Monday, 17 December 2012

Christmas Flea Market

I went to the Christmas market in Smithfield this weekend hoping to pick up some more Christmas presents but mostly everything I bought was for myself. I bought a scarf for €5, a book of short stories from 1958 for €1, and a 1950s / early 60s beaded clutch shaped like Hello Kitty's head for €25. I think the Mary Quant tights are going to be part of somebody's Christmas present but it's not easy. Sorry for the excessive use of instagram but my normal camera is out of action.

Friday, 23 November 2012


I bought a pair of 1960s slippers on etsy, the shop doesn't usually ship outside of the US but I messaged and asked very politely if she'd make an exception because I rarely find vintage shoes in my own size and these ones are still in their little box. She very kindly agreed to ship them and I love them so much, which shows it's always worth asking! I also pilfered a little fur and pearl collar from my own shop which is super fancy.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


I bought an old French postcard at a market a few days ago, it was a hand-coloured photograph of a girl in an Edwardian dress. When I brought it home and put it with the others I realised I had started collecting strangers' photographs over the last year without being aware of it. Here are a few:

The girl in the yellow bikini and the three family snaps are from a bundle I picked up at a market in the US. The girl in the bikini appears to be the eldest daughter in the family. I really wish I could be in their family in the 70s they look awesome and if anybody ever recognises them TELL ME WHO THEY ARE I also want to know why they got rid of their family photos :(

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Vintage Shopping Tips

There are already so many blog posts and articles out there giving vintage shopping advice, I'm pretty sure I've even written vintage shopping tips for at least two other people's blogs. But given the nature of this blog I feel like it's a necessary (albeit tedious to write for a third time) post and I feel like I have more to add now anyway. These tips are the sort of things I take into account when I'm shopping:

1. Firstly, if you haven't been vintage shopping before it can look like a lot of effort and it's hard to know where to start. Unlike most high street clothes shops there is only one of everything. This can make the rails look a little daunting and untidy. There's no way around it, you just have to root. It is definitely a time consuming way to shop, so make sure you afford yourself enough time.

It looks like a lot of effort and it can be, but you won't find anything unless you get stuck in.

2. Bring a measuring tape and know your bust and waist measurements. You'll save yourself a lot of time and mental anguish in the changing room if you rule out the garments that aren't going to go near you. You'll also need to know your measurements to shop online as for the most part pieces won't be listed in standard sizes because standard sizes in the past don't necessarily relate to today's sizes.

3. If you're very taken with an item but it's slightly too small check the seam allowance, many vintage dresses have an ample amount which might allow for minor alterations. If the dress is too short, check the hem to see if there's enough fabric to let it down. If you're in doubt ask a shop assistant for advice.  If you're shopping online sometimes the seller will provide information about seam allowance, if not it's always worth contacting them to ask.

4. Familiarize yourself with the most common types of damage to look out for, I've highlighted the key words because I feel like my tips aren't colourful enough:
  • If an item has beading check for missing beads, personally I don't mind a few missing beads but it's important to establish whether they're still falling off (give it a shake) in which case it will need immediate attention. 
  • Make sure you can distinguish between a tear and a burst seam. A burst seam is super easy to repair where as a tear is not. This might sound obvious to some but not everybody realises the difference. 
  • Rust stains generally don't come out and they're quite common, especially on garments with metal fastenings which were stored folded up. 
  • Check under the arms, as this area experiences a lot of wear. 
  • If you're buying vintage fur be very careful to examine the garment thoroughly, fur that wasn't carefully stored can often be beyond repair. If the hide feels stiff and dry there really is no coming back from that. Tears are pretty common and can be hard to spot underneath all the fur.
  • Check carefully for moth holes, especially on woolen items, as they're easy to miss. 
When shopping online flaws should be noted by the seller with accompanying pictures, but sellers can occasionally miss something.

5. I've read some vintage shopping tips that warn against ever buying anything that needs alteration or repair, which I don't think is very good advice. Adjust your expectations according to what vintage actually means. If you're buying a pre-owned item that could be anything from 20-90 years of age chances are it will have some sort of flaw. It's old. If you don't sew yourself you could try asking the shop assistant if they can recommend a local alterations service (I'd be very surprised if they couldn't) and bring it there immediately after purchase to ensure you don't end up putting it on the back burner. Sadly, sometimes a garment really is at the end of it's life, if it's too big a job or you don't think you'll get around to it then don't waste your money.

6. Try on loads of different items, not just one. You'll increase your hit rate and you might surprise yourself. I've fallen in love plenty of times after trying a dress a friend suggested that I wouldn't have rated on the hanger. Going out looking for a very specific item is more suited to internet shopping, in an actual real life shop you have to be prepared to rummage, take chances, and ultimately broaden your taste.

7. The most frustrating thing I hear in work is adult women saying that they love something but it's "a bit out there" and they wouldn't have the confidence to wear it. I experienced this chronic lack of confidence when I was 15 in secondary school and it seriously depresses me that some people still carry that baggage into their adult life. I'm not sure how this qualifies as a tip but if you take anything away from it please let it be that you never bore me with your confidence issues. We all have them. Build a bridge.

8. Being able to date garments is a handy skill to have when vintage shopping. In my experience sellers frequently list the era incorrectly, so it's important that you learn to tell for yourself so that you can decide whether or not a piece has been priced fairly. I always have my eyes peeled for metal zips which generally place a garment in the 1960s or earlier. There are some general tips on dating garments here and I also use the Vintage Fashion Guild's label resource, it's very useful. Vintage garments from the US may also have a union label, you'll find a great deal of information on dating union labels here. The information on the Vintage Fashion Guild site is contributed by lots of different people, so it's not always accurate, as I've demonstrated below with a night gown I used to have:
A Christian Dior night gown with two labels (the folded one is Saks Fifth Avenue)

A screenshot of some of the Christian Dior labels from the label resource.

A screenshot of some of the Saks Fifth Avenue labels from the label resource.
According to the first screenshot of old Christian Dior labels the nightgown could be from the 1970s (3 labels down on the left row) but if you look at the bottom screenshot you'll see the last Saks Fifth Avenue label on the left row places the garment in the 1990s. Obviously not every garment is going to have two labels or indeed any labels.

9. Get an idea of average prices in different vintage shops and with different online sellers because prices can vary greatly. If you get a feel for the product and the typical price region you'll be harder to fool and unfortunately people do get fooled. The price on the tag isn't always indicative of the garment's true worth. For example I was in a local vintage shop a couple of days ago and spotted some lovely beaded 1960s tops at an astonishing €120, almost three times the price I sell them for. This works both ways however and as an example of the other extreme I was delighted to discover a 1940s dress for €25 in a local vintage shop recently (I love you Lucy's Lounge).  Minor differences in price are to be expected as different businesses have different overheads and means of sourcing. I generally expect to pay more in a vintage shop which I know hand picks their stock as opposed to a shop which bulk buys blind, and I don't mind this as I appreciate the expense and time it takes for shops to buy in this way, and I think it makes for a more enjoyable shopping experience.

10. THIS IS A BIG ONE. Take a few moments to distinguish between 1950s and rockabilly. Polka-dot, halter-neck, swing dresses are not 1950s they're rockabilly (and they are not my fave.)

11. Due to the nature of vintage when you find something you really like I recommend impulse buying. This probably isn't sound financial advice but there's only one of everything so just buy it. Within reason I guess. I've been left emotionally disturbed many times when I held off buying something and then when I returned it was gone. I missed out on a dress over 6 months ago and I still have a picture of it on my desktop so that I won't forget it and I still search etsy for similar ones. It was €20 why didn't I just buy it? WE WERE MEANT TO BE TOGETHER.

12. Other vintage shopping guides I've read usually include a point about not wearing too much vintage in one outfit or not dressing like you're in costume. Whatevs. Provided you take on board my lesson about rockabilly you should just wear whatever you want.

Remember that when you buy clothes on the high street as soon as you take them home and cut off their tags they lose value, this isn't the case with vintage. If you choose well and look after your vintage it will only increase in value with time.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

1970s Pocahontas Inspired Purchases

I've been busy with work over the past month so I haven't posted, but I found time to continue spending. I'm going to try to catch up real fast on all of the nice things I've bought, starting with this post about my recent purchases which were influenced by Native Americans, girls with really long hair, attractive desert scenery and nature stuff, and Cher in the 70s.
Clockwise from top left: Cher source unknown; Girl in floral trousers for UO by Petra Collins; Redrock Canyon, Kern County from National Geographic, 1942; Girl drawing source unknown; Life magazine image from; Woman bathing source unknown, teepee image from 
(Sorry for the unknown sources, I save a lot of images from tumblr and then forget where I found them.)
The suede skirt below was actually bought for me by my mother in River Island when I was 17, the belt was €6 in Oxfam, the handmade feather earring is from etsy, it was $16 before shipping (if you're in the market for some kind of feather thing to attach to your head this shop has a nice selection), the silver fox fur is also from etsy and cost $29.50 before shipping, and the moccasins were etsy again and cost $20 before shipping.

Soft soled moccasins are really comfortable for walking on grass or sand but not so much on cobbles.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Beautiful Bermuda Bag

It's been a while since I last posted but I'm hoping to have something vaguely interesting to post tomorrow. In the meantime here are some rushed and slightly dodgy photographs of new things that I like. Look at them! My cousin bought me a 1940s Bakelite hair slide and a shell compact mirror which looks kind of like a Polly Pocket toy. I like things that look like shells so I was pleased. This 1960s Bermuda bag by Trimmingham's was originally bought to sell in our shop but I fell in love with it and decided to keep it, as I often do.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Some thoughts on this year's DFF

The Dublin Festival of Fashion is now in its third year and truthfully I wasn't terribly excited about this year's event. I attended the media launch for the first two years but last year really hacked me off because of the Penneys (Primark for those outside of Ireland) catwalk show. I thought it was so depressing and really lacked integrity to showcase Penneys when there are plenty of other interesting things happening in fashion in the city.

Even though I skipped the launch this year I've been pleasantly surprised so far by the media coverage the festival has given to Irish designers. I hope that this indicates a possible shift in focus for the festival, as I believe that its strengths lie in drawing attention to local talent as opposed to promoting international high-street retailers who can be found in most European cities.

One Irish designer who has been highlighted is Honor Fitzsimons, who launched her Monster Knit collection last night in Project 51 (I talked a bit about Project 51 in my previous post). I think the colours look delicious and I bet it feels super nice too:

Honor Fitzsimons Monster Knit Collection

Atelier 27 on Drury Street (above Om Diva) is home to a few local designers including De Loup and Capulet & Montague who also enjoyed some well deserved publicity thanks to DFF:

Capulet & Montague necklace
I hope the publications currently featuring these budding designers will continue to seek out new talent after the festival is over.
Fringed dress by De Loup

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Project 51 Bad Girl T-Shirt

Last Winter I attended a great talk by Ruth Griffin titled “The Lost Fashion History of South William Street” which was held by Re-dress. By focusing on what was once the hub of Dublin's rag trade Ruth managed to paint a picture of not just the businesses once based on the street but of Ireland's once thriving fashion industry.

Ruth's talk focused heavily on Jack Clarke, a designer in the 1950s whose business exported internationally and once occupied two Georgian buildings on South William Street. A question was raised at the end of the talk, somebody asked if South William Street was likely to ever become a center for fashion production again. I was amused by their optimism. I guess the whole event left me feeling pretty positive about Dublin's fashion history but pretty negative about its future.

However I was pleasantly surprised the other night when I arrived at Project 51 on South William Street for the first time (which I'm a little embarrassed about as it's been there for a year). Just a few doors away from where Jack Clarke's business once stood, a collective of Irish designers have a workspace and showroom. I was there for the launch of a new t-shirt collection managed by and featuring a design from my friend Dearbhla O'Beirne.

Image by Kristina Collender
Dearbhla's design is an awesome screen-printed mugshot of a 1960s bad girl with big hair and eyeliner who, according to the t-shirt which I'm trying to read upside-down while I'm wearing it, was arrested for disorderly conduct. The t-shirts are ethically made from organic, fair trade cotton.

Potential customers should be aware that Project 51 is a luxury boutique and adjust their expectations accordingly. High-street shopping gives us warped ideas about the value of an item of clothing. I guess what I'm trying to say is don't expect that a limited edition, ethically manufactured, designer piece is going to be the same price as a mass-produced garment from the high-street.

It's really encouraging to see a collaboration like Project 51 emerge on South William Street and I wish the designers every success.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

J-New Hairband

For quite some time I've been coveting the hairband Joanna Newsom is sporting below. I was holding out hope that I'd find the same one somewhere, but I finally accepted that I'd have to make it myself. I bought a plain black hairband and stitched on about €20 worth of beads. I used little wooden beads of various sizes and a selection of kind of childish looking plastic ones in all different shapes and colours. I didn't realise beads were so expensive, which is why I just beaded the front of mine. Maybe I'll add a few more as I get the money or something.

Image from

Image from

My attempt. Super hard to photograph myself.
It looks like sweets.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Really Old Clothes

I left a case of really old clothes in my aunt's shed 2 years ago and never got around to sorting them out until this week. The overall state of them was disturbing her a little so it was time to find them a new home.

I bought the case pretty rashly in an auction without knowing anything about the clothes or their condition, which was stupid, but I don't really regret it because they're super pretty and sort of ghostly looking. I guess I presumed I could sell them, but I didn't realise their condition was quite so bad.

The white dress in the center seems to shred every time I even think about it so I couldn't get a good shot of it. It has the most exquisite beading around the hem but the weight of it is causing the chiffon shell to fall apart.

I have very limited knowledge when it comes to pre-1920s clothes so I really can't say too much about them. Two of them appear to be wedding dresses - tiny, tiny wedding dresses. I vaguely remember that when I looked at them the first time around one of them had a date written in pen on the inside that said 1913. There's a fancy red coat like a hunting jacket or something, a brown 1920s dress, and two dresses from the 1950s, which I might try to clean up a bit.

I'd love to know more about this jacket, it's so fancy.

The skirt on this dress is so full that it was hard to fit it all in shot. Black beading sweeps down the side from underneath a velvet bow. The matching bodice is tiny. This piece isn't as old as the others and features a metal zip. The others mostly have hook and eye fastenings.