Tuesday 29 March 2016

Who knows where the time goes?

In our house, with its many ticking clocks, you can literally hear time pass ...

For a full-time working girl like me, time is at a premium, so the Easter weekend is a godsend.

Four days of not getting up at the crack of dawn to join the rat race. Time for leisurely breakfasts. Time to tackle some of the never-ending mending pile every wearer of vintage eventually accumulates, for some pottering around the house and for reading a bit more than the 10 minutes in bed every night before nodding off mid-sentence.

Oh, and maybe time to put away the warmest winter clothes and bring out some of the lighter stuff, which has been hibernating in our linen chest since October. It is spring after all, isn't it?

But you know how it is with the best-laid plans ... On Friday, only the leisurely breakfast part was achieved. I'd just taken out my sewing basket when one of us uttered the words "charity shop" and off we went. After all, that is what the Easter break is for as well: time to visit some charity shops which are a bit further away, and which we only visit a few times a year!

Whether we struck gold or not will be the subject of a later post, but this is what I wore to go charity shopping.

A purple psychedelically patterned crimplene A-line dress with slim fitting bodice and sleeves, which mean you either have to be a contortionist to close the back zip, or need a helping hand.

I accessorized it with vintage olive green plastic beads, as well as a ring which reminds me of those Venetian glass paperweights ... Both charity shopped, of course!

Another one of my cardies came out: olive green with a round collar and three quarter length sleeves. This one is retail and I've had it for many years. The brooch I've pinned to it was bought in a charity shop in Cardigan while on holiday last year.

Out came some old tan boots, which are very comfortable, but which I can only wear in dry weather as they are letting the rain in. They are made of some cheap material which has a distinct smell and which drives Phoebe, our cat, crazy. Nevertheless, I'm not ready to throw them out.

While I was thinking about which coat to wear, I suddenly remembered this lime green swing jacket. I'm ashamed to say that although I've had it for more than a year, this is the first time I've actually worn it.

I combined it with a prettily embroidered velvet scarf, which I found at a flea market for next to nothing.

Dress and swing jacket: Think Twice
Bag, beads, brooch and ring: charity shopped
Scarf: flea market
Boots and cardigan: retail

Although the weather was unpredictable, at least it stayed dry and sunny for long enough to go for a short walk in the park and to let us have a taste of spring!

So what did you make time fore this Easter weekend?

Saturday 26 March 2016


I met Angelica at the tail-end of a flea market last Sunday. It was love at first sight. She's from Paris and quite elegant. We hit it off from the start so, as she was about my size, she came home with me. Her real name is Cléo, but she'd always been Angelica to me, even when she was still just a twinkle in my eye.

She was named Angelica after my paternal great-grandmother. Angelica, or "Zeleke" as she was popularly known, was an accomplished seamstress whom people came to from far and wide to have the latest fashions made.

She died in 1945 at 62 years of age, so all I know about her is what I was told by my dad. She had a son and two daughters, the eldest of which was my grandmother.

This is Angelica with her family. The little girl is my grandmother, who was born in 1910, and this photo must have been taken just before the First World War.

I had been looking for a vintage dressmaker's dummy for ages, but the ones I came across until now were frightfully expensive. So, to finally have found one this late in the day at an otherwise not very exciting flea market and at a more than reasonable price, is nothing short of a miracle.

She's a bit older than me, probably dating from the 1950s, and she came with her own original metal stand. She is in perfect condition apart from some wear and tear in keeping with her age. The only thing she was missing was the wooden finial at her neck, but my handy husband has already arranged a replacement (though not yet when these photos were taken).

Here she is modelling the suit (or as Angelica herself would say, the "deux-pièces") I found at the charity shop last Saturday.  As you can see, we have another thing in common: she does not like ironing either!

What else did we find at the flea market? Well, surprisingly, we did find quite a few little things.

There seems to be a French theme going on here, as I found a small stack of French magazines dating from the early 1950s (the oldest is from December 1951 while the most recent one is from July 1954). They don't really do magazine covers (signed, no less!) like this anymore, do they?

I also found some vintage buttons to add to my every-growing stash. This is being delved into regularly whenever I don't very much like the buttons on a vintage item, or whenever buttons are damaged or missing.

What else? A dark brown vinyl beauty case, which will join the others I have. They live on top of my wardrobe and are being put to good use storing socks, underwear, belts and the like.

There are also some cute vintage purses, two of them with Lucite closures, which I simply couldn't resist.

And finally, thee brooches, bought from an nice old lady who is selling her entire collection. I don't know how she can part with them, but at least some of them are going to a good home, where they will be cherished and worn. I usually buy a couple of brooches from her whenever I visit this particular flea market.

I'm ending this post with another picture featuring my great-grandmother Angelica. This one is helpfully labeled May 1930. Angelica is second from left, with her two daughters and (presumably) a neighbour. My grandmother is the girl on the right. Notice how the two girls are wearing identical dresses, probably made by Angelica herself.

Wishing you all a great Easter weekend!

Wednesday 23 March 2016

Could life ever be sane again?

I was going to do this post yesterday, but I was thrown off-balance by yesterday's terrible events in Brussels, and somehow it didn't feel right to be blogging about something as frivolous as vintage clothing ...

Still, life goes on, as they say, and we mustn't, no we mustn't admit defeat! 

On Saturday, after a leisurely breakfast, we decided to pay a visit to one of the charity shops we hadn’t done last weekend, to see if they had any vintage stuff left.

I managed to take some pictures this time to give you an idea of what a Belgian charity shop looks like. This is one of the bigger shops. The pictures aren’t top quality though, as I used my old Sony Cybershot, which is not very good for inside pictures.

As you can probably see, they still had quite a lot of things left, although some of the prices were simply outrageous. This shop seemed to be more expensive than average. The things which remain unsold will go down in price as the weeks go by, so we might have another look in a couple of weeks’ time.

This is what I wore. A stripy brown-and-orange A-line skirt paired with a long-sleeved crimplene top with brown-and-orange flowery cotton cuffs and collar. It’s another Finnish concoction, labeled  “Merry Finn”, and I love its puffy sleeves and its neckline. It certainly made me feel quite “merry”, especially after I added some cheery orange details, like the necklace and chunky plastic ring.

It was quite cold, so I chose a lined tweed jacket, part of a suit which, worn together, makes me look and feel quite lady-like. I have a problem with the word “suit”, though, preferring the French words “deux-pièces” or “tailleur”, which - even though I live in the country's Flemish speaking part - we use here in Belgium too. Or rather: used. I think that the words, together with the items themselves, have gone out of fashion. After all, who still buys these things? Well, me, that’s for sure!

At the very last minute, I pulled this furry hat from our hall stand. It’s actually the first time I’ve worn it, but it made me feel great, so it certainly won’t be the last.

To finish this post’s outfit pictures, here’s me in the suit ...

I love the jacket's buttons, which somehow remind me of chocolates!

Skirt, top and scarf worn with suit: Think Twice
Suit and necklace: Blender Vintage Shop
Boots and hat: charity shop
Brooch and brown and orange scarf: flea market
Ring and tights: retail (tights from local market stall)

And now the big question is: were we tempted to buy anything? 
Well, we found a cute little vintage thermos for our picnic basket, a couple of vintage hangers, which I actually bought to display items on this blog, and some 78 rpm records.
I also had a half-hearted browse through the rails of clothes, as I'd already bought so many wonderful things last week, but couldn’t resist this green – dare I say it – suit.

On Sunday we went to a flea market, where we did a great find, deserving a post all of its (or her) own …

Now, aren't you intrigued?

Friday 18 March 2016

What a day for a daydream

Last Saturday, there was a special event at Belgium’s charity shops. As they do every year, they held a  so-called “Retro Day”.

First of all, I need to explain about charity shops in Belgium. Although we have a few charity shops which can be compared with UK ones, like Oxfam, the majority of the shops which for convenience’s sake I will call charity shops, are called “Kringloopwinkels” in Belgium which for want of a better word translates as “recycling shops”.

What’s the same is that what they are selling are donations. What’s different is that they do not support any charity as such: with their proceeds they employ people who are otherwise difficult to employ. Most shops are situated on the outskirts of towns and are generally larger than the average UK charity shop, selling everything including the kitchen sink.

Although some die-hard vintage fans might disagree, there is some reasonably priced vintage to be found in the shops all year round, for those who make the effort to visit regularly. In the run-up to the “Retro Day”, it’s quite another kettle of fish, as every item which can be remotely labeled as vintage is being kept behind.  This is the cause of a lot of frustration, especially since the shops sell these items for a higher than usual price at the day of the event.  There are still a few bargains to be found, though.

By the time we arrived at our first shop of choice (which is spread out over three floors, no less) there were  roughly about a hundred people waiting for the shop to open at 10 am, pushing and shoving to get inside as soon as the doors opened. We had decided to remain in a “zen” state of mind, and this has actually paid off.

This is some of our haul, after a whole day of shopping and visiting three different shops. On the bottom right is our cat Phoebe, who immediately claimed the volume of 1932 magazines we found.

A set of dinner plates and an original box of soup plates from a dinner service we are collecting. It’s from a Belgian pottery called “Boch”, and was issued in 1966 to celebrate their 125th birthday. The pattern is called “Rambouillet” and has become very collectable in the last couple of years.

 A set of bowls from an older blue and white “Boch” pattern  (on the left in the overview picture), which we’ve recently started collecting. My husband’s parents had these when he was growing up.  We started collecting this last summer, when we were actually given some plates at a local flea market.

A Bakelite radio (as seen above), made in Belgium, dating from the early 1950s. It is still in working order, but needed some TLC.

Another Lourdes souvenir for our little collection. This one is super kitsch and still in its original box, and it’s got full working coloured lights.  We’ve also found a Lourdes barometer to join our collection.

A 1970s orange party set to join the slightly different one I already have. I use them to store jewellery. This one is English and marked "Dialene Better-Maid".

A wonderful handbag, which just needed a good cleaning.

Last but not least, some vintage dresses!  In one of the shops there was a whole rail of them. At € 5 per item, it would have been rude not to let myself go, so I bought 5 dresses, including – wait for it – a maxi!

These are just a few teasers

Now, where am I going to put it all?

Oh, and I already wore one of the dresses to work this week ...

Tuesday 15 March 2016

A walk in the park

First of all, I would like to thank all of you for your supportive comments on my first steps in the blogosphere. I’m truly honoured to have been made to feel so welcome!

That said, it’s now back to the business at hand.

Saturdays are for charity shopping! We usually visit 2 or 3 shops on a Saturday and take a picnic. In bad weather conditions, this will be a “car picnic”, but last Saturday we had such gorgeous early spring weather, that we took our trusted picnic basket to the park!

This is what I wore: a long-sleeved A-line crimplene dress with notched collar and buttons down the front.  It’s got two generous pockets at waist-height and is from Finnish label “Karelia”. I’ve actually got quite a few “Karelia” dresses in my wardrobe.

As it was still rather chilly, I wore a cardigan, as well as a gorgeous fake-fur collared jacket with a Paris label.

Both the dress and the jacket, as well as the flowery scarf I’m wearing are from Think Twice, a shop which deserves a post of its own.

The cardigan (I admit to having a whole collection of them) is retail, as are the tights, which are from a market stall.

The necklace and brooch (please note the cute little deer) are from Blender Vintage Shop.

Finally, the shoes and beret were both charity shopped. I bought the beret that very day as I left behind my beloved Kangol beret on the bus last week and was looking for a replacement.

As for the charity shopping itself, there was a special event in Belgium’s charity shops on Saturday, drawing huge crowds of vintage lovers. We had quite a haul, which I’ll tell you all about in my next post!

In the meantime, I wanted to show you these little treasures I found while out shopping with my best friend Inez on Friday.

See you soon!

Friday 11 March 2016

Wouldn't it be nice

... to do a spot of vintage shopping on a rainy Sunday afternoon? Well, that is exactly what I did last Sunday.
As we do every first Sunday of the month, we paid a visit to Blender Vintage Shop in Eppegem, which is well worth the 30 minute or so drive from here, whatever the weather.

The shop is celebrating its 10th birthday this year, and they have been at their current, bigger location since 2013.

The items they sell generally date from 1950s to the 1980s and include everything you need for a vintage lifestyle, including furniture, lighting, household wares, home decoration, toys and clothing for men, women and children. And these are only the first things to spring to mind. 
In fact, from the moment you step over the threshold of this amazing shop, your eyes have to work overtime to take everything in. 
For the vintage enthusiast, there is no greater pleasure than to browse every nook and cranny of the shop, eventually stumbling upon the vintage treasure you have been looking for. 
Or, in many cases, something you were not looking for, but which is simply too irresistible to leave behind.   

The shop’s owner, Fanny, is passionate about vintage and is only too happy to share her knowledge with her customers.
The shop has a Facebook page, where the latest arrivals are shown, and can be reserved if of interest.
They also hold special events, like “fabric fairs”, when the shop is turned into an Aladdin’s Cave of vintage fabrics, buttons and trims. If you are interested, the next “fabric fair” is coming up soon, from March 31 until April 9.

Apart from the first Sunday of the month, the shop is open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

So what did we buy?

- A set of plates from Expo 58 (Brussel’s World Fair 1958, items of which are very collectable – my husband collects this).
- A set of Lourdes candles still in their box. Another mad collection that really got out of hand.
- A cute deadstock 100% acrylic top and a red pleated skirt, which I actually only took with me into the fitting room for trying on the top, but ended up buying too … Oh well.

Have a lovely weekend!

Tuesday 8 March 2016

Oh I just don't know where to begin

So many dresses in my wardrobe calling out to be shown, so I’d better make a start.

This is what I wore to go vintage shopping on Sunday.

A long-sleeved, box-pleated dress with a geometric pattern. The waist is nipped in by side tabs with two gold-framed fabric-covered buttons. I had to undo somebody’s bad attempt at taking it in but I managed to restore the dress to its full glory without any damage.

The cuffs must have had the same buttons, which unfortunately were no longer there, so I had to improvise and replace them with some simple black ones from my stash of vintage buttons.

That’s as far as my sewing skills go, I’m afraid, although I promised myself that one day I will learn how to use my late mum’s sewing machine. Now, all I need is some time …

The dress screams 1960s to me but could be early seventies. It has lost its label, so nothing there to identify it with.

Now that I got started, I thought I’d show you not one but two dresses!

This one is in a plain crimplene-like fabric. I don’t often buy plain dresses unless there is something special about their shape or if they have nice buttons or other details.
This dress spoke to me since it has both. I like its space-age shape, with its unusual collar, and just look at those pockets!

This dress is labeled. It’s from a Scandinavian brand called Vinetta.  I’d love it to be from the 1960s but  this one too might be from a slightly later date.

The shoes I’m wearing are from a charity shop and bought in the Christmas holidays together with another, similar, pair. I immediately thought of this dress when I saw them, although I guess it would look even better with go-go boots!

Both dresses are from Think Twice vintage shop in Antwerp.

I hope you like this first little peek into my wardrobe …

Saturday 5 March 2016

To begin at the beginning

Hello! I’m Ann and I’m a self-confessed addict of vintage and second-hand shopping. I have a particular weakness for vintage clothes. Although I love clothing from many different eras, I am especially drawn to the 1960s and 1970s, perhaps because that was when I grew up. Consequently, I have quite a few polyester dresses in my wardrobe and I keep on buying more and more of them in spite of the fact that polyester might not be the best choice for someone who is menopausal. The redeeming factor, of course, is that they are “wash ‘n go” and they don’t need any ironing!

As a full-time working girl, ironing is definitely a waste of time. Time which I prefer to spend by going shopping for more items of vintage clothing, preferably made of pure 100% polyester!

A couple of months ago, there was a little quiz on Facebook called “Can You Complete These 1970s Song Lyrics?”.  I ended up with a score of 90%, which apparently made me a “polyester princess”. Although I was a little disappointed not to have scored the full 100% (perfectionist, me?), I was rather chuffed to be called a “polyester princess”.

A very apt name, I thought, if I ever get around to starting a blog. So, after much dithering, here it finally is: my very own blog in which I aim to share my love of vintage shopping, show my vintage wardrobe and other treasures, and generally tell about my day-to-day life in a run of the mill Belgian town. Now, don’t get too excited about that