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Thanks Kate x



Now I don’t usually write mega personal blogs so bare with me here……

For years I have felt rubbish, truly rubbish. My health has always been a bit hazy like the feeling in my head. I seem to suffer from so many health issues (niggly ones, not major ones) that I havent had a day where I can genuinely say I feel good.

My head always hurts. This is probably a result of a) too much caffeine, b) dodgy sinuses c) not eating enough and d) I never, ever  ….stop. I’m always rushing about doing “stuff”.

My body aches. After 2 difficult pregnancies my joints have become so sore, I feel like I’ve aged 10 years at least.

I can never breathe…back to the dodgy sinuses. The consultant says I’m allergic to something I come into contact with daily.

Then there’s the fatique..I’m always shattered even if I have had 10 hours sleep.

And also the stomach issues…some days I bloat so much I look 6 months pregnant!

The list goes on. (Bear with me…this isnt a woe is me tale! It does get better!)

On the day before New Years Eve my tummy started hurting more than usual. I took to my bed and basically didn’t come out until New Years Day. I missed the champagne and the fireworks. I was feeling sore and miserable. I knew already that I had a stomach ulcer as I have had one previously.

The doctor confirmed this on Jan 2nd. She gave me 8 months of drugs and told me to eat bland food. It’s quite rare to get a gastric ulcer…apparently its more common in alcoholics (which I’m not by the way). I thought for a moment…..er, that will be the 5 cans of diet coke I drink a day then, for the last 20 years, often replacing it for food. Its quicker, easier and gives you the energy you need.

So pills, a bland diet and no diet coke. Turns out the chemicals in it do this to you:

  • rot your teeth
  • rot your stomach
  • deplete your iron levels (that will explain the tiredness)
  • deplete your folic acid
  • deplete your calcium (and that will be the joints issue)

Basically it’s shit. And it’s been my staple diet since I was 16 and this year I turn 40. Stupid huh? I even used to have 2 cans before I ate.

So, I get every side effect from the pills. I up my calcium levels – my sinuses get worse, I move onto soya milk – they get better. I havent drank diet coke or any caffeine this year. I have only had  a few glasses of wine at the weekend only. I am eating properly…although the list of what I’m allowed to eat is far smaller than the list of what I can eat (no yeast, no high fat dairy, loads of veg is off the list, no citrus, no tomato even). Right now I am drinking horlicks instead of chardonnay (this is written late at night I hasten to add)

So I decide to take it easy this January. To relax and take stock.

So here comes the clarity bit….for the first time in years I actually feel good. My head’s stopped feeling hazy. My stomach has gone down. I can actually think straight.

And I have had an amazing month. This clarity thing……is awesome (now I’m sounding like a born again christian!)

I have set targets for the year ahead, which I have met this month. I have listed stock like crazy and people are responding  really well. I have taken on some part-time staff…2 models and  someone to help with the online business. My stock will be featured in Homes and Antiques magazine at Easter. Both a channel 4 show and a BBC 2  production company have called me about work. I have reached 1000 followers on twitter (one day I got 100!) My blog stats have gone up, I have launched a new series of blogs called Fashion Friday and interviews with people about their favourite vintage era (with some amazing people agreeing to do it). I’m in the early stages of setting up a local vintage network group for Beds and Milton Keynes.  I have thought of some fabulous competitions for the year in association with another local business. I have a new trade plan for the year ahead including re doing the Clothes Show Live, Twinwood and some other exciting secret events. I have had an amazing meeting today for something that hopefully will mean achieving a lifelong dream…..

Isnt clarity grand? Your health is so important…it’s more important than all the stuff we fill our lives with. And for me….it’s given me not only a clear head/stomach/muscles..its given me probably my best month yet.

Bring on February!

(and if anyone right now has a can of diet coke in their hand while reading this…please put it down……now)

Happy Vintage Valentine’s night

The perfect gift for your loved one this Valentines is some vintage nightwear. Did you know that negligees only account for 4% of nightwear sales? Are we really all sleeping in shorts and a T or an old trusty pair of pjs?

Well, I say let’s change this figure….yes they are comfy but sexy they are not.

We seem to have come along way since the 1800s when the negligee was first worn. Originating in France from the word neglige meaning neglected…women neglected to wear big baggy tunics opting to wear simpler versions of their outerwear. In the early 1900s this still was the case with long negligees in silk and soft lacing.  We have a pretty blue silk one which reminds us of the lovely underwear seen in the recent adaptation of Birdsong. So feminine and pretty….a million miles away from low slung pj bottoms and a vest top.

In the 1920s hemlines rose with the styles mirroring the flirty, Charleston style. It wasnt really until after World War 2 that the negligee became more sensual, sheer and slinky. Rita Hayworth wore a stunning silver grey negligee in Life magazine in 1942, sitting infront of an amazing vintage mirror (I don’t think anyone really noticed the mirror do you?)

The late 50s/60s saw the Baby Doll nightie which I simply love. So short, loose and sheer. Gil Evgren painted many a baby doll….this one is our favourite, see through nightwear worn when toasting marshmallows! The movie  Baby Doll in 1956 may have given the flirty nightwear it’s name with Caroll Baker wearing one. Or some say it’s due to its similarity to what a baby wears…short so you can easily change her!

In the 90s the style was to wear underwear as underwear. Courtney Love kick started this trend teaming up the sheer prettiness with black leather. Checkout out our blog 90s, A fashion decade?

The peignoir is another favourite and a perfect addition to your vintage slumber. A sheer robe, often undone from just below the bust down, it’s a perfect cover up. We have quite a few this Valentines. The name also originated from France (such a glamourous lot) from the word Peigner meaning to comb your hair. Maybe as ladies would sit at their dressing table wearing one whilest getting ready for bed? Rich, glamourous ladies even used to wear long gloves with their peignoirs!

I love these vintage bed jackets. These are 1950s/60s versions but they first were seen in the 1940s often as capes.

And for anyone who wants something more daring..what about the 80s look? Tight, brash and definately fun….here is a bright yellow Mary Quant lace body stocking!

Here are some more that we have for sale this Valentines. Which one is your favourite…or are you more of a pj lady?

Last week’s weakness

My weakness is shopping. Actually, not just shopping. My weakness is shopping, thrifting, collecting….I can’t drive past a car boot sale without dropping in, I can’t visit a new town without thrifting through the charity shops, I can’t ignore a sign saying “Garage Sale”..to be honest I can’t even drive past a skip without meer-catting my neck up to see if there’s any bounty inside.

So maybe I should share with you my weakness..in fact here is last week’s weakness.

Well we had quite a weekend of thrifting. As we were driving to a local car boot, Mr YVL slammed on the brakes and shouted “SKIP!” I then had to go skip diving…something I usually leave to him. There was an old suitcase in the skip but alas it had a hole in it. So today I won’t be revealing this item to you.

Then at the car boot Herbie spotted some Power Ranger toys and basically whined the whole way round….”Muuuuuummmmmmmy! Can I have a Power Ranger toy pleeeeeeeeeeeeease!”. In the end I relented and told him if he paid for it then yes he could.

So he did and 4 new toys still in its packet were  purchased. We got it home, cut up the packaging to get into it…and all their arms fell off! Yes, don’t ever feel you are getting a bargain if it sounds too good to be true. So now I have 4 multi coloured plastic men and 8 arms to trip over in my hall. Turns out to be a great buy as Herbie has played with them non stop since, and even slept with them last night.

So, now on to the real gem. We went to a local antique, collectables emporium that specialises in 1940s clothing. It’s a real treasure trove. I tried on loads of hats which none fitted. My YVL tried on some 50s shoes.

Then I peered through the rail of fur to see if there were any bargains that I could sell on. Then I noticed this gem. Gorgeous, simply gorgeous. Turns out I had not brought out any money and they didn’t take credit cards (sort this out please!)…so Mr YVL had to buy it for me. Bingo!

I love it so much. The faux fur is in great condition. The colour is a rich mink…really unusual and looks beautiful with the black.

I love the buttons the most….they are so eye-catching. Elastic folds over the buttons meaning there are no button holes. It’s a classic 60s shape, slightly A line which looks grate with long black boots.

The neckline has a hook and eye fastening to create a black round neckline.

It is beautifully made by Lister Minquilla which sounds foreign. It is in fact made in England. The label says “This elegant garment should be treated with care and worn as a luxury coat”. Is the nursery run classed as a luxury pastime?

Let me know what you think? Am I now the smartest girl in town?

Saturday’s jewellery haul

Remember 2 weeks ago I decided to start the 30 day de-clutter? (Read all about it here).

 Well, I havent done too well even though I have already cleared out/given away/sold 79 items. Today I decided to go through my old sewing box which is full of costume jewellery.

It’s a nifty storage item (for more vintage storage  ideas click here) don’t you think? Well in the large bottom compartment there was a huge pile of twisted up modern jewellery. As I worked for Accessorize for 7 years, I managed to collect a whole heap of beaded matter.

So, first for the clear out. I selected 17 pieces: necklaces, brooches and bracelets that I havent worn for at least 5 years. These are all to be donated to a local charity fashion show raising money for Sue Ryder. They can then sell them on afterwards. There are 2 that maybe my mummy may like so she will have first dibs.

The great thing about having a clear out, is finding forgotten gems. I found a load of classic 90s necklaces…and as the 90s are back in  fashion (yes Topshop, I told it first here) I can now add them to my ASOS vintage accessory boutique. Hurrah…and with our next photo shoot this Friday they have been unearthed just in time!

So who had one of these? This was the hippy/70s trend that came along with the rise of Ibiza.

Also who had a cuff? I had so many (working for the leading accessory shop who gave 75% discount came in handy!). This is a black beaded one that I wore loads. 

I also found this great hand-made charm bracelet I bought a few years back. I havent seen it for ages as its been tangled up in all these beads! I love it..there is so much going on: roses, beads, skull and crossbones…even glass strawberries! (For similar ones visit Abilu Creations)

The best find though, was my mum’s metal belt from the 60s. She gave me this forever ago. I don’t think it is very me but I will of course keep it all the same!

So that takes my de-clutter tally up to 96. The target is 200 so I better crack on. The bathroom cabinet is next with it’s overflowing bottles of stuff I never, ever use. You know the thing…free samples that have probably been in there for years!

Fashion Friday!

One of the big trends for Spring/Summer 2012 is the Peplum.

What’s a peplum I hear you cry! Well the dictionary describes it as: a short full flounce or an extension of a garment below the waist, covering the hips.

The peplum is great! It nips in the waist making you appear slimmer and then the extra material covers your hips, hiding a few sins.

Celine and Dior added peplums to sharp suits to give extra detail as well as some femininity to a sometimes masculine look.

It was Alexandra McQueen’s look that I love the most. The peplums were so pretty in lace creating a whimsical feel, again to classic bold shapes such as a pencil skirt.


Jason Wu’s peplum had a real vintage feel with a plain black top and white/black polka dot skirt with matching peplum.

As always, this trend is perfect for us vintage gals as there are loads of peplums out there waiting to adorn our waists. They were first seen in the 1800s and early examples were seen in a very early fashion book called Gody’s “Lady’s Book”. They sat perfectly over a hoop and emphasised their tiny corseted waists. They were not part of the jacket but added on as a fashion accessory!

They had a comeback in the late 40s as women realised they could get an instant hourglass figure from a simple frill! One of my favourite dresses in my collection dates from the 1950s. It was featured in a blog called “Welcome to my Wardrobe”

The peplum classically sits on a jacket. This one dates from the 1980s and would be perfect for work or teamed with jeans.

Or how about on a blouse? These again are 1980s peplums. The lurex thread one is so cute and would be great over a little black dress to add the key look.

Or maybe  this bright red one for this seasons bold colour blocking trend. The peplum sticks out less but still gives you the effect in a slightly more masculine way.

This 1960s/70s dress is a sexy version of the peplum as its so fitted.

 And finally, how about a maxi dress? This pastel aqua blue dress will look amazing on your holidays..team with flipflops for a casual evening out or glam up with stilettos!


My favourite vintage era

Today sees the launch of a new series of blogs from some of my fellow friends and colleagues within the vintage business. The topic of conversation is  “My favourite vintage era“.

Today we have Louise from Catwalk Creative Vintage sharing with us why she loves the late 60s/early 70s.

Hi Louise, Can you let our readers know a little more about you and what you do?

My name is Louise Sleigh and I’m the owner of Catwalk Creative Vintage, an exclusively online business based in South Manchester. My range includes predominantly ladies vintage and designer clothing, accessories, costume jewellery and a small range of retro homewares. I began selling online in 2003 and then went on to develop my own website in 2006.

Louise styling a photo shoot

I personally source all the merchandise, clean and refurbish it, photograph it then write about it. I’m editor of the vintage fashion blog, Catwalk Threads, and am an active member of the Vintage Fashion Guild and The Best In Vintage. You’d be right in thinking that “vintage” is my full-time career!

So, you are clearly very experienced in the world of vintage. Which is your favourite era and why?

As my business entails dealing with vintage clothing, it’s quite difficult choosing one era since every decade has something unique to offer. My personal collection includes everything from a late 1930s day dress to a Nicole Farhi dress from the 1980s.

Louise in the 1980s: she says she thought she would always have a flat top hairstyle….just showing how things change through the decades

However, I’d say that the mid 1960s to mid 1970s was a fascinating time for fashion, especially in Britain. New easy-care fabrics were being developed in bright and bold colours, which provided crease-resistant, permanently pleated material, with little or no ironing required and in perfect time for the sexual revolution! Women were rejecting the corseted waist and opting for a fresh, young outlook.

Is there a certain fashion piece or style that you have and love?

There was such a wide range of styles available during this time. Everything from the mini dress to luxurious flowing maxi gowns and streamlined, well cut trouser suits. I think this fashion era, especially the 1970s, is often overlooked. However, I love the versatility of styles around at this time. I have several pieces in my collection from this period including a classic black crepe dress by Jean Lanvin  c. 1965. I love the sheer simplicity of the design, with interest in the form of the crystal buttons at the front. It’s a real collectors piece which I can pass onto my daughter once she’s old enough to appreciate it.

Truly stunning and I so want!

Then  moving onto something completely different; a blue midi-dress with faux cape dating c. 1973. The lines of this dress are so flattering and I love the fabric patterned with large exotic flowers. It’s a really fun piece to wear. I’ve actually worn this to a night club and received lots of compliments. It makes a refreshing change from all the boring sleeveless cocktail dresses that I see everywhere. Dare to be different!

Dare to be different!

And what about homewares? Do you like interiors from this period too?

Like fashion, home interiors were changing radically at this time. I love British studio pottery or basically anything with a fun bold design. My favourite piece is my Aztec coffee set, given to me by my mum a few years ago. It’s by J&G Meakin Studios and was designed c. 1965/66. I’ve added some dinner plates to the collection but only have 3 so far. If anyone knows where I can get my hands on more, I’m all ears! Once I have all the plates, including side plates, I’ll definitely be using them. I love to entertain friends and family and these will look wonderful on the dining table. However, for now they are stored carefully in my kitchen display unit.

How would you describe the role of women from this era?

There were significant cultural and social changes during the 1960s/70s. Women’s roles changed forever with the availability of the contraceptive pill and life was never going to be the same again. Moral codes that had prevailed in previous decades began to break down and there were many changes in our legal system concerning everything from divorce to the legislations of abortions. Measures were also taken during this time to improve the position of women, so I think it must have been an incredible time to be around as a young person.

However, these radical changes in society must have been quite confusing too. Women certainly had more choice and freedom but then had to learn to balance family life with a career- has this much changed I wonder? I guess if you could find a man in the sixties, who was willing to do his share of household chores, then you’d be laughing. It probably took men quite a bit longer to catch up to this new way of thinking! Some are still catching up!

And finally, is there something we could learn today from those in the late 60s/early 70s?

Society went through a lot of change, but despite this, I think generally there was still much more respect to be found. By that I mean respect for the police, for teachers and the elderly- to name but three. It’s a difficult one to answer really but if there was one value I would bring back, it would be probably be that one.

Thanks Louise, it’s great to hear about this time as so often us vintage folk focus on the 1950s. For me, what I love about the late 60s was the great optimism for the future. Yes, we had more freedom with new jobs, better education and healthcare but we also had space travel….people probably felt they could achieve absolutely anything! Biba brought us fast fashion at affordable prices for the first time,  meaning that young women could experiment with the new fabrics and colours you spoke of. Habitat was showing us that we could experiment with our homes too. And with the package holidays booming, young people could escape their parents and Britain for the first time. It must have been so fun to be a teenager back then!

Check out Catwalk Creative Vintage’s website, blog and follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Beat the Monday Blues

Beat the Monday blues by checking out something or someone we love. Here at Your Vintage Life, we feel it is important to share great finds with you all as well as support local business.

So this Monday I introduce someone local, here in Bedford.

Sarah Dunn is our locally sourced vintage hair stylist. She runs the company Sarah’s Doo-Wop Dos where she styles hair for the vintage crowd in the town’s vintage shop, Rose-tinted Vintage. This isn’t all though; she also styles hair for photo shoots…think pin up photography, 50s styling, sassy and of course vintage.

I have lived in Bedford on and off for my whole life and can genuinely say that the vintage scene has never been so strong. Yes we all wore vintage dresses back in the 80s and 90s……..but we never did our hair in a vintage style. I don’t get to go out often these days (kids huh?) but I have noticed a real move to the beauty and glamour of vintage styling. The hairstyle  is really the finishing touch and Sarah genuinely lives and breathes it.

I caught up with Sarah this week to discuss what she does, how she got into it as well as why she loves it!

You seem to be so busy, can you describe what you actually do?

I’m a vintage hair stylist amongst other things, so I spend a lot of my time on shoots. I’ve been collaborating with photographer Jez Brown for well over a year now and we specialise in pin-up and vintage style shoots. I often have a pop up vintage hair parlour at vintage fairs and events and I also run a mini hair parlour at a local vintage shop in Bedford, Rose-tinted Vintage. You can always pop in and get me to style you up for an event or party.

At Rose Tinted Vintage

So how did you get into hair styling the vintage way?

I’ve always been into vintage clothing. I used to go to Camden as a teenager on the hunt for bright 1960s dresses and did art and fashion at College and University. I guess my love of vintage hair really took over about 10 years ago when I was living in Brighton. We used to go to 1940s & 50s themed nights and when I moved back to Bedford, I found it too had a whole host of vintage loving people and events too! Then I met Emily, event organiser for Bedford Burlesque at one of her events and she introduced me to Jez (Jez Brown Photography), Kat (owner of Rose-tinted Vintage) and Lizzie (Lil Mischief corsets and accessories) and things went from there really…

Jez Brown Photography, pin-up zombies shoot

What does vintage mean to you?

I love vintage clothing & hair, I’m especially fond of the 1940s & 50s looks as they seem to suit me best and are so very elegant but recently I’ve been experimenting with other eras such as the 1930s & 1960s too.

Jez Brown Photography, Gemma Renata pin-up shoot

Whats an average day for you?

Good question as everyday is so different! If I’m in the shop for the day there’s a bit of a routine,so once I’ve had a cuppa (very important) I get set up and then I’ll be seeing customers all day. On a typical day it might be a few 1940s style victory rolls or Veronica Lake style waves, then a glam beehive and maybe a Marilyn Monroe style makeover. However, if I’m on a shoot with Jez Brown Photography I can be in the studio or out on location. I usually have to do a fair bit of planning for the look beforehand but shoots are always great fun, we’ve used a 1940s airfield before and a classic car garage so it just depends on what look we’re after that day.

Jez Brown Photography, Betty Havok shoot

Can you describe your look?

Monday to Sunday I can go from a demure 1940s tailored suit and victory rolls, to 1950s style rolled up jeans and a headscarf through to a bright 1960s dresses and a beehive, it completely depends on what mood I’m in that day!

What’s the best thing about what you do?

I’m very lucky to get to do what I do and to have such lovely customers, so the best thing is really all the lovely feedback and thank you messages. I love it when people get transformed and are really thrilled with it, I have a lot of fun doing what I do.

Jez Brown Photography, Abyss pin-up shoot

What do you want to be doing in 3 years time?

I’d love to still be doing this really

Whats the best thing about living in Bedford?

There’s loads going on here, there always seems to be fairs and events happening. The people are really friendly which has really helped when looking to collaborate on projects. Plus you can nip round for a cuppa so easily and after living in much bigger places I appreciate this really helps when planning things!

How can we contact you?

Email: curiosityshop4@hotmail.co.uk

Sarah’s Doo-Wop Dos mobile: 07532444394 or just pop in and see me as at Rose-tinted Vintage in Bedford on Fridays 2pm – 5pm & Saturdays 10am – 5pm.

Finally,describe yourself in 3 words

Artistic, friendly and well-dressed

Sarah has offered to do my hair which I will definitely take her up on. I need to wait for a big night out…then I will share it with you all! Oh, and don’t worry, I won’t paint my body green!!

Find Sarah on Facebook and on her blog.

Last week’s weakness

My weakness is shopping. Actually, not just shopping. My weakness is shopping, thrifting, collecting….I can’t drive past a car boot sale without dropping in, I can’t visit a new town without thrifting through the charity shops, I can’t ignore a sign saying “Garage Sale”..to be honest I can’t even drive past a skip without meer-catting my neck up to see if there’s any bounty inside.

So maybe I should share with you my weakness..in fact here is last week’s weakness.

Collection alert! It appears I have started yet another collection. How many do you have to have of one thing before it becomes a collection?

Well, a few months back I bought an empty milk bottle with Colgate advertising on the front and back. Companies, especially breakfast cereals and tea/coffee paid for their brands to be on milk bottles back in the 80s. It was a great revenue stream for the milk companies who were struggling. This continued into the early 90s until really the demise of milk bottles and the trusty milk man.

So it has just sat on a shelf since then, all lonely amongst the Kilner jars. Until last Sunday when I brought 2 friends home for it.

I bought a Kelloggs cornflakes bottle and a Weetabix bottle from a local car boot.  They had a few more but they weren’t as nice….maybe that means it’s not a collection as I managed to resist buying more!

They will eventually just sit on a shelf in our new kitchen. They will be lovely with simple flowers in, sitting on the breakfast table….next to the supermarket plastic milk bottle!

It is a shame the milk man went out of business, but with increased prices, it is just another thing that couldn’t compete with the large retailers. Can you imagine this picture now?

Fashion Friday: Spring trends the vintage way

The best thing about the new year is promise of better weather, spring flowers and more importantly NEW CLOTHES! Well, not exactly new of course…..NEW VINTAGE CLOTHES! There are some great new trends coming our way which suit the vintage wearer down to the ground. Over the next few weeks we will take you though them trend by trend. We will also throw in some great vintage alternatives too!

So let’s start with a classic summer trend that us vintage gals just love!

Florals were everywhere on the catwalk. From pretty pastels roses to bright garish sunflowers, you need to be covered in blooms this Spring/Summer.

Christopher Kane applied flower stickers underneath organza to give a hazy effect. Alexander Wang, Dries Van Noten and Velentino all went for bright blooms.

(photo from Vogue.com)

The look was everywhere: printed on silk, beaded, appliqued and  within lace.

We can do this trend easy peasy at Your Vintage Life.  Here are some of our favourites all available now. (If you like the look of any just get in touch as much isn’t yet online!)

For anyone that just wants a touch of floral, why not try a vintage brooch? Go bold like the 1960s enamel one or pretty like the bone china one.

Or a handbag. This deep red one is a classic 50s shape with embossed detail on the leather.

Or a raffia one, perfect teamed up with a summer dress.

Choose a vintage floral shirt or blouse…teamed up with capri pants you will get that American vintage vibe (another key trend).

Go girly with our customised floaty, flirty skirts. This concertina pleated one is sooo pretty with its washed out floral feel.

Or just simply go for the full floral look with a vintage 60s maxi dress. This is bright and bold…reminds me of Hawaii but is in fact by Blanes in England.

I love this 1960s shift dress in pastel hues. It has a real Pan Am feel to it…wear with white gloves and open toe shoes.

With Mad Men about to return to our screens, maybe the floral tone should be 50s (think series one!) Here are some of our favourites.

And finally…if you dare, wear a 1950s flower hat. This is covered in white and pink feathers making blooms all over.

Who needs the high street when vintage can be so on trend? Check out more Bloom fashion here