Last September my mum and I headed down to Brighton for a couple of days of relaxing and, of course, shopping. We also met up with the incredibly lovely Jenny and Kieren from the Frantically Jenny Francis blog. Despite the fabulous day spent with them zipping around in their 1930s car Betsy, the weekend getaway didn’t exactly go to plan.
Firstly, I had a stinking cold and horrific cough which got worse on the first evening and it kept me awake all night. It actually turned out to be bronchitis, which was made worse by my asthma! Secondly, I took a new-to-me 1940s silk faille blouse with me to wear that evening and it was completely ruined by the hotel’s iron. It desperately needed a press before going out but as soon as the iron touched the fabric it spat out a whole load of watery limescale all over it. I cannot tell you the expletives that came out of my mouth!
The hotel we were staying at was The Grand in Brighton, a very prestigious hotel. We normally wouldn’t have been able to afford such a posh place but we’d found a superb bargain basement deal online and took full advantage of it. You would then of course expect them to have tip top irons, but oh no. Anyway, after speaking with the manager he offered to, not only pay for another vintage blouse for me, but also to give us a sea view deluxe room at the same price of our bargain deal if we came again.
Well roll on nearly a year and my mum and I decided to take up the manager’s offer and return to The Grand. This time the whole experience was fantastic and the room, or rather suite, we were in was incredibly impressive. Last time we’d been stuck in a dark and yet to be redecorated room with a rubbish view. However, this time we had the amazing Napoleon Suite, which usually goes for approximately £440 per night! The red arrow on the photo at the top shows you which room it was.
I did a quick video of the main room to show you just how stunning it was. You can see we had a sofa, coffee table, dining table and chairs, a very long dressing table and several other chairs dotted about. The enormous bed was split in two later on in the day to make twin beds (I didn’t really want to share a double bed with my mum!). We had a huge balcony which literally overlooked the sea. It was wonderful first thing in the morning watching the mist disappear from the horizon.
Our first port of call on the first day was the North Laine area. If you’ve ever been to Brighton you know this is where the non-high street shops are. Amongst the vibrant streets you’ll find all sorts of independent shops selling their wares. However, we were on a mission to visit both the plethora of vintage shops and fabric shops. We didn’t have a massive amount of time, having arrived later than planned, so we headed straight for our favourites.
My favourite vintage shop is Snoopers Paradise.It’s full of all diffrent sellers and is a mixture of junk, secondhand and vintage. You can literally find anything in there so it’s always great to have a rummage. In fact, at one point I had one of the assistants opening loads of different cabinets whilst he patiently waited for me to go through everything. Most of it is out on display but this particular seller was offering some really old jewellery and accessories that needed locking up.
In the end I just bought the book and bag above. The book was written in the 1970s and covers everything about the social scene of the upper class. It goes into things like what events happened when, including the London Season. I’ve always wanted to find out more about this subject so I quickly snapped it up. The bag is a knitted one from about the 1920s. It’s in really good condition, although the tassel needs a good wash and comb. I believe the handles are celluloid and I absolutely love their knotted shape. Together these only came to £20, so I was quite impressed.
Next it was on to my two favourite fabric shops, Fabric Fair and Ditto Fabrics. Fabric Fair is like an Aladdin’s cave of fabric. It’s so overwhelming that you have to walk around the entire place once to just get a sense of everything. Eventually you start to notice designs that you like and beginning pulling them out. Or, like me, getting the poor assistant to run around and pull them out for you!
In the end I bought three fabrics from them, a heavy navy linen, a blue and white check cotton and a green parasol print cotton. The blue and white check was probably the one I got most excited by. The reason for this is that it’s a soft 100% cotton very much like the cottons used during the pre-polyester days. I’ve been on the hunt for some ever since I kept spotting vintage clothing made with it at fairs. If you’ve never come across it, it’s got a good weight to it but also has an amazing soft drape. If I could find more of this cloth in the future I’ll be a very happy bunny.
The other check is a mid-weight wool, something I’ve been looking for for a while. It was from Ditto’s and was in their sale, so it was a real bargain. I’m going to be using it for an in-between season 1930s jacket. I’ve been wanting to make one for ages and Mrs Depew has the perfect pattern, but I just needed to find the fabric.
The white cotton floral fabric was actually bought the next day and is a vintage fabric. It was probably sheeting but is very much like a cotton lawn. I thought it would make a lovely summer top though. However, I think that’ll have to wait until next year, I’ve got far too much to get done as it is.
My last purchase in Brighton was this gorgeous Alice Wicker Bag from Collectif. I’ve been after the perfect wicker bag for a couple of years now and this is definitely it. Although it’s fairly small, due to it’s shape it has loads of room in it. It was probably a bit more expensive than I would normally pay, £30, but I just fell in love with it straight away. Sometimes you’ve just got to treat yourself!
The next day mum and I had arranged to meet up with Jenny and Kieren in Lewes. It was somewhere we’d never been before but had heard it had lots of vintage shops in it, so were pretty excited. We also couldn’t wait to see the lovely couple again and catch up on everything. I have to say we had an amazing day with them. We shopped, we ate, we had cake and had a good old natter. Of course, the three of us caused quite a stir walking around in our vintage get-ups which my mum found highly amusing. I cannot tell you the number of times we were asked if we were going to an event.
Of course we had to have the obligatory photos done. If we look a bit weary it’s because we’d just walked up two huge hills to get to our cars and we were exhausted. My mum was the fabulous photographer for the three of us and I love how stylish we all look. As none of my friends around where I live are into vintage I generally stick out like a sore thumb compared to everyone else. However, it was so nice to literally just walk down the street with people who get why you do what you do. It was really refreshing.
I love the photo above. Jenny and I had my mum and Kieren snapping away at the same time and we had no idea who we should be looking at! This photo shows perfectly just how confused we were. And for those of you who follow my Instagram, you’ll notice that I’m wearing a blouse and skirt I’ve done some sneaky peaks shots of. I will, of course, do a proper post about these some time soon.
Lewes certainly didn’t disappoint on the vintage front. Jenny ended up buying a gorgeous 1920s dress that fitted her perfectly, although she panicked trying to get it off and ripped it slightly. However, it perfectly fixable and I’m sure she’ll be featuring it on her own blog sometime soon.
My first purchase was this beautiful white patent leather bag. I believe it’s from the 1960s and is near-perfect condition. This is so rare for white vintage bags so I’m so glad I spotted it. I’ve been after one for a while but have never found one quite up to scratch before. And a little bonus awaited me inside. In the zipped pocket was the original mirror and stuck on the back was the name address of the lady who owned it. Then, in the pocket behind I discovered a typed piece of paper with her married name and new address on it. I love finding things like this and, just like my previous 1940s Cordé bag, I’m going to do some serious research into this bag’s owner.
I also bought a pair of cotton lemon yellow gloves that my mum spotted. They were only £5 and fitted me perfectly, so I immediately snapped them up. Again, they’re in near mint condition, however, I’m not sure of the era. It doesn’t really matter anyway because they go so beautifully with my lemon yellow dress, that I know they will get a lot of wear.
Lastly I got a couple of pieces for my home. The oak frame is from the 1920s rather than the 30s. I know this because the 1920s ones were rather more chunkier than their latter counterparts. I have a few 1930s ones but had to get this one because the glass area is landscape rather than portrait, something you don’t often find. I immediately knew what photo I’d put inside, a picture of my great uncle Len, and his wife, and my great aunt Ethel, and her husband, on the beach in 1932. I absolutely love the photo and it’s just perfect for the era.
The butter dish is for my Welsh dresser. I have been slowly collecting pieces of 1930s cream ware to display on there and this will look gorgeous with them. Generally each piece is a different pattern or manufacturer but I wanted it to all be mix and match. It makes it look so interesting that way. Both these pieces need a good clean but I can’t wait to display them.
Both days we had were so wonderful. We had an amazing hotel room, fantastic service (we got a few raised eyebrows when we said what room we were in!), brilliant shopping, fabulous food and drinks and the best company we could have asked for. It really was a great couple of days and we were both very sad to leave.