Category Archives: New discoveries

Up the Camden Passage!

Hello Monday magpies,

Hope you haven’t been drenched or frozen solid today by this dreary weather!

Yesterday, I had a great day out with my older sister and my mum up in Islington, checking out all of the little boutiques on and around Upper Street. Unfortunately, I’m lacking funds at the moment, so it was mostly as an exercise in window shopping, but it was very enjoyable nonetheless!

It was the first time I had been shopping in Islington properly, having just had a quick zip around one or two shops earlier in the year, after a family lunch. While Upper Street does have some of the higher-end high street names (Whistles, Jigsaw, Hobbs et al), it also has a lot of wonderful independent shops, catering for the majority of tastes. Unfortunately, I was protecting my freezing cold hands from the wind with a pair of mittens, which weren’t conducive to taking notes (manually or electronically), and so specifics about the modern shops have evaded me. However, I shall going back to report on those, so never fear. Filling your piggy bank before hitting Upper Street is a good idea, as the boutiques vary from “treat yourself” prices to “eek! Better put that back on the rail before I damage it and have to get out a loan to pay for it”. Though even the expensive shops are well worth a look, if only for the unusual but beautiful pieces they have to offer.

My sister was mostly keen for me to visit the Camden Passage for the first time, due to my desire to add to my vintage collection, and I was glad she took me there. The shops were filled with the most wonderful pieces, even offering up real Victorian and Edwardian items (though I’m sure you can imagine the prices). But what caught my eye more than anything else were the original 1920s flapper dresses, in all of their designs and colours, whether tasselled or beaded, I loved them all. I was desperate to try some on, but I was also colder than a snowman without his thermals, so it wasn’t to be. I can’t wait to go back in the spring, ready to strip off and then prance around in every flapper frock I can find to fit me! (I’m all effed out!)

I’m also looking forward to browsing in a shop filled with what have been described as “proper wretched” eighties clothes. Think a maxi skirt that is see-through from the hips down, and some Nick Frisbee-stylee jumpers (ask your parents or have a Google if you don’t get that!). A great shop if you need a bloody good laugh!

Now I have a few more life’s ambitions (in addition to riding a penny-farthing) – I want to own something Victorian, Edwardian, and a real 1920s flapper dress. This means I have to learn a new skill – saving up! I also need to learn the worth of vintage items, as some shops have quite a mark-up. Maybe it’s because their rent is so high, or maybe because they can get away with it. Who knows? Though I’m sure if you have the confidence to haggle (which I don’t), and know what you’re about, you could get some good deals.

There are market stalls, too, which I’m sure are more reasonable. Each is laden with vintage items – my favourite was selling fabulous hats and bags – and the stall holders were very friendly and obliging.

Despite some of the prices, Upper Street and Camden Passage are really enjoyable places to shop, with lots of lovely eateries along the way (you have to try Ottolenghi’s carrot cake  – delicious doesn’t come close!). Not only are there lots of beautiful bits to buy, including some breathtaking jewellery, there are many examples of how to put vintage outfits together, often layering pieces from different eras. One window display showed a Victorian coat over an Edwardian lace over-dress, underneath which was an eighties maxi – and it worked!

I’m really looking forward to revisiting Islington as soon as possible, and returning home with some things old and some things new (nothing borrowed, but maybe something blue…). There are a lot more shops and streets to explore around the area, too. I’m very lucky to have my sister as a tour-guide, making mental notes of all the places I would love. Even if they do end up bankrupting me!

Keep warm in your nests tonight!

Missy Magpie xx

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Filed under Bargain hunting, New discoveries, Style search, Vintage

The Loss of my Vintage Innocence (or Ignorance!)

I’ve always been very interested in vintage clothes and vintage styles; my wardrobe is mostly a mix of Victorian, Edwardian, 1920s, and 1960s inspired pieces. Quite a variety!! But up until recently, I’d always believed that real vintage clothes wouldn’t fit my body shape; they all seemed to be tiny, or made for the curvy gals among us. Not boyish with a bum like me!

But, as you might remember from a few posts back, in May I went to a wonderful event called Tart, and things started to change.

The ethos of Tart is vintage glamour, and the first thing I noticed was that gorgeous women of all different body shapes were wearing vintage clothes, in all different styles, and from all different eras. And after having my hair done by the wonderful Lipstick and Curls, in a gorgeous 1940s rolled style, I knew I had to get into vintage dressing properly.

Luckily for me, through Tart, I met a fantastic vintage specialist, the wonderful Miss Naomi Thompson, proprietor of the renown Vintage Secret. After chatting on Twitter (follow Naomi here) for some time, Naomi invited me to her salon in East London for a girly afternoon. So my lovely friend Lou and I hopped in a cab and zoomed off to Hackney, where we found a little vintage oasis!

After drinking some delicious Hendrick’s Gin cocktails (made by Miss Thompson herself) and having a good old chat, Naomi helped me try on some of the clothes in her extensive (and mouthwatering!) collection. Honestly, if I could change my size and shape at will, I would have come home with everything there!! Thankfully for my bank account, I have yet to develop those powers (maybe after a few more x-rays…), so Naomi helped me find the best pieces to suit my shape and interests. As it was a special day, and I was in the hands of an expert, I said I would try any style. Oh how my eyes were opened!! I would never have chosen the first dress Naomi helped me in to; a 1950s full skirted dress. I always thought I would be too short, and too full in the tummy area, for that style, but it was love as the zip was fastened! I will need it taken up a little to suit my height, but I can’t wait to pop a petticoat under it, a white cardi over it (possibly just draped around my shoulders), and a pink slim belt around it. Preppy perfection! Now I just need to find my Danny Zuko…or maybe Kenickie…? Decisions, decisions!

As I mentioned before, I love sixties styles (inherited from my Mod-minded Dad), and when Naomi asked me which eras and styles I favour, swingin’ (oo-er missus!) and shift dresses were an obvious choice. Now, I can imagine the looks on your faces if I said “white background with big brown spots” – bafflement and/or horror, am I right? But let me tell you girls, it is F.A.B! With its ‘Peter Pan’ collar, super flattering fit, and perfect mini length, I couldn’t resist doing some sixties-stylee Top of the Pops dancing in it to express my joy! It’s destined to be worn with tights, a cropped jacket, and some dolly shoes. So what do you think of it?

Then I had a lot of fun trying on a rail of dresses; black knitted with lurex stripes; an evening dress that would be perfectly accessorized with a cigarette in a long, jewelled holder; ’30s tea dresses; 40s day dresses; 80s styles I could remember my lusting after as they sat in the fashion-idol cousin’s wardrobe back in the day. Even though they weren’t right for me, it was still great to try them, and discover exactly what does and doesn’t suit me. I had some surprises in the “no go” area, too – black knitted with lurex stripes was me all over on the rack, but did not look good all over me. Sartorial revelations were coming thick and fast!

But then Miss Thompson presented me with another little gem, and I was drawn to it like a magpie to a bright red jewel. We were back in the sixties, but the style was totally different (excepting the mini length, of course). This beauty was bright red with an all over ditsy flower print; the sleeves were long and loose, with flared cuffs, shirring to the front of the dress, and floaty skirt. Perfect as a summer day dress, or as a saucy evening dress with tights and sexy shoes. The Summer of Love was reignited the moment I slipped in to it! Doesn’t it make you want to run off to Woodstock with flowers in your hair?! I can’t wait to have a rummage through my Mum’s gorgeous hippy jewellery to find the perfect accessories.

My first experience of trying and buying vintage clothes was wonderful. So much so that I can’t wait to do it again! We even came away with goody bags, filled with yummy sweets, and vintage-style, cocktail-sized bottles of gorgeous Hendrick’s Gin! Of course, I’m still rather green when it comes to vintage, and my inner magpie would be grabbing clothes by the beakful, without checking seams, stitching and labels. But that’s not a problem for me at all. Why? Because it just gives me an excuse to raid the riches of Vintage Secret again, and fill an afternoon with all the best things in a girls’ life – clothes, cocktails, chat and cake. Seriously, what else could you want?! With my friends and family already queuing up to “accompany” me (how kind of them!), it won’t be long before I’m Hackney bound once again.

I hope I’ll see you there!

Missy x

Read the Vintage Secret blog here

And be sure to make an appointment with Miss Thompson forthwith – Missy’s orders!

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Filed under New discoveries, Vintage