Shall I pencil you in?

 I like fashion but I'm no slave to it. Some fashions come and go, some stay. Forever. Items such as the pencil skirt for example, which is a hugely versatile piece of clothing that can easily take you from day to night. If I could only have one skirt in my wardrobe, just ONE - it would be a black pencil skirt.

 It's fab for the office and super for wiggling the evening away. It's a skirt for all seasons too. In summer team it with a light blouse or a vest top, in winter throw on some stockings/tights a little cardigan and that skirt will look after you all year round.

Skirts evolved in style during the war, rationing had a huge impact on fashion and trends. The need to get the most out of every inch of fabric available was a must. Women wanted/needed to combine smart with practical, skirts would often be teamed with smart jackets to form suits and it wasn't unusual for women to raid their husbands wardrobes and rework a mans blazer into something feminine and elegant.Women still wanted to look nice, great effort was made to look stylish - even if that meant having to fit a gas mask over a head full of pin curls.

In the late 40's rationing was still impacting on the availability of clothing and whilst many fashions do not always work well with practicality (I know I'm not the only one to have fallen ungracefully from sky high wedges) I'm sure that for a lot of women, Christian Dior's designs for a slim fitting pencil skirt were well received.

Not only did this style embrace femininity, it also worked well with the need to continue to make do and mend. It's quite likely that many of the narrower fitting skirts being sported by the everyday girl on the street around this time, had been created from a skirt they already owned. Even though clothes rationing  ended in 1949, food rationing continued until 1954, so making the most of what you had continued well into the 50's.

Christian Dior who is quoted to have said ''Zest is the secret of all beauty. There is no beauty that is attractive without zest.''

Dior pencil skirt
Janet Leigh

A popular classic that has stood the test of time, the lengths may vary but a this wardrobe staple is still as popular as ever.

Katy Perry

If you're now in the mood to go out and find a pencil skirt and you fancy going down the vintage route, then my advice before you go out hunting and rummaging is to first of all measure your hips and waist. Why? Even 80's vintage will probably have very different sizing from modern clothes of today. What the label says may not even come close to the measurements you are used to.

There is nothing worse than getting that sinking feeling of not being able to fit into something you were sure would just slip on. So use the label in vintage clothing as a rough guide. If it says a 6 and you're a 14 it's probably safe to say that's a no-no BUT if you're a 12 and the label says 16 ....don't necessarily dismiss it and don't be shy about carrying a tape measure around with you to whip out in a shop to check the measurements.

Think of that tape in your handbag as a mobile lie detector, to test that little clothing label.  In fact even if you're standing in a charity shop with two recent skirts from the high street they will probably still measure up  very differently to each other, because a Topshop 12 is different from a Dorothy Perkins 12 for example.

If you don't fancy going down the vintage or the second hand route? Well, you're spoilt for choice on the high street so here's  a few just to get you started......

New Look £19.99

Next £22
Oasis £30
You can read more about my love of pencil skirts how I wear mine in my post Getting that vintage look

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Mid week link love

Another link love post highlighting just a few of the things I've enjoyed reading in blogland lately. With so many bloggers out there writing about interesting things, you can potentially save a fortune on reducing your magazine spend which hopefully gives you more money to spend on other fun things. Clothes, music, vino etc..............

If you are looking for home made ways to spook up your Halloween, then it's all been going on over at Betty Bee Towers with hand made paper mache bowls.

If like me, you have been pondering whether to buy  the Lauren Rennells book - Retro Make up, you might like to read Glamourologist's review to help you with your decision.

I never tire of looking at images of old film stars. Lottie Loves has been writing about the very beautiful Rita Hayworth. 

For anyone in Norwich on 29th October there's The little vintage lover fair at Dragon Hall Between 10am-5pm. Entry is £2 (accompanied under 16's are free)

Dragon Hall is a stunning medieval building so it's going to be a feast for the eyes indeed with all that vintage too. There will be a tea room and music alongside rails and rails of vintage. Myself, Retro chick and Glamourologist are also going to be there, armed with our pop up library. We are setting up a vintage reading room, which we are rather excited about!

If you can make it, come and say hello! The library is an ever growing collection of fashion, beauty and social history over the decades. The reading room is there for you to come in and flick through books for inspiration, sit down and have a good reading session or just come on in and rest your feet.

We will be on hand to answer any questions you might have. Maybe you would like to know about vintage style, glamour? Tips on hair or make up? Tips on wearing vintage and vintage style clothing? Perhaps you are an aspiring blogger wondering where to start? Imagine bookworms with lipstick.................. and you just imagined us!

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Movember - fantashtic!

Move over November, Movember is almost here. What does this mean? Well chaps, start preparing to step away from your razors. Movember is all about the face hair. Hoorah! As a gal who loves a bit of face growth (see above pic....) I'm happily rubbing my hands at the prospect of working in an office with a variety of facial hair growth that embraces the love for all colours, shapes and sizes.  I'm very much ready for the whiskerfest but fellas, are you?

So what's it all about? Sponsored face hair,that's what. Chaps you grow the 'mo and we will donate the dough.... So where does the money go? The money raised goes to programmes run by Movember and their  men’s health partners The Prostate Cancer Charity and The Institute of Cancer Research.

To date Movember has globally raised over a  mahoosive (or should that be mohoosive?) £100 million for the fight against prostate cancer and depression in men. Pretty impressive for an initiative that began life in Melbourne Australia in just 2003. It's not just about raising money, it's also about raising awareness of men's health issues.

Some important facts and stats courtesy of the Movember UK website

Prostate Cancer Facts

  •  1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK – one man is diagnosed every 15 minutes 
  • A man will die from prostate cancer every hour - more than 10,000 men will die of the disease this year in the UK
  • African Caribbean men are three times more likely to develop prostate cancer. 
  • You are 2.5 times more likely to develop prostate cancer if your father or brother has had it Occurrences of prostate cancer in men are comparable to the rates of breast cancer in women
  •  Testicular cancer in the UK affects younger men between the ages of 20 and 50. There were 1,990 men diagnosed with the disease in 2007
  •  Men are 80% less likely to visit their GP and stay in touch with their doctors than women in the UK, thereby denying themselves the chance of early detection and effective treatment

Only men can get prostate cancer and the risk factors associated with it are:
    •   Ethnicity: African Caribbean men are three times more likely to develop prostate cancer.
    •   Family: you are 2.5 times more likely to develop prostate cancer if your father or brother has had it.
    •   Diet: if you have a diet rich in fat, dairy products and red meat, this may increase your risk of developing prostate cancer (and other health conditions).
    •   It is important that men of all ages are aware of their prostate and prostate cancer.

    So, you're up for the challenge? What are the rules? Well for those of you that are already sporting some lip hair - I want you to get naked.... What? It's in the rules?! The rules clearly state you must start with a clean shaven face on November the 1st.You need to register (there's a link at the bottom of the page) and you need to grow and care for your mo for a whole month. For this you will get sponsored. Donations can also be made online.

    Chaps, despite what you may think us gals want you to love your man parts. Like all good relationships it's important to get to know what feels normal, what feels right and what feels wrong. Even if you're not able to join in and grow a mo this time you still need to go over to the Movember site. It's a good resource for your health. Girls head over there too, we need to understand mens health as much as they do.

    If you are going to grow a mo then everything you need to know including how to register is on the website for you.

    Hopefully these pictures of handsome chaps has inspired your mostyle. I'd love to do a mostar gallery so email your photo and name to missyvintage@hotmail.co.uk by Dec 6th and I will create a post that is all about the marvelous Movember mofest!

    The links below are for the UK sites.

    Good luck chaps!

    For more information on Movember click here

    To go straight to the registration page click here

    You can also follow on twitter @ Movember UK and on the Movember UK facebook page

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    Imperial War Museum London - The Children's War

     On a recent trip to London I made time to visit The Imperial War Museum, this was my second visit. I loved it the first time but during this second visit I didn't just love it, I think I actually fell in love with it. I enjoy museums and galleries, this one though just has so so much to see, do and touch.Yes touch. I love that!

    I feel like I saw and experienced so much it's tricky to know where to start.... firstly a big important fact is entry to this museum is free. Tragically there are very few museums outside of London that are free entry, so to be able to enter this astonishing building without feeling like you will subsequently need to juggle your money for the rest of the month is refreshing to say the least.

    It's very easy to just wander around and lose yourself in all the history and artifacts. It's not just military machines, there is so much to explore and survey that I find it almost over whelming (in a good way) and incredibly thought provoking. It really brings to life war through the years. It's not dumbed down or prettied up. It's real, at times personal and encourages you to consider the impact of war from all sides and from all walks of life. The rich the poor, the soldiers, their loved ones, the old and the young.

    The second world war is of immense interest to me. I never stop being amazed at how people coped in such dark and terrifying times. I'm fascinated by what day to day life looked and felt like. From the day to day basics like food and clothing to the transformation of life for women as they were put into factories and fields and thrust into a mans world of manual labour. I'm intrigued by the fashions and the ingenious ways people found ways to make do and mend and this museum has an abundance of examples of life during the war. It's such an honour to be able to view such personal items that were once part of someones life.

     An exhibition that almost made my heart stop was The Children's War. This exhibition runs until the 3rd of January 2012 and I hope my words can do it some sort of justice because it's truly wonderful and I still get goose bumps when I think of it.

    The collection of photographs, posters, hand written letters, clothes and toys is such a sight to behold. I was reduced to tears. It was a very emotional experience. There's something so bitter sweet about seeing the smiling faces of children during the trauma of war. Reading letters sent to parents from children who had been evacuated from the cities were wonderful to see but heartbreaking too.

    Chaotic, spidery hand writing  becomes something so  meaningful and beautiful when it's created by a child and scribbled doodles become masterpieces. How bewildering it would have been for a child to be taken away from all they know and put into what was often an alien environment with strangers.

    Some letters chatted about what they had been doing, adventures and daily happenings. It made me ponder how I would feel as a parent reading such a letter. Of course I would feel relieved that my child was safe and well, but part of me would also fear that I would be forgotten and of course the heartbreaking thought of not seeing your child again. Horrifying.

    It all made me very teary, but the trigger for the tears to roll freely down my cheeks was a child's small suitcase. Packed just as it would have been ready for evacuation. The case was packed for a little boy and seeing the shirt, socks, braces, jumper and other items from home made me feel emotions I am not even sure I know how to express, it was incredibly moving.


    The Imperial War Museum guidebook gives the following statistics -
    •  130,000 children suffered the loss of a parent on active service.
    • 1,000,000 children were evacuated.
    • A further 16,000 children were sent overseas.
    • 7,736 children died as a direct result of enemy action.
    (The guide book was just £4.95 and was well worth it, I'd highly recommend you buy one if you visit)

     Also part of this exhibition is a life size prefab 1940's house which was absolutely fascinating to walk through, the decor is utterly fabulous.

    It's without doubt the best exhibition I've ever been too, the fact that weeks later I still feel a lump in my throat when I think of that little suitcase speaks volumes. If you go and see this, I would love to know what you thought of it.

    The Children's War and 1940's house exhibition runs until 2/1/2012. More information.

    Books you may like reading:

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    Southern Retro - The collection

     In the summer I was fortunate enough to be asked to take part in a photographic project about folk who have chosen vintage as a lifestyle choice. Photographer Mat from Southern Retro came to my home to take some photographs that would go into a online gallery. You can read more about the visit itself in my previous post here.

    Each subject in the project has a gallery of five portraits and a short biog. It's a very very interesting collection of people. Mat is a clever fellow and from a few well chosen questions I was required to answer (rather like an interview), he's put together a biog that I feel sums me up perfectly. Take a look for yourself by clicking here

    I may have mentioned (several hundred times...) that Norwich is actually pretty over flowing with vintage fabulousness, so Mat actually had six subjects to photograph during his time here. All the pictures are super and it's rather a nice little 'hello from Norwich' having six vintage loving creatures documented.

    So who are they? Well there's Gemma, aka Retro Chick and creator/editor of Vintage Norwich. Gemma is one of the U.K's top bloggers. Retro Chick is a vintage lifestyle blog, Vintage Norwich is the 'go-to' website for interesting vintage inspired happenings in Norwich.

    Lucy writes Glamourologist, a blog about the history of beauty, is an actual proper historian (if there were awards for glamourous historians Lucy would scoop the lot) and like me also writes for Vintage Norwich.

    Amy (AKA Flamingo Amy) is a very talented vintage hairstylist. Much in demand for her talent in recreating the most spectacular vintage inspired hair styles Amy works in both a Norwich and London. If you check out the website there is an appointment page, so you can see where Amy is and when.

    Finally meet Karen and Graham. A husband and wife team who run  vintage events company Blue Skies vintage events, it's not just a love of vintage this pair have in common, they also share a passion for dancing. Both are self taught dancers and they are completely compelling to watch.

    Do visit Mat's project Southern Retro, it's well worth sitting down with a cuppa or a tipple of something stronger and having a read through all the biogs that accompany the portraits. They are very honest pictures. Mat doesn't airbrush his subjects. It's all about real people with a real passion for vintage. It's an ongoing project so if you would like to discuss being involved then pop over to the website and contact Mat. I really hope you enjoy having a browse through the website and thank you once again to Mat *blows a big kiss*
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    All the fun of the Vintage fair....

    It was Vintage fair time again in Norwich yesterday. I visited this event earlier in the year so I was pleased to be able to attend again. (If you missed that visit then you can catch up by reading it here) It was certainly busy. The age range walking through the doors was vast. Teens rocking their eighties indie jumpers, well dressed uber glam ladies and everything inbetween.

    What I do like about this fair is the range of prices, there are bargains to be had. Some will be obvious, some you will have to root out.....

    Last time I was at the fair the thing that made me a little sad was a big rail of reworked vintage. What caused my eyebrows to raise this time was one dress.....A pretty, cute little floral number...nestled amongst a rail of vintage dresses.

    The dress in question was the Tesco label - Florence and Fred. If it had been on a rail with other second hand modern clothes, labeled something like ' The vintage style modern rail' I would still have been suprised that I'd paid £2 to attend a vintage fair to see a rail like this but I've no issue with creating a vintage look with modern clothes I just feel it was perhaps in the wrong place.

    The stall the dress was on was really reasonably priced, and although the Tesco dress didn't have a price on it, I'm confident they weren't asking a lot for it. So whilst there's no rip off pricing going on here, what do we think of a modern label being at a vintage fair?

    Hand on heart I'm no vintage snob. I love a bit of supermarket chic - I even wrote about getting a vintage look using modern clothes from my wardrobe. Many of the clothes in that post came from a supermarket. You can read the post here. One of my most loved dresses is a £9 dress from Asda, however I just can't help but be surprised to see it at a vintage fair...

    There were some absolute gems though, I adored Miss Kitty Hats stall. The fascinators were swoon worthy to say the least. If you follow me on twitter you will know that I occasionally tweet about wanting to be Paloma Faith - just for one day....well I thought of Paloma straight away when I saw this fascinator complete with colourful little bird.

    so much prettiness..

    Also catching my eye was a faux fur animal print coat. I *NEED* a coat like this. I really, really do.....

    There was a really good stall from the charity BREAK, which had some nice homewares and a good selection of dresses. I bought a fabulous electric blue 1980's maxi dress which I intend to make very 40's/50's  hollywood glam with wavy hair and a whole lot of red lipstick. Picture to follow... (I'm a tease, I know)

    There were some very fine looking cakes available but the afternoon tea area was so so busy that we decided to give it a miss rather than wait to pounce on a table when it became free. Everyone seemed to be chowing down happily though and the tea and conversation was flowing merrily.

    Refreshments were required though. So we headed to a pub. Where else?

    Whiskey sour anyone?

    Whilst this was being made a lady at the bar commented that she used to drink this cocktail in the 1960's. So a very vintage drink of choice. Vintage and delicious.
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