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” 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 fact here is last week’s weakness.

So, while trading at Saturdays Furniture Flea in Cambridge I took some time to check out all the other stalls there. I met some lovely people and saw some gorgeous stuff. But to be fair, this is the thing that caught my eye first.

The stall was called Little Toucan and was opposite mine. It was full of brightly coloured kids retro items and this little tortoise was sitting on a cushion under the table. He was literally looking at me!

It is hand made using vintage floral fabric. He had a bigger brother which I managed to resist but is still on their website.

I love the purple vibrant colour. The fabric is as good as new.

His eyes are sleepy, handsewn with looped stitching.

I love it! But of course he is not for me! He is tucked away in hiding (or maybe hibernation) waiting for Christmas. Lucky Kitty will be getting him from Santa in just a few weeks time!

Check out Little Toucan here


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 to you to a new magazine called Midcentury: The Guide to Modern Retro.

It is a bi-annual magazine all about retro  homewares and furniture. Anyone that has seen my house will know myself and especially Mr YVL absolutely love retro furnishings. But to have them all in your home can sometimes make your style look a bit “novelty”. There is definitely a fine art to creating a retro home that doesn’t look like you are stuck in a time warp.

Now this is where this magazine can really help. Issue 2 arrived today and is packed full of inspiring looks and homes.

The cover is simply beautiful…a patchwork winged back swivel chair. Now I wish ours were this colourful! We have 2 black vinyl ones that were bought in 1968 by Mr YVLs grandma. I love them but sometimes feel they are a bit masculine…maybe I could patchwork them up like this cover!

Like other magazines Midcentury features real homes. I totally love the first one featured…a 1968 home built by Cherill Scheer and her husband. Cherill is only the granddaughter of the founder of Hille…”pioneers of modern furniture manufacture in the 1950s and 60s”.

I  especially love their bedroom with the blast of zingy colour in the curtains and pictures. Tabitha Teuma captures the spirt of the couple and their home brilliantly.

There is also a 3 page article all about Hille furniture written by Emma Roper-Evans and Tabitha Teuma.

My favourite piece of the whole magazine is called High Street Heroes by Jo-ann Fortune. It’s all about 1950s brands which have lasted the test of time. St Michaels, Habitat, Heals and even Woolworths are featured. Anyone that knows me will see that this is right up my (high) street….20 years in retail and now with Your Vintage Life…I have a passion for branding and this sweet wrapper from M&S sums up retro style.

I suggest you all subscribe to this mag…2 issues a year will only cost you £6.95..bargain! Check them out at

Other articles that will interest…..

Charlotte Luxford reveals the “man behind Tintin”

A buyers guide to Borge Mogensen sofas written by David Tatham

60s technology by David P Christopher (I LOVE this wallpaper!)

Mark Hill writes about the work of George Nakashima

Another great home…actually you can stay there! The Garden House Studio is simply gorgeous!

How any age can be attractive

This is my last part of the 1956 Woman’s Own feature “The art of being more attractive” This is the centre fold and it reveals secrets to be more attractive across 5 decades.

Some is the usual stuff, but some is a little more surprising!

In the Nursery

This a beauty advice for 3 year olds which in itself is something we wouldn’t read about today. Phyllis Digby Morton’s says “At 3, a girl has got all it takes to be effortlessly bewitching. She can say what she likes, do what she wants (within reason)! She can dress in the scantiest panties and get away with it.” Pardon?

Phew, at least no one thinks toddlers have beauty issues. Apparently though she NEEDS dancing lessons to “limber up little arms and feet”. This age is about needing:

  • needing thoughtful haircare with “thrice weekly shampooing”
  • needing mild soap and water and lots of it
  • needing protection against accidents
  • needing love

“Lucky Miss 3, not to have a beauty problem!”

In the teens

“Meet Miss Teenage, the girl whose life is a spell of fickle April weather. Days, she wakes up feeling light as a cork with sheer joy of living. Other days she looks at her reflection with loathing.”

Remember that feeling as a teenager? To be honest I don’t remember much of the light as a cork feeling (especially in my stompy doc martins!)

This decade is all about discovering:

  • discovering cold cream to soften her skin
  • discovering pale pink nail varnish (I seem to remember more black nail varnish)
  • discovering the right bra
  • discovering the “value of a night and morning face” wash with soap
  • discovering different hair styles (mine were shaved, purple hair dye, orange hair dye)
  • “the way to shed spots and puppy fat is a firm no thank you to fried potatoes and gooey cakes”
  • and the most important discovery is “charm, nice manners and a ready smile- and that being a girl is more attractive in  a man’s eyes than being just another tomboy”. So as early as this a girl shoudl start thinking of being attractive for men!

“Cheer up, Miss Teenage, remember that your beauty’s still in the shaping!”

The Twenties

Oh no….this is apparently the “age of roses and wedding bells and high romance”. Beauty comes to its peak now (gosh how depressing). Although I agree with “at twenty, a wise girl starts laying the foundations of the person she wants to be”

This age is all about learning:

  • learning all about clothes, about accessories ” good gloves are plain, simple shoes make legs inches slimmer and longer”.
  • learning to discriminate about face creams and cosmetics
  • learning the value of money (not sure I did this in my twenties). She should “plan thriftily before each major expenditure”
  • learning to count to ten before making an angry comeback.
  • learning to wear hats on important occasions without feeling funny
  • this is the time to turn from  a girl into a delightful woman

The thirties

A woman in her thirties (my age…just) is at the peak “of her attractiveness, assurance and poise”. But as she has now more responsibility she should care more for her looks. Being 30 is all about caring:

  • caring for her bandbox freshness “defending it against the wear and tear of household chores”.
  • caring for her skin
  • caring for the right cosmetics, being “lavish with toilet water for the splash of elegance”
  • “and above all, she cares for her man. taking pains to ensure that she’s more than ever worth loving, now she’s in her thirties”.

WOW! you definitely wouldn’t read words like this today. Nothing about looking after yourself just for you.

The Forties and after

Now as I’m to turn 40 next year I better get reading this section!

“Time was when any attractive older woman was liable to be labelled “well preserved”.” Now though, in 1956 an older woman was seen as slim, eager, vital although “never making the mistake of aping kittenishness!” Ha Ha..I think I plan to ape kittenishness, whatever that may be!

The 40s is all about knowing:

  • knowing her skin will lose firmness, muscles will sag, firm contours will disintegrate
  • without exercise the “firmest body will become flabby”..gosh how depressing!
  • knowing that chin firming exercises will help
  • rose tinted powder and foundation are key
  • knows the value of an odd day in bed (I wish!)

And finally, she knows “that serenity, humour and a lively interest in people and things-outside the home as well as in it- keeps her, in many eyes, the most attractive age of all”

Hurrah, Phyllis at last feels attractiveness comes with age and knowing..there’s hope for me then!

In the mean time, what have I learnt from this and the last 2 articles?

That I need rose tinted powder, that my daughter is lucky as she can dress in the scantiest of underwear, that I need to work on my beauty and personality EVERYDAY, and that I need to do this for my man.

Oh well. Finally, here I am approaching 40 embracing the inner kitten!

The art of being more attractive part 2

So, yesterday we should have established what our friends thought of our appearance. How many of you were brave enough to actually ask them?

No, don’t worry I havent gone mad. I was sharing an article called “The art of being more attractive” from an old Woman’s Own magazine dated 1956.

Now its time, in the words of Phyllis Digby Morton to discuss our personality. It’s a survey again…and yes, you guessed it..we are supposed to ask our closest to analyse what we are like.

She does remind us, “Don’t be dismayed or discouraged, whatever the results.”

So here is the personality test. You or a friend are supposed to tick which one you are…so you can learn what you need to “work on”

Manners: charming, easy/mostly pleasant and considerate/a bit abrupt, ill at ease/sometimes ungracious

Conversation: always lively and stimulating/fine with friends but you dry up with strangers/painstaking-just a little on one track/lacks sparkle

Intelligence: above average (lets not say a lady is intelligent huh?)/good/brighter than you let on/just ordinary (heaven forbid)

Sense of humour: terrific/fairly keen (what?)/you usually see a joke/needs cultivating

Tact: you invariably say the right thing/generally pretty good/you try but often fail/you’re always putting your foot in it

Popularity: tremendous, you can’t help collecting friends/pretty high, most people take to you/just fair, you’re not the best of mixers/you just don’t get along with others

Sympathy and responsiveness: universal, you’d charm a bird off a tree/strong-but not to strangers/not very marked/cold, unsympathetic

Poise: outstandingly perfect (for real?)/good, seldom embarrassed/obviously nonplussed in strange surroundings/still a bit gauche

Temper (mine is starting to show with this character assassination): sunny, even tempered/good, except for the odd outburst/patchy, you need more control/ a little spiteful or sulky

PHEW! Well I think I will need a lot of work to be the perfect 1950s lady and be more attractive.

So if you have done this with me, you will now have a list of which areas need work. Phyllis, suggests “every morning read this aloud until it is etched in your mind”.

“Dont dismiss this advice as childish (as I clearly am). It was a method advocated to me by a psychiatrist who finds it of practical help to many of his patients.”

Gosh being a perfect 1950s woman is tough. Not only did she have to look after the family and home, often working too….she also had to work extra hard to ensure she was attractive. This is probably the expectation now to be fair…maybe things havent changed that much in 50 years.

In the mean time lets look at some real attractiveness….stunning….and they may even be a bit gauche, or catty, or need a bit of cultivating…just like you and I!








and finally, Maralyn

The art of being more attractive

Think you’re quite attractive? Well before you answer that, let me share with you an article from Woman’s Own magazine  written in 1956.

It is a 6 page guide with the opening questions:

  • Why do some women attract friendship and success
  • How can you make the most of your looks at any age
  • Men, what is it that draws and holds them

It is in 3 parts: the first being a survey to establish how attractive you really are. The second is how to be attractive to men. The third is how to be attractive at any age. I thought I’d share it with you to see how opinions differ today (or not). And maybe enlighten you so you can work just that little bit harder!!

Lets start with the survey. “How to discover the true you” is to “set you thinking-possibly to test your courage”.

Phyllis Digby Morton writes this article. She asks “attractiveness, what is it? Lovely figure, pretty face, soft voice, smart clothes? All of these. None of them. Some women have a way with them despite an almost lack of dress sense or a single lovely figure. They can draw attention away from the most stunningly pretty rival”….Ok, true so far I suppose.

“Could the secret lie in infectious good humour, or in a capacity of enjoying life?” Maybe

Or “could it be the art of making other people feel themselves attractive?” Now I’m getting a tad lost here. Does she mean that if I convince you I’m attractive then I am. Or am I attractive if I make you feel attractive? Gosh this is beginning to be hard work.

She goes on: “Sympathy, placidity, serenity will prove irresistible to some. Gaiety, impetuousness, vivacity will lure others. Haughtiness, stand offishness, even arrogance have an undoubted appeal for a few.” What?

“While wit in any shape, even wit strongly spiced with cattiness, will attract, round its owner, a pretty-near-permanent circle of fascinated admirers (particularly men)”

Ok now I’m even more confused. Should I be catty, stand offish, arrogant and still be attractive..surely not?

Lets move onto the questionnaire. We can answer this ourselves or get someone else to answer it. Apparently leading psychologists have been consulted for this.

Your Appearance. You need to tick which ones you are, or what your friends think you are so you can understand what you need to work on. Are you ready for this ladies????

Face: pretty/quite pretty/plain but nice (how kind)/ordinary

Hair: lovely/could easily be lovely/don’t make the best of it/rather neglect it

Hair style: tops, always/tops,sometimes/doesnt really suit you (hey let me down gently)/spoils you

Complexion: clear and lovely/nice most of the time/never looks really clear/bad

Figure: perfect/fairly good/too scrawny/too heavy

Posture: noticeably good/good when you remember/not too good/ungraceful

Hands: pleasure to look at/lovely on special occasions/just get by (hey I’m a working mum remember)/neglected

Make up: work of art, always/good sometimes/slapdash/just don’t bother (ha ha)

Dress sense: excellent/mostly good/somehow a bit lacking/undeveloped

Teeth: white, lovely/nice , average/could be whiter/time you had them seen to

Personal daintiness: bandbox fresh (er what?)/mostly perfect/not always particular/in need of a helpful hint

And that’s it. How to enlighten your friend on how attractive they are. There is more…we will move onto your personality later. For now have a think ladies…maybe ask a friend to help! By then end it will be a help, Phyliss promises.

A century of fashion

I love my books. I have so many that some I havent even looked through for years. Last weekend I stumbled across an amazing book of Vogue covers dating back to 1909.

My grandma bought this book for my mum, probably over 25 years ago. It is called The Art of Vogue Covers by William Packer and has some of the best images of vintage fashion I have ever seen. I can’t quite believe this has been on my book shelves for this long without me discovering its beauty.

The 1920s and 30s were an amazing time for fashion especially for women. They cut their hair short, wore slinky clothes, shortened their hems, enjoyed a new found freedom of partying, dancing and drinking. It was a time of boom, and colour, and without a doubt, style.

Here are some of my favourite covers.

New year edition from 1927. A huge fur-lined floral coat with polka dot skull cap hat. Drawn by George Plank and is described as his simplest cover. Totally stunning.

Great autumnal look from 1928. She stands proud in her charcoal grey fur lined coat and blue clutch bag in front of the most amazing car. I love her hat, of course matching her coat.

Great art deco styling from 1929. The images are so strong with vibrant bright colours. Both images are by Benito, the right hand side is a swimming cap, the left is an autumnal hat clearly mirroring the look.

A summer look now from August 1926. Her hat is wide instead of the usual skull caps, with a band that matched her dress. She stares straight at us drinking her large pink drink.

Midsummer fashions from 1928. Her consertina pleated sleeves are totally on trend today and remind me of the blouse worn on our front page of our eBay shop and ASOS boutique. Her wide brim hat, gloves and long pearls complete the look.

When you think of 1920s fashion you think of the fringed dress. Here, in 1926 this lady rocks it, with piano shawl, high arm cuff and pearls. Probably on a cruise, the Vogue lettering is made up from the stars. Gorgeous.

2 party looks from 1925. The red striped on the left is very burlesque with her large feather fan. Her nude coloured dress is stunning with her large shadow behind giving her great presence.

From 1938 the cover has a tall lady wearing an unusual quilted dress with nipped in waist. Interestingly by the late 30s the hem lengths have dropped. With her large brimmed straw hat she stares out to sea. The cover on the left is for the coronation of George VI.

I’m sure you will agree they are magnificent. There are so many more…..

Credit of course goes to William Packer and Octupus book for writing and revealing these amazing covers. Credit should also go to the artists, some known, some not, who captured the beauty and style of the period so well.

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” 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 fact here is last week’s weakness.

To prove my weakness is shopping, I share with you my new fascinator.

Do I need one? No.

Do I want one? YES.

This is a gorgeous hand made fascinator made from a pink silk. It has a brooch on the side in a dusty blue. A curled feather adds interest. I LOVE IT! I am off to a wedding next week so I’m sure I will wear it (see I did need it really). Maybe teamed up with my navy lace 50s chiffon dress?

It is made by Mistress Milliner who I will feature more in a few weeks. It has a hair clip attached which is great as I’m not a fan of combs.

What do you think??

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 to you to the truly stunning work by Debbie Carlisle from DC Bouquets.

I first met Debbie through the power of social be honest I can’t remember when we started communicating or how. But we first met at the Vintage Wedding Fair in Leamington Spa. Her stand was next to mine which meant I spent most of the day in awe of her wonderful creations. (Maybe that’s why I didn’t make that much money that day!).

At that point she made beautiful head pieces and clips but it was her bouquets that stole the show. She takes vintage brooches, adds some beads and pearls, ties them together and voila….she makes a bouquet.

Gosh if only it was that simple and believe me it isnt! Her bouquets are simply amazing, each one is bespoke and in my opinion a real work of art. She made one for her wedding which is her signature shot on her postcards and website which I’m sure you will agree is stunning.

What I love is you can choose your own jewellery or let Debbie do it for you. Imagine having a brooch from an older relative within your bouquet as your something old? Imagine having a bouquet you can keep forever? Imagine having a bouquet that can be displayed on your vintage dressing table?

What also sets Debbie apart, as well as the end result, is her dedication to consulting with the bride, working out exactly what will work best considering the person, the dress, the style. She works tirelessly to get it just right.

As well as the bouquets we particularly love her button holes and posies made from vintage buttons. Again, so eye-catching yet so elegant.

Her attention to detail is apparent in her stand at various wedding events throughout the country. She displays her work on cut crystal glass, so that every element on the table simply sparkles. (It is worth adding, if you ever have a stall next to Debbie, you must make sure none of your stock falls on hers! With so  much glass on one table it would be catastrophic!)

Debbie has now taken the leap and given up her full time job to follow her business and passion full time and has just launched a new collection for 2012.

It is a series of headpieces with such a romantic feel to them.

She describes her ribbon pieces on the website:

“The collection includes a selection of  organza ribbon bands which allow brides to indulge in delicate floral fantasies – from woodland nymph to regency ballroom, 60s ingénue, 70s hippy chick to rock n roll goddess.

The bands can be worn as headbands, forehead bands and bun wraps, allowing brides to mix up their look – and wear their headpiece in different ways long after their wedding day.”

They are truly beautiful and I wish her all the luck in the world with the new range.

Here are a few more of our favourites from the collection.

If you are a vintage bride or just want some beauty in your life check out the website by clicking here. Or why not join Debbie on Facebook and Twitter.

Her website gives information on dates of events that she will be appearing at. Go check out all that crystal!

Now all I need is to get married (hint hint!!!!)

Remember, remember the 5th of November

I have had such a great day today.

Thrifting for stock, eating great food with my lovely family, finished off with fireworks in the garden.

Today was auction day…I went to the auction and Mr YVL went thrifting elsewhere (where? I’m not telling!). We have the Furniture Flea next weekend so we wanted to stock up with retro loveliness…and boy did we!

We bought this gorgeous teak and vinyl chair. It goes perfectly with the lounge but will be for sale. I have already cleaned it up and it looks great.

Then we bought this vintage will be lovely in a little girls bedroom I think.

We also found this Kartell style unit with added orange tray. Now Mr YVL can’t resist anything orange but this one will be for sale! We havent cleaned it up will be positively gleaming when I’ve finished.

We found some fab accessories too. This pink 60s plastic light shade is brilliant. We’ve found white and orange ones before but never this shocking pink (it’s a lot brighter in real life)!

We have an orange bubble light too. Again, only ever had clear ones before and this colour is so vibrant. I broke the last one at Brighton’s Furniture Flea so must be more careful!

Mr YVL found this 1960s atomic coat stand. Isn’t he good!

Then we also bought a 1950s settee and chair and lots of coffee tables including a 1950s red cocktail topped one! And for us…we got a tiny childs Windsor elm chair for Kitty to sit on. Can’t show you any pics as they are still in the van!

Then we went and ate with the kids, then went shopping for Christmas presents in a  gorgeous independent toy shop…then home for fireworks. Wrapped up warm the kids sat on a vintage hand knit throw and ooohed and ahhhed at the display. Herbie only liked the ones that went BANG!

A really great day.. one to remember!

Deck the halls!

Gosh is it really nearly Christmas? Well, the festive issue of Vintage Life magazine has arrived with our latest article in.

For some ideas on how to decorate your home this Christmas, here is “Deck the halls“.

A vintage Christmas calls for vintage decorations. Add hand made touches with family tradition, to make it all the more special.

In the 1950s the tree was real with delicate glass baubles hanging next to candy, ribbons and candles. The 1960s brought a love affair with artificial trees, especially silver ones covered in cosmic shaped baubles. The 1970s look was anything goes…pile it all on..never mind if you can’t even see the tree!

Whatever your style, here are some ideas to recreate these looks, with a few of our own personal touches added. Why not go back to your own family traditional look or maybe start making your own traditions for your grandchildren to enjoy in years to come.

The Vintage Look

Keep precious glass baubles away from little fingers by hanging them from your vintage lights. They will look beautiful above the dinner table, catching the light as they move. Hang perfectly with clear fish wire or go for the craft look with silver ribbon.

Set the table with vintage crystal to create a sparkling Christmas dinner. A bowl of matching vintage baubles makes the perfect centre piece. Scatter crystal charms all over, add silver, candles and cake tazzas to finish the look.

Don’t forget to add the finishing touches with vintage silver napkin rings and crisp white linen. Everyone in our family had their own individual hand-picked silver napkin ring replacing the need for place names. This eclectic look will add character to your table.

Surprise the postman with bright paper garlands and bells adorning your hallway. Why not make your own by simply sewing a running stitch through lengths of coloured crepe paper.

Hand made touches

Create a soft, pretty effect by adding flowers to the tree. Silk cream and pink roses dipped in silver glitter will shimmer behind your vintage baubles.

Make your own crackers with personalised gifts inside. Or add sparkly vintage jewels to the outside to complement your table setting. Think brooches for the girls, cuff links for the boys. Maybe wrap the outside of the cracker in vintage wallpaper or fabric for a clashing patterned look.

Hand picked holly with red berries make an easy-to-make centre piece. Display in a vintage vase or jug and sit on a mantelpiece. Hang cards from vintage pegs on brown string to finish the look.

Create your new traditions.

Celebrate your childhood with your own children by displaying handmade treasures collected over the years. My handmade pink fairy from the 1970s sits alongside my children’s recent masterpieces to create that 70s eclectic look.

How many of you remember the Blue Peter coat hanger decoration made in the late 70s? This one is still going strong and greets all visitors young and old.

My grandma lovingly wrapped small gifts and hang them on the tree. Each present had a riddle describing the person the gift was for…we sat around guessing, appreciating the time and love that had been put into it. Year after year my riddle was: Who married Henry 3 times? Katherine of course!