I have been terribly lucky with most of the events I have attended so far. Although subject to a dust bath at War and Peace, I would rather this than an impromptu mud wrap from a passing jeep! Although hot and sometimes itchy in their WWII uniforms, men have it reasonably easy at such events as the more dirt they pick up (minus Ketchup, toothpaste and coffee), the more authentic their outfits look. Less can be said as a lady trying to look the epitome of glamour as you stagger around open fields in your 1940’s heels and hippedy-hop down dirt tracks impressed with deep tyre marks. Sometimes you spend more time making sure you don’t fall down than you do enjoying the event. I cannot count the number or times I have staggered across a potholed track in my 40’s outfits, having to save myself from embarrassment by either ending in a light jog or looking over my shoulder and tutting loudly at the lack of health and safety for ridiculous shoe wearers such as myself…It’s as if military events weren’t made for high heeled shoes! The horror!
I always have my survival kit at events – Red lipstick is a must. Even if you wear the 24 hour stay stuff, I personally find myself eating it off my lips, so an emergency supply is always a good idea. Next, a loose powder incase of a down pour of heatwave. I actually use a perfumed powder, which is more like a scented talc on a standard powder puff. I load the puff with powder before I go out and pop it in an empty compact that I pop in my handbag. If you are wearing false eyelashes, bring the glue with you as they may decide to become unstuck at the corners and leave you looking as if a couple of spiders are taking a kip on your eyelids…Next up is the inevitable first aid kit of paracetamol, a couple of plasters in case of blisters and any medication. I bring a small compact camera and my phone of which I keep discrete. There’s nothing worse that ruining the vintage ambience by clamping a modern phone to your ear or texting unnecessarily. Embrace your surroundings and people watch. Remember life before emails and mobile phones for a weekend!
Stockings can be a real issue at events. You only need to catch your fully fashioned nylons whilst posing on a half track and that is a £10 stocking down the drain. They aren’t cheap you know boys, unless a Spiv can get you a good deal! I cheat on occasion and wear special fully fashioned stockings that have elastine in them. I pick them up on occasion in second hand shops in the packet. Made in the 60’s, they still feature the classic keyhole and seam to prove that they have been made on the original machines, but have the benefit of a comfortable fit, no creasing at the ankle and they are little more hard wearing than precious nylons that you can save for dinners, dances and less hazardous pursuits. Don’t forget to slip a spare pair in your bag!
If you are feeling brave and heading out in a scrumptious pair of heels, just remember how much walking there is at a lot of outdoor events. If your partner is gallivanting around like a 5 year old at the Wacky Warehouse, just let him go and play and take your time. The last thing you want is a broken ankle after you rush over to stop him buying an elephant foot plant pot for the living room. Sitting serenely on the grass to ‘take in the scenery’ as your poor throbbing feet have a breather is no bad thing. You can also take these resting points as a water stop as keeping hydrated is very important in the summer season. I always make sure I have a flat pair of shoes in the car and a pair of 40’s Heyday trousers, so that if my outfit does get a little vexatious, I can slip into something more comfortable but equally as fitting to the occasion. Rocket Originals saddle shoes are my usual choice and great for dancing in or if it starts to get chilly!
So you have your handbag sorted and a change of clothing in case of bad weather or uncooperative toes. What are you going to wear? If you are stepping out in a vintage dress then CHECK YOUR SEAMS! Im not talking stockings, I mean the seams of your garments. I once bought a gorgeous vintage dress I was going to wear at a USO Dance it looked almost unworn. When I got to the venue I swung my legs out of the car and hoisted myself out of the car, only to hear the unmistakeable sound of my dress tearing at the back. On another occasion I was at my friends wedding in a vintage dress I had tailored in and as I through myself into the spirit of catching the bouquet, the original thread seams that had not been touched came apart and opened top to bottom at my sides. I was clutching the bouquet but suddenly wearing a silk tabbard. If you are planning to dance, especially Lindy Hop, think of your underarm seams, hips and back. Go over them with a sewing machine and new thread if you have time.
To avoid sunstroke, headaches and as a great excuse to buy more things, make sure you have a headscarf or sun hat to shade your head in hot weather and don’t forget those sunglasses! The more authentic accessories you can add to your outfit, the more fantastic you will look. There is nothing like seeing a lady strolling around an event in an iconic hat.
Lastly, the hair. A strong hairspray is a great idea and I use Tresemme Freeze Hold in a white can. If I am pincurling my hair, I will spray it on as a temporary setting lotion before curling. I spray my hair again once I have completed my style. It is super stuff as my hair doesn’t like holding curl at all and aids my Victory Rolls to stay firm and resolute in gusts of angry wind.
On a final note, smile and enjoy the event! No hoity-toity diva looks, smile and the world will smile with you…Be proud to have made such an effort and there is no greater beauty than the beaming face of a woman who has just spotted a bargain on a vintage clothing stall…