Frock&Roll (aka My Happy Place)

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I’ve not always been into vintage clothing but I have always loved dressing up – even to my lectures during my gruelling PGCE. A fellow student noted this fact and recommended visiting Frock&Roll Vintage in Reading; a dangerous wonderful suggestion.

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Roughly a ten minute walk from Reading town centre, Frock&Roll Vintage is located on Watlington Street (near the old part of the Royal Berkshire Hospital). It can be a real jaunt to have travel further afield for quality vintage; the shop’s location is so convenient. I have regularly visited Frock&Roll Vintage since my PGCE in 2011 – it’s my go-to for a good mooch.

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These are the reasons why I keep on running back for more:
. Quality clothing (clean, pressed and in good condition)
. Real vintage
. A wide range of eras (from the 20s to the 90s)
. Sizing (a label gives me a rough idea of what I can get into)
. Affordable prices (sale rail items can be as low as £5; evening dresses can go up to £60)
. Weekly picks on Facebook (this can also cause me to buy much more than I need!)
. Great customer service

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Ali – the amazing owner!

The shop is run by Ali, who I managed to get a quick interview with:
Papow: Where do you source your clothing?
Ali: We source from all over: wholesale, house clearances, auctions and anywhere else.
P: What make Frock&Roll different from other vintage shops?
A: We try to keep our stock varied at reasonable prices – without compromising quality.
P: What are your most popular items?
A: Younger customers tend to go for casual styles – denim or nineties style items. Other customers go for a mixture, depending on their personal style. Classic fifties and sixties dresses are always popular; they just evoke nostalgia.
P: What would you recommend for a first-time customer?
A: Look for something that catches your eye and try it on. Don’t close your mind and don’t be daunted.

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Er…why is this not my size?

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These are some of the pieces from my, now quite extensive, Frock&Roll Vintage collection:

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Being a terrible lovely wife, I suggested my husband should try a vintage-inspired look over his usual uniform of black. Here are the results:

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What do you think? My favourite is the brown, though it’s odd seeing him out of black clothing.

As you can tell, I am a huge fan of this place. If you are new to vintage or a retro expert, pop into Frock&Roll Vintage – I love it!

Retro Festival 2015 – Flo’s Top Five Things To Do…

Now that the nights are drawing in and the weather is most certainly beginning to feel rather like autumn, I find myself looking back at the summer and reminiscing. But let’s not feel down, summer has been great right? One event that I particularly enjoyed this year was Retro Festival, and although next summer may seem a long way off, it is definitely worth noting next year’s event from 12th – 14th August 2016 in your diaries now!

This year saw Retro Festival move from its old location at White Waltham Air Field to Newbury Show Ground (closer to me…what a bonus!). Not only has the festival moved, but in comparison to the last few years it has certainly got much BIGGER too! So I grabbed two girl friends (Papow was off enjoying San Francisco) and donned some vintage attire. Joining me for the day were Charmaine (my wonderful hairdresser of 11 years and owner of Charmaine’s Hair and Beauty) and the lovely Sara (a fellow pharmacist and old university friend). We jumped in Charmaine’s 1980s VW Golf Cabriolet and headed for Newbury!

DSCN0090I chose to rock my new Collectif Mary Vintage polka dot swing skirt in dusky blue. I got my hands on this little beauty in the recent 50% summer sale and it is quickly becoming one of my favourite things in my whole wardrobe because of its versatility. Firstly the skirt can be worn with or without the braces. The braces themselves feature several button holes so the straps can be adjusted to the desired fit. This allows them to simply be worn over the shoulder, or lengthened and crossed over at the back. For Retro Festival I chose to wear the skirt with the braces and combined it with a Primark White Bardot top, Primark white broderie anglaise pumps, Accessorize nautical earrings and the Collectif navy Lorena hat.

Back to Retro Festival…the festival itself is held over three days, this year between 7th – 9th August, and what a gloriously sunny weekend it was! There is so much to see and do (and spend your pennies on) that I can completely understand why so many love to camp and enjoy all that is on offer over the three days. Unfortunately, due to work commitments, our party of three were only able to attend on Sunday 9th. As this may the same for others, I have decided to put together a list of my top 5 things to do if, like us, you only have one day to play with!

1. The Vintage Market
Shopping, endless shopping! There are over 200 stalls offering everything from true vintage clothing, accessories, jewellery and home wares, to reproduction vintage clothing, retro sweets, classic car and aircraft models, vinyl records, artwork, and sewing and knitting patterns. Most stalls accept card/PayPal payments as well as cash if (like me) you love everything you see and drastically underestimate how much money to bring with you! I managed to pick up some hair scarves, cat eye sunglasses, hair flowers, tweed hats, Elvis Presley merchandise, handmade pin-up girl earrings and Hell Bunny nautical cardigans and waist belts. You can also pop into the vintage hair and beauty stall where hairdressers style your hair appropriately for the occasion. There is even a vintage photo booth “Bluebell” the caravan where you can dress up in a massive array of beautiful clothes and accessories and come away with some photos to remind you of the day!

11873482_476697665836679_3099400169369295974_n2. A spot of Tea and cake
You are spoilt for choice with the wide range of food stalls and bars on offer throughout the festival site. One of the places we stopped off that it definitely worth a visit is Daisy’s Vintage Tea Room. They have an array of tea, coffee and cake for you to choose from all served on beautiful mis-matched china tea cups and saucers. My personal favourite…the carrot cake and Earl Grey!

11825666_476697542503358_8047121838331527250_n3. The Vintage Fun Fair
Okay, so I admit, this is in the “Family Zone” but who says only children can appreciate classic fun fair rides and candy floss. My highlight of the fun fair was the classic carousel!

11224057_476699302503182_7870059976716241427_n4. Classic Vehicles
There are over 1000 vehicles on show on show at Retro Festival including classic cars, steam engines, VW campervans, American RVs, race cars, vintage motorcycles, and caravans. My personal favourites were the tear drop caravans, Morris Minors, Minis, Mustangs, Cadillacs and Chevrolets. Not only can you spend hours wandering around these vehicles, there are also classic car and aerobatic displays, and even the chance to have a chat with vehicle owners and members of vintage car and motorcycle clubs.

FullSizeRender5. Music
The main musical events at Retro Festival are split into three areas; the Black Hanger, The Ricky-Tick and The Spitfire Pavilion, all of which continue well into the evening. The Black Hanger is for all the Rock n Rollers and rockabilly lovers. Here you can jive, swing, boogie-woogie, foot tap, and bop to not only the well-known classics but the band’s own compositions as well. The Ricky-Tick is where to go for music from the 1960s Mod, Ska, and Northern Soul era. The Spitfire Pavilion was my favourite music area. Here they held swing dance lessons, swing dance shows, a vintage fashion show, and burlesque acts all accompanied by live swing bands. The girls and I enjoyed drink in the beautiful afternoon sunshine watching the amazing dancers here…what a relaxing way to wind down after all of that shopping!

FullSizeRender(1)I will most definitely be returning to Retro Festival next year, and I am sure it won’t take much convincing to make sure Cacao Papow joins me this time. And remember, if you are a fellow lover of all things vintage/ pin-up and are planning on attending drop us a line as we would love to meet any locals that share our passion!

Fashion on the Ration (or the very tight budget!)

20150817-IMG_0575.jpgVintage fashion, whether actual vintage or reproduction, can be quite expensive. For newcomers to the pin-up look or those who’d like to dip their toes into retro waters, more affordable options are needed. In honour of the fantastic Imperial War Museum exhibition – Fashion on the Ration, we chose outfits that you can put together on tight budgets.

Both of our dresses are from the vintage reproduction clothing company, Lindy Bop. In terms of their pricing, dresses usually range between twenty five and thirty five pounds – quite reasonable. We own more than one Lindy Bop dress each, which probably has something to do with the lower cost. Generally, the dresses are made of a thick material; they hang well and don’t feel like a budget option.

20150817-IMG_0576.jpgCacao Papow
Lindy Bop: size 14

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I chose the ‘Belina’ posies and polka dot dress for our trip. As I was scrolling through the ridiculous number of dresses on the Lindy Bop website, this dress instantly stood out for me. The colour, embellishment, pattern and cut were the perfect mix!

Lindy Bop says:
• Made from a good quality floral/polka cotton fabric
• Wide flared box pleat skirt
• Flattering slight V-shape neckline
• Ruched detailing to sleeves
• Decorative bows along neckline
• Matching removable belt
• Short sleeves
• Fully lined
• Hidden side zip
• Material composition: 97% Cotton, 3% Elastane

I love that the skirt is lined (no need for an underskirt). The bows along the neckline are sewn on securely so they don’t flop or bend. Matching belts are always a great accessory and I am so glad that this belt picks up on the less dominant pink colour in the dress. It also helps to break up the pattern and highlight my waist. As much as I love a circle skirt, I enjoy the more subtle box pleat skirt and I can still twirl around in it!

Now I like to get as much wear out of my dresses as possible; this dress lends itself to being an all-season piece. Here I’ve given it a more summery twist with sandals and a light cardigan. In winter, I’ll be pairing it with my overcoat, thick purple tights and brown boots. If the ‘Fashion on the Ration’ exhibit has taught me anything, it’s to get the most from your wardrobe – this dress is no exception.

Florence Flounce
Lindy Bop: size 10

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I chose the ‘Ophelia’ Sky Blue Floral Swing Dress for the day.

Lindy Bop says:
Made from a good quality medium weight stretch cotton fabric
• Flared skirt section
• Flattering sweetheart neckline
• Fitted bodice
• Contrasting crossover ruched bust panel
• Hidden side pockets
• Sleeveless
• Hidden side zip
• A 26″ petticoat will be required to get the look in the picture
• Material Composition: 97% Cotton, 3% Elastane
• Garment Care: Machine Washable (cold)

I was lucky enough to wear the ‘Audrey’ Vintage Style Sky Blue Floral Dress in this same floral design at a photo shoot at Le Keux Vintage Salon in Birmingham last year. I loved the design so much, when I saw this Ophelia dress on eBay I just had to put in a bid. I managed to get my hands on this beautiful dress for a bargain price…as if £34.99 on the Lindy Bop website isn’t already amazing value! What a brilliant find!

I love this dress because the pale blue colour really emphasises my eyes. Its colourful floral design also allows you to wear it with a combination of different accessories. I chose a cream belt and sandals, however you could change the look entirely by teaming it with blue or pink accessories. For our trip to The Fashion on the Ration exhibition at the Imperial War Museum I decided against pairing this dress with a petticoat, in the spirit of all things 1940s. To change up this look the addition of a petticoat will also give you some additional flounce! This dress is also available in a variety of other patterns and designs…so why not peruse the Lindy Bop website to find the perfect one (or two or three) for you?!

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