Hair today….wishing for glamour tomorrow!

Victory rolls, pin curls or well filled snoods – all these I can but dream of since I have the shortest hair imaginable which just refuses to grow more than an inch in six months!

Added to this, being of Afro-Caribbean descent, my hair has its own issues to contend with such as weak ends and frizzy roots. Most of its problems are kept under control through the amazing skills of my fave hairdresser, but not to the extent that it will do exactly what I want it to 😦

So how does a girl like me manage to keep up with the vintage hairdos? Well the answer is very poorly I can assure you! I am forever Googling new images or Youtube videos for hints and tips but not getting very far.

In desperation I have gotten into the habit of sticking colourful accessories into my hair. Whether an Alice band to match my dress or jeans, an orchid for the tropical dance, a glitzy red diamante number for an evening out, or paper and cloth flowers that I like to twist around hair clips and fix behind one ear. If it adds a hint (and I do mean just a hint) of girly chic then I am happy to try it out.

Pretty things for my hair

Unfortunately there aren’t any women old enough to have been sweet sixteen or older in the 1940s or 50s in my immediate family so I haven’t been able to glean any information that would help me with the hairstyles or how they coped. So if you have REALLY short hair, and particularly if you are a Black woman interested in the 1940s and 50s and have some solutions or memories I’d be so pleased to hear from you and how you do your hair.

Hints and tips, videos, photos….they are all very very welcome so please do get in touch. Now that my hair is below my ears  I am off to the hairdresser again and hoping that she may be able to work some miracles!


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Posted by on July 9, 2012 in Clothing


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All the fun of the fair….twice!

As a child when I knew there was a fair coming to town I would be on tenterhooks for days as I was so excited. Then the day would dawn and accompanied by my mum I’d clutch my precious pennies in my hand and enjoy the mad, loud, brightly coloured and mystical world of the fair 🙂

So you can imagine how I felt when I’ve known for weeks that there was going to be a pop up vintage fair at Islington town hall on Sunday 24th June, particularly as this was my first pop up.  For some unknown reason when I got dressed in comfortable jeans, top and trainers – (I’d read somewhere it was best not to go vintage at fairs in order not to show your enthusiasm to sellers)- I found I was incredibly uncomfortable. It just didn’t seem right not to be properly dressed so out came the utility jeans, bowling shoes and fitted jumper and the outfit was completed with a tied headscarf and matching earrings – much better 😛

The fair proved to be small but well attended both by sellers and buyers/visitors. There was a good mix of clothing and jewellery and a nice smattering of oddities such as those involved in designing recycled stationery from old storybooks. I was delighted to have a chat with Jane Fairhead of Fairheads Headwear. Her hats and “frivolities” were so glamorous looking. My hair is the bane of my life and I have been looking for 1940s/50s headgear that will still be fit for 2012 living. I’ve yet to see many fine vintage examples of a particular headband design that sits at the back of the head like this or this – and so I was delighted upon Jane telling me that she can make designs to order – watch this space as I will definitely be in touch ;-).

The lovely Jane of Fairheads at Islington town hall’s Pop up Vintage Fair

Just when I was thinking about settling down to an afternoon tea courtesy of their pop up tea room, Jane mentioned that there was another fair on today! The Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair at the Old Finsbury Town Hall was just 20 mins away so how could I say no! Fortunately my sister is very long-suffering and likes clothing so was more than happy to venture forth.

Ohhhhh it was like Christmas had come early 🙂 There were three rooms filled with clothing from all eras including my beloved 40s and 50s of course. Beautiful frocks – day and evening, suits, shoes and handbags to erm and ahhh over. If money had been no object I would gladly have filled my wardrobe.  The majority of the sellers were friendly and happy to chat although there were one or two who just seemed determined to be miserable – clearly it was all about the money with them and they just didn’t want to spend time with people just having a browse (strange attitude to take at a fair!!)

Just one of the packed out rooms of goodies at the Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair

I contented myself with those who were happy to chat and show their goodies such as the spectacles stall, or the vintage handbags and I know that I will be looking out for them again next time – and they’ll be the ones that I will want to buy something from. Having recently bought two new vintage dresses I couldn’t let the purse strings go so settled for some gorgeous jewellery accessories and resting my aching feet over a great cuppa, a well deserved toasted sarnie and some fab cream cup cakes from the tea room.

Some pretty brooches to liven up a few outfits

All in all a very good day out and I can certainly see these fairs being fixtures in my calendar!


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Posted by on June 26, 2012 in Clothing, Events, Reviews


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If the shoe fits… I’ll take three pairs!

“Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world”… Marilyn Monroe

I have many passions in life and they come and go – like my handbag collection which used to be my all consuming interest but is now a mere bagatelle. But there is one love which has remained constant throughout the years – my love of shoes 🙂

A recent clear out resulted in three in the dustbin, 16 off to the local charity shop and just 57 pairs left (not counting the trainers and knee high boots). Once I discovered the world of vintage it was just a matter of time before vintage footwear began to appear in my footcloset. I use that term lightly as I actually mean new/reproduction – footwear is like underwear – too personal to have had a previous owner as far as I am concerned!

My favourite pair is a Remix blue and white laceup set that goes brilliantly with anything navy whether jeans rolled up at at the hem, wide leg navy trousers with deep turnups or a blue and white pinstripe pinafore trousers. With a low wedge heel they are incredibly comfy and easy to be in all day whether that’s to the office, out for dinner or dancing all day and night 🙂

Shoes glorious shoes! – vintage reproductions

And there in lies the reason most of my vintage shoes come from Rocket Originals. This firm prides itself, quite rightly, on remaking shoes based on original designs from the 1940s and 1950s. And knowing that many people will be using them for dancing sometimes add in a few new features such as cushioned innersoles so you can keep going the whole night long. I can certainly testify to how brill their shoes are having rocked around the clock at events like the Rhythm Riot which is a full weekender.

Rocket Original designs are, fortunately for me, just within my price range and not as exorbitant as some of the shoes I have seen out there. I would love to buy more shoes from Re-Mix which is a USA based company but their prices are out of this world, not to mention shipping costs 😦  I’ve visited Johnson’s Shoes, here in the UK, which is where I got my Re-Mix set from but he doesn’t have many choices/styles and the prices can be a bit steep as he also has to import them (but my pair are worth every penny!).  Revival is a new one on the scene, and they recently opened a shop in London. They have some good styles – particularly if you are in to the 1920s and 30s, and the prices do vary between what I think is pretty reasonable to the “I need a sugar-daddy” level lol!

Vintage-inspired footwear is also something I keep an eye out for and last year found myself buying the same pair in three different colours as I’m a firm believer in grab it while you can cos you never know when it will disappear and not come back! Believe it or not these beauties are Hush Puppies 😛

If you love it and the price is right then why stop at one colour??

I am always on the lookout for places to shop for vintage-looking shoes so do drop me a line if you know of any more please.


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Posted by on June 20, 2012 in Clothing, Uncategorized


One size does not fit all… so thank God for alterations!

There’s that spine tingling moment when you look across a shop or vintage fair and spot a dress, skirt, pair of trousers or shoes. Whatever it is you KNOW that it’s perfect and your life will be complete as soon as you get your hands on it. But when you’ve fought your way through the crowds fervently praying no one else spots the prize you suddenly get an inkling that the sizing may be off – and once in the changing rooms your fears are confirmed – BOOHOO 😦

For  me this happened once too often – this time my fave online shop for trousers (Heyday) was having a one day sale on abserlootley everything. I now buy all my trousers from Shona as having tried others I have found her cuts are shapely, the fabric is great quality and it all hangs beautifully. Occasionally I have found that a size in one colour can be slightly better fitted than another which I put down to the fact they are not mass produced – and it’s not enough of a difference to cause any problems.

The sale was mad and sizes were disappearing fast 😦 Having lost over a stone I am between sizes for a lot of clothing let alone “vintage look” gear so had to take the chance on a bigger pair as that was the last size available. Unfortunately as soon as they arrived I just knew they would be too big but I couldn’t bring myself to part with them.

Instead I decided it was time to visit the world of “alterations” and found Clive of Face-T clothing and alterations, just yards, or is that metres, as the crow flies from me, in the picturesque Olde Watermill and shopping village in Barton-Le-Clay, Bedfordshire.

I took along two pairs of trousers – one to be taken in and one to be let out from my skinnier days! On hearing my request Clive lifted a sceptical eyebrow and said “Let out – on women’s trousers? and just where are we going to find the extra fabric for that?”. But upon inspection he crowed with delight; “Now you don’t often see that – an allowance in the back seam that you usually only get on mens. Whoever made these really knew what they were doing.”

Clive is an avid designer and likes nothing more than creating designs and helping customers achieve the perfect fit. He said: “Seeing you standing here in all your old style clothing takes me back to when I was a kid -I remember seeing my mum in all these fashions [1950s] and I’ve been noticing that it’s all making a comeback. At Face-T we can, and have, made it all from scratch and ensure you get a really personal and flattering fit.”

Just a few days later and for a very reasonable price I now have two more pairs of classic looking trousers which fit fabulously 😛

  Here’s a classic look for me – Heyday trousers, Vivian of  Holloway top, and  Remix shoes (the glass of wine is not always included!)

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Posted by on May 31, 2012 in Clothing


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It’s a Vintage Life for me!

My review of a great read – Vintage Life magazine

Absentmindedly flicking through websites linked to vintage events I found myself suddenly on a Facebook page for  Vintage Life magazine.

Thinking it was an ad hoc hobby e-zine I sorted leisurely through the pages but suddenly my interest was well and truly grabbed and I sat up straighter as I realised this was anything but an amateur rag. This was an honest to goodness fully fledged magazine specialising in what it says on the tin.

Where could I get my hands on a copy of Vintage Life? Well you could knock me down with feather – apparently it’s stocked at both Sainsbury’s and WHSmith. Well for three days I ventured into each of the four outlets I pass on my way to work (it’s a long commute!) but to no avail as they were just too small. But on the fourth day I finally made it into the town centre in Kingston on my lunchbreak and there it was – a beautiful handbag sized glossy mag 🙂

I eagerly plucked a copy from the shelf and scampered off to the tills. £3.70 and it was mine! I tucked it into my bag and although desperate to open its pages and dive in I didn’t want to be interrupted at work.

By some hidden depths of strength of will I managed to hold out till I got home. Then the door locked, a mug of tea within reach and the cat purring on my lap I settled back and finally opened my mag 😛

Brilliant! from front to back I loved it. I will happily admit I got very excited seeing the details and references to shops and events that were easily within reach of a short car or train journey. Also delighted by Lynsey Le Keux’s article on the dos and dont’s of wearing flowers in your hair. My hair is lamentably short for anyone with an interest in the 1940s and 50s – I can but dream of Victory Rolls! Instead I often adorn my hair with flowers and clips to compliment or match my outfits as my concession to a “finished look”, so this article gave me lots of good advice about the best way to wear them.

The article about the cake made for Dame Vera Lynn made me smile – and I was truly jealous that I had missed out on hearing her sing as these days that’s about as rare as hen’s teeth and I’ve been a fan of hers ever since I first heard her recording of “The White Cliffs of Dover” and “We’ll meet again”.

The reader’s pics of their shoes made me giggle particularly as I recognised a pair I own! There is just one article I did gloss over and that was the “Guilty Pleasures – funnel cake” as it celebrated chocolate. In particular Nutella which has never been a favourite of mine 😦

I will certainly be subscribing – but I think I’ll wait till the next issue as the subscription gift is a red lipstick – and that’s a colour I NEVER wear 😉



Posted by on May 24, 2012 in Great reads, Reviews


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Anyone for a Shake, Rattle and Roll?

Today’s modern dance leaves a lot to be desired! I’m all for creativity and “getting down and doing your own thing” but I often think a girl takes her life into her hands and certainly risks a bruised limb or two if she’s near an over enthusiastic fellow dancer 😛

As a kid I spent a lot of time peering out of my bedroom window jealously watching the boys and girls attending the Peggy Spencer Dancing Centre. I dreamed of dressing up in the posh frocks and gliding across the ballroom. Strangely when I grew up and left home I found I wasn’t remotely interested in tripping the light fantastic.

However a few years ago I received an invitation to Maddy’s jiving school, run by Robin and Collete. Having no interest in visions of me being swung over someone’s shoulder it took a fair bit of persuasion to get me to class. But once it was explained that not all forms of jive involve such energetic turns and tumbles I was willing to give it a try – and was hooked 🙂

Maddy’s worked on the basis of ten basic and ten advanced lessons which I completed several times and was able to use to good effect when attending musical vintage events. I loved the cues, the twists, the turns, but was invariably left frustrated by not advancing more than the twenty or so moves I’d learnt. I was also really keen to keep attending just to sharpen skills but not necessarily keep repeating the class as it proves to be an expensive way of doing it.

I KNEW there had to be more – and I was right 🙂 I’ve kept my eyes and ears open and a friend recently waved a flyer in my face – By some lovely miracle the Adrian Marsh School of Dance began a new class on Friday nights in Woburn Sands, just a few weeks ago for the economy saving sum of just £6.50 per session.  I’m definitely a dedicated student once the hurdle of having to find a partner was overcome as the class is set up so everyone moves around and shares 😉

Adrian has a fantastically easy manner and is very clear, and happy to repeat instructions if he thinks we need it. We’re a noisy bunch but he keeps us in line with a smile. The lovely Sara and he recently got married (congrats :-)) and she’s great at really showing us girls how to move – and I think she has a lot of patience with the guys too :-P.

The talented Adrian and Sarah take a break from teaching

The music – ahh the music is brill and I find myself bouncing on the balls of my feet in anticipation of yet another great track. All in all I’m really chuffed to have found such a great class so close to home where the guys and girls are all easy to get along with, the teachers are fun and soooo talented, and where I feel I am finally learning some fun moves that will really help a gal to shake, rattle and roll!


PS Make sure you pop back and have another look at this page soon as my photos of my dance class will finally arrive.


Posted by on May 24, 2012 in Events, Music, Reviews


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Hi and welcome to Vintage Vapours

So vintage…so modern!

Hi and welcome to my blog Vintage Vapours. My recent love affair with all things vintage from the 1940s and 1950s began a few years ago but has recently really taken off.

I’m a bit of a lost soul as no one amongst my family or friends shares my interest whatsoever and I often find myself either begging my long-suffering partner to attend an event with me, or just biting the bullet and going along by myself 😦

Thankfully the folks I meet at many events are really cool and a sociable lot so I don’t often feel like a spare wheel or worse still a voyeur! But this year I decided that things had to change and I need to make more of an effort to find like-minded people who want to go to events, share tips on clothing, music venues and indeed anything else to do with this era 🙂

I thought I would start this blog as a way of following my journey and hopefully reaching out to others who are more than happy to pass on their knowledge. I truly welcome your comments and am happy to link to other people’s blogs – (I’ve seen some great ones out there and am becoming quite an avid follower of one or two of you!)

“Vintage Vapours – fits of passion for vintage fashion”, is very much a work in progress so bear with me as I bimble along on my journey 😉


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Posted by on May 24, 2012 in Uncategorized


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