A guide to style and good tailoring

Hi welcome to my own unique perspective on what constitutes style and individualism. The vast majority of the photos are taken using a mobile phone camera and I have no make up on.......

I'm in my late 30's and I'm also a widow which probably explains why I look so god damn hot in black, well that and being an ivory skinned pale red head! It also documents my wardrobe, so many people seem fascinated by my clothes and compliment me for how I look wearing them.

It is one woman's campaign against Jeans, Tracksuits and Ugg Boots!

More importantly it's about altering your view on life and trying to do the right thing even though it isn't always the easiest.

This blog is a story in taking pride in yourself and not letting yourself go, or settling for second best because you know what girls? No one really is better than someone if they don't treat you like a Queen................

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Happy Easter or should that be Eostre?

Happy Easter! Eostre was the name of an Anglo Saxon Pagan Goddess who's festival got re-purposed by the early church to celebrate the resurrection of Christ.

Eostre would appear to be a Goddess of purity (the holy water), youth and beauty (the young maidens), as well as one of new life beginnings, so the things she symbolised are in keeping with the general themes of Eater. 

Here's to new life beginnings!

We could all do with a bit of luck with new beginnings so I have opted for Lady Luck, she is a pretty but simple dress and will wear beautifully for a family meal!

Dress: Lady Luck in Navy and White by Bettie Page Clothing
Shoes: Kurt Geiger

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Girl's night in: Fizz, Fashion and Fun

After yesterday's fantastic night out to the Opera House to see the Rocky Horror Show we are back to basics with Girl's night in. Here's to pink champagne and girlie giggles over fashion and fizz! 

Dress: Erin in Green by Pinup Girl Clothing
Shoes: Kurt Geiger

Friday, 29 March 2013

Good Friday? Makes me want to take Charles Atlas by the hand

It is going to be a fab day :) Marv and I are off to see the Rocky Horror Show as part of my birthday celebrations. I love the Rocky Horror Show  I went to see it for the first time when I was a teenager and I guess I have been hooked ever since, but then I did understand How Frank'n'Furter felt when it came to Faye Wray:

What ever happened to Faye Wray?
That delicate satin draped frame
As it clung to her thigh,
How I started to cry
'Cause I wanted to be dressed just the same.

It has some amazing songs, Sweet Transvestite, Toucha toucha touch me and the classic "I can make you a man" which is always an amusing track to pick when you are doing weights at the gym!....Something might as well want to  take Charles Atlas by the hand!

So to get into the spirit things before I get ready I thought I would wear Violet. She's a show stopper for sure, and it seems to sensible to start off in Violet as I will be Magenta later on!

The gathered bust is lined in stretch charmeuse for comfort and support, and the bengaline continues under the velvet to give the shoulders more structure. The bust features a daring keyhole front and two black rhinestone faux buttons sparkle at the collar. Finished off with a back zip, puff sleeves, and a matching grommet velvet belt. 

Dress: Violet in Red by Pinup Girl Clothing
Shoes: Kurt Geiger

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Everyday is a school day

I have borrowed the "l'expression du jour" from a friend, I'm sure they won't mind especially as it rings true. There is always something to be learned in life. My parents were teachers, my Aunt was a teacher, My sister was a teacher and my cousin is a teacher. Actually I do them injustice's they were essentially head teachers or they run education authorities. In short I am the black sheep of the family. I'm the computer programmer!

Still they all new lots of exciting things about everything and if they didn't then they knew someone who did. My love of science, art, mathematics, music, history, literature, culture and language all came from people who had a passion for the topic. 

Today's skirt is called classmate and it reminds me of the outfit's Sandra Dee's friends wore in grease. I have a soft spot for picnic rug prints I just think they are so much fun. It makes me think of West Highland Terriers, which my Auntie and Uncle bred. I loved helping my Uncle George with the dogs when I was little, I learned a lot from him. Like how to dig for worms for fishing bait, how out board motors work, how to box and the names of all the animals in rock pools. He always had an immaculate quiff and was never without a comb. He loved deep sea fishing, we used to go out on his boat it was an Orkney longliner and just bob up and down on the sea for hours, all of which bring me to the top which is called wave.

Now when I first put this ensemble together it just didn't look right. I had really wanted to wear it as a tie top number but the blouse was too long, so not one for wearing out. It was missing something, the mirror was kind enough to indicate it to me.

Fortunately not only do I have a mirror but I also have a best friend. Marv pulled her "Hippo Fashion Breakthrough" face, rummaged in the belt draw and came up with the red belt with the red shoes. I have to say I think Marv was onto something with this :) and it just goes to show that every day is a school day.

Skirt: Classmate by Bettie Page Clothing
Belt: Vivien of Holloway
Blouse: By Bettie Page Clothing
Shoes: Aldo

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Your jade will break first

The Chinese say your jade will break before you do, and I like that as a thought, especially as my jade hasn't broken yet. I guess though that if life were going to break me that there is a fair chance it would have done it by now. So here's to being the unbreakable Mrs B! (well the one from the Titanic was unsinkable).

I love the dark emerald colour of the silk. It is beautiful and a classic colour. The dress has a slash at the neckline with the ornate knotted buttons that so typify the chinese style. The high neckline is a challenge for me as I don't like things tight around my neck but this is nice and roomy and I can comfortably fit all fingers between the collar and my neck (this matters).

The unusual aspect to this dress is the big Obi sash. I love this feature of Japanese/Chinese clothing. A huge bow at the back? WOW, though as Marv says the bows tend to be wider than I am! Still they are great fun, and it is cute to wear a bow at the back of your belt, it really emphasises your derriere in a nice way.

Dress: Jade Dress in Teal with Obi Sash Belt
Shoes: Kurt Geiger

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Do you remember, the cherry blossom in the market square?

Despite the weather's best efforts to hold onto winter, spring is in the air. You can just start to see all the flowers pushing their way through the snow and the buds on the trees. I can't wait for the Cherry Blossom, I love the pale pink flowers and the petals as they are blown down the street like confetti. Though I like the fruit even more.

I enjoy the cherry prints from the 1950's I think they are cute in a flirty way. Plus Marv says I am allowed to wear Cherry prints because Monkeys eat cherries, this also explains her stand against animal prints - apparently Monkey's don't eat leopards!

This is an unusual choice for me as I will generally opt for a black background over a white one, I thought this was a really simple but pretty dress, it is gathered at the neckline and the waist and it easy to wear. The white background makes me think of all the snow with the cherry trees just waiting for it to thaw. It's enough to make you want to go dancing in stilettos in the snow!

Dress: Wild Berries by Bettie Page Clothing
Shoes: Kurt Geiger

Monday, 25 March 2013

Cinders shall go to the masquerade ball

This dress was a birthday present from Jo, I love it. Marv put's a lot of thought into things and as ever there is definite method in her madness. 

I adore the idea of Masquerade balls and have always wanted to go to the one in Venice. The idea of dressing up in a ballgown and hiding your face with a beautifully ornate mask appeals to me, it is the enchanting and seductive nature of a baroque party I guess where you are allegedly in cognito. It is a place that fires my imagination.

I dressed up in a masquerade outfit for the Millenium! I wore a green and gold sari with a sash and a mask that had been made from leather and painted. 

I might not get to go to a masquerade ball but I can have lots of fun dancing around in this dress imagining myself at Harry' bar, sipping Bellini avoiding Casanova.

I like bright colourful complicated prints. It appeals to my inner programmer, it's the pattern recognition. The print on this dress is so cheerful and bright and has every colour in it. I love the sweetheart neckline and the halterneck and the big twirly skirt just finishes it off. I will say this were it not for Marv I would have never ventured into circle skirts, so it is lovely that this dress has one.

Dress: 1950s Circle dress in Masquerade print by Vivien of Holloway
Shoes: Kurt Geiger

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Sharing the joy

I haven't posted for a couple of days. This is for a few reasons, the first being only your nearest and dearest get to see your birthday suit!

It has been a lovely weekend so I thought I would wrap it up with my dress called Joy, because you should always share it.

38 is off to a cracking start. Thanks to everyone for your birthday well wishes. Big hugs Xx

This is a very simple styled dress, with a beautiful neckline. I like the little bows at the neck. It it a beautiful turquoise colour.

Dress: Joy in Turquoise by Bettie page Clothing
Shoes: Kurt Geiger

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Anchors away, the last of 37

Today is just like New Year's Eve, except it is my New Year's Eve :) Add that that the bonus of it being the Spring Equinox (or Autumn to those in the southern hemisphere) And in your life, wherever in the world you happen to be? It speaks of renewal. Reflection, reconsideration and review.

I love to spend the day reflecting on what has changed over the year, the ways I have grown as a person, the things I have learned about myself the people I have met and the new friends I have made.

We get out of life what we put into it, this holds true for every aspect of life. People will place the same value on you, as you place on yourself, so value yourself and be kind :)

Well it's anchors away for 37 - you have been an amazing year! 

THANKS to you all - the main characters, the supporting roles, the extras and the innocent bystanders who helped, aided or indeed abetted to make this year it was.

Big hugs xx 

Dress: Nettie in Anchor print by Pinup Girl Clothing
Shoes: Mary Janes in white by Boredello

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

In search of El Dorado

In 1616 Sir Walter Raleigh was released from a 13 year imprisonment in the Tower of London. His mission was to return to Venzuela in search of El Dorado and the Cities of Gold. In our own way we all search for El Dorado, like the Holy Grail it is a metaphor for a prize so great you spend your life seeking it.

Whenever I think of South America I think of the Butterflies. When I was little my Mum used to read me fairy stories from around the world, and I loved them, they described the gods making butterflies by throwing all the jewels of the earth into the sky and giving them life. They are rare and gentle things.

This is a classic ensemble, a kitten bow blouse and a skirt. I love purple it is without a doubt my favourite colour to look at I prefer to wear green. I like the femininity of this simple outfit  The butterfly print blouse has a beautiful off set kitten bow at the neckline. It is chiffon so you need to combine it with a chemise. The purple pencil skirt is called Vixen, so the name as well as the colour appealed to me. I have teamed it with neutral shoes to balance the blouse.

Blouse: Gala Purple Butterflies by Bettie Page Clothing
Skirt: Vixen in Purple
Shoes: Aldo

Dolly Parton

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Malibu and I don't mean Barbie or and Coke

I wanted a happy dress today :) so I went for one of my favourite designs which is the sarong wrap by Vivien of Holloway, this particular print is called Malibu. Malibu always makes me think of two things the last scene in the Addams Family Values when Debbie is about to electrocute them all and she declares she is not "Malibu Barbie", it also makes me think of Malibu and coca-cola. A trip back to my younger days!!
I think the colours in this print are unusual, I like the off beat blues and pinks and they work suprisingly well with my skin and hair colouring. It is a reminder that spring is in the air :) Or it will be soon.
Dress: Sarong Wrap by Vivine of Holloway in Malibu print
Shoes: Kurt Geiger


Monday, 18 March 2013

Banbury Cross, Two fine ladies and Mo

This dress is affectionately called my Banbury dressed, so called as I wore this dress when Jo and I went out in Banbury. We had a great night out, with lots of dancing to 80s music!

I remember the quest for shoes to go with this dress, thank god for gay shoes shopping assistants - they were a sales bargain that were ment to be. I also picked up the dark blue pointy heels that I wear a lot. He did me proud that day! LOL Though he failed on the military dress, that was going to take someone with the skill shoes of Bernice - the Shoe Goddess. It would take meeting Marv to get the shoes for that dress!

Banbury was the first girly road trip of Merv and Marv, we went to Banbury Cross the following morning, in Mo, Marv's trusty Toyota Celica. It was a lovely weekend mainly because I got to be a passenger, and anyway it is monkey's job to find the way and hippo's job to get us there! Even if sometimes it is on rollerskates. LOL

Dress: By Stop Staring! now called "The Banbury" Dress
Shoes: Schuh

Sunday, 17 March 2013

The wearing of the green

Today is the day for 'the wearing of the green', nit that I need much excuse to wear the colour green but when one presents itself you might as well make the most of it! Not only is it Saint Patrick's day, but in 1901 paintings by the late Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh are shown at the Bernheim-Jeune gallery in Paris. The 71 paintings, which captured their subjects in bold brushstrokes and expressive colors, caused a sensation across the art world. Van Gogh had already taken his own life 11 years earlier.

I went for the simplicity of this well tailored dress who is somehow inappropriately named 'Vickie'. It has a slash neckline which draws attention to your face, this is balanced by the three quarter length sleeves. The dress has darts under the bust and a beautiful cross tie belt that skims just under your bust and above your hips. It buttons at the back. There are cute little pleats at the waist that balance the ones under the bust. It is a lovely effect as it draws attention to your shape.It is made from a super soft knitted twill, that has some stretch.

Dress: Vickie in Green by Bettie Page Clothing
Shoes: Kurt Geiger

Starry, Starry night (Vincent) - Don Mclean

Saturday, 16 March 2013

The friends you haven't met!

Today's dress is called Christina and she is a stunning! I love the material it is a shiny stretch bengaline in the most amazing teal colour. It is beautiful. The wide neckline and fold over collar that wraps in a V and finished at your waste really is flattering to your decollete. It is great for emphasising you curves.

It is a special dress because of it's name, you see I have a best friend who I will never get to meet called Christina, and trust me she is special she's been keeping her eye on Adrian for the past 4 years! And to put up with him that long means she gets my full respect. When Merv and Marv party down here, Chris and Adi are partying up there :) 

Sometimes things happen to you and at that time they seem horrible, painful and unfair, but on reflection you realise that without overcoming these obstacles you would have never realised, your potential, strength and power of heart. Everything happens for a reason, nothing happens by chance or by means of good or bad luck. Illness, injury, love, lost moments or true greatness and sheer stupidity all occur to test the limits of the soul. Without these tests life would be like a smooth paved, straight flat road to nowhere - safe and comfortable but dull and utterly pointless. These are the things that make us who we are.

"If love is blind, friendship is clairvoyant".

Dress: Christina in Teal by Pinup Girl Clothing
Shoes: Kurt Geiger

Friday, 15 March 2013

The ides of March have come.......

Aye Caesar, but not gone!

In 44BC Julius Caesar was assassinated  4 years later Octavian (Augustus) having achieved victory at the siege of Peruga, executed 300 senators and other noble folk, who had fought against him under relatives of Mark Anthony. Octavian undertook a series of similar actions as Caesars adopted heir to avenge his death.

The 15th of March is now a date synonymous with the death of Caesar thanks to Shakespeare's line "Beware the Ides of March", I can't say they are wrong, not because of Caesar, because it means it is one week to my birthday. To be sure you all recognise me I am getting lots of practice wearing purple! 

The Ides of March, was the festival of Anna Perenna, the Goddess of Years. The Roman Calendar being lunar means the Ides of March would fall on the first Full Moon of the New Year. Ovid in his writings, provides a vivid description of the revelry and licentiousness of her outdoor festival where tents were pitched or bowers built from branches, where lad lay beside lass, and people asked that Anna bestow as many more years to them as they could drink cups of wine at the festival.

It's a week early for my New Year Celebration, though I don't hold out much hope for my chances with being bestowed as many years as I can drink glasses of wine! I should have never made it to 2 years old!! LOL

To represent spring and the bounties of the New Year I have opted for one of my Bernie Dexter Dresses, this is Belle in Lilac. I adore lilac the colour and lilac the plant. I had a lilac tree (technically they are bushes) for years but it blew down in the horrendous winds last year. I was heartbroken, until I realised a little sappling had survived.

This is a pretty feminine dress complete with twirly skirt, it has a beautiful shaped sweetheart neckline that goes into a halterneck. This is my favourite style of top, it looks so cute tied with a bow at the back!

Dress: Belle in Lilac Print by Bernie Dexter
Shoes: Mary Janes in white by Bordello

Thursday, 14 March 2013

As men everywhere build shrines to Tom Birdsey

Ah yes Mr Birdsey and the "14th", the talk of the office this week............Or as we refer to it Male Valentine's day.

Though if you failed to invest in Valentine's day, the chances are it is more like burger and DIY night! Which brings Paul Newman to mind, he once  famously quipped about infidelity, "Why go out for a hamburger when you have steak at home?". It is all simple really it's just joining up the dots, just like Laura!

Laura is a fabulous business or play dress! This dress is made of a soft-stretch jersey material and comes in navy and white polka dot featuring solid collar with breast pocket with handkerchief and wide matching belt. I love the contrast of the black collar and belt with the navy blue and white, and the red handkerchief just makes me smile.

Dress: Laura in Pencil Skirt by Bettie Page Clothing
Shoes: Kurt Geiger

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Sometimes we're holding angels. And we never even know

Today I am reminded of the simple phrase that all good people need do for evil to succeed is nothing!

In 1964 American Kitty Genovese was murdered, reportedly in view of neighbours who did nothing to help her. Quite how you standby and do nothing I won't ever understand. The parable of the good Samaritan it seems is lost on most people, there is a lot of debate about whether people did nothing, but it is emblematic of the callousness or apathy with which life and people are treated now a days, or so it seems.

I'm the person who thinks sometimes we're holding angels. And we never even know, and that the Care Bears were on to something, especially with the Care Bear Stare :) Smile at people, be nice after all strangers are just friends we haven't met yet.

So just to remind me that it is particularly easy to choke on your halo (though I am told my horns should hold it up). I thought I would challenge myself and wear Angelina. The close fitting neckline piped in pink, draws attention to your face and I adore the V shaped button down accent. The neckline is close fitting but not tight. The dolmen short sleeves works well with the tailoring around the bust and is very flattering. The V Shaped button down accent is repeated on the waist (just out of shot) and the skirt has the benefit of pockets. The contrasting belt adds further interest.

Dress: Angelina by Bettie Page Clothing
Shoes: Kurt Geiger

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

My Auntie the Vicar

Today in 1994 The Church of England Ordained the first female priests. True to form one of my more interesting relatives was in the "first wave". Ah yes everyone should have the former tax collector, millionaire turned Vicar as an Aunt, if only for the stories to dine out on! 

It's still lent and I am reliably told that the "robes" are purple for this time so to celebrate the Church of England realising that women are just as capable of preaching as men are I thought I would join in and wear a purple robe too! 

I'm not religious but I am all for equality. Judge people on their capabilities not their sex, you will get further. After all just like Margaret Thatcher, I've never made an allowance because you were merely a man ;) LOL

Dress: Classic Wiggle Dress in Aubergine by Stop Staring!
Shoes: Kurt Geiger

Monday, 11 March 2013

The Enduring house of Pele

Those on the Big Island of Hawaii can listen to the heartbeat of two volcanoes, Mauna Loa and Kilauea.

The eruption of Mauna Kea on this day in 1867 caused the largest earthquake in Hawaii, registering the equivalent of 8 on the Richter Scale. Mauna Loa ("Long Mountain") rises just over 13,600 feet above sea level.

The majestic wonder has erupted 39 times since 1832. The last eruption ended in 1984. Volcanologist Thomas Augustus Jaggar, Jr. (1871–1953) lobbied fiercely until the Volcano Observatory was built in 1912 on the lip of Kilauea, the most active volcano on earth. Jaggar believed a scientist living near a live volcano "will learn more in an hour than he ever dreamt of in years at the university."

Kilauea rests at the southeastern tail of the islands and its current eruption (called Pu`u `O`o) has flowed continuously since 1983. Inside Kilauea is the 1.2-mile wide vent of Halemaumau Crater, called the "Enduring House of Pele," where the legendary Hawaiian volcano goddess lives.

Hawaiian legend credits Pele with causing volcanic eruptions and directing the course of her lava flows. Offerings of alcohol, flowers, or sacred berries are still left to appease her fiery wrath.

So inspired by the polynesian style dance, a relative of bellydancing I am having an Hawaiian moment.

Dress: Sarong Wrap in Hawaiian Print by Vivien of Holloway
Shoes: Kurt Geiger

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Muffin top? More like a cake shop!

It is Mother's Day today. So Happy Mother's Day to all the Mum's out there. I was really lucky to have got the parents that I did and my Mum might be in her late 70's but she still has a sense of humour though on occasion it might take her a while to get the concepts!

Today we were laughing about the muffin top explanation (we were at a hafla) explaining the concept of the muffin top to Mother, it took her a while but we knew she grasped it when she said "Muffin top! Chance would be a fine thing, I've got a cake shop". LOL The Grand Matriarch of Clan Merv, she is very special. She is the lady who taught me what family means, and what unconditional love is, and to just keep going because it will get better. One of the only people who can say "I know love" and you know that they do. 

What makes "Mummy Merv" so special is she realised very early on that the universe doesn't always get your family right first time, which  explains her impressive propensity to acquire new family members. Family comes in all shapes and it is how you make them :)

So just to keep Mum's cake shop well stocked LOL we had afternoon cake whilst watching war movies (she likes that). So it had to be an Afternoon tea dress, this is one of my favourite designs because it is so practical and feminine and you have to love a dress you can actually hurdle in. 

Dress: Afternoon Tea in Autumn Berries Vivien of Holloway
Shoes: Courtesy of the extensive collection of Marvellous Marv the Hardware Hippo

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Are we human or are we dancer?

I started my new gym program yesterday, and it has got lots of shoulder and chest work. All to help with balancing swords on my head, holding my arms up for veil, and to get a bit more power when I "smack" that stick down dancing saidi. I also get to do suspension training, it's appeals to my inner monkey. Really I hang here by my arms - fab LOL

It has been ages since I have had a dance-a-thon. My record was the "Shine on you Crazy" - Diamond Jubilee weekend, where I think I did 9 hours straight. Though to be fair there was an emergency banana and a glass  of monkey milk moment (you may know it as skimmed milk). I remember us having a patriotic moment in the early hours, and belly dancing to Vera Lynn, Colonel Bogie and Land of Hope and Glory. After that Marv became convinced that there wasn't a song I couldn't bellydance to if I wanted.

We tested this further a V :) I took my veil. Marv got good at explaining to people that it wasn't a "parachute" and that I just liked dancing. My favourite memories were dancing with Marv really going for it "old skool" to David Guetta, and then dancing to the Killers "Are we human or are we dancer". A song that most people don't get, but strikes a special cord with me. 

Dress: Blue Poppies by Bettie Page Clothing
Shoes: Kurt Geiger

The Killers: Human

Friday, 8 March 2013

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?

But maybe I ought to practice a little now? 
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised 
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple. 
I thought I better give people warning as to the impending aquisition of extra age, and get some practice in so people aren't so shocked and suprised when I start to wear purple! Though the people who know me well know that purple is my favourite colour. I love it, but when it comes to my favourite colour to wear it is green and then turquoise/teal.

This is a great Friday dress and the ladies at the gym love it too!

Dress: Lorelei in Purple
Shoes: Kurt Geiger

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Stanley Kubrick: I wanna be your drill instructor

Today in 1999 Stanley Kubrick passed away, he was regarded as one of the greatest film makers of all time. His films include but are not limited to

1. Spartacus
2. Lolita 
3: Dr Strangelove or: How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb
3. Clockwork Orange
4. 2001: A Space Odessey
5: Full Metal Jacket

Spartacus, an epic movie. Who will ever forget the lines "I'm Spartacus", "No, I'm Spartacus". I always found it fitting that the woman who was the match for Spartacus was a Brigantes, no where makes women quite like they do in the North West of England.

2001 A Space Odessey made HAL 9000 a household name, and every techie has at some point put a copy of "I'm sorry Dave, I can't do that" and replaced a command so that file executes instead LOL For the none techies HAL stands for Hardware Abstraction Layer, and the music amazing. Amazing!

When it comes Full Metal Jacket I will never forget the scene when Gunnery Sergeant Hartman walks in and demands that Private Leonard Lawrence surrender his rifle, Hartman is killed by Lawrence who then takes his own life with an M14 rifle. It is this scene where the file gets it's title and the line "seven six two millimetre full metal jacket". Sadly psychotic episodes rarely if ever end well.

Dress: Military Pinup Dress in Olive Green with Red Trim by Pinup Girl Clothing
Shoes: Aldo 

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Chaucer,Third time lucky and the red rose

John of Gaunt, the first Duke of Lancaster was born today in 1340. If I wanted to change the history of our nation and if I had a time machine then he would be a prime target.  

John of Gaunt's legitimate male heirs, the Lancasters, included Kings Henry IV, Henry V, and Henry VI. His other legitimate descendants included, by his first wife, Blanche, his daughters Queen Philippa of Portugal and Elizabeth, Duchess of Exeter; and by his second wife, Constance, his daughter Queen Catherine of Castile. 

John fathered five children outside marriage, one early in life by a lady-in-waiting to his mother, and four surnamed "Beaufort" (after a former French possession of the Duke) by Katherine Swynford, Gaunt's long-term mistress and third wife. The Beaufort children, three sons and a daughter, were legitimised by royal and papal decrees after John and Katherine married in 1396; a later proviso that they were specifically barred from inheriting the throne, the phrase excepta regali dignitate (English: not eligible for the royal dignity), was inserted with dubious authority by their half-brother Henry IV. 

Descendants of this marriage included Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester and eventually Cardinal, the man who presided over the trial of Joan of Arc; Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland, grandmother of Kings Edward IV and Richard III; John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset, the great-grandfather of King Henry VII; and Joan Beaufort, Queen of Scots, from whom are descended, beginning in 1437, all subsequent sovereigns of Scotland, and successively, from 1603 on, the sovereigns of England, of Great Britain and Ireland, and of the United Kingdom to the present day. The three succeeding houses of English sovereigns from 1399 — the Houses of Lancaster, York and Tudor — were descended from John through Henry Bolingbroke, Joan Beaufort and John Beaufort, respectively.

He was also a patron of Geoffrey Chaucer, who was also his brother in law, he married Phillipa de Roet, the sister of John's 3rd wife Katherine. His influence on literature didn't end there either. In William Shakespeare's play Richard II, the famous England speech is spoken by the character of John of Gaunt as he lies on his deathbed.

It was through the book "Katherine" by Anya Seaton that I discovered this interesting time and character in history. It was a very compelling story covering Watt Tyler and the Peasant's Revolt as well as the human side to the relationship.

Lancashire is the Red Rose County, so I wanted to wear a red dress today to represent the colour of the rose. I also wanted to couple it with something that had just a dash of "this sceptre'd isle".

I think this dress is bright and cheerful whilst also maintaining a balance of fun and style. It is a 1940s style dress with slight puff top sleeves, buttons to the waist and a nicely fitted skirt. It is however the accents that make this dress, I just love the Union Jack trim! Who wouldn't? This is one of my "reclaim the union Jack from Ginger Spice" dresses. It also has a highly appropriate name!

Dress: Belted Vixen Dress With Cuffs in Union Jack by Tara Starlet
Shoes: Aldo


This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,
This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings,
Fear'd by their breed and famous by their birth
Renowned for their deeds as far from home,
For Christian service and true chivalry,
As is the sepulchre in stubborn Jewry,
Of the world's ransom, blessed Mary's Son,
This land of such dear souls, this dear dear land,
Dear for her reputation through the world,
Is now leased out, I die pronouncing it,
Like to a tenement or pelting farm:
England, bound in with the triumphant sea
Whose rocky shore beats back the envious siege
Of watery Neptune, is now bound in with shame,
With inky blots and rotten parchment bonds:
That England, that was wont to conquer others,
Hath made a shameful conquest of itself.
Ah, would the scandal vanish with my life,
How happy then were my ensuing death!

—Act II, scene i, 42–54, The Tragedy of King Richard II

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Sasha, the red vixen and an Iron Curtain

In 1946 Winston Churchill delivered his "Sinews of Peace" speech, which contained the phrase - "From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent."
It is somewhat ironic that 7 years later Joseph Stalin should pass away on this date too. He had ruled Russia for 29 years and committed atrocities against his people that make Hitler look almost benign. I never cease to be amazed that the "UN / World" seems to think that mass slaughter of your own people entirely acceptable, however we draw the line at you slaughtering others countries people! So a blouse called Sasha and red skirt seemed fitting.
Today's outfit is a 40s/50s cross over it is a beautiful neutral chiffon with a berry print, it has a gorgeous little tie bow at the collar and is fitted to the waist with a blouson effect. It is very feminine, it is the original in power dressing. The skirt is a beautiful shade of red with a modest split in the back. The tailoring of the blouse makes the most of the derriere too. A simple but well tailored skirt and blouse, a timeless classic.

Blouse: Sasha by bettie Page Clothing
Skirt: Vixen in Red by Bettie Page Clothing