Weekly Newsletter – issue 03


Issue 03 : 12 June 2017


Welcome to my weekly digest, covering things I’ve been reading, and interesting fact, my favourite posts on Instagram and a few things I’ve spotted that are on my shopping list. 

Oh my goodness, WHAT a week. I’m not sure I could do a weekly summary without mentioning the UK election. Unless you’ve been living under a rock this week (probably very happy and blissfully unaware of this strange new world that is unfolding around us) you’ll know that it was the UK general election on Thursday. And what a nail-biter it was too!

Election chat:

Short story: Imagine it’s a few months ago. Theresa May (UK Prime Minister) is ahead in the popularity polls, and unexpectedly – after denying that she’ll call a general election – calls a general election in a thinly-veiled attempt to try and gain a further majority to push through some horrendous legislation. She refuses to debate the leader of the opposition on television. Both manage to eat hot dogs and bacon sandwiches without being made into memes. The country is pleased that Jeremy Corbyn under Labour will offer free school meals and a fully-costed manifesto, although they are a bit worried about money matters (who isn’t?). They go to the polls on Thursday to cast their vote. The election coverage starts at 10pm, and it all seems to be normal; everyone is expecting a Tory majority.

When SUDDENLY – this mad-looking chap called John Curtice appears, and tells everyone that the exit poll predicts a hung parliament. There is plenty of “oh but the exit poll might be wrong” and “well, you never know with these polls” – and everyone is STILL shocked when Labour gain over thirty seats. THIRTY. And the Tory party lose seats. It’s a hung parliament, meaning there is no overall winner, and everyone is very British about it. Confused about what happens next (Tory and DUP coalition? But they want to remove abortion, and think Creationism should be taught as scientific fact, and don’t believe in climate change – what madness is this?) it looks like everyone has lost the election.

So here we are, in this weird place where our politicians are confused, we’re confused, and nobody knows what on earth is going on. ISN’T POLITICS FUN.

I, for one, screamed in joy at the exit poll and danced up the hallway. Because in a harsh world that continues to horrify me, these small things (like half the British people realising that the Tories might not be the good guys, and Comey’s frank testimony to congress over in the U.S.) fills me with hope. And as a bleeding-heart liberal, hope is about all I’ve got.

Trump chat:

I do recommend watching at least the highlights of Comey’s testimony. It’s very interesting to listen to – but he does also say some fantastically weird things, besides “I can’t answer that in an open setting” over and over again. One of my favourites was, “I worried it was like feeding seagulls at the beach.”. He also quotes Henry II: “Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?”

It’s worth a watch. A fascinating insight into the Trump administration.

Other news:

Beyond biting my nails down to the quick thanks to one hell of a week in politics (students in 50 years time are going to have fun analysing 2015-2017 aren’t they?) I haven’t done an awful lot this week. I’ve been working on a podcast with someone, which is quite good fun, but I still haven’t quite nailed the whole being-in-front-of-a-microphone thing. Is there anyone out there who actually likes the sound of their own voice!?

I’ve also been watching the original Twilight Zone from the 50s. I’ve been putting off watching it for a while, but now I.AM.HOOKED. They are such lovely 25-minute shorts, all with a sci-fi theme to them. Considering they are 60 years old now (gulp) they are still very relatable, and thoroughly fascinating. Growing up with Hollywood of the 80s and 90s, I’ve been trained to expect the plot beats, Save The Cat style, but these always seem to surprise me. The pilot episode had me guessing all the way through, and I really didn’t see that end coming. Please someone, watch the Twilight Zone too, so I can excitedly talk about it with you!

> The Twilight Zone, Season One (1959)


Mark Devenport: ‘DUP deals and dialogue: where are we now?’

Anthony J. Williams : ‘making sense of white domestic terrorism’

The School Of Life: ‘How To Be Sad’ (video)

Sarah Schuster: ‘Texts To Send Someone With Depression’

Tobias Stone: ‘Trump has damaged America, not the environment’

Elizabeth Gilbert: ‘Fear is boring, and other tips for living a creative life’

Nathan Hill: ‘The Nix’ (book)


This week, the Madrid transport authorities tackled a problem that is quite close to my heart: manspreading. In case you’re linguistically curious, in Spanish, they translate that as ‘El Manspreading’. (I’m personally pretty disappointed that they didn’t just make up their own attractive-sounding word; ‘el hombre-extensión’ or, even better, ‘persona-untada’.)

They’ve not gone as far as to make it illegal, but they have put signs up all over the metro asking people to take up their fair share of seat. I only wish they’d bring the same signage over here, as it’s not really the height of summer yet and I’m already at my limit of sweaty strangers’ legs. I was surprised to learn this week that there doesn’t seem to be any similar signage anywhere else in the word, beyond a more generic “don’t be rude, dude” which has popped up on the NYC metro.

I did however discover that -whilst manspreading seems to be okay to do everywhere but Madrid – kissing on the train carries a penalty fine of £42 in Austria. They classify kissing as ‘discourteous behaviour’, which I think is a pretty weird definition of kissing. Eating smelly food? Fine. Putting your feet on the seats? Sure, be my guest. A polite peck on the lips at the end of a date night? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

It’s also outlawed in Eboli in Italy, where kissing in a moving vehicle can incur a fine of up to £415. No, I’m not sure how they reached that number either.

“Kissing must be stamped out!”
“But how much shall we fine those rude individuals who flaunt the rules?”
“How about £40?”
“What are you on, Roberto? I was thinking more…£345?”
“That seems a bit too random. How about £400?”
“Seems a bit…too rounded to me. And I don’t like zeros. Don’t ask me why – probably some childhood trauma.”
“Okay…um, £425?”
“Way too much!”
“£415?”
“Hm, okay. I guess that sounds okay. Of course, nobody will question a fine with such a random amount.”
“I guess it’s quite romantic to chance a £415 fine for the person you love.”
“You disgust me, Roberto.”


A post shared by Beth Evans (@bethdrawsthings) on

in the beginning

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Support bras by @gemmacorrell #supportbras #gemmacorrell #illustration

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I have no idea where they’ve all come from, but I suddenly have A LOT of brooches. And is that a surprise when cute bonsai brooches like this exist?! I was quite excited when Lottie & Lu launched, selling Baccurelli, Erstwilder and Deer Arrow brooches to us poor sods in the UK whom might otherwise have to deal with expensive import fees – finally, somewhere I can go to get my weird and wonderful brooches! I’m in love with the Japanese collection from Erstwilder, in particular this sweet bonsai brooch, with a little red background. This striking beauty is available from the Lottie & Lu website for £22.

‘Breathtaking Bonsai’ from Erstwilder (via Lottie & Lu)

Oh my goodness – how amazing is this dress?! I am particularly in love with the red, but it turns out there are loads of other colours available on the UV website, including a lovely polka dot. I’m normally not a huge fan of halterneck dresses (as I, um, struggle without a bra, and I think bra straps ruin the look somewhat!) but I love the way this one crosses over at the front, which seems to be a bit more supportive. And I adore the shape, and the flare! Simple, but beautiful. It’s only $78 direct from Unique Vintage, but that might incur some customs fees, which can be quite steep for me in the UK. I found this red version available at Deadly Is The Female, which is a gorgeous store based in Frome, Somerset, which also has a speedy online counterpart. They deliver DPD too (I avoid Yodel like the plague) and their customer service is second to none, so I thoroughly recommend them!

> For UK buyers, ‘Rita’ is still available from Deadly Is The Female for £90 in sizes Medium to XL

caitlin-swing-dress

Anyone who knows me well will know that my wardrobe is pretty much 90% Collectif clothing. Which isn’t exactly surprising, when they keep releasing cute prints like this one! The blue is such a lovely mid-blue, and it’s covered in teeny anchors and helms. A subtle but summery nautical dress. I love their thicker belts too! Sadly, I can’t justify buying this blue dream (yet) as I splashed out on the Jade dress recently, as well as a Jasmine skirt. Here are fingers and toes crossed that this pops up in a sale sometime soon…

This is available in sizes 6 to 22 (the wide range of sizes is one thing I am especially fond of Collectif for!) and is £51. Collectif delivery is £5.50, but is IS DPD, which is one of the more reliable couriers.

> The ‘Caitlin’ Nautical Swing Dress is available direct from the Collectif website


 

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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