Ring a Ring o’ Roses

Hey chicas! It has been a long time since I’ve blogged.  Since starting work full-time it has not been easy to keep up, especially as when I’m on my few days off I’m always ticking off things to do on my long list of chores, and I just never get around to writing a blog post.  I have so many ideas in the pipeline for my next few blog posts, including lovely things I’ve bought in the last few months, but for now I’d like to share this little gem that I’ve been wearing every day for the last month.

Some weeks ago I was staying in Angel for my hubby’s cousin’s wedding (and that was a blast!) and discovered a part of London I now really, really like.  As per usual I was on the lookout for new retail experiences, and Angel had lots to offer, not being the typical high street that we all know.   On the morning of the wedding, we took a left from our hotel for a leisurely stroll and came upon a wonderful treasure trove of a shop.

After Noah is a real curiosity.  It is equal parts retro toy shop, gift shop and vintage furniture seller, and manages to marry all these elements together successfully.  On entering one notices how much stuff there is in the shop, but unlike other antique shops I’ve been to, where I’ve struggled to focus on any one thing for all the clutter there is, the product collections here are beautifully curated and fascinating to look at.

There were so many things to covet.  There is a fantastic range of vintage and contemporary furniture, and I had my eye on this super-duper couch, which looks so cool yet comfortable!

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Whilst browsing the toy shop, I came across this cute origami fox lamp, intended as a night light for kids.  Who is to stop me from getting one though?

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I got my sister this dinky little walrus toy, which I knew would make her laugh.

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Whilst down in the basement, which was chock full of yet more cool furniture, I tried on an exquisite bowler hat for fun!  I actually think this could be a look for me, though you may disagree…

Bowler hat

Last but not least, After Noah sell a lovely range of jewellery, and being the magpie that I am, I could not resist this beautiful sterling silver ring with its rose of rose-gold.  I’m in love with delicate banded rings at the moment, especially those with a hammered effect, and this one with its faceted band fits the brief.  It is great on its own or stacked with other slim bands.  I’ve worn it every day since I got it.

Rose gold ring

 

My trip to the Crescent City – Part 1

Last month I took a trip to New Orleans, Louisiana.  My husband was privileged to be speaking at one of the biggest cancer conferences in the world, the American Association for Cancer Research, hosted in New Orleans this year, and I tagged along for the ride.  This was our first trip away together since we got married and so it was a special one for us.

Whilst 20,000 conference delegates from around the world descended on New Orleans, I vacationed it up, enjoying the long walks, the historic architecture, the scrumptious food and cocktails, the quirky shops, the music and the bonhomie of NOLA’s lovely residents.   If cities were soulmates, then New Orleans would be mine without a doubt.  This city is so vibrant, beautiful and sultry, with a rich history and cultural tradition, and despite the tragedies of Hurricane Katrina it has managed to pick itself up and march on ahead.  The positivity and generosity of the place was so infectious that I came away happier. Truly!

After a 10-hour flight, with a quick stop off in Atlanta, we were exhausted but happy to be checked in to the Marriott Hotel on Canal Street, bordering the famous (and infamous!) French Quarter.  The long day of travelling (and some cocktails! I was on holiday after all!) took its toll on me, and all I was craving a comfy bed and a cup of tea!

The first few days we were so jetlagged (New Orleans is 6 hours behind London during Daylight Saving Time) so after a non-existent night’s sleep, we headed out to the super-popular Ruby Slipper Café at 200 Magazine Street for a good breakfast pick-me-up.  And it did just that! They do great Eggs Benedict in various configurations so I got the one with beef plus a delicious Bloody Mary.  Head there early as it is only open for breakfast and brunch.

The other great NOLA go-to for breakfast and brunch is Daisy Dukes on 121 Chartres Street,  a guilty pleasure of mine.  On one early morning (6.30 am to be precise!), we headed out to this 24/7 café, where I shamelessly took full advantage of the unlimited refills of Bloody Mary cocktails.  By 7.30 am I was on my third cocktail and they even gave me a cup ‘to go’! Nowhere else in the world could this happen, but it felt so right here!  The omelettes were heaven, too.

Aside from scrummy brunches and Bloody Mary cocktails, we visited the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium.  This wonderful museum, housed in the old US Customs Building, has a great collection of live and preserved specimens of a variety of insects.  My favourite bit was the walk through the humid Butterfly Gardens, where tropical butterflies flitter from leaf to leaf and butterflies can be seen hatching from pupae.

When my husband was at conference I took the opportunity to take a long, long walk down Magazine Street, the location of many wonderful independent boutiques, art shops and antiques shops.  It is a shopper’s heaven.  Vintage clothing is really big here, and there were so many boutiques selling exquisite vintage designer pieces as well as retro-inspired clothing.   If I could, I would have bought the contents of the shops Century Girl Vintage and Trashy Diva combined!  Grandmother’s Buttons also caught my eye – I really coveted their beautiful antique button necklaces.

There were also lots of lovely gift shops, including the treasure trove of Sterling Silvia, a magpie’s haven for sterling silver jewellery and Peony New Orleans, for beautiful gifts and soft, floaty clothing.   There are lots of art and antique shops on Magazine Street, selling local artists’ works.  Derby Pottery & Tile make beautiful New Orleans-inspired pieces in aqua colours, such as the Water Meter Clocks.

For music lovers, there’s the epic Peaches Records, where the shop assistants were ever so friendly and even offered me a free root beer to drink whilst I browsed at leisure.  It was perhaps one of my favourite moments of the whole trip – the warm buzz of root beer, riffling through a vast record collection, and good cheer.

This good atmosphere extended to the whole of Magazine Street, where every shopkeeper exuded warmth and took the time to chat to me for ages, without once pushing me to buy anything.  Of course, it worked because I bought a hell of a lot that day!

Magazine street is very long, as I think I’ve emphasized already, about six miles in total, and interspersed between the stretches of shops are residential streets, of unique wooden-panelled French-influenced architecture and bright colours.

I’m going to take a breather here – I have so much more to tell you about the fantastic French Quarter, including a NOLA food tour and the jazz clubs of Frenchmen Street in my next post, plus the big shopping haul from my Magazine Street trip!

 

Sixties Sweetheart

Yet another hectic few days!  It feels like an age since I posted last, even though it was only six days ago.  I guess six days in the blogging world is the equivalent of six years in real time!  I have been itching to write about this particular vintage find.

A few weeks ago I bought two lovely pieces of clothing from vintage store Raggie Doll Vintage on Etsy.com.  The first piece can be found on my post Vintage Folk.  This second piece is a 1960s floral pink polyester shirtdress.

This is such a hopelessly romantic dress, with its pastel colours, abstract daisy print, flouncy fabric and dainty blue flower buttons.  Perfect for a country stroll on a spring day and having afternoon tea with the ladies!  It is a little big for me at the waist, so I’ve used a thin belt to cinch it in and provide definition.

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I’ve accessorised it in two slightly different ways.

On a recent trip to the V&A, I wore this dress with a delicate silk haze wool knitted top over it, which had the added bonus of holding the top half of the dress in and giving it more shape.  The fuchsia top is a one-of-a-kind made by my talented mother.  With a long green coat and a leather satchel to channel my inner geek and silver shoes for a bit of retro space age, I was ready for some serious cultural immersion.

In my second variation, I’ve used a coral pink heart belt for the waist, and paired these with low-heeled leather Mary-Janes and sugar-sweet gold heart jewellery.

In between all these recent thunderstorms, I’m hoping for some warm spring days to wear this sweet dress!

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!

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!

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.

 

Charity Shop Chic

I’ve had a bit of a gold-rush this week with my buys from my local Oxfam shop.  It’s the best place for getting quality brands at a bargain.

First up is this burnout velvet scarf from John Lewis.  It is silver-grey and black with a floral blossom design and is a great winter accessory, especially for formal events! It was an absolute steal at £1.49.

Second is this gold sequinned scarf from Laura Ashley.  It is glitzy without being over-the-top bling, and I’m thinking of wearing it as a belt with the purple velvet dress from Jigsaw that I wrote about recently.  I got this for a snip at £3.99.

Saving the best ‘til last, and the favourite purchase of the lot is this vintage moss-green acrylic knit cardie from Jaeger.  I’m not entirely sure from which decade this hails, but looking at the label its likely to be from the 1970s or 1980s.   This cute knit is so evocative of that geek-chic thing that is in right now, and paired with my new owl print dress by Louche at JOY, makes me feel like a librarian!  Adding some block-colour tights in burnt hues and brown leather mary-janes completes the look.  And for £8.99, this find was a treasure.

The Vintage Traveller

Last week I put together a vintage display in my local Oxfam shop.  I wanted to tell a story with these wonderful objects that are loaded with history and have a story of their own to tell.  I had the following items: pieces of old luggage (including an amazing 1930s Abercrombie and Fitch suitcase!), a pink Stetson, an old Reader’s Digest atlas, a 1980s Roberts radio, an old sewing machine, an exotic ashtray, a steel glasses case, an Hawaiian-inspired men’s shirt and a beautiful embroidered folk-style linen jacket.  This is what I came up with, and I had a lot of fun putting it together!

It’s inspired by the Vintage Traveller, evoking an era where travel was much more about exploration of a beautiful world that held many mysteries, of the days of the glory and luxury of train travel and the Orient Express, where perhaps you could enjoy a martini before dinner, and where you dressed up to fly by plane.

For me, the best shop displays are those that tell a story, and on the same day I came across this one by Vans, depicting a burger van.  The display complements the launch of Vans’ Late Night Collection of fast food-inspired prints.

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