Saturday, 31 July 2010

I left my heart in Paris

Accessorize are right on the mark with their latest stationery collection. As my move to London and to university hovers ever nearer I am on the lookout for pretty (of course) stationery and this Paris inspired range looks just the trick. Just give me something romantic with a hint of 'La Belle Paris' and I'm sold.
This notelet set looks perfect for the most stylish correspondence, or ideally, the sweetest of love letters. (Set of 8 notecards and envelopes £5)
I particularly like the chunky size of this pretty notebook, making it big enough to contain all my thoughts, scribbles and endless lists. (Notebook £7)
A useful A4 file; practical, but with its romantic Parisian pattern it is practically perfect too. (A4 file £3.50)
'I'm sticking with you'
And finally these lovely post-its make shopping lists and phone messages so much more appealing. (Post-its £3)


Wednesday, 28 July 2010

A Fine Vintage

There is just something about vintage. Anyone can buy something new, but to own something steeped in history and nostalgia is something else. From old books faded by time and the fingers of decades of readers, to fabrics that hark back to bygone eras and conjur images of fifties balls or sixties bops, it is in vintage finds that you can fall upon something truly special.

If you love vintage, then there is no better place to visit than 'Nostalgia', Niki Fretwell's vintage emporium in Shepton Mallet. It may be a small shop, but an emporium it is nonetheless. Every surface of the shop is brimming with vintage delights, everything carefully sourced and selected at vintage fairs and shows. Niki helped me with the 'Vintage Pink' section of Love Pink, contributing beautiful photographs of the prettiest and pinkest amongst her extensive collection. Last week I paid her new shop a visit, glad to thank her for her help but also to spend some time rummaging through her wares.
In one corner of the shop stood an old wardrobe bursting with colour; vintage dresses, coats, skirts and shirts cried out to be worn. However it was the hat shelf that really stole my heart. From small pill box hats to flamboyant straw numbers adorned with flowers, these were hats for making a statement, and of course they had to be tried on. My favourite was the hot pink headband I tried that was covered in flowers. I felt quite the flower fairy and was close to buying before I realised that in reality the occasions for wearing such a headband would be limited.

Because that is the problem - we don't wear hats nearly enough in my opinion. A good hat is to me the epitome of style and confidence. Perhaps in fact I should have bought the headband and started a revival. Oh well, it just means another visit to the shop. What a shame.
The shop was an eclectic mix of goodies, such as these knitted cupcake pin cushions that look good enough to eat.
I loved this beautifully upholstered raspberry pink armchair and could imagine myself reclining happily in it with a cup of tea sipped from a chipped vintage cup.
Not only does Niki source the items she sells in her shops, but she makes her own creations using vintage ingredients. Beautifully embroidered cushions, bags made with black and white photographs and scraps of old fabrics, and my favourite - cloth dolls dressed in vintage.
I couldn't, of course, leave Nostalgia empty-handed. As soon as I walked in I spotted a fifties dress hanging up - turquoise with a black rose pattern, and, luckily - a size 10. I tried it on and never wanted to take it off. Fifties style dresses have to be my favourite - all that waist and femininity - and this one was in such a fabulous colour and pattern that it really was love. The dress is now hanging up in my room and makes me smile every time I look at it. And then I just couldn't resist a faded old book called 'The Kingdom of Love', poems about love that a helpless romantic like me can't help but fall for.

When I visited the shop it was pouring down with rain, puddles ran down the street and I was soaked through and cold. But Niki's Aladdin's cave brightened my day.

Or visit the shop yourself


Friday, 23 July 2010

London Calling

Sunday the 12th of September. The date is ingrained in my mind. I have a countdown chart pinned to my wardrobe - every evening I cross off another day, one less day until the 12th of September. Because that is when I move to London. Of course I will be sad to leave behind friends and family, but I will also be leaving behind a town with no shops or cinema and a restlessness for a new start. I may still have quite a long time to go, but each day that brings me closer to starting at the London College of Fashion makes me happier and happier. I can feel London calling.


I love England

Tea and homemade cakes, bric-a-brac for sale on the lawn, sunshine and stretching views of the English countryside. A few weeks ago I went to a charity tea, cake and clothes sale in Hatch, a tiny pocket of nostalgia in the Wiltshire countryside, and it reminded me how much I love England. As children ran through the gardens and men sipped tea in straw boaters I thought to myself - there's nothing quite like this. The gardens were beautiful, filled with lovingly groomed flowerbeds bursting with colour. My favourite flower was this cerise poppy - I had never seen a pink poppy before and the dazzlingly bright colour stole the attention amongst a bed of greenery, and my heart.


Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Pretty Pickings

I have always thought of Miss Selfridge as Topshop's little sister; tugging at the too short hemline of her too tight skirt, trying to be noticed yet forever in the shadow of her quirky, confident and blow-dried older sister. Her wardrobe seemed to be a monotonous collection of minidresses, hotpants and too-tight t-shirts. However, recent years have seen a shift in style, and subsequently in my perceptions. Whilst Topshop has chased the high fashion dream with designer collaborations and more exclusive ranges (and price points) the little sister has grown up. Walking into a Miss Selfridge store in 2010 you are met by fashion conscious clothes with pretty twists, and the desire is in their relieving wearability.

So here is a pick of the prettiest (and, naturally, pinkest) pickings from the dark horse of the high street...

The dungarees above (£35) seem to be the pure embodiment of summer. Team with a white vest, headscarf or straw hat, espadrilles and a love-worn shirt for summer evenings.

The sailor girl / Chanel connotations of this pale pink bow front dress (£39) make for a very cute LPD (Little Pink Dress).
Covered in a glorious summer boquet print, this playsuit (£22) is listed as beachwear - so is perfect for throwing over a bikini. But teamed with the right accessories (wedges, 'done' hair and popping pink lipstick) it could make a splash away from the shore too.
These fab earrings (£7) remind me of a collection of rings Dior made a few years ago, rings that I pined over and whose advertising campaign still adorns my bedroom wall. Unfortunately the Dior versions were (just a little! ha) out of my price range. In step Miss Selfridge, therefore, to soothe my tears with their cheeringly affordable interpretation.
Espadrilles are a comfy and left-field summer shoe that somehow seem completely right. These floral versions (£12) are right on the mark.
These heels (£39) are utterly fabulous. With their retro look, chunky heel and big bow I want to wear them whilst dancing the night away to sixties hits.
On a more demure tone, these blush pink peep toes (£35) have a more manageable heel and are laced with a silk ribbon that is beyond devine.


Good enough to eat...

My first Saturday job was in a bead shop called Bijoux Beads. It is a beautiful shop selling an array of gorgeous beads and handmade jewellery, with 3 stores: in Bath, Salisbury and Shaftesbury. Looking through photos on my computer I found some that I took whilst I was working there, and they have reminded me how much I loved it. There is something deliciously tactile about glass beads; each Saturday I would sneakily plunge my fingers into the trays brimming with sugary colours.

If I was given a pound for every time a customer said, "Mmm these look like sweeties," I would have been rich, but they were right.

Whilst working there I learnt the skills to make jewellery to sell in the shop as well as teaching jewellery making classes. It has been a long time since I made anything but I can feel the creative itch starting again. Before heading off to university I long to buy beads and make some jewellery to match my favourite outfits. And that's the joy of making something yourself - you get exactly what you want.
Looking through the Bijoux Beads website I have picked out my favourite (mostly pink) beads, the beads that make my mouth water and my heart glad.
Pink dotty handmade glass heart £2.95 I think these would look fab as a pair of dangly earrings.

These hearts (£2.50) were always one of my favourites. I liked to use them as a pendant on a simple chain, or adorning a chunky charm bracelet.
These pink and gold Indian flower beads are so cute, and only 45p each.
I love these metal daisies (£1.50) and long to make the ultimate daisy chain: a necklace made entirely of these flowers strung together.
And finally these pink and gold beads (45p) with their flower pattern are mouth-wateringly lovely.

I love Bijoux Beads xxx


Happy Camper

You could probably guess, but I am not a camping person. I say this, however, after returning from a week of camping in Devon with my friends. There are aspects of camping that I enjoy; waking up to "good morning"s coming from the other tents and to a breakfast of porridge and syrup or barbecued sausages. One evening we all sat outside in our sleeping bags playing cards, before lying back into the grass and falling asleep watching the stars. Luckily we woke up again and dragged ourselves into our tents before the first drop of rain fell.

Because that is the flip-side of camping. It rained at least once every single day. Shoes became sodden and my body acquired a permanent layer of damp sand after using the one towel I had brought with me for both apres beach and apres shower. I may have seen dozens of floppy bunny rabbits hopping around the campsite in my late night toilet excursions, but I still got cold and returned to the tent damp from the rain.

However, perhaps my biggest objection to camping is my aversion to khaki. It may be the colour of next season, however it loses its allure somewhat when in the form of a sea of drab tents as opposed to a jacket or shearling coat. Why does camping equipment have to be so deeply unattractive? I fail to find one good reason why a tent should be khaki. Camouflaging into the surroundings? Surely that's the last thing you want when returning to your tent after the pub or trying to locate it after nipping to the loo at 2 in the morning.

No, I mantain that any camping experience would be greatly improved if it involved sleeping underneath this Zandra Rhodes teepee tent (£89.99 at Millets). This is the ultimate tent for the ultimate happy camper. Because in the words of Coco Chanel, "Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening." So why should fashion stop at camping?
To match the Zandra Rhodes tent is this snuggly sleeping bag (£24.99 at Millets), both warm and pretty enough to induce the sweetest of dreams.
There'd be no chance of losing this multi-coloured tent from Millets (£49.99).
This whacky zebra print tent is a pop-up version making for quick and easy assembling. (£24.99 at Millets)

I am lucky enough to own this pink sleeping bag, which I slept in last week along with my pink 'Love' cushion that I brought with me. It is so warm and comfortable (not to mention pink and beautiful) that I am tempted to sleep in it at home too. (£24.99 at Blacks)

And last but not least, I am in love with 'Anorak' sleeping bags. The comfy sleeping bags come in a range of kitsch designs for the most stylish night's sleep. This bunny version has to be my favourite. (All designs £55)
I love this cute birdie bag.
And if you're bored of counting sheep, try counting boats instead.


Sunday, 18 July 2010

Anyone for tea?

Today I spent the afternoon baking. Again. This time lemon, raspberry and white chocolate cupcakes, which I am not afraid to say are fabulous. As I wafted around the kitchen in my pink polka dot apron, singing along to my music, the sun streaming in and the air sweet with the taste of icing sugar I thought to myself how very lovely life is. And who could not be happy with 24 pink cupcakes to eat all by themselves...? (Ok, maybe I'll share if you're nice to me...)