Out At Sea: A Coastal-Inspired Summer Look

There are two things I love in life (other than Norman, my long-suffering plant buddy) and they are both patterns – tartan, and stripes. I live in tartan through winter, and most staples in my wardrobe do share a theme. Stripes are catching up though – and is it no wonder when Collectif bring out beauties like their lovely gathered Jasmine skirts in a vertical navy and white stripe?! From the very second I saw this skirt, I knew I needed it. I hope you agree that the purchase was entirely justified – it’s beautiful!

standing in front of mural with sun hat wearing collectif skirt

The weather was forecast to be sunny and somewhere between 25 and 27 degrees, so I actually started with my silly oversized sun hat, and thought I’d build an outfit around it. I felt as though it was sending me beachy coastal vibes, so I naturally reached for my striped Jasmine skirt, and dressed entirely in navy and white to match. My bag adds a little subtle colour, and I think softens the look a little – and last I checked, this was in the Asos sale so you might be able to get hold of it for a bargain price!

I’m not going to review the hat, as it was just an Accessorize one I got in an airport…maybe six years ago? I can’t remember where I was going but it was definitely hot enough that I felt compelled to buy the largest and silliest hat on offer. Or maybe it was the cheapest – either way, this was in the pre-Instagram days, and before now I don’t actually think I’ve ever been pictured in it. I thought I’d take it out of retirement and try to make it part of a summery nautical outfit – and I think it works!

The real star of this outfit though is the Jasmine skirt. She’s a gathered skirt with a matching fabric waistband and navy and white stripes. I’m wearing her with a Malco Modes ‘Jennifer’ petticoat, which helps give it fullness and that gorgeous 50s silhouette. Length-wise, this skirt is longer than the other Jasmine skirts at 26” long. If it helps, I am just over 5’8” and when wearing her at my natural waist, it sits at about 1.5” below the knee. I imagine it might be too long for those ladies lucky enough to be shorter than me and might need to be hemmed to sit just right.

sunglasses side view of Asos bag

As with all my Collectif items, it washes well. I’m so tired of buying the perfect item, only to find marked in tiny words on the label the dreaded words ‘DRY CLEAN ONLY’. No problem with this striped beauty! I wash all my items on a 30 degrees wash, and this has washed perfectly with no colour bleeding. (Though it’s worth saying that I do always throw in a colour catcher, just in case, if i’m washing anything with white in it!)

The skirt has my favourite feature – a hidden back zip, but best of all a hook-and-eye at the top. This means the zip doesn’t run the risk of undoing itself and adds extra fit and security. And if the item is a tiny bit big at the waist, I can always unpick the hook and eye and move them so it fits a bit more snugly.

To me, the fabric has less of a stretch cotton feel and more of a slight woven linen feel – it definitely seems to have less stretch than other Collectif Jasmine skirts. The Collectif website says it is 97% cotton and 3% spandex though, so it should stretch a little. It just feels less generous to me. I sized up from my normal size 10 to a size 12 and whilst it is slightly loose, I think it would have felt uncomfortable in a size 10 so I’m glad I did. For comparison, I’m currently waist 29”- the 10 is 28” and the 12 is 30” so I would say this is pretty true to the size chart. That said, I do have cotton Jasmine’s in a 10 that fit me well with my 29” waist – I honestly feel like the fabric of them alters their fit and for me, this one is on the ‘less stretch but true to size’ side of things. I also notice that the price point is different for them too – this striped one is currently £40.50, whereas the fruit print skirts are £45.50. (The fruit skirts are also just over 25” long rather than 26”, so the cuts seem inconsistent too!)

So, to summarise, I would wholeheartedly recommend trying on your Jasmine for fit beforehand as you may find yourself – like me – buying the same skirt style in two different sizes if the fabric is a little different.

wearing floppy sun hat with arm on top of head

 

I wore my skirt with a navy vest top from Next, in a size 10. I love these vest tops and I have about ten of them in all sorts of colours. Why? Well, firstly they’re cheap – I think they’re 3 for £12.99. They’re long enough in the body for me to be able to tuck them in and hold them in place, and they fit my 30G boobs without showing all of my bra and without drowning my waist in fabric. They also wash superbly. Ample-chested friends? These might just be the vest tops of your dreams. You’re welcome.

showing cropped bag side view from Asos with sunglasses

The white cropped cardigan is a MAK one and I really think it goes with the white/navy theme. They’re available in a number of colours at Deadly Is The Female which is my go-to place for these darling cardigans. They’re the perfect thing to throw over your shoulders as a light cover-up, whether it’s the sun or a light breeze. I imagine I’ll be wearing a rainbow of them over summer! I’m wearing this one in size medium, which fits me perfectly. Medium is equivalent to a size UK 10-12. To match in with the white, I added these fabulous vintage-inspired acrylic showstopper earrings from Oh So Flamingo, whose earrings are outrageously cheap and outstandingly beautiful. These are the ‘Petal’ earrings in white, which I bought from her Etsy shop for a budget-friendly £5.

oh so flamingo earring

To bring everything together, I decided to wear this cute little shell pink scalloped cross body bag, which is the perfect size for a phone, a wallet, and a lip balm. I think it also adds a nice finish to the rest of the outfit! I love Asos for lovely little novelty and cross body bags.

showing cropped bag side view from Asos

Overall, I really love this coastal-inspired look and it was a really comfortable outfit to wear for a day out – even if the wind kept trying to steal away my hat! Is this picture below showing me wistfully staring after my hat as it tumbles away across East London? Um…probably.

jasmine skirt from collectif in front of mural in east london

Floppy sun hat : Accessorize (old)

Navy vest top : Next 

White cropped cardigan : MAK via Deadly Is The Female 

‘Jasmine’ Skirt : Collectif 

Pink scalloped bag : Asos

Earrings : Oh So Flamingo 

10 fragrances to make your home smell amazing

Don’t you love it when you walk into someone’s home, and it smells absolutely divine? Well, I’m going to share some of my favourite home fragrances at the moment, so you can make your home smell gorgeous too!

I’ve put them into three budget categories to make it easier to find one within your budget range – Low, Medium and High. Low means that they are the lowest cost, Medium means they are pretty average, and High means that you might need to take out a small mortgage to buy them.

I also calculate the price per gram or millilitre where I can, so you can see how much bang you get for your buck. And please note that prices I state here are as they were when I wrote this, which was in April 2018 – they may have changed since.

So, without further ado, I present my top 10 candles and diffusers in no particular order…

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Hot Tramp, I Love You So! (Review: Vixen by Micheline Pitt, Collectif and Noisy May)

As a kid, I grew up listening to the best kind of music: REM, Pink Floyd, the Beatles and my favourite rock-star chameleon, David Bowie. I think I might know every lyric to Life On Mars (and I would be happy to demonstrate this at your local karaoke bar). I think it’s worth pointing out to those who aren’t so familiar with Bowie’s works that I don’t really think I am a hot tramp, this is a quote from his song Rebel, Rebel. Because this slogan tee really made me think of the song, and I feel it compliments my new-to-me Micheline Pitt skirt gloriously.

Caz leaning against a wall in her outfit

Let’s talk about tees. I rarely see them worn within the vintage communities unless as part of a rockabilly look, usually in those cases with worn or muted colours, 50s patterns and southern-style typography. Most of the beautiful women I see on Instagram wear blouses or long-sleeved tops – or just ditch separates altogether and wear 50s dresses, which I think are far easier to find. However I’ve seen a few t-shirts being worn with vintage styling recently, and I thought the summery weather was the perfect excuse to try out a bit of a new look. And you know? I think I kind of love it. I know slogan t-shirts are quite popular at the moment, and they’re flying off the shelves at H&M, New Look, Topshop, Missguided – you know, all those mainstream stores that I don’t really delve into anymore because their sizing seems to be geared towards women with a very different figure from mine.

Caz looking down wearing her Rebel Noisy May t-shirt © Quirk and Folly

I’m not sure Noisy May really intended this t-shirt to be an homage to Bowie, but part of fashion isn’t how you see it, it’s how you feel in it. And wearing this, I feel like that chameleon rock star whose image changed so much over the years. It feels like a nice change. It doesn’t mean I’ll be binning all my vintage fashion (hell no) but it does mean I’ll be more comfortable experimenting a bit. And that’s what fashion is, really – it’s the adult version of going through the dressing up box and throwing on something that feels different, maybe reflects a part of you that you didn’t even know existed.

In terms of fit, Asos describe this t-shirt as ‘standard fit’ but I can see from the image that it is intended to be quite loose, it has dropped shoulders and a scoop neck which means that it’s comfortable to wear, and doesn’t cling. I did my hair and makeup before I put it on and had a moment of panic when I thought that I’d have to pull it over my freshly hair-sprayed hair and in the process not only ruin my fringe but also smear my foundation all over the collar. Imagine my relief when I realised that it was scooped enough to not be a problem at all. Phew!

Quirky lady sitting in a cafe drinking a cappuccino

The fabric is a nice soft jersey cotton and is thick enough that even though its white you can’t really see the underwear I’m wearing (my favourite peach-coloured satin bra from Bravissimo). The only qualm I have is that the word ‘Rebel’ isn’t always clear, if my hands are slightly in front of me all you can see is ‘EBEI’ which sounds like it could be the name of my cat. I imagine this is because of my enormous bust – I’m a 30G – which means that it’s pulling the fabric in a way to obscure the R and the L. Other than this, I think it’s a perfect fit. I’m wearing a size medium (listed as size 10 on Asos, but I think it’s more generously sized than they suggest) which is slightly loose on me even with my generous bust. The fabric doesn’t bunch in the back either, which is often an issue I come across – if I need to size up because of my cup size, it’s almost always too large around the band size (I’m only a 30!) which can mean I get lots and lots of fabric hanging out above my waist at the back. In this t-shirt, not a problem. If I believed in such things, I might say that it is a miracle.

Cropped image of Caz leaning against a wall in skirt and t-shirt © Quirk and Folly

The Vixen by Micheline Pitt skirt is one that has been on my wish list ever since it came out, and oh my goodness I am regretting waiting so long to get her! This is the Frisky print skirt, a black background with hot pink and white illustrations all over it. At a distance it looks very cutesy 1950s, a wide band with a generously gathered skirt, and I had a couple of people stop me to compliment my beautiful skirt. If you look closer at the designs though, they are all themed around the subject of BDSM. I adore how this skirt is both sweet and at further glance, a lot more interesting. I love the illustrations, and I think it’s a really fun piece to wear, and I think it teams up perfectly with my t-shirt.

I really struggled with choosing the perfect fit for me though. My waist at the moment is between 29 and 30 inches, which is a couple of inches more than it was last year. I’ve struggled a little bit with my mental health over the past 12 months, and that has really taken its toll on my body. I get into real purge and binge cycles and at the moment, I’m trying really hard to get into a better and healthier mindset. When I went to purchase this skirt – which I spotted on the Deadly Is The Female website for a ridiculously discounted price – I really dithered. Do I buy this skirt for the body I want, or the body I have? And what will the fit be like, will it be generous or will it be a bit snug? I did my research, and found this was on the snugger side but with fabric that relaxes over time, like many of Micheline’s designs. On the Deadly website they also helpfully have a little guide next to the item sizes with accurate measurements taken by the team, another thing I really love about them. I could opt for a skirt that was 28-29 inches at the waist (a Medium) or 30-31 inches at the waist (Large). Ideally, there would be the perfect 29-30” option for me.

Of course, life doesn’t always present us with the perfect option. In the end, I went for the Large, and I’m really glad I did. I’d actually put this at 30”, it has a little bit of room and definitely isn’t a squeeze to get into, which means I don’t have to suck my tummy in and pray as I do the zip up. It also means I can fit in a cheeky cake and not worry too much that I’ll be uncomfortable for the rest of the day. And if I do manage to get my health back under control and my waist magically shrinks again to its former 27-28 inches? Then I can wear a belt, or I can have it taken in. At least with the larger size, I have that option available.

Image of the Collectif Kitty Shoulder bag © Quirk & Folly

And where would i be without Ebei, my cat? I picked up the purrfect outfit accessory in the Collectif sale at Christmas. The body of the bag is a matte black PU leather and is has embroidered details on the front, including mesmerizing green/yellow eyes. I love the gold metal chain with an extra band of the reinforced PU leather fabric all along it, making it feel sturdier. And I adore the expression on his face – truly the Mona Lisa of cats!

The biggest drawback for this bag is that it’s quite tricky to get things in and out of it. The actual body of the bag only goes 2/3 up, so you have to navigate past the flap of fabric on either side that make up Ebei’s little head. It’s just about big enough to fit in your phone, your card, your keys, a small pair of sunglasses at a bit of a push – and maybe a lipstick and a mirror. Once you’ve got all those things in your bag though, do expect to be standing there for about five minutes in front of an increasingly frustrated cashier as you try to find your card in amongst all the other bits you’ve managed to successfully cram in.

Side view of the Collectif cat bag

If you’re just nipping out for a walk though, it’s a great lightweight little bag. A warning though – you might find yourself suddenly surrounded by children whom have surreptitiously sidled up next to you to secretly play with your bag. Try to pretend you haven’t noticed.

Image of Rebel t-shirt with Greenwich in the background © Quirk and Folly

Slogan t-shirt : Noisy May via Asos

Vixen Swing Skirt in Frisky Fetish print : Vixen by Micheline Pitt via Deadly Is The Female

Rose gold hooped earrings : Asos (old season)

Kitty Shoulder Bag : Collectif Clothing (sold out)

Petticoat: Malco Modes ‘Jennifer’

Shoes: George at Asda

Review: Wearing the Wild West (Violets in May)

I honestly can’t believe it has taken me this long to buy myself a skirt from Violets in May. I first came across them a couple of years ago on Etsy, a shop full of beautiful, fun fabrics and a range of very fabulous 50s-style clothing. This was however before I fully embraced the novelty print – nowadays it’s difficult for me to avoid wearing something quirky and brightly coloured!

A couple of months ago, I was on the hunt for a decent quality gathered skirt. I’d been let down by a couple I’d purchased from some larger repro clothing stores, and couldn’t justify the shipping costs on top of the purchase price for some Vixen by Micheline Pitt and Pinup Girl Clothing pieces that have been on my lust list forever. I can find plenty of circle skirts, but for some reason a simple gathered skirt seems hard to come by! Until I remembered spotting a couple of Instagram pictures, around Hallowe’en time, of a gathered skirt with bats on. And then I stumbled back across Violets in May, and spent about an hour carefully favouriting almost every item on there – so many fantastic prints to choose from! A choice of a gathered skirt, a circle skirt, or a number of different tops and dresses! And best of all – a choice of a gathered skirt with, or without, pockets. SAY WHAT? POCKETS?? I AM SOLD.

The problem was, after having favourited almost everything, I then realised that my budget wouldn’t stretch to 30 skirts. I had to choose one. Now, I’m not normally a huge fan of bubble-gum pink and my wardrobe has lots of black, red, green and blue in it. I tend to stay away from anything too bright and whilst I have no issue with wearing pink, I am just never drawn to it.

Until I saw this jaw-droppingly unique fabric. I was pretty much sold when I spotted it had cacti on it, but the playful collection of colours and cowgirl pinups was just so strangely alluring, I just had to make it mine.

Violets in May skirt close up

I’ve put on a little bit of weight over the past few months and my waist is a bit bigger now – it is between 28.5″ and 29″ at the moment. The size guide says 28 inches is a size 10 and 30 inches is a size 12. I went for a size 12, thinking i can bring it in with a belt if need be.

Violets in May appears to be a one-woman operation, and so once my order went in, there was a 4-6 week wait for it to be hand-stitched before shipping. Four weeks after putting in my order, it arrived – and (spoiler alert) it is absolutely bloody incredible.

Violets in May skirt, side on view

It arrived beautifully packaged. The material has no stretch to it, but the cotton feels high-quality. I opted for a version without pockets (I know! What was I thinking?!) because I’ve been let down before buying gathered skirts with pockets where the material seems to sit on top of my hips making them look bigger. As my hips is an area I’m quite self-conscious about, I thought I’d try no pockets. I also had no idea what to expect from Violets in May so thought I’d try the very basic gathered skirt to see how I found it. Considering the fit and quality, I am furious at Past Caz for not having the decency to pay extra for pockets as they would have made this skirt a 10/10 for me.

My favourite feature about this skirt is actually the zip at the back. The whole item feels very well-made, and zips always make me feel more secure. I’ve had buttons loosen on me before, so I always prefer to be able to zip myself in.

The sizing is spot on. It’s 26″ in length, which is knee-length on me, at 5’8″. I measured the waist at 29.9 inches, and whilst it’s slightly on the bigger side, I actually prefer a slightly looser fit in gathered skirts as I feel that they sit better, especially with a fluffy petticoat. I am wearing a white Malco Modes ‘Jennifer’ petticoat underneath, which is a medium-full petticoat, and it fills it out perfectly. The skirt fabric isn’t super light either, so it also holds itself in more gusty conditions as well as holding the petticoat in place. Sometimes I find the petticoat can bunch between my legs if the skirt is less full (petticoat wearers, you get me?!) but I had no such problems wearing this outfit to Westfield and back again.

I’ve worn this skirt three times since it arrived, and every time I get a lot of compliments, and a lot of people asking where I got it. It’s probably the most comfortable (and most fun!) skirt that I own, and I can’t wait to buy another one/two/fifteen skirts from Violets in May.

And the best bit? For £60, these skirts are almost half the price of some of the bigger brands – and by buying one, you’re also supporting UK small businesses. What a win-win.

Top: H&M (old season)

Skirt: Violets in May

Petticoat: Malco Modes ‘Jennifer’

Shoes: George at Asda


BUY THIS:

>The ‘Howdy Cowgirl’ print is available in a gathered and tiered version from £60 (24″ length)


 

Parisian Chic: Lindy Bop’s ‘Bernice’ Dress

Basically, my life on social media goes a bit like this:

Me: gosh that’s a pretty dress

Me: *five minutes later* oh no I’m poor

Yeaahh…since discovering how beautifully other people dress, I now treat Instagram a bit like a curated shopping list. I’ve asked my bank balance to keep quiet about how many impulse purchases I’ve made because I’ve spotted someone wearing something, and at that moment just HAD to have it. And those times where it’s been on my personal wish list for a few weeks? I wait for an offer, and I go a bit mental purchasing all the pretties for a meagre 10% off. And if I pay full price for it? Then it has probably been in my basket for weeks, and I’ve been dreaming about it, and I’ve probably been Googling for reviews so I can verify that, yes, it is absolutely perfect.

The Lindy Bop Paris dress was absolutely one of those dresses that I dreamed about. I’m often reluctant to buy from Lindy Bop, because I find their sizing varies wildly, and in some items, it squishes my boobs whilst gaping around my waist. I’ve returned so many items, having fallen in love with them – only to find that they make me look like a tent when they arrive.

When my lovely Paris arrived, I was a younger and more innocent 50s style enthusiast. I actually laugh out loud remembering the day I bought it, tried it on, and said “oh…it’s a bit – floofy, isn’t it?”

Oh, past me, you are hilarious. You used to think that wearing a very slim petticoat was ‘a bit much’, and that ‘everyone’ might notice. Nowadays, I feel naked without one. I’m sure many other 50s fashion fans would agree; it’s weird how quickly you acclimatise to the style, and how quickly you learn to ignore the sneers/remarks/stares. People: it’s fashion. It isn’t going to come after your children when you’re sleeping.

ANYWAY. So, I bought this dress when it came out last year, and for my sins it lay in the wardrobe, sadly waiting for the day I took it out and showed it the light of day. Luckily, I got over my fear of petticoats and fully embraced the full-flood lifestyle.

In the case of the Bernice ‘Paris’ print – NO REGRETS. This dress has to be one of the best-fitting dresses I have in my wardrobe.

“What’s over there?”

 

How beautiful is this pattern?

 

“OMG POCKETS?!”

 

Jacket: Collectif

Hair flower: Collectif (old season)

Shoes: New Look

Dress: Lindy Bop

I am currently: bust 36″, waist 27.5″, hips 39″, and I opted for the ‘Bernice’ in a size 10. Now, I know that in the past I’ve had trouble with Lindy Bop’s sizing, often where the waist is too big and the bust too small, but this dress fits me perfectly!

There is no stretch to the material, so it’s worth consulting the size guide on this one. It’s lined, which is lovely too, and feels like a good quality dress. The zip at the back is nice, but it does catch a little on the lining sometimes, so it’s worth being careful when you zip up. It comes with a slim white belt too, which is lovely – and more cream than white. I use it with other outfits, so I’ve find it quite versatile. However in this dress I often opt for a wider black belt, as I frequently wear black flats and it looks a little more pulled-together if I can coordinate colours somehow!

I found the bodice to be slightly tight, however in my case I do prefer a more pin-up look with a fitted bodice, but it’s more generous than many other retailers on the bust; it’s nice not ‘bursting out’! I’m a FF/G cup (depending on the brand) so it’s actually quite hard to find dresses that fit me on the chest and don’t swamp me. I was so happy to find that this one fit perfectly, with room to breathe, and the sweetheart neckline is very cute without being revealing.

I had it in my wardrobe for aaaggeesss because I couldn’t figure out how to pair it with anything; white looked a bit too fancy, black looked too stark, and I didn’t have any blue or pink jackets or cardis. Imagine my happiness when Collectif brought out their pink Outlaw jacket for the SS17 season?! I snapped it up immediately, because I thought it would be the PERFECT accompaniment for my Paris dress, and looking at these photos, I feel I might have been on to something! What do you think, does it work?

You can still find the Paris Bernice available on the Lindy Bop website, a snip at £45.

Having fallen deeply and madly in love with the Paris version of this dress, I was lucky enough to snag two other Bernice dresses in a Lindy Bop sale. They are pretty much my go-to dresses when I can’t choose what else to wear, and I definitely think they’ll be a staple in my summer wardrobe!

I wasn’t able to get the red Bernice in my size, but I did bag myself the gorgeous mint colour, with coral flowers, and a turquoise-green with baby pink flowers.

This is the lovely mint colour-way:

Cropped cardi: Doll Me Up (from Deadly Is The Female)

Belt: Collectif (from an old season skirt)

Shoes: New Look

Dress: Lindy Bop

Perfect, I think, with one of the Doll Me Up cardis – this is the Rose Pink in Medium. These cardigans are wonderful, and I’m so glad we have a UK stockist of them as having them shipped from the USA can mean A LOT of import fees.

And this below is absolutely lovely – a turquoise-green Bernice that I love to pair with my cropped leather-look jacket! Don’t tell Paris, but this might even be my favourite outfit of all time. Shhhh.

Jacket: Deadly Dames (via Pinup Girl Clothing)

Belt: Lindy Bop (comes with the dress!)

Bag: Accessorize (old season)

Necklace: Sugar and Vice

Shoes: New Look

Dress: Lindy Bop

Seriously, how cute is that little rocket necklace?! Sugar and Vice make THE BEST jewellery. I’m also really sad that Accessorize don’t sell these little bags anymore as I often get asked when I wear it where I bought it from. Everyone looks quite sad to hear that I picked up this beauty in about 2015 – I saw it in the shop window, and impulsively ran inside and bought it immediately. Obviously I don’t recommend this approach, but in this isolated case it turned out very well indeed!

My search for the perfect vintage winter coat

Summer in London last year stretched until September, and I managed to kid myself that it was still summer until about mid-October. Realising that the temperatures were plummeting pretty quickly, i reluctantly pulled out my navy trench coat out from the back of the cupboard. But – disaster. It no longer fit me.

I’ve had this problem quite a lot over the past year and a half; thanks to what seems like as-yet undiagnosed medical complications, I lost a significant amount of weight. Most people might wonder why i wouldn’t feel pleased about that, and my answer is two-fold:

  1. I never set out with any aim to lose weight, my diet hasn’t changed, and I made no efforts to change my figure. I have body dysmorphia, and my changing body has made me less able to rely on the ‘safe’ clothes I wear when i have bad days – even my old safe clothes don’t fit now. I no longer know, or trust, my body, and that causes some level of psychological difficulty. Readjusting is hard, when you spend your life pretending you’ve adjusted.
  2. If you’ve shrunk out of all your clothes, replacing everything gets pretty expensive. Literally nothing fits. I have spent so much money on clothes, and I really need to learn how to sew.

I struggled through November and December layering cardigans underneath a denim jacket, or my favourite jacket (a faux leather bolero I bought in my first ever purchase from American retailer Pinup Girl Clothing!) with a couple of scarves and a pair of gloves, but I got to Christmas and I realised it just wasn’t enough. If i wanted to survive until summer, I needed to find myself something warm to wear.

And here the anxiety starts – I love pinup style clothing, but I find shopping a stress, and I hated the idea of trying on hundreds of coats or panic-buying one that didn’t fit. You can’t really hide if a coat doesn’t fit you. I’d already tried on all the coats in M&S and Next, but the only sizes that fitted my waist were a size 6, and they hardly accommodated for my, um, ‘generous’ curves. They also lacked a vintage aesthetic. It struck me that I could have a look around for some coats I liked online, that accentuated the waist and flowed out across the hips, and try and hook one on the Boxing Day sales – it would mean spending less, and perhaps even justifying buying two and then sending them back if they didn’t fit.

Because I am a little sad and take my research VERY seriously, I drew up a list of requirements:

  • It needed pockets. I am so fed up of coats with pretend pockets in them – if you’re not going to bother putting them in, don’t pretend you thought about it!
  • It needed to be warm; I love the Pearl Collectif coat but i felt it might be too long-waisted for my figure. However, I was in love with the cuffs and the lovely faux-fur neckline!
  • It needed buttons at the front, so I can cocoon myself inside it and button away the cold. None of this zip rubbish, and forget coats that don’t even do up at the front! I’m freezing just thinking about them. Brr.
  • It needed to accentuate my tiniest part, my 27.5” waist, with about an inch to move around in so I can layer with jumpers and cardigans.
  • It needed to be generous enough to accommodate both my bust and my hips (37”, and 39” respectively) and preferably skim over my hips.
  • It needed to have enough of a flare in the skirted part to allow me to wear my ploofiest petticoats underneath, and still close over them!
  • Preferably, it needed to be vintage compatible, so it didn’t look out of place with my 1950s wardrobe.

What a list.

I spent some time (okay, about a week) studying size guides, assessing reviews and generally shortlisting, and came across a number of beautiful coats that seemed to fit the bill:


Collectif: ‘Gina’ coat

image of Gina coat

I saw this one on the Collectif site and absolutely fell in love! The leopard-print cuffs are so perfect, and it ticked all the boxes. I wondered about the skirt though; would it be full enough to manage my gorgeously fluffy Malco Modes petticoat? And the sizing tip suggested sizing up if layering – did that mean it ran small, or would I need to size up? So many unknowns…

  • Price: £116.50 (from Collectif)
  • Pros: Warm cuffs, size guide suggests perfect fit
  • Cons: Unsure about the sizing in reality, and whether this coat could tame the petticoats!

Hell Bunny: ‘Isadora’ (was ‘Elvira’) coat

Image of Isadora coat

 

I saw a review by Miss Amy May and instantly wanted to buy this! The addition of a hood is just too cute for words, and then I saw Miss Victory Violet in it and I knew this was a coat I had to track down. Then I saw the price. Eep.

  • Price: £167.99 (from Hell Bunny)
  • Pros: Hood! Fluff! Pockets! Ahhhh!
  • Cons: Bloody hell it’s expensive.

Banned Apparel: ‘Vintage Style Leopard Collar’ coat

Image of Banned Apparel leopard trim coat

I spotted this one on Tiger Milly, and loved the cut of the front. I wondered about the sizing though – and it seemed a little shorter than some of the other coats too. I want all the warmth I can get…

  • Price: £99.99 (from Tiger Milly)
  • Pros: Cheaper than the alternatives, lovely fluffy neckline
  • Cons: Sizing guide wasn’t perfect for me, and might have been a problem for my bust, and it also looked a little shorter than I’d like

 

Just before the sales were announced across most of the vintage retailers, I had a long think (about five minutes) – and I decided to go on an online hunt for an Isadora/Elvira coat. The sizing guide for it seemed to fit my figure best, and I loved the generous swing of the skirt. And that hood!!

Hell Bunny were offering 20% off over the festive period, but I felt this still made it a little dear. Collectif generally hold 50% sales in the first days of the New Year, and I knew the Gina was likely to be up for grabs.

Whilst I was perusing the various sites for a third party seller that had an Isadora/Elvira coat, I actually unexpectedly came across this beauty on eBay:


Hell Bunny: Vivien coat

Image of the Vivien coat

It was in a camel and black colouring, rather than the blue and black that are still available on the Hell Bunny website, and it blew my socks off. Not just because it had the pockets, the fluff, but – it was SO CHEAP! I spotted it on eBay, as new, by a seller who clearly hadn’t realised what a vintage repro diamond they had on their hands.

  • Price: £29(!!!)
  • Pros: A lovely fur collar, two horizontal waist buttons, and deep pockets – with a very generous swing skirt
  • Cons: No hood

To be honest, with no hood being the only real con I could find, I wondered whether such a low price would be a con. Despite worrying about whether it was legit, I felt that this was a deal I could NOT leave behind me! I pressed the ‘buy it now button’ and prayed that it would be the miracle coat I hoped it would be – and if it didn’t fit, I could always pop it back up on eBay. For £29, it seemed worth the risk, and a lot better than the £99 retailing price.

Whilst I waited for my coat to be delivered, the Collectif sale arrived. And I spotted the Gina – down to about £40. There was a worry in my head about there being an issue with the Hell Bunny coat, and I pondered for about an hour with the Gina going in and out of my shopping basket. Then I just took the risk – and figured, I could always return it if there was an issue, right?

Let’s fast forwards to April.

Short story: the Hell Bunny coat is the most perfect coat there has ever been. I’ll do a full review later. And the Gina coat arrived too, and the skirt is less generous as I had thought, but it fits like a glove! So…I kept both. Considering that at full price these would have cost me about £220, and I bought them both for less than £70 (a mere 31% of the original price!) it seems worth it to not have to go through the ho-ha of finding the perfect winter coat for another couple of years!

Longer story: luckily, the size guides for Hell Bunny and Collectif are pretty accurate, if not a little generous, and DEFINITELY follow them if you’re unsure on sizing. The other thing I’ve learned is that vintage repro coats are quite rare to find on eBay, despite finding my wildcard Vivien on there, and I recommend waiting for the Collectif sales to pick up one of their gorgeous pieces at a discounted price, and look out for third party sellers for Hell Bunny. You can sometimes pick up some discounts throughout the year, just after New Year, around Easter, in about August, and around Black Friday in November. Definitely save up, and splash out when it comes to sale time, if you are flexible with the pieces you’d like to buy. I heartily recommend that you have a look at Miss Amy May’s blog too, where she often shares discount codes for items.

So – Vivien and Gina are hanging in my hallway, and I have survived the past four months without dying of frostbite. Hurrah! It’s worth noting that my Hell Bunny coat is incredibly warm, and I always get compliments when I wear it, so if you’re thinking about investing in a coat do have a look at their collection. They’ve also just released a line of gorgeous summery skirts I’ve got my beady eye on – like this orange somerset apples skirt!

What has been your go-to vintage coat to get you through the winter months?

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