Papow Ponders #3: Pin-up Confidence

It is a common misconception that when someone appears confident on the outside, they are also confident on the inside. While I accept that this may be the case some of the time, it isn’t the case ALL of the time.

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At the Pin-up Picnic In The Park

I am someone who has become very good at putting on a mask of confidence when it’s needed: I put it on at work, on shoots, in times of crisis, at meet-ups and so on. With my mask on, I smile, joke, laugh, organise, support, and generally try to seem like a normal human being.

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Underneath my mask, it’s a completely different story: I second guess every decision I make, I wonder what terrible things people are thinking about me, I obsess about how I look and sound and I convince myself that I am utterly pointless.

Over the past few months, I have been working hard to combat these huge bouts of anxiety. This is not just because it’s ruining things for me, it’s also started to impact those closest to me. I can become snappy, withdrawn, obsessive, frustrated and grouchy when I’m anxious and this is only really seen by people I feel most comfortable with. When I’ve been to events where there are lots of new people, Flo or my better half are usually there – which is hugely comforting and helps me calm down. Some might see this as me being clingy or insecure but it gives me a safe breathing space away from unfamiliar faces.

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My support crew

Little bit by little bit, I hope to quiet down those worrisome, negative voices – though I know they’ll never completely disappear. I know that there are lots of people out there experiencing similar issues so I know I’m not alone in my struggles.

Dressing in pin-up/vintage style is something I adore and makes me so happy, it just doesn’t cure all. How do you cope with anxiety? What has helped you?

Frankie And Gerry’s Retro Studio Part 1 -Embracing my inner Mad Men’s Joan Holloway with the Glamour Bunny Maggie Dress

At the end of June, Papow and I (and our trusty photographer darktechsupport) began an epic road trip to the North. We packed ourselves, half of our wardrobes and a load of photography equipment into the car and set off (fuelled along the way of course by countless protein balls made by my own fair hands). Where were we headed? Several locations in fact (more on those later). Stop number one, however was Franky & Gerry’s Retro Studio in Gateshead, Newcastle Upon Tyne.

Frankie and Gerry’s pride themselves on being “The UK’s number one retro studio for product photography, invisible mannequin, cut out photography, fashion and pin-up photography, makeovers and boudoir shoots”.

For years Papow and I have swooned over the images taken at this studio. It wasn’t until Miss Victory Violet gave it a whirl last year that we decided it was somewhere that we absolutely needed to visit and so set about planning our trip.

And who can blame us? The studio contains the following gorgeous sets:

  • A 1960s lounge (as seen in this blog post).
  • A pink and blue 1950s-inspired kitchen.
  • A pink 1950s-inspired bedroom.
  • A Tiki bar.
  • A vintage bathroom containing a glorious roll top bath.

You can book in for a retro/pinup makeover and shoot or hen party at Franky and Gerry’s, however the studio is also available to hire (for amateur and professional photographers alike). The latter option is exactly what caught our eye.

Papow’s hubby darktechsupport hired the studio for the day as a birthday present to Papow (and naturally her pin-up wifey Flo got to tag along). Papow and I styled our own hair and did our own makeup. When we arrived I was simply gob-smacked at the size of the place. It was so spacious and the sets were of such high quality. Not only this but in each set there were simply millions of props. I am sure any vintage/pinup fanatic like myself would be completely in their element here. As we arrived we got to meet the one and only Gerry Roxby. She showed us around and introduced us to the endless rails full of her Glamour Bunny clothing line that we were able to use for the shoot. Not only this but we also got to meet her Border Terrier Billy. By this point I had nearly died and gone to vintage/doggie heaven.

Papow and I tried out a number of the sets during the day, not to mention vast amounts of Glamour Bunny clothing, and rest assured there will be more blog posts to follow on these. The one that I had to tell you about first, and my absolute favourite, was the 1960s lounge. A strange choice for Flo, you may think. And I would probably agree. Because I am so pale I normally go for bright bold primary colours, however I wanted to use this experience as a chance to try something completely new. The browns and oranges in this set are simply colours that I would not normally wear on a daily basis. But we were at Frankie and Gerry’s so I raided the clothes rails and came up with a dress from the collection that I feel fitted in perfectly with this set…The 1940s retro Maggie dress.

Glamour Bunny say it is “inspired by the style of the 1940’s” and “this little retro pin-up dress has a very vintage look with all the benefits of a modern-day dress. Using our usual quality fabric to give it an extra luxurious feel, this dress will stand out in a crowd”.

Here I am wearing the dress in a small (Bust 32″, Waist 24-25″, Hips 35-36″, Length approx 40″). The extra small was too tight for me and although the small has a little more room around the waist, I was able to easily nip it in with the matching belt. Features of this dress that I simply adore are the two front pleats, the V-neck line and check out those pointed cuffs!  Absolutely stunning. The dress retails at a reasonable £85.00. The quality is simply superb, and I definitely intend on investing in one for my own wardrobe (out-of-place as the colours will be).

For this shoot I styled my own hair and makeup. For my hair I did a heat pin curl set the day before the shoot. The morning of the shoot I brushed this out, swept my hair into a victory roll at the front of the head, and pulled the rest of the hair up and clipped to the top of my head. I then tied a hair scarf with a matching colour scheme around my head. For my make up I pretty much followed my usual pin-up makeup routine (see my recent post “Face-to-Face: Pin-up Makeup for Different Skin Types and Tones – Florence Flounce”). On this occasion, however I added Eylure Volume No 107 fake eyelashes for extra impact.

In terms of accessories I teamed this dress with a very neutral colour pallette: pearl earings, pearl necklace and my nude patent court shoes from New Look. I think you could easily change the look completely by adding a little colour also. When I purchase this dress, I totally intend on picking out the red in the flower print by accessorizing with a red waist belt, heels, earrings and head scarf.

Wow, What a fun day at Frankie and Gerry’s this was indeed. And what sunning images darktechsupport managed to take! Stay tuned for further posts in this series from both Papow and I! And if any of you can recommend any other retro studios around the country we would be delighted to hear your views!

Time For Tea with Peggy Lee

Sketch Afternoon Tea_IMG_5169.jpgOh Vivien of Holloway – why must you keep making such gorgeous dresses? I was doing so well on my shopping ban; I’d lasted a month and twenty-two days! Then, I saw the Peggy Lee dress and I had to give in.

Sketch Afternoon Tea_IMG_5165.jpgAs described by VOH,

Peggy Lee is making her return with some very dramatic prints.
By demand we have brought back this great Day Dress.
Just like the Kitty she has a relaxed fit and nice big pockets.
The style is complimented with contrast collar and pocket cuffs.

Sketch Afternoon Tea_IMG_5174.jpgThis dress comes in a variety of prints, from bold novelty to subtle pattern. Even though I’m a pattern queen, I’d love to see this style in bold block colours too. The Peggy Lee has a slightly casual feel to it so I’d be happy to wear this to work or out and about during the day. When I saw the dresses, I instantly fell in love with the teapot and nautical prints – I knew I’d get lots of wear out of them!

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In terms of fit, I went for a 16 – unlike the Lana dress, this style is very much true to size. The waist nips in nicely (I don’t feel the need for a belt) and the skirt flares out in an A-line, there’s plenty of room in the arms too.

Sketch Afternoon Tea_IMG_5173.jpgThe print of this dress is so adorable. Green is my favourite colour but there are so many other colours in the pattern too – you can pick out blue, black, teal, purple or white to wear with this. I paired it with dark purple tights and shoes as the weather in London wasn’t great. If I could change one thing about this dress, I’d get the pattern  to match on the pockets and skirt but it’s only a minor detail.

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Birthday present from my mum

For my birthday afternoon tea celebration, this dress was perfect! I got compliments from so many people as I walked around the city.

Sketch Afternoon Tea_IMG_5178.jpgDo you have a Peggy Lee? How do you wear yours? We’d love to see!

Stamps in Settle

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Earlier this year, I did a post on the Kitty dress by Vivien of Holloway. Since then, I’ve fallen head over heels with the style!

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If you flick through my Instagram, you can see that I just adore prints; I rarely wear plain block colours. You can imagine my joy when I saw that VOH was going to release a stamp print in the Kitty. The print was so unusual with lots of different colours – I had to have it. However after a busy day’s teaching, I was horrified to see that the dress of my dreams had sold out.

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All was not lost though! I am a member of the ‘I have a Vivien of Holloway dress and love to wear it’ group on Facebook. This page is for sharing photos in your lovely dresses, advice about clothing care, styling and also swapping and selling dresses. The members of this page are really wonderful – I don’t have a single bad word to say (apart from the group having too many shopping enablers in one place). One of the group members was considering selling her stamps Kitty so I called dibs the first chance I got. Some time later, she was ready to sell and I finally got my dream dress! The dress came in perfect condition and I was one happy bunny – thank you Amanda.

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To do this garment justice, I took it on my walking holiday to Settle, Yorkshire. My better half loves the station there so we thought it would be a good opportunity for a little shoot.

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I styled this outfit simply with a red elasticated waist belt and brown shoes – the print is the main focus. My hair is leftover from my amazing pin-up makeover at Le Keux Vintage Salon by Diablo Rose – it lasted four days! For make-up, I just added classic winged eyeliner and red lips.

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I loved the location of this shoot and, as always, @darktechsupport did a brilliant job.

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Afternoon Tea at Pennyhill Park

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Afternoon tea is a great love of mine – I wish there was the opportunity for it every week! When I do have the time, I try to visit as many different tea rooms as possible, in order to find the ultimate afternoon tea.

Last week, I met up with two friends from my first teaching job. As it was the summer holidays, we had time to faff about with our hair and make-up before stepping out. I only really style my own hair so it was quite interesting having a go with other ladies. Jen had more of a soft, smooth style, whereas Sophie had a fun curly style.

As for me, I did my usual wet-set and added some  bright lipstick. My dress is from Tatyana Boutique (currently unavailable) and my cardigan is from Lindy Bop (currently unavailable). I love the colours and print in this outfit!

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Pennyhill Park is a very elegant setting for afternoon tea, though to be honest I’m more interested in the tea and food rather than the surroundings. There’s a huge range of teas, coffees and soft drinks which are all included in the price – you can change them or have them topped up as often as you like. I had flowering osmanthus and lemon verbena.

Sandwiches included smoked salmon, cucumber, egg mayonnaise and pastrami. My favourite was the smoked salmon.The bread on all of the sandwiches was soft and delicious.

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Sadly, the scones were a bit of a disappointment; they were very cotton wool-y and tasted a little too much of baking powder. Scones are normally my highlight of an afternoon tea so this was quite unfortunate. There also wasn’t enough cream for all of us – more is always best!

The cakes were absolutely beautiful; they were decorated with such attention to detail. The selection included a chocolate choux bun with earl grey cream and a raspberry macaroon, a tropical panna cotta, a strawberry and pistachio tart and a little blueberry cake. I adored the panna cotta and strawberry tart – I’d happily have them again! My only issue was the earl grey cream which was far too strong so I couldn’t eat it.

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All in all, we had a really relaxed afternoon. Some elements of the food were absolutely delicious but this was by no means the ultimate afternoon tea.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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Darlings in Dungarees: Part Two – Freddies of Pinewood

Following on from Papow’s post last week, it is now Flo’s turn to share her love of dungarees with you all…
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Now as you all know I own very little in the way of trousers. Skirts, dresses, playsuits, even shorts…I have tonnes. But I would actually go as far saying trousers themselves make up less than 1% of my entire wardrobe (it’s a running joke when this pharmacist rocks up at work in a pair trousers that it must mean I am weeks, if not months, behind on my ironing. I live in dresses and skirts and I own so many of these that I could quite literally go months without having to do my laundry or ironing at all). So, it was time to try something new!

The truth of the matter is I have never had a booty and struggle to find trousers that fit at the waist without sagging at the butt. In recent years I have discovered that high-waisted, swing style trousers avoid this issue completely. In addition, when I saw Papow in her stunning repro dungarees, I adored the style and decided it was time to think about investing in a pair myself (despite my fear of shopping for such an item). With this in mind Papow helped me to come up with a plan of action. We decided to pick the brains of the team from Freddies of Pinewood at Twinwood Festival back in August 2015. These guys were great. They not only suggested several styles that would work well on my figure, they were spot on with the sizing first time and every time…just by taking a look at me!!! They even helped me out with advice on washing and caring for their garments when I got them home. So which ones did I settle on I hear you ask? The Indigo Home Companion Dungarees.

Freddies of Pinewood’s descrition:

“The same great fit as our other dungarees, but these have a special feature, a removable bib and voila! A pair of jeans!!! That’s two outfits for the price of one!! In a rich indigo denim with white stitching and four shiny buttons on the front patch pockets. These have a plastic button on the waistband which can therefore be moved for a better fit! These are proper jeans! Made from authentic 100% cotton denim, so machine washable. Just turn inside out to retain colour and wash at 30 or 40 degrees”.

These jeans retail at a price of £80, but boy are they an investment. You can see from the description above that they can in fact be worn as dungarees or as jeans alone simply by removing the bib. The high-waisted and swing trouser design avoids all of my baggy bum issues as they simply skim over my bottom, yet still nip me in at the waist. I absolutely love them.

I went for these in a size 26 (waist 66cm, hip 108cm, thigh 32cm, front rise 37cm, leg width 26cm, inside leg 82/92cm). The website has a more in-depth size chart, which I have to admit is a little confusing to a Freddies of Pinewood virgin. but if you are tempted by these, or any of the other beautiful pieces on the Freddies of Pinewood website and are lucky enough to be heading over the Twinwood Festival in a few weeks time, definitely follow my lead and head over to Freddies for a chat, they will be more than happy to help!

I’ve put together a few outfits here to show how they really are a very versatile piece for any pinup’s wardrobe. In the first set of images I went for a red theme, styling the dungarees with a red gingham shirt from George at Asda, a red polka dot hair bandana (made by yours truly), my red 3 inch waist belt from Vivien of Holloway, my nautical red cardigan from Hell Bunny, red earrings from Primark and my mini-me brooch from Lillian Madison Designs.

In the next set of images I swapped the look for a blue theme, changing into my classic white navy spot gypsy top from Vivien of Holloway, a blue polka dot bandana (again made by myself). You can see from the images that the jeans can be styled just as well with with red flats from New Look as my navy patent court shoes (also from New look). The jeans alone are just as flattering as the dungarees with the bib attached. I think you will agree it looks like an entirely different outfit completely, so well worth the £80 investment in my opinion. And if this isn’t enough to tempt you, they are also available in grey!

A useful piece of advice I picked up from the Freddies of Pinewood team is to always wash the bib with the jeans (even when you have only worn the jeans by themselves). These jeans are a dark denim and it is inevitable that the colour will fade gradually over time and with repeated washing. Washing both pieces of the garment together ensures that the jeans do not fade faster than the bib and both can continue to be worn together. Meaning you can get years and years worth of enjoyment out of this beautiful piece.

It is safe to say I am totally in love with the Home Companion Dungarees and following this purchase I hope to expand my dungaree collection further. Based on Papow’s review I am determined to invest in some Collectif denim. However I also have my heart set on the Freddies of Pinewood Grease Monkey…so if any of you have any advice on either of these please do share them with us, we would love you hear your views!

Finally, a Massive thanks again to @darktechsupport for shooting Papow and I for our dungarees blog posts…I will leave you with a few behind the scenes shots from this great day!

 

Papow Ponders #2: What Really Matters?

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandma and how she’s always loved me. She loved me when I was a chubby, round baby. She loved me when my hair was long enough to sit on. She loved me when I chopped off all my hair. She loved me when  I refused to wear dresses and skirts. She loved me when I wore only black. She loved me when I was a fifteen stone fifteen year old. She loved me when I started wearing dresses and skirts again. She loved me when I started to wear more make-up. She loved me when I lost weight on my year abroad. She loved me when I got tattoos (especially when I got a copy of hers). She loved me when I started getting into pin-up and vintage. Even now, as she fades in and out of the here and now, she still loves me – I can hear it in her words and the way she holds my hand.

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Me minus any styling

It has taken me almost 28 years to realise that how I look has absolutely zero impact on the relationships I have with those who care about me. My family has always supported me no matter how I’ve looked. I have friends from many different walks of life and they have seen me in my various guises. The people who matter most stay with me. Although we have moved or changed in some way, we still make time for each other. Essentially, it’s the bonds we share that are stronger than our self-presentation.

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Walking around Malham with my better half

You do you. Just remember –  be kind, be open! How you wish to present yourself to the world is your choice, it does not dictate your personality, beliefs or attitudes. We can all change whenever we want. Some days I want to dress in pin-up style, sometimes I want to sit around in my pyjamas and often I just see where the mood takes me when I get up in the morning. No-one should feel any less of a person for dressing in a certain way – the person dressed to the nines with a full face of make-up is no better or worse than the person wearing gym gear. Whatever makes you happy – go for it! Flo and I love our vintage and pin-up gear but we’re still happy to see each other without it.

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Pin-up hair and walking boots

I don’t want to come to the end of my life full of regret and woe. I am tired of worrying what strangers think of me. There is so much good in the world – go out there and embrace it. Time is fleeting; spend your life doing what you love with the people you love – that’s what really matters.

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At the spot where we got engaged five years ago