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W.I. Fashion

Bridgnorth’s charity shops always come up with the goods. Today, I bought a compilation of Home and Country for £1.25. Home and Country is the magazine that  the UK’s Women’s Institute (W.I.) started publishing in 1919.

Because you can never have enough pictures of inter-war clothing and hair…

Summer dresses

Summer outfit ideas, 1941

Ostrich skin shoe

Ostrich skin shoe, 1922

Bra and girdle

Brassiere and girdle, date unknown

Women's legs in tights

Anlaby Hosiery, World War II years

Women in overalls and aprons

Women’s overalls, date unknown

Women in felt hats

Francobarbe remodelled hats, date unknown

Women and hair clip

Lady Jayne Wave Clip, 1920s

Women in dress

Dress dyeing, date unknown

Women in swimsuit

Knitted two-piece bathing suit, date unknown

Women in 1940s dresses

Spring afternoon dresses, 1941


My favourite things in 2012

My favourite things in 2012

A quick post on my favourite things so far in 2012:

Omni car boot sale

Not new, but new to me. I went because some friends had a one-off stall selling a load of unwanted clothes (they made nearly £400!), but I came back with a stack of 1960s postcards that I can’t wait to write about. Being in the city centre, I expected it to be to the traditional, shambolic car boot sale what farmers’ markets are to markets. I was pleasantly surprised: some professional sellers, but a lot of people clearly just getting rid of their junk, and a suitably dingy atmosphere complete with elbowing and jostling.

University of Edinburgh Anatomy Museum

Recently, the regulations that govern access to the Museum have been softened a little, and there is now a regular opening once a month. Situated in the south of Edinburgh’s Old Town in the University’s Old Medical School, you can see the skeleton of a Victorian grave robber (now tweeting from the afterlife @BurkesBones) and fascinating death masks of famous figures. More interesting than gory, but probably still not one for the particularly weak-stomached.

Curiouser and Curiouser

Almost a cheat – more retro than vintage – but I’m saved by the fact that this shop’s window displays use the lovely old suitcases sourced by my almost-neighbour, Cupboard Vintage. Captivating prints at relatively affordable prices. I love pretty much everything they have by illustrator Sandra Dieckmann – imagination-piquing, pigment-rich and for children and adults alike – and hope bigger sizes start coming in soon.

Bunny Beloved

A shameless plug for a good friend of mine, but she’s very good at what she does so my integrity is still intact. A talented up-cycler of old stuff (see her shop on Etsy), she’s now moved into the world of illustration too. Also, don’t forget the pinnacle of her achievements – winning second place in the 1989 South Glamorgan girls’ bean bag competition.

The wedding guests

As I mentioned in my post on gloves, me and Mr Vintage Doc were due to attend a wedding recently which required our greatest finery. We ended up wearing quite a lot of vintage – by accident rather than design – so I’m inflicting a rare photo of myself upon you. (Apologies for the quality – it’s the only one I got.)

Wedding guest outfits made up of vintage and new bits

I’m wearing my DIY fascinator (not really seen here), 1940s-ish embroidered courts and 1950s gloves, along with a modern dress and jacket and my new favourite tights – vintage-looking Levante Micronet in in ‘Caffe’. (I’ve since taken the pockets out of the dress, as I don’t like the visible seams that you can see here.)

However, I think Mr Vintage Doc actually got the best find. After despairing slightly at the cost of hiring a morning suit for a weekend, I found him the jacket, which dates from 1926, on Ebay. It’s in great condition, and I hope it might be around another eighty-five years. I would, however, like to ensure it’s fresh before storage, and am nervous about dry-cleaning (I usually hand wash anything particularly old, but this isn’t an option for a wool jacket). Tips on the best way to proceed in order to avoid a laundry mishap are very welcome.

I have not received any compensation for writing this content and I have no material connection to the brands, topics and/or products that are mentioned herein (http://CMP.LY/0/jXFZkQ).

The glove hunt is over

The glove hunt is over

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that I’ve recently been trying to get hold of some vintage gloves. I’ve not been looking for gloves of the insulating kind but, rather, day gloves that no self-respecting fifties lady-about-town would have gone without.

My hunt is in aid of a wedding I’ll be attending shortly where the dress code is ‘morning suits’ rather than the more common ‘lounge suits’. (Yes, I had to rush to Google too.) Figuring that this is probably the only wedding I’ll ever attend where I’m required to look quite so smart, I thought I’d pull out all the stops and use it as an excuse to wear some impractical hand attire.

First off, I tried vintage-inspired clothing boutiques for a new pair. However, what was on offer was long, polyester satin burlesque-style gloves, which are not the look I’m going for at a wedding. So, it was time to try to find the real deal.

Things I have discovered are that what is on offer is mostly white, or else black, and often kidskin or otherwise nylon. I think this very much describes the fifties staples. In the end, I’ve ended up buying two pairs (click to enlarge):

I may shortly part with the white ones as, while I prefer them to the light blue, they don’t go so well with my outfit and I’m not sure when I would realistically ever wear them again (me and white are not the best companions).

You will probably be unsurprised to learn that most of the gloves I came across were far too small for me. I don’t have the most delicate hands, so this isn’t surprising, but I also learnt something else when at the shop where I bought the two pairs shown above. Apparently, some gloves were simply intended to be held when at, for example, the theatre, and manufacturers never made these gloves with the intention that they would be worn. Given this, they didn’t waste material by making the gloves of a wearable size.

The other things I’ve found out is that there are quite a lot of vintage glove patterns around – women used to make their own at home. Sounds distinctly tricky to me!

My second vintage sewing pattern…

…is all thanks to my sister. Knowing that I’d started to get the vintage sewing bug (I nagged her about finding my nan’s old Singer sewing machine for the best part of a weekend), she picked this up for me at a market stall in our home town.

According to the addictive resource that is the Vintage Patterns Wiki, this Butterick pattern dates from the Mad Men-era – the early 1960s. The Wiki describes it as:

Jr. Misses’ & Misses’ Dress & Jacket : The brief jacket tops a smart sheath or a bouffant dress. (A) Full-skirted dress with contrasting bodice, jacket to match skirt, purchased belt. (B) Slim dress shown alone, and with contrasting jacket.

 Early 1960s Butterick dress pattern

I would definitely wear either of these outfits (although the sheath dress version would probably suit my short frame better), and the 1960s UK size sixteen measures up almost exactly the same as my present-day UK size twelve – no pattern regrading required!

Pretty much the only catch is that I’ve still to cut out and sew my regraded 1950s skirt pattern from a few months ago (admittedly, life has been pretty full-on recently). I’m a devil for taking on too many things at once, so I’ll just have to sit on my hands until my first vintage sewing project is finished.

The 1910s fashion feast that is TV’s Downton Abbey is about to start, so I’ll love you and leave you for now, folks. Have a good week.

Where to buy old stuff in Auld Reekie

Where to buy old stuff in Auld Reekie

I’ve deliberated over the idea of writing a post like this on the grounds that it could be argued to be lazy and/or superficial. However, the fact remains that one of my favourite activities is hunting round charity shops and similar in the hope of finding a gem that everyone else has missed. I’ve been doing this with my mum since I was a tiny kid (when it was for necessity rather than sheer pleasure), and even if I won the Euromillions tomorrow, I couldn’t stop myself.

So, here’s my run-down of my favourite places in Edinburgh to buy vintage and the plain old and interesting:

DebRA, 27 Marchmont Crescent

This charity shop, which aims to raise money for people with Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), is small but virtually always has something I want. I suspect that its location – in the well-heeled district of Marchmont and near the even better-heeled district of the Grange – could account for its quality stock. I’ve never paid much attention to the clothes here as I’m always distracted by the range of furniture, china and curios (such as 1950s-ish miniature playing cards in their own decorative case) on offer. Having said that, this morning, there was an ex-US army overcoat in there – not something you often see around these parts. Be aware that good stuff here goes very quickly.

Barnardos, 106 Nicolson Street

I have to declare a conflict of interest as one of my friends is the assistant manager of this shop. Nevertheless, I can say in all honesty that this branch of the Barnardos charity shop chain has recently upped its game as far as its vintage stock goes, with clothes being the main thing on offer. They sometimes save up choice items for special events, so keep track of the store on its new Twitter page.

Barnardo’s bookshop, 45 South Clerk Street

Usually a good selection of old books as well as modern titles, and the source of my recently-blogged about copy of Don Quixote.

Oxfam books, 204-6 Morningside Road, Edinburgh

Immediately adjacent to the main Oxfam shop (which sells clothes and household stuff, but which I haven’t much success with as far as old things go), there is a section for aged volumes. I’ve bought a few things here that I hope to blog about at some point.

Bethany Shop, 93 Morningside Road

In my experience, Edinburgh’s Bethany Shops are all good places to get furniture. However, I slightly prefer the Morningside branch over the others I’ve been to because of the usually good range of high quality stuff on offer. If you like early twentieth-century wardrobes, this is the place to keep an eye on. 

Barnardo’s, 29-31 Deanhaugh Street

Edinburgh’s Stockbridge district has no shortage of charity shops and, being the salubrious area it is, there are often some higher-end high street labels on offer. When it comes to vintage fashion, my favourite place is this Barnardo’s store. Some of the stuff I’ve seen here definitely (in my humble opinion) outclasses what’s sold by Edinburgh’s dedicated (non-charitable) vintage fashion stores.

Courtyard Antiques, 108A Causewayside

Bypass the refurbished furniture on display in the shop overlooking Causewayside and head down the side-street into the barn-like building which holds much, much more. This definitely isn’t the place for a bargain, but there is truly beautiful furniture on offer, and a lot of the items in the barn, by virtue of not having been reconditioned, are cheaper than what’s on show in the in shop. There are also all sorts of weird and wonderful things scattered among the wardrobes and tables: I’ve previously spotted a suit of armour, a completed scrapbook which had to be several decades old, World War II-era candles, and original fifties dresses.

Dedicated vintage clothing shops are notable by their absence from the above list. I enjoy browsing these but find that, given someone’s already done all the hunting for you, it’s just not quite as much fun, plus the prices are usually higher. However, I would recommend centrally-located Herman Brown for its relatively discerning stock selection and uncluttered layout. A fuller list of Edinburgh’s dedicated vintage clothing and accessories shops is given on this blog’s right-hand menu bar (under ‘Website’).

Happy shopping!

I have not received any compensation for writing this content and I have no material connection to the brands, topics and/or products that are mentioned herein (http://CMP.LY/0/jXFZkQ).

Two past-focussed Edinburgh blogs

Two past-focussed Edinburgh blogs

I really should be heading off for bed but, before I do, I thought I’d let you know about a couple of blogs on the subjects of Edinburgh vintage and old Edinburgh itself:

Fashions from the Past

Edinburgh’s answer to Casey’s Elegant Musings, American-in-Scotland Debi sews at what appears to be a breathtaking rate to produce gorgeous clothes from original vintage patterns. If you love the forties, then you won’t be able to tear your eyes away from the screen. There’s also some interesting stuff on here about the international vintage sewing blog community!

The Scottish Aeneas 

Colin Macaulay’s blog (which I discovered only today after Colin commented on an earlier post of mine) is all about Edinburgh in the Georgian period. I’ve yet to read through all that’s on offer, but I have already spotted the profiles of key Edinburgh-dwellers of the time that I’m keen to read. Some good links to online resources (including older texts in the National Library of Scotland – one of my favourite places in my early twenties) on here, too.

That’s all for now folks. I let you know about any other goodies I find. Meanwhile, sweet dreams…

Shoe library | brown embroidered court

 Practical they are not but, in my humble opinion, beautiful they are.

Brown embroidered court shoes

 These are my mystery shoes. I bought them around the same time as the other court shoes I’ve featured so far on this blog but, unlike those shoes, there is no readable brand name on the insole. I’m also a bit stuck on an approximate era for when they were made. My gut says forties or fifties; however, my gut has previously been wrong.

As I said, these shoes are not practical. They have a brown fabric upper, most of which is covered with fairly intricate embroidery. I’ve worn these out a couple of times – once they’ve been liberally covered with shoe protector – and they are more comfortable than the majority of my modern courts. However, with all that embroidery, I am quite happy to keep them as shoes I take out and admire from time-to-time. (After all, how often do you look down at your feet when you’re walking?)

As for the other members of my shoe library, I’d be keen to have a bit more light shed on who made these shoes and when. Comment away!

Previous shoe library posts:

Edinburgh Vintage Day | Barnardo’s and Judy’s Vintage Fair

Edinburgh Vintage Day | Barnardo’s and Judy’s Vintage Fair

There isn’t actually an ‘Edinburgh Vintage Day’, but I’m in half a mind to start a movement.  (After all, we have a festival for just about everything else in this city.) However, today has been my own vintage celebration.

First off, me and fellow blogger AnnaNotKarenina  headed to Barnardo’s charity shop on Edinburgh’s Nicolson Street, which was re-launching the vintage branch of its business today. The store definitely seemed to have more pre-1990s (my definition of vintage!) items than it has had previously, my favourite being a red velvet long-sleeved pencil dress that looked to be from the early 1960s. And if you’re a record collector, take a look at the basket of vinyl on offer.

Judy's Affordable Vintage Fair

Next off was Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair, which had set up camp for the day on Dalmeny Street in Leith. I had been looking forward to this for the last couple of months and was not disappointed. In addition to the ubiquitous cut-off denim shorts and ‘ironic’ jumpers (enough to clothe a sizeable proportion of Edinburgh’s student community),  there were some real treasures. I fell in love with some of the beautifully detailed make-up compacts – for me, a perfect example of vintage trumping the present day – and there was jewellery (both original vintage and up-cycled) to suit every taste.

Jewellery galore at Judy's Vintage Fair

I couldn’t quite justify (this month, anyway) spending cash on a compact that I would be unlikely to use, but did part with some pennies for a brooch to complete my outfit for an upcoming wedding:

1980s sun and stars brooch
The brooch is from my least favourite decade (1980s), and I’ve just realised it’s similar to some earrings I had as a teenager, but I reckon it’ll set off the midnight blue pencil dress I plan to wear it rather nicely.
Finally, it was time for lunch at Joseph Pearce’s at the top of Leith walk. With its posters of Kylie and Jason in their 1980s heydays, it seemed the ideal place to end our vintage morning and a very pleasant start October. 
I have not received any compensation for writing this content and I have no material connection to the brands, topics and/or products that are mentioned herein (http://CMP.LY/0/jXFZkQ).

Auld from Reekie update

It’s been a busy month for AuldfromReekie, but there’s just time to bring you these vintage good news stories from Edinburgh…

Barnardo’s Edinburgh vintage re-launch

Edinburgh’s Nicolson Street branch of Barnardo’s is relaunching its vintage section this Saturday (1st October 2011). Get there for the 10am opening to get the first pick of the bargains. (Not sure where the branch is? Here’s a map.) If you’re on Facebook, there’s an event page.

Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fashion Fair hits Edinburgh!

It’s a vintage bonanza this Saturday – Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair also hits Edinburgh. I’ve been waiting for this for months, quite literally. As soon as I finish at Barnardo’s, I’ll be heading down to Out of the Blue, Old Drill Hall, Dalmeny Street to browse (and maybe purchase) Judy’s finest fashion and homewares.

I have not received any compensation for writing this content and I have no material connection to the brands, topics and/or products that are mentioned herein (http://CMP.LY/0/jXFZkQ).

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