing. We are not graceful). So we’d go to a dinner-dance, drinking sparkly cocktails before taking a turn on the dance floor. Everyone knows that beading, pearls and a little bit of bling are just what you need for a fancy night out (my nan – a very glamorous lady indeed – always used to say: ‘you need a bit of bling’), I reckon this dress, shoes, beads and bag combo would be just perfect.
I’ve recently got really into hats (visit me on Instagram for more), but I’m not sure they mix with dancing. I’d be sticking with a headband as I need something to keep my hair under control. It has a nasty tendency to do its own thing when I’m not looking.
After a thoroughly delightful evening where we’d drink, dance and generally make merry, there’s what contributor Sophie calls: ‘after-date night’. In a dream date scenario, I’d be slipping into something more comfortable at the end of the evening. Perhaps something like this chemise from Nine X Lingerie, which actually looks comfortable.
How about you guys? Have you seen anything I should be considering for my next date night?
Last week, my lovely husband (or The Boy, if you prefer) and I celebrated one whole year of being married. It was lovely. We went to Yorkshire for the weekend and had lunch at our wedding venue, which brought back some great memories. And some slightly annoying ones, like the venue’s sign in process and the joy that is the M25, but I digress.
It also reminded me of the insane amount of pressure to lose weight when we first started planning our wedding. It felt like every second person was subtly, or in some cases not-so-subtly, asking me about my pre-wedding diet plans. Not whether I had one, you understand, but which one I was doing. And of course, there was the person who was heard to criticise me for *gasp* still going out for dinner, even though I was getting MARRIED. It was like I didn’t even care that I was going to look like myself on my wedding day!
It makes me so angry that a whole industry has built up around the idea that looking like you on your wedding day isn’t good enough. Despite the person you’re marrying loving you for you and your loved ones in attendance loving you for you. And although it’s only 12 little hours of your life (12 ruddy awesome hours, it’s true, but still), you’re made to feel ashamed for not wanting to change as much of you as possible.
For me, it started in a bridal shop that only carried teeny tiny sample sizes that didn’t fit me even a little bit. As well as being made to feel a bit shit, I was expected to use my imagination to picture how a dress in my actual size would look. I have a pretty vivid imagination, but even I struggled with that one.
No, wait – it started with the wedding magazines I bought just after The Boy proposed. They were full of ‘helpful’ diet tips that I should ‘definitely start following immediately’ (but really I should have started six months ago, because, weddings). I also started following a few different wedding publications on social media, and it felt like every other post was about losing weight. Even in ‘10 things every bride should do before the wedding’ articles, I can guarantee the first point was always be a version of ‘Lose weight and tone up, or you’ll always look back on your photos with regret’, and it ticked me off.
There was even a show in the US called ‘Shedding for the Wedding’. Full disclosure, I caught maybe half an episode of this once, so I can’t comment on its content, but for me, it’s a hideously exploitative concept. Ugh.
Then of course there were all the random diet reps who tried to add me on social media. I was getting married and therefore must be desperate to drop three dress sizes in six weeks (read my previous article on that here).
I’ll admit that I did get sucked in a bit. I joined Slimming World six months before the wedding, and lasted three (maybe four) weeks before deciding that I had more fun things to do on Tuesday evenings. Like the table plan.
The closer it got to the wedding, the less I cared about the suggestion I should be trying to lose weight. My regret is that I was finding wedding planning stressful enough (seriously, table plans. The work of an evil genius), so instead of telling them to stop, I bit my tongue and smiled politely.
For me, pre-wedding weight loss is nonsense. And any industry that’s created around the idea that being you isn’t good enough is nonsense. Fellow She Might Be contributor Jo wrote a great piece on body shaming, and I agree wholeheartedly – let’s build each other up, not tear each other down.
And personally, I think anyone who says anything to a bride or groom-to-be that isn’t ‘It’s your day – do whatever the hell you want’ should be given a Paddington Bear Hard Stare. Because, they’ve clearly forgotten their manners.
For me, it’s the finishing touch to any outfit.
My collection is costume jewellery, and I think my very favourite item is a set of cardigan clips that I bought at Twinwood Festival. They’re a gold-ish sort of a colour with pearls, and they’re beautiful. They brighten up my work outfits no end, even making me cheerful on a Monday.
Vintage jewellery isn’t all pearls. My most recent purchase was a pair of fruit basket earrings (photos to come on their first outing) and look at these sparkly insect earrings!
So, if you’re looking to start (or build) your vintage jewellery collection, where do you start? Using my experience (read: seeing things I like and buying them), I’ve put together a few pointers on where to buy and what to look out for.
Vintage fairs. This is where I end up buying most of my jewellery. I usually find plenty of brooches (my particular weakness), along with necklaces and earrings (be aware: most vintage earrings are clip-ons, which I actually prefer).
This little haul was all from the Summer of Vintage festival in York last year.
eBay and etsy. etsy is especially good if you’re looking for something a bit special, and I’ve bought a few sets of beads from eBay. Try adding ‘true vintage’ or ‘original vintage’ at the start of your search terms (I know I give this advice a lot, but it works!).
Charity shops. Another great place to find jewellery, especially brooches in my experience. Jewellery’s usually in the glass counter under the till, so you’ll need to ask to take a look. On a separate note, if you make friends with the nice volunteers working in charity shops, they might even let you leave your details in case they get anything else in. Every charity shop in my local area has mine!
Do your research. If there’s something specific you’re after, do a bit of research before you buy. Buying something and learning later that you’ve paid over the odds is ruddy annoying.
If you like it, buy it. There are some things I own (see insect earrings) that some of my friends find a bit much. But that’s ok, because I’m a bit much.
Check before you buy. I don’t mean get out a magnifying glass, but just give it a once over. For example, if you’re buying something with stones, make sure none of them are missing or likely to fall off before you get home.
Speak to the experts. I know next to nothing about gemstones and the like, so if I were ever looking for a real gemstone rather than an imitation, I’d head to the local jewellers. Or ask my friends to see if they know someone with that expertise.
Have you got a favourite piece of vintage jewellery? If so, I’d love to hear about it! Or would you like more tips on finding vintage jewellery? If so, let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer!
Ah, January. Cometh the month, cometh the random friend requests from people I don’t know who coincidentally happen to be weight loss company reps. Who have a product that would be ‘just perfect’ for me. It’s not just for weight loss you know, it really helps with your hair and skin. It makes you funnier. And smarter. And richer. And I really should support the business aims of this franchise that I’ve never met but who happened to be trawling Facebook and thought I looked gullible.
Before I talk about why these irk me so, I’d like to tell you about my ‘favourite’ of these approaches, which came from someone I knew vaguely and was actually Facebook friends with once upon a time.
I didn’t realise she’d deleted me, so imagine my surprise when I received a friend request from her. Assuming she’d removed me by accident (because I’m bloody delightful), I accepted, only to immediately get a message from her telling me all about how she’d had a road-to-Damascus revelation about the wonder that is Product X and she’d love to tell me all about it. Which she did. At length.
I wrote a polite message back, explaining that it’s just not for me. I’m happy as I am but wish her all the best etc. See, I’m bloody delightful. She promptly deleted me again. Now, I’ve dined out on that story for a while as it’s pretty funny in a ‘Holy Christ are people really that transparent?’ sort of a way, but let’s get it out in the open – it was rude (and made things mightily awkward when we bumped into each other in the pub a few weeks later).
So, on to reasons why these things annoy me:
It took me a long time to like how I look. I’ll admit that a few years ago I might even have toyed with the idea of starting one of these ridiculous schemes (if they weren’t so prohibitively expensive), but now I finally have the confidence to like me for me. I’ve made a promise to myself to swear less this year so I can’t tell you exactly what I’d like these schemes to do, but I would like them to go very far away, rather speedily.
I was getting more and more peeved earlier this week following another request from a Product X rep, and was having a good vent to another of the lovely SMB writers, who is most wise. She suggested that instead of getting all worked up and having imaginary arguments in my head (I can’t be the only person that plans out their arguments in advance, surely), I simply ask people why they’re adding me if we don’t know each other.
It’s been a revelation!
Out of the four requests I’ve had so far this month, one has ignored me while the other three have replied saying they either added me by accident, or thought I was someone else. Now, there’s a chance that these three people really did mistake me for someone else (Carrie-Ann Dring’s a mega common name, after all) but I have a feeling that the two things are connected, and I will be doing this with friend requests in future (unless I definitely know the person… although if I know them and they’re really obnoxious, I might just do it anyway).
All hail Daisy Hollands and her commonsensical advice!
So, I’ve already talked about my love of vintage clothes and bags, and now it’s the turn of a relatively new obsession – hats. I’ve never thought I suited hats (apart from a brief flirtation with baseball caps aged 16, but I try not to dwell on that), but a few months ago, I decided that I wanted to try out a hat with a few of my 1940s and 1950s outfits.
I can’t remember what sparked the initial impulse (probably someone I saw at an event), but I saw a vintage, black saucer-type hat on a Facebook selling page and decided to buy it before I changed my mind. It arrived, I loved it, and it then sat in the bottom of my wardrobe for quite some time while I built up the courage to take off my ever-present hair flowers and give the hat a try.
Eventually, after I gave myself a strict talking to about selling anything I hadn’t worn for six months, I put it on, and that was that. The obsession began.
As one of my friends once said, tactfully, “When you decide you like something, you really go for it, don’t you?”
She’s not wrong. By conservative estimates, in 2016 I’ve bought around 15 vintage or reproduction hats, and have my eye on several more.
So, if you’d like to try your hand (head?) at some vintage style headwear, what are my hints and tips for you? They’re actually very simple:
Measure your head: vintage hats are often designed for the smaller head. Unfortunately, mine does not fall into this category, which is why you’ll see me in a lot of tilt, saucer and platter styles (the last two are essentially the same thing, from what I can tell), as they perch on the head. Which leads me to…
Invest in a hatpin: or three. Bobby pins also work well, as there’s nothing worse than getting your hat in exactly the place you want it, stepping outside and losing it almost immediately.
Check out the names of the styles you like: the hat styles I wear are pretty much the only ones I can name, and I did it through Google and checking with friends. It makes it much easier to search online for a hat when you know what it’s called (as I discovered when I finally learned what a saucer hat was and stopped searching for ‘big vintage hat’).
Research prices: as with lots of vintage items, hats can vary hugely in price. It’s worth doing a quick online comparison, so you know that you’re not paying too much – it’s definitely happened to me in all the excitement of finding something beautiful.
Compared to some items, vintage hats are relatively easy to get hold of if you know what you’re looking for. And sometimes, even when you don’t. I’ve found mine at vintage fairs, in vintage shops (my latest one is from Blackout II in Covent Garden. My word, that shop is an Aladdin’s Cave of beauty – I’ve bought a new hat both times I’ve been in, actually. Probably best I don’t visit for a while) and on Facebook selling pages. Other shops I’d recommend checking out are: Elegant Era (I know, it feels like I mention this shop in every post I write. That’s because I buy a lot of stuff here) and Scarlet Rage Vintage (except please don’t buy the pink saucer hat, I’m hoping Father Christmas will bring me it, as I’ve been awfully good this year).
And of course, there are a fair few reproduction brands around. Three of my favourites are The Little Shop of Gorgeousness and Fripperies (where I’m hoping Father Christmas may also visit on his way to me this year) and The Heritage Milliner, both of whom create achingly gorgeous hats based on original vintage designs, and B Millinery, who makes beautiful, vintage-inspired hats and fascinators (and was wearing the most glorious, red sparkly hat I’ve ever seen when I met her a few weeks ago). They’re all lovely ladies, who are so passionate about what they do, which I love!
If you’re not sure that vintage style hats are for you, might I suggest experimenting with a beret? I think of them as a gateway hat. You can leave them chic and plain, or jazz them up with all manner of things. One of my favourite things to do is to attach some felt flowers (these ones are from Claireabella’s Closet). Or, of course, you can pop on a brooch for a bit of sparkle.
Hi there, hello, hi – this is my second post for She Might Be (super, duper excited about that), and I’d like to tell you a little bit about my love of 1940s and 1950s fashion, and – in particular today – true vintage clothes.
While there are some fantastic reproduction brands out there (and I’m sure we’ll explore them pretty extensively over the coming weeks), I have to confess to having a weakness for true vintage. Not only can you be fairly certain you won’t bump into someone wearing exactly the same thing, saving yourself from the awkward conversation where you decide to either laugh it off or avoid each other all night, but vintage clothes come with a story (and if the person selling it to you can’t tell you where it’s come from, you get to make it up!)
I used to assume that, because of my measurements, I’d struggle to find clothes from the 1940s and 1950s in my size. Oh, how wrong I was! It might be a little trickier, but through eBay, etsy, local charity shops, Facebook selling groups and some lovely friends with a passion for vintage and a tape measure about their person at all times, my collection is building up nicely.
Two of my very favourites – a mint green silk dress, and a late 50s checked suit – were found by my friends. I almost walked away from the green dress, until my friend Catherine assured me I was mad, and the suit (with my exact measurements) was found by the lovely Holly in a Folkestone charity shop. That was a VERY excited telephone call! I’ve found skirts by asking in the local charity shops if they have any vintage ‘out the back’ (it doesn’t tend to sell in my little town, which is great news for me), and I’ve found a few bargains on eBay too.
There are also a few traders that have a good plus size selection. Tanya at Secret Plus Size Goddess spotted Timebomb Vintage at this year’s Twinwood Festival, and very politely pulled me away from another stall to go and take a look. I am so glad that I did – not only do they have wonderful dresses, but the bag collection…wow. (as some of you may have seen, I’m posting about accessories separately, or we’d be here all day, but…wow.) Scarlet Rage Vintage has a great selection of sizes, as do Gingermegs Vintage and Maggie Mae’s Vintage (and if you know what you’re looking for, it’s worth asking if they can keep an eye out for it on their travels).
If you fancy trying out true vintage for yourself, I’ve got a few hints and tips that might help:
If at first you don’t succeed, please give it another go. Stock is constantly changing, whether you’re looking online, in charity shops or vintage boutiques, so just because you’ve had an unsuccessful search one weekend, doesn’t mean you’re never going to find anything.
Don’t be too wedded to eras – the blue and red check dress below is almost certainly 80s-does-50s rather than true 1950s, and I adore it.
Accessories (I know, I said I’d talk about them another time, but I promise – I’ll be quick) are a nice way to test out a vintage look; they look great styled with reproduction or entirely modern outfits.
There are also plenty of books to help you get started – the Style Me Vintage range is wonderful, with separate books for eras, hair, clothes, accessories, make up and home.
If you see something you like (and you can afford it), buy it. You can always sell it on if you get it home and find it doesn’t work for you, but if someone else snaps it up, you might always regret it.
Side note: I learned this lesson at an early age, during a family holiday to Norfolk. My sister and I had a bit of holiday money (given by grandparents and my mum) and my sister saw a gymnast Barbie on our first day that she was desperate to buy. Mum encouraged her to wait until the last day, as it would use up all her holiday money. She duly saved it all week, but when we went back on the last day, they’d sold out.
My sister took it well, and only complained about it for 23 years (until she found one on eBay, which was a good day for us all). So, as I say – if you can afford something and you love it, buy it.
And, most importantly, have fun, try new things, embrace your shape, and enjoy!
How about you, readers? Do you wear true vintage? Where do you find it? Is there an amazing place for vintage shopping that I’ve missed out that we should all know about?
In my last post, I talked about vintage clothes, and I promised to talk about accessories another time because I had a lot to say on them. Today is that day! And it turns out that, actually, I need to write several posts about accessories because I still have too much to say.
Today, I’m talking handbags, and future posts will include hats, shoes and jewellery (if you think I’m missing an accessory, please let me know and I’ll write a post on that too!)
Vintage handbags can add a bit of glamour to evening wear, or a bit of fun to more casual daywear. Or, indeed, a bit of glamour to a daytime outfit or a bit of fun to something more ritzy – anything goes, as you’ll see from some of the photos in in this post.
My taste varies wildly, I love classic rectangular shaped bags in neutral shades if I’m going to an event or I’ve seen a photo from the era and am trying to recreate it (not as uncommon as you might think), but I also love novelty prints, fun shapes and slightly quirky bags, especially in summer. My experience has been that novelty prints are harder to find when it comes to wintery bags, but I was very lucky recently – one of the lovely ladies that I buy a lot of my bags and hats from had this, Enid Collins-style pheasant bag, which matches my Collectif Pearl coat perfectly (I swear, if I could wear this coat 24 hours a day, I would).
Alas, the coat is currently out of stock on the Collectif website, but if you pop in your email address, you’ll get a notification when it’s back in.
This particular lady has a shop called Elegant Era in Harrogate, and it’s a little cave of vintage wonders – as well as true vintage hats and bags (lots and lots of true vintage hats and bags), you can find vintage style dresses and accessories, so there’s something for everyone. If we’re being completely candid with each other, if I could live in the shop, wearing my Collectif Pearl coat, I probably would. (Instead, I shall content myself with visiting every few months and pretending I’m not weird.)
Another lady I buy a few of my bags from (ok, more than a few) is Jools the Vintage Bag Lady. During the Miss Vintage UK final this year (more on that another time), I actually referred to her as my handbag dealer. Onstage. Right before my hat almost fell off. And that, my friends, is why I’m carving out quite a niche for myself as the exception to the rule that ‘vintage = glamour’. And why I now always wear too many bobby pins when be-hatted.
I first met Jools shortly after I broke my first ever vintage handbag. Lesson learned – be kind to vintage bags, and for goodness’ sake, don’t overload them. So, I was in the market for a black bag, and one of my friends directed me to Jools’ Facebook page. While she specialises in 1960s, she can get hold of pretty much anything you ask for. Example: I took a fancy to a red vanity case that I saw on a TV show, and asked her if she might be able to source me one while she’s out and about. She replied to my message with photos within 10 minutes. Pretty sure she has a TARDIS full of handbags ensconced in her spare room. The red vanity case was my night-before-my-wedding, morning-after-my-wedding and honeymoon bag, and now I’m going to turn it into a memory box. I think. If I can bear not to use it again.
Image: Street Style Carousel
But this is my favourite of my Jools bags – an incredibly cool, much-bigger-on-the-inside leaf shaped bag. I get many, many questions when I take it out, and I can’t answer a single one of them. But, even though it makes me look daft, I love it just the same. Before Christmas last year, I was browsing Facebook (as you do), and happened to see it and show it to my husband. He sneakily bought it, because he’s lovely, and pretended to be sad for me when I was disappointed it had sold, because he can also be a sod.
And yes, that is another Collectif Pearl coat. It’s now too small, which means selling lots of things on eBay and buying another without getting rid of the first one was justified. I think.
There still seem to be a fair few vintage bags around, which is good news. If you’re in the market for one, here are some of the places I’d recommend (this is no exact science – as I mentioned in my last post – and will continue to do in my next ones – sometimes you might get lucky and find a few things you like, other times you might not):
Facebook selling pages – I have found some absolute quackers…I mean, crackers…on Facebook selling pages, including this novelty duck bag.
Sorry, I’m doing terrible puns and we don’t even really know each other yet. This poppy bag also came from a Facebook selling page – you can’t tell from the photo, but the bag itself is sparkly and the poppy is embroidered – it’s a bit special.
I’ve also found a few bits and pieces on eBay, including a seashell shaped wicker bag, which fits in an entire picnic and a purse.
Check out charity shops too (I found what I think is a 1940s handbag for £3.75 a couple of weeks ago), and you might find a bargain or two on etsy if you’re lucky.
Next on my list? A lucite bag to finish off my Christmas party outfit…now I just need to double check behind the sofa for £15o.