Friday, 17 April 2015

The flowers that bloom in the Spring

I'm not quite sure where that week went but it's flown by, and here we are at the weekend again. Yippee!

This is what I wore on Wednesday; a customer in the charity shop admired my dress, and told me I was very on trend with my florals. She'd clearly read the same Observer fashion article as me, so we had a bit of a laugh about that. 
I must say I like my dress far more than the pieces selected to accompany the article (above) and at 99p from Ebay, it was a great deal cheaper. 

(Incidentally, that blue top on the right, the polo shirt with the hardly-floral-at-all print? Topshop, £85. Can you believe it?)
1970s maxi dress - Ebay
1960s jacket, shoes, belt and bangles - charity shopped
1960s carpet bag and necklace - gifts
1960s brooch - The Queen's Drawers
No one puts on a big blobby rose pattern before striding into a boardroom and closing a billion dollar deal, writes Alice Fisher. 
She might be right (although there are a whole load of assumptions begging to be questioned in that sentence) but since boardrooms and high-flying deals aren't really my thing, I'll happily continue to wear my beloved floral prints. 

As it happens, the world of employment, if not exactly the boardroom, is beckoning; I've applied for a job as a charity shop deputy manager. I'll keep you posted.

What else is new?
Well, this dress is - new-to-me anyway. It has glittery gold lurex stripes, huge sleeves, and I love it. 
Thanks, Em, what a great gift!

1970s Dumarsel maxi dress - gift from Emma
Hat, necklace and bangles - charity shopped
1960s beaded bag - car boot
Ankle boots - community fair
This little Wade cutie was too sweet to leave in the 50p basket in a charity shop. 
He's Scamp, from Disney's Lady and the Tramp (1956).
I found a vintage sheet for a couple of quid which would make a lovely dress. If I ever get round to doing some sewing...

There are forget-me-nots all over my garden...

and tulips...

and cats.

Just how I like it.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Sunday, 12 April 2015

Pretty in pink. Isn't she?

This is pretty...

although my poor camellia has taken quite a buffeting in today's rain and high winds. 
And I do think she's very pretty. Beautiful, even. 

As for me, I'm loving my pinks this weekend, but pretty? Now, there's a question. 
I've been thinking about that word.

Pretty - of a person (especially a woman or child); attractive in a delicate, graceful or simple way, without being truly beautiful.

1970s Richard Shops* maxi dress and sandals - Ebay
1960-70s raffia bag and bangles - charity shopped
1970s pendant - vintage fair
* Any Brits of a certain age remember their 1970s adverts? 
"Richard Shops are filled with all the pretty things, soft and lovely pretty things to wear. Hey there, pretty thing, make the world a prettier place. Come pretty up, and buy your clothes from Richard Shops."

I think any word used almost exclusively to describe girls and women is worth questioning. 
Does being pretty matter?

I don't think I worried about it as a young child. 
Looking objectively (if that's possible) at old photos of me, I think I was quite a pretty little girl (I'm the smaller, fairer one in these pics). I certainly didn't feel a terrible lack of confidence or low self-esteem based on how I looked.

That came later, with adolescence. There are few photos of me from that time, I was horribly self-conscious and camera shy.
I did so want to be pretty. Pretty girls were popular and desirable. I knew I was clever, but I would have traded my good grades for being pretty any day.
1960s huge palazzo pants (cut down from an ill-fitting jumpsuit) - Ebay
Top, waistcoat, shoes, bangles and 1960s vinyl shopper - charity shopped
1960-70s Sheffield-made steel pendant - flea market

If conventional prettiness requires a lightness of touch, graceful girlishness, a delicacy or sweetness which we associate with childhood or youth, then I could never be described as pretty. My features are strong and heavy. And while that caused me heartache in my teens and early twenties, I eventually learned that prettiness is just one way to be attractive.

So how would I describe myself now? 

Well, it varies, but generally, I like to think I look striking. That is due in no small part to how I dress, of course. As my lovely friend Vix always says, a flamboyant outfit is a great distraction from blemishes or a bad hair day. Confidence helps too.
And Patti wrote a thoughtful post last year about the merits of the word handsome to describe women. Beauty may be out of my reach, but I hope for handsome!

While I am happy to describe my clothes, jewellery, prints and colours as pretty, I don't feel it's a word that has anything to do with me.

Looking through the family photo albums my Mum has lent me, I picked out this image of me as a child which I really like.

1969; I'm 5 years old. 

I look confident, possibly a bit arsey and challenging. I'm squinting in the sun (still do that),
 and probably wanted to get on with playing in the pool rather than pose for a photo. 
Not particularly sweet or cute, but that kid looks like me. And pretty or not, I like that kid. 
Pretty or not, I make the best of what I have, and I like that too.


Thursday, 9 April 2015

To the manor born

Who lives in a house like this?

Hmm, a girl can but dream.

This house has two faces; the earlier Baroque west front...

and the slightly later Palladian east front.

Yes. this is all one house; Wentworth Woodhouse, a hidden gem in South Yorkshire with a long and chequered history. It's the largest privately-owned house in the country. 

There's an article here which will give you some sense of its history and current situation, and I can recommend the book Black Diamonds; The Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty, by Catherine Bailey, about the Fitzwilliam family and the house.

But I'll let the pictures do the talking.

Actually, this pushmi-pullyu of a house has another structure nestling between the two fronts; the remains of the earlier 1630s house built for Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, who was beheaded at Tower Hill in 1641. Charles I couldn't save his right-hand man, and later, after the Civil War, he was also unable to save himself.

Strafford is buried in the churchyard at Wentworth, the lovely estate village.

It wasn't all history and architecture, honestly!


That's the Rockingham Mausoleum looking hazy in the distance.


In 1946, the Labour Minister of Fuel and Power, Manny Shinwell, ordered open cast mining to access the seam of coal running underneath Wentworth Woodhouse. 

The mining reached almost up to the house itself, stopping where the grass ends now, destroying the drive, lawns, woodland and formal gardens, and leaving 50ft of debris and rubble piled in front of the windows of the house.

Class warfare? Probably. Our tour guide quoted Shinwell as saying he hoped the house fell into the hole left by the mining. It didn't, but it has suffered from subsidence and there has been an ongoing attempt to gain compensation from the government to pay to stabilise the affected parts of the house.

The house has only recently been opened up for tours of the interior. Photography is not allowed inside, for which you are probably most grateful...

A grand house deserves vintage brocade, bold colours, and a wild print, don't you think?

1950s Marie Moore brocade jacket - Second to None
Lurex vest top - gift from Sara
Palazzo pants, jewellery, shoes and sunglasses - charity shopped

I do like a stately home, although mine is anything but! 

 But then I don't have to deal with the estimated £42 million repair bill facing the owner of Wentworth Woodhouse. A visit will do me just fine. 


Sunday, 5 April 2015

Doing the double

I'm not a betting woman (too tight for that) but I'd put money on this being the first time I have ever worn Double Denim.

Blame it on the Seventies.

Or the fact that I wanted to get out of the house yesterday morning without over-thinking my choice of jacket.

And if it's good enough for Debbie...

My version is typically thrifty.

1970s C&A denim skirt (£3), belt (£1) and embroidered peasant blouse (£1.49) - charity shopped
Benetton bleached denim jacket (50p) - jumble sale
1980s boots (£8) - Second to None
Beret - free (rescued from the charity shop rag bag)

Total £14.

But if I'm honest, I can't quite get over the thought that Double Denim is just too much of a good thing, and I do prefer a contrast.

Same skirt, plus 1960s jacket and 1970s pussy bow blouse - charity shopped

And the skirt will look best of all in summer, I think, with short-sleeved tops, bare legs and wedge sandals.

I've been picking up all sorts of bits and bobs in the charity shops over the last couple of weeks.

Blingy jewellery at £1 apiece, a 1960-70s raffia bag (£2), and a 1960s turquoise Carnaby Daisy Pyrex dish (£1).

Incidentally, the same piece of Pyrex, also minus its lid, recently sold on Ebay for an astonishing £171. Some colours and designs are very desirable, it seems.

Battered old tin trays with Oriental designs - 50p each.

1976 Brer Rabbit story book with wonderful illustrations - 25p.

1960-70s sewing patterns - 20p each.

I came across a whole stash of patterns, all the same size, so I suspect they belonged to the same woman.

I even know her name - Mrs S Christmas. She ordered patterns from magazines, and several were still in their self-addressed envelopes. Two different addresses - judging from the streets, I reckon she moved from a little terrace to a new house or maisonette on a big estate in the mid-Sixties.

I wonder what that S stood for... Sylvia? Susan? Scheherazade?

Scheherazade Christmas would be a superb name. 

This pattern from Woman's Weekly is the same age as me.

I don't know about you, but despite the ladylike frocks, I reckon those girls are hard as nails, especially the one modelling the Day Dress. I wouldn't mess with her. 

I popped to a small local car boot this morning, and enjoyed bumping into people I know for a chat, and admiring the merchandise.

I managed to resist the Wings of Love and the collection of 1970s bridesmaid dresses...

but for a whole English pound, I thought the 1960s beaded tiger bag deserved a home.

Last of the big spenders, aren't I?

I'll be joining Patti and friends for Visible Monday - see you there!