Sunday, 21 May 2017

Outfit post: sunshine psychedelia

Ten years ago, this dress would have been the stuff of my nightmares. Crimplene, exuberant pattern… not something I'd have touched. Three years ago I'd probably still have quickly skimmed over it on the rack. But isn't it funny how tastes shift and change? I spotted this last week in Secondhand Rose's Etsy shop and pounced immediately.

Tara King is still very much one of my style icons, and my initial thought was, 'It's Taralicious!' Looking more closely at her, though, she tended to wear block colours and mini skirts. It's not really very Tara at all, though I do think in its bright colours and psychedelic pattern it is true to the spirit of the last series of The Avengers, even if it's not what Tara herself would wear.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Caro Emerald: Emerald Island

When we went to see Caro Emerald live, I felt her new songs had an Ennio Morricone feel, as though they'd been influenced by the composer behind the soundtracks from the great spaghetti westerns. There was something about the arrangements… That meant I started listening to this EP expecting all sorts of odd instruments and sound effects, noticeable changes in tempo and so on. Yet I don't get that from the EP; tonally it feels closer to Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor than The Shocking Miss Emerald, but it's unmistakably Caro.

Caro's said that it was inspired by the 'exotica' genre of the 1950s/60s, but that doesn't come through half as much in the recordings as it does when the songs are played live. There's a mariachi note to the brass in 'Never Ever' , and plenty of brass in 'Whatchugot', but that sounds relatively modern to my ears, in the same way 'Back It Up' from Deleted Scenes does.

I prefer Shocking Miss to Cutting Room, and I think I prefer Cutting Room to this. 'The Ghost Of You', with its tango feel, and 'Tahitian Skies', which has a strangely-shifting melody, are my favourites, but there's nothing as immediately catchy as 'Liquid Lunch' or 'Pack Up The Louie'. Perhaps if I listen to it more I'll fall in love with it, but at the moment, this is one I don't feel is essential.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Crinoline Robot's vintage week

Four 1960s fabrics and three 1960s brooches, all greenAre you on Instagram? I'm currently doing #thevintage fashionchallenge - each day has a theme, and you simply take an image each day to go with the theme. Some people don't like Instagram as they feel there's a lot of one-upmanship and promoting unreal expectations on there, but it really depends on who you follow. I like it because it's generally a very cheerful sort of social media, with people sharing good times and pretty things, and just about everyone could do with more of that. I've found it's got me to look afresh at my clothes and accessories, and it's made me realise I'm really lucky to have so many nice things that I love. Not as many nice things as a lot of bloggers own (most of my clothes fit into a single wardrobe) perhaps, but enough.

Today's theme was 'favourite colour', and I had to choose green. I have rather more green jewellery than I'd realised, too. That said, navy was a very strong contender; that's probably the colour I wear most. Tomorrow has an accessory theme; it's handbag time for me!

Monday, 1 May 2017

A Goody bag

If you read Goody's blog, you'll know she is the Queen of Accessorising. (And if you don't read it, you should, because she is the Queen of Accessorising.) She recently did a post featuring a navy handbag; I mentioned I was looking for a navy handbag, and she kindly said she'd send me one. And here it is! Isn't it splendid? I love the swooping curves of the suede and leather panels.

The label inside says it is a 'Life Stride' handbag. I did a quick Google search and it looks as though Life Stride are a shoe company – makes sense – and they're still going today. Thanks to the fact the company changed its typeface fairly regularly, I can be certain this particular bag is late 1950s-1960s. It looks it from the outside, but the label proves it. Isn't it nice when manufacturers are so considerate?

(On the subject of handbags, did you see Antiques Roadshow at the weekend? They had a vintage boxy bag with gold-plated interior with holders for things like lipstick and perfume, and it LIT UP. A light-up handbag? How cool is that?)

Being naughty in the best possible way, Goody sent me a pile of other things too.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Slow your Mustang down

Slowing down and social media don't really go together. Even though I don't pay much attention to the number of followers my blog has, I still get the fear that if I go too long without posting everyone will move on and I'll find myself shouting into a digital void. (This is stupid. On the internet, there's always someone listening, even if it's just a troll who'll respond with 'lulz u suck' or an impressively rich bloke with a vast amount of money he needs to store in your bank account and just needs your account numbers for.) Of late, though, I haven't so much fallen out of the habit of posting, as deliberately embraced it. I don't have to live my life online. I can just live it.

My current knitting is making me think about slowness. Yeah, it's the same cardigan for a friend that I started at Christmas. I did warn the recipient that I am a slow knitter! It's not even from a vintage pattern, so I don't share it with you. It's coming along, though: every day I do a little bit, and it gets closer to completion. It started with one stitch, and will end with one stitch, so none of the others in between are any less important, they just seem less noteworthy. I don't think I'll manage to knit a 1960s summer top in time to wear it, though. Maybe I should start a winter knit as soon as I've finished the cardi.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Escaping in books

I've been hiding away in books a lot lately. Well, who wouldn't? Usually the settings are nicer and the manners better - if you read as much Golden Age crime as I do, that is. My latest reads have been a 1930s crime novel and a couple of 1970s science fiction TV tie-ins.

Murder of a Lady was a Christmas gift (my Amazon wishlist keeps my family happy!) but I've only just got round to reading it. I hadn't read any of Anthony Wynne's novels before this one, but it doesn't leave me enthused to read more.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Outfit post: I'm with the (hair)band

Wide hairbands are definitely my thing right now. Mr Robot reckons they make me look like Axl Rose but I don't care. (I hope he means the 1990s version, when Axl was quite pretty, and not the way he looks at present.) Today I decided to fold up a lovely 1960s scarf Curtise sent me and use that. It's satin, so was a bit slippery in my hair, but it's in place now. Most of my hairbands are stretchy fabric ones from Claire's Accessories; I check back every so often to see if they've made them in any new colours and buy any that I'm missing.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

A pre-1960s tweed jacket

You wanted to see more of my GA Dunn and Co tweed jacket, and the weather's taken a slightly cooler turn so here it is. I'm being very careful to keep it away from the urchins as it's a coarsely-woven fabric and they'd pluck it with their spiky little feets.

The dress isn't the ideal match for it – there's no navy in the jacket, and it is warm in tone where the dress is cool – but I wanted to wear both items, so I'm hoping Vix's rule of 'If you wear things you like, they'll all go together because you like them' comes into play. Both are fairly smart, so they match in 'personality', if not in colour. I'd really like something either in jade green or rust to wear with the jacket. I would opt for a pair of coloured trousers, but I'm not brave enough to buy a slim-fitting pair – go go gadget bowling ball belly – and fear that coloured slacks would look horrendously mumsy. This is why I usually stick to fairly formal, mannish tailoring for trousers. Perhaps in Autumn I could raid M and S's menswear section for a pair of cords...

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Be My Baby [music]

The cover for the CD compilation Be My Baby
Who doesn't love the sassy girl bands of the 60s? From the bad-girl Shangri-Las to the effervescent Crystals to the romantic Ronettes, there's something captivating about them. I love the tight vocal harmonies, snappy pace and overall feeling of fun. And, of course, they're all pretty good hairdo/fashion inspiration for me. I've been wanting a compilation of girl band hits for a while, and thought this one would fit the bill.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Caro Emerald in Cardiff

Caro Emerald is currently touring the UK, and yesterday Mr Robot and I went to see her performing in Cardiff. (I know, I know - I left the house and did something that wasn't charity shopping.)

Monday, 3 April 2017

Chazza success

After moaning for weeks about not finding anything in my local chazzas. Oh boy, did they deliver! I'll start with the biggie, a pre-1960s tweed jacket. According to some posts I saw on the Vintage Fashion Guild forum by the 1960s the 'G.A.' had been dropped from the Dunn and Co labels, so that gives me a vague date for it. I was quite surprised it was so early, as the colours in the tweed are more exuberant than I'd expect from a lot of menswear - there's rust and a vibrant jade green in the mix. Thinking about it, the 1920s-30s was quite a time for bold menswear, the 20s in particular. Could this jacket be from that date? I have no idea how the labels changed over the years, and a search on Google Images and Pinterest didn't help - I couldn't even find many adverts.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Not with a bang, but a whimper

A tabby cat trying to steal dan dan noodles
Not for cats!
My local butcher is closing. You have no idea how upset that makes me. Happily, it was an odd, outlying branch – the main shop is in Devizes – and the staff have been given work at the main shop, but I'm still really unhappy. 

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Things that are making me happy

Three midcentury handbags
The three I'm currently switching between - and I
didn't pay more than £6 for any of them!
I was going to come on here and grumble – summer is coming, and with it my annual flail about being fat – but you know what? Grumbling's no good to anyone. It won't solve my problems (not unless I flail at aerobic levels for at least 30 minutes a day, at any rate) and it won't brighten your day. So, instead of that nonsense*, here are some things that are making me happy.

My handbags
Like perfume and most jewellery, handbags always fit. (Actually, my 1930s bride's book would probably disagree as it was very strict about larger ladies not carrying delicate bags, or petite ones carrying large bags, but never mind that.) I spent most of the winter toting my leather crossbody bag around out of sheer laziness, so it's been wonderful to get back into carrying my vintage boxy bags again. Switching cards, lipsticks, keys and so on in the morning can feel like a faff, but a nice and appropriate bag certainly brightens every day.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Professor Elemental and His Amazing Friends [music]

Hop-hop isn't my thing at all, so I'm still not sure why I like Professor Elemental. Perhaps it's because I've seen him live, in the company of steampunks, and he always puts on a fantastic show. Perhaps it's that the samples he uses are often from vintage music, little snippets of trumpet or clarinet or jazz piano, which echo the music I listen to normally enough to feel accessible. Perhaps it's his sense of fun, singing about animals and tea and the joy of simply being at home. Whatever. I like it. 

Monday, 20 March 2017

Bright Young People [books]

It's taken me a while to finish reading this book charting the lives of the 1920s 'Bright Young People'. I don't know why; the 1920s as a decade fascinate me greatly, and the men and women who made up London's most newsworthy social set at that time in many ways exemplify what we think of when we imagine the period.

Possibly I didn't immediately get to grips with the book because on the whole I like stories, and the Bright Young People were more numerous than you usually encounter in stories featuring fictional characters, and real lives don't rarely have neat and tidy beginnings and endings. DJ Taylor gets round that by opening with the event that was possibly 'peak Bright Young People', the Bath and Bottle party thrown by Elizabeth Ponsonby, 'Babe' Plunkett Greene, Eddie Gathorne-Hardy and Brian Howard, held in a swimming pool with attendees in bathing suits. While the exact pattern of the rise of the BYPs might be debatable, and their lives after the early 1930s all move off in different directions, that party was unarguably one featuring all the central figures, with all the press attention and notoriety that characterised the group. Nonetheless, with so many people and places popping up, at first everything felt (to me) rather chaotic.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

RIP Chuck Berry

I was saddened to hear Chuck Berry had died. Admittedly, all the music of his that I listen to is from the 1950s and 1960s, but still, there's such joy in it. Chuck Berry's music is something I reckon everyone could do with now and again, even if they don't realise it.

Despite not being a teenager when he brought out his best-known records, there's still something about them that captures the happiness of being young, that time when you have less to care about yet somehow everything matters so much more. As I age, I simultaneously mourn the passing of youthful passion and drive, and am glad it's gone because if I had to care about work and my mortgage and the state of the world in the way I once got annoyed at people's perceptions of goths and not being able to find the right sort of boots, I'd be an emotional wreck. Chuck Berry seemed able to recapture that youthful drive in his music - listen to the utter frustration at not being able to make out with his girlfriend because of a broken seatbelt in 'No Particular Place To Go' and tell me that isn't the very essence of being a teenager right there.

So, don't rest in peace, Chuck Berry: wherever you are, I hope it's got guitars and diners and seatbelts that work properly. And your music is out there somewhere on the Voyager spacecraft, so wherever it is, it could well outlast our whole planet.

Friday, 17 March 2017

A day out around Wiltshire

16th-century houses in Devizes
16th-century houses in Devizes
We haven't been out much this week, having had DIY to do. However, as part of our ongoing (neverending!) work on the house, we really want a cabinet to go in the dining room to hold the plates and so on that we keep buying from charity shops. Having finally got rid of the 1950s Prestcold fridge, we decided to go to Chippenham to check out the two furniture chazzas there - one British Heart Foundation, and one Dorothy House (local hospice charity).

While both shops had some great stuff (if you're looking for a 30s-looking wardrobe or 1950s dressing table, Chippenham has what you need) neither had the sort of cabinet we were looking for. Our search is complicated by the fact that our dining room radiator doesn't leave much width, but we need the cabinet to be deep enough to hold plates. I found a lovely display cabinet that looked quite 1920s-30s to me (not deco, just of that time) in the BHF shop, but it simply didn't have the depth.

As we hadn't spent masses of time in Chippenham, we drove home via Devizes, thinking perhaps we needed to start looking in proper antique shops rather than in charity shops.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

New sofa and chair


Our lovely new sofa and chair got delivered from Old Boot on Monday. We'd been looking round for a sofa with very straight sides. Our living room is pretty small, and the current fashion is for sofas to have curved arms, but they take up too much room. When we saw this design, we knew it was exactly what we wanted.

The sofa is a hand-finished deep red, and the chair vintage tan. Why different colours? Well, the chair doesn't come in red, and anyhow we didn't want too much in the room all looking the same. (I know, me taking the non-matchy option. Who'd have expected that?)

Friday, 10 March 2017

Games outfit silliness

 Outfit posts aren't my strong point, probably because I wear the same things over and over and, to be honest, I'm not very confident about how I look right now. However, there's been lots of games-related tat ending up on the free stuff desk in the office this week, as we're refurbing and so all the magazines are having a clear-out. Next week we move up one floor to shiny newly-decorated offices, so all the tat must go. And because I've been feeling silly, I've been wearing it for Instagram photos.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Matchy-matchy

Hear that sound? That hollow 'thunk' is me smacking my head at my own stupidity. Bianca did a great post recently about making accessory sets, so you've always got a go-to set of matching accessories when you need them. How had I never thought of doing this? I can't bear it when things don't match, yet in the past I've always tried matching everything to my dress. That sort of works, but I really come unstuck with separates, and always end up falling back on black because 'black goes with everything'. (It doesn't, it's just the least noticeable way of not going with things.)

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Legion: modern meets mod

David meets his sister Amy in Legion.Long-term readers of the Robot will know I love a bit of action, whether it's Edwardian tales of derring-do, 1960s spy-fi or modern comics movies. But I always try to keep things vintage for the blog, so you won't catch me waffling on about, say, Guardians of the Galaxy or Agents of Shield here. New Marvel series Legion has, however, left me in a bit of a quandary because it's not 60s – yet in a way, it is.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Birthday fun

It was my birthday on Sunday, and I had a splendid meal. We went to the Olive Tree in Bath and had an eight-course tasting menu. Eight courses sounds like a lot, but the portions are very small, so you're never overwhelmed with food. The menu we had was virtually the same as the sample one on the website, except that there was rose veal instead of the beef, and lemon instead of the rhubarb. I'm not a big fish eater, but I think the two fish dishes - crab lasagne with basil, and brill with cauliflower, shiitake mushrooms and dashi - were my favourites.The romesco cauliflower was ever so slightly charred, which added interest to the flavour.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Further Back In Time For Dinner: 1920s-1940s

1940s: a delivery of veg to make Woolton Pie
I saved these three episodes of Further Back In Time For Dinner to cover all at once, as I figured they'd be the meatiest – no pun intended. I thought the 1940s would be far and away the most interesting, as it's almost certainly the time in history when the national diet underwent the biggest change across all classes in a very short time.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

House wafflings: bunch of floors

Spring is on its way, and that means more thinking about tidying and sorting the house out. Actually, we've had a bit of a tidy-up at work too as the office is about to be refurbished, and I bagged this Totoro. I planned to clean him (he's a tad grubby) and send him to my baby nephew, but he hasn't left the house yet.

I've got the plaster to repair round where the new fireplace was put in, and I really need to get round to doing that as we've got some floor oil on order. While we varnished the bathroom floor, we're going to try using floor oil on the boards in the living room as that gets more foot traffic, and I'm hoping the oil will wear less obviously than varnish would. It's more expensive than varnish, so I hope it's worth it. The plastering will create dust, so I need to do that before we sand and oil the floor, and we need to do that before the new sofa and chair arrive. I'll tell you more about those when they arrive.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Not quite cats-eye

 Heh, did you think I'd forgotten you? I hadn't, but I've been up to my ears in work and haven't had time to do any blogging – or, indeed, do anything worth blogging about. I did manage to break my specs a fortnight ago. Rather stupidly, I put them down beside the tub while I was in the bath, and trod on them when I got out. Oops. I had to make do with a much older pair (and no distance vision) for a week while Specsavers made me some to a new prescription.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Further Back In Time For Dinner: 1900-1919

further back in time for dinner
The Robshaws are already two decades into their tasty time travels, eating their way through British food history decade by decade, and I've really been enjoying the series so far. (If you're in the UK and you've missed it, you can catch up on BBC iPlayer.) They're living a middle-class lifestyle, which makes sense in many ways, as poorer people probably wouldn't have experienced as much variety or been able take advantage of trends in cookery. However, as people of that class would have had at least one maid, they've got one too – and what a trooper Debbie is. She prepared calf's head for one meal, and plucked pigeons for another.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Rock, 70s-style

Go back a few decades, to around 1988 if you will, and picture Young Mim with Ozzy Osbourne stickers all over her High School work folders. I don't think I had a crush on Ozzy; really I just wanted to annoy people (those stickers were as close as I came to teen rebellion). But if you'd told Young Mim that one day she'd see the (almost) original Black Sabbath lineup live, she'd never have believed you.
Shows what Teen Mim knew.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Crinoline Robot's Vintage Week

While I wouldn't say I've had a particularly vintage-stuffed week over the past seven days, I do feel as though my love of vintage, which I'd felt was waning, is slowly trickling back. My enthusiasm for many things is trickling back; I'm knitting more and cooking more and so on. It's not just the weather. Since New Year there's been a restructuring at work and I wasn't sure if I'd be keeping my job, but this week I heard I was being kept on, which makes me feel so relieved. I am being given an extra magazine to do. My current one, Official PlayStation Magazine, is the bestselling games mag in the UK, and the one I'm getting in addition, Edge, is probably the country's most prestigious, so it's a big compliment from my bosses. (A big, terrifying compliment.)

Sunday, 22 January 2017

The Robshaws return

Back In Time For Dinner was one of my favourite things on telly in recent years. In case you missed it, it featured a family, the Robshaws, who ate typical British food from 1950 onwards, advancing one year per day*. They started with the tail-end of wartime rationing, and the final "historical" decade they visited was the 1990s. (I put historical in quotes there as I was an adult in the 1990s and still can't quite believe how long ago it really was... in the 1980s I was always baffled by how my mum and her friends were still mad about the 1960s, but it was only as far ago then as the 90s is now.) Anyway, to return to the Robshaws, they're going back – and they're going even further.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Swindon Steampunk Spectacular

It's a bit surprising that this has taken so long to happen: Swindon, home of the Great Western Railway, is hosting a steampunk spectacular from 24-26 March. The venue is about as appropriate as it gets, as it's being held at Steam, the Museum of the Great Western Railway, which is housed in the old engine works and has a spectacular collection of engines, carriages, and railway paraphernalia.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

I bought a fake!

January is rarely a fun month, and I haven't enjoyed this one much so far. When the going gets tough, the tough get sparkly, so I bought myself a brooch and earring set online as a pick-me-up. As a mood-lifter, £10 is pretty cheap, so what could possibly go wrong?

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Miss Fisher: action heroine

Phryne Fisher in a white lame coat with white fur collar
Yup, you read that title right. Just as I (and quite possibly you) have been mourning the dearth of decent period dramas on the telly, we get news that Miss Fisher is making the transition to the big screen. (News outlets reporting this include the Sydney Morning Herald and Australia's Daily Telegraph.) The series' producers, Fiona Eaggar and Deb Cox, have said in interviews that they'd like to do a trilogy of films and make them more action-packed, along the lines of the Indiana Jones films.

I love the Indiana Jones films, I enjoy the Miss Fisher series, and part of me is really up for this. I read a lot of vintage adventure stories, and while I enjoy the action, I do spend a lot of time getting annoyed at the casual racism/sexism, so in that respect an adventure written now but set in the past is perfect. (Anachronism, schmanacronism; I'm happy to lose a bit of historical accuracy if it means we can also ditch the racism and sexism.)

That said, part of me doesn't really get why they have to take an established character and play with her. The Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries programme has a lot of dedicated fans, but fans of historical murder mysteries aren't always the same people who like action movies. While Miss Fisher will be in the films, there's no word yet about Jack, Dot, Bert, Cec and other popular characters from the television programme.

What do you think? Keen to see Phryne kicking arse and taking names? Simply keen to see more of those gorgeous costumes? Or thinking this is all getting a bit silly now and you wish she'd get back to regular crimebusting?

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Woolly thinking

My crafting hasn't got off to a brilliant start in 2017.

I'm supposed to be knitting a (non-vintage) cardigan for a friend right now. I made a good start, only my tension was all wrong and it was coming out way too small, so I ripped it back... and then realised I didn't have the right size needle. As it's being done in one piece from the top down I'm using a circular needle. (For non-knitters, that's two points joined by a long, flexible cable, and it enables you to knit longer pieces than conventional needles, and tubes if you like.) I'm fussy about circs; I've used Pony ones but the join between cable and needle isn't completely smooth in the ones I've tried and I get annoyed at my knitting catching slightly. I've ordered a Chiaogoo red lace needle from Purlescence, but while I wait for that to turn up my thoughts have moved on to knitting things for myself.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

My five favourite vintage sci-fi costumes: ladies

Servalan in white feathers
Servalan: fashion goals...
I did a post on five style lessons I've learned from The Avengers, and Sarah raised the subject of Star Trek. “I could definitely do a post on science fiction costumes,” I thought. It's been a struggle to pick just five, even keeping things within my 'nothing after the 1980s' blog rule, so I started by narrowing it down to the ladies. (Would you like to see a similar post on the chaps at a later date?) Princess Aura made the cut, but Buck Rogers space vixen Princess Ardala did not, and I wasn't actually sure if Wonder Woman should be in the mix – I suppose comics are sort of SF, but they're not the first thing that springs to my mind when I think of the genre. As much as everyone loves Carrie Fisher, I never liked Princess Leia's bun hair and white dress. Here are the five that made the grade…

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

The Halcyon: Hotel Downton

The sets were nice, I'll give it that.
 Like Downton Abbey? Then you'll probably like the new WWII-set ITV drama, The Halcyon. I didn't like Downton, and I was sorely disappointed with The Halcyon. I'd really hoped for something good as there seems to be very little in the way of decent period drama on telly at the moment, but this really didn't do it for me.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

State of the vintage wardrobe: don't care

Every year I do a post looking at what I've bought, clothes-wise, over the past twelve months. What worked, what didn't, what I'd like more of, and so on. There's always some direction to this: a plan to get a couple more bags, move beyond the basics to something more stylish, that sort of thing. In last year's version of this post I said I felt I'd found a comfortable place, and didn't have many firm plans. I wanted more trousers – got those – and some pencil skirts – still need those. I wanted to wear a wider variety of my jewellery, which started out with me trying to wear a different piece each day, but that sort of backfired as I realised I wasn't wearing my favourite pieces in order to save them. But I did at least get more out of the box.