Going Downtown with Petula Clark

Last Saturday was pretty busy in the shop as weekend visitors start to pour into Winchester for the Christmas Market and to discover all our lovely independent shops.

Vintage treasures that found new homes ranged from 1930s hats to a 1940s dressing gown and a late-60s Frank Usher velvet dress to a Victorian ostrich feather cape!

It was also a weekend of spooky coincidences. We had a lovely couple, visiting Winchester from Bedfordshire, for the weekend. They were avid Alan Ayckbourn fans and had tried to book for the Chesil Theatre’s “Season’s Greeting’s” – the production Gary and I have been rehearsing for some weeks now! (And which has proved a festive diversion from my list of vintage goodies waiting to be added to the website -so sorry!). The show sold out before we opened (and closes on Saturday night) so our intrepid theatre-goers went to “Calamity Jane” at the Theatre Royal.  There’s always plenty of things to do in Winchester!

The other spooky coincidence occurred when I invited a party of lovely ladies to sing along to a song of their choice (people love breaking into songs as they browse – be it, Bobby Vee or Doris Day).  One customer said, “You haven’t got “Downtown” by Petula Clark, have you?” and suddenly,on the speaker, we heard the unforgettable opening chords of Tony Hatch’s classic 60s’ song. I hadn’t even selected it. Spooky! Then, as the party broke into song, another lady told us that she had sung “Downton” at the Royal Festival Hall, as a backing singer, with Petula, herself!

What a lovely way to end a busy Saturday in Winchester – so many vintage discoveries made and, now, when I hear “Downtown” I’ll always remember those lovely customers!  Thank you, Ladies.

Vintage Sizes

In the October issue of “Vintage Life”, the article, “Plight of the Plus Size” talked about how difficult it was to find sizes 14 or 16+. Well, here at Stardust Years Vintage we have original vintage in all shapes and sizes. We also put measurements and an approx size equivalent to today’s Dress Sizes on all our labels.  I can remember a lovely lady being on the edge of tears when she tried on some of our 1940s’ size 24 frocks because she’d never had a CHOICE before! As our regular customers will know, our website only has a fraction of our shop stock but if you’re looking for a style in a particular size, just email me and I can, at least, help to narrow down your search.  You don’t have to wear Retro if your heart is with original vintage!  And – you’ll look original, too!

Stardust Years Interviewed

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be approached by a History student from Winchester University who asked me if she could interview me about Vintage and Historical Fashion.

Well, I’m no expert but did I let that hold me back? No! I was happy to rabbit on to my heart’s content (now, thatam an expert in, having lived with rabbits over the years!).

If you’d like to hear my completely-unqualified rabbiting-ons about a subject dear to all our hearts then you might like to click on the link below.  If nothing else, you can enjoy the beautiful photographs of fashion icons that Gabrielle has included in the Blog

Interview with Stardust Years owner, Karen Fitzsimmons.

Do bear in mind, though, that the paragraph at the end is a little out of date, now, as we had our birthday event on 16 & 17th July. So, I’m sorry if you missed the Prosecco but if you’d like to know about our future events, please just email me karen@stardustyears.com and I’ll add you to our mailing list

Our 3rd Year!

Stardust Years Vintage celebrated its third year in Winchester last weekend. And what a year it’s been!

Last summer, Gary and I were lucky enough to be invited by Nick Rayne of the famous vintage shoe company, Rayne, to the Dorchester Hotel for the launch of the book “RAYNE Shoes For Stars”
Karen with Nick Rayne
Now, how did little ole Karen get invited to such a prestigious affair, you might well ask? Shortly after we opened in 2013, I was researching Rayne Shoes and Nick, son of Sir Edward Rayne who succeeded Nick’s grandfather as head of H & M Rayne in 1951, replied to my email. As a result, we donated a pair of Rayne shoes (my favourite!) to the Rayne Shoe Archive and Nick has continued to source vintage Rayne from us. You can see them in Michael Pick’s book which was written to accompany an exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London.

We had a very busy autumn but as Rudolph and the boys were limbering up ready for the Festive Season we joined in the Woolly Hat Fair’s Live Advent Calendar! A different door in the City opened each day at 6.00pm. It was the first year anything like this had been done in Winchester so it was a steep learning curve for everyone, including the audiences who braved queueing in the pouring rain waiting for the “door” to open at 6.00pm. All they knew about what might be behind each door was given in a one-line hint on the Woolly Hat Fair’s website. For our piece, we devised a little Christmas play, based on Saki short stories which was set in the 1920s so the girls could enjoy modelling our original Twenties’ dresses and accessories. The comedy was performed in our Dressing Room; we have a lovely pink curtain so it was crying out to be a mini stage!

April saw us involved in the Winchester Fashion Show’s Fashion Fair. I was travelling to Salisbury for my rehab – no, not that kind; for my back – so our involvement was very small compared to the year before but we’re looking forward to working with Winchester BID, again, for next year’s show.

But, of course, it’s our customers who’ve been the best part of the year. So a huge THANK YOU to anyone who’s purchased from our website, shop or just browsed either site. We’ve met some great people, from all over the world, and received some lovely emails. Amazingly, people from Winchester are still just discovering us! So, we need to improve on our marketing, I think! We’ve parted with some beautiful vintage pieces, including Corde handbags and Waldybags – two of my favourite vintage manufacturers – and I’ve been known to shed a tear as they go but I know they’re going to live on and to be cherished for the future.

So, 3 years old! Only you can tell if we’ve aged well! We’re excited to have reached 3 and are looking forward to getting up to all sorts of vintage shenanigans in the coming year. I also hope to improve my website post rate as I’m a bit slow (think you’ve noticed). We have so much more stock in our Winchester shop so if you can’t wait for my computer skills to improve – and it may take some time! – do just email me if you’re looking for something in particular karen@stardustyears.com I’m always happy to send photos.

In the meantime, we’re on the campaign trail! Actually, it’s a campaign organised by Winchester BID to vote for their favourite Winchester Independent. The aim is to encourage everyone to think about using their independent shops and businesses and, when you vote, you’re entered for a prize draw to win a hamper of treasures, worth £700-800 from the participating businesses. We have donated a lovely little 1930s beaded evening purse 1930s Beaded Evening Purse

To vote – hopefully, for us – and be in with a chance to win a whole host of gorgeous prizes, including our original 1930s evening purse then please just click here http://winchesterbid.us8.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=04965d3bb181dbedacceacc0f&id=a63eeb8b7c

Thank you, and Good Luck!

A Busy Vintage Shop

We’re a busy vintage shop – especially in July! It all happens at the same time for us, here at Stardust Years.

We opened 3 years ago on 12 July so not only do we have the celebrations to enjoy but we also have the annual admin details like music licence renewals to deal with. We don’t think our visitors to the Winchester shop would feel Stardust Years Vintage was the same if they couldn’t browse – and sing along to – Doris Day, Harry Roy or Ella Fitzgerald!

But let’s talk about the fun aspect of reaching our 3rd Birthday! On Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 July, we will be asking our friends, supporters and customers to join us in our celebrations.

We will be giving away some vintage trimmings to anyone who can use them so if you love sewing or recycling materials, come along and help yourself. I just can’t bear to throw away items that might have survived two World Wars!

We’re hoping the weather will be nice, again, so that we can also have a rail outside in Walcote Place. We’re ideally placed next to a lovely cafe so ladies can browse for bargains while their coffee doesn’t get too cold…and it’s always nice to park the gentleman somewhere he can be fed and watered. We do have a newspaper for the boys on a Saturday but when it gets busy, they often take refuge next door in “Eat, Meet, Be”!

Of course, we will be serving our free cocktails, again, so maybe the gentlemen won’t want to go too far! Gary will be making his (very popular!) signature “Stardust Years” Cocktail so, if you’re in Winchester, do, please, pop in and raise a glass to Vintage and to You! If it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t still be here!

On Sunday, professional dress designer and seamstress, Virginia Hannan will be in the shop to help with any vintage alterations ideas or you can simply pick her brains! I’m thinking of asking her if my idea of transforming this lovely 1930/40s overall into a dress is just completely bonkers?! Actually, for the right lady, would it need altering? Question for Virginia, I imagine – lucky she’s popping in!
Vintage Overall