Papow Ponders #6: Ignoring Politics

Oh how the world is changing! As am I actually.With the way that global events have been evolving, I initially wanted to bury my head in the sand. I set out to create my own safe bubble: I turned off the news, stopped reading newspapers, asked my family to stop discussing current events around me and put my focus on blogging and my teaching. Ignorance was bliss – but only for short time.

I guess it’s like ignoring a dead lightbulb until you bump into something at night or ignoring a sore tooth until the pain becomes so unbearable you feel like you’ll pass out. The world catches up with you and, if you’re not careful, it can hit you hard.

For me, it began with my class. I spend most of my time at work and I like to know what’s important to my children. From Brexit to Trump, they discuss it all. I have to engage with them about it because it’s on their radar – they have thoughts and concerns. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I ignored them.

Then it moved to money, we had to consider what the pound and the dollar were up to in preparation for our Viva trip – something I’d never really considered before. What was far more concerning was seeing the struggles of families in a time of cuts and unsympathetic policies.

Next, global matters started to hit people’s livelihoods. I know friends and others in the pin-up community who are leaving the UK – not because they want to, but because of changes to their funding, the current political climate or just the general atmosphere post-Trump and post-Brexit.

Finally, I have felt the events of the past few months hit me in a way I never thought it could. I have stopped feeling safe in the world – my bubble has well and truly burst. I am fearful of how I will be treated because of the colour of my skin and my gender. I often wonder whether my views will be seen as ridiculous because I am not part of a majority. I can see the world turning into some pre-1939 nightmare and I am scared of what the future might hold.

What does all of this mean then? Personally, it means I can no longer bury my head in the sand – I must do my best to fight my fears and face the world head on. With regards to the pin-up community (and any other subculture community for that matter), maybe instead of trying to ignore these issues and the people who raise them, we should instead try to work together to make this world the best we can in the face of adversity.

To quote one of my favourite German sayings, “You can break a finger but you can’t break a fist!”

My next steps:

  1. I will continue to write and speak on this subject, working with others when I can.
  2. I will defend myself and others when injustice comes our way.
  3. I will march, petition and pledge support whenever possible.

For further reading, please have a look at this post by my gorgeous, outspoken friend, Leanda.

Jean Genies #1: Collectif Clothing

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During my teenage years, I lived in jeans – insanely wide, baggy jeans. When I started to change my style, the jeans I found on the high street were just a big no; they cut into my hips, they fitted my bum but not my waist, they clung in weird places and they just weren’t comfortable. My days of wearing jeans were over…or so I thought.

In this series of posts, I’ll be sharing brands and styles of jeans that work for me. This week, the spotlight is on Collectif.

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I’ve tried on a few types of jeans from Collectif but my favourite style by far is the ‘Siobhan’ jeans. The high-waisted, wide-leg shape of these jeans work perfectly on my  shape.

As described by Collectif,

Wondering what to wear with your daytime 50s tops and cardigans? Look no further- the Siobhan Jeans are here!

The perfect set of wide leg high waisted jeans, the Siobhans feature a side zip with a button to secure at your waist, as well as enough length in the leg to allow for a bit of a turn up. Made in high quality stretch denim that will cling to your curves and cinch in your waist.

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You can grab these jeans in black or blue denim – I have two black and one blue pair already. As well as fitting me like a dream, these jeans are incredibly comfortable and easy to move about in. At least once a week, I wear these to school as they are smart but durable.

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For this post, I went for a bit of a Teddy girl look which I just love! My jacket is also by Collectif (available in check or plain navy). I added my Doc Martens to finish off the outfit.

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You can wear whatever you like with high-waisted jeans, however I do love wearing shorter length tops with them – this one is from Tatyana (currently sold out). Cropped jumpers or cardigans would also look good with these jeans.

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I tried to get my hair into a slight page-boy style and added a new shade of lipstick.

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Here are some examples of how I’ve styled these jeans for work and play.



Which brand of jeans do you love the most? How do you style yours? Let us know!

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Papow Ponders #5: Why Representation Matters

Recently, there has been a lot of discussion about diversity and representation in the world of pin-up and vintage. These issues are very close to my heart and ignoring them is something I simply cannot do. This blog post concerns my PERSONAL views on these matters.

In order to get a better understanding of my position, I’ll take you back to my youth. Outside of my own family circle, I’ve only ever found one other Fijian Asian person living in the UK – thanks to the power of the internet. At primary school, I never felt concerned about the colour of my skin or how people viewed me. This all changed when I went to secondary school after my family moved down south. I went from a diverse area in Birmingham to a majority-white village in Berkshire.

Moving home put me in a place where I was most definitely the minority; I stuck out like a sore thumb. When I think back to this part of my life,  would have given anything not to be me. My teachers were lovely but many of my fellow students made my life a misery. Random people, children not even in my class, would come up and ask me where I’m from (Birmingham was never a good enough answer). I made sure to use the name, ‘Cherie’ rather than my given name, ‘Chereeka’ because it was easier to say and I didn’t have to spell it out all the time. Although I never had abuse hurled at me, there were horrible incidents of racist jokes, mocked accents and foul stereotypes that nipped at my pained heels. I felt so very alone. My mum was and still is an incredibly strong woman – if I’d have told her about any of this, she’d have been straight down to school putting the world to rights. I couldn’t say a word as I was so fearful of being more alienated than I already was.

I did have a group of close friends but they had no experience of what I was going through – I wondered if there was much point in trying to get them to understand my position. Obviously now with hindsight, I know I should have said something sooner but you don’t always make the best decisions as teenager.

Along with my skin colour, my size made me stick out too. I was fifteen stone at the age of fifteen and everyone else around me was tiny. I wore size 18 trousers and had a 38″ waist. Instead of embracing who I was, I retreated from life. I hung out with boys rather than girls so I didn’t have to talk about clothes or looks. I bunked off PE more and more. I went through miserable bouts of diet and binge. It was horrible.

Why is any of this relevant? It’s relevant because during this time of inner turmoil, I found no-one I could relate to. I know that RuPaul says, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” but it’s hard to love yourself when you feel abnormal. The plus-size movement was barely in its infancy and I hadn’t even heard of body positivity. Apart from the women in my family, I didn’t have any other women of colour to talk to. There were always women in Bollywood films and maybe an Asian character or two on TV but I could never relate to them. No-one in my family had worn a sari since the seventies and I spoke (and still speak) more German than Hindi. I felt alien – like I didn’t belong anywhere.

Thankfully, things got better when I went to university in London. I found a place full of people from all corners of the globe and not once was I asked where I ‘actually’ came from during my time there. I found a warm and open-minded group of friends and I stopped feeling like a sore thumb.

Moving into the world of vintage and pin-up has started to bring back some of those alien feelings. When you type the word ‘pin-up’ into Google images, you’ll see images of women who all look very similar in colour, shape and size. If I want to see diversity, I have to actively search  for it – I wish I didn’t have to. Thanks to the power of the internet, I don’t feel so alone; I’ve managed to find pin-ups of colour, body positive advocates and people who have similar views to me.

Times have changed but by no means is the current situation perfect. At the risk of sounding like a Miss World contestant, I’m hoping for a better world for our children. I do not want any person to feel alienated due to their size,  shape,  colour, accent, budget, disability, gender, sexual orientation, location, education or religion. I want every single person to know they matter. No-one should feel that they need to apologise for who they are. The world needs to understand that different doesn’t mean bad and that minorities are not monoliths.

This is easier said than done of course. Stories needs to be shared, voices need to be raised, people need educating, mistakes need to be acknowledged, stereotypes need to be broken down and care needs be taken. We all need to make sure that we treat people the way that we want to be treated. I am not here to create divide and hurt others, I am here to create greater equality and give support. Representation matters.

If you have any questions or thoughts on the matter – feel free to share!




Cacao Papow meets Cherry Dollface

I’m not one for big birthday celebrations – a good meal and decent conversation always make me happy. Last year though, an amazing birthday opportunity came up and I couldn’t say no!

Cherry Dollface had announced her UK tour earlier in the year and luck would have it that she was in Bristol the day before my birthday. Let’s just say I didn’t need much persuading to book a session and, of course, Flo hopped along too.

I’ve always had a love of vintage clothing and non-mainstream fashion. When I started blogging and getting into shooting with my better half, I watched lots of Cherry’s videos on posing, modelling and wardrobe. Since then I’ve found my own way of doing things but as a starting point, I found her videos incredibly useful.

The day arrived. With a ton of outfits in hand, Flo, @darktechsupport and I set off on a road trip to Bristol. My session was first – I was ready to be glamorised!

First of all, I had my hair set into curls. While it cooled, I had my make-up done. I really enjoy the process of being painted, the transformation process fascinates me. I didn’t need to bring anything with me – Cherry had colours that matched my skin tone perfectly.


Once my make-up was finished, it was time to finish up the hair. I’d looked at so many hairstyles before my session but I finally settled on a forties half-poodle as I’d always been a little fearful of trying out a poodle myself. After the hair and make-up had been completed, I felt like a goddess!


Flo then had her time with Cherry while I had some photos taken. The atmosphere was really relaxed and we could just hang out and chit-chat throughout our sessions – I even had time to munch a pastry.


Meeting someone you’ve been a fan of online in real life is a little odd. I felt like a nervous fangirl and I didn’t really know what to do with myself for the first five minutes. After that however, I calmed down and actually got to enjoy the experience. Cherry is very down-to-earth and incredibly easy to talk to, which made this experience all the better!


From my previous experience with photographers, it takes a while to warm up and relax in front of a camera with a new person behind it. Having my better half and Flo with me definitely helped. When Flo and I got our images to choose from afterwards, there were lots of portraits so I requested a wider choice of images, including full-length outfits and greater detail on the hair.

These were the results by Holly Matthews Photography:






I really loved meeting Cherry and I’ve been able to recreate this hair since my shoot so I learned something new as well!

After our shoot, we were in desperate need of food. We had the most delicious quesadillas ever! Full up, we headed home. Once we got out of the car, @darktechsupport managed to get some snaps of us in natural light.









What do you think? I had lots of fun and I was glad to finally meet one of my pin-up idols!

Flo will be sharing her views and photos of her Cherry Dollface experience in an upcoming blog post.

Work-Appropriate Winter Wear with Vivien Of Holloway


My word! It feels like the Arctic outside at the moment – I’m not a happy bunny. When it’s chilly, I feel the cold A LOT which means I can struggle to get the most out of my dresses. My winter work uniform is made up of swing-style jeans with a pair of tights underneath, paired with a long-sleeve top or thermal and a thick jumper on top. Practical though it may be, it doesn’t make me feel all that fabulous. Thankfully, there are solutions to this problem!


Last year, Vivien of Holloway brought out the Laura dress:

This gorgeous Flannel dress is perfect for the cold weather. The soft wool like, medium-weight Flannel fabric will be sure to keep you cosy all season.
It can be worn with our Slash Neck Tops or a turtle-neck sweater for colder days.
It has a flattering shape with a nipped in waist and an A-line skirt.
The bodice is slashed at the front to give a dramatic effect, framed perfectly with contrasting saddle stitch.
And, of course, we all love a dress with pockets!


As a  primary school teacher, this dress is such a dream! The style allows you to wear a variety of tops underneath. Here I added a roll-neck top but I’m looking forward to adding thicker knits too. You can get a lot of wear out of it.


In terms of practicality, this dress is a good length – long enough to keep you covered and short enough not to trip on. The material keeps you warm too. Also, as previously mentioned, it has pockets (which will probably end up being filled with pens and highlighters).


I’d love to put colours like red, green or burnt orange with this dress – the dress itself is neutral so there are lots of options.


How do you make vintage style work for you in winter? Apart from a thick coat, what are your key pieces for cold weather? I love a bit of inspiration.