Sunday, 21 September 2014

Vintage clothing fun


Yesterday I spent a few hours on Brighton with my friend Alice. This is the one who writes poetry and gives passionate performances to appreciative audiences. She is now one of the Faces of Trans in Brighton, a public figure of a sort. I kid you not. This poster has been current in all trans-friendly places this summer:


When the local TV people wanted someone from the trans world to give a comment on Kellie Maloney's coming-out, Alice obliged. I didn't see the interview, but I'm told she came across like an old hand - cool, clear-speaking, and very sensible. Alice's public appearances have clearly given her confidence! Me, I'd freeze with naked fear if a TV camera were pointed at me.

Anyway, I'd just had a pre-holiday fringe trim at Trevor Sorbie, and we met up in Bond Street for coffee, cake and a good chat. We plonked ourselves on window seats in Caffé Nero, and tucked into all this:


And here are Alice and myself, as the passers-by saw us:


As you can see, Alice likes to wear retro dresses with flowery designs. They look great on her. I'd passed a couple of shops on the way to Caffé Nero that sold what is known as 'vintage clothing'. That means new clothing based on 1950s designs. These shops had dresses in their windows that I knew Alice would like very much. So afterwards we looked more closely.

We spent a lot of time in a shop called Collectif. So did plenty of other women. We all chose about six or seven items to try on, and chatted with each other while we waited to get into a cubicle. It was one of those shops where you can ask a total stranger what they think of your choice, now that you've squeezed into it. One girl with an ample figure sought my opinion of a blouse and skirt combo. I gave it some serious thought, but had to tell her that the blouse gaped a bit too much at the bosom. It depended on what she wanted to accomplish. If it was to look voluptuous and very interesting at a party, then yes, this was just right. But it wouldn't do for a wedding.

At least she could get into these clothes. I couldn't manage it at all. Most dresses required you to be very trim, with a definite waist. So this dress, which looked so nice on the mannequin, was not for me:


Matrons like myself were wasting their time. But Alice (who has the slimness of a teenager) had no problems whatever, despite the recently-scoffed Caffé Nero croissant, and could twirl with the best of them. She had no hesitation buying this dress:


Only one of my own selections looked good - a short jacket in black with striped red collar and cuffs, and two big red cherries sewn into the front. It was £55. I bought it. Here it is, as worn next day with a black skirt, when I went up to London to present little Matilda with her teddy bear:


I also bought this trenchcoat, found on a sale rail:


£95 marked down to half price. And it made me look like a Girl Detective. I could go looking for clues. I could solve crimes. And all the while saxophones would drone in the background, and someone would hammer moodily on a piano. It was impossible to walk away from it.

There were plenty of accessories too, all of them with that classic 1950s look. Alice tried on a perky little red hat:


Both having spent rather more than was sensible, we went next to the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery for a sit-down, a glass of wine, and more chat. At the entrance was this giant cat, which was a big version of Wemyss Cats like Rosie. A group of ladies posed with it, then I did. It made purring noises from a motor inside.


We eventually began to run out of time (or at least I had to get back to Fiona before the parking ticket ran out), and we had to go. On the way out we passed the Punch-and-Judy tent, and I got Alice to be a Professor and try her hand:


That's the way to do it! What a fun day!

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