My Easter Weekend Update

Hi folks! Hope you’ve all had a great Easter weekend amid all the stormy weather and managed to get in some lovely choccies and quality time with friends and family.  Mine has been really hectic, hence why I haven’t had a chance to write anything until now.

The big event of the weekend was my cousin’s wedding on Saturday, held at the Sheraton Skyline Hotel at Heathrow Airport.  It was a blast.  Plenty of food, drinks and dancing, and catching up with relatives and friends I hadn’t seen in a long time.  The civil ceremony was lovely, with poignant literary references and readings, cheesy Vitamin String quartet arrangements of rock songs and pretty-in-pink floral arrangements.   The drinks reception was held in the tropically themed Sky Garden, a central courtyard with palm fronds and a swimming pool, and the Indian wedding breakfast was held in the International Suite.  We stayed over at the hotel so all we had to do was crawl into bed after a heavy night at the open bar!

Here are some snaps of me in my wedding outfit, a lotus-themed Kanchipuram silk sari from Aishvarya Sarees, plus my accessories, all in tones of blue.

In between all this my husband and I had our lovely friends over for an Easter meal.  We opted for tradition with a feast of roast leg of lamb and veggies, which my husband had proudly prepared, and a creamy tiramisu that I’d made following a recipe from BBC Good Food.

I also got a hair cut – this happens once in a blue moon so it was much needed!  I have very, very thick hair, so I don’t normally trust many people with it as it is a challenge to deal with. My regular salon is the Japanese-run Malishi near London Bridge who always do a fantastic job because they know how to work with my hair type.  Unfortunately they were booked out this time round, and I didn’t really fancy the trek across London, so I booked in with Scruffs in Cambridge.  I was quite nervous about trying out a new place and I didn’t know what to expect.  However I had a luxurious experience at Scruffs from the moment I arrived to the moment I left.  From my much-needed cup of tea to my head massage, and the great job that my stylist did, I couldn’t have asked for more.  I had a conditioning treatment during my hair wash which has left my hair looking and feeling glossier and healthier.  Plus they throw in a loyalty scheme for regular customers with points that add up to discounts, so I’ll definitely be booking with them again!

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My new haircut!

Last but not least, to round off this rather random and disjointed post, I took some pics of Easter and Spring-themed shop window displays around Cambridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Vintage Folk

You’ve probably realised by now that I’m helplessly addicted to vintage, hence I’m back with another vintage post! For this outfit, I’m going for a Seventies folk look.

I recently discovered the Raggie Doll Vintage store on Etsy.  I urge you to check out this fantastic store, which has lines of amazingly good quality vintage clothing with a boho feel.   There is so much there that I want to buy, but I’m going to have to rein myself in!  I picked up this unusual and pretty 1960s Welsh tapestry waistcoat from their store.  When I received my parcel, beautifully wrapped in brown paper and string, I also received a free lace doily, which was such a lovely touch.

This waistcoat is long, with pink, green and blue wool embroidery all over in a semi-floral pattern, with a moss-green hem.  There is a fastening at the front with two large buttons.

I’m feeling the folk look with this piece, so I’ve decided to go all the way with a light cotton floral shirt, wide-leg dark blue denim jeans, soft black studded boots, floral silver jewellery and my pièce de resistance, a lovely black wool floppy hat from Accessorize, which I picked up in the sales.  I love the cute cut-out hearts on the brim of the hat.

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Boots – John Lewis; Hat – Accessorize; Waistcoat – Raggie Doll Vintage; Jeans – Topshop; Shirt – Gap; Jewellery – see below

Now, just hand me a guitar and I should be all set to go busking in sun-dappled woods!

Designspiration

Everyone needs a little design inspiration in their lives: whether they’re planning their next evening outfit, a refit for their kitchen or living space, a wedding (that was me about five months’ ago!), their next shop display  (me again!), and even the next blog post, which includes all of us here reading and writing our blogs!

I love to draw inspiration from many sources.  I try to get a good dose of inspo from fashion magazines such as Vogue, or interior design magazines such as Elle Home.  I’ve recently been watching BBC’s the Great Interior Design Challenge in the (false) hope that I’ll create something so utterly fantastic.   Since the planning of my wedding, I’ve discovered the wonderful world of Pinterest, and I use it to pin anything I like the look of, from interior design to fashion to art and everything in between.   Movies and music are also great wells of inspiration – I love the stylised retro worlds of Wes Anderson’s films and the colourful musical worlds of the late 1960s and early 1970s with psychedelia and progressive rock.  Additionally I recently discovered this fantastic visual merchandising blog, charityshopvm.  Like me, you’ll love the impressive window displays on offer, and the high standards of these displays have really inspired me to up my game!

I don’t get the opportunity to travel very much at the moment, but take a trip to a museum or art gallery and you may not always need to, although with the British weather, you’re probably going to disagree with me there!

Last week I took a trip to the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington.  Just a leisurely stroll through the museum’s wonderful collections can refresh and fix you!  I visited the Islamic and South Asian collections, which has some of the most beautiful and intricate pieces I’d ever seen.

I visited the Fashion collection, which covers the last 300 years in fashion.  For all those Biba lovers out there, see if you can spot the Biba dress in the collection!

I also visited the Al Thani jewellery collection at the V&A during my trip.  I urge you to visit if you haven’t done already – go soon as it closes on 10th April!  It’s a collection of Indian jewellery from the last 400 years, combining traditional and modern jewellery design.  Each piece is exquisitely made and being the magpie that I am, I was completely mesmerised! Unfortunately photography was forbidden so no pictures as a result – but you do have to see for yourself just how extraordinary the collection really is.

For visual merchandising and crafts inspiration, I love taking a wander around the shops on the high street in order to have a look at the visual displays put on.  I’ve been down in London a few times and snapped displays that have been inspiring to me.  My favourite shop Liberty has wonderful bluebell garlands and this huge marigold-like flower, all embellished with classic Liberty prints.  Kiehl’s at Liberty has a humorous tongue-in-cheek take on health and wellness with its skeleton riding a paisley-print vintage bike.  John Lewis has a simple but effective bath display, using glass baubles to imitate bubbles.

I’d love to hear from you all about your sources of creative inspiration and about how you get ideas for your next blog post or next project, whatever that may be!

Technicolor Easter

Easter is just around the corner, so here is another window display from my local Oxfam shop to celebrate!

The last few days have been a bit of a mad crafts rush, as I’ve spent a lot of time making many of the props for this display.  My theme was based on a hyper-intense and psychedelic Technicolor world, a little bit like the chocolate river scene in the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.   I wanted to illustrate this theme using bright colours, metallic fabrics and textures which I used in a variety of ways.

First I created a paper skirt, made of blue and green cellophane with a gold tissue paper overlay to simulate tulle.  I added a newspaper waistband lined with purple foil sweet wrappers.  I paired the skirt with a sparkly jumper and made a necklace of little Easter eggs.  I’ve never ever made my own clothes before so this was a first for me!  The whole outfit reminds me of sweet shops.

I then got a bunch of plastic eggs and spray-painted them metallic gold so that they would look like the eggs that the golden goose from Willy Wonka had laid.   These were arranged in a little nest of gold and silver tissue paper.

Another volunteer and I also created no-sew sock bunnies using metallic socks and bags of rice.  Check out Homemade Gift Guru if you want to make these cute critters! I used heart mirror confetti to create the eyes and thin wire for the whiskers, so the bunnies look a little trippy!

We then put together our display as shown below, using a few extra bits and bobs such as fake grass runners and Easter stickers as well as soft toys and home ware:

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Jewellery Insta-Edit

I am an avid collector of sterling silver jewellery, thanks to my magpie tendencies! I spend hours trawling through online sites such as Shop Dixi, Rose Garden Waterfall and Empty Casket, all of which do great lines of boho-inspired jewellery, as well as Alex Monroe, who has created beautiful pieces with references to nature and the English countryside, and the Great Frog who cater for the rocker crowd with their collection of sterling silver skull rings.

I love photographing jewellery too,focusing on portraying intricate detailing and handiwork against various backdrops, such as scarves, fabric, furnishings or anything unusual.  I prefer to use my digital SLR for this as it is much easier to focus on those details with great effect and gently blur out the other details in the background.  However in this post, I’ve decided to display some photos that I took using only an iPhone and the magic of Instagram.

When I first encountered Instagram I got particularly click-happy and inspired with taking close-up pictures of some of my jewellery collection, and using the special features on Instagram to ‘Photoshop’ my image so that it looked more retro, more vibrant or whatever look I wanted to go for at that time.  It’s fun to let yourself go a little with this, even though I still prefer an SLR to a phone for its quality of image and control.

Many online shops use Instagram as a promo tool for competitions and may feature customers’ pics of purchases on their shop’s accounts.  This particular aspect of Instagram was one of the reasons why I took so many pictures at the time.  Although I did not win anything, I still had a lot of fun being creative, and I hope you have as much fun looking through these pics!

Prairie Princess

Despite the chill in the air, spring is here.  And with that, I have a gorgeous boho vintage find that is evocative of the freshness of the season.

This dress is by 1970s label Clothes by Samuel Sherman.  Samuel Sherman was the in-house designer during the 1960s and 1970s for other labels such as Concept and Dollyrockers as well as having established his own line Sambo in the 1940s.

This prairie-style cotton dress is maxi-length, with pretty mid-length lace sleeves, a drawstring lace neckline, and a generous floral pinafore, with a frill at the hem.  I was lucky enough to find this rare gem of the dress at the fantastic Treasures Shop in Newmarket, where I’d initially popped in just for a browse.

I wanted to stay in keeping with the fresh floral look, so I’ve accessorised this dress with gold and tan colours.  This delicate 1980s 9ct gold locket with its floral motif is a perfect match for an equally delicate floral dress, as is this gold-plated leaf ring.  I’ve mixed it up with these Sri Lankan gold earrings, handed down to me from my mum and a gold headband.  A straw hat, small shoulder bag and floral tan shoes keep the look soft and summery.  Just bring on those glorious golden cornfields and blue skies and we’re all set!

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Shoes – Faith; Handbag – Urban Outfitters; Hat – Cedar Wood State @ Primark; Lace Doily – Raggie Doll Vintage @ raggiedollvintage.co.uk; Vintage gold locket – Urban Outfitters; Earrings – Sri Lanka; Marble coaster – Salvation Army shop; Ring – Urban Outfitters

Gothic, Grunge and Green

Today I’m all about the Nineties with this green velvet dress by vintage brand Molly Malloy.

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I had originally bought this lovely dress from ASOS Marketplace for a Halloween party where I dressed as a witch, but this dress is so much more than what I’d initially intended for it – it is elegant, luxurious and demure, and is just great on its own!

The bodice is close-fitting, with long sleeves, shoulder pads and v-neckline, with a beautiful criss-cross back neckline, the winning feature of the dress.  The skirt is long and flowing, and reaches to mid-calf.

The crushed dark green velvet is very grungy, and the cut of the dress is more gothic-inspired.  I’ve emphasised both parts with silver jewellery and pointy black ghillie lace-up shoes.  I’ve added a black velvet choker with a pale amethyst pendant – purples and greens go so well together plus the choker is both Nineties and gothic.  Smoky quartz silver earrings are elegant yet add a little mystery.  An ornate sterling silver tree of life ring evokes both gothic and mystical elements, as does the multi-coloured mystic topaz ring. The ghillie lace-up shoes are a more current touch to this vintage outfit, yet fits in with the gothic and grunge elements.

A beautiful dark purple wide-brimmed hat would complete the whole look – unfortunately I do not have such a hat!

Bohemian Beauty

I am obsessed with all things boho.  It all started when I began looking for my wedding dress, in search of that fluid silhouette and free-flowing wild spirit of the late 1960s.  I look to shops like Free People for inspiration, but unfortunately my wallet won’t always allow me to indulge!

At the weekend it was love at first sight for me when I saw this beauty of a dress in the window display of H&M in Hammersmith.  When my husband pointed that dress out to me and said how ‘me’ it was, I just knew I had to have it.

At £14.99 this was a steal.  For that price it is so beautifully made and fits like a dream.  The dress is maxi-length, reaching right down to my ankles, with a split down each side and a tassel tie detail on the neckline.  The sleeves are long with buttoned cuffs.  The earthy Eastern-inspired print is embellished by jewel-toned blues and gold.

I’ve accessorised this dress with boho-inspired turquoise and silver jewellery to highlight the blues of the dress.  The jewelled pendant from Oasis complements the pattern of the dress, as do these Indian-inspired sterling silver earrings.  Silver-toned shoes help to uplift the look.  Brown leather boots would go equally as well.  The thing to complete the outfit would be a burgundy or brown suede or velvet jacket, but I don’t have one as of yet!

The Electric Blues

Here is another fantastic vintage find from my local Oxfam shop, and this time I’m channelling the 1980s with this evening outfit I’ve put together!

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Top – brand unknown, from Oxfam; Skirt – Urban Renewal @ Urban Outfitters; Shoes – Noda; Earrings – Oasis; Necklace – Antique jewellers @ Powerscourt Centre

This electric blue top has a beautiful cummerband waist feature with a column of buttons at the side, long sleeves and the ubiquitous shoulder pads of the decade for a little bit of power.  I’ve paired it with this vintage leather pencil skirt from Urban Renewal @ Urban Outfitters and these red high heeled shoes from Singaporean shoe brand NODA.  The slim fit of the skirt balances out the looser fit of the top and the bright red of the shoe complements the equally bright blue.

To complete the look I’ve added glitzy blue flower earrings from Oasis and this lovely pink and rose gold glass bead necklace from the 1950s, which I bought from an antique jeweller at the Powerscourt Centre in Dublin.