As promised I have another book review for you today. This continues along the theme of history books about women. This time I’ve gone a tiny bit further back in time to the early 20th century.

Margot at War Book ReviewLast week I finished reading Margot at War, a biography of Margot Asquith by Anne De Courcy. Margot Asquith was the wife of the prime minister during the First World War. Her story runs alongside a hugely turbulent era for the country and for politics and it makes for a hugely interesting and informative read.

Margot at War by Anne De CourcyI instantly liked Margot, partly because she is one one women who has never been described as a ‘great beauty’ as way too many women are. Margot was very ordinary looking and had a crooked nose as a result of a riding accident. What she lacked in beauty was made up for by an incredible dress sense, intelligence and generosity.

Margot at War Back of BookThe books talks about so many fascinating topics, including in depth details on the Liberal Party at the time as well as the political issues that surrounded the country being at war. The details on the Great War told from the point of view of people at the time is deeply heartbreaking and made the terrible loss of life and suffering all the more poignant, than any book I’ve read before.

Margot at War ReviewOne of the most interesting parts of the book was the bits that talk about the Suffragette movement. Looking back from a female perspective 100 years on I personally hail these women as heros. Every time I vote I say a little thank you to each and every women who fought for my rights. From the perspective of Margot and other people at the time you see them more as terrorists. These parts of the book are just fantastically written and shone the movement in a new light to me.

There was only one real downside of the book to me. Where the book goes into a huge amount of detail about the era and about other people in Margot’s life, I feel that I didn’t really learn enough about her. There was not a massive connection between the reader and the subject of the book. I felt hugely engaged in her husbands life and that of his lover Venetia, who’s affair covers huge swathes of the book.

Love and Betrayal in Downing StreetI feel like while researching the book, the author uncovered more letters, information and sources on other people than she did on Margot. Considering the book is over 350 pages long, it is perhaps bulked out with a lot of information on the world around Margot as opposed to her herself. I did enjoy reading excerpts from her letters and diary though. I certainly felt her pain and loneliness when at times she felt her husband slipping away or suffered at the hands of his daughter.

Margot at War Anne De Courcy ReviewThis in no way diminishes how fantastic the book actually is. Although I came away without feeling like I knew Margot, I enjoyed every single word and page of the book. It is beautifully written, well researched and deeply engaging. I was engrossed in this small snapshot of a truly fascinating era of British history. It appealed to my political side as well as the part of me that has a never ending thirst for history.

Book Review - Margot at WarI’d recommend the book to anyone interested in politics, women history and the first world war. Seeing the events from the point of view of those living in Downing Street at the time is well worth the time taken to read the book.

Buy the book on Amazon.

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Last week I went to see Blanc de Blanc, a show which is part cabaret, part circus and part burlesque at the Hippodrome Casino in London. The show, which features a wide array of performances is brought together with the theme of champagne.

Blanc De Blanc Programme CoverThe show is most definitely just for grown-ups, with plenty filth and frivolity. The host for the night was Monsieur Romeo, a rather gorgeous French lothario, who starts the show in a suit and ends it in a pool of bubbles wearing just a tiny pair of briefs.

Blanc De Blanc LondonThe show is unashamedly filthy, and in amongst beautiful sensual aerial performances, there is plenty of full nudity and sexual innuendo. The show is a glamorous merry-go-round mixing a plethora of performance genres. I absolutely loved the acrobatic and dance based sections. They were stunningly choreographed and the breath-taking stunts were a pleasure to behold.

Hampus & Milena - Blanc de Blanc - London Hippodrome - Pamela Raith Photography - (037)The contortion display by Shun Sugimoto was both horrific and entrancing, watching him stretch his body into impossible positions left me wishing I could look away! The comic aspects from the clown Spencer Novich were both dark and hilarious and a great addition to the show.

Blanc De Blanc CastEmma Maye Gibson provided some of the lewder entertainment, with plenty on show. In the programme she is described as an ‘obscene beauty queen’ which just about sums up her performance. She provided a very entertaining performance with her riotous escapades across the stage.

The cast of Blanc de Blanc - London Hippodrome - Pamela Raith Photography - (043)Where the show really shines, is when it moves away from light naughty entertainments and striptease and the sheer talent of the performers is allowed to shine through. The opening piece – an aerial performance from Masha Terentieva on a suspended hotel luggage cart is simply amazing. The other aerial performance from Hampus Jansson and Milena Straczynski is so sensual and beautiful that it is definitely the finest part of the show.

Blanc De Blanc ReviewThe more surreal and creative performances are also really fun and entertaining to watch and the sheer variety of the show makes it worth every penny.

I feel that the whole thing must have been really fun to make, the performers look like they are enjoying every minute and there is plenty of audience participation which is great fun. I even ended up with Monsieur Romeo sitting on my lap at one point. I wasn’t complaining!

The cast of Blanc de Blanc - London Hippodrome - Photo By Darren Bell - (10)The Producers Strut and Fret did a great job creating a show that no one will forget in a hurry. It is the perfect show to be hosted in a casino and the intimate cabaret theatre area was just the right size for a small audience.

Blanc De Blanc CostumesThe thing I appreciated most about the show would have to be the stunning costumes. There was plenty of glamorous vintage showgirl inspired glitz from costume designer James Browne.

I’d recommend this show to anyone who likes a little naughtiness and isn’t put off by slightly bawdy entertainment.

The show is running at The Hippodrome Casino London until 28th August. 

For more information and booking details visit the Hippodrome website

*I received two complimentary tickets to the show for the purposes of review. All opinions are my own. 

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As I have mentioned many times on here, Love ur Look are one of my very favourite reproduction vintage brands. One of the things I love most about them, is that they’re not making clothes like any other brand on the vintage scene. Their dresses are made ethically in India using salvaged and up-cycled fabrics and everything is absolutely lovely quality. One of the things that sets them apart from some other brands is all the lovely design details, everything bit of finishing is gorgeous and I’m a big fan of their detailed collars, oversized pockets and beautiful buttons.

Love ur Look 50s Style DressMy latest dress from Love ur Look, is a classic 50s style shirt dress. I am completely in love with the pretty grey and coral print, which really does look like an authentic 1950s fabric. I already have a similar dress in a black floral from Love ur Look which I wear all the time, so I couldn’t wait to wear this lighter coloured one in the summer.

Love Ur Look 1950s Shirt Dress ReviewThe dress is made from a lovely soft cotton and fastens with black plastic buttons. It comes with a matching tie belt, which I have worn tied at the back for these photos, but it could also be used to make a bow at the front. The dress also has handy pockets at the side – an absolute must for me. The dress is also fully lined in white cotton has a really full gathered skirt, which is perfect for a mid-century look.

Love ur Look Dress and Vintage Bakelite BanglesI wore the dress with a simple stack of vintage bakelite and bamboo bangles and an Enid Collins bag with a pretty butterfly design. I also wore my trusty pink Donna shoes from Hotter, which I wear with almost all my vintage outfits, as they’re just so comfortable.

Love ur Look 1950s Check Shirt DressFit-wise I went for a size large, which works out about the same as my usual size 14. It is ever so slightly tight across the bust on me, which I find with most shirt dresses, but as it’s a nice strong fabric I think I can get away with it.

At £48, I think the dress is excellent value for money and would be perfect for someone looking for a dress for vintage events, that isn’t from one of the bigger repro brands.

This dress is available here. See the full range on the Love ur Look website.

This dress was kindly gifted to me by Love ur Look, although I am also a paying customer. All opinions are my own. 

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Another month has passed, and its time for another Birchbox review. Birchbox is a monthly beauty subscription box, packed with high-end surprise beauty products which arrive at your door once a month. I’ve been subscribed for a few years now and always love getting my surprise package through the post.

July 2016 Birchbox ReviewThis months lovely box was themed ‘Never Ending Summer’. The box itself was a really pretty one, I love using them to store bits and bobs in and if I can keep this one away from the kids long enough, I’m sure I will stash some pretty vintage treasures away in it!

May 2016 Birchbox ContentsMy first reaction to the box was a good one, I love it when the box has a good mix of products and this one really does have a bit of everything. There is a skincare product, a hair product, two make-up items and a nail polish. I was disappointed to see no Birchbox Bonus in this box. I like the little extra bits that you usually get in each box and I always use them, so this was the only downside of the box for me.

July BirchboxThe box also contains 3 full-sized products, so it was great value for money, especially since they are all really usable products that most people can use.

July Birchbox LOC x Millie Lip PencilThe first product in the box was the Loc x Millie Ultra-Gloss Lip Pencil in the Shade Bohemian Rose. This lovely lip pencil is a collaboration with Millie Macintosh. The pencil has a high shine finish and the shade is a lovely feminine pink. This has a smooth lipstick consistency while looking like a gloss. I found this really easy to apply and was really pleased with the shade. I love the colour and will definitely be using this all the time as an everyday shade. This full-sized product would normally cost £9.

July Birchbox John Frieda Anti-Frizz PrimerNext up was the John Frieda Frizz Ease Forever Smooth Anti-Frizz Primer. Since getting my hair cut back into a bob, I’ve been using lots of different products to keep my hair sleek and healthy looking. Having quite thick naturally wavy hair, products that keep the frizz at bay are always a welcome addition to my routine. This lovely primer has a light cream-like consistency. You apply it to wet hair and the smoothing effect is really good. I found it kept my hair frizz free without adding heaviness. I’m really happy with this product and will keep using it. This full-sized product usually costs £9.99.

July Birchbox Nails Inc Nail VarnishKeeping with the pink theme the next product in my box was a mini Nails inc. Nail Varnish in a lovely bright pink shade. I was really happy with the coverage of this product, which looks great after just two thin coats. The colour is perfect for me, as I love pink. The best bit is how quickly this one dries. I often find high-end nail varnishes take a while to dry, but this one was good to go in about a minute – great when you’re a busy mum. The little sample will last a while, so I’ll definitely get lots of use out of it. The full-sized version costs £15.

July Birchbox GA-DE Eyeshadow ReviewThe next product was the GA-DE Idyllic Soft Satin Mono Eyeshadow in the shade Natural. This is another product from the box which I absolutely love. This is the softest and easiest to apply eyeshadow I’ve tried in ages. It has a lovely fine silky consistency and can be applied with either fingers or an eyeshadow brush. It also contains vitamins C and E, which are really good for the skin. The neutral shade is also really handy for a natural everyday make-up look. This full-sized product would usually cost £10.50.

July Birchbox Thermaliv Lotion MicellaireThe last product was a very small sample of the Thermaliv Lotion Micellaire. I use Micellar water all the time to clean my skin and to remove my make-up if I’m in a rush. This particular one contains papyrus extract. Although this is a very good product and it smells lovely, I don’t like it as much as Bioderma or even the cheaper Garnier alternative, both of which I use a lot. I also found it left a slight residue, so despite being a non rinse product, I felt like washing the last traces off after use. The full-sized version of this costs £12.90.

All in all this was a very good box for me. Like I said above, I would have liked a bonus product but I still have loads of lovely new things, that I will be using a lot.

If you’d like to receive a monthly Birchbox too, I have a refer a friend link which adds £5 worth of points to your account when you sign up. These can be used to buy full-sized products in the Birchbox shop.

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Earlier this year I went to one of my first 1940s themed events. I usually dress in 1950s style clothes, with the occasional dabble into the 60s and 70s. When it came to finding an outfit suitable for the era I found it a little tricky. In the end I wore my peony print dress from House of Foxy that I reviewed last year. But it got me thinking how nice it would be to have a few 1940s style outfits to wear to events and that I really needed to fill that decades gap in my wardrobe.

Pretty Retro Red Ditsy Tea Dress

Last year at London Edge I visited the House of Foxy stand, where they were not only displaying the amazing clothing from their range but also a selection of clothing from a new brand that they have launched in the last few months. Pretty Retro is an affordable reproduction vintage brand, which sells key pieces to create a vintage look. As a huge fan of House of Foxy I am so excited by this range. The designs are simpler and are more suitable for everyday wear, so where House of Foxy is perfect for those show stopping extra special outfits, Pretty Retro provide the kind of clothes you could wear to work or for a lunch date.

To me this brand really fills a gap in the reproduction vintage market and I’m really excited to see what else they have coming up in the future. They kindly offered me the chance to review one of their dresses. I jumped at the chance, especially because a 40s style tea dress had been exactly what I was looking for. I opted for the Pretty Tea Dress in Red Ditsy. This is a simple viscose tea dress, perfect for an everyday 40s look.

Pretty Retro Tea Dress Review

What I love about the dress is that it is simple and easy to wear while still having some really gorgeous details. It has a typical 1940s neckline and slightly puffed shoulders and has a super flattering gathered detail at the front and a little bow. The fabric is a lovely flow viscose which makes it hang beautifully. I have worn it 3 times this week already because it is the perfect dress to wear in a heatwave. The dress isn’t fitted so the light fabric skims over the body, which is so comfortable.

Red Ditsy 1940s Tea Dress Pretty Retro

Fit wise I went for a 14, as the dress has no zip or fastenings and is quite loose fitting, I think this was the right size to go for and I think it comes up pretty true to size. The bias cut of the fabric, gives it a beautifully flattering drape and I found it really easy to wear.

As usual I added a vintage Enid Collins bag to the outfit, although not era appropriate, I think they go with everything and I’m not a stickler for keeping everything authentic, I like to dress like me! I also wore my Orla Kiely for Clarks Abigail shoes, which are probably my all time favourite shoes. Although they are 70s inspired I think they work well with 40s style dresses too. I finished the look with a stack of simple vintage bakelite and plastic bangles and a vintage bead necklace. I will definitely be wearing this dress to my next 40s event, with slightly more authentic hair and accessories.

Pretty Retro Red Ditsy Tea Dress Review

The quality of the dress was really nice. The fabric is absolutely lovely and the details make it that little bit more special. The dress costs £49 which I think is just right and I think it is something I will keep for many years to come and wear a lot. The dress also comes in a blue tiki print and a black polka dot, both of which I would really like to add to my wardrobe.

The whole range is really exciting and includes a wiggle dress and a really beautiful swing dress as well as basic wardrobe staples such as capris, swing trousers and pencil skirts. If you are new to vintage or just want to expand your vintage wardrobe, this is a really great place to start. I’m really hoping this dress comes out in more prints, because I would love to have more.

See the full range on the Pretty Retro website. 

*Thank you so much to Pretty Retro for sending me the dress for review. All opinions as usual are entirely my own. 

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