Heritage Open Days at Stardust Years Vintage

Last weekend, we joined the rest of the country as doors on secret histories were flung open for Heritage Open Weekend!  Of course, at Stardust Years Vintage we like to think that every day is a Heritage Open Day but, especially for the weekend, we focussed on the 1940s with a Make Do & Mend theme.  Historical costumier, Helen McArdle, joined us with demonstrations and tips on how to save your precious garments. I have to confess, at times, I felt a little left out as visitors to the shop swapped stories of “Model 102” and the tensions of different machines but it was lovely to hear so many people say “You inspired me to get out my sewing machine”  I even tinkered with buying one, myself, even though I still suffer nightmares of my needlework teachers shouting at me for tacking in my zip the wrong way (they each had a different approach and I was piggy in the middle!) Now, I even face the prospect of putting on a button with trepidation!

on both days,we had some special nibbles on offer – Gary had baked carrot scones and almond biscuits to 1940s’ wartime recipes.  In honour of Poochy, our housebunny, he baked the biscuits in the shape of a rabbit.  (I think some visitors thought it was a reference to the old song, “Run, Rabbit, Run!”).

Around the shop, we included information about everyday fashions of the time, Utility Clothing and the restrictions placed on the industry – and the public – due to the war. Helen brought along a copy of the “Make Do and Mend” pamphlet, issued by the Ministry of Information, 1943 and I included a few quotes here and there.

I also found Jonathan Walford’s book, “Forties Fashion – From Siren Suits To The New Look” (Thames & Hudson) really helpful and a fascinating read. I borrowed it from Winchester Library; heavy hints have already been made to Gary regarding Christmas!

We’re already plotting for next year’s event.  Hope you’ll be able to join us! In the meantime, a huge thanks to Nicky and Becky who organised Winchester’s Heritage Open Weekend.  Big thanks, too, must go to Helen who was brilliant all weekend – and managed to fit in some lovely repairs to my own vintage wardrobe!  Finally, of course, thanks to all the lovely visitors who not only discovered Stardust Years but also caught a glimpse into just some of the social history of the 1940s and brought their own knowledge and memories to our Heritage Open Days’ event.

Telling The World

Hope you’re all enjoying this lovely warm weather.  Despite the lure of the garden, yesterday evening, I went along to Winchester BID’s networking event and I’m very glad I did.  Liz Kavanagh, of The Winchester Magazine, was giving some valuable tips on how to capture the attention of busy journalists with a Press Release as well as how to keep customers up-to-date via social media.  It was lovely to meet other local businesses, as well catching up with some friends, like Laura from Brides of Winchester.

It can take me some time to add new stock to the website – as regular visitors will know! However, I often post stock items on our Facebook page so it’s always worth Liking our Stardust Years Vintage Fashion Facebook page for more up-to-date information. Recently, by the time I’ve added stock to the website, the item’s been sold and I understand how frustrating that can be if you’ve found just what you’re looking for, only to discover it’s already gone!  I also post on Twitter and Instagram. Actually, seeing Laura, again, reminded me – I must add our bridal garters! Another job to add to the list.

Don’t forget, what you see on here is just a fraction of what we have in our Winchester shop so if you’re looking for something in particular, just email me.  Always happy to help if I can – karen@stardustyears.com

Karen and Laura

Stardust Years Vintage and Brides of Winchester at Winchester BID’s networking event


BBC TV’s “Money For Nothing”

We’ve had a lot of interest, both online and in our Winchester shop, since our recent appearance on the new series of BBC TV’s “Money for Nothing” programme!  If you’re not familiar with it, the show follows presenter Sarah Moore in her quest to save, renovate and upcycle items from the past so that we can all enjoy them in the future.

Sarah and her crew came to the shop last summer and we had a great afternoon filming and playing with the vintage treasures Sarah had found.

Don’t worry if you missed the programme, you can still catch it on the BBC iPlayer until April 7th  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08hyn4p

While she was filming, Sarah found a Stardust Years vintage treasure for herself!  A lovely 1950/60s silk satin evening coat.  A real stunner!  You see, with vintage shops you never know what you’re going to find – just like the lady who came in this afternoon to while away some time as she was early for a meeting.  She found this gorgeous 1960s dress!


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!