Thursday 31 October 2019

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning

Well, it seems I did leave you with a bit of a cliffhanger at the end of last post! The question is, what did I wear for Saturday night’s birthday party? You know, the one we didn’t feel like going to?

Those of you following me on Instagram already know that my outfit of choice was based around this seriously floral midi dress. I’m sure you’ll be shocked, though, when I tell you that it’s not vintage nor even second hand. No, it was a rare retail buy snapped up in last Winter’s sale.

If the print is familiar and makes you think of wallpaper, it’s because it’s from H&M’s collaboration with Morris & Co. in the Autumn of 2018. I’ve always been drawn to the Arts & Crafts movement, and to William Morris in particular so, even if I didn’t queue to buy anything from the collection when it first appeared in the shops, I was more than happy to hand over my money when I spotted the dress on the sales rails.

We snapped a few quick outfit photos before leaving, but I completely forgot to add the maroon cardigan I wore for most of the evening. I was also wearing chartreuse opaques, which obviously you can’t see in the photos. Both the necklace and the wide, chocolate brown leather belt were charity shop finds.

It felt very odd to be told by several people on Instagram that they have the same dress or another garment in a similar print, as I’m definitely not used to that kind of thing!

Both Suzy and Sheila remarked on the pink feather boa I was wearing in the closing photo of my last post, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to disappoint them. It's just a pink frilly scarf, which I only wore outside for warmth, as it was a bit of a chilly evening. I thought it looked rather lonely photographed on its own, so I included this lovely Diwali card I received from one of our Indian suppliers to keep it company.

For the record, back in 2006, when we were holidaying in Oxfordshire, we visited Kelmscott Manor, which was William Morris’s Summer retreat, signing a joint lease with the Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti in the summer of 1871.

And look, here’s a 13 years younger, painfully thin and extremely short haired me. This was definitely a holiday when I needed all my heatwave clothes!

On Sunday, we were up bright and early, as we had the second edition of this season’s indoor flea market to go to. On second thought, scrap the “bright” part, as Jos still wasn’t feeling very well. However, he couldn’t bear the thought of giving the flea market a miss, so off we went.

Obviously, I had to dress the part in order not to let my fans down. There are quite a few traders who are looking forward to seeing what I’m wearing.  What can I say: in a crowd of casually, colourlessly and often shabbily dressed browsers, both Jos and I do stand out a bit!

My maxi skirt and pussy-bow blouse both came from Think Twice, but were purchased years apart. 

The skirt, in a heavy polyester fabric, black with generous sprinklings of blue flowers, was a recent acquisition. It is fully lined as well, which makes it perfect for the current season. 

The blouse, with its red on white geometrical pattern, has been a wardrobe staple for several years. I love its slippery fabric, which allows the pussy bow to flop satisfactorily. In order to secure the bow, I used a scarf clip which always reminds me of Wedgwood's Jasperware china.

The wide belt is one of my current favourites and was a charity shop find. 

Although I hadn’t done my coat swap-over yet at that point, I'm always keeping some warmer jackets at the ready. This green tweed blazer was charity shopped last year. To its lapel, I pinned one of my vintage silhouette brooches. I do love the slightly faded glory of this one.

Comfortable tan boots made for walking completed my outfit.

There were far more stalls at the flea market venue than there were back in September and their overall quality was outstanding, with lots of treasures on offer. However, several traders were complaining that business had been rather slow on both days (the flea market runs both on Saturday and Sunday) which I thought was a bit odd as it was grey and wet outside: the perfect weather for an indoor flea market. 

So, what did we find? 

Let’s start with a group photo!

I was looking for a pair of wooden shoe stretchers, preferably vintage ones, so how miraculous that I found a pair in my size on the very first stall we looked at! They've already been put to use giving a gentle bit of stretch to my vintage Hush Puppies.

Skipping from our first buy to the last one: these vintage buttons were picked up from a stall in the final aisle. I can never resist rummaging through this lady’s extensive collection and was very pleased to find several sets of green buttons, which are generally hard to come by.

I’d already paid for my purchases when my attention was grabbed by this small glass-topped wooden box at the same stall. I’ve always got room for another trinket box, especially one as delightful as this, with its scene of a girl in a rowing boat feeding the ducks.

It almost goes without saying that there were a couple of brooches among my purchases.

The first one I picked up was the green ceramic dog. The stall holder is a very nice, French speaking lady, from whom I’ve bought quite a few things before. She was thrilled when I pointed out the  brooch on my jacket, as this was one of hers as well.

Another butterfly has joined my collection so that once again I'm having to make room in the creepy crawlies drawer.

I already own several micromosaic brooches, but this part of my collection is only growing very slowly, as I'm not willing to pay the usually exorbitant asking prices.  I was dithering over this yellow-rimmed one, when the seller, who is one of my fans, let me have it at a reduced price. I didn't even have to haggle for it, which I hardly ever do anyway.

Both of the brooches on the bottom right are modern Lea Stein rip-offs. There was a whole tray of them to choose from, and these are the ones that came home with me. 

I've kept my favourite find for last.

Passing a stall displaying a jumble of delectable items, my eyes immediately zoomed in to this delightful ceramic girl's head. I'm guessing she's from the late 1920s, early 1930s. She's got a bit of damage, but for me that just adds to her appeal. The seller told us she is French: she was brought back from Provence.

Here she is, feeling quite at home on the shelf of treasures in our bedroom.

By now it is clear that I have a weakness for these ceramic or plaster of Paris heads or wall plaques, most of which live on our spare room's chimney breast and mantelpiece.

There are even some plastic ones, like my beloved Twiggy (top left), which I was able to buy at a great price when one of my favourite vintage shops closed down back in 2016, and the rather demented looking Sybil (bottom left), a hairdresser's training head snapped up in a charity shop for a silly € 0,50. She's great at modelling hats (as is Twiggy) and owes her name to the brand name (Sibel) displayed on her neck, which I've disguised by giving her a jaunty little scarf.

But my most treasured mannequin's head, who spent her former life showing off the latest fashion in hats in a 1930s shop, is the haughty Idina.

She was one of the last ladies left from a lot in a reclamation shop and I'm forever regretting not snapping up a male companion for her.

I was reading The Bolter at the time, the biography of Lady Idina Sackville (1893-1955) by her great-granddaughter Frances Osborne, and I thought my precious mannequin was a dead ringer for her.

Idina was a cousin of Vita Sackville-West, and her behaviour and lifestyle (she married and divorced five times) scandalized middle class society at the time.

Back in August 2016, I asked my blog readers to suggest a name for my mannequin, as I wasn't totally convinced Idina was the right choice. But in spite of all your efforts, the name Idina stuck, so that's show she's been known ever since. Always prefixed with haughty, though!

Saturday 26 October 2019

Promises, promises

... that's all we're getting really. I've told you once, but I will tell you again: those pesky weather gods are having a laugh at our expense, big tears of mirth rolling down their ugly cheeks. And surely the equally pesky weather forecasters must have struck a deal with them? Honestly, if I did as bad a job as they generally do, I would have been kicked out years ago.

One minute, we get a tantalizing few rays of sunshine, but it doesn't take long for the devious deities to change their minds, and send a few more of those big black rain clouds our way.

And how is one supposed to get dressed in the mornings if one of those smiley creatures on the telly, with their weather maps and high and low pressure systems, keep insisting it'll be dry and we'll get to see the sun that day, only to be treated to the mother of all downpours before I even reach my bus stop?

So, in the week before last, it was once again up to me to provide some sunshine. Well , somebody's got to do it!  Not that I'm complaining, mind you.  I can't for the life of me understand why people choose to add to the overall bleakness by wearing clothes which are drained of all colour.

One day, I wore this long-sleeved blue and white dress which I bought at Episode, a shop which is part of a chain of vintage shops, back in 2015.
I don’t think I ever wore it with any other colour than yellow and in fact I’m pretty sure I’ve worn this very same combination on the blog before.

The belt with its round buckle is an old retail buy, while the necklace, which has shades of yellow, orange and white, came from a vintage shop that has stopped trading.

It is almost a given that I’m wearing yellow opaques and a yellow cardigan, as I think they are the perfect companions.

The brooch I pinned to my cardigan might be familiar too, as this certainly isn't is debut on the blog.  I’ve got several of these oval-shaped plastic brooches, either with a flower design or a portrait of a lady, all picked up for a song at flea markets and charity shops. They are among my most worn brooches.

Speaking of brooches, I’ve been doing some rearranging and sorting by type, which should make it  easier to find the ones I want to wear. Not that they were just stored willy-nilly, but any new acquisitions do have a tendency to end up wherever there’s some available space.

I’m quite pleased with this drawer of butterflies, dragonflies and creepy crawlies, even if at the time of writing another butterfly brooch has joined my collection.

Outfit photos were limited that week, as more often than not it was pouring with rain when I got home. Soon it will be too dark for outfit photos after work anyway, unless we find somewhere suitable and with sufficient lighting inside Dove Cottage.

The day I was wearing this double Paisley outfit, the weather was on its best behaviour.

Both my woollen skirt, which proudly carries a label from a shop in Vienna, and my Diolen blouse, came from Think Twice and have been wardrobe staples for years. It took several attempts to get a reasonable close-up of the skirt's pattern, which kept confusing my camera.

Here's my yellow cardigan again, which had been doing overtime that week. And look, I'm wearing my beloved burnt orange opaques!

I think the brooch was a flea market find, while both the belt and the necklace were charity shopped.

Taking advantage of that day's sunny weather, I went for a walk during lunch break, and as I happened to pass one of Antwerp's Think Twice shops (there are 4!), I couldn't resist popping in.

This time, the weather gods and the charity shop godesses were aligned, as I found a couple of things waiting for me. Arriving at the till, the guy in charge called me "Polyester Princess".  I'd given him my blog calling card (yes, I have one of those) when I'd just started blogging and as I hadn't seen him in a long time, I was totally chuffed that he'd remembered. I've started practising my autograph but alas no other fans have crossed my path since!

Now, without further ado, these are the items I found.

First up is this knife-pleated skirt with a wild Autumnal print of flowers interrupted by rows of berries and paisley. Angelica is wearing it here with a light grey blouse sprinkled with tiny red flowers and a wide brown leather belt.

Another wild, and almost unphotographable print for this blue, pink, orange and yellow dream of a blouse, which fastens with pearly orange buttons and a self-fabric tie belt. Angelica is wearing a blue textured polyester maxi skirt with it. 

Let's move on to Saturday's outfit. I was determined to wear this vintage woollen skirt with its lovely black, blue, yellow and white tartan pattern. Scanning my wardrobe's shelves for a perfect companion, I spotted this yellow and black retro print top I found in a charity shop back in August. 

I added a wide, black and white woven belt, black and white checkered chunky ring, a yellow Bakelite bangle and a bracelet with alternating black and white metal triangles.

To the top's black collar, I pinned a vintage white plastic cat brooch.

However, apart from Jos (and now you!) nobody saw me in this outfit. It rained on and off that Saturday and we spent most of the day inside Dove Cottage. 

We even gave the yearly Day of the Charity Shops, or to give it its proper Flemish name, Dag van de Kringloopwinkel, a miss. As there's usually lots of vintage on sale on that day, this might sound very unlike us, but we weren't really in the mood, especially as it was now Jos's turn to be somewhat under the weather. Plus, we had a birthday party to go to that night, for which we wanted to save our strength. 

So, while Jos spent most of his time lying on the couch, I did some therapeutical pottering upstairs. 

After doing my shoe swap-over and reacquanting myself with my favourite boots, I played around with my jewellery displays. 

The rack holding the majority of my necklaces was bought in a vintage shop called Expo 58 back in December 2017, after spending its former life displaying zips in a haberdashery shop.

This party serving dish is just perfect to house my collection of chunky rings.

And finally, here is the drawer unit which houses a huge part (though not all) of my brooch collection.

As their number kept increasing and thus outgrowing the storage units they were in, we were excited to spot this antique, glass-fronted wooden drawer unit. Again, a haberdashery shop was its former habitat, where it was put to work displaying sewing threads.

Then it was time to get dressed and go out to that party. It was the 75th birthday party of one of Jos's friends, but for various reasons we weren't much in the mood for it.

In the end, it turned out to be quite alright, and we met a few nice people too.

Needless to say, I did dress up for the event. But what was I wearing? That, my friends, you'll get to see in my next post!

Tuesday 22 October 2019

Fade to grey

We had a very short-lived respite from all the rain in the weekend before last, with temperatures fluttering around an incredible 20° Celsius.

The weekend still had a wet start though, as it was raining on Friday afternoon, which I'd taken off to go on a vintage shopping spree with my friend Inez. It had been ages since we'd been on a hunt together and after hastily downing our pre-shopping cappuccinos, we were raring to go: neither the rain nor the lingering remains of my cold could deter us!

I'm making a conscious effort to wear more skirts and blouses this season, trying out different combinations instead of opting for the easy way out by wearing a dress.

This tweedy turquoise vintage skirt, which has touches of blue, green, white, red and black in its weave, has been a favourite for many years.

As its companion, I chose this chocolate brown blouse, which includes splashes of turquoise in its crazy multi-coloured print. At my waist, a tan leather belt with a rectangular buckle.

Turquoise makes further appearances in my necklace and ring, as well as in the brooch I pinned to my dotty coral cardi. The cardi, as well as my burgundy ankle boots, are the only retail items in my outfit, but they have been in my wardrobe for long enough to have earned their keep.

Unfortunately, our shopping trip wasn't a huge success, although it wasn't for want of trying. In stark contrast with the weather, it seems to be a bit of a dry period in Antwerp's vintage shops! But never mind: we had lots of fun browsing.

My only buy was a magenta dress with a purple and white flower print (top right). The other two items are both dresses as well and found on a lunch break visit to Think Twice earlier that week.

Here's the one on the top left, which I didn't waste time to wear on Saturday. 

While I was browsing, I noticed the shop assistant hanging it on the rails and, having seen a flash of its fabric out of the corner of my eye, and liking it, I went over to investigate. No labels, as it is handmade, but as luck would have it, it was my size. That dress must have been on the rails for all of 30 seconds!

The sun did its best to break through the thick blanket of clouds but had to admit defeat, so that the day remained a rather grey affair, only illuminated by the few emerging Autumn colours in the park.

After the heavy rainfall of the past couple of weeks, the water in the ponds was at its maximum height. I'm sure nature is thankful for all that quenching and nurturing rain, but frankly speaking I am more than fed up with it, as it has kept me cooped up inside for weeks on end.

The contrast with last Autumn, when we were blessed with Indian Summer weather well into October, couldn't have been greater, but at least on Saturday it was dry for once, so that we could go for a stroll around the park to stretch our weary limbs.

And did it feel good to be out and about? You bet it did! I even indulged in some tree-hugging out of sheer and utter joy!

Before I proceed to show you more of my outfit, let's zoom in on my tapestry bag, which received lots of love from Suzy on Instagram. I can never resist a tapestry bag, and this one's a particular favourite, not just because of the design on its tapestry panel, which includes two gorgeous red roses, but also due to its unusual shape, which always makes me think of a giant purse.

I did a little digging and my blog reveals that I bought it in August 2017 for the princely sum of € 1!

As for the dress, I honoured both the green and red hexagons in my dress's pattern with my choice of accessories, adding a red belt, necklace and red-berried brooch, while opting for my moss green brushed leather ankle boots, a retail buy during our short break in Zeeland (Holland) last November.

Leaves in golden yellows and crispy browns, Autumn's very first victims, were speckling the grass and the paths meandering through the park, adding to its earthy fragrance, which is tinged with an uncanny sense of nostalgia.

But this is not yet the wild exuberance of Autumn, more like a bleaching of colour and a slow fading to grey.

Some of the park's trees and vegetation seem to pretend that their season isn't over yet and are stubbornly refusing to change colour.

Amid it all, I was savouring the moment, wearing my cherished Lilli Ann coat, its colours making  me all but blend into the landscape.

There were scatterings of prickly chestnut husks, most of them picked clean by an ever-present army of crows, leaving only their soggy and rotting remains, with just the odd one still carrying its tawny cargo safely inside. Those which have escaped both their husks and the crows, were begging us to pick them up and carry them home in our pockets.

As we were just a stone's throw from the nearest charity shop, it would have been downright silly not to have a little rummage, wouldn't it?

Two chunky knits, a frilly scarf and and handful of necklaces were my reward.

But the best was yet to come!

This particular charity shop doesn't have a separate shoe display. Instead, the shoes are put out at the bottom of the clothing rails. As this is rather confusing, I usually do a second circuit of the rails just to have a look at the shoes.

And look what I found! An as good as unworn pair of vintage Hush Puppies! They are a size 3, while I usually take a 4, but sizing them up against the pair I was wearing, I thought they might fit me, which they do.

On Sunday, the sun joined the balmy temperatures in a game of pretend Summer.

Indeed, it was warm enough to go coat-less, but as I was still a bit under the weather, I wore a grey light-weight tweed jacket over my short-sleeved dress.

This box-pleated and tie-collared plaid dress had been hanging on my rail of ready to wear outfits for weeks. I never got around to actually wearing it as the weather had changed for the worse almost overnight. So, this was the perfect day for its final outing before its annual sojourn in the linen chest.

The weather was far too gorgeous to spend the day on the sofa with a book, so we took the car and drove down to the next village for a short walk in the grounds of a crumbling castle.

Circuiting the castle's lake, we found ourselves in a wooded area, where a thick mosaic of Autumn leaves was carpeting the ground, all ready for a spot of leaf-kicking! But careful, careful: it would be heartbreaking if we'd damage those magical toadstools!

I used a scarf clip to keep the dress's pesky tie in place and added a string of chunky multicoloured beads and a magenta belt to liven up its muted colours.

Emerging in the open fields, it was heaven to feel the warmth of the sun on our backs, so we sat down on a bench and daydreamed for a while before returning home.

Alas, it would rain again later that evening and every day of the week that followed. In fact, today is the first day that it hasn't rained ... yet! 

I'm sure that giant puddle will have turned into a veritable flood by now.

Thursday 17 October 2019

Still the days seem the same

For fear of sounding like a broken record, the rainy weather continued to plague us, marring not only the first weekend of October, but the ensuing week as well.

Taking Friday afternoon off meant that the weekend started early, which made me feel a whole lot better. As did wearing one of my brightest, long-sleeved frocks.

With a flower pattern in about every colour under the sun, the odd pagoda nestling among them, this cobalt blue dress isn't for the faint-hearted.

From its rich colour palette, I picked bright pink for a further pop of colour in the form of my cardi and opaques. My first wearing of opaques this season!

Not wanting my outfit to be too matchy-matchy, I added a green vinyl belt, a necklace of multi-coloured wooden discs bought from Accessorize eons ago, and the peacock brooch I found in a charity shop in Llangollen last Summer.

It was chilly enough to wear one of my all-time favourite coats too: I'm always glad to see this vintage teal wonder again after a six-month absence.

We were off to the optician’s for a second pair of glasses for Jos.  His last purchase back in July came with the offer of one free lens if he bought a second pair within three months. As he obviously wanted to make use of this offer, he'd asked me to help him choose new frames. As it was, we both fell for the first frames he tried on, so that we had enough time to spare for a visit to the local charity shop.

Trawling the clothing aisles and doing my best not to look at the coats, which are a particular weakness of mine, I couldn’t help but notice this burgundy jacket. Its slightly longer length, the multi-coloured specks running through the fabric and the unusual knitted sleeves and yoke all conspired against me. My only hope was that it wouldn’t fit me, but no: it was just perfect in every way. At € 6, there was no way it wasn’t coming home with me! Oh, and it's a wool and polyacryl blend.

On Saturday, we bit the bullet and booked an airbnb cottage for our next little holiday in November.

Then we were off for another charity shop jaunt, with me wearing the jacket, obviously. In fact, I wore it all week, so that its cost per wear has now dropped below € 1.

But first we stopped at the fashionably rusty gates of the museum garden further along in our street for some outfit photos. We had to act fast, as not only had it ceased raining for a couple of minutes, there were some weak and sickly rays of sunshine about.

My ankle boots - one of the oldest pairs I've got, and repaired several times already - as well as my handbag matched the jacket almost exactly.

The dress I'm wearing underneath, in what feels like a wool/polyester blend, is short-sleeved and one of the two items I found at Think Twice in Bruges on our day-trip the week before.

I accessorized it with a tan belt with a round tortoiseshell buckle and amber coloured beads. The brooch, with its posy of violets, came from a stall in Cardigan Market, bought on our last Pembrokeshire holiday in 2017.

If lately the weather gods have been behaving badly, those ruling the charity shops have been more than making up for it.

The first shop we visited has been a bit rubbish lately, but I still came away with a moss green suede belt and a funky scarf, which I'll be wearing to combat the first Autumn chills.

The second shop yielded a good-as-new Kitsch Kitchen bag (bottom left), whilst the third shop provided me with a completely outfit, consisting of a dress by the defunct Belgian label Wow To Go, a yellow Mango cardi and a green wood and gold metal chain belt.

I had been sniffling and sneezing on and off throughout the day, so it was almost inevitable that on  Sunday I woke up to blocked sinuses, watery eyes and a head full of cotton wool, making it clear that I'd caught some kind of bug.

This did not deter me from carrying out my plans for that day, which were to make a start with my seasonal wardrobe change-over. 

Ideally, I'd love to keep all my clothes out all year round, but lack of space dictates that most of my out-of-season frocks and skirts are stored inside this huge antique linen chest which used to belong to Jos's grandparents. 

I am, however, only swapping over those things which need hanging space, which is at a premium. Apart from chunky jumpers and thick woollen skirts, which have their permanent home inside the chest, only coming out during severe cold snaps, and a suitcase full of flimsy heatwave clothes, everything else stays put throughout the year.

I was starting to feel quite miserable by late afternoon, but as the sun came out for literally 5 minutes, I threw on my orange velvet jacket, put on a pair of ankle boots, and went into the garden for some outfit photos. 

The midi dress is from a Belgian high street brand, but found at a a charity shop last Autumn. I needed something stylish yet comfortable to help me with the task at hand.

I paid a bit more than I was initially prepared to for the jacket when it crossed my path in a charity shop back in April, but in the end I was glad I did, as isn't that colour absolutely gorgeous?

 As a further nod to the season, I added a duo of Autumn leaves to its rich pumpkin shade. The final touch was provided by a strand of orange plastic beads.

My cold, which turned out to be a full-blown one, continued to bug me all week and, even though I did my best to not to let it bring me down, the broken nights followed by days of rainy commutes, finally took their toll.  By Thursday - typically the only day that the sun was out - I was feeling so exhausted that - shock! horror! - I left work early, which is practically unheard of for me.

My wardrobe was the best medicine to help me through the week, so here are some of the outfits I wore. I'm so glad I've been keeping a record to distinguish one day from another.

First up was this rust coloured plaid skirt. Originally from H&M, it was a charity shop find several years ago. The pale green floral print blouse was the second item I bought from Think Twice in Bruges. See how my belt matches its colour almost exactly!  Further additions to my outfit were a red beaded necklace, my ochre yellow cardi to which I pinned a green-backed cameo brooch, burnt orange tights and burgundy ankle boots.

I'd sort of gone off this dress, bought from a long-gone vintage shop, but decided to give it another go. Instead of wearing it with pink shades, as I used to do in the past, I now opted for green and, lo and behold, I'm in love with it again!

Here you can see a close-up of the dress's riotous pattern, which has vertical stripes with a squiggly print, tiny dots and patches of roses. And look, it's got a little bow at the neckline as well!

Well, that's it for now. 

Here's to hoping that these rainy days soon come to an end, as I'm in desperate need of some of that glorious, leaf-kicking Autumn weather!

Once again, I am linking to lovely Nancy's Fancy Friday!