Want to get ahead.....get a hat?

I know we are struggling a bit with summer here in the U.K, so the dilemma of which style of summer hat suits you may not be a huge priority, so generally speaking what kind of hats do you like to wear whatever the weather? Do you never wear a hat?
Louise Brooks

I like the idea of a wide brimmed floppy sun hat HOWEVER, I'm just a smidgen over 5 foot tall which means that for most of the time people are looking down at me or I am looking up at them. So I can't help but think that to onlookers from above I would look like a fungi. Until I look up to see them, at which point I will either need to tip my head back so far to see from under the floppy brim that I will (probably) fall over or I will need to lift the brim up every time I want to make eye contact........I expect after having to do that a few times said brim will be lifted up with terrifying force and my hacked of face will scare my audience away anyway.

Unlike a very happy looking Marilyn Monroe who makes it look easy.

Faye Dunaway looking beyond cool. Floppy hats it seems, never go out of fashion
 I also feel that my lack of height  rules out more structured wide brims hats as worn be Audrey Hepburn. Also I know hat etiquette for ladies is different from the chaps, unlike them, we don't usually have to take out hat off as soon as we walk indoors, but have you ever been to a wedding where someone several rows forward is wearing a huge hat? This means every one behind keeps swaying to look around them and this swaying motion just moves back along the pews like a wave, as everyone has to move position because the person in front has moved theirs? Etiquette I'm sure suggests that it's polite to remove huge head decorations when they impact on others?

Internet sources say Audry was 1.7m /5 ft 7 inches tall
So what do I wear? Well in summer, quite often nothing....remember this is a hat post so I am talking about my head here! Which isn't ideal when walking in the scorching sun. (Rare I know) On the occasions that I do wear a hat, it's a straw trilby which I've had for  few years now. It doesn't always go with what I'm wearing and on a girl they can look boho/festival, not a bad thing but for me, personally it's not a 'vintage' look. Trilby's (not to be confused with fedora's which have a wider brim)  have been a fave by the boys since...forever. There's plenty of images out there where the old boys of Hollywood sported hats to stylish perfection. Frank Sinatra seems to have virtually lived in one. How I wish men still wore hats! (I also wish singers still looked dapper like this. What are these awful parachute/ nappy trousers all about?)

Frank Sinatra, a big fan of the trilby hat.

Humphrey Bogart with a stylish fedora hat. Notice the wider brim. The fedora, like the trilby can be worn straight or at a jaunty angle.

 I do like a berets. Classic, stylish great for lazy girl hair. You can dress them up with brooches, wear them straight, where them tilted. Versatility, that's what I like.

Lana Turner, her expression conveying that beret wearing is a serious business
I also like little pillbox hats, with netting/veil. I've only got this on at the moment, which is an 80's one I picked up for £1! Worn with the right outfit, I'm thinking black 50's style pin up wiggle dress it could look very femm fatale. I've seen a few gorgeous 50's ones but haven't had the pennies to buy them. I also have no occasions planned to wear such a hat...but I shall not let this small detail stop me of course!

No, I'm not naked. Honest.
And on those days where I aspire to look taller perhaps I should be led by Marlene Dietrich?............

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Charity shop etiquette...

 Yesterday I went for afternoon tea. This morning I woke up with a wee hangover. Ooops. Anyway, I had today off and was keen not to waste it, so made I myself do something with my day of freedom. So what can you do when you need some fresh air AND perking up? Well it has to be a charity shop crawl doesn't it.

So I set off in my comfy Primark ballet pumps and hit the pavements of Norwich. It was a reasonably successful day.  A couple of cute 70's day dresses, which will be photographed asap so I can add them to Project 365.  I bought a lovely sea green wicker linen bin, it has a sheet of glass on the lid and the badge inside says 'Sirrom'. It's very Loom like, I need to do some research into how old it is. A quick search on Ebay has found some almost identical and they are listed as 40's/50's  but I think later, my first thought when I saw it was 60's maybe? If anyone knows, share your thoughts. It cost £7.99 and when I asked the lady in the shop if she could pop it behind the till as I looked round, she took it out the back and said to another helper ''See? I told you'' So I'm guessing there was an earlier conversation about what the price should be. Proof I suppose that tat to one person is someone else's treasure!

 I also got a couple of new books, although the shelves really are groaning. I picked up a book called 'Modern Etiquette' By Moyra Bremner. It's not particularly old as it was first published in just 1989 and this edition is 1992. I thought it would be interesting reading, and after randomly opening a page, there I was standing in the Chaz Boutique, surrounded mainly by O.A.P's, reading about the etiquette of sex, contraception and protection. (It's the first page I looked at! I swear) I think this will have to be a post on it's own, the book I mean, not the etiquette of safe sex......

I was thrilled to purchase a  book that looks at the life of the very glamorous comedic actress June Whitfield (Terry and June and Absolutely Fabulous) It's crammed full of pictures. I used to love Terry and June when I was tiny. It's going to be a fascinating look through her life in British television. When I was little I used to have a collection of Lady Bird books. Now two titles hold bad memories for me, ....it was the illustrations.... some are really quite dark and frankly a bit freaky. One of these was Rumple Stiltskin... The other book is a Lady Bird ABC book. I haven't found that one yet, but I feel that I need to, so I can lay to rest those childhood nightmares.

Rumple Stiltskin, proof that fairy tales are dark and scary!

So now I want to pose a question about charity shop etiquette:  Do you ever haggle over the price? I wouldn't dream about it and I have NEVER witnessed anyone doing this.... until today. Not once, not twice but THREE TIMES!!  In three separate shops, three different people. The results? Well they were interesting........

Shop one's reply to the haggler was:

This is a charity shop, the items are priced individually, it doesn't matter if you want three things. Someone will pay the price on the items, we don't give discounts. (At this point the haggler persisted) The shop lady went on to explain that it's a charity to help children, volunteers work in the shop for free, they don't do discounts and the price to pay would be the combined price of each item.

All explained very politely but very firm towards the end. The shop lady's answer was just as I would have expected and I was surprised someone would even ask. Then I was in another shop....and it happened again!

Shop two's response to being asked to knock some money off for a couple of items was:

Poor attempt at whispering by shop lady ''errmmm I could take £2 off for you?''  

Shop three's reaction to a discount?

The same as shop two! Lot's of lowering of voices as a deal was struck. I actually loitered in shop three *much* longer than I needed to, just so I could find out what happened.What do we think of that? Would you haggle? I really can't decide how I feel about it.
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Mid week love links

Firstly, just a quick thank you for the *amazing* reactions and comments on the last post where I raided by wardrobe and did a few high street/supermarket chic looks. I'm a bit stunned at how popular that post was and I did take the rear end shot out a few times in editing... We all have those days when confidence dips, I'm not confident 100% of the time! (If you missed the post in question and have absolutely no idea what I'm  rambling on about, then you can see it by clicking HERE!)

Thanks to everyone who contacted me about it. I've been asked for advice clothes and eras and been asked to take people clothes shopping.  I've loved hearing from you. I'm not an expert by any means but I'm happy to offer an opinion or answer a question as best I can! If you want to email me directly rather than leave a comment then feel free to say ''Hi'' to me at missyvintage@hotmail.co.uk

So on with the post.....The world can seem a really sad place, I'm reluctant to even turn on the news at the moment. It's been commented that I can be a bit 'Pollyanna' with my smile and carry on regardless attitude, perhaps it's that Brit stiff upper lip thing. Who knows, but I thought right now we could all do with sharing a little love and niceness. So this post is going to be a bit of a shout out for a few of things I've read this week that have warmed my heart, touched my soul, and made me smile.

LOVENOTE, is an art project that you can be part of. The artist is looking for notes and messages of love to feature in a collection that will eventually be exhibited. They can be Anon if you wish so don't worry. Take a look at the site and if you want to take part all the instructions are there and there's already several on the blog for you to look through, it's a wonderful project.

Even if you feel you can't take part, why not pop over to the site and have a look. Love notes/letters are such a dying art. I have a 40's child's suitcase that holds postcards  The Boy sends me. I love getting them. You can't keep the memory of a text or a phone call as a keepsake like that. You can hold the memory of a conversation that contains words of love for many years but age is often cruel and once forgotten those whispers of sweetness may be lost forever. The written word can at least keep those memories alive if only on paper. Take a look at the lovenote site by clicking HERE

Nestled amongst my scarves, maybe over time the case will be full of letters and post cards.

The postcard could be from anywhere, when was the last time you sent  post card?

Blogger Lady Cherry  has written a really thought provoking and interesting post about the late Amy Winehouse. Amy's album Back to Black has always been one of my favorites since the first time I heard it. Like a lot of people there have been times when it's almost been a soundtrack for my life. Lady Cherry has included some pictures of a young Amy. It's easy to forget that she was once a young buxom girl with a raw talent. You can read this post by clicking HERE   *Polite notice, Amy Winehouse's death has provoked some very extreme opinions so let's go by the rule that if you can't say anything nice then just don't say anything at all.

picture from amywinehouse.com

So we've had  love and then reflection, what's next?..... a smile? Smiling is very important. It can also be quite disarming. That moment when you politely smile at a stranger as you walk past them an they don't smile back? I like to think that they are not being rude but that they were just not expecting it (maybe they think I'm bonkers...) People don't smile at each other as much as they should, it's a shame.

This final link is it to Land Girl 1980, who has written a guest post for a lovely blog called Lottie Loves. The post is about the contents of Land Girls Satchel and her daily essentials. For me it was the creative use of bobby pins that made me laugh. I won't spoil it for you, but it's worth a read. It also shamed me into realising how unorganised and full of unnecessary items my own bag is, I must add that to my 'to do' list....... You can have a snoop in Land Girls bag by clicking HERE

I hope you have all had things to smile about this week?
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Getting that vintage look

I'm  happy to be out of the closest as a non purist when it comes to vintage as you know. Yes my first choice will probably always be vintage or someones cast off, most days I will wear something that falls into that category, even if it's just a bag or a scarf. Occasionally I don't though, so is it possible to do the 'vintage' look without a single piece of vintage? Yes I think it is, which is great news for those who like the look but don't want to wear second,third, fourth maybe even fifth hand clothes. Or maybe you want to add a vintage twist to already in your wardrobe? (accessories will be a huge help here)  So I've rooted through my wardrobe to find some high street labels............(not an easy mission as most of the items in my wardrobe are at least 30 years old, so this has been a good exercise in the usefulness of some key modern/classic pieces)

If you like the 40's look then a sweet floral tea dress, dab of red lipstick and a few kirby grips, flower in your hair,or a head scarf and you are sorted. I don't have any non vintage dresses to fit this style in my wardrobe, but you get the idea. I do have some wide leg trousers which always make me feel a bit 'land girl'. I usually combine them with a vintage blouse but for the purposes of this post I've pulled out a modern blouse that I think cost me £6 from Asda at least 2 years ago. It's a nice little blouse, and for that price a bargain.

Trousers and blouse from George at Asda, Shoes - M&S (they are like ballet pumps with heels. Uber comfy)
If you don't fancy going down the route of full victory rolls in your hair (or if like me you have days when they go fab and then a day when your hair just won't behave) then twisting the hair into these 'faux victory rolls' is a really good alternative. You still get the cuteness but it's a very soft look. Just twist your hair and grip with a kirby grip or pin. (Twist hair towards the parting of the hair)

Another pair of wide leg trousers with the same blouse. I do like wearing flat shoes, even though I'm very short! These brogues are from good old Primark. *love* them. I often wear Primark ballet pumps. Unbelievable comfy and they can squash into your handbag when the heels start to kill!

Trousers - George at Asda, blouse as before, shoes - Primark

Katherine Hepburn working the trousers & blouse look

1940's shoes, not really so different from shoes you might buy today, fashion trends usually refer back to another era in some way.
 If you fancy more of a 50's/pin up look then a pencil skirt is your friend. This skirt is yet another item from Asda (I guess this is turning more into the vintage look from the supermarket?!) This skirt was a bargain several years ago and it's still going strong. It had been reduced to £2 in the sale! But they charged me incorrectly at the till so they knocked another £1 off it!
Skirt - George at Asda, blouse as before, shoes as before,belt - Primark

A pencil skirt is incredibly versatile, I often pair mine with a t-shirt, it makes a very simple outfit, which you can accessories as much or as little as you like. I like the 50's pin up look. I like the wiggle of Ms. Monroe. For me Pippa Middleton as lovely as she is, just isn't a patch on the beautiful Marilyn with her amazing curves. If you haven't got a pencil skirt in your wardrobe,  have a think about investing in one. Seriously, love your bums ladies, wear a pencil skirt!

Skirt as before, T shirt - George at Asda, shoes - ASOS, bottom - all my own ;O)

So the shoes....my pin up peep toes.........

I want to tell you how comfy these are. I want to tell you but I can't because after about 15/20 minutes they really really hurt your toes. Aw but they are beautiful though aren't they?

Pencil skirts, need I say more?

Do you have a favourite era? Do you mix and match high street with vintage or do you work the vintage look purely with high street/supermarket chic?
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Aladdin's Cave Norwich - prepare to be amazed....

*just a not to say that since writing this,the shop has moved. It's still on the same road and it's right next to the bridge (walking towards Anglia Square. You can't miss it!)

Aladdin's Cave is in a building formerly known as Looses, which is a household name in Norwich, located on Magdalen Street.  Indeed, I remember visiting Looses with my Nan as a small child.  My memory of this shop is of it being huge with lots to see.  Looses shut some years ago - a major loss to this part of the city.  For the last couple of years, the building has been a walk-around store for antique/vintage gems, with several sellers each having a section to sell their wares.  When the lease ran out in 2010, there was a real danger that it would all come to an end and this part of the city would once again end up with another empty shop. 

Fortunately, Graham, who up to that point had simply been one of the many sellers trading from the store, saw vast potential in the set-up.  With his business partner, Rob, he decided to take a huge leap of faith and sign a new lease on the whole building.  And so, in April 2010, the shop re-launched as Aladdin's Cave.

Graham very kindly gave up some of his time to have a chat with me - and this is one busy guy.  During our chat, several people needed to talk to him about all manner of things, from money to buying stock.  Graham is very hands-on in this business - he lives and breathes it - from sweeping the floors and doing the bins, to looking after the traders.  What I also love is that although Graham isn't from Norwich originally, he has an obvious passion for the city.  I knew straight away we were obviously going to get along!

Also in attendance during my chat with Graham was a local busker, better known for busking as Elvis.  Anyone who follows me on Twitter may recall me tweeting one Saturday that I had tea made by Elvis!!  So there I was, sat in the sun, drinking tea with "Elvis" and Graham, talking about vintage, blogging and Norwich - not a bad way to spend a Saturday, hey?

Graham, a former construction worker, started in the antiques trade in 1999.  A friendship with an antique dealer led to Graham doing some restoration work, giving him the inspiration and the knowledge effectively to change direction in life.  Graham told me about what happened when the lease expired in 2010.  He told me that he sat in a meeting with the other traders, took a draw on his cigarette, and reached the decision that maybe Magdalen Street was meant for him.  I'm not sure I can disagree with that thought at all!

I put it to him that in my opinion it wasn't an exaggeration to declare that Aladdin's Cave was responsible for revitalising this sometimes neglected part of the city.  Graham is obviously very proud of what's been achieved here - it really is a wonderous sight to see all the treasures that have been brought together under one roof. 

Notice the white 50's foot stool on the sofa, in the bottom left hand picture? You will see this again later....

 There are currently thirty-four independent traders in the shop, with a waiting-list to get a trading-space.  There is such a variety of goods - pianos, wardrobes, chairs, clothes, bags, china - you name it, it's there. (In fact this is where I got my delightful teal green dress that I wore to the cocktail part, which you can read about by clicking here) Aladdin's Cave have also hired items out to students and drama groups and it has become the go-to place if you need props or inspiration.  It's all set out as a big open-plan shop, with a central till, so you can browse for as long as you wish.  There's nothing pretentious about this place - nothing stuffy or snooty - which is perhaps something you may expect when the words "antique" and "shopping" are involved.  It's a really welcoming atmosphere - there's a friendly, almost community, spirit.  When you combine all this fabulousness with the fact that the variety is plentiful and the prices are affordable, the only decision you need to make is when to visit. 

If your eyes, heart and purse/wallet can cope with even more gems, then I would recommend you visit on a Saturday.  Back in June 2010, Graham and Rob launched a weekly flea-market above the shop, utilising a previously wasted space.  There's currently fifty-two regular stall-holders and, again, the variety is huge.  The queue on Saturday mornings builds as people wait for the doors to open. 

There's plenty of stuff for the boys, too.  You'll find stall-holders with fantastic vintage men's fashion.  One that caught my eye was a regular stall called "Lost Property".  They've been trading in the flea-market since last November.  I was amazed to see shirts still in packets and some amazing record-players.  Whilst taking some photos, I found myself watching a little boy who looked amazed at one of the record-players in action.  I wonder what he was thinking?

I really need to add a record player to the wish list I think...
 My favourite seller who I met on the day is a very beautiful and classy lady called Marigold.  Her stall is made up mainly of her own clothes, from the 40s through to the 80s.  I won't reveal her age but I'm sure you can do the maths and work out that this lady is of an age where she has seen a lot - and my goodness she has done a lot!

Marigold is an ex-ballet dancer, who has travelled the world.  She was a dancer in the Astor Club in Berkeley Square and also a window dresser.  There's a really beautiful selection of clothes, shoes and bags on her stall.  What's fascinating is that Marigold is happy to chat about the history of them very openly.  She says that she loves them all and it's lovely to see that the people who are buying them love them too.

The orange dress in the top right hand corner was designed by Marigold and made especially for her in the 70's, the floral kitten heeled shoes in the bottom left hand corner were bought by Marigold when she worked in Harrod's
 Marigold went on to say that customers have come back to tell her where they've worn them and she seems to like knowing that their history lives on and they're still being enjoyed.  Thoughtfully, Marigold has made a screen to enable shoppers to try her clothes on before they buy.  The back of the screen actually has photos of Marigold herself wearing some of the clothes that are or have been on the stall at all kinds of events during her life. 

Marigold wore this dress during her time as a dancer at the Astor Club in the 60's. In fact she wore it when footballer Bobby Charlton visited the club and Marigold had to kiss his head for a photograph!

Marigold herself was a little camera-shy, so I can only suggest you go to the flea-market and go and see for yourself what a beautiful, classy and very friendly lady Marigold is!   

The vintage scene in Norwich has really boomed in the last few years, thanks to the vision of people like Graham.  He told me that he see his weekly flea-market stall-holders as "little acorns" because several of them have gone on to open their own shops elsewhere. With an article about the Norwich vintage scene being in published in The Times newspaper in April, and Aladdin's cave actually being named as a place to go and visit, Graham believes that Norwich has the right feel and vibe to enable it to develop as a "destination", similar to Brighton.  Given the number of "acorns" there seem to be around the city at the moment, who would bet against him? (Norwich is less than two hours from London by train, with this shop being within a 30 minute stroll from Norwich train station)

Oh, and the white 1950s foot-stool I told you to keep an eye on?  You may have guessed actually ended up coming home with me.  I'm a sucker for an atomic leg.  I also bought a beautiful suitcase from the flea-market - I don't think a girl can ever have enough vintage suitcases!  They'll come in very handy when The Boy kicks me out of home for bringing home too may treasures.....

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Buy Buy Baby part 3

More loveliness in the form of vintage/thrifted goodies! I think I really need to stop buying china now.....unless I intend to either open a tea shop or begin a china hire company! Some beautiful cups have made their way into my cupboard, can you ever have too many pretty tea cups though?.........

Fabulous pastel coloured cups & sauers, 1950's. I once left some peach coloured ones in a shop as I didn't have enough money with me, I've been hoping to find some more and here they they are.
When I moved I had the aspiration to get mismatched dinner plates, sadly I am ridiculously attracted to anything blue so I've ended up with a theme of mainly blue willow style dinner plates. Mismatched in pattern but with an obvious theme of blue. I can't help it, I just adore the colour. I have managed to scoop up some fabulously pretty platters, cake plates and a ridiculous amount of pretty side plates (some cake stands are planned!)

Finding bowls had been more tricky.....they don't seem to be as easy to come by as plates. I've found a couple of lovely willow ones (yes, there's that blue again) and some pretty little bowls which are perfect for sauces/olives and I have some serving bowls which are fab for salad, veg etc, but bowls for things like my morning cornflakes are harder to find.

Does anyone have a cocktail bar? I would absolutely *love* one, sadly we just don't have the room but I've still bought a couple of retro soda syphons, I think they are just interesting to look at and I recently found this round one. I've never seen one this shape before?

 And the final gem to show you on this post, is this box of 50's shot glasses! Beautiful aren't they? They have been used as the gold band is worn slightly on some of the glasses, which I just love.

I'm fascinated by the idea these have been taken out of the box for parties and then put away again for the next special occasion.
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