Today felt like a vintage memory. I took my kids for a snack picnic at a National Trust property called Mount Stewart. Ok, so it wasn’t a proper vintage picnic with elegant looking picnic food. There were no finger sandwiches wrapped in baking parchment and tied in a bow: it was raspberries in a plastic punnet, mini doughnuts and I was drinking coffee out of a not-so-elegant flask. But the day felt like it was seeped in vintage energy. Maybe it was the setting with its grand mansion; maybe it was because the day reminded me of childhood: picking daisies, sitting on a picnic blanket, looking upwards at a blue and white swirled sky; or maybe it was because we’ve barely seen real sunlight in Northern Ireland since 1971. Anyway, I decided to take some photos to try to capture the vintage vibe of our day. It has given me ideas for a proper vintage picnic, you know, with a basket instead of a plastic bag. Let’s call today an impromptu day trip.
There’s something about sitting on the grass on a checked picnic blanket that makes it feel like you’ve been transported back in time. Even though my childhood wasn’t in the 1960’s. I wish.
Liquid liner isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do but I have a few tips that make it far easier. I probably do the complete opposite to what professional makeup artists would advise, but it usually works for me (and I suck at liquid liner.)
- Choose an easy liner to apply. I use Rimmel Exaggerate. I have tried so many expensive eyeliners and always come back to this one. It has a brush that is halfway between a soft brush and a felt tip, so it is easier to control. You could also be crying hysterically in a blizzard when a kid decides to hit you in the eye with a snowball and it won’t budge. Funnily enough, it also comes off incredibly easily, when you actually want it to, with makeup remover.
- Hold the brush closer to the tip. It gives you more control of the line.
- Draw for your eye shape. I have huge eyes that are really round and aren’t exactly well-suited shape-wise to the application of liquid liner. I find drawing a thick line looks better. But if, for example, you have smaller, cat shaped eyes the reverse is likely true.
- I love the boldness and drama of 60’s eye makeup but there are different variations you can do. For example, if the 50’s are more your thing you could draw a thing line with a more pointed flick.
- I don’t just draw a line in one stroke. I draw like I am shading with a pencil. This way it is easier to correct mistakes and build the line up once you are confident about how it’s turning out.
- I do my eye liner before any of my other makeup. That way, if it goes horribly wrong it won’t ruin the rest of your makeup and you won’t have to start over.
- You can use concealer or cotton buds to tidy up the line.
- Start thin and and get thicker in the middle of your eyelid. If you do this it is also less likely to run if your eyes water.
- I draw the lash line with my eye closed and the flick with them open. It helps you to get a close line but you can see what the finished effect will be.
- I find that most make-up tutorials advise doing the opposite but I stretch the skin slightly. It is easier to draw on a flat surface.
- If you want a dramatic effect use black eyeliner. If you want something more subtle, opt for brown.
- If I’m wearing eye shadow, (this is weird, I know) I still apply eyeliner first. You can always do a second coat of liner after eye shadow and it allows you to fit the shape of your eye shadow to match the shape of the eyeliner. It is a bit like drawing a picture and then colouring it in, rather than the other way round.
Hopefully this was helpful, even though I probably do everything back to front!
Today I arrived at the decision that I am going to go on vintage adventures to different areas of Belfast and to other towns in Northern Ireland to find out where the vintage is. So, I started with Ballyhackamore. (I already knew the answer to this one but needed to take some pictures; so off I went.) In case anyone doesn’t know this and I doubt many do, it is a community in East Belfast: a bit like its own village within the city. There aren’t any shops devoted entirely to vintage, but it has a selection of charity shops that I like to frequent.
So, are there many true vintage items to be found there? In short, not really. However, for lovers of vintage reproduction and fans of knitted and crocheted items, it is definitely deserving of a visit. (Look at the cute little knitted teddies I found today.) I wish I’d got them now, not even for my kids; for me. As I write this, it is becoming clear to me why every time I open a cupboard in my house, an avalanche occurs.
There are five different charity shops, all located within a couple of blocks. One of them is dedicated to second hand books, one often holds vintage furniture and the rest stock clothing, toys and knick knacks.
Of all of them, I would say that I have found the largest number of vintage style clothes in The Hospice Shop, which sits beside the library. I found a new Trollied Dolly Dress for £5 once, that would have retailed at £50. However, I once also found a new tartan coat in Marie Curie for £25. It would have cost at least £100 if I had bought it new. You can definitely find impressive items with a little patience and a lot of persistence.
I also just love strolling along this street. I like to imagine that it has the air of somewhere abroad (at least when it isn’t raining anyway.) You always see interesting or pretty things along the way. I think that is the aim of vintage shopping anyway: it isn’t about leaving with a good quality piece every single time; the real joy comes from taking your time, rummaging for treasures and taking notice of a few simple things along the way.
I love to live a life infused with vintage. I’m not prescriptive about my vintage-ness. I think the best way to buy vintage is to select special pieces and to mix recent with retro. I find that vintage pieces stand out best when they are contrasted with non-vintage items. A lot of vintage lovers follow trends religiously, sticking to one particular era and never deviating from its styles and fashion rules. I have to admit, I have a ferocious passion for the 1960’s. I love the aesthetics, the sounds and the energy. I love to bring elements of it into my own life. But I don’t think vintage should be about limiting yourself; it should have the reverse effect.
Loving vintage isn’t just about liking the way a style looks and trying to emulate it. It is about embracing the ethos of that period of time and reflecting how it has influenced you in your personal style. Your style is something that evolves with you, as you reference different things as they enter your sphere.
I have always felt like I was born in the wrong decade. I love the music of the 60’s. I love the simplicity of vintage living. I have an aversion to too much screen time and not enough down-time. I like to hunt for vintage items: both decor and clothing. I like to mix old and new to create something unique. I like listening to vintage albums and doing quiet things, escaping the annoyingly ever-present screen of my phone. I am always thinking about vintage, talking about vintage, dreaming about vintage. That is what living vintagely means to me.