Thursday, 26 February 2015

College Girls, 1944

1940s collegiate
1940s collegiate 2
1940s collegiate 3
1940s collegiate 4


Coat and scarf - Primark, couple of years ago | Beret - Knit by myself | Gloves - vintage, gift
Cardigan - M&S | Skirt - vintage, via Etsy | Shirt and socks - Primark
Handbag and brooch - vintage from Lou Lou's | Shoes - Clarks

I often feel inspired by the looks worn by college students in the 1940s. It really appeals to me as a casual style of dressing which nonetheless still looks groomed and not sloppy. I often think that casual vintage looks are harder in some ways to put together than dressier looks (frock, hat, heels) but such casual looks allow me to still look very vintage or classic but avoid the elements that people often think look costumey.

Recently I've been wearing the two bracelets shown in the final picture as a bit of a nod to the stacks of ID bracelets (is that what they are?) worn in several of these photos by Nina Leen from Life Magazine, 1944. They give a few quotes from the original article and I particularly like this part:

"It is a world of sweaters and skirts and bobby sox and loafers, of hair worn long, of eye-glass rims painted red with nail polish, of high school boys no yet gone to war."
I'd like my life to look like that as well - at least as far as my wardrobe goes - even if I'm not technically a teenager any more.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Thrifty Cooking: Pearl Barley, Lentil, Green Bean and Potato Salad

One of my favourite things when cooking is finding new and interesting ways to use up any leftovers. It's a great way of avoiding waste, stretching your food budget, and discovering new recipes. Recently I had some leftover pearl barley which had been used as an accompaniment to a chicken casserole, and I wanted to use it up the following day.

I went online and found this great recipe for a pearl barley salad. Although I didn't quite have all the ingredients, I was able to make a couple of substitutions and produce a really delicious dish. I'm presenting this to you less as a recipe (though by all means you can copy exactly what I did here if you wish!) and more as an example of how you can make a lovely dish out of leftovers and cupboard staples. I suggest you read the original recipe if you want to make your own, as I didn't really measure any quantities - I just threw in whatever I had. Also, my ramblings below might make a little more sense if you do!

Ingredients (substituted ingredients compared to the original recipe are marked with *):

Pearl barley
Green lentils*
Lemon juice
Some white potatoes* 
Some green beans*
1 tbsp white wine vinegar *
1 tbsp English mustard*
Half teaspoon of ground cumin
1 tbsp olive oil 
Black pepper 

pearl barley salad

Method (Served 3 of us as a side dish with leftovers):
My pearl barley and lentils were both pre-cooked (barley was a leftover from the previous day and lentils were canned) so I drained the lentils and put both into a bowl; I used approximately 200g of each. I decided to sauté the potatoes rather than roast them as I didn't want to switch the oven on just for a couple of potatoes. I sliced two medium-sized white potatoes and fried them until golden, then put them in the bowl with the barley and lentils. Next I added a slug of olive oil, and a table spoon or so of lemon juice (out of a bottle rather than fresh, so I guestimated the amount that might come from a fresh lemon). I seasoned with black pepper, but left out the salt as the lentils were pre-salted. My green beans were frozen and I microwaved them for ease. Once cooked, I threw these in with the rest of the ingredients and gave everything a good stir. In a separate bowl, I mixed together a tablespoon of white wine vinegar, a tablespoon of English mustard, a tablespoon of olive oil and half a teaspoon of ground cumin. Lastly I poured this over the salad and mixed until everything was well coated. 

All of the substitutions were for ingredients that I didn't have, but if you looked at the original recipe you will also notice that I left out the tomatoes. This was just because I was using the salad as a side to a pasta dish which already contained tomatoes. Although I used it as a side dish on this occasion, it could quite easily be eaten as a meal in and of itself, perhaps with some lovely crusty bread to accompany it. Lentils are one of my favourite cupboard staples as they're useful for all kinds of dishes, and if you've never tried pearl barley before I'd really recommend it. At home we use it often in soups and casseroles, but it's great as a substitute for rice and there are loads of salad recipes online which I am looking forward to trying very soon. Again, all credit goes to What Katie Ate for the original recipe.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Flapper Girl

Flapper girl

Dress - Collectif Clothing | Cardigan - Primark, old | Fur collar - Originally from a jacket that wore out some while back
 Shoes - Deichmann | Beads - used to belong to mum | Coat - M&S via local boutique

After I did my last shoot with Jacqui and Steve, I was feeling super inspired by 20s styles again. I'm not really as into the styles of the 1920s as I am later decades, but sometimes I can't help but be drawn in by the bobbed hair and sense of fun that comes with a flapper-inspired look. I keep getting an itch to have all my hair chopped off but it's a big commitment and I do enjoy the versatility that you get with longer hair. Nothing wrong with a faux bob though, and I will keep on looking out for some more 1920s style things for when I'm feeling more turn of the century than mid-century.
  flapper girl

Flapper girl

I doubled up on the fur for this outfit, with my fur coat which seems to have been the coat for this winter in my wardrobe, and the grey fur collar which did a good job of keeping my neck warm and looked sweet peeking out of the top of my coat while I was out and about. It originally came off a jacket - I've had a couple of items in the past with this type of removable fur collar, and I seem to remember preferring them without the fur, although I do wear the fur sometimes with other things. I see a lot of ladies wearing these at re-enactment; I guess it would make a reasonable alternative to wearing a real fur if that was the look you wanted to go for. Because it was originally buttoned onto the jacket that it came with, it has these nifty little loops which make it easy to affix to cardigans etc. I use the tiny safety pins that are used sometimes to fix tags or the little bags that spare buttons come in onto new clothing:

Fur Collar

Save those little pins, girls, they are handy for all kinds of wardrobe modifications or malfunctions. As well as using them to pin my fur collar onto other items, I also find them useful for pinning bra straps in place if they insist on slipping out, or making a quick and non-permanent alteration to a waistband that's too large (works best on lightweight fabrics, though).

flapper girl

It was really great as well to be able to actually smile on these photos. For the photoshoot, I painted on some tiny 1920s doll lips, and then didn't dare smile at all (or even hardly talk!) for the duration of the set because I was worried I might not be able to stop smiling once I got started - and smiling totally looks really silly when you have a little lipsticked flapper pout. Since this outfit wasn't for a photoshoot, I just wore my lipstick as I would normally, and apparently smiled a whole lot. It felt a bit weird to be smiling whilst wearing this look after all the definitely-not-smiling at the shoot.

flapper girl

I'll post the photos from my shoot as soon as they're all edited; I can't wait for you to see some of the hairstyles and outfits!