Why I Fell in Love with Vintage and Secondhand Fashion

I remember clearly when I first noticed the charm of vintage and secondhand fashion.

It was the early 2000s and my younger sister was just out of university, totally rocking a cool secondhand wardrobe. She was often dressed in a Fifties-style printed blouse tucked into high-waisted swing skirt, cropped cardi and cute vintage heels. I loved how she pieced everything together, and I took note.

For the rest of that decade I developed my own hobby (read: obsession) for vintage and secondhand fashion, which then extended to furniture, fabrics and homeware. While high street and fast-fashion was taking off in a big way during the 2000s, I was scouring secondhand shops for granny-chic pleated skirts and 80s t-shirts.

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Old-school vintage glamour for Christmas…

Christmas jumpers not your thing? Nothing in ASOS taking your fancy? Then why not style it up with a touch of old-school vintage glamour instead. I popped into Beyond Retro on Great Marlborough Street in Soho, London and struck gold. Well, black actually…

beyondretro vintage sequin jacket christmas party 1 In amongst rails of garish party sequins (which I also love, but wasn’t in the mood for) I found this very elegant cropped cardi adorned with beautiful black beading. I’ll wear it proud this party season and will probably upgrade non-party outfits with it the rest of the year too.
beyondretro vintage sequin jacket christmas party 2

beyondretro vintage sequin jacket christmas party 3

A true classic that I expect will be worn for many more years and occasions. That’s why I love vintage shopping – because you never know when you’ll find a unique piece that will stand the test of time!

Happy vintage shopping x

Vintage Batiste Hair Ad

Vintage Batiste hair advert

How was a hair shampoo for greasy hair promoted in the seventies? With girls with chips, fried egg and an oil can on their head, of course! Check out this vintage hair ad by Batiste that one of the girls at work (Layered magazine) dug out for a piece on heritage hair products – possibly one of the strangest and funniest vintage beauty ads I’ve seen. Don’t miss the tag line “Whatever the problem, don’t let it go to your head” and the moody girls at the end. Chips aside, greasy hair is clearly serious stuff!



1960s Vintage Makeup Tutorial

We’ve just stumbled upon this fantastic video at work in the BeautyMART office which shows a girl doing her make-up in 1969. It’s seriously slow but we loved it. Just check out the Alsatian dog watching her!

I think these videos are quite rare but Glamour Daze has sourced them and built an AMAZING archive of vintage fashion history, make-up guides, videos and tutorials from 1920-1950s. Really quite amazing, check them out. I’m hooked.  glamourdaze.com and youtube.com/glamourdaze.

Vintage lovers, go to Whitstable

Vintage Curiosities antique shop in Sandwich, Kent

Vintage Curiosities antique shop in Sandwich, Kent

We didn’t mean to go to Whitstable but decided on the day, after purchasing a Stagecoach Explorer Kent Dayrider ticket, because we didn’t have a car. Sounds terribly geeky I know, but for a tenner, two of us could hop on and off all day, with lovely little old ladies. Plus everyone knows there are great vintage and charity shops to be discovered out of London, so I was more than happy to hit the road with a pair of magpie eyes and a pocket full of money.

Starting in St. Margaret’s Bay, with a bus full of OAPs, or ‘senior citizens’ as they like to call them around there, we popped to Deal for a coffee and some second-hand book shopping; I struck it lucky with Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species.

Onwards to Sandwich where we got off the bus and saw the little antiques shop, Vintage Curiosities (pictured above) sitting invitingly opposite the bus stop, and a big Age Concern charity shop on the other side – how convenient.

I took home a couple of pieces of old, engraved cutlery but had to tear myself away from an amazing, old turquoise typewriter which had an unbelievable price tag of £18. Frustratingly it was just too heavy to carry. Can you courier to London? No. Meep!

Back on the bus after a portion of chips in the sun, and onwards to Whitstable. Only 20 mins from Canterbury this little seaside town has an endless string of charity, second hand, vintage and antique shops. I couldn’t actually believe how many there were – in all my years of hunting down charity shops in the nooks and crannies of towns and villages, I’ve never seen such an overwhelming concentration of them all in one place. I quite simply was in second-hand heaven!

Surprisingly I was very constrained, and kept purchasing power to a minimum. We found a lovely little vintage store called Anchors Aweigh Vintage which had a well-sourced, almost curated collection of every vintage item you might want in your life – from clothes and purses to fabrics, tins and glass ware.

I found a cream, 1960s house coat in a feather-light quilted material, a bit like a dressing gown, in immaculate condition.

1960s cream coat from Anchors Aweigh Vintage

With the perfect A-line fit, so reminiscent of that era, it has little three quarter sleeves and beautiful embroidery on the collars and across the pockets – it really was too cute to leave behind.

1960s cream jacket from Anchors Aweigh Vintage with beautiful embroidered collar 1960s cream coat from Anchors Aweigh Vintage pocket detail

The only downside is its dangerously cream colour: I’m a messy pup at the best of times and I’d probably only have to look at it to get it dirty but I would love to wear it when it’s warmer – I just need somewhere where I only need to stand still, not eat, drink or travel on public transport. How likely an event is that? Exactly! For now, it can join the rest of my collection.

As well as a bulging charity, vintage and second hand scene, Whitstable also boasts lots of art galleries and artists. We stopped by a friend of my friend’s pop up gallery and bought a little piece of bee art on a mount, which will look lovely in a little glass clip frame or even against a window to let the light shine through it.

There are also gazillions of seafood restaurants and fish and chip shops – a bit useless for two veggie/vegans unfortunately.

I could have gone second hand shopping crazy in Kent especially for old ladies’ clothes and vintage crockery but it was a day of selective choices – quality not quantity.

I’m also currently in the process of setting up my own online vintage store on Etsy.com so I’m conscious of having limited space for more stuff – but once I launch and start selling, I’ll definitely be pencilling in another visit to Whitstable. Next time I’ll add Canterbury to the trip too as I spotted a row of second-hand and antique furniture shops which were desperately calling my name. Suddenly that family explorer bus ticket doesn’t sound so silly. xx

Vintage buy of the week: 1940s hat

Velour Regale vintage hat Scarlet Rage

My star vintage buy this week has been a beautiful 1940s hat in immaculate condition, picked up from my local vintage shop, Scarlet Rage Vintage in north London, which stocks the most exquisite dresses, occasion wear and accessories.

The hat is stamped with the label Velour Regale Merrimac and a sewn label from John Wanamaker Philadelphia, which I’ve just discovered is one of America’s oldest and original department stores, opened in 1876.

I strangely can’t find information about Velour Regale – apart from a few pieces on Etsy.com here – but John Wanamaker is said to have pioneered the department store concept in the US and according to his Wikipedia page is considered to be a leading figure in the birth of modern day marketing.

So not only did I find a beautiful vintage item but it came with a small thread of traceable history too. ….I wonder who has worn this hat over the years…

Velour Regale vintage hat Scarlet Rage

I’m always looking for great vintage hats – notoriously hard to find as sizes vary so much and they usually come up very small – so I was lucky to find a perfect fit.

The detailing is simple  – a little cluster of velvet leaves on each side with a three-way, navy sequin motif. The hat sits on the top or side of the crown and holds securely via little flexible bars on each side (discreetly tucked beneath the detailing) and feels strangely secure.

I’ll be wearing this as soon as I can – day or evening events – and will probably style hair long with a casual pin-curl twist at the front.

See more vintage style.

So nasty they’re nice…

Gold lame trousers vintage

They’re bold, brash and a little bit nasty. These gold lamé, 80s vintage trousers – a little bit MC Hammer style – with abstract floral print are my latest charity find.

Gold lame trousers vintage

They even came with a cropped matching bolero jacket – a daring combo even for my alternative taste – and definitely not for the faint-hearted.

So nasty they're nice…

Gold lame trousers vintage

They’re bold, brash and a little bit nasty. These gold lamé, 80s vintage trousers – a little bit MC Hammer style – with abstract floral print are my latest charity find.

Gold lame trousers vintage

They even came with a cropped matching bolero jacket – a daring combo even for my alternative taste – and definitely not for the faint-hearted.

Dress to impress

When it was pouring with rain last Friday, this was my morning inspiration. Now, after two days of unbelievable sun in London, it’s my inspiration once again. And why not. Take note girls, the message is simple: Dress to impress.

Thanks to Vintage Style Facebook page for the picture. There are plenty more like this posted every day from Vintage Style so check it out if you like. Me, I’m off to shop for a one-piece swimsuit.

Sneak Peek at new site – Opnuu

Opnuu screen-shot-

Opnuu screen-shot-

Just heard of this new site for recycling high-end fashion and vintage clothes called Opnuu – http://www.opnuu.com/ – the idea is that you can lend and borrow desirable items, clothes and accessories, to a community of like-minded people. If you have something to lend, it seems like you set your ‘rental’ price and period of time it’s available and members get to hire the piece out, allowing you to earn money off it. I’d quite like to borrow this hat..perfect for a winter wedding http://www.opnuu.com/sneak-peek/accessories/hat-with-feather.html

The idea is great – let others enjoy pieces they wouldn’t usually have access to and obviously a great way of supporting sustainable fashion. But what about if the person damages your one off vintage jimmy choos? The site is an invite-only community so I guess that cuts down on random riff-raffs but accidents still happen. I’m guessing there are codes of conduct to follow to help avoid this. I’ve signed up my interest anyway as I’m curious to know more and have more than enough vintage pieces ideal for rental.

So, another good option for your clutter ladies.. albeit temporarily. And if like me, you’re wondering where the name Opnuu came about, just found a blog post that explains it all – apparently it’s a play on the words ‘new’ and ‘opportunity’ which I really liked… http://emmasexton.wordpress.com/2011/12/09/whats-in-a-name-how-the-brand-name-opnuu-came-about/  x

Spotted. Beautiful old umbrella.

Last week I had an umbrella crush. Spotted in the window of the lovely Paper Dress vintage shop on Curtain Road in London. It’s a Sixties original, perfect condition with a hooked wooden handle. With the kind of weakness I have for beautiful umbrellas, especially old ones, of course I had to have it…what do you think?!

Ooh la la …

Marie Claire 1940

So much to say, so little time. Last week I was in Paris where I picked up this gorgeous 1940’s edition of Marie Claire from a vintage shop. It’s dated 19 April  1940 and priced at 1.75 Francs. I paid €6. Isn’t it gorgeous!

Marie Claire 1940

What I’d like to find out is whether these are reproductions or originals. I found a stall selling some at the flea market too, which made me doubt their originality. Does anyone know?

I found a few on eBay but no mention to their originality, and around the same price so I wasn’t ripped off. Amazing if they’ve survived that long but equally, I imagine it’s pretty easy to reprint onto yellowed, dusky paper.

Here’s a quick peek inside…In French of course, but the visuals are great and I wish there were more; the magazine in general is quite text heavy.

Inside Marie Claire, 1940Inside Marie Claire, 1940...

My favourite pic…

Inside Marie Claire, 1940 edition

A few ads – recognise the brands?

Colgate advert, Marie Claire 1940Tampax advert, Marie Claire 1940I hadn’t realised Tampax and Colgate were so old. In fact a quick Google revealed Tampax has been around since 1936 (some sources say as early as 1920s) and Colgate since 1806. The Colgate & Company (founded by William Colgate, a soap and candle maker in New York) made their first toothpaste in 1872, sold in jars. The first toothpaste sold in a tube was in 1896. I love a bit of geeky history!

New old shoes

New shoes

New shoes

I couldn’t resist but show you the four pairs of lovely new old shoes I got this week from the Antoinette Costume Hire shop in SE London as they did a big shoe sell-off on Ebay.

It’s amazing that all four fit perfectly, hoorah! Does anyone else get that nervous anticipation when Ebay items arrives, especially shoes: Will they be ugly? Will they fit? However well-versed you are in the art of Ebay and online vintage buying there’s always a small chance the purchase is a big bad no-no.

In fact, this week I bought another pair of shoes off Ebay which were simply horrid. Too big and too nasty. As soon as I opened the package they went straight back in the bag and off to the charity shop. Oops.

These lovely shoes on the other hand are worth showing off; from left to right: a special pair of 1970s Bertie’s platforms (I’ve been looking for a pair of platforms for a while); black fabric and yellow faux-snake skin flats which are very elegant with a cool mix of fabrics; a red patent, slightly battered androgynous-looking lace-ups; and a pair of pointy black quite masculine leathers with a wee buckle on the side which will look great with jeans or mid-length skirts.

Love them all! Please share your Ebay horror or love stories..