Fine and Dandy

Oh Internet, you perplex me! Sometimes you fill me with dread but, more often than not, you bring me joy – particularly so in getting to know Dandy Wellington.

Both of us share similar values and views on the world. Through Instagram, we came into contact, sporadically sending messages of support or thoughts about issues to one another. Now, Dandy resides in New York and I’m based in the town of Wokingham – it felt quite unlikely that we’d ever meet. However luck would have it that Dandy and his partner were crossing the pond to visit London for a week…and so it came to be that we met in real life!

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A special occasion calls for a special outfit. This vintage Windsmoor coat was picked up at my first vintage fair in Birmingham with my mum – I fell in love with the colour and the gorgeous sleeves. Under that, I wore a truly beautiful dress that my other half picked out for me when were at Twinwood this summer. Not only is it a bright shade of purple but it is also has pockets and is covered in my favourite pattern – paisley. To keep off the chill, I added a cardigan from Vivien of Holloway. I seriously loved this whole ensemble.

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The Meeting

Nick and I met up with Dandy and Darlene at The Ivy in Kensington. We’d never been before but we’ll definitely be back again. The surroundings were stunning and the perfect setting for tea and talk. Usually I’m snap-happy but apart from stopping to photograph scones (they are quite lovely), I was too busy nattering to document anything else.

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From Kensington, we hopped on the tube to Shoreditch.

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We ended up at the Courthouse Hotel to meet up with some of Dandy’s friends, including the always delightful Elora and Michelle. After a week of feeling seriously under the weather, it felt good to let my hair down and hang out with people make me smile.

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We sat and talked about a heck of a lot. One of the things I particularly loved was Elora and Dandy talking about her artwork – something she should be very proud of. I love people-watching and it was was so good to be around a group of people who were happy to lift each other up for no other reason than them just wanting to. Sadly, I was still feeling rough from being ill all week so we had to head off early. We left with hugs and plans to meet again though.

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I couldn’t have asked for more – a wonderful memory made.

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Autumn In Stuttgart: Part 1

I’ve previously written about Kelly and Rhina. After a chatty pub dinner earlier this year, we very quickly formed a most wonderful friendship. As with many things in life, change came along and Rhina moved to Germany at the end of July. Not ones to admit defeat, the three of us promised that we would not stay out of touch – thankfully, we didn’t (yay group messages!). Once Rhina got settled, she put out an open invite to Kelly and me, as well as our partners, to come visit. Kelly and I are teachers so we looked at when our half terms linked up and soon we had flights booked. A couple of weeks ago the three of us were finally reunited!

Day 1:

Early in the morning, Kelly and Grant met up with Nick and me at the airport. In a few short hours, we were with Rhina at the University of Hoehenheim – there was running, screaming and hugs involved. We met her lovely colleagues and saw some very old and rare specimens from their collection – I was so scared of dropping them! After a very delicious German canteen lunch, Rhina showed us around the university and the botanical gardens. The weather was almost as if we were in late summer (thick tights weren’t a great choice). Autumn in Stuttgart is particularly beautiful.

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University explored, we took the rack railway into central Stuttgart for an ice cream break and a quick look around. From there we headed back to Rhina’s place to drop our stuff and relax. Kelly brought a surprise over for Rhina in the form of a handmade dress – needless to say, Rhina loved it.

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Later on, we went off for dinner at a ‘BROOM’ (winemakers open up their homes, serving local wine and food – signposted with a broom on the side of their home). I don’t think we realised how knackered we were from travelling so we headed back for some shut-eye after some local music.

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Day 2:

After a massive, traditional German breakfast, Rhina took us to the Stuttgart City Library. As we like to coordinate, we all wore dresses handmade by Kelly. I love libraries but this was something else – I could have happily spent the entire day (and more) there. The space was incredibly calming and visually-pleasing. On the roof, we got all-round views of the city.

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Next we went off to explore more of the city, including the food market. We strolled past stall after stall of mouth-watering produce, stopping to try Ofenschupfler as we worked out wanted to get.

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In the evening, we met up with Rhina’s husband Holger at an art gallery. After a mooch about, we headed off to a local bar for more delicious German food and good conversation.

A fabulous start to our holiday!

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Papow Ponders #14: People-Pleasing

I’m hitting thirty next year and, as with many ‘big’ birthdays, I’ve been doing a bit of self-reflection. I’ve come to realise that my attitude towards what other people think of me has changed quite significantly over time.

For most of my life, I’ve been desperate to be liked and accepted. It hasn’t necessarily been about being popular – it has been about being well-thought of. Wanting to people-please has often meant that I change the way I act or react around others. At its worst, I hide myself: my values, my sense of humour, my opinions and my anxieties. Essentially, I become a grey yes-man.

Going to university first started to change my way of thinking. I developed a friendship with a group of free-thinking and funny students, who accepted me for me (warts and all). Because of this I started to reconsider my other friendships and cut out people who didn’t allow me to be me. I came to the realisation that I only had three true friends at secondary school along with my other half. Looking back, I now feel incredibly frustrated that I spent so long trying to be liked by people who couldn’t have cared less about me.

The next turning point after university was getting into pin-up and vintage fashion. I found a new community to be part of and I was excited. With that excitement, old feelings of wanting validation and acceptance returned once more. During meet-ups or events, I’d judge myself against everyone – I had to look perfect and be so agreeable that no-one could say anything bad about me. This time though, I could see what was happening. I made a decision to focus on reciprocal, positive friendships rather than fluffy, meaningless acquaintances. From this, I’ve developed a handful of solid and wonderful relationships with people I truly care for. Just because someone is into the same stuff that you are, it doesn’t mean that that person is right for you. The best friendships come a huge variety of elements – not just shared preferences.

Part of me wishes that I could have come to this realisation at a much earlier age but then another part of me knows that I’d never have got to this point without all those experiences to shape and change me. It’s such a freeing feeling. I still worry about what people think of me and I still get massive anxiety around disagreeing with others but it’s only the thoughts of people who I have strong bonds with that matter now. No minute gone comes ever again so focus those who are truly important to you.

Paris, Mum and Dior

Earlier this year I heard that there was going to be a huge Christian Dior fashion exhibition in Paris. As soon as I found out, I messaged my mum and let her know that we HAD to go. Heading away for the weekend is a big deal for my mum: when we were younger, we rarely went on holiday as time and money were a bit of an issue. This time I knew that ‘no’ wasn’t going to be an acceptable answer and we promptly booked our little getaway.

Last Saturday, we hopped on the tube to St Pancras International early in the morning. We were only going to be away for one night so we packed lightly and dressed for mild autumnal weather. Mum hadn’t been on holiday since we went to San Francisco over two years ago so it felt necessary to whisk her away from home.

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After we got into Paris, we dropped our luggage at the hostel and headed off for some lunch. Fuelled up with a delicious tart aux pomme, we walked to the Museum of Decorative Arts. The queue was huge but we were in within ten minutes.

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Now when mum and I have been to other exhibitions, we’ve had an allotted time to visit. However, the tickets for the Dior exhibition gave you a window of a few days. Unfortunately, this meant that there was A LOT of crowding. The space was packed with people and it was hot and stuffy – a very claustrophobic atmosphere. Although mum and I got to see everything, we didn’t have much time to read or linger over many exhibits because of the crowd in front of and behind us.

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In spite of all that, we did manage to see some stunning exhibits. Mum and I could have quite easily had every one of these pieces in our wardrobes… but sizing and funds said NO. The amazing detail and work put into each garment was mind-boggling.

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Something that struck me throughout the entire exhibition (and has also struck me with other fashion exhibitions that I’ve visited) is the lack of model diversity. In the entire exhibit, I found only three photographs including people of colour and no images of models beyond sample size. This was further heightened by the fact that so many of these clothes had obviously been directly influenced or inspired by other cultures. I know the fashion industry is slowly changing but I always find it jarring how the world of fashion rarely reflects the real demographics of the world.

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At the end of the exhibition, we found ourselves in a wonderful room filled with glamorous dresses – a fabulous end to the exhibition!

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Feeling overheated and exhausted, we headed back to our hostel to put our feet up and have a breather. A little later, we made a B-line for the Rue de Mouffetard which was a six minute walk from our hostel. Rhina had recommended this place as a foodie hot-spot and boy she wasn’t wrong!

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It was such a cosy yet lively place, full of stalls, cafes and restaurants. In the end, we settled on a pub called ‘Mouffetard’. Our meal was truly delicious: steak frites and a bottle of Brouilly wine between us. Just what we needed after a long day.

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As we’d both taken in the main sights on previous visits to Paris when we were younger, the next day we headed to a flea market. There were tons of knick-knacks and assorted bits-and-bobs. Mum and I love a good bargain but a lot of the stuff on offer was incredibly pricey. We ended up with a brooch each and I grabbed a crepe for my breakfast.

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Mooching done, we took the Metro back to Rue de Mouffetard for our final French meal. @notsobasiclondon had recommended a few places to me, one of them being Le Petit Bretonne. This place was crepe heaven (so good, I’d head back to Paris for them). Mum and I each sat down to a plate of buttery, lemony yumminess.

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Tummies full, we started our journey back to England. Thanks to everyone who gave me ideas, recommendations and suggestions – it made for a great trip! Mum was a brilliant traveling companion and I hope she’ll be open to me taking her away more often.

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Jean Genies #3: Lady K Loves Kickstarter

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Earlier in the year, I made a pledge to the Lady K Loves Jeans Kickstarter campaign. I already owned a pair of their jeans (you can read about then here) but I wanted to try a different style. Looking at the different styles and talking to several pals. I settled on the ‘Le Wild’ style.

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When my Kickstarter first arrived, the jeans weren’t Lady K Loves’ usual quality and they did not look right on me. Thankfully, customer service was amazing and I had a replacement pair in no time – zero hassle!

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As part of my Kickstarter pack, I got a Lady K Loves voucher so I put this towards a top – the ‘Jess’ in mustard. As soon as I saw it, I knew it would be a perfect casual separate for my wardrobe.

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I combined my Kickstarter goodies with my trusty leather jacket, an old brooch and a pair of Converse. I love how casual but put-together this outfit looks. These pieces are also easy to dress up too.

I’m really glad I pledged – I know these jeans will last for ages!

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Thanks @darktechsupport for these beautiful images!

Salute To The Forties 2017

This was my third year at Salute to The Forties, you can read previous posts on the event here and here.

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I always go nautical for Salute To The Forties as it’s based in Chatham dockyard. The dress and cardigan are both from Vivien Of Holloway. I wore Converse as I knew I’d be on my feet all day.

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The Event

On the day, we travelled down with Flo (so so happy that she hopped along!). When we arrived, we met up with Lucy Stanton and here’s what we got up to.

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The loveliest couple with the most fabulous handmade knitwear (yes, we bought some)

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Chatting with Rosy Apples and Hettie Sky

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As you can see, we had a great day – perfectly chilled! Thanks to @darktechsupport for capturing the day beautifully.

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Sci-Fi Exhibition & VOH Party

On the last weekend of the summer holidays, Nick and I hopped on the train for a night’s stay in London.

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As we were spending much of our time walking round the city, I opted for practical and comfortable. I whipped my hair into a turban from Sarah’s Doo Wop Dos – perfect for lazy days. My fabulous jeans are from my Lady K Loves Kickstarter pack and they fit like a dream. I added a striped top from Primark and a little lizard brooch.

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Into The Unknown

I am a huge sci-fi nerd, especially dystopian fiction. The Barbican had advertised an exhibition closing in September so we decided to attend on the final day. I’ve been to quite a few exhibitions over the years, some have been breath-taking and others a little disappointing – but this was something else. We spend nearly three hours taking in exhibit after exhibit – it was pure escapism and it was glorious!

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After losing ourselves in alien worlds and imagined futures, our thoughts quickly turned to food so we proceeded to stuff our faces at Bodeans in Covent Garden. Thanks to Steph Pink for the recommendation – it was ruddy good.

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VOH Party

Last year, I went to my first ever VOH party with my buddy Kelly and Nick. Due to work commitments, Kelly couldn’t make it but Nick was still happy to come along. After checking into our hotel, we had a quick change of outfit (VOH of course) and then we headed off to Nambucca.

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A proper lovely end to my summer break – with a massive brunch the next day too!

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