Thursday, 25 March 2010


Curiouser and Curiouser! Ashby Hair is now holding afternoon tea parties for fabulous ladies who love to drink tea, eat cake and chat to their friends while being pampered and preened.

Getting married, celebrating a birthday, or just looking for an excuse to get together with your friends for a girly afternoon?

Now you can partake of fine tea and cakes, served on vintage china, while the gorgeous Kelly transforms your tresses, turning you into a pin up star. For added glamour, a make up artist is also available on request.

A fabulous way to get ready for an event, a great night out, or just to spend some precious time with the girls. Total self indulgence based on old-fashioned glamour featuring modern beauty styling techniques. Tea, cake, conversation and pamper treatments. How very civilised! Don't forget to wear your vintage finery and extend that pinky when you drink.

To book your very own Afternoon Tea Party, contact Kelly on 07841144601 to discuss your requirements.

Monday, 22 March 2010


My lovely friend Kelly and I had afternoon tea with pink champagne at The Merchant Hotel today, as a late birthday treat for me. It was my first time at this Belfast establishment, and its grandeur and opulence lived up to my excited expectations, as did the decadent teas, delicate finger sandwiches, pastries, and scones with jam and clotted cream.

I was disappointed though to see that no one other than the pair of us had made an effort to dress up. We both wore pretty vintage dresses and carried discreet handbags, but everyone else seemed to be wearing drab trousers or jeans with fleece jackets and were carrying BHS carrier bags. Apparently the dress code is 'Smart Casual' but what exactly does that mean? This loose definition of the required standard of attire is a bit of a contradiction. You are either smart, or you are casual. Can you be both?

It seems to me that most people translate Smart Casual as 'No Effort Required'. I'm not usually a stickler for etiquette but I think that if you are participating in the time-honoured tradition of tea drinking in the afternoon on a luxurious sofa, underneath a Tyrone Crystal chandelier, watched over by plump cherubs resting on spectacularly ornate plasterwork, then you should enter into the spirit of things and dress to show your appreciation of the surroundings. Its not only polite, but it adds to the grand atmosphere and enhances the whole experience. In fact, I think that The Merchant Hotel should enforce a strict dress code which requires gents to wear a shirt and tie, and ladies to wear a dress, hat and gloves. And if that means that I should be living in the 1950s, then I would gladly go back to a time when Crocs and Ugg boots didn't exist.


We have launched a new blog AND THE BRIDE WORE VINTAGE to provide vintage wedding inspiration to the Irish bride. In the lead up to our first Vintage Bridal Fair on 13th June we will be bringing regular tips and ideas for a vintage-themed wedding via our new blog.

And don't forget that this new Frock Around The Clock event is not just for brides - we will have perfect outfits and ideas for the bridesmaids, mothers of the bride and guests too!

Sunday, 21 March 2010


I came across this vintage sewing pattern today while doing a spot of spring cleaning. Dating from 1969, Simplicity #8520 evokes some wonderful childhood memories as it was the pattern for one of my favourite outfits that Mum wore.

As she had flame red hair she was fabulously striking in her huge black flared pants with matching long-line waistcoat which she teamed with a bright purple polo neck jumper. One of my oldest and most vivid memories is of getting separated from Mum in a supermarket and the manager being able to spot her immediately when I gave him her description.

I have held on to the pattern with the intention of reproducing the outfit for myself so I am going to dust off the sewing machine, schedule a trip to Craftswoman Fabrics, and make a start on it soon. Hopefully that intention won't go the same way as the rest of my New Year resolutions.

Friday, 19 March 2010


I have a fabulous pair of 1970s green flares in my vintage closet. Bearing a Chelsea Girl label they are high-waisted with three buttons, tight on the hips and behind, and super wide at the bottom. Now, being blessed with a bottom that would rival Beyonce I was rather jealous of Cillian Murphy when I spotted that he was wearing the same pair of trousers in an early scene of Breakfast On Pluto and they didn't stretch and strain the way that they do when I have to spray them on.

He may be a slim-hipped boy but I remember when girls naturally had boyish figures. It is a bit of a chicken and egg condundrum this fashion business. How is it that the gamine ladies of the twenties transformed into the elegant starlets of the thirties, the pin-ups of the forties, the hour-glass beauties of the fifties, and then magically achieved the elfin proportions of the sixties before morphing into the leggy beauty of the seventies? Does the figure follow the fashion, or the fashion follow the figure? 

Wednesday, 17 March 2010


A happy St Patrick's Day to all our Irish friends and customers. I'm recovering from having consumed too much birthday cake yesterday and didn't make it to Belfast to see the Carnival Parade today, but I'm celebrating from home by watching some Irish themed movies.

I had an aversion to wearing green for many years due to my school uniform having consisted of a green skirt, green blouse, green jumper, green blazer and, just to add a bit of interest, fawn socks. I was forever getting into trouble for trying to add little extras into the dress code, but looking back I suppose that giant gypsy hoop earrings and purple suede winklepickers were pushing it just a little too far.

Now, however, I have various green items of vintage attire in my wardrobe including a 1970s skinny rib polo neck jumper and flared trousers, several dresses, a 1960s suit, and a matching suede coat and handbag. But, by far, my favourite green garments are a pair of 1960s butter soft, emerald green suede boots and a monastral green velvet maxi coat. I always get stopped in the street with compliments when I wear them.

Now I wonder where my fawn socks and purple suede winklepickers are?

Monday, 15 March 2010


Last year I commissioned this fabulous punk-inspired chair from Rip It Up for my son Matt. He admires it so much that he wont use it for its intended purpose, but instead it has become an art installation in his bedroom (along with Vivian the punk teddy bear).

A retro chair revamped with vintage comic scraps provides an interesting focal point for a child or teenagers room.

Dublin-based Retrorumage were exhibiting at March's Vintage Sunday at the Empire, and owner Paul was selling other retro furniture pieces restyled with comic books and vintage newspapers by Preloved Style. Here are some of the pieces that were popular at our Vintage Fair.

Check out their blog for more innovative designs.

Saturday, 13 March 2010


I have been 'decluttering' my home over the last couple of weeks. It all began with my purchase of a 1950s G Plan dressing table which I was extremely lucky to find in a local charity shop for £30. To make room for my amazing find I had to do some shuffling of furniture and after a promise to the rest of the family to follow a new policy of 'one item in, one item out' I got carried away and removed a dozen small items of furniture to the auction rooms. My next stage of madness involved 'getting rid' of a large portion of my vintage china and bric-a-brac.

The strange thing is that this didn't even make a dent in my 'clutter' or, as I prefer to call it, 'my treasures'. After all my efforts I still don't have room to swing a cat (luckily for Lorelei the kitten), and now I'm feeling somewhat bereft. I'm trying to cheer myself up with thoughts of the fun I will have buying 'new' things that I don't need, but have to have! I saw lots of goodies at last weekend's Vintage Sunday at the Empire - roll on 11th April so that I can spend my birthday money at the next one!
Babycham glasses from Kirkmodern

G Plan sideboard from Retrorumage

Bradley Wide Eyed Doll from Old Mill Collectables

Opera glasses from Sandra Crawford Antiques

Thursday, 11 March 2010


Those who know me, will also know that my signature look is black. So my recent purchase of a baby pink vintage faux fur jacket was a bit of a surprise to my family and friends.

My lovely 'new' jacket made its debut outing the weekend before last to the Festival of Colours. 'Insane!' was my son's verdict on the departure from my usual gothic style. 'Fab!' was the opinion of my friend Rosie (a pink fanatic).

Two hours later (with pink acrylic fibres all over my top and jeans, the interior of my car, up my nose, stuck to my eyeballs, and floating in my Starbucks cup of tea) my new flirtation with pastel was well and truly over.

Like Ms Winehouse I have gone back to black - it's safer and far less embarrassing. But to prove that for just one day I did actually break out of the mould, there is photographic evidence on the Fast Fashion blog as Laura's camera lens snapped us leaving the festival at St George's Market.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010


I have a weakness for hats and hair accessories, especially vintage hats, so FATC is always a big temptation to splurge. However, at last Sunday's vintage fair at the Empire I was able to indulge without breaking the bank and I am totally in love with my new hat. You can see it below on the mannequin head to the right of Lisa.

And here it is being proudly worn by me after purchase.

Other hats that were tempting me were the navy hat with silver beading shown below at the Banshee Vintage stall,

and this little confection of green leaves and red berries.

Here are some other happy hat customers (hats and fascinators hand made by Rosie Moore from recycled fabrics and trimmings).

Monday, 8 March 2010


Belfast's Empire Music Hall opened its doors to Vintage Sundays - the new Frock Around The Clock Vintage Fair - yesterday. Nineteen cool vintage sellers from Dublin to Derry welcomed over 400 cool visitors, many of whom were experiencing their first taste of vintage.

Thank you to everyone - exhibitors and visitors - who made it such a great day.

The next Vintage Sunday at the Empire takes place on 11th April - watch this space for more details coming soon.

Saturday, 6 March 2010


We are made up to be joined at our first Vintage Sunday at the Empire (tomorrow) by Claire McEvoy of The Make Up Boutique. Fast becoming one of Ireland's top make-up artists, Claire is in high demand on photographic shoots for local magazines, model agencies and fashion shows, and also offers appointments for special occasion make-up, weddings and make-up lessons.

Claire's specialist skills and professional advice will now also be available at Frock Around The Clock. Lucky us. Between Claire and Kelly at the retro hairstyling stand, we can now get a full makeover inbetween all that shopping for vintage frocks. Here come the girls!

Friday, 5 March 2010


Just in case you need reminding - don't forget that this weekend sees the debut of Vintage Sundays at the Empire. Frock Around The Clock brings you 18 sellers of vintage clothing, accessories, jewellery, furniture, collectables, vinyl records, and much more in the fabulous Empire Music Hall on Belfast's Botanic Avenue. Visit our website to see the exhibitor list.

Doors open from 12 Noon to 4.30pm. Admission costs only £2, and there will be a Coffee Stop / Tearoom in the upper balcony so you can chill out and soak up the atmosphere after making your purchases. Remember to arrive early to catch those bargains and fabulous pieces!

There is no better way to spend Sunday afternoon in Belfast!

Thursday, 4 March 2010


One of the most popular hotspots with the ladies at Frock Around The Clock is the retro hairdressing stand where Kelly McLean, owner of Ashby Hair, is always in great demand to create vintage-style hairdos fit for a pin-up star.

There is nothing old-fashioned about retro hairstyles; in fact they are bang on trend right now. Glamorous updos and silver screen movie-star waves and pincurls are big news on the Hollywood red carpet, while Amy Winehouse has helped to make the new beehive as popular as 'The Pob' and 'The Rachael'.

Beehives are Kelly's speciality, and having teased her own hair to dizzy heights for a few years now, they should be as she has had plenty of practice! I have sat in Kelly's chair myself on a few occasions and all that backcombing and hairspraying never fails to draw an audience as you go through the transformation process. The end result always attracts lots of oohs and aahs and a rush of females fighting to be next in the hot seat. A beehive hairdo is perfect for adding height to those of a small stature and also makes the face look leaner, giving prominence to those important cheekbones. Very versatile, they can be made smooth and sleek for formal and glamorous occasions, or less perfect for a cutting edge rock-chick look.

Not brave enough to try the beehive? Don't worry for there are plenty more styles to choose from. Tumbling curls and waves are created with just a wave of Kelly's magic wand (okay, her curling irons) with an ease that I have never been able to master at home, while elegant victory rolls are achieved with a mere flick of the wrist, and sleek Lady Gaga-esque hair bows are a piece of cake.

Kelly will be teasing tresses at this weekend's Vintage Sunday at the Empire, where glamorous updos and curls can be achieved for only £10. Don't forget to check out her rail where she will be selling off some of her fabulous collection of vintage frocks!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010


The Decadence Vintage stall at this weekend's Vintage Sunday will be a bit different from the usual vintage clothing and accessories that they specialise in. Instead they will be selling pretty, girly pieces - perfect for treating yourself, your girlfriend or your Mum (remember Mother's Day is just around the corner!)

Expect to find bone china teapots, cream and sugar sets, and cups and saucers in pretty ice-cream colours and florals. Also snowy white linens and lace, antique postcards and photographs, mirrors and pictures, large jugs and bowls and embroidered handkerchief sets.

There are also 1950s fans, a musical jewellery box, a paper and bamboo parasol and a lovely vintage vanity case packed with its original make up. Beautiful decor items for a vintage bedroom.

I love the 1940s/1950s magazine advertisements which are perfect for framing - so much nicer than modern replicas!

Monday, 1 March 2010


Vinyl Countdown will have a stall at this weekend's Vintage Sunday at the Empire selling vinyl records of all eras and musical genres.

Expect to find singles dating from the 1950s through to the 1980s and LPs categorised into Punk / New Wave / Reggae / Ska, Eclectic Listening, Classical, Hard Rock / Metal, Country & Folk, Jazz, and Rock / Pop.

Vinyl Countdown has a 'More You Buy, The More You Save' policy. An easy and affordable way to build up your collection of the fantastic plastic. Track them down at the Belfast Empire this Sunday to avail of this offer.


Lulu Rose Vintage will be appearing at the first Vintage Sunday at the Empire on 7th March, and owner Rosie Moore will be bringing along a stash of vintage Levis which can be 'Customised While You Wait'.

Purchase a pair of old Levi jeans and have them slashed, frayed, shredded, or turned into cut-offs of your desired length by Mrs Sew and Sew herself. Whatever you want, you give the instruction and Rosie provides the destruction! (Not that we would condone destroying a pair of Levis, but for the sake of rhyming you get the gist).

Rosie will also be selling her new line of customised t-shirts. Be the first to own one of these limited edition designs - plain t-shirts in black or white embellished with retro applique designs using recycled and vintage fabrics.

We know the frost is set to stay for a while but these look great layered over long sleeve tops with cut-off Levis worn with tights and boots to see you through the rest of the winter.