Today I’m continuing my mission to share all of my original vintage dresses on here. Continuing from last week when I shared one of my original 1950s dresses. Today I’m featuring another of my very favourite dresses, this time its a Swirl. I talked about Swirl wrap dresses in a post a few years ago, when I wore my black and white one. They are one of my favourite brands to collect and this particular dress is the highlight of my collection.

I spotted this dress at Twinwood Festival back in August and it was love at first sight. I had absolutely zero shopping budget while I was there. I kept coming back to it though. I absolutely love anything with a fruit print and being a big fan of Swirl dresses I knew I couldn’t let it get away.

The stallholders kindly offered to bring it to the Mid Century Market in London the following month and had it waiting for me when I got there. I’m so glad I got to make it mine! I bought it from Shazam, who are best known for their incredible vintage style hair flowers. They also sell original vintage pieces at fair and festivals. It wasn’t cheap at around £80, but this dress is one that I plan to keep forever. Although most of my clothes are bargains, I will invest in special pieces for my collection if I know I will love and wear them for a long time.

I’ve worn the dress with my yellow Miss L Fire shoes, which I can’t stop wearing at the moment. They are such summery shoes, that I pair them up with everything at this time of year. I’ve also added a hair flower and a stack of bakelite – my go to accessories for nearly every outfit! Beppe the cat also wanted to be included, this is his OOTD debut and he I think he poses like a pro.

One of the things I love about Swirl dresses is their distinctive cut and style. They fasten with a button at the neck and wrap around the back, with ties at the front. The basic design of all Swirls is the same, but the finishes and patterns vary immensely. I particularly like the 50s versions which their big patch pockets.

This fabulous advert from the 50s shows how a Swirl is worn. Image from The Vintage Traveller (used with permission)

First produced in America in 1944 and manufactured well into the 70s, the design changed very little. This makes them a great type of dress to collect. Being wrap dresses the sizing can be a little tricky and I have been caught out before buying them a bit too small, so its always worth double checking the measurements.

You can find out a lot more about the company on The Vintage Fashion Guild website and The Vintage Traveller has some really informative posts on Swirls. I decided not to write too much about the history of the brand, as these two sources have done it so much better than me.

Image from The Vintage Traveller (used with permission)

Swirl dresses are very popular and collectible today. They are more common in the States than they are over here, but they do pop up on Ebay and Etsy from time to time. They aren’t usually ridiculously priced and if I see something I really like I’ll often get it from abroad. I find Swirls are generally in pretty good condition, as they were well made from good quality cotton and were designed to be worn and washed frequently. They have definitely stood the test of time and are still a handy and comfortable addition to a wardrobe.I am completely in love with this novelty print Swirl dress on Etsy at the moment, and just wish it was my size so I could buy it!

Heyday is the only reproduction company who do a style similar to a Swirl. Their Fleur dress is inspired by Swirls and comes in a lovely selection of prints. I’m wearing one in this post from a few years ago.

This patchwork print dress from Heyday pays tribute to the Swirl wrap dresses of the past. 

This lovely duck print dress from Heyday shows how both the Swirls and Fleur dresses fasten at the back.

 Writing this post had made me want to dig out my other Swirls and get some pictures, so watch this space and I’ll be showing them very soon as well.

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Once a regular feature of the British tea time, English Madeleines have gone out of favour in recent decades. They are however absolutely delicious and the make the perfect nostalgic treat, as part of a vintage afternoon tea. My grandma used to bake these regularly for her family and I’ve been enjoying making them myself and continuing the family tradition. 

They are quite straightforward to make and the only specialist equipment that you need is dariole moulds, which you can buy in most baking supply shops. I’ve found quite a few different versions of this recipe in various vintage cookbooks, but this one is by far my favourite.

How to Make

Makes 8 Madeleines

Ingredients: 

230g Butter plus extra for greasing.

230g Caster Sugar

4 Eggs

230g Self Raising Flour

To Decorate:

Apricot Jam

Desiccated Coconut

Glace Cherries

Equipment: 

8 Dariole Moulds

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 190ºc

Brush the insides of the moulds with melted butter.

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale.

Add one egg at a time and beat into the mixture thoroughly.

Sift the flour into the mixture and fold in.

Divide the mixture between the moulds.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes.

Turn out and cool on a wire rack.

Cut a little off the bottom so that they sit flat on a plate.

Spread the sides and top with warm jam.

Roll in the coconut and place a cherry on the top.

As always, please let me know if you try any of my recipes and tag me in pictures! I always love to see what you’ve been baking.

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Last month I wrote a review of my stay at Champneys spa. I mentioned that I’d done a bit of beauty shopping while I was there. I’m a big skin care addict and I love a good pamper, so it was really fun picking out some new products to enjoy as well as stocking up on a couple of old favourites.

The shopping at Champneys is pretty good. They have their own dedicated store, filled with their normal product range as well as a selection of gifts and fitness clothing. They also had a little Elemis shop, which has their full range of luxury skincare. As a couple of months have passed since I made my purchases I thought it was high time, I let you know what I think of them.

They had a special offer in the shop, where you got a discount if you bought the Good as New Hip and Thigh Firming Gel, Skin Firming Shower Scrub and the Exfoliating Mitt together.

The shower scrub is now one of my favourite products, mostly because I love the smell. It’s a really nice product to use and my skin feels great afterwards.

I’ve only used the firming gel a few times, mainly because it’s quite long-winded. The tube comes with a massage applicator, with little roller balls to work the gel into the skin. It feels amazing and really does firm up my skin, but it takes a while and I certainly don’t have time to do it the recommended twice a day! When I do use it though, I’m really happy with the results.

The exfoliating mitt, is super scratchy and great when you want to completely remove all your dead skin. As a massive exfoliator addict, who loves super scrubby products, its unusual for me to find something too coarse, but this really is a bit much. So once a week is just fine for me.

I bought the Detox Hip and Thigh Firming Mud, mostly because I liked the look of it. Plus I’ve always been a fan of mud based products. This is perfect if you want to create a home spa environment and have a proper pamper.

My only misgiving with this is that you have to leave it on for 10-20 and that can get a bit messy! But otherwise I love everything about this. It softens the skin while making it feel firm, it smells lovely and rinses off really easily. My skins feels lovely for days after using this, so I’d definitely recommend it.

I also picked up this Champneys yoga sweater. I love finding stuff I can wear to exercise that appeals to my vintage side. There were a few choices of picture and I absolutely loved this one. The jumper is nice and loose and adds a warmer layer, when working out.

I’ve always really liked Elemis skincare, it works really well with my skin and I like products which lots of natural extracts and ingredients. I’ve used their Papaya Enzyme Peel loads of times, its one of my all time favourite products. I knew I needed to get one of them and when I saw I could get it as part of a set and I saved loads of money I was delighted.

One of the products that was new to me was the Pro-Radiance Cream Cleanser. I’ve been using this most days since I’ve got it. I find it quite similar to my Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish. It works really well as a hot cloth cleanser and not only melts away make-up effortlessly, it also leaves my skin feeling fabulous.

Another product that I had tried previously is the Pro-Radiance Illuminating Flash balm, This lovely cream, gives tired skin the boost it needs. I use this occasionally on tired skin days and find it really soothing and brightening.

I haven’t really got round to using the Cellular Recovery Skin Bliss Capsules, but they look really good, so I’m sure I will soon. It’s always quite fun getting sets like this as it give you the chance to try new products, that you wouldn’t otherwise have tried.

Not only was the Elemis concession packed with lovely products, but the lady who worked there was also fantastic. We had a lot of questions about the products and she answered all of them and was able to help with recommendations.

I was after a really good eye product, to help with fine lines and dark circles and all the other things that tired mums in their 30s get! She recommended the Absolute Eye Mask, which is a super potent eye mask. I absolutely love this product and use it a couple of times a week. You can really see and feel the difference with this one.

I also picked up a pack of cleansing cloths. I always need these, as I use wash off cleansers and use a clean cloth every time I cleanse. These are super soft and have washed brilliantly.

As I’d spent over £80 I got this free gift, which was a lovely little extra. I’ve used all of the miniature products in here and they’re all very good. I particularly like the Sweet orchid Bodycream which smells lovely. Although I liked the other products in the gift, I probably wouldn’t repurchase as I already have products I love.

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I keep saying that I should share more of my original vintage dresses on here as well as all my lovely repro pieces, and now I am finally getting round to it! I have been collecting vintage dresses for a few years now and I’m hoping to get pictures of all of them. I’m quite good at clearing out my wardrobe and will often sell or donate my dresses after a few wears, otherwise I would run out of room pretty quickly! So even when things leave my possession it’s nice to have photographs and visual records of them.

Today’s dress has actually been with me for some time. The main reason is because I managed to damage it the very first time I wore it, so its been at the bottom of my repair pile for ages. Last week I gave it some much needed tlc and now I can wear and enjoy it through the summer.

The dress is made from lovely light cotton, making it perfect for the summer. I bought this one on eBay for about £35 I think. If you’re building a vintage wardrobe yourself, cotton 50s dresses are a great place to start. Larger sizes can be harder to come by, but if you persevere they are out there.

I’ve worn my dress with a flower garland, which I picked up from New Look a couple of years ago. I’ve teamed it up with my yellow Miss L Fire shoes, which I adore. My bangles are all vintage bakelite, I’ve been slowly building up my bakelite collection over some time. I love mixing and matching them to go with different outfits.

It’s been lovely to have a bit of sunshine over the last few weeks and to be able to finally wear some of my prettiest dresses!

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been adding lots of new stock to my Etsy store, including loads of lovely summer dresses. Everything dates from the 50s to 70s and there’s a selection of sizes. I’ll be adding new stuff every week so watch this space for updates.

I’m looking forward to sharing more of the vintage treasures from my wardrobe over the next few weeks, as well as tips on building your own vintage wardrobe. If you have any vintage related questions please let me know.

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Being a bit of a dress addict, I don’t often wear trousers or separates other than my jeans on casual days. I’ve been wanting a pair of 40s style trousers for ages. I’m quite fussy and having a long body, I prefer trousers that are very high waisted. I recently tried the 40s Style Swing Trousers from Pretty Retro in the Denim Blue colour way. These are a great start to building a staple wardrobe of vintage style separates and they are definitely a very useful addition to my wardrobe.

I love the simplicity of these trousers, which also come in navy and red. They simply fasten at the side with a row of three buttons and this really helps to create a great fit. They are light enough to hang well and are cool enough to wear in the summer. They are made from a poly, viscose and elastane blend, giving them just enough stretch to fit comfortably.

I opted for my usual size 14, having checked the size guide on the Pretty Retro website. I was really impressed that they were spot on fit wise and the stretch really helped to get that perfect fit. The trousers are quite long at 31″, which is why I opted for heels, I have also worn them with my flat brogues and they worked pretty well too.

The trousers are just one part of the fabulous selection of separates from Pretty Retro, who are the sister company of well known repro brand House of Foxy. In addition to the pair I tried they also have a great selection of simple trousers, capris and skirts alongside some lovely tops and blouses to go with them. Most things come in black, navy, cream and red, so you can mix and match the looks. The range is perfect for both wearing to vintage events and for everyday things like work and casual days. They are also perfect to mix in with a wardrobe of original vintage items.

I’ve had quite a few things from Pretty Retro now and I’ve always been so happy with the quality. My favourite thing about their clothing is the attention to detail that goes into the designs. Although their styles are quite simple, things like gathers and tucks and good quality materials really make them stand out from other mid-priced reproduction brands. Although I still, need to get used to wearing trousers, as they’re a little out of my comfort zone, I’m really looking forward to trying different tops and shoes with these and mixing and matching my looks. I’d also really like to get them in a darker shade as well. The trousers I tried are priced at £42 and can be bought online from the Pretty Retro website.

*Thank you to Pretty Retro for sending me this dress for the purposes of review. All opinions as always are my own. 

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