Saturday, 16 November 2013

Dare to Bear

For Children in Need this year myself and a couple of other ladies took part in the Dare to Bear campaign and didn't ware any make-up. As a part of the social and events committee at my work I also took part in the pyjama day too so I pretty much looked like I'd just rolled out of bed, in a 1940s housecoat. It was very interesting listening to some of the opinions one or two others felt about coming to work without the war paint. I thought it would be so easy to begin with but as time progressed and I was thinking about what I would be wearing I then found it difficult to extricate to make-up from my 1940s image.

While not being vain I wouldn't say I was awful to look at without make-up yet I had a hard time going out in 1940s dress without being fully "made". I feel that I have spent so long working on this vintage "look" whether that be of the 1940s or 50s which includes the make-up. So when I tried to take that away it felt kind of odd. When I am doing my make-up for an event, which is far more dramatic than my daily make-up including eye liner and bright red lipstick, as I put each new layer of make-up on I feel I am becoming more myself and then when I'm finished it's like I recognise me again.

I hadn't realised this was happening but going without the make-up really reminded me that I am always myself even without all of the paint. It was a good feeling so today I decided to go totally natural; it also saves so much time getting ready! So here I am in my natural state without make-up and with my plain old straight hair.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Woodhall Spa 1940s Weekend

Last year we went to the first Woodhall Spa 1940s weekend and I have been looking forward to it for a full year ever since. It was a wonderful weekend last year and this year did not disappoint either. It is such a well organised event that it feels like a well established one which has been running for years; a testament to the organisers! There's so much to see that we didn't manage to make it to see all of the displays and re-enactments which is a shame because from the look of other people's photos they were amazing.

 The first day I didn't take any pictures at all but on the second I managed to get my camera out once or twice. We met the lovely Helen who I have seen around at other events since Woodhall including Twinwood.

 We had cream tea at the Petwood Hotel while watching Brandon Shaw which has to have been the highlight of the weekend for me. We saw the amazing Lola Lamour singing too but alas my photos are very grainy since we were stood right at the back.

 A certain little lady was very keen to get in on the cream tea too and have a scone!

Indi, me, Zac, and Daisy

 This lovely photo of all four of us was taken by Michael Hill over at I was wearing the outfit which I bought from Festival of the Forties the weekend before. The blouse I can't put my finger on where or when it was made, the trousers are reproduction but I have totally forgotten who made them and my handbag is from a charity shop. I'm terrible at this outfit posting lark!

 It rained right at the very end of the day but that didn't make the day any less enjoyable and we still sat and listened to the music Major Swing was playing right to the very end. This was outside the Lancaster Inn at Woodhall Spa so once the music finished we toddled inside for our dinner which was handy and very reasonably priced. They have a special 1940s menu too which was fun!

 When I got home I was so tired that I got straight into my pyjamas and 1940's house coat and had a lovely hot chocolate before bed.

Yet again it was a wonderful weekend held at Woodhall Spa and I have already put next year's dates in my diary, and you should too! Woodhall Spa 1940s weekend will take place on the 19th & 20th July 2014.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Festival of the Forties

Last weekend we kicked off the 1940's events summer calendar with the Festival of the Forties over near Peterborough. Location wise we are really lucky because I live in Lincoln which is easy to get to the events in the north of the county and my other half lives near Peterborough so we can stay at his to get to the events further south such as Twinwood Festival over near Bedford.

This was our first time visiting the Festival of the Forties as we had planned to go last year but it was rained off and had to be cancelled. It was such a shame that the festival didn't get to go ahead last year but I'm really glad they were deterred and came back again this year. The weather was beautiful and we had a great day. It was only £6 to enter so very good value for money. My favourite part had to be the shopping, and I spent far too much money, but there was a great array of living history displays.

I wore my dress from Eclectic Gypsy which I bought about 2 years ago and wore once. After that I gained some weight and it no longer fitted. I was thrilled and it felt like I had a brand new outfit. There's quite a few pictures but I hope you enjoy them!

I am a red head again! I dyed my hair for the Americana a couple of weeks ago and have been loving the new brighter shade of red. I tend to do my hair in this style a lot and have got it down to quite the fine art; I can do this for work in the mornings and not have to get up any earlier than usual (I take about 40 minutes getting ready in the morning). The sunglasses I got for free from Specsavers since I was waiting a very long time for my reading glasses.

My favourite display was this red cross tent, very gory!

There was a little back yard display of animals too so obviously I stayed a while around the cute little piggley wiggley and the rabbit was beautiful. He was a velvet rex and now I need one of my own!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Courage in my Convictions

It was recently said to me by my boyfriend that he was talking to someone he knew about my style and in the conversation they had said they admire my courage to wear the clothes I do. Now this was said in a totally complimentary way and I shall take it in no other but it made me stop and think. I was a little stunned if I'm honest. Courage? What's so courageous about wearing clothes?

Our society is very keen on the image people present and so are many creatures in the animal kingdom; what do peacocks use their feathers for if not showing off? We have evolved though and gained a higher level of intelligence; to be so concerned with what others look like seems like a step in the retrograde to me. So why would wearing the clothes I like require courage? Then I remember the times I have walked through a town, wearing a circle skirt and blouse or some other 40's or 50's outfit, and had gaggles of girls giggle at me as I walk past. These experiences are not just the fruits of paranoia before someone suggests it! These situations have actually happened to me and when I look back on them I realise that to someone else the comments, stares, and giggles would be enough to make them go home and change. I carry on despite them, in some cases because of them, and am undeterred in my love of dressing vintage. I suppose that is what they meant by courage.

You can be a juicy, ripe peach and there's still going to be someone who doesn't like peaches, so you can either submit to someone's criticism of you, or you can get on with the business of being your own amazing self who attracts other like-minded people that appreciate you. - Dita Von Teese

Monday, 29 April 2013

A Grand Historical Bazaar

Last weekend we went to our first vintage event of the year at Rufford Abbey's Grand Historical Bazaar. It was long ever due I can tell you and I'm so excited to have got the events calendar started again even if it is a little bit later than most; at Easter it was Crich Tramway Village's 1940's weekend which is usually the first 1940s event for most of us but I unfortunately didn't make it.

The Historical Bazaar was a mixture of all different reenactors and I really enjoyed mingling with knights and Romans as well as 1940s friends. We met up with a couple who we know from when we used to do lindy hop dance lessons and explored the ground together.

It rained and was pretty cold when the sun went in so I sure was pleased to have brought my umbrella and my fur! When the sun did come out it was glorious but there were a couple of hail storms during the day, luckily I was in the shopping tent when that happened!


There was a lot of hat shopping to do but in the end I settled for this lavender and burgundy beauty. I also got a really cute little miniature top hat fascinator which was just too dinky to refuse.
And a final photo of me with my time travelling partner in crime. As well as being vintage I'm a big geek and in particular a Whovian (Dr Who fan). I often think he's my very own Dr, travelling to different places and back in time together. We have an Audi though which is no where near as cool as a TARDIS. I mean think of the luggage space in that thing, it's bigger on the inside!

Thursday, 4 April 2013

How To Be A Lady: An Elegant Response

As I mentioned in my last post I recently acted the part of a lady in a play though despite the prejudgement some people may make of me I most certainly am not a lady. Sometimes I think that because of the vintage style in which I dress that people make the assumption that I have very old fashioned values and also that I'm a bit posh. I am neither of these things and I do enjoy shocking people when they find out the amount in which I swear. Although I love the aesthetic of the 1940s and 1950s I certainly do not feel that I would like to live in those eras. I am very forward thinking, especially in regards to feminism and women's rights, and I am passionate about equality.

Last week I saw a programme on BBC4 called "How To Be A Lady: An Elegant History". Now I don't particularly aspire to be a lady so I wasn't looking for an hour of televised finishing school but I was at home with not a lot to do so  thought I'd give it a try and if it was just that I would turn over and watch something else, like Don't Tell The Bride. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the programme and felt that it generated a lot of comments of my own which I was compelled to write about since it is linked, in some way, to vintage. I felt like some comments chimed well with my own feelings of being a woman but most importantly I did not feel patronised. I did not feel that someone was talking down to me and questioning my femininity purely because I do not behave in a certain way or know how to create the perfect posy.

You don't have to live in a country pile to be a lady
The show was hosted by Rachel Johnson who previously edited The Lady magazine but admitted herself that she was not a "lady" which instantly made me feel as though I was "in the same boat" as her. She also pulled the handle off a door while being taught the correct etiquette on how to leave a room which made me warm to her even more! She looked into how a lady was originally defined and how perception of what it means to be a lady has evolved over the decades. I won't recount the whole show to you but touch on the two main points which struck me most of all.

First of all Rachel visited an establishment called The English Manner which  provides "international training and consultancy in contemporary etiquette, protocol, the arts, social skills, household and event planning." and it was there that she pulled off the door handle. She spoke to some young women who were at the Manner being taught etiquette and she also met Diana Mather who was one of the teachers. I am paraphrasing here but basically Diana was saying that there is a return to all things lady-like in recent years which she feels is due to our security as women in our equality with men. She acknowledged that men and women are different and believes that women feel able to go back to being more lady-like and treated as such without having to behave like men in order to be taken seriously.

"Playing the Lady" - dealing cards backstage during Carry on Jeeves
I feel that there is not total equality between men and women and there is still a great way to go before this takes place which is evident through the media, equal pay, and most of all people's own attitudes towards the other sex. The most common form of sexism I face is that of everyday comments from people all around whether that be a male colleague trolling me to my face with sexist comments just to get a rise out of me or a male shop keeper being patronising. I do however agree with Diana when she talks about celebrating the differences between men and women. We are different, no lesser than the other, but different none the less. I don't want to feel that I have to behave or dress or act like a man just to get a head or be taken seriously. Equality to me isn't about being the same as everyone else, in fact it's exactly the opposite, it's about being different and acknowledging that but treated with just as much respect.

Later on in the show Rachel spoke to Bidisha who is a feminist writer and you can read her blog here. By this part the show was drawing to it's conclusion and looking at what place, if any, being a lady has in the future. Bidisha was saying that the model of womanhood that's being represented to us through the media is not what some women feel they want to respond to. Through fashion and media women are objectified and it's all very cheapening. She was saying that in fashion there's often more flesh than cloth on show and there's a reaction to this to cover up instead and to be the opposite. There's a trend which is bringing back the formality and elegance to a culture which these days is just quite vulgar. Bidisha said that she feels that being a lady is now so divorced from it original meaning, and the class system it was entrenched within, that we can now take the power back. We can reinvent what a lady is and what it means into being a "brilliant, strong, and sisterly woman."

Do I look like a lady to you?
Well now! That was just such a revelation that I got straight on the phone to my boyfriend to tell him of this enlightening experience I had just had. I have always wrestled with the juxtaposition of being vintage and yet also being a feminist. I've tried but never really found a way to articulate my feelings and there Bidisha said it and I knew it was how I felt about the way that I dress. Now I know she wasn't particularly driving at fashion and clothing but around a whole culture within our society but still her statements drew lines directly to my own feelings of my personal style. YES! I felt like shouting. Now I know that vintage and feminism can go hand in hand. The way I dress is not to harken back to an age where if you fell pregnant you lost your job or equal pay was as common as fairy dust. To me the way I dress is in defiance of the video vixens, the boobs, bums and glossy hair that women are defined by in today's media. So I spend time on my appearance; I like it when I've done my hair in a nice do, and yes I have an unhealthy (for my bank balance) addiction to buying dresses. I am a woman, I am different from men, I enjoy those differences. And no, one shall not be getting one's assets out for the lads.

So there you have it folks. I'm sorry it's been a long and wordy post but there's just so much I wanted to express. I also would like my blog to have more substance than here's a hat I wore or here's a place I went. Hopefully you've enjoyed this post and I would really, really, love to hear any comments or feedback you may have.

How To Be A Lady: An Elegant History is still available on  BBC I Player here. 

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Playing The Lady

One of the things which has contributed to my lack of blogging in the past months is my current involvement in the world of amateur dramatics. I have done some acting in the past but it was around 9 years ago and I was about 16 years old so I'm not totally sure it counts. I played a lady called Agnes Nitt in a production of Terry Pratchett's Carpe Juggulum and was thoroughly self conscious the whole way throughout mainly I think due to my age. About a year ago though I suddenly had an urge to get back on stage again. I had this insane urge to everything all at once and really piled my plate high with responsibilities. Over time these things have come to an end and my role in the play Carry On Jeeves was the last of those. I didn't have time to feel at a loose end though as I have jumped both feet first into my next performance.

I found it really stressful being in a play but I believe that was mainly down to the fact that I like to catastrophise all situations and I really got it into my head that I was going to ruin the whole thing. I didn't though; I didn't really have a big enough part to be able to ruin the whole play. I'm sure you all know about Jeeves and Wooster as it's very well known so I won't bore you with all of the back ground. I played the part of Lady Florence Cray who was the love interest of the leading man, Bertie Wooster. I not only had to pretend to be posh I also had to pretend to be a really nasty and shouty person; really quite the opposite of how I actually am. I don't know, all this acting lark!

Anyway here's just a few photos from backstage which was an absolute riot, if a very quiet one.



Sunday, 24 March 2013

Burghley Park in the Snow

I'm sure it hasn't escaped your knowledge (at least those of you in England) but it was very snowy this weekend all over the country. I was down visiting my boyfriend in Stamford; he usually comes up to Lincoln but he had a night out with his colleagues and I was invited. We didn't let the snow stop us from enjoying some beautiful scenery though. Here are some of our pictures from today.


On the way back to the car though the wind had picked up and I got ear ache so was less than happy. To cheer me up Indi took me to one of my favourite places when I'm down there; the OK Diner. Ok, so it's a diner by the side of the A1 but it has a 1950's theme, plays awesome music including Buddy Holly, and also serves the best Root Beer Floats. Mmmm root beer!
They have this weird Uncle Sam handshake thing which I like to play with while we are waiting to be seated. This time I was "wicked" and Indi was "hot stuff"; pretty accurate I'd say!

Monday, 4 March 2013

Complimentary Therapy

Yesterday I received some lovely compliments when I was out shopping in Peterborough with my boyfriend. In all the time I dress vintage I have found that I actually very rarely get complete strangers compliment me on my style save for at events. I think it's because at events lots of people are dressed up too where as when walking down the high street people might be less inclined or feel they may be being rude. The first compliment I received was from a young lady who was working in a vintage charity shop we went into; she said that she liked my outfit and style. The second was from a lady older than myself who said that she liked my "whole look". I was really flattered, especially because earlier I had been repeatedly asking my boyfriend if I looked frumpy, and I thought I should share my outfit with you all since it was well received in the shops of Peterborough.
My dress is 1940's and I bought it from Etsy. I had to pay an extra £14 charge for customs once it arrived but I think it was worth it. I really love it and can see myself wearing it a lot at the spring and autumn events due to the weight of the fabric. You can't see it because I'm wearing my coat, which is from Collectif, but it has a very large collar and the top is in cream. My hand bag is from a vintage shop in Lincoln called Mr Bojangles and though I don't really know the era of it I chose it because it is the closest match in my collection to my shoes which are from Clarkes. Here's a close up of the handbag and the lovely tooled leather which drew me to it in the first place.
I also bought a new (to me) dress and blouse while in town and also have another new dress in the post from Collectif again so you won't have long to wait and you can see what new purchases I have made.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Tag, you're it!

Well now, it's been an awfully long time since we last spoke and I hope you're all keeping well. My absence has been due to a number of factors which I won't bore you with since I'd feel like I was moaning and really I'm not. I've been eager and planning on getting back to blogging for some months now and here I finally putting finger tips to keyboard; but then something happened and I didn't know what to write. It felt strange, like I was beginning for the first time all over again, and I felt like I ought to do something to introduce myself and say "hello world" for the second time.

I haven't been away from reading other's blogs but unable to write my own due to time and tools so when I came across the Vintage Tag post on Jessica's blog at Chronically Vintage I knew it would be just the thing to reintroduce myself and also get me back in the game. So here we have for your reading pleasure my answers to the 21 vintage lifestyle questions, enjoy!

21 Vintage Lifestyle Questions and Answers

1. Who are your style icons?

Red, white, and blue
I would have to say that I'd find it very difficult to pick out and name just a few as I feel there's so many influences. I've been gradually finding "my style" within vintage and am gathering collections and outfits which I feel reflects me though it can change so quickly depending on my mood, the occasion, or what era I'm enjoying at the moment. Although I tend to stick to either 1940's or 1950's in my outfits inside I feel it's all a mash up of "every day" women from the times, rockabilly, and Hollywood glamour all tied together with a bow on top! My biggest influence in both clothing and life style is Lola Lamour as I'll explain in a later question.

2. What is your favourite way to get inspired?

Blogs. I love reading other people's blogs and would say that it's been a large factor in my pursuit of vintage; I also dabble in a little Pinterest which many will testify is extremely addictive. Other than that I find that looking at the outfits other ladies are wearing at the events we go to is very inspiring. I enjoy looking at the different styles of dress from those who dress military to the Land Girls and then the civilian clothing.

3. What's your most used hair tool?

Hair spray - to the point that once my boyfriend told me that he likes the smell of hairspray as it reminds him of me. My name is Rowena, and I'm addicted to hairspray.

4. What's your favourite hair tool?

Can I say hair spray again? I have an issue. But otherwise it's my curling tongs which are covered in roses and were a Christmas present a couple of years ago from my boyfriend. They're really small as they are in fact travel ones but really they are the only thing to get a curl in my infuriatingly poker straight hair AND they don't burn my hair like my Nicky Clarke curlers used to.

5. Updo, down or half and half?

My hair unusually down, celebrating my beautiful friend's
I would say that totally depends on what my straighter-than-Jesus'-geometry hair feels like doing on the day and also on what the event is. Generally though on a day to day basis my hair is tied back in a pony tail.

6. Is vintage something you do every day, on weekends, or for special occasions?

If left to my own devices I would definitely do it all day, every day; however I don't go all out vintage when I am at work. I have had a few comments though on how I'm quite vintage styled and I think the vintage still shines through.

7. What's your favourite blush and lipstick?

I don't wear blush as I have never really felt it necessary since I get a bit pink generally anyway. When it comes to lipstick I would say I'm easily pleased and own lipsticks from a ranges of prices but my favourite has to be Boots Natural Collections in Crimson. It's a cheap brand and yet I always favour that lipstick over all my others. I also own a nice Boots Number 7 one in bright pink which tastes like vanilla, yum!

8. Dress, skirt, or pants? Heels or flats?

Is that an offer? No, I have to choose my favourite? Oh alright. I would say that around 85% of the time I can be found in a pencil skirt and flats as that's what I always wear to work.

9. Off-the-rack or homemade?

If I buy "new" clothes then they do tend to be off the rack but I'm working on that homemade aspect too and have been sewing a pencil skirt in my spare time. I've only been working on it since October 2012!

10. Do you swing dance?

I'm going to have to say no. I have been to Lindy Hop dance lessons with my boyfriend back when we both had more free time but by no stretch of the imagination can I dance. That's not to say my dance teachers weren't good, they were fantastic, more like I am un-teachable. Just too stubborn to let someone else take the lead.

11. Extreme vintage or subtle touches?

During the working week then subtle touches but come the weekend it's generally extreme vintage or rockabilly twist.

12. Favourite perfume?

Hairspray it would seem. But mainly because I don't wear any perfumes since I hate them. On other people they are nice but too much perfume or perfume on me and it's yuk!

13. Favourite skincare product?

Moisturiser since now that my skin isn't so spotty it likes to be dry and flaky instead, mmm nice!

14. What does your family think of your style?

I think they really like it. They definitely support me in it and buy me lovely purchases for presents. I think my sister offers most in the way of discussion about it, my motives for doing it, the social aspect of it, that sort of thing but not in a horrible or nasty way, just discussion.

15. Favourite accessory?

One of my vintage micro misaic brooches because I find wearing other accessories a bit of an annoyance sometimes but a brooch you can pop on, look pretty, and forget that it's even there. Until you put it in the washing machine, dun dun dunnn! My favourite mosaic is my red love heart one which was a gift from my boyfriend.

At a dance last November with my boyfriend and a friend from dance class
16. Do you find the vintage community welcoming or snobby?

If I am being truly honest I have found mixed welcomes but I put that down to individuals and not the community as over all I have met some really amazing people though vintage and they have been more wonderful and down to earth than I ever would have imagined.

17. What drew you to vintage style?

Un-vintage Me
Over all I think I have always had fascinations with different decades since I was young. I remember I used to fray my jeans and bleach or tie dye anything I could get my hands on when I was young because I wanted to be a "hippy" and I loved the whole "earth child" thing of the 60's. I was a small child so I think it's totally acceptable and I'm only partially embarrassed by it. Later on when I was in my teens I moved on to the 80's and I have to admit a lot of my music taste still languishes in the realms of the electro pop of the decade. I still own one prom dress from the 80's which I don't think I will ever part with. It's neon and garish and I love it. Then I became an emo, a massive emo to be precise, I can admit this now with the wisdom of age. I still retained my 80's love though and mixed the neon with the black to create the jolliest emo looks. Then I grew up and I wanted my style to as well since I was tired of everyone thinking I was 12. I tried dressing "high street" but something was off, something was missing, I wasn't quite ME. Then on the telly was a lady called Joanne, though these days she's more known on the vintage scene as Lola Lamour, and that moment was a total game changer (check out my 1980's buzz words!). Lola was in a show called Time Warp Wives and from the moment I saw it I was totally taken with the whole idea of a vintage lifestyle. Years later (last year in fact) my boyfriend and I met Lola and her husband Kevin at the 1940's weekend in Woodhall Spa and I have met her twice more since then. They were absolutely wonderful and we were both totally star struck.

Lola and Kevin when we met them last year at Woodhall Spa

18. Favourite places to shop vintage?

Etsy and for real life shopping Tasty Vintage in Lincoln.

19. What vintage eras are your favourite?

1940's and 1950's - that's easy.

20. Most glamorous film stars?

Glamour is a very personal thing, what I would define as glamour may well be very different to the opinion of others.

21. Favourite vintage object that you own?

Make up compacts which I
received for my birthday
My pristine, unused vintage Stratton make up compact. Along with the micro mosaic brooches I also collect make up compacts and in particular Strattons. My friend Becca started my Stratton obsession when as a birthday gift she gave me a coral coloured one with a lovely gold starburst on it. While I was inspecting it I noticed the name Stratton and instantly recognised it from a 1950's advertisement. That moment something began and now every time I see a Stratton I must buy it! I do have two criteria which I also apply to my brooches; they must be under £10 and I must personally like them, I wouldn't just buy one for the sake of it.

So there we have it! My answers to the game of vintage tag, I hope everyone also considers themselves tagged and it continues on. I have enjoyed answering the questions and sharing more of where my love for vintage came from.

Until next time!