Category Archives: Reviews

Bags of style!

Anyone who knows me knows I take my accessories very seriously ๐Ÿ™‚ My shoe collection which I’ve blogged about here is legendary, my fabulous Freddies jeans have been reviewed in depth and for some time I’ve been updating my bag collection – and quite frankly I have just got to share my latest finds with you ๐Ÿ™‚

Once again – I’m not affiliated to anyone I blog/review – so you can rest assured that you get nothing but my honest opinion! I came across the lovely Debbie and her collection, Bags by DKJ, at the vintage event outside John Lewis, in Milton Keynes earlier this year. Like a bear to a honeypot I was drawn to her display of beautiful bags. Since I failed miserably to take any pics of her stall I have shamelessly filched her pics from her Facebook site where she shows her items, to display here and this is (obviously!) one from an outdoor event.

debbies stall

Each handmade by her, the styles vary from crossover body, to Messenger, to handbag to weekender. My eyes were drawn to aย  handbag in what I like to think of as a sofa cushion cover style and also a tweed Messenger bag. Yep within five minutes I was driving the poor woman batty going back and forth between the two!!

IMG_1441Fortunately for me my beloved stepped in and bought the green one enabling me to feel thrifty with my pennies – and treat myself to the Messenger bag as well ๐Ÿ˜› You can see me wearing it on a day out – and please note how I’ve paired it with my favourite jacket and fave Freddies jeans (remember remember accessories maketh the outfit ladeees!)

small bagAnd here’s a close up of it

ย I love this bag as not only has it got bags of style, it is very well constructed with a rigid base, pockets inside which are handy for me to be able to find my phone and mirror immediately. On the outside the beige fauz suede is not just cosmetic but is also a useful pocket for train passes and timetables. I had been worried about getting that dirty but having accidentally swiped it down the side of my very wet and dirty Mondeo I was relieved to see it dry off and brush up a treat ๐Ÿ™‚

With an adjustable strap I often switch from across the body to wearing it over the shoulder depending on what outfit I am wearing. After quite heavy usage I am delighted to find it has kept its shape, no handles have come apart and the stitching is still impeccable.

The green sofa/upholstery handbag also gets a fair share of outings as I love its shape, its colour and how well it goes with my summerwear. You can see it here from one of Debbie’s pics. I often get compliments when using these bags as their style and make up is unique. All Debbie’s items are hand made and for me that makes them pretty special and well worth an investment. Although with each being ยฃ25.00 or under I do feel I have truly got a bargain and already have my eye on the blue Harris tweed versions….


The range of bags available in such lovely shapes, colours and sizes and at such great prices is, I think, quite staggering and I am constantly thinking of ones I want, no make that NEED, to own!! –

mixed bag pic

corsagesDebbie also makes corsages. I am now the proud owner of not one but three (the red, pink AND blue) after I spotted them on a shelf at Crafty Buzzards, a lovely craft shop in Leighton Buzzard where her goods are sold.

These are so well made I have been able to pin them to head bands to accompany several of my dresses – how’s that for versatility!

casesAs if that’s not enough her range includes laptop covers, glasses cases and purses – again all beautifully made and just so different to what you can find in the usual suppliers of ipad covers!

So there you have it – my handbag collection is on the increase and I can safely say that in the not too distant future it will have several more additions from Bags by DKJ. Particularly as she has introduced a vintage-look range – how splendid are these faux suede clutch bags ๐Ÿ™‚


Apart from the shop, Debbie can be found at many craft and vintage fairs – best bet is to either message her on Facebook or take a look at her events page there.

Now then – I have a birthday coming up soon so I wonder if my beloved will take the hint ๐Ÿ˜‰



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Thinking about jeans? Only Freddies will do!

Anyone who knows me knows I love to dress up – it’s a joy to create and co-ordinate even the simplest outfit so that it looks effortless yet has my personal style. Make no mistake – being casual takes just as much effort as formal wear – and when it comes to jeans like many women finding the right pair can be a hunt on a par with looking for the end ofย  a rainbow. Until the day I discovered Freddies of Pinewood. Now that I own a total of four pairs AND the dungarees I thought I’d review them for those not sure whether they really are all they’re cracked up to be ๐Ÿ˜‰

First and foremost I can tell you that I am not affiliated to Freddies in any way – I’m simply a girl who really likes their jeans and this is my view of the trying and buying experience, how I wear them and even what they are like after a hot wash!

Classics, Utility, Jeanies, Texsuns and of course the Dungaree Dolls - there's a Freddies of Pinewood for everyone!

Classics, Utility, Jeanies, Texsuns and of course the Dungaree Dolls – there’s a Freddies for everyone!

I first encountered Freddies at Twinwood about four years ago when I practically stalked a women who was wearing a rolled up pair matched with red wedges and a red and white checked gypsy top. I was blown away by how well they fitted and once she pointed me in the direction of the clothes stalls I was like a hound on the trail of a fox!

On finding their stall I was like a kid in a Candy store. The sellers of Freddies know their stuff which is important as the styles are fitted in a completely different way to modern jeans as they are worn very high on the natural waist line. The leg measurements vary from quite slim across the bottom, stomach and legs such as the Jeanies to the wider (and darker denim) Texsuns and of course they do many of their jeans in black and some in grey as well.

With so much choice I was pretty bewildered but I was impressed that there was no hard sell – I was even told categorically that I should hold off to get the right size if I preferred the lighter stitching of the Classics as opposed to the orange of the Texsuns otherwise I’d regret it. When it comes to sizing the team has a good chart on its website and you really need to look at this and how you want your jeans to fit – or if you meet them in person they can help you choose.

I am roughly a size 12 but with a big bottom. The last two pairs of high street jeans I bought were about six years ago and one was a size 12 and the other 14. With Freddies you are measuring higher up the body and should also think about leg size (I also have chunky thighs!). Most of my jeans are 30 and the Classic and Texsuns are not as hugging as the Jeanies, which fitted better at 32. I love Freddies because that high waist line is flattering, it covers my bum but nips back in to a fitted waist and having the zip and buttons at the side means a flat front and no bulge to add to my tummy from excess material. The thighs are covered without that tight fit which some women can carry off but which can make my thighs look like two badly stuffed sausages, and most essentially wherever I go I feel great in them ๐Ÿ˜‰

Over the last four years I have to admit that I have actually owned another three pairs of Freddies but that’s because when I had a dramatic weight loss two years ago I was heartbroken that nothing fitted. I ended up trading them in and using the cash to finance some of the latest new pairs. That is the beauty of Freddies – everyone wants them even vintage shops!

So why do I need so many different pairs? Whilst I am sure I could probably get by with just one pair I am a fan of jeans and want ones which fit. Indeed at one point in my life I owned more than 16 pairs of high street and “designer” jeans in my bid to find the perfect pair. Freddies may not be the cheapest but I think they are no more expensive than a really good quality pair of jeans. And as I haven’t bought any other brands since my first pair I think an average of five pairs in four years is pretty restrained shopping for me!

My choice depends on what I am wearing. My Jeanies with the slimmer legs are perfect for rolling up and wearing with wedged sandals, my classics are wider and team brilliantly with brogues, saddle shoes or my old-fashioned converse type trainers. My Texsuns are the widest and best with boots. It also depends on the tops I am wearing. I have a lot of reproduction knits mainly from Rocket Originals and the Texsuns with their bright orange stitching and darker denim are better with the warmer colours whilst the Classics with the more traditional lighter yellow stitch compliment the navy’s and blacks.

RAF Hendon, Freddies of Pinewood Dungaree Dolls

A day out at RAF Hendon in my Dungaree Dolls

The Dungaree Dolls were my first purchase and I love them because aside from a vintage event so few women are wearing dungarees. They are also incredibly comfortable. I prefer belt hooks on my jeans which my Utility’s don’t have so I don’t wear them as often as the others but I understand that the latest ones do have them. My favourite touch are the double buttons on almost all the waistlines – which are perfect for those fat days ๐Ÿ™‚

The denim is very sturdy – but do heed their warning about the dye! I once spent an afternoon on my guy’s cream fabric sofa in a new pair. Fortunately he’s very understanding and a quick whizz over with upholstery cleaner sorted it. I wash my jeans inside out on a 30 or 40 degree wash depending on what else is in the load and every time they have come out well. I line dry them rather than tumble dry and when they are almost done I use a steamer on them (right side out) to get out any creases. After all these years they still look great and I get a lot of compliments when wearing them.

And where do I wear them? Friday’s are dress down at work so out they come, every weekend they get pulled on and they are perfect for holiday flights where you need to be comfortable and relaxed. I wear them to events and gigs and to my jive classes which are pretty energetic yet am happy jiving the night away in them. And of course a pair always go in the case for weekends away – I was in Prague recently and my Texsuns looked great and were comfy with thin leggings on underneath to beat the cold and when teamed with a smart top were great for dinner. As the weather improves and I start wearing them with sandals and wedges I shall add some pics here.

Freddies of Pinewood, Rocket Originals knits, Collectif top

Stepping out in my fave jeans

Freddies has an easy to use website and I have bought tops and cardigans online and know women who buy the jeans online too. Personally I prefer to buy my jeans in person and since there are plenty of venues they tend to go to, such as Twinwood or the Rhythm Riot, I have had no difficulty getting my hands on their stock.ย  Incidentally I got my latest Dungaree Dolls at Black Rose London in Camden Town – to replace the very first pair I got at Twinwood all those years ago and then regretted trading in!

Below is a quote that could have been made specifically for Freddies I think!:

“When women wear denim it (the derriere) must look elegant. It’s the second thing every woman looks at in the mirror, but it’s the first thing she cares about. She does that half twirl, her back arched and her head craned around. If the jeans are right, the experience is transforming, like putting on a magic cloak.” ~ Ritu Kumar

These jeans may not be for everyone but I have yet to meet the woman who doesn’t look – and more importantly, feel fab in them. So there you have it, if you want jeans there’s only one place to go in my opinion, Freddies of Pinewood rocks ๐Ÿ˜›



Posted by on April 6, 2013 in Clothing, People to follow, Reviews


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Buzzing with style – The Great British Sewing Bee!

Being poverty-stricken when it comes to time I very rarely get dragged into watching television let alone a series. I made an exception for Mr Selfridge (well it is Jeremy Priven) but after accidentally catching the first few minutes of The Great British Sewing Bee I am totally and utterly hooked – and I assure you it has nothing to do with the oh so dapper judge Mr Patrick Grant ๐Ÿ˜‰

the great british sewing bee judges

Judges May Martin and Patrick Grant (Photo by Colin Bell)

As a child I attended an all girls school where sewing and cookery classes were the norm – and hated every moment of it. My mother and sister are prolific sewers – indeed my mother made my wedding dress such is her level of skill and my childhood is filled with memories of pretty dresses and pattern cutting on the living room floor. It was not until I bought my first home and developed a severe case of house pride that I picked up a needle and my love affair with soft furnishings began.

I can create swags and tails, triple pleat headed curtains, duvet covers and piped cushions with ease, yet two or three pieces of fabric to make a simple skirt seem beyond me. Broken needles and bedraggled fabric make it look like I’ve been using it to clean the floor and yet this hasn’t stopped me collecting a veritable mountain of patterns and fabric though! I am comforted by the fact that my mother, whilst a whizz at dresswear is equally hopeless with soft furnishings ๐Ÿ™‚

Watching the GBSB last night I was so impressed by the passion and determination of the sewers who are just ordinary people who love to sew. I found myself rooting for our dignified Ann who keeps it simple yet refined, and the underdog Martin who prefers to make costumes yet pulls it out of the hat with his contrast ladies dress. I love the fact that he’s this bloke working with trucks etc whose passion is sewing.

the sewers

Then there’s Sandra – reminds me of my mum when she describes how she continually alters clothing for her daughters. Tilly stands out because she has this passion to add her own style and is overly keen to show the judges what she can do. You get the impression that if she just got her head down and stuck to the exact task then she’d be streets ahead – But where’s the fun in that? Tilly’s style is what gives her her enthusiasm and passion and makes her one to watch. She certainly interests me enough to read her blog now although a bit worried looking at tutorials when she couldn’t spot where some extra darts were needed in that dress!

The show has your stomach in knots as you share the tension of the contestants – the rush to beat the clock puts a terrible pressure on people – I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve done a Sandra and sewed something on back to front! It was hard to watch them pick one to exit but I agreed with the choice of Michelle. If only because they had each been given the opportunity to try out their patterns (and supposedly their fabrics) at home and she hadn’t cottoned on to the issues with silk – why give yourself that handicap!! (although it’s not for everyone personally I use soft fusible on all silk edges to give them something to stick to).

The judges, May Martin and Patrick Grant, give you something to think about too regarding attention to detail. May is the epitome of that stern school teacher judging your work – and she has indeed spent years teaching at adult education courses. Patrick is an inhabitant of Savile Row – and it shows. He epitomises old-fashioned style for the modern-day man.

IMG_1331As for me I’m going to take a break from my latest haberdashery project and see if I can get this little project off the ground – the short version of the cape. If that goes well then it’s the long version to go over my circle dresses –ย  Fingers crossed ๐Ÿ™‚ย IMG_1140

And of course I’ll be tuned into next week’s GBSB – and keeping up with Twitter throughout the show – Hi to my 12 new followers who joined throughout the debate.



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The Lamours – Lola’s little (big) band kicks off.

Forget everything you know about Lola Lamour – when she performs with The Lamours it’s a whole new experience – and a great one at that ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve been a fan of Lola’s since I first saw her at Twinwood several years ago – it’s like she stepped out of the 1940s, with perfect vintage hairdos and outfits, and a wonderful singing style. This being my only experience of her when I heard she’d formed a 13-piece band last year I thought it would be a night out in her usual style.


Well that will teach me to actually read the blurb ๐Ÿ˜‰ – the website is quite clear that her “youthful and energetic young band has an eclectic mix of music genres spanning seven decades done in their own unique style.ย  Contrasting styles and tempos combining fabulous melodies with hypnotic rhythms. Swing, Soul, Tango, Blues, Samba, and Rockabilly all amazingly but effortlessly follow each other and are connected beautifully.”

And they don’t disappoint – kicking off with Soft Cells Tainted Love, it’s an explosion of new and old sounds such as What Lola Wants, Love Potion No 9 and Chilli Dippin Baby interspersed with the Black Eyed Peas I got a Feeling, and Mick Jagger’s Satisfaction. There’s even a knock out version of Britney Spearsย  Oops I did it again. I never in a thousand years would have thought I would be mesmerized by hearing that tune but The Lamours fire it up in great style ๐Ÿ˜›

Seeing them begin their new season at The Stables, Milton Keynes on Saturday (23 March) was a thoroughly enjoyable night. The mix of rockabilly, swing, samba and twist on modern tunes is seamless and the skills of the individual band members are excellent. Spotlights for piano, electric guitar and trumpet highlight how talented these players are – and as for the scatting, well that certainly earned some well deserved applause.

I’ve never seen such a youthful group playing with the ease of old hands! They know their stuff, clearly enjoy it and you are getting a professional worth-paying-for night out – and of course lets not forget the lovely Lola. Her great comic patter certainly brings a smile to our faces and her voice and delivery are on fine form as she knocks out those tunes with showman style.

I would definitely go to see them again and highly recommend them – take a look at their website for just a taste of what they have to offer. And I’m delighted to find that they’ll be at Twinwood on the Sunday which is the day I’ll be going. Regardless of what they’ll be singing I know we’ll be in for a treat.

lamours night outSo what does one wear to an evening to listen to The Lamours? Well you can certainly go along in jeans and trainers if you like but I love any opportunity to dress up. I defied snow and ice (and nearly fell over twice – eek!) to wear my satin Vivien of Holloway Grace circle dress and was lucky enough to be complimented by not one but three ladies ๐Ÿ™‚


Posted by on March 24, 2013 in Clothing, Events, People to follow, Reviews


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There’s a foot tappin boy inside this modern woman!

It’s a fact – I am a girl. ๐Ÿ™‚ Yep I’m pretty certain that mother nature and the good lord gave me the equipment and the inclination to be a girl – yet the time has come when I’ve decided it might be better to be a boy ๐Ÿ˜›

And it’s all to do with having happy feet! You know the feeling – a great song pings onto that juke box. Something to really get your feet tapping such as Little Green Frog by Clarence Frogman Henry, or Laverne Baker’s Tweedlee Dee or perhaps a more modern number from Si Cranstoun with Coupe De Ville. Whatever it is, it rocks and you just want to get up and dance.

Tweedle Dee - Such a foot tapping quirky tune!

Tweedle Dee – Such a foot tapping quirky tune!

And that’s when the frustration really hits as not one of my family or friends has ever learnt to jive! Noticing how many “girls” always seem to hang about the dance floor hoping for a twirl it occurred to me that I could make the switch and thus significantly increase my chances of having a great time.

My dance classes are with Adrian and Sara from the Adrian Marsh School of Dance and a more fun and patient set of teachers you will have to go far to find ๐Ÿ˜‰ They’re making it really easy for me to make the transition. They break down each move and repeat it with you till you get it right, mix and match new moves with old so that you are really comfortable and push you to try new things.

You will swing from frustration at your timing to annoyance with your own two left feet to giggles and helpless laughter at your interpretation of a good dance move ๐Ÿ™‚

Dance still from official Si Cranstoun Coupe De Ville video - watch them rock n roll!

Dance still from official Si Cranstoun Coupe De Ville video – watch them rock n roll!

And I have to say I feel I was born to lead ๐Ÿ˜ฎ – since I’m enjoying it far more doing what I want to do on the dance floor rather than waiting for a guy to make a good dance move. Maybe I’m more ofย  a modern woman than I thought!


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Posted by on January 18, 2013 in Music, Reviews


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The Big Vintage Weekender

Iย  would never describe myself as a groupie โ€“ that always strikes me as rather โ€œdesperate and tastelessโ€ yet I think I came perilously close when I saw Si Cranstoun kick off the Big Vintage Weekender.

Si came to my attention as his songs feature at my jive class – and after watching him through the wonder that is the iphone and YouTube I definitely added his CDs to my Christmas list. So when I heard he was performing at the Weekender I couldn’t resist.

What a brill night โ€“ Julie Jive and the Big Notes opened the evening with a really rocking number of tunes.IMG_0863 โ€“ I’m not one for the goth 50s look but she carries it off well and her voice, once it warms up, really is very strong and carries her songs well. The rest of the band are not as memorable with the exception of their bass player โ€“ now there’s a man who understands how to be a performer. Ever want to see a musician lying on his back with his bass in the air โ€“ how cool and so old school ๐Ÿ˜‰

Si followed and it was non stop rockin’ with the dancefloor properly stacked in appreciation. Big hits such as Coupe De Ville, Lonesome Heart Bandit and Dynamo were followed with new tunes (to me) but defo ones to get you moving such as Ella Hula Hula. One of my favourites is rather aptly named Tweet on Twitter lol!IMG_0866

Fantastic delivery made each song a real joy to listen to and I was incredibly grateful when my beloved went off to buy me his CDs; Dancehalls and Supperclubs, and Alternative Floor Fillers. Si was kind enough to sign them for me too.IMG_0876

My thanks must indeed go to my beloved โ€“ who has no interest whatsoever in the 1940s/50s but fortunately likes any kind of live music and more importantly seeing the massive grin on my face when I am enjoying myself.

He drove me not only to the first night gig but also back again the next day so I could browse the stalls in the hall โ€“ a 200 mile trip for a gig and a boot sale according to him!!

Well boot sale or not I was in seventh heaven โ€“ at the moment I am fascinated by vintage brooches for my jacket collars and found some incredibly pretty (read that as sparkly!) ones. IMG_0890

I was also tempted by a new pair of swing nautical trousers by Miss Fortune, despite the incredibly ugly cream ship buttons. Needless to say a quick trip to haberdashery and I’ve replaced them with some simple white ones โ€“ so much better ๐Ÿ™‚IMG_0874

Having listened to Si’s CDs several times now I must say I am seriously impressed by some of the quieter tracks like Bella Principessa, and Daddy’s Gotcha. Not a bad tune in the bunch so yep I am now officially a fan (but not a groupie!) ๐Ÿ™‚


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Posted by on December 7, 2012 in Clothing, Events, Music, Reviews


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To tweet or not to tweet… it’s addictive!

I may be a girl with a passion for vintage but now and then I recognise and appreciate some great things from the more modern world – washing machines and tumble driers, colourful polyester and washable wool, electric curling tongs, mobile phones and of course the Internet ๐Ÿ™‚In particular that great combination of the Iphone and the internet are one of lifes great wonders – and now I’m a blogger I thought it was time to explore that other great mystery known as Twitter.

To be honest I’ve put it off for ages thinking what on earth could be so interesting about anything that I would want to share it with the world throughout the day or even to read or follow anyone else. Well just under a month later and I now know what all the fuss is about. There is an addictive, even seductive quality to Twitter.

The ability to take snapshots of your life and want to share that moment finds you reaching for the phone – and the fine art ofย  juggling content and meaning in a concise 140 characters. Let’s just say that grammar goes out the window and it makes text speak seem positively the Queens English lol! I’ve been tweeting about clothing, events, music, and even motorbiking – but that’s another story!

That ping when a new tweet arrives has me reaching for my phone eager to see what is going on – and now that I’ve found some of my favourite vintage shops are in the twittersphere I love finding out what is going on with them and the latest goodies they have on offer. These include @Fredofpinewood, @ViVofHolloway and @VintageLifeMag.

I’ve also found new links to some great singers – @TheThreeBelles and @jiveaces are both acts I’ve seen at Twinwood and really enjoyed. Following them has pushed me more towards their music. I also started followingย @SiCranstoun after hearing his foot tapping, gotta get up and dance Lonesome Heart Bandit, (see the video) at my jive classes. He puts up get links to great new videos and I know exactly what I’ll be asking for as my Christmas prezzies ๐Ÿ˜›

There’s a whole world of vintage lovers out there on Twitter such as style icon @ApplebyJoanne and @lipstickcurls. And they open your eyes to new events, fashions, makeup and even baking tips – in fact everything that a vintage loving girl like myself could wish for.

I’m still getting the hang of sharing information (and hash tags!) – and my tweets are now linked to this blog for interested parties! I’m also pleased to say that I have gained a few followers of my own and several of my tweets have been retweeted by them ๐Ÿ™‚

So just in case you missed the point of my post – you can follow me @VintageVapours


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Posted by on October 23, 2012 in Great reads, People to follow, Reviews


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