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Sunday Morning Shopping at Clerkenwell Vintage Fair

Some Sundays are made for lazing around in bed, thinking about getting up but not quite making it until a hungry stomach signals it is time to get up. Then there are Sundays like today, where it is worth jumping out of bed before 9am and heading into Shoreditch. Tucked away amongst Victorian warehouses and East End ‘caffs’ is The Yard on Worship street where you can find Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair at their new location. I was super keen to be there for the best selection of vintage fashion and arrived a bit early. Roving Cafe were busy selling Sunday morning substinence of breakfast rolls and homemade cakes. A hot chocolate gave me some energy for a morning’s vintage shopping. 

Entering the glassed ceiling warehouse, I was overwhelmed by the industrial interior dressed up for the day in the City’s finest vintage fashion. Delicate ivory lace, soft midnight blue velvet, fun bright novelty prints, heavy Harrington tweed coats and chic silk dresses straight from the dance floor of the Art Deco period, all hanging from the exposed steelwork. 

Squirrel Vintage

I get caught up by the history of each of the vintage pieces. Was it made in the 1950’s or is it a 1980’s take on the past? I wish vintage clothes could tell us their stories, who were they worn by? Were they bought for a special occasion? How many owners have they had? I was chatting with Hesta and Pippa from Peacock Vintage about getting attached to an item.’You want the right person to buy the right dress’ we laughed together and it was certainly true when they sold the 1940s wedding dress at the last fair to bride-to-be Sarah at the last Clerkenwell Fair. Vintage fashion is so individual, one off pieces in one shape and only one size.They are waiting for right person to come along and breathe life into them again.

Hesta and Pippa from Peacock Vintage
Ellie from Darlings Vintage

Sundays were made for vintage shopping. A leisurely walk around the fair, hunting through rails waiting for the right piece of vintage apparel or vintage accessory to catch your eye. Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair provide a large changing room so it is worth trying pieces on. The fit can be difficult as we are built differently to past generations, even as little as 30 years ago but persistence pays off. I’m a UK size 16 and often unable to buy many pieces that I fall in love with (better for my bank balance than my wardrobe), So I was thrilled to try on this 1940s tea dress from Honeykins Vintage and found that it fit as if it was made for me, no alterations required. 

Of course, there is no need to worry about size when it comes to vintage accessories, like this bright selection from Honeykins Vintage.

If you are new to vintage shopping or want to improve your success of finding something fabulous, Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair’s founder, Savitri Coleman shared her top tips with Olive Road on this previous blog post

Charlotte and Marcia from House of Vintage
Julie from She Wears the Trousers

The best thing for me about being both a vintage trader and shopper are the incredible people that I meet. Fun and friendly with a mutual respect for the preservation of vintage clothing. A perfect Sunday morning, I’m now off to help out at a East End Women’s museum stall in Barking & Dagenham, asking local residents what they would like to see in the museum. I’d love to wear my new dress but I think I’ll be a bit chilly standing in Barking Abbey park.

Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair is on until 5pm today, Sunday 16th September 2017 at their new venue, The Yard, Worship Street, Shoreditch (behind Liverpool Street Station).

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Vintage Stories: A Filigree Find

Savitri Coleman, Founder of Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair shares the story of the beautiful vintage dress she is wearing along with her her top ten tips on shopping for the ultimate vintage style.

The story starts with the enlarged Portuguese Filigree earrings Savitri is wearing, a gift from her partner who is Portuguese. Filigree jewellery is derived from the Latin ‘Filum’ meaning ‘thread’, the craft dates back to Egyptian times and the style imitates a lace or thread pattern. At the Clernkwell Vintage Fashion Fair earlier this year, Savitri spotted this ivory and scarlet maxi dress. She couldn’t believe that the print was identical to her treasured Filigree earrings and had to buy it. ‘It is easy to dress up or dress down for a festival with a pair of cowboy boots’ Savitri tells me. It is certainly striking, suits her perfectly and goes to prove one of Savitri’s own vintage shopping top tips below….

Savitri’s top ten vintage shopping tips

  1. If you’re shopping for vintage for you it’s really useful to know what era suits you and your body shape. This will save a lot of time at fairs when browsing so you know which periods are just not you and even if the print or fabric is fabulous it just won’t do you any justice.
  2. Keep an open mind when shopping for vintage at fairs or markets as you are unlikely to find exactly what you are looking for but you will find other interesting things.
  3. Try on garments and photograph yourself in them so you can see how you really look rather than how you think you look in a mirror.
  4. If an item fits then it’s meant to be. If you love it – buy it. You won’t find it again
  5. Google vintage fairs and markets to find out what fairs are on and when.
  6. Instagram is a good resource to search for vintage traders and vintage apparel
  7. Check the width of hems to know whether it is a 50’s dress instead of 80’s. Some 1980’s copies are great and sometimes they have used 50’s fabric but the hems are usually really thin and overlocked.
  8. If you are unsure of the price or worth of a vintage garment you can always get a second opinion by speaking to other traders or contacting auction houses to see what similar pieces have sold for.
  9. Earlier pieces like 20’s and 30’s can be expensive as they are harder to come by in good condition especially beaded or with embellishment (Check under the arms on chiffon dresses for tares, check the seams are in tact or you won’t have much wear out of it and lastly for moth holes)
  10. Lastly always get a receipt so if you have any queries you can always contact the trader

The next Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair takes place this Saturday, 17th September 2017 as part of London Fashion Week.

Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair celebrated it’s eighth birthday earlier this year, read more about it here.

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Where to find us: Autumn & Christmas Fairs

This Autumn, Olive Road will be trading at a variety of Vintage and Craft Fairs in East and North London. As much as I enjoy chatting to people on social media, I do love meeting friends and vintage fans at fairs.  London is renown for it’s street style, I often pick up style ideas from people I have seen on the bus or walking down the street. Vintage fairs are a hub of street style and attract vintage shoppers who enjoy the opportunity to show off their vintage style whilst they shop for more individual pieces. I’ll be selling a curated collection of vintage fashion which you can’t buy from my Etsy shop, along with some special Christmas pieces. I’m making a new batch of clutch and tote bags, handmade from vintage fabrics, that will be available at on my stall and make great gifts. Don’t be a stranger, come along and join the vintage club.

Sunday 1st October

Pop Up Vintage Fairs, St Stephen’s Church, Hampstead, NW3 2PP

Sunday 26th November

Cancer vs Cabaret Craft & Vintage Fair, Bethnal Green Working Man’s Club, 42-46 Polland Row, E2 6NB

Sunday 10th December

Pop Up Vintage Fairs Christmas Extravaganza, St Stephen’s Church, Hampstead, NW3 2PP

Olive Road at Wiltons, July 17 – Official Flyer to follow
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7 Places to Buy a Vintage Wedding Dress

My friend Josie gets married in six weeks, nerve wracking for most brides but Josie doesn’t have a dress! She did have a dress, a beautiful beaded long bias cut number designed in New York. When she went to collect it from the boutique, she found it to be in a sorry state and not at all what she had ordered. The boutique had used her dress at a wedding fair where a model had pranced about in it all day. Josie is very organised and not the type to leave things to the last minute but now she has no choice but to look for a dress off the peg. Thinking about Josie’s predicament, my mind turned to vintage wedding dresses as they are always bought off the peg. With Josie in mind, here are my seven favourite places to buy a vintage wedding dress in the UK

Elizabeth Avey

Oh how I wish this shop was around 13 years ago when I got married. It is everything I was looking for. A boudoir of vintage dresses from every era, a relaxed atmosphere with the help of owner Elizabeth who is on hand to help find a vintage wedding dress for every bride. Hidden away in an upstairs room, a stones throw away from the Cutty Sark in Greenwich it takes a bit of dedication to find. Once inside the door I was welcomed by the effervescent Elizabeth with a vodka cocktail (it was 1pm so surely cocktail o’clock!). Saturday is open day, appointments are not necessary. The walls are lined with individual and exquisite vintage wedding dresses from as early as 1914 and 1920s with plenty of dress from the mid-century. I’ll be writing a full review of this wonderful shop soon. 

Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair.

I was lucky enough to be there when bride-to-be Sarah bought this beautiful 1940s dress from Peacock Vintage (photo above), on my previous blog post. The fairs take place nearly every month and has a variety of different traders at each fair so it it is worth visiting a few months in a row to find what you are looking for. Their next fair is 17th September 2017.

Those Were the Days, Edinburgh

I stumbled across this fantastic vintage shop tucked away, on a side street in Stockbridge on a weekend trip to Edinburgh. The store has a colourful selection of designer vintage fashion expertly cleaned and restored. A section of the boutique is dedicated to bridal wear plus the staff will source a specific design if given enough notice.

Frock Me Vintage Fair, Chelsea

My friend Cathy and her TV stylist sister discovered a beautiful 1950’s silk dress calling out to be worn as a wedding dress. You can read more about how Cathy found this striking dress on last month’s Vintage Stories.

Pop Up Vintage Fairs, London 

The wow factor doesn’t always have to be about the dress, accessories can also be the star of the show. Pop up Vintage Fairs in London are a great place to find unusual jewellery, bags, shoes and headwear. Miss Ava’s Millinery can often be found at this regular fair and makes new hats inspired by millinery from previous decades such as the delicate satin hat in the above photo. If you are looking for something a bit different or perhaps want to buy a vintage outfit for the groom then this fair is worth a visit (Olive Road will be at the next fair on the 1st October)

Charity Shops (including online)

Over the summer I’ve discovered a few charity shops that specialise in vintage wedding dresses. The cute 1970’s dress in the above photo is from Pilgrim’s Hospices shop in Folkestone. A large section of the shop is dedicated to bridal wear with a reasonable sized changing room. British Red Cross and Oxfam also have dedicated bridal shops.

Brides do Good: Not only does this online bridal store have a varied selection of pre-loved designer and vintage dresses, the sale of every dress benefits charity. Founder Chantal Khoueriy’s mission is ‘to help the United Nations eradicate child marriage’. A third of the cost of the dress is donated to Plan International and Too Young to Wed, two charities working towards the prevention of child marriages. To keep their costs down they don’t have a shop but they have a comprehensive website and dresses can be returned within 14 days.

You can find this list and more on my Vintage Wedding Dress Pinterest board. I hope this list has been useful, I’d love to hear if you have found your perfect dress and share it in the Vintage Stories section of this blog.