Cosy Coats

It’s Autumn, my favourite time of year. Crunchy leaves, beautiful light and an excuse to wrap up in warm clothes and boots. It’s also great to pop into my local charity shops and see rails of cosy knits instead of spaghetti-strapped vests and dresses. Summer clothing isn’t fun for pale, burnt-in-minutes redheads!

Green however is fun, especially when it’s as bright as the colour of this gorgeous coat. It jumped off the rail of the recently refurbished Save the Children shop on Botanic Avenue, Belfast. It was £10 which is more than my usual charity shop budget and worth every penny. Unworn, it’s a flattering fit with big pockets and cute buttons. Perfect for skinny jeans or a work day dress.

I’ve noticed lots of gorgeous coats on my charity shop travels lately. The good news is that coat fashions rarely change much so if you have your eye on an expensive version on the high street, think about checking your local charity shop first for a more affordable option.

img_0456img_1993

Whether your style is military, loosely tailored or cape, you might just the find the perfect coat for a fraction of the cost if you go charity shopping first. And don’t forget to add a vintage brooch!

I’d love to hear if you find something special so get in touch on Twitter at girlovesvintage.

Rosie xx

Vintage Bordeaux

Sometimes you get your vintage fix in the most unlikely sources. This time it was in Bordeaux, a city more renowned for its vintage wine than vintage finds. We had booked into a new B&B, Casa Blanca, a chance find on booking.com which was only open a few weeks and at that stage completely unreviewed. We got a feeling that it was our kind of place from the few pics we saw of the renovation work that had been taking place in the preceding months.

Our kind of place it was. From the stunning tiled hallway to the scandi-influenced rooms, this beautiful 200 year old building had been thoughtfully rejuvenated and given some serious care and attention by Hannah and Gildas, its guardians. A seriously cool haven from the 36 degree heat on our first day, we spent a week here and loved every second.

Perfect vintage treats were everywhere, from the Singer sewing machine stand wash-basin, to the use of beautifully stripped back pine doors as headboards and gorgeous old rugs. Obviously Hannah knew nothing of my vintage fashion obsession so to find a fine selection of fashion photography books, memoirs and magazines on the coffee table was serendipitous. They were frequently thumbed through over a glass of wine during our stay.

Hannah’s background in haute couture was quietly obvious everywhere – little hints to her love of design and style.
In my opinion, a love of vintage, a love of that which has come before and deserves protection, always hints towards a certain kind of person. A person who cares; who believes in legacy and heritage; who’s concerned about detail and quality. That just about sums Gildas and Hannah up. As hosts they couldn’t have done more – our holiday started with something of a mild stutter and without their kind help could have ended earlier than planned. Mr GLV was already planning flights home.  I witnessed fork lightning for the first time during a mental thunderstorm and again Gildas came to our rescue when cote de boeuf dinner plans were scuppered! One of our highlights during our week was dinner at Chez Boulan in Les Chartrons district – recommended by Gildas strangely enough. Turbot to die for, amazing oysters and service that supported rather than patronised our stuttering French.

It’s really, really refreshing, in a world where the corporate one-size-fits-all mentality is so prevalent to see a young business like this doing the opposite – going out of the way to help, to make your stay easy and simultaneously homely and interesting. The care that Hannah and Gildas have shown to restoring Casa Blanca was shown again and again to all of their guests. People who have a love of vintage are usually pretty lovely people – I know that all too well from the people I’ve met through the vintage community.

It’s not often I wax lyrical about anything other than vintage bags and brooches here, but I genuinely believe that exceptional moments deserve a mention. Just so happens that our exceptional moment was a week long in a very special place! Look forward to making a return visit some day soon.

Rosie xx

PS If you’re planning a visit to beautiful Bordeaux some day, just search Casa Blanca Bordeaux on booking.com

Oh, Carol!

img_0434

Just back from the cinema. I had to start writing. If I hadn’t, I might have exploded with sheer excitement and happiness.

We saw ‘Carol’ featuring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, and my expectations were high, not just of the movie but of the costumes, the detail, the atmosphere. Was I let down? Not a bit! I wanted to run straight out of the cinema to the nearest hairdresser to get a fabulous brushed-under bob!

I won’t talk about the storyline in case I give too much away. Needless to say though, just like Todd Haynes’ other work of art ‘Far from Heaven’, it’s slow and quiet; beautifully paced and perfectly impassioned. Stunning.

As is the way it has been dressed. The vintage detail of the costumes is sublime. The flash of sparkle from an aurora borealis earring, the flourish of a sassy swing coat, the delicate knitwear details. There were geometric bangles and giant statement brooches. High waisted trousers and sew-me-into-them pencil skirts. And oh, the bags…the cream ostrich, the black alligator, I was in love.

Magpie friends, look out for Carol’s engagement ring and the gold brooch that festoons her red coat. Exquisite. From beginning to end it was a vintage lover’s feast.

The genius that is the costume designer Sandy Powell has created a wardrobe I could cry over. She is one talented lady. It’s amazing how her costumes build the characters. The alpha-female sturdiness she gives Carol in her structured dresses, and the naivety of Therese in her pleated skirts and pious necklines. The clothes say so much and change so much throughout the film.

And so in homage to Carol, I’ve decided to break out my beautiful Ackery ostrich Kelly bag. This was a wonderful and unexpected Christmas gift from my little sister last year. I have a terrible tendency to keep my special vintage items ‘for good’…daft I know! No more. ‘Carol’ has motivated me on so many levels, not least of all to embrace and celebrate the things you love most. The things that reinforce the real and actual you.
If I didn’t know just how difficult my thick hair is to contain in a bob, I’d already be at the hairdressers.

For now, I’ll content myself with a fabulous handbag on my arm tomorrow and the memory of a truly beautiful movie in my mind!

Rosie xx
Photo credit: Festival de Cannes via The Telegraph online

Never the Bridesmaid

img_0420I was watching ‘Don’t Tell the Bride this week – can’t believe I just admitted to my guilty pleasure.  It’s a programme that despite its well worn formula still sucks me in every time.

Something that one of the bridesmaids said during the episode really got me thinking. The husband-to-be had bought her a dress in a sale, reduced from £40 to £20. She wasn’t impressed. What was interesting though was that her response wasn’t so much about the quality of the dress or its style, but rather about how much had been spent on it. ‘You can’t spend £20 in the sale on a bridesmaid’s dress, or even £40’ she ranted!

For the bridesmaid, the aesthetic value of the dress directly correlated to its price. She was never going to love it, irrespective of how it looked on her, because in her mind it was cheap, therefore making her feel less special. She also believed there was an invisible budget line that shouldn’t be crossed because the dress was for an important occasion.

I find this attitude strange. I suppose I take a lot of pleasure from not spending a fortune on clothes. I love to chance upon something gorgeous in a charity shop like this beautiful Principles skirt. Or find an incredible bargain in the sales. I have a splurge now and again of course-I’m only human!

I love quality and I love wearing beautiful clothes that fit me to a T. As long as it makes you look and feel good, how little you paid for it shouldn’t matter! I have a polar opposite view to the bridesmaid – the less I’ve spent, the better I feel.  It’s an attitude that has probably developed the more committed I’ve become to charity shopping.

And so even though this beautiful tulip print skirt only cost me £1, I adore it. It hugs the waist in just the right way and flares out with 1950s abandon! The print is just stunning too. Every outfit benefits from an accessory or two whether you’ve saved or splurged so I’ve paired it with some of my favourite accessories – a beautiful modern Accessorize necklace, a 1950s chrome bracelet from the Oxfam shop in Stockbridge, Edinburgh and a vintage onyx brooch which I think came from my local Marie Curie shop.

I suppose everyone finds comfort and confidence in their own individual way. I definitely find mine on a thrifty treasure hunt!

Rosie xx

60s Shift

IMG_0409.JPGThe enthralling ‘Cilla’ hit our tv screens a few weeks ago and thrust sixties fashion at us in all its vibrant technicolor. To be perfectly honest, it took me until the second episode to reconcile myself with the big hair and colour explosion.

I love the elegant tailoring of the 40s and the full skirts of the 50s. The 60s always seemed a bit too bright and brash for my liking. I suppose the fashion was merely conveying the freedom from constriction that the 60s was all about. I like corsets, enough said!

There is one fashion highlight of the decade though, and for me that’s the shift dress. Shapely at the shoulders and bust, gently skimming the waist and hips, it’s a flattering fit. It combines freedom of movement with clever, minimal tailoring-that’s why it works so perfectly, and who could possibly argue with Jackie O or Audrey H, the shift dress’ biggest fans.

When I chanced upon this Oasis dress last week in a Save the Children store in Bangor, I was immediately sold-and at £3 how could I refuse! Blue is my colour, and the simple colour blocking is still a welcome trend in AW14. Perfect with knee-highs and thick black tights for work, and with a chunky necklace and t-bars for the evening, this is a versatile little black (& blue) dress for my wardrobe!

Every decade has had its fashion fails, but also had its moments of glory. I love to see those glories being revived in modern fashion, and this Oasis dress has taken the best bit of the 60s in my opinion and made it work for 2014.

Rosie xx

No Soggy Bottoms!

img_2445So, now that the fabulous Great British Bake Off is gracing our screens again, I thought I should post a blog that combines my two loves! I came late to baking-I prefer eating if the truth be told. I’m very fortunate that my lovely husband is a truly incredible cook. Honestly. From beef shatkora to braised chicken with sherry, from rhubarb panna cotta to creme brûlée, he’s a legend. It’s no wonder in our (almost) 15 years together I’ve made him dinner…4 times. Moving swiftly on….

So, when I discovered the Hummingbird Bakery cupcake book a few years ago, it was a revelation. It was as if the Angel Mary Berry had come down upon me and spoken! Here was a way for me to cook with precision (none of that ‘little bit here, just a dollop there’ malarkey for me), to make pretty things people could eat, and to treat my long-suffering other half. I became a cupcake queen.

Yes, I became a slave to a fashion. There’s no doubt cupcakes have been just that. But in their defence, they got me into baking, they inspired an interest in feeding people (whoop says hubby) and they’ve helped me put a smile on many a friend and work colleague’s face. I’ll never forget the first time we made a pilgrimage to the Hummingbird Bakery on Portobello Rd. Yep, had to drag hubby there. Not that he was objecting. We could smell the butter a mile away! I’ve graduated since my first Hummingbird cupcake foray-I can list a mean Key Lime Pie and a tasty Battenburg among my successes. But this baking urge has also led me into another charity shop obsession-china. My word, as if vintage brooches, dresses and bags weren’t enough I hear you cry!

Anyway, my vices are few and far between so what’s a little vintage china between friends! It’s the perfect accompaniment for cute cakes and desserts. What do you get when you put two pretty things together?  Perfect things of course! And this fab cake stand is the perfect display for any number of baked delights.

It caught my eye initially because its pattern is like a colourful version of our dining room wallpaper. It’s bright, pretty and a great size but it’s also a reproduction of an old Aynsley design. Which means its not strictly a vintage piece but certainly couldn’t be any more vintage inspired. It’s also soooooo pretty that it keeps me on my toes-I’d never forgive myself for placing a soggy bottom on it!

I’ve noticed that charity shops have started to make the most of their china and glassware, no doubt acutely aware that there’s a connection between the current interest in vintage, baking and the ditsy Cath Kidson effect. It’s great! There’s so much choice and everyone can afford a little piece of something different, pretty or unusual.

I’ve picked up lots of random bits and pieces lately that will appear in the blog at some point. In the meantime, Tuesday nights have been well and truly brightened again by GBBO and I’m sure I’ll find some inspiration in the coming weeks to brighten my lovely cake stand again too.

Rosie xx

Mix & Match

I’m really lucky that where I work, I’m surrounded by some really great charity shops and vintage stores. So, often on my lunch break I’ll go on a merry treasure hunt and last week I was really lucky to find this gorgeous top (£2.95, Marie Curie).

The print looks as though the BabyCham deer has gone for a carefree gallop! I love it. And the neon red, violet and black shades work really well together. So well together in fact that although I suspect this lovely blouse is quite a few seasons old, the colour combination couldn’t be more SS14.

img_2302

The jacket also pictured above is from Zara (http://www.zara.com/uk/en/woman/outerwear/fabric-blazer-c358002p2054503.html) and I’d be hard pushed to find a more perfect match with my bargain blouse. I tried it on with the top, in navy skinnies and skyscraper Mary Janes and it looked really cute! Even though it was a damp, grey day in Belfast I felt as though I was wearing sunshine.

At £49.99, the Zara jacket isn’t as thrifty a purchase as my blouse (or most of my clothes to be honest) but there’s definitely room to mix and match current fashion with bargain buys. I haven’t bought the Zara jacket…yet.

I suspect I will though. I’m a jacket and jeans kind of girl and I think this is a bright, versatile wardrobe staple in a classic shape. It will probably earn its keep and accompany many a thrifty find in the months and years to come. I’ll hang on a while longer though…just in case there’s a wee sale on the horizon.

Old habits die hard!

Rosie xx