Thrifting And Vintage Shopping In The Bay Area

Well it’s been a busy few weeks – apologies for posting every other week rather than weekly. Everything’s back on schedule now so it’s business as usual!

Last week, I was in one of my favourite places in the world: the Bay Area. This was my third visit with my other half. We lived in Oakland for a month back in 2010 and we spent our summer hols there in 2015. My husband had a work trip that ended around the start of my Easter break so we thought it’d be a good time to head back out again. Oakland has a very special place in my heart: I’ve always felt really safe and relaxed there; there are so many cultures and communities living in one area and the food is awesome. I know it’s a place I can’t stay away from for too long.

Whenever I head over, I always enjoy a decent bit of thrifting and vintage shopping. It’s a great place for it so I thought I’d put together a little guide. Obviously there are folks out there who know way more about this stuff than me but this is just a list of my go-to spots. I’ve linked either their websites, IG or FB page so you can find out more if you wish.

Goodwill, The Salvation Army and Buffalo Exchange

These three shops can be found all over the Bay Area. I will generally have a browse in any one I come across. My favourite Buffalo Exchanges (second hand) are in Berkeley and Haight & Ashbury. I tend to visit Goodwill and The Salvation Army (charity shops) in Oakland. You can find all sorts in these places and the prices are really affordable. Unlike a carefully curated vintage shop, you have to really sift through everything – sometimes you might find a load of stuff and sometimes you might be completely unsuccessful. My best finds are usually vintage coats or the odd dress. I know I’ll always find some colourful jumpers for school too.

Mars Mercantile – Berkeley

Mars is one of my favourite vintage/second hand shops. It’s a really easy place to navigate with clearly marked out sections – dresses are organised by era and style and other garments are generally colour ordered. Eras range from the fifties to the nineties. I always seem to find something there and it’s also very affordable.

Haight & Ashbury

Haight & Ashbury is a neighbourhood in San Francisco which is filled with vintage boutiques and a variety of eclectic shops – good spot for mooching and exploring.

Held Over – This place is pretty big and has a huge range of vintage from the fifties to the eighties. It takes a good while to sift through everything but you can definitely find some bits.

Decades Of Fashion – The first time I went here, I found it quite intimidating: all the clothes were in plastic covers (something I’m really not a fan of). However on my latest visit, nearly all of the covers were gone – I wonder if they were having a sale of some kind. I’d say it’s quite similar to held over as you have to rummage a bit.

Relic Vintage – Relic is easily the friendliest and most beautiful vintage shop I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. They focus mainly on forties and fifties era clothing. You can be a vintage novice or a real expert – the staff will treat you with total respect. They are incredibly knowledgeable and give great advice on styling too. One of my favourite things about Relic is that they have measurements on all their garments. This allows you choose wisely and also stops the disappointment of finding something then discovering it won’t fit. Everything I’ve seen there is in fantastic condition – no musty whiffs or items in need of fixing. You can try on whatever you like and there are also a variety of accessories to help finish off your outfit. I’ve shopped in Relic with my mum and also my husband – neither of them are hugely into vintage style but they both ended up with gorgeous vintage pieces. I couldn’t recommend this place enough.

Apologies for the lack of photos, I was having fun and not really documenting my shopping!

Livin’ It Up In Liverpool

Around August last year, I headed up to Manchester to meet my seamstress friend Flick to sort out a special dress (you can read about it here). While I was up north, I got chatting to Flick’s friend Steph and we just seemed to click. We kept in touch and hung out in London for an epic girls’ weekend in November. Not long after Christmas, we made plans to spend some more time together in Liverpool. Perfect for the end of a very long term at school!

After a four and a half hour train journey on Friday, I settled down at Steph’s with prosecco, fajitas and the latest episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race – she knows me well. Early the next morning, Steph drove us to Stockport for our appointment at I Love Lucie. I’ve been having my hair cut by Lucie for over two years, initially booking her guest spots in London. Her guest spots in London have closed for the time being so if I’m ever in the area, I love to get my hair by her. As we were both going, we took advantage of their ‘bring a friend’ deal…as did Flick and Karen who were meeting us in the salon for a catch-up.

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Lovely and knowledgeable Siobhan!

I always know my hair is going to look ruddy fabulous when I visit Lucie’s. It was such a lovely experience going with friends though! We got to chat and have a giggle. There’s a brilliant cake shop opposite the salon and Steph spoilt us rotten with some sweet treats (I went for the salon recommendation of a peanut butter brownie – I was not disappointed). Definitely a good way to spend a few hours.

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Flick made this dress – so talented!

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Kareb

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Karen made her trousers with her serious seamstress skills!

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This jacket from House Of Foxy is my favourite investment!

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To say we were happy bunnies is quite an understatement. We’ve already decided to do it again! Karen had to hop home for her evening plans but we’ll be stealing her away next time. With our barnets coiffed, we nipped back to Steph’s to get ready for a night on the tiles.

 

Our evening kicked off with dinner at Steph’s boyfriend’s restaurant. We had a seriously delicious Turkish feast and a little bit of fizz. A return visit is on the cards.

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From the restaurant, we caught a taxi to Steph’s mystery evening location. It turns out she’d booked us a table for cocktails at The Panoramic in Liverpool – it was stunning to  say the least. Flick isn’t the biggest fan of heights but I know she definitely appreciated the rest of the surroundings.

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Berry Across The Mersey – the best!

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Flick is a stunner and yes, she made this dress too.

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Steph seriously pushed the boat out and we ended up having the most wonderful night out. We talked about all kinds of stuff – from the ridiculous to the sublime. I think it’s safe to say that we all know quite a bit more about each other. After an interesting drive home, we were all definitely ready for bed.

In the  morning, we woke up to a killer fry up (you are the best hostess Steph!). We then headed to Lime Street so I could catch my train home.

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I wonder what she’s looking at

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What a weekend! I always think it’s amazing how a chance meeting can turn into a proper bond between people. Next time, I’ll be hosting – though I doubt I’ll meet Steph’s level of hostessing skills.

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Quarterly Round-Up: 2018 – Part 1

As some of you might know from my IG, I write a weekly gratitude diary. I started it to help me with my anxiety and feelings of hopelessness. In a previous post, I’ve discussed my journey with mental health and right now I’m in a good place. I thought it would also be beneficial if I did a round-up every few months to help keep me on track, especially during testing or stressful times. Anyway, here’s the first one – let me know your thoughts.

Me

I’ve had success with my no-spend in preparation for my trip to San Francisco in April. I’ve bought two tops, three vintage saris, a pair of earrings and a beret since January 1st. Selling and giving away things I don’t need or want has had a positive impact on me – I also have a bit more space in my flat. At the start of the year, I gave myself a challenge to break my fear and hatred of running (definitely linked to horrible memories from school). With the right playlist, I’ve managed quite a few 5Ks on a treadmill. I still prefer boxing or rowing but I’m not afraid to run now.

Family

I see my mum and sister at least once every two weeks. We generally hang out, catch up, cook and eat. I’ve had A LOT of great dinners round my mum’s but I definitely need to practise making dishes that aren’t in my repertoire. I’ve previously written about my grandma’s dementia and my reactions to it (you can read about it here). I’ve been round my grandparents a couple of times this year and I’ve not left in floods of tears; we’ve managed to laugh, reminisce and look after each other. I don’t feel so anxious about going any more.

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Friends

Through reflection, I’ve definitely come to the realisation that I prefer small meet-ups to big ones – I’m much less self-conscious and I don’t feel so overwhelmed. In the past three months, I’ve had a two group meet-ups in London and I’ve got a couple more planned later in the year. It’s much easier now I know people a little better. I’ve continued my monthly dinners with my friend Becky (we also fit in a drag show). I feel like we’ve developed a solid friendship – I can talk to her about anything. Kelly and I hang out (when we can) and miss Rhina. We’re going to be long distance friends for the foreseeable future but we have plans! This month I finally met Salina and we’re already thinking about our next meet-up – it’s always good to find a kindred spirit.

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Work

I always find the winter months at school the hardest; waking up in the dark and going home in the dark make me quite miserable. Thankfully, it’s getting lighter now. Over the term, I’ve had the usual stresses of teaching but I’ve been working with a really solid and lovely team which has been great for my anxiety.

Outfits

Here are some of my favourite looks from the past three months:

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I feel like it’s been a positive start to the year. I’ve got so many plans ahead of me though – there’s not enough time!

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Spotlight On The Diverse World Of Pin-Up and Vintage #2

At the start of the year, I said that I wanted to shed more light on diversity in the vintage subculture. You can read the first post in this series here.

Here are ten more wonderful examples of diversity – I’ve linked their IG accounts and added a short description.

Miss Mozzy Dee

@kittyluvphotography Photo Credit: @kittyluvphotography

As well as being a stunning pin-up and talented singer, Mozzy is campaigner for diversity and representation in the world of pin-up and vintage. Most recently, she has focused on the Miss Viva Las Vegas competition. She took time to bring pin-ups from diverse backgrounds to public attention, using social media as a platform.

Boo Brown

boo Photo Credit: @boo_brown

Incredibly intelligent and hilarious, Boo Brown is firm believer in looking and feeling amazing no matter your size. As well as sharing her fabulous outfits on IG, she blogs about travel, clothing reviews and her pin-up activities. Check her out (and also send her pictures of cute dogs).

Barriodandy

barrioPhoto Credit: @barriodandy

J.C. is one well-dressed chap, posting about fashion, history, art and styling. He believes that representation matters and celebrates his own culture and history, sharing images from past and present.

Jenny Rieu

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Jenny Rieu is a beautiful creature. Not only is she a lover of vintage style, she’s a model fighting against body shaming. Jenny is happy to share her successes and struggles, always with the message that beauty comes in all forms.

Jessica Out Of The Closet

jessPhoto Credit: @jessicaoutofthecloset

Jessica is a TV presenter, blogger and YouTuber. She is a huge fan of pin-up style and she suits it well. She openly talks about her disability and sexuality, pushing for greater acceptance and understanding.

Rockinzena

rockinzenaPhoto Credit: @rockinzena

Zena is a seamstress and vintage enthusiast living in America. Her handmade outfits are seriously impressive. She cares about the representation of people of colour, posting stories and images from history as well as her own adventures.

Ms Kitti Fatale

KittiPhoto Credit: @mskittifatale

Cristi is an awesome mum. With the help of her young daughter, she helps to educate the world about black history. It is wonderful to see mum and daughter take pride in their heritage.

The Cocoa Butter Club

CocoaPhoto Credit: @thecocoabutterclub

Brought to my attention by the gorgeous Velvet Jones, The Cocoa Butter Club is a celebration of queer POC performers. It is a place that gives a voice to The Other in a creative space.

Creme Fatale

CremePhoto Credit: @markchristopher17

Creme Fatale in a drag queen from San Francisco. Though she doesn’t necessarily describe herself as pin-up or vintage, I get a lot of inspiration from her styling. Furthermore, she is open with her views on gender, drag and art.

Ashleeta

AshleetaPhoto Credit: @ashleeta

Ashleeta is a burlesque dancer and pin-up model who is not afraid to speak her mind. She fights against racism, body-shaming, homophobia and so much more. A true blend of beauty and strength.

For my next post in this series, I’ll be looking at diversity in pin-up and vintage businesses. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.

Galentine’s Tea At Fortnum And Mason

February 13th – officially Galentine’s day. Now I’ve never been one to celebrate these types of things, however as a bunch of friends had organised a meet-up on said date, it seemed rude not to!

Seeing as our group opted for a Valentine’s colour theme (yes, we are that kind of group), I went for a red and white combo. The dress is from St Cyr Vintage in Camden. I added a cropped cardigan and a Jenny from Vivien of Holloway. As the weather was foul, I popped on my Elements rain coat – beret added for extra hair protection.

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To kick things off, I met up with Kelly, Becky, Lara (birthday girl) and Eve at Notting Hill Gate station. From here, we gawped at brooches at The Hirst Collection, grabbed a French cuppa and caught up with Eva at What Katie Did.

In need of calm and recharging, we got to Fortnum and Mason in time for our booking. We kicked off with some fizz, which slipped down nicely. There was a wide array of teas to choose from but I managed to settle on rhubarb, raspberry and nettle – a refreshing blend. I was pleased to hear that the entire tea service was able to be replenished – a few extra cakes and sandwiches is never a bad idea.

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The sarnies were filled with classic fillings: smoked salmon, cucumber and coronation chicken for example. All were rather scrummy. For me, the highlight of the tea was the scones. These were the BEST scones I’ve ever had – buttery, crisp on the outside and perfectly baked in the middle. Decent helpings of cream and jam were piled on top and upon eating, I was in scone heaven. I would go back just for these.

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On to the cakes, which were Valentine’s-themed. There was a rose choux, a rhubarb and custard biscuit affair, a chocolate-coffee-hazelnut fondant fancy, a raspberry and lychee swirl and chocolate and cherry heart macaron. I was quite enamoured by the the macaron and the rhubarb and custard patisserie. There was a cake trolley too but we were all far too stuffed to even consider trying any!

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Waddling like over-stuffed penguins, we took the tube to Holloway Road to peruse what Vivien of Holloway had on offer. All of us enjoyed a decent trying on session.

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Our next stop was Covent Garden for some evening mooching. Kelly and I were pretty pooped from our day out so we headed off home.

On the train home, I reflected on the day. There was so much love and joy shared between the five of us. Having struggled a lot with friendships and acceptance in my teens, I thought I’d never find people I could truly connect with. I was wrong. Online, I’ve found a small handful of people that have had such a positive impact on my life. On days like this when we actually get to hang out, I just feel content and warm. I do not have many friends but the friends that I do have mean an awful lot to me.

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Drinks, Delectables And Discussion At Dandelyan

My first girl date of February was actually my third time hanging out with the glorious Jennifer. I relish any opportunity I get to spend time with her so I was very excited see her after nearly four months of separation.

I’m having a bit of a love affair with purple at the moment so I had to put this combo together. Both the dress and cardigan are from Vivien of Holloway. I added a vintage brooch for a bit of sparkle.

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To begin with, we had a walk round the Tate Modern. While I waited for Jennifer, I had a go on the swings (an installation by Superflex) and chatted to a few tourists. It was a fun experience – both new and nostalgic. Together, we took in the likes of Bruce Nauman, Guerilla Girls and Barbara Kruger – as well as chilly views of London.

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From the gallery, we strolled over to Dandelyan Bar located in the Mondrian hotel. I have to say it is a particularly gorgeous place to have afternoon tea. The decor gives off serious Wes Anderson vibes and I love the colours. A great photo shoot spot.

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On to the afternoon tea itself – we opted for the Wyld Tea, which is an afternoon tea paired with four cocktails. It kicked off with a zingy lime and prosecco concoction that was greatly appreciated by both of us (I liked the marshmallow too). As the savouries arrived, we moved on to a palate-cleansing melon and cardamom spritz. As well as the usual sarnies, there was some moreish cheese on toast and a pastry swirl too. Jennifer had the veggie option and she was definitely a happy bunny.

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Not long after, we moved onto the cakes and boy, were they beautiful! We also got another cocktail – a dinky vodka number. I really loved the cake selection. The Battenburg was yummy in spite of the marzipan and the rose blancmange was sat upon such a buttery shortbread. My favourite of all the patisserie had to be the nutmeg custard tart; caramel, vanilla, custard and crisp pastry are always a stellar combo. Jennifer had a nut-free selection that reminded me of a pixie village. We both had clean plates at the end, ready for our final fruity tipple.

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I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. I’m usually weary of drink pairings as they’re not always to my taste. This selection worked really well though! If I could change anything about the afternoon tea, I’d add in scones. This was my first afternoon tea without them and it just didn’t feel quite right – I need clotted cream and jam in my life. That aside, I’ll be heading back for sure. Post-tea, we opted for ‘Lonely Heart Killers’ cocktails as we chatted (another yummy choice).

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One of the best things about our friendship is that we can talk about literally everything; we rarely have a quiet moment between us. I feel like we put the world to rights and lift each other up. Obviously we’ve not known one another long but that doesn’t really matter – we intend doing this kind of thing well into old age!

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Papow Ponders #16: The Sari And Me

At the beginning of this year, I promised myself that I’d get a new sari (one that wasn’t a hand-me-down from older generations in my family; one that was truly mine). On Wednesday night, I made my selection on a website. As I was just about to pay, I stopped. I’ve previously touched on my relationship with my race and culture in a previous blog post. Trying to buy a sari brought a lot of those feelings back.

When my grandparents came to this country from Fiji, they did what they could to assimilate. As well as having their given names, they also had anglicised names – this was also the case for my mum and her siblings. Even I anglicised my name for the majority of my childhood, going by Cherie rather than Chereeka. Assimilation also impacted the way my family dressed. There are some pictures of female family members wearing saris in the UK (most around the sixties and seventies) but as the years have gone by these images have become scarce. In my lifetime, I cannot remember seeing  any woman in my family in a sari. I’ve only every seen close family friends in them or strangers going about their own business. With all this in mind, it made me wonder whether I should be buying a sari if they hadn’t been worn for such a long time. Would I be able to put it on without my mum’s help? Would it look wrong on me? Would people question what I’m wearing?

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My mum in a sari in her late teens

Another thought that made me pause was my own background. I’ve only ever worn my mother’s sari. I wear it rarely but when I do, I feel a greater connection to her and the older generation of women in my family. Should I be able to wear it more often? I’ve been brought up in majority white neighbourhoods and educational institutions. On several occasions, I’ve been referred to as a coconut or Oreo – not brown enough. Also Fijians are such a tiny ethnic group in the UK, it’s hard to find someone from the same background to discuss this stuff with. I know I’m waffling at this point but what I’m trying to say is do I have enough connection with Desi culture to wear it? I want to take pride in my ancestry but I don’t want to be disrespectful or disingenuous either.

I know it’s not the biggest issue to be discussing but it is something that I worry about. Maybe I shouldn’t be so concerned with other people’s opinions. Maybe I should already know the answer. However, I still ask myself: should I buy the sari?

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