A welcome little ray of sunshine appeared on Tuesday last week, with the arrival of a parcel from the lovely Gisela at Miss Magpie's Musings.
She'd bought two dresses at a vintage fair in Bath, but as alas they didn't fit her, she kindly send them to me!
First up is this colourful Arnel pussy bow frock. As it's sleeveless it will be put aside for the warmer months, unless I come up with a suitable jumper to wear underneath. Watch this space!
There was a sparkly Scottie dog brooch too!
I wore the other dress on Saturday. It is handmade and fully lined, with the lining cleverly sewn in, and with its batwing sleeves - a first in my wardrobe - it seems to have come straight from the 1980s.
I remember having a grey batwing sweater dress back in the day, complete with the ubiquitous shoulder-pads of the era, which I wore to death, accessorized with a massive red belt. It's hard to believe now that this was my only dress!
The dress was somewhat similar to the white one shown below, tapering towards the hem, but the belt was more structured, and with an angled buckle.
Funnily enough, there are no photos of me wearing it. Well, there are hardly any photos of me from that period, full stop!
I was in my twenties in the eighties, and they were turbulant times.
In no particular order, I left home, lived in semi-squalor, was on the dole, found a job, did some serious growing up and kind of lost my way a bit both at the start and the end of the decade.
|I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I see that perm|
It was a happy, carefree and crazy time, but kind of bittersweet too, if only because with hindsight I know I wasn't always happy in my own skin and frightfully insecure.
|Back to the old house ...|
For a couple of years in the early 1980s, I lived on the second floor of a house in the north of Antwerp, built in 1912, up four flights of creaking stairs. The house (the first one in the photo) hadn't moved with the times, with cracked linoleum, the most basic of mod cons and an old-fashioned coal stove by way of heating.
It was at the dead-end of a dead-end street backing onto a railway embankment, and I remember the chugging of pass-by-night freight trains lulling me to sleep.
By day, the soundtrack was mostly provided by The Smiths and almost all the memories I have of that time have a Smiths song playing in the background.
But I digress. Isn't it amazing that a whole chunk of the past can be conjured up just by wearing a particular dress?
I had a whale of a time accessorizing the dress and added a burgundy belt, tights from the market stall in rusty red, lilac beads and a purple beret. The brooch I chose was an early plastic one in dusky pink, which I think went rather well with the vibe of the dress.
Due to the massive sleeves, a fake fur cap-sleeved vest was a better option than a cardigan. This offered the opportunity for another brooch, featuring tiny embroidered flowers in an oval frame.
On top went my brown fake fur collared jacket, which is going into its third season, and I added a burgundy crushed velvet scarf.
Comfortable burgundy boots and a tapestry handbag in the same colour completed Saturday's outfit.
It was mostly paid for by Ecocheques, which are a kind of vouchers most employees get here in Belgium every year. With these vouchers, you can purchase energy saving devices and all kinds of environmentally friendly stuff.
Yes, you can buy stuff at the charity shops too, but it's far more satisfying to spend it on one, more expensive, piece.
As my old bike was rusty beyond belief, I opted for a new, old-fashioned style, one.
Now, my dress might be a similar design to the sweater dress I had in the 1980s, but with one big difference: the material isn't stretchy at all, so the dress's tapered shape felt a bit restricted when riding a bike.
But I did it, even if it was just for a test ride around the block.
And to show it off on my blog, obviously!
For those who are interested, thanks to Fiona, who kindly alerted me to its absence, I now have a Followers button on my blog! Not being very tech adept, it's a miracle that my blog ever made in online at all!
Feet firmly back in the here and now, I will tell you all about last weekend's finds in my next post.
Gisela did you proud! That 1980s dress looks absolutely fantastic on you, I love how you've worn it. The other dress is a beauty as is the gorgeous brooch.ReplyDelete
Back to the old house...got an earworm now.
Love your student digs and your perm. I still miss mine. 1980s hair was the best.
Your new bicycle is gorgeous, what a great way to spend your vouchers. I've got a 1960s Raleigh shopper but I've lost the ability to ride bikes since I had my hip replaced. I can't stay on it! xxx
I'm really chuffed Gisela thought of me! I'm having a love/hate relationship with "the old house" (I just had to sneak that one in) and sometimes revisit it in my dreams ... xxxDelete
Ann your new bike is a beauty and most importantly it's got a sensible size saddle, unlike some ladies cycles.ReplyDelete
The print and colour on your batwing frock are fabulous, that style is so evocative of the Dynasty era.
Thanks for the Followers button, no more missed posts hopefully.
Weather forecast looking promising for tomorrow! Xxx0
Believe it or not, but I've never watched Dynasty (didn't have a telly at the time), but I know enough to know what you mean. Glad you're now able to follow me. Thanks again for the tip! xxxDelete
its a beauty of a bike!ReplyDelete
and a beautiful 80s dress!! it suits you perfectly! and i love to read your memories - my first boyfriend was (still is i think) a huge smith fan, he even managed to get a record thru the iron curtain. and of cause i had a gray ponte/milano knit batwing dress (mini lenght) - with dusty rose diagonal parts - home sewn. :-D what you wrote about your 20s resonates with me - same feelings - different decade (90s).
hugest hugs!! xxxxx
Thank you Beate! I can't wait to go on bike trips in Spring! How amazing that your first boyfriend managed to get a Smiths record through the iron curtain. Things like that mustn't have been easy. I worked for an East German shipping company at the time, and we heard all kinds of stories from those people from head office who were allowed to visit us! xxxDelete
you worked for an GDR company! how interesting is that!!Delete
You rock the 80's look, the dress really looks fab on you.ReplyDelete
Reading the rest of your blog I loved what you said. I loved the Smiths, I remember seeing them back in the 80's and the photo of you and your digs and the memories you shared all made this a wonderful post. xxx
Thank you, Sally. I'm glad you liked it. Lucky you! I have never seen The Smiths. I don't think they ever played in Belgium. xxxDelete
It is amazing the memories and feelings that can be conjured up by wearing a particular piece of clothing! I absolutely love all your clothing, I'm particularly fond of that first sleeveless dress...it's wonderful! I hope you find the right jumper to wear with it!ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing your memories about the eighties. They were turbulent times indeed!
Happy thrifting ;)
Thank you! I'm thinking of wearing a purple poloneck with the sleeveless dress. I must have one somewhere. xxxDelete
Oh I loved seeing that photo of you and hearing about your past! I think clothes enable us to time travel, don't they?ReplyDelete
How lovely to have those two dresses sent by Gisela. xx
It was absolutely sweet of Gisela to think of me! Oh, and I agree about the time travelling aspect of certain clothes. xxxDelete
Ah the 80's perm, I remember taking my copy of 'Bonnie Tyler Faster than the speed of night' to the hair dresser with me to demonstrate what I wanted!! It most definitely did NOT look like that on me!?!ReplyDelete
I'm afraid I never got The Smiths(still don't) I thought they were terrible but then I would as I was into Heavy Metal at the time.....
I just wanted big hair, not a perm. The hairdresser didn't understand what I meant ;-) Thanks again for sending me the dresses! Who would have thought that one of them would trigger a post about the 80s? xxxDelete
Blogging friends that know your taste are the best!ReplyDelete
You need a gigantic oversized blazer to wear over the batwings ;)
You know the saying, "Youth is wasted on the young". It is hard to look back sometimes without wishing to shake our younger selves and ask what on earth we were thinking? I had a perm around 1977. The memory was still fresh by the 80's and I was able to resist revisiting that style.
I hope your new bike takes you on happy adventures.
Unfortunately I don't own a gigantic oversized blazer ;-) I really thought that perm looked great at the time. Youth is wasted on the young is about right! xxxDelete
You so suit a beret!! Love your bike.ReplyDelete
Thank you Sue! xxxDelete
You lucky duck having someone send you dresses that are so smashing! I really love that first one featured.ReplyDelete
Oh those perms! So fun to see the old photo of you and read about your past.
I love it when memories are connected to clothing.
Thank you Suzanne, and I do agree I'm a lucky duck! I am forever regretting I don't have many photos from the 1980s. This kind of adds to the bittersweetness of it all. xxxDelete
ohhh, I remember those sleeves very well, they were ubiquitous in early 80's and a total nightmare to stuff them into coats or jackets!. I had a perm too (everybody had one!) it was 1987 and I remember it because it took me ages to grow my hair. Then I cut it!ReplyDelete
I love all those purple shades and the cute beads and brooch, and so fabulous new bycicle!. And so lovely that you got it using your vouchers, I would love to see something similar here. Too many cars and too much pollution!
Thank you Monica! Before the perm I had Siouxsie hair. I then had it cut very short, so I too had to grow my hair to get the perm! The vouchers are fabulous, you can even buy things at the charity shops ... xxxDelete
I love this post Ann. These dresses from Gisela are so amazing. What a luck! It is not easy to be alone in the office at work and always rainy grey days.ReplyDelete
You choose a very nice bicycle and these Ecocheques are a wonderful idea.
I wish you a nice sunday, huge hug Tina
Thank you Tina! The Ecocheques are indeed a great idea, although some people grumble, as there are restrictions on what you can buy with them ... xxxDelete
I want your bike Ann! How lucky that that dress didn't fit your friend! And I love the scottie broach xxReplyDelete
I think I'll keep the bike, Laurie ;-) It is lovely, isn't it? xxxDelete
How exciting new clothes, new bike, never mind the weather it all looks good to me.ReplyDelete
I’d wear a cardi over that gorgeous sleeveless number. That is a definite one for my pile. The sooner the better Ann haha.
I'll try it with a cardie Lynn. Don't think I can add it to your pile seeing that it was given to me by Gisela. Sorry ;-) xxxDelete
Forgot to tell you, when I first met Philip he used to have his hair permed. We called it the Kevin Keegan look after the footballer xxReplyDelete
I'm trying to picture Philip with a perm ... xxxDelete
I love that you've matched your outfit to the bike! And what a great idea for you all to get vouchers to spend on something that's environmentally friendly. We need that here!ReplyDelete
Oh and the memories of the 80s! It was a good decade for me as it was my teenage years and I was a huge New Romantic! I was completely in love with every member of Duran Duran and wore frilly shirts and lots of velvet. And yes, I had permed hair too. There's a hilarious school photo of me with it! xx
My sister was a very big Duran Duran fan too ... I only have my memories of the 80s, but hardly any photographs. Nobody I knew had a camera back then. It's a bit sad really. xxxDelete
I love the sound of eccocheques! What a brilliant idea. The bicycle is lovely - you just need a wicker basket at the front; I think we call them 'sit up and beg' bikes here!ReplyDelete
How kind of Gisela to send you those lovely dresses. You could wear the first one with about half a dozen different coloured jumpers underneath. If you haven't got a sweater how about a buttoned up cardigan underneath?
The batwing dress is fab and so 80s. I had only one I recall, it was white too, but with red,black and blue motifs on it. I wore it with a red belt but a thin one not a waist cincher one like yours! I loved all your accessories but the crushed velvet scarf looks amazing with the jacket.
I hope the weather cheers up for you.
I do have a wicker basket like that somewhere - now where is it? I'm going to experiment with some jumpers to wear under the dress, it wouldn be a shame to wait until Summer ... xxxDelete
Ah, what a beautiful nostalgic post!! I loved it! What a nice friend and generous gifts. (I so want to send parcels to friends, but it takes me FOREVER to put them together and get to the post office...) Love batwing sleeves! And I had a very similar dress in mid 80s (made by my auntie), only in light pink with silver lurex stripes.ReplyDelete
You always do the most unexpected color combinations, and they really work! Love this whimsical and smart styling. And your bike is the best! Will you believe that I don't know how to bike? :))
In the 80s, I was in school! Beginning with 1980, when I was 7. So the whole decade was school. I think you looked lovely in your perm and stripy shirt! And I think we all were insecure when we were young, starting with teenage, then young adulthood, trying to fine out who we are and how to fit in in the world. I think I did not really try to fit in as much as to carve my own way, and I felt lost on many occasions...still do at times!
Lots of love!
Thank you Natalia. It's amazing how many of you had batwing dresses. Light pink with silver lurx stripes sounds very typical of the time! Oh, and at quite a few years older than you, I'm still feeling lost sometimes as well. xxxDelete
Those dresses look ace - Gisela has a great eye for pattern.ReplyDelete
I had a perm in the 80s too. Ah, BIG HAIR to balance out the BIG SHOULDERS.
You're right, she really does. Oh, and big hair was a real necessity back in the day, wasn't it? xxxDelete
How did I miss this post? what a spectacular dress, and oh, those memories. "I would rather not go...back to the old house..." - and the Smiths!ReplyDelete