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 

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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Why i started blogging (again)

When I was a lot younger, I used to keep a diary.

I kept a diary – detailing every single irrelevant detail of my life (“went to Tesco today and picked up four bananas from aisle 3“) – until I was about 13 or 14 when I realised that I kept re-reading and reliving some terrible things that had happened to me. Childhood trauma (and the Day of the Regrettable Diary Burning when I was 16) aside, I moved on to livejournal (name me a 90s child who didn’t?) and used to update it regularly under a poorly-chosen pseudonym. I kept it until university, when suddenly documenting every thought became something Facebook was used for.

That’s right, I am calling Facebook nothing other than a diary. So sue me.

Other than the occasional Medium post, and a couple of terrible attempts at blogging in the past, I’ve sort of avoided it. UNTIL…early 2016, when I started setting up Quirk & Folly, in an attempt to write more regularly, and document my discovery of modern pinup fashion and my descent from “depressed oddball adult trying to fit in (please don’t notice me)” to “brightly-dressed human who refuses to blend in – come over here and say that to my face”.

Sadly, I had a bit of a tumultuous year, and pretty much failed to get past the “ta-da! I’m ready to post something” bit. I have had a few awful things happen in my life, ranging from relationship traumas to illness in the family. 2016 wasn’t just a car crash in politics; it was pretty traumatic for me on a personal level too. My annus horribilis continues into 2017 – however, I’ve revived my blog, and this time I aim to start doing this properly.

It’s going to be a challenge to make the time to post, but it’s something I’m going to work hard to do. Here’s hoping it’ll be a year of positivity and writing, and not a year of disappointment and excuses.

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