Vintage Tattooed Ladies

After writing my post on my tattoo plans, I started searching for more photos of tattooed women from back in the day. Obviously it was not the done thing at the time and the tattooed lady was a regular feature of the travelling freak show. Luckily times have changed but I can’t help but wonder what these women were like and why they chose to get tattooed.

vintage tattoo 1940s

vintage tattoo

Tattooed older folks also help to rebut the oft-used argument against getting tattoos: “That tattoo looks good now but it will look horrible when you’re old!” In fact, the tattooed elderly look pretty darn awesome.

elderly tattoo


Etsy Picks: Vintage Brooches

Call me a magpie but I love to look at shiny things. I especially like to lust after vintage brooches because while they can sometimes be incredibly glamorous, there’s a lot of fun and kooky brooches out there. Here are some beauties that I’ve been admiring on Etsy. As an honorary Dutch person, I especially love the 1930s windmill brooch (The sails actually move!) and how cute are the ruby slippers?

Vintage Brooches Etsy

Transitioning from Modern to Vintage: Starting Small

It’s a bit tricky when you realise that you would like to move to a more vintage look. If you have a wardrobe full of modern clothes, only the bravest and wealthiest can afford to replace everything at once. The rest of us have to be patient and “make it work”. So I decided to make a list of small ideas or habits to adopt to gradually transform into vintage goddess.

Experiment with vintage hair styles – Vintage hair styles may require more time but it certainly doesn’t cost much to get started. With just some bobby pins you’re already on your way. You can also speed things up with curling irons or by choosing a quick updo.


Wear lipstick everyday – It’s a cheap way to add a vintage touch to your look.

lipstick, life

Find a vintage style icon – This will help you pinpoint your style for when you end up going shopping. Choose someone you could imagine living your life and with a similar body shape to you. 

rita hayworth

Wear stockings and garters instead of tights/pantyhose – A simple habit to change.

Bettie Page

Start with accessories – With accessories you needn’t worry about fit, which is great! A string of (fake) pearls, some vintage brooches or a 1950s bag is a risk free purchase. They’re relatively inexpensive and easy to work into a modern gal’s wardrobe.

elizabeth taylor pearl necklace

Take up vintage hobbies – A hobby like knitting has two advantages. One, you learn a new skill, two, you might end up knitting yourself a new wardrobe! Other options: dressmaking, embroidery, crochet, quilting, listening to old radio recordings, collecting antiques.

knitting pattern

Cook with vintage recipes – Try Vintage Recipes for some ideas or check out Charlotte’s Domestic Goddess tag at Tuppence Ha’penny for her experiences of cooking from old recipes.


If all else fails hold your head up high and wear a smile. – If the rain flattens your hair, your hat blows off and you misplace your vintage bag, remember when stripped of your vintage regalia, it’s your attitude and the way you treat other people that make the biggest impact.

audrey hepburn unicef

First time pin curls…

Yesterday I decided to have a go at pin curls. I rounded up all the bobby pins I could find and checked out a few tutorials. With Rita Hayworth’s flowing curls in mind, I set to work curling and pinning. Hmm…this turned out to be less simple than I thought….

pin curls

Tip 1: always use a mirror when curling xD

So I did my best to rectify the situation, adding another thousand pins to tame the unruly ends. My hair takes ages to dry so I ended up spending the best part of a day like this and then sleeping with them in too.

Sleeping with the pins in wasn’t actually as painful as a thought it would be. They also stayed in place over night. In the morning I unpinned, expecting strange results.

pin curl

More of a pin wave than a pin curl

And then I brushed…

pin curls

It’ll do!

I wasn’t quite sure what I make of it at first but considering the state of my pinning in the first picture, I think it turned out ok. But practise makes perfect!

Movie Time: Queen Christina (1933)

A few days ago I watched my first Greta Garbo film, Queen Christina. I wanted to watch it after re-watching The Dreamers, which features a scene with Garbo and the leading man, John Gilbert. I didn’t know much about Greta Garbo. Just that she was beautiful, Swedish and possibly a lesbian. After seeing this film I don’t think I’ll ever know much more about her. She retains mystery even when giving an emotional performance. I feel like this film is a reflection of the real Garbo. I read that due to her fame she had gained more control over the films she starred in. For example, she choose Gilbert as her co-star despite (or because of) his failing career.

greta garbo, queen christina

Queen Christina is a strong, dare I say feminist, character. She is alone at the top and escapes the watchful eyes of her people by leaving the palace dressed as a man. Inside the palace, she has strong ideas of what she wants and will only compromise if it’s in everyone’s best interests. She educates herself at night by reading. She’s really the perfect ruler; smart, strong and full of humility.

greta garbo, queen christina

Although Garbo was trying to do Gilbert a favour by having him cast in the male lead, she rather overshadows him. Her face is captivating and she stands out as being the only Swedish person in the film to have a Swedish accent! I don’t think I would have liked this film without her swaggering, masculine charm. What is funny, however, is that as she is pretending to be a man, Garbo has a full face of heavy make-up, yet none of the characters apparantly realise she’s female until she undresses. Ah, the magic of film!

greta garbo, queen christina

The film took some liberties with the life of the real Queen Christina. However, she was indeed crowned king instead of queen as her official title and never married, leading to Garbo’s head-strong and independent character. In conclusion this is an awesome film and pretty impressive for an early talkie.

Favourite quote:
Chancellor: But your Majesty, you cannot die an old maid.
Queen Christina: I have no intention to, Chancellor. I shall die a bachelor!

In honour of valentines day…

My favourite lovey dovey Hollywood couples

charlie chaplin, oona o'neill

Charlie Chaplin and Oona O’Neill

katharine hepburn, spencer tracy

Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy

lauren bacall, humphrey bogart

Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart

I’ve never been one for Valentines Day. I think you should show love every day of the year but any excuse for extra love is fine with me. :-)

Vintage and the ability to choose

What I think draws me to vintage is not just the pretty gowns,  flowing curls and lipstick, but the element of rebellion. If you take your inspiration from the last century of fashion you are no longer limited to the fashions of today. Modern clothes shops seem to focus on passing trends leaving you limited to your choice of styles. One example is the prevelance of skinny jeans. Try looking for wide legged pants in a store and you’ll be lucky to find one or two. Even bootleg jeans or trousers can be hard to come by.

Vintage can be empowering, allowing you to wear what you have in your mind instead of what you find in stores. It shows us how fleeting hemline lengths and silouettes are, allowing us to pass on current trends which we know will also eventually become vintage.

More importantly we can better evalute current values if we know what was important to our grandparents and great-grandparents. We can appreciate what is good about current society and attempt to change the bad.

So be a rebel like Katharine and wear what makes you feel good.

katharine hepburn