“Mum, can you help organise a vintage, shabby-chic, casual yet classy, cheap but not obviously so, intimate sophisticated wedding?”

Cover of Style me vintageBy the time you read this Valentine’s day will have passed for another year and those of us who missed this craze as youths will shake our heads and wonder at the nonsense of it all.  As Joan Rivers said “Don’t talk to me about Valentine’s day. At my age an affair of the heart is a bypass!”

However this year I cannot be quite so sanctimonious as we are embarking on wedding planning  for our daughters’ upcoming wedding, which makes Valentine’s day look like a modest affair.

I am now immersed in the world of  “favours” (apparently it is no longer enough for guests to come along and eat and drink copious amounts, they now have to get a gift as well).  My daughter wants  a vintage theme and no doubt this also means ‘Shabby’ and ‘Chic’.  There are flowers  and bows, bunting, tags and cute little signs galore.  Then there is THE DRESS!

Luckily for her I’m a bit of a dab hand with a needle and thread, (excluding aforementioned wedding dress), so the bunting is cut and ready to be sewn, and there is even talk of doilies….crocheted for goodness sake, and candles in pretty cups.  Secretly I’m rather enjoying the whole thing (apart from the expense) but hopefully with my skill at op-shopping we should be able to keep costs down with an eager eye for vintage cups, lace and whatever fills the definition of Vintage Chic.

The library has also come to the rescue with some great titles:

Cover of Scenes from an impending marriageThankfully we are avoiding the big meringue look of the Gypsy wedding and oddly enough my daughter has rejected my offer of the full on crochet extravaganza that this book encourages!

One little book however has proved to be a keeper. Scenes from an impending marriage: a prenuptial memoir is a graphic novel by Adrian Tomine that manages to capture the amusing  and absurd moments leading up to his wedding.  It gave me hope that we can do this, and keep a sense of humour!

Vintage advantage

Cover: The Vintage Tea Party YearA new list for 2013 – books with ‘vintage’ in the title. I don’t think I will be making choux pastry swans for a Happy New Year party, nor edible keys for a Wedding Tea Party, nor lacy faggots for a Gentlemen’s Tea Party, but I did love looking at The Vintage Tea Party Year. If you like floral china, second-hand clothes and embroidered tablecloths, this is the book for you. It can even help you out with styling your hair for a Tea Party –  if you have enough patience (and hair) for a victory roll.  Perhaps I could have a Useless in the Kitchen  but Willing to try a New Hairdo Tea Party. BYO pastry swans and lacy faggots – I’ll supply the tea and the hairpins.

Vintage Cakes is divided into handy chapters like Everyday Cakes, Little Cakes and Posh Cakes; although there could be a question around where a Victoria Sandwich Cake should be – surely it’s more Posh than Everyday? The photographs are  a bit gorgeous; more lovely floral china, beautiful slightly battered tins and cottage garden flowers set off the actual cakes to perfection. For this one I could supply a tea-cloth and a tea-cosy, and, if given enough notice,  possibly the lollies for the top of the Celebration Cake featuring pistachio green icing topped with the entire contents of a mixed lolly bag.

Cover: Vintage HandbagsVintage handbags follows the history of the handbag from 1900 until now.  Lavish illustrations and intriguing asides abound – apparently after the First World War “the increasing mechanization of cooking and housework… freed women to spend more time outside the home: going to work, lunching with friends, attending a matinee or visiting the local lending library.” Lucky old them, off to the local lending library clutching bags of a “plumper, more commodious shape” than the little reticules and Dorothy bags the Edwardian ladies sported.

Vintage Beauty Parlor was something of a disappointment. Do the ’80s really count as vintage?  Perhaps they do if you remember big hair and big earrings only too well.  Although this book could be useful if you take themed parties  seriously – it really does take you through how to achieve the looks step-by-step. Whether or not you would want to is another matter.

How to shop smarter New Zealand!

Search our catalogue for books on vintage clothing
Search our catalogue for books on vintage clothing

I remember as a kid being dreadfully ashamed that my mother bought second-hand clothes.  She loved nothing better than a good scramble through other peoples discarded goods and would pounce gleefully on a “perfectly good skirt”  that someone, “obviously well-off”  had chucked, and would bring it home triumphantly. When I became a hard-up student I began to appreciate her eye for a bargain, and so my love affair with everything second-hand began.

Time passes and so do trends.  Secondhand is now referred to as ‘Retro’ or ‘Vintage’.  We no longer slink into secondhand shops under the cover of darkness, and celebrities proudly proclaim that the beaded Dior dress they are wearing is indeed – Vintage.

The Library of course, being at the forefront of all new trends, has a multitude of books on all things vintage, retro and recycled. 

Our webpages also have some really useful guides on this subject.

Vintage style fabrics

I have to say I have always been a sucker for the whole shabby chic movement with the gorgeous vintage fabrics.  This lust is being kept well fuelled by some new offerings by the library  such as Rachel Ashwell’s  Shabby chic interiors and Cathy Kidston’s Sew! and her not so new Tips for vintage style.

Given the reserve lists on these items, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who drools (chicly of course) over the glossy pages.  My biggest problem with it all has been my inspiration has often been curbed by trying to find the right materials – in most cases the material itself.  Imagine my joy when I was introduced to a wee treasure trove of a shop in Tarras that had beautiful jewellery, second hand shabby chic furniture and even wonderful vintage style fabrics.  Great for when I’m down in Central Otago but what to do when at home?

Last week I finally checked out a local offering: Femme de Brocante.  If you love fabrics and like me have trouble sourcing vintage style fabrics, this place is fantastic.  Now if I could just get the hang of sewing…

The Detritus of everyday life

I am a hoarder of stuff.  By stuff I mean all manner of things that fit the criteria of cheap, second hand, and something that when spotted gets the adrenalin pulsing – A Bargain no less.  Looking at some of the books we have in the library I now realise that in fact I am no longer a searcher of  junk, but I am A Collector.  I have been ahead of my time, and all those old dresses and shoes I have are no longer called rubbish, the are “Vintage”.   This is great news, and if I knew then what I know now, I could have  written this book called Shopping for vintage :the definitive guide to vintage fashion by Funmi Odulate.

However, I not only gather clothes but can’t resist that gorgeous bit of chipped china, colourful fabric, interesting glassware, old cushions and blankets,  so thank goodness for Bazaar style: decorating with market and vintage finds by Selina Lake.  My house sometimes looks “Bazaar” but this book will quickly put an end to that!  Things will be tastefully arranged and artfully placed.  I can’t wait

I am beginning to wonder if I shouldn’t read Collections of nothing by William Davies King.

Captivated by the detritus of everyday life, the author has spent a lifetime gathering a monumental mass of miscellany, from cereal boxes to boulders to broken folding chairs. This book takes a hard look at this habitual hoarding to see what truths it can reveal about the impulse to accumulate.

I wonder what I would learn?