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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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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I have been eagerly anticipating the arrival of Cath Kidston’s latest print, firstly because I love anything beachy, but also because it features lobsters. This isn’t the first time novelty lobster prints have been used and the latest offering from CK has has some rather fabulous lobster predecessors. I thought I’d share a bit of fashion history, before showing you my favourite pieces from the Cath Kidston collection.

Image from The Philadelphia Museum of Art (source)

This amazing dress by Elsa Schiaparelli dates from 1937 and was designed in collaboration with Salvador Dali. It’s one of my all time favourite dresses.

Image found via Pinterest

Above is a picture of Walace Simpson wearing the dress, photographed by Cecil Beaton in 1937 shortly before her marriage.

Image found via Pinterest from The Fashion and Textiles Museum

Horrockses also produced a lobster print, which can be seen in the above skirt. I really love this print and I hope one day it’s reproduced.

Another variation of the Horrockses Lobster print designed by Pat Albeck is included in the Horrockses book by Christine Boydell.

Lobster and Shells DressLobster Beach ToteLobster Kids SunglassesLobster Foldaway ShopperLobster Grace MugLobster Espadrilles 

I absolutely love the cute beachy theme of the Cath Kidston dress and the colours are really pretty. I also really like the simple lobster and blue background print on the shopping bag and really wish there was a dress in this print too, as it would love a bit more vintage. As well as the dress I really like the beach tote bag a lot and these are the two pieces from the collection that I’ll definitely be saving up for.

What do you think of the Cath Kidston prints, is there something from the collection that you like?

See the full Lobster range on the Cath Kidston website.

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As an avid collector of original vintage, there are certain brands that get my heart all aflutter. One of these would have to be Horrockses. The brand made beautiful cotton dresses in the 40s and 50s and even dressed the Queen in their stunning ready to wear collection, I wrote a post on her Horrockses outfits a couple of years ago. Even back then the dresses were very desirable and were a very special addition to women’s wardrobes.

The brand have been much discussed and written about a lot in recent years and have been part of some major exhibitions. A few dresses from Horrockses have passed through my hands over the years as a dealer. I’ve even found a couple for under £5 at car boot sales in the past. Online they sell for big money these days and as most are safely stored in museums and collectors wardrobes they are now reasonably scarce.

The main problem for me, is that they don’t really come in my size. The main collection was only ever made up to a vintage 16, which is a modern size 12. So as a size 14 I just can’t fit into them. When this dress popped up on a Facebook selling page in my size, I just had to snap it up. I was especially happy to get my hands on this one, as I was quite familiar with the print, having seen it in books before. Apparently certain shops did stock Horrockses dresses in slightly larger sizes, so they are out there. One day I might find another!

I found this particular print in Christine Boydell’s book Horrockses Fashions – Off the Peg Style in the 40s and 50s. It was designed by Alastair Morton in 1947 and as far as I can tell the dress was produced in 1948. Christine recently wrote a post featuring this design on her blog, which is a really interesting read and goes into more detail than I could on here. In fact her whole blog is a fascinating read if you’re interested in vintage textile design in general.

The dress cost me £75, this is pretty cheap for a Horrockses dress and this was mainly because it has seen better days. The label is missing, the zip is broken and it has a fair few marks on it. Luckily it is still totally wearable and I just adore it. It just goes to show you shouldn’t give up on a vintage item just because it isn’t perfect. I bought the dress from Liz who’s blog Advantage in Vintage is an incredible resource, she also has a ridiculously large collection of Horrockses dresses. Her Etsy store is also a bit dreamy!

I’ve worn the dress with a cropped cardigan from Tu Clothing, which I picked up last year. I’m wearing the Mimosa shoes from Hotter which I got recently, they are a cute comfy wedge that will look great with some of my vintage summer dresses. My basket was a recent £5 bargain from Ikea and my necklace is an original vintage one. I wore the outfit for a stroll around Richmond and a pub lunch with my dad last week.

I wear a lot of modern and reproduction clothing for everyday, as a mum I find it more practical, but it is lovely to wear some of my really special original vintage pieces and now that the weather is warmer, these will be appearing a lot more on the blog. I’ve also been sharing a lot of my everyday outfits on my Instagram over the last few weeks.

As for Horrockses, after its heyday in the 40s and 50s they continued to make dresses into the 60s and 70s, but those classic cotton and full skirts were a thing of the past. The brand name was recently licenced to another company who have made a selection of dresses based on the original prints. The dresses are available on Asos, but are made with duchesse satins and have a lot less fabric than the originals. As dresses I really love them, but I’m not sure they pay a true homage to the stunning original designs. I did think they were worth a mention though, as they would look fabulous for events. Click on the images below to see them in full. (above pic via Pinterest)

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