zondag 23 oktober 2016

Handbags and gladrags

Last Saturday it was "Dag van de Kringloopwinkel" here in Belgium. For the sake of this blog, I am translating this as " Day of the Charity Shops", although strictly speaking, they are not charity shops, but "recycling" shops. For a more detailed explanation on how they operate, see my post here.

The event is being held to promote the working of the shops, but we, as dyed in the wool charity shoppers, needed no further introduction, of course.

In fact, when we received a flyer in the post a couple of weeks ago,  this would have gone straight into the bin, if my eyes hadn't been drawn to the smaller lettering, which said that there would be a special offer of "retro & vintage".

We are aware that in the run up to events like these, anything which can even be vaguely considered vintage, is being put aside.

We also know that the asking price at these events is higher than usual.

It is still worth having a look, though.

As our first shop, we chose our favourite one, which we visit about once a fortnight, as they usually have the best selection.

Although we weren't looking for anything in particular, we always keep our eyes peeled for cups and saucers of a pattern by Belgian pottery Boch, which until now are proving to be elusive. In fact, the shop had a mind-boggling array of vintage crockery on offer, but not what we were looking for ...

Still missing cups and saucers ...
We don't know the issue date nor the name of the pattern, but the fact that Jos's parents had this when he was growing up, dates it from at least the 1950s, if not earlier.

We did find an addition to one of the other Boch patterns we are collecting. This is called Rambouillet and was issued 1966 for the pottery's 125th anniversary.  It was very popular at the time and, after having been out of favour for many years, it is now quite sought after ...

Not to be deterred, I descended to the basement to have a look at the clothing, which was also quite disappointing. However, there was a whole shelf of vintage handbags! So this is why I hadn't been able to find anything decent in this shop lately ...

There were quite a few I liked the look of, and I had a hard time making a choice, which in the end I managed to whittle down to three.

Jos then persuaded me to take them all. As if I needed any persuasion ...

At special events like this, we tend to visit more than one shop, making the most of what's on offer.

One of the other shops we visited was a disappointment. Not only did we not find anything at all, the prices were quite exorbitant. I spotted a couple of handbags which were almost double the price of the ones I'd bought that morning, but which weren't even half as nice.

After our usual picnic (in the car this time, as it was quite chilly), we drove back home but at the last minute decided to pay a visit to our most local shop. This one is actually in our own village but has been quite disappointing on previous visits.

Not this time, though. The vintage tv would have come home with us, if we'd had the space for it. It was abolutely gorgeous and so much nicer than a flatscreen tv.

This is what we bought instead.

More crockery. From left to right: flowery cups to match the coffeepot and tablecoth we found recently, spare Rambouillet cups and a Boch milk jug from their Paradiso range.

You can just make out Phoebe's eyes in the background ...

More handbags, and a little beaded purse. I am desperately running out of space in this department now ...

And finally, a cute summery two-piece, shown here by Angelica, and woolly cap topped with a big pom pom shown by me!

Oh, and my outfit details:

Pussy-bow dress, belt: charity shopped
Handbag: Think Twice
Beads: Vintage Styling
Brooch: flea market
Cadigan, jacket (with detachable fake fur collar), boots, ring: retail

woensdag 19 oktober 2016

A little peek inside my wardrobe

Last Wednesday, I had an unexpected day off, as it was Yom Kippur (my boss is Jewish), which meant we were not allowed to come into work. It's an extra day we get on top of our regular vacation days, so who was I to complain? In fact, I immediately knew how I would spend the day.

It was time again for the biannual great wardrobe switch! I'd already made a half hearted start, but apart from freeing up some hanging space by putting away my sleeveless summer dresses, I hadn't gotten very far.  Wednesday turned out to be a dismal day, making it the perfect weather for what I had in mind.

 A word of warning, though: if you  prefer a minimalist wardrobe, this will be a shock to the system!

After breakfast, I took out the majority of my summer dresses, leaving only a couple of thicker ones which I might still wear, as well as anything which is a nightmare to iron and which I prefer to keep on their hangers all year round. I folded the others and made neat piles ready for putting into vacuum bags.

Then, it was time to open the huge linen chest, which used to belong to Jos's grandparents, and which we use to store out of season clothes. I took out all the bags containing my long-sleeved dresses, leaving only a bag of heavy woollen ones, as well as a bag of jumpers, which I'll tackle on a later date.

Opening the bags usually yields one or two surprises: dresses I had half or even completely forgotten about.  Anything that no longer appeals is discarded and things I remember being a close fit are tried on and put aside for now if they are too snug.

Eventually, the bed ended up completely covered in dresses, after which I could start the more enjoyable task of hanging them up. By colour, obviously. Yes, I am a nerd like that, but it really makes life easier.

There, that's better, isn't it?

Admittedly, they are packed too closely together, so maybe I should get rid of some more ...

By now, I think it’s time I told you about my vintage wardrobe. Not the clothes, mind you, you are seeing quite enough of those already, but my actual wardrobe or closet.

For many years, my husband and I had side-by-side identical pine IKEA wardrobes. When I look at the size of them now, I'm wondering how mine could have contained all my clothes, as it is way too small.

I do have another wardrobe tucked away in our spare room, one I’ve had since I first left home in the early eighties, as well as a rickety chest of drawers for all the smaller stuff, but still ...

Since I started buying and wearing vintage frocks, I ran out of space very quickly, but I had very specific requirements as to what my “dream wardrobe” should be like. What I needed was less shelving and more hanging space.

I also wanted the wardrobe to be a vintage one so, armed with the necessary measurements, we spent our Saturdays visiting charity shop after charity shop in search of the elusive wardrobe.

Finally, in early March of last year, we spotted the wardrobe at the ridiculous price of € 65.

The main part of the wardrobe, with its bow-fronted doors, opens to a full rail of hanging space.

The side doors, which are adorned with carved flower panels, hide additional hanging space on the left and shelving on the right, and there's even a drawer under one of the shelves which is perfect for accessories!

The only thing missing was a shelf above the hanging space in the main part of the wardrobe, originally meant for storing hats. That was soon righted, however, as we found just the right kind of shelf in in another charity shop a couple of weeks later. It only needed shortening, and it's now holding my smaller handbags.

My original wardrobe has been put to good use too. It now lives in the spare room and is holding our coats and jackets. It would definitely benefit from a clear-out, as there are some that haven't been worn for years. And I am not the only guilty one here ...

Although I was knackered after all the switching around, I still decided to tackle my shoes as well. Out with the frivolous summer shoes and sandals, and in with the winter shoes and boots. They are stored in the spare room too, in a tower of IKEA shoe boxes, which neatly open at the front.

I guess I'm all ready for autumn and winter now!

Before I sign off, there is something that puts all this into perspective. Two days after I wrote this post, I logged into my Facebook account, only to be confronted by the terrible news that our friend and fellow blogger Jessica Cangiano of the fabulous Chronically Vintage blog, was hit by a devastating tragedy, losing her house and all its contents in a house fire.

If you would like to help Jessica and her husband Tony get back on their feet, please have a look at the You Caring page and the Facebook page which have been set up.

zaterdag 15 oktober 2016

Leave your worries at the doorstep

Another day, another flea market.

Although the number of outdoor flea markets is dwindling, October is typically the month when all the big indoor ones are starting.

Our favourite is the one being held monthly in nearby Mechelen and this is where we went last Sunday.

As it was a gorgeously sunny autumn day, crowds weren't too big though. This market really comes into its own on true autumn and winter days, when the weather's too foul for any outdoor activities.

I dressed up for the occasion and chose a handmade suit bought at the sorely missed Blender Vintage Shop a couple of years ago. Judging from the belt loops, the jacket originally had a belt, but as it is missing, I added one of my own to give it more shape. At first glance, you might think it's a woollen suit, but no: it's true polyester alright!

The safest option would have been a plain blouse in one of the suit's colours. Instead, I chose one with a brown and pale orange print on a cream background, and added a matching necklace and ring.

After parking our car at the venue's huge car park, we were glad to see that there were no queues at the ticket booth, so that no time was lost in starting our quest for treasure.

Barely inside the hall, Jos spotted this "mosaic" game, which he spent many happy hours playing with as a child.  By the time we got it home, all the little balls were at the bottom of the bag the seller had put it in, so we had to sort out the colours and put them in the assigned slots. Eagerly watched by Phoebe, who I guess would have loved to help.

The blouse on the left was calling me from afar. It's not vintage, but from a retro brand called Zoë Loveborn. I already own a dress in the same print, but with red trim and buttons.

Right next door was a big stall selling a variety of things, old and new. Guess what I spotted? I saw the box, proclaiming it to be a "Souvenir from Lourdes", and at first I didn't even realize that it contained a viewmaster, complete with two sets of reels and the original booklet. It's a Bakelite viewmaster, dating from the 1950s and although they are not uncommon (in fact, we already have several of them), the Lourdes connection surely makes it special.

This particular flea market has so many wonderfully displayed stalls that it is really slow going. Your eyes have to work overtime to take it all in without missing something. Which is where our next find would come in handy.

At a stall selling the weird and the wonderful, and specializing in "medical" antiques, I spotted a box full of eyebaths. I wouldn't have given them a second glance if I hadn't seen a lady with a small collection of eyebaths, which fascinated me, at the Antiques Roadshow the week before.

I chose two green ones, both made in England. The seller told us they came from a museum in Delft, Holland. Will they be the start of another collection, I wonder?

Although there were a multitude of stall selling brooches, I only bought one this time.

Isn't she lovely?

Next up was this Bakelite light switch, which, as a former electrician as well as a lover of all things Bakelite, caught Jos's attention.

A stall consisting of row upon row of cartons containing everything but the kitchen sink (although I can't be sure there wasn't one hidden at the bottom somewhere), yielded a three tiered Emsa herb rack, complete with all the pots, most of them still containing rather dusty looking and colourless herbs.

The rack cost € 4 which is a silly price for any Emsa item, as they are quite collectible.

We already have a smaller Emsa rack, but due to circumstances we didn't put it up yet, so we'll use this one instead.

I won't be sentimental about the herbs, though.

Ever on the lookout for pretty vintage buttons, I happily browsed through a whole carton of them, and settled on these three sets of green ones, although admittedly, with my slight colour blindness, some of you will say the ones on the bottom left are blue.

Our final purchase for the day were these carton envelopes containing scarves. According to the seller, they date from the 1950s. There was a whole selection of them and after much dithering we chose two differently coloured ones in the same design. As they have so much vintage appeal, I'm planning to keep them in their envelopes and somehow display them.

Half way through the final aisle, our eyes were getting tired and our backs started to hurt, so we called it a day.

I am leaving you now with a final impression of the market.

Can't wait to go back next month.

woensdag 12 oktober 2016

Grab your coat and get your hat

Last week, temperatures dropped considerably.

As the week progressed, my coats got warmer, until my favourite between-the-seasons coat, which you 've already seen in my previous post, finally made an appearance on Wednesday, staying put for the rest of the week.

I've also been eyeing my boxful of coloured opaque tights, but decided to upgrade my usual 15 den nude ones to 30 den tights for the time being. I actually don't mind wearing these, so no need to feel sorry for me. If they're old-fashioned, then so be it.

My layering habit really comes into its own this time of year.

It is a necessity, as I need to dress warmly for my commute, but once in the office, and especially after a invigorating walk during lunch break, not to mention the occasional hot flush, layers have to be peeled off. Hence my little cardigan addiction ...

No peeling off of layers last week, though, as the heating in the office was on the blink ... the whole week! I had to make do with a small electric heater, which I put in front of my desk to warm my toes! For that reason, I already reverted to short boots, which I would normally put off for a little while yet.

As I was busy playing the tourist, I only had time for a quick visit to Think Twice, but still managed to find this colourful tablecloth, which is an almost perfect match with the coffee pot I found the weekend before last.

I was aiming for a carefree weekend spent browsing flea market stalls. As luck would have it, there was a small flea market in our village on Saturday. The sun was shining so, dressed warmly against the autumn chill, the weather was perfect for it.

I am in the middle of switching to my winter wardrobe, but it's a lengthy process. Nevertheless, I have a whole section of long-sleeved dresses in readiness, although until now I have been giving them a wide berth, as I didn't feel quite ready yet. It's nice to get re-acquainted with them, especially as there are always some I have forgotten about. But once I start wearing them, there is no going back, and I know I will be wearing them for a very long time ...

On Saturday I finally succumbed, but I chose a dress in a thin fabric for starters. It's a Merry Finn dress and I quite like its longer length for this time of year.

I decided to accompany it with light blue accessories.

The cardigan brings it all together, as it has a stripe of red at the sleeves' cuffs.

Light blue also appears in this warm jacket. As its boxy shape did nothing for the dress, I cinched in the waist with a light brown shiny belt.

Although I've had the fawn fake suede boots for a couple of years, I haven't worn them very often. They are quite comfortable, especially considering I did a lot of walking in them on Saturday. But they're a nightmare to get into as they are zipper-less, and have to be pulled on with great force. I was reminded of trying to put boots on Barbie's feet ...

On to the flea market!

At first sight, it was rather disappointing, but once we rounded the corner and entered the parish hall precinct, we kept finding little bits and pieces, like these brooches.

It wouldn't be a successful flea market if I didn't find any brooches, would it?

One of the inside stalls had a whole box of old-fashioned rain bonnets, cutely packed into little plastic suitcases and treasure chests.

I remember when I was in primary school, one of my classmates had one of those little suitcases, and oh, how I wanted one of my own!

They were € 1 for 3, so we bought them in every available colour. I have seen them priced at over € 1 for just one, so this was a real bargain. They're so endlessly cute!

One of my neighbours had a stall selling handmade jewellery. I was amazed when she told me what they were made of. Can you guess? I bought the necklace on the right from her.

This hat, which is a little worse for wear, with the straw lining disintegrating, was made by a milliner based in Antwerp. This dates back to a time when French was still spoken quite a lot in Antwerp, especially by the so-called better classes. Now, the label would be in Flemish, or at least in both languages. But then again, there are hardly any milliners left nowadays ...

I managed to find a vintage dress too, made from Diolen, and priced at € 3, which I already wore to work on Monday.

My final purchase was a small black vinyl handbag for € 1.

By now we were half way through the weekend, but there was more to come on Sunday, which I will tell you all about in my next post.

See you next time!