Last weekend I spent a very soggy couple of days vintage shopping in Cardiff. It was part of a series of small trips my mum and I are going to do this summer to different cities or towns in the south of the British Isles as we couldn’t decide on where to go abroad for our usual week away.
On the Saturday morning we set off early hoping to get in lots of shopping but unfortunately were blighted by the horrendous weather and horrible road works. Once we eventually got there we drove straight past the hotel and then realised we were stuck in a one way system with no way of knowing how to get back. After an hour of illegally driving down bus and taxi roads and screaming at the build up of weekend shoppers in their cars we finally got back to the road where the hotel was. Phew!
And what a hotel it was! This was our view from our room. Can you tell how close we were to the shops? We literally had to step outside the front door, cross the road and then go into John Lewis through the back door. Damn good choice!
Not only that but the lovely member of staff at reception must’ve taken a shine to us because they gave us a complimentary upgrade to business class. Just look at the size of that bathroom! It was heaven. Thank you Radisson Blu.
The lovely Porcelina from Porcelina’s World had kindly sent me some tips of places to visit in Cardiff for shopping, a bite to eat and touristy things. This was a big help, so thank you so much lovely lady. Finally about midday we headed out, umbrellas at the ready, and headed for our first stop, Cardiff market.
There are two vintage shops in the central Cardiff market, Little Empire Vintage and Hatts Emporium. Little Empire reminds me of the type of vintage shops I used to go to when I was at college. Their main stock range is anything from the 1970s and 80s with a little bit of 60s throw in. The lady who was there was the owner’s mum and she was just lovely. We had quite a long chat with her about the quality of clothes today compared to those of the pre-60s era. Don’t even get me started.
I had a good look through everything but most of it was not the sort of thing I go for. However, I did consider a beautiful pink kimono but decided it was far too long and I’d probably break my neck walking down the stairs in it. But I did buy a good quality wool beret to add to my ever growing beret collection for £6.
Hatts Emporium is mostly classic tweed style menswear with a few bits of vintage household paraphernalia. We had a quick look and I got a smile and a nod from one of the male staff members who clearly acknowledged my own vintage get-up.
I have to say Cardiff is brilliant for vintage menswear, and the shops seem to focus on this much more than the womenswear, which is unusual. Along with Hatts, there’s also Hobos Vintage in the High Street Arcade which focuses very much on the 60s and 70s. It does have some women’s clothes but a lot of it was upcycled stuff that was probably aimed more at teenagers than someone my age!
There’s also another classic menswear shop in a strange little place called The Castle Emporium at the top of Womanby Street. When you first walk in you feel like you’ve just walked into a teenager’s bedroom. There’s loud music, neon colours a-plenty and a couple of Emos dotted about. However, tucked into the very end is an amazing unit decked out like a gentleman’s club full of tweed suits, fedoras, silk cravats and shiny brogues. I had a lovely to chat to the man that run it, again mutually appreciating each other’s vintage garb! I wish I’d taken the name of his shop for you but alas I was too overwhelmed by his fabulous style.
Next we headed onto Annie & Co, a shop recommended to me by Porcelina which she wrote about on her own blog a little while ago. It’s an eclectic mix of different sellers under one roof with a combination of kitsch vintage style gifts, taxidermy and lots of religious relics upstairs and vintage clothing and upcycled furniture downstairs. The taxidermy freaked me out so we quickly headed down to the basement!
The vintage clothing area took up just over half of the space and there was so much to go through. Everywhere you looked the available space was crammed with clothes and accessories and I think we must’ve spent about an hour in there rummaging through everything. The range was very much 50s to 80s with a few bits of modern pieces that were more vintage style but still secondhand.
The staff were really lovely and one of the ladies came down to see if we needed any help. When I asked if I could try a few bits on she got all embarrassed and apologised profusely that she would have to direct me to the staff toilets! Unfortunately they had no long mirrors in there so it was really hard to judge things. They need to get this sorted because I can imagine it puts a lot of people off.
But it was a great place for anyone looking for something special for a prom or evening do with lots of taffeta and chiffon dresses, sparkly jewellery and sweet little handbags and if I’d had anywhere to wear them, I definitely would’ve gone for a tiara!
By the time we finished we were pretty hungry and I suggested Pettigrew’s Tea Rooms that Porcelina had recommended which was in the castle grounds. It was a little bit of a walk but it was definitely worth it. We both ordered afternoon tea after seeing one of the other tables enjoying theirs and it was divine. A massive range of teas which they kept topping up with hot water, four different types of sandwiches, a large scone each and a choice of their amazing homemade cakes. I went for chocolate cheesecake brownie. Damn, it was good.
Once we were full we headed back out into the rain and decided to visit all of the arcades that sweep through between the shops in the main centre. They’re filled with little cafes, independent boutiques and hairdressers. We stopped off at a small antiques shop in one of them that sold lots of little things like jewellery, compacts and other collectables but I couldn’t possibly tell you where it was as we got quite lost walking around them all.
In the evening we had a lovely meal at Bill’s which was fairly near to the hotel and then headed around the corner to Cineworld where we watched Far From the Madding Crowd. It was good and I’m glad I’ve seen it but I wouldn’t rush to watch it again. It’s a shame because I felt exactly the same with The Great Gatsby and I do really like Carey Mulligan, I just feel she gets a bit lost in these big epic films.
On the Sunday we hit the main high street shops where I tried on two gorgeous dresses in Hobbs but just couldn’t justify the price when they would’ve been an impulse buy. I did, however, pick up some much needed fabric from John Lewis so I can get on with a lot of the sewing I want to do.
Once we’d exhausted St David’s Centre and the surrounding shops we decided to head out to a flea market I’d read about online called Rose Street Flea Market. It’s set in the middle of a housing estate full of small Victorian terraces and is so hard to spot we drove past it twice! It was the most bizarre place with stuff just crammed everywhere and piled on top of each other.
A lot of it was junk, although I’m sure someone would have a use for some of it, but there were some quirky pieces that really caught my interest like this old mid-century television. It would make a fab prop in a vintage shop or for using on a photo shoot. I really felt like it needed a good home rather than sitting there rotting away in a very odd place.
There were several rooms, one with old rusting push bikes in, one full of vinyl records and another that had old computers and monitors in it that would be a computer geeks wet dream. I know my brother would’ve liked to have taken a look at it all because I doubt the guy that ran the place knew what any of it was.
So, this was my small haul from the weekend. The two tops were from Annie & Co and cost a total of £27. The pink one is from the early 60s but the cardigan with the fur collar is newish. The label says TS Design. I don’t recognise it but if you know what it is I’d love to know. The beret is from Little Empire Vintage and the fabric in the background is from Cath Kidston. I’m going to use it to cover the chair seat pads of my new-to-me kitchen table (more about that in a future post).
I bought the gorgeous sewing pattern from John Lewis. It is a reissue of a 1952 pattern and it looks so easy to do that I’ll probably finish it in a day. I spotted it on the side of the till when I went up to pay for my other bits of fabric and asked how much it was. She rang it through the till and it came up as half price, £4, so how could I resist? In my head I visualise it being in a green and white fabric with a green edging all the way around so I’m now on the hunt for some fabric to make it in.
Have you been to Cardiff? Are there any vintage shops I missed that I can save for next time?