Tuesday, 28 April 2015


What comes to mind when we think of gingham? Judy Garland’s blue pinafore with a certain pair of ruby-red slippers, Brigitte Bardot’s pink wedding dress, and Jackie O in sunshine-yellow checks (...and, erm, picnic blankets). And that’s exactly what gingham is: a print full of nostalgia, and one that conjures up images of sunshine and warm weather. Of all the trends we’re wearing this year, gingham is one of the ones we love the most. Here are our favourite ways to style it this season.

SS15 is undoubtedly the season that’s seen gingham grow up. 
“Jumbo squares look more modern, less schoolgirl," says Vogue’s Sarah Harris, "while even candyfloss checks avoid naivety when cast across spring's slickest shapes."

Michael Kors recreated the classic ‘50s silhouette: off-the-shoulder Bardot necklines, paired with full gingham skirts and earth toned accessories. Oscar de la Renta gave the spring coat the dreamiest makeover with large baby blue and pink checks, and sleek monochrome grids. It was DVF, however, who showed just how versatile gingham can be, with models taking to the catwalks in midriff baring tops, floor sweeping chiffon dresses, followed by neatly matched top and shorts.

And for those of us who can’t walk around in floor-length gowns all day? One of the things we love most about gingham is the way it goes so well with other patterns: stripes, florals and swirls in matching colours all complement it pretty damn well (match the colours of each garment to pull it all together). As de la Renta showed, black and white gingham is effortlessly sleek. Pair it with brightly-hued accessories to give any outfit a kick. Perhaps the easiest way to wear this trend is to invest in a statement piece. Some of our favourites are gingham trousers, delicately patterned shoes and a staple summer dress (head over to bettyraevintage.com to have a peek at our Laurel dress).

Words by Anam Rahim

Tuesday, 21 April 2015


Elegant, yet effortless to throw together, it’s hardly surprising that monochrome has become a fashion classic. This week, we take a look at some key styles in the history of one of this season’s biggest trends.

In 1926, US Vogue published a drawing of what was to be one of Coco Chanel’s most iconic designs: a black crepe calf-length dress, paired with a string of white pearls. While Vogue predicted that the little black dress would become a uniform in its own right (and they were pretty damn correct), equally as significant was Chanel’s black dress and white pearls combo.

As the ‘30s rolled round, delicately beaded, loose fitting black flapper dresses went down a storm, while more conservative styles featured sweet white lace and satin details on black fabric. Its simple elegance and ability to match practically everything made the LBD the perfect base to dress up during Depression and wartime eras. Perhaps the ‘50s saw monochrome at its most elegant: white dresses accessorised with a thin black belts, full-skirted gingham and polka dot creations and demure skirt and shirt combos.

Enter the ‘60s. Sleek, sharp and minimal, Op Art prints and mod fashion were a perfect match. Modish shift dresses featured the geometric prints and dizzying line play of Op Art: chequered coats, trousers emblazoned with zig-zag motifs and striped dresses (white tights obligatory). 

Words by Anam Rahim

Friday, 17 April 2015


When it comes to vintage style makeup, we have to admit we’re a little obsessed (cat eye, anyone?). So, when we stumbled across these gems, we simply couldn't keep them to ourselves. These videos, dating back to the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘70s have left us feeling incredibly inspired- so grab a cuppa, sit back and get watching

In this little clip, Max Factor shows us how to get Claudette Colbert’s '30s look. Think contouring, luscious lashes, rouged cheeks and a bold lip.

A classic tutorial from the ‘40s that teaches us how to master it all. Foundation, blending rouge and applying lipstick? Sorted.

Ever wondered how to perfect Elizabeth Taylor’s smoky eye look? In this scene from The Driver’s Seat, let the lady herself show you how it’s done.

Words by Anam Rahim

Tuesday, 14 April 2015


The ‘40s are bursting with so many exciting styles that it’s hard not to be a little lost for where to begin. As the warm weather rolls in, we’ve created a shortlist of our favourite ‘40s summer trends. 

The Tea Dress
Whenever we think of ‘40s fashion, a good old tea dress instantly comes to mind. Nipped in at the waist, tea dresses often featured a sweetheart neckline, puffed sleeves, and the most charming prints: vibrant florals, polka dots, birds and leaves swirling across fabric. The dress’s fitted bodice and loose skirt are a nod towards the mid-Victorian silhouette, when it was first worn. The Victorian tea dress, made of light, floaty fabric, was a style that prioritised comfort in an era of constricting undergarments, but was accessorised with fur, jewellery, parasols and fans. Not quite so casual then . . .

Tropical Prints
Palm trees and hibiscus flowers in full bloom set against turquoise and terracotta backgrounds- this is perhaps the prettiest print to wear over the summer. Montgomery Cliff, Burt Lancaster and Frank Sinatra wore Hawaiian shirts in From Here to Eternity, Betty Grable did a pin-up shoot in a Hawaiian swimsuit, while Ida Lupino’s matching crop top and long skirt combo gave the print a touch of elegance.

Swing Trousers
Despite cropping up in late Victorian and Edwardian active wear and the flapper pyjamas of the ‘20s, trousers weren't seen as acceptable mainstream fashion until the ‘30s were well under way- film studios tried to stop Katherine Hepburn wearing trousers between takes in case she was snapped up in them outside. Thanks to their practicality, trousers began to be worn by working women during World War II and, as the ‘40s went on, began to be worn as everyday attire. Their high waist and wide leg makes swing trousers a perfect summer garment.

In 1932, tennis star Alice Marble wore knee-length A-line trousers to a match. By the ‘40s, Rita Hayworth sported a simple pair accessorized with delicate ruffles, Ginger Rogers showed us how layering was done by wearing a polka-dot playsuit under an overcoat, while Ann Sheridan matched her shorts with her top and headscarf.

Nautical Influences
The beginning of World War II brought military influences to the forefront of fashion, as influential Parisian and London fashion houses were forced to close. Instead, people began to look to Hollywood actresses, who wore nautical inspired garments on screen, for their fashion fix. The colourful hues of the ‘30s stripe transformed to focus on the old red, white and blue in a show of patriotism. '40s sailor dresses gave traditional navy uniforms an elegant yet playful twist: pleated dresses accessorized with square collars, sailor-tie bows and buttons shaped like anchors and stars.

Words by Anam Rahim

Friday, 10 April 2015


It was watching Mary Pickford in Little Lord Fauntleroy and Rudolph Valentino in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse that inspired Bette Davis to become an actress. She made her first move into the acting industry by auditioning for a stock theatre company owned by George Cukor. Although he didn't like Davis’s performance, Cukor gave her a week long stint playing a chorus girl in Broadway, followed by a role in The Wild Duck. In 1929, Davis made her Broadway debut in Broken Dishes, closely followed by Solid South. It was here that she was spotted by a Universal Studios talent scout and called to complete a screen test in Hollywood.

After being rejected for two films, Davis made her début in The Bad Sister (1931). The film wasn't popular, however, and, after another five unsuccessful films, Universal terminated her contract- great timing, then, for George Arliss to choose Davis to play the lead female role in the Warner Bros. picture, The Man Who Played God (1932). Things changed, with the Saturday Evening Post crediting Davis as ‘not only beautiful, but she bubbles with charm’. She was signed to Warner Bros. for a five year contract.

Davis would remain with Warner Bros. for the next eighteen years: cue roles in 1934’s Of Human Bondage (Life magazine described her performance here as ‘probably the best performance ever recorded on the screen by a U.S. actress’), Gone with the Wind and Dark Victory (1939). By then she was Warner Bros. most profitable star and, in 1941, became the first female president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, only to resign soon after when other committee members disapproved of her ideas. Her films began to lose popularity. By the end of the forties many Hollywood reviewers critiqued Davis for her poor performances in films such as Beyond the Forest (1949) and for her efforts on the Broadway stage.

In 1962, she starred with Joan Crawford in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. Despite detesting each other (Crawford stuffed her pockets with rocks for a scene where Davis had to drag her across the floor while, after filming, Davis remarked ‘the best time I ever had with Joan was when I pushed her down some stairs’), the film was essential for reviving their careers. In 1977, Davis became the first woman to receive the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award. In the eighties, she played roles in films such as The Whales of August (1987) and Wicked Stepmother (1989), the latter of which she walked off the set after disagreements with director Larry Cohen. She passed away in October that year.

Davis was nominated for ten Academy Awards and is noted for her unconventional choice of roles. Despite working on crime, romance, period and comedy films, she preferred to play characters with manipulative and hysterical personalities- a far cry from the other actresses of the period. And you know what? She was pretty damn good at it.

Words by Anam Rahim

Tuesday, 7 April 2015


When we think of wardrobe staples or go-to outfits, jeans always come to mind. Season upon season and year upon year, denim has crafted itself a place in our wardrobes. It’s currently having a huge moment in fashion: SS15 shows saw culottes at Stella McCartney, shirtdresses at Gucci and double denim at Chloe. So what is it that gives denim such a timeless appeal? Perhaps it’s the feeling of pulling on a wonderfully fitting pair of jeans, that denim can form the base of any outfit, or that it’s simply so damn comfortable to wear.

Jeans as we know them originated as workwear. In 1872, tailor Jacob Davis, who’d been making clothing for miners, approached Levi Strauss with a plan to manufacture strong work clothing reinforced by copper rivets. The following year, they began to create the first pairs of 'waist overalls'.

The use of denim as workwear soon began to change. Stars including Tom Mix (The Untamed, 1920) and John Wayne (Stagecoach, 1939) popularised denim in Western films; in 1930, jeans and cowboy boots appeared in a Western Chic feature for Vogue, and World War II saw an even higher use of denim as workwear. After the war, denim began to be accepted as leisure wear. We love the way jeans were worn in the forties and fifties: Marilyn Monroe wore hip-hugging ones with rolled up cuffs, Rita Hayworth paired them with a tucked in check shirt, while Grace Kelly gave denim her signature elegance by wearing it with a floral blouse.

Following the appearance of James Dean and Marlon Brando in 1955’s Rebel without a Cause and the 1959 hit Blue Denim (think white t-shirts, biker jackets and...erm, blue denim), jeans gained popularity amongst young people, but still weren't considered appropriate for everyday wear.

Among our favourite outfits in the sixties were Jean Seberg's classic Breton top worn with rolled up jeans, and Jane Birkin's simple white tops with denim flares. Manufacturers created new styles (jackets, suits, skirts and hats) to popularise denim. By the seventies, it was mass-produced and worn as everyday wear. The decade's jeans were decorated with appliqué, fabric paint and patches (something we won’t be trying just yet!). In spring 1976, Calvin Klein became the first fashion house to feature jeans on a designer runway, dressing a model in a slim cut pair in his New York Fashion Week collection.

Next season, denim continues its moment, with high-waisted flares and shirtdresses set to trend. We’re sure that can only be a good thing.

Words by Anam Rahim

Friday, 3 April 2015


Let’s face it. It wouldn't be Easter if we didn't indulge in a treat (or five). This year, however, we’re replacing the chocolate in favour of some tasty treats from the 1940s and 50s. While baking from older recipes can be an adventure in trial and error (or just incredibly frustrating), the fact that they’re all home-made is pretty satisfying in itself. The simplest of the three, the Easter biscuit recipe, dates back to the 40s and is perfect for beginners. Though the Sunshine Cake (1946) is slightly more complex, we think it’s the perfect way to brighten up the gloomy Bank Holiday weather. And, lastly, we couldn't talk about Easter treats without including this classic hot cross bun recipe from the 50s. There’s quite a bit (meaning a good hour and a half’s worth) of waiting in this final one, however, so hop to it!

Easter Biscuits
You will need: 
1 oz. margarine
1 oz. castor sugar
1 oz. plain flour, sieved
1 oz. self-raising flour, sieved
A pinch of salt
A tablespoon of water
2 oz. currants

1. Cream the margarine and sugar together until soft and white. Stir in the flour and salt, and add the water, seeing that the mixture is just the right texture for rolling. Add the fruit into the mixture.

2. Roll out thinly. Cut the mixture into rounds.

3. Place on greased tins, and bake in a moderately hot oven (375 F) for 10 to 15 minutes, until firm and a pale golden-brown colour. When half cooked, sprinkle with castor sugar. Cool on a rack.

Sunshine Cake
You will need:
1 cup sifted cake flour
½ teaspoon salt
5 egg yolks, beaten
7 egg whites, beaten
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 teaspoon any desired flavouring

1. Sift together the flour and salt.

2. Beat the egg yolks until thick and lemon coloured. Beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until the mixture is stiff, but not dry. Add the sugar gradually and beat until the mixture holds in soft peaks. Fold in the beaten egg yolks and flavouring. Fold in the flour gently to avoid breaking air cells in the egg mixture.

3. Pour the mixture into an ungreased ten-inch tube pan and bake in a moderate oven at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes, or until done.

4. Remove from the oven and invert for one hour. When cool, frost or sprinkle the cake with sifted sugar.

Hot Cross Buns
You will need:
75 ml granulated sugar
60 ml warm water 
1 tablespoon traditional active dry yeast
900 ml flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon cardamom
½ teaspoon salt
125 ml melted butter
175 ml whole milk, at room temperature
1 egg, beaten
125 ml currants
Beaten egg white

1. Dissolve 1 tablespoon of the sugar in the warm water. Add yeast and let it sit for 10 minutes, or until foamy.

2. Mix the remaining sugar, flour, cinnamon, allspice, cardamom and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the melted butter, milk and egg. Add the yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Stir in the currants.

3. Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and knead about 8 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a greased bowl and turn until greased all over. Cover and let it rise in a warm place until it has doubled in bulk (this will take about one hour).

4. Punch down the dough. On a lightly floured surface, form the dough into a 12 inch log, Divide this length-wise into two, and cut each piece into 12 pieces. Form into 24 balls and place on greased baking sheets. Brush with the beaten egg white, then cover with clean tea towel. Let the mixture rise for about 30 minutes.

5. Bake at 400F for about 15 minutes.

Words by Anam Rahim