Saturday, 3 October 2015

The Vintage Caravan Welfare Unit

We have spent quite a lot of time recently thinking about the lack of care afforded some old vans and the neglect they often suffer.  So, with the aim of spurring owners of neglected vans into action, we have launched the Vintage Caravan Welfare Unit (VCWU). 

The VCWU.  
This elite force is a small team of people (us!) looking to inspire owners to renovate their vans. We have had some postcards printed and post these through unsuspecting doors!! So, be warned!!! We are watching!!

We hope to rescue Beattie.......
Whenever possible we look to rescue, renovate and rehome these long forgotten caravans.  But oftentimes the owners just need a little bit of inspiration to empower them to put in some time and effort and reap the rewards of a lovely, gorgeous vintage caravan!!!  

Cue the VCWU!!!

1970s caravanning!
The caravan heyday enjoyed in the 1960s and '70s is seeing a bit of a comeback and there are more and more vans being towed along our roads. (Aaaarrrrgghhhhh - I hate caravans - yes, really!!).   

Now, as much as I hate caravans on the road, (I am very sorry to say it and I know it will make me unpopular in the caravanning community, but there is nothing worse than being stuck behind a huge, ugly, uninspiring white box!!) being behind a lovely, colourful caravan is not the same thing at all.  They really do put a smile on your face!!! 

But don't be blinkered!! These caravans have many more uses than going on holiday..... 
Think business opportunity - nail bar, ice cream parlour, tea shop, photo booth. 
Think spare room - hobby room, homework den, spare bedroom, wine bar.  
Think time out - for you, the kids, the inlaws.....
The uses are endless!!

The possibilities are endless and you don't even need a tow bar to enjoy them!!

So to all owners of neglected caravans, here are the Lily & Violet Vintage top tips to getting your project underway and transforming your wreck into something of beauty....

1.   Give her a name.  (We say 'her' because that is how we think of our caravans.  We haven't yet come across a male version but that isn't to say they are not out there!)  Once your caravan has a name it will be much more difficult to neglect her and she will become one of the family.

2.  Let her talk to you. But make sure you listen!!  We believe that each of our vans has told us what they will look like and what colour(s) they should be.  A bit hippy-ish we know, but so far it has worked.
See Bonnie's mood board on Pinterest. She spoke to us and we listened!!

3.  Dream, dream, dream.  What would you use your caravan for?? Once you have decided, you will be even more motivated to get the job done. Santa's Grotto?? How cool would that be???

4.  Tell others what you are doing.  "Hello, my name is Lisa, and I am doing my caravan up to be my cocktail lounge". Then you'll have to do it....

5.  Start!!! Start this weekend.

The VCWU is incredibly proud of you all!! If you need any inspiration, you can always get in touch....

Mary & Lisa x 

Friday, 2 October 2015

The Fabulous '50s

The Lily & Violet Vintage boutique in Dursley offers a vintage shopping experience like no other! 

Come and see us!!!
The beautiful boutique offers high quality vintage ladies wear and accessories, each piece hand picked for it's quality, cut and condition.  The boutique offers genuine vintage pieces from the 1920's through to the 1970's

The fashion of the 1950's is one of our favourite eras and if you are looking for something incredible, unique and totally wearable then this is the decade for you! The 1950's was nothing if not feminine, stylish and luxurious.

Following the 'make do and mend', rationing and austerity imposed by the war years, designers (and those who could afford their wares,) delighted in the use of extravagant materials, full flowing designs and structured bodices to accentuate the female form.  Women gradually relinquished their jobs to the men returning from the front and at the same time shed their uniforms and practical work wear. More glamour was needed!

"A golden age seemed to have come again.... What did the weight of my sumptuous materials, my heavy velvets and brocades, matter?"  Christian Dior

Following Dior's unveiling of his 'New Look' in 1947, the clothing of the early 1950s was corseted, boned and structured.
Beautiful 1950's hand beaded dress

This is an exquisite example of an early 1950's dress by Perlmutt Model of Regent Street, London.  The skirt consists of a heavily starched underskirt topped with a net overlay. The corset is boned and padded and has interior elastic ties.  The dress itself is a heavyweight silk satin overlayed with a beautiful taupe lace that has been hand beaded. 

The beadwork is opulent an designed to complement the lace. The stems and flowers of the lace are echoed in the intricate and dense beading.  All of this work has been completed by hand to produce a garment that is totally unique.

By the late 1950s more relaxed designs were seen on the catwalk.  The waistline was raised and the column dress came back into fashion.  Even so, the fabrics were often opulent, heavy and luxurious. And even some of the casual looking garments still contained boning.
To Die For!!!

This Illum Couture dress dates to the late 1950s and is a real red carpet head turner!

This floor length gown has a silk lining and two layers of contrasting coloured organza overlayed by the most beautiful black guipere lace.  The lace is dense but allows enough light through so that the organza can be seen.  There is a deep velvet hem that has been stiffened with gauze and the deep black velvet is continued in the waistband and back bow detail.  Inside there is a separate hook and eye boned corset.

Illum couture has long since vanished from the world of current fashion and there is very little information to determine the designers. 

This dress is a real show stopper and made to the exacting standards of the time - nothing was too complicated, too difficult, or too labour intensive and the level of excellence achieved can only be dreamed of in modern times. 

Lily & Violet Vintage have an amazing collection of vintage pieces. Whether you have a daytime occasion or you are going to a red carpet event and want something totally special, Lily & Violet Vintage will have something to suit. All ages and all shapes and sizes are catered for.

Mary & Lisa x 

Friday, 5 June 2015

Shoes Shoes Shoes

Shoes: Pleasure and Pain the V&A exhibition opens on 13 June so we thought this would be an appropriate time to talk shoes!

Be honest!! What girl doesn't love a fab pair of shoes?? They can make or break an outfit and they are probably the only piece of clothing that you put on knowing that they are going to cause excruciating pain by the end of the evening - yet still you wear them!!! Why?? Because they are fabulous, of course!!

Shoes have always been a woman's passion and over the past 50 years or so they haven't really changed too much. You might think that today's shoe choice is vast and you would be right. But weird, whacky and wonderful footwear has been around for years.

What has changed is our attitude to the clothes and the footwear we all have in our wardrobes.  The vintage shops of tomorrow will likely be full of poorly made items, churned out for the mass market and disposed of as soon as a button is missing!! 

In days gone by the clothes and shoes were cared for and did not have the 'disposable' quality of today's items.  Some crazily gorgeous brands are bringing back a sense of durability and we love them for it!!! Irregular Choice to name just one - we love you!

Many shoes of the 1940s and 1950s were made of skin. The onset of WW11 necessitated restriction in the use of materials used in the war effort, such as leather; instead alternatives were found. Snake and croc were widely available and even today these products will mostly remain in good condition. Look for raised scales - the smoother the feel the better the condition. 

The 1940s saw the introduction of the stiletto and in the 1950s the race to produce the narrowest heel really took off. Roger Vivier takes the (disputed!) credit for the stiletto heel that he designed to accompany creations from the fashion house of Dior, for whom he worked.  It is called the stiletto after a thin Italian dagger and some attribute it's introduction to the Italian shoe designer Ferragamo. In reality, I don't think anyone really knows who designed the stiletto.
Amazing Herbert Levine's

Another renowned shoe designer of the 1950s was the American Herbert Levine. Levine created some amazing shoes - some with wooden and gilt platforms, some that stuck to the wearers stockings and, even more decadent, - shoes covered in money!! 

Buying vintage shoes is definitely fun and you can pick up some shoes in really amazing condition.  Some of this is 'deadstock' and is often in smaller sizes (it is just like buying shoes in the sale) - the ones left over are sometimes very small!! But if you do find a pair in your size, they may well have been reheeled or tipped. Another reminder of things being made to last.
A 1940s shoe with cutwork detail

The further back in shoe history you go, the harder it will be to repair any heels that need re-tipping. The heel tips were usually secured by what looks like a very large nail. A traditional 'old school' cobbler should be able to remove this pin and reheel.

Vintage shoes are always worth looking at and like all truly amazing vintage pieces, with care they are an investment. If you happen to stumble upon a vintage pair of Levine's, Vivier's or Ferragamo's then snap them up! In fact, if you pop into Lily & Violet Vintage over the next few days, we might be able to help with the Levine's or Ferragamo's......

Mary & Lisa x 

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Marj Goes To Malvern

Last week the Three Counties Showground in Malvern hosted the annual Royal Horticultural Society's Spring Garden Festival.  We were incredibly lucky to be invited along with our beautiful Totally Tropical Marj to help make the Festival Green look pretty. (It was Marj doing the pretty-ing, not us!!)

The RHS Festival runs for 4 days from Thursday through to Sunday so we pitched up on the Wednesday to make sure Marj was comfortable in her spot and we were well prepared for the show.

So, bright and early on Wednesday morning we ambled up the motorway, rocked up at the show ground and we were pointed in the general direction of our allocated pitch. Our first hurdle was "Well, you can't go in there, love. You'll have to back up." BACK UP???  Have you seen my caravan reversing skills in a confined space!!! (plus the added pressure of a group of retirement age 'lads' in fluorescent jackets all thinking it very funny.)  It was not a pretty sight I can tell you!! The situation was made all the worse by my partner in crime waving her arms around in a frivolous manner, completely unaware of the difficulty of caravan reversing.  It wasn't too long before we swapped places and I left her to do the reversing. Ha!! Not so easy, is it??!!.  

Keep It Willow
Eventually we made it to our spot - right by the Festival Stage where the 'celebs' hang out!! - perfect. We un-hitched and sat inside waiting for the rain to pass. Sadly, it was a bit miserable on Wednesday and our lovely willow fencing had to be constructed in a bit of a downpour. Luckily for us we could stay warm and dry inside while someone else grafted.  The lovely Kris Smith of Keep It Willow offered to help with our fencing - I bet she wished she had kept quiet!!! 
Anyone for a spot of gardening??

By the end of the day Marj was looking lovely - the only thing we were not very pleased with was the state of the planted pots we were putting outside. This is a Gardening Show and our efforts were sub-standard!!! 

The show opened on Thursday and we spent the next four days chatting to people about Marj, Hilda, Rita and Marigold and we have met some crazy, crazy people.  Included amongst our favourites was a lovely older couple who fell in love with Marj. The gent said to his wife "well, we normally buy something at the show". We asked if that was usually something like a caravan or maybe more like a pot plant?? He said "once we went out to buy a picture frame and came home with a brand new BMW".

Just Beautiful!!
Marj was a massive hit. Everybody loved her and compared to the Shepherds Hut or perspex garden 'pod' she offers a quirky, cosy and affordable garden room that has the added bonus of providing you with a holiday!!! What is not to love??

And look what a real gardener can do!!
Marj had a visit from celebrity Florist and TV Presenter Jonathan Moseley who thought Marj was absolutely fabulous! She was also visited by our favourite reporter and writer Sue Bradley and the lovely photographer and journalist, Lynn Keddie. We also said hello to the lovely Vintage Tea Room Ladies headed by the fabulous Kat, the fantastic winning show gardeners (for their Gift of Life garden) and Caroline Tatham of the Cotswold Gardening School who are doing such an amazing job of nurturing new talent (not that we are experts in this field!!).  

We know that lots of people are now awaiting Hilda. She will be ready in about a month and we will post plenty of pics on our website and Facebook pages. But be warned, we know there is a lot of interest and we are taking contact details of anyone serious about Hilda. If you want to be added to the list, please let us know and you will be the first to hear about her! 

Mary & Lisa x 

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Spring is Here!!

Here at Lily & Violet Vintage Spring has sprung - at last!!
It might still feel a bit chilly out there but change is in the air.. 

We thought it was about time we changed our window display and banished those snowflakes for a year!  We originally planned to put each seasonal display in for 3 months - we make all of the window props ourselves and a lot of work goes into them.  But in hindsight, a 3 month winter is just too depressing so maybe next winter will not last quite so long!

Anthropologie eat your heart out!!
The snow flakes have now been replaced by 'trees in bud'.  Our plan is to have an evolving display; at the moment we have  some (real) daffodils and some (not real) other flowers on the branches of the tree.  Every time we come to work we will put one additional 'flower' in each window.  So by the time we get to summer we should have a riot of colour in each window!!! Exciting eh?  Make sure you let us know what you think of them...

Now, talking of Spring and Exciting - we have been invited to take a caravan (or 2) along to the RHS Malvern Spring Garden Show.  Sooooooo excited about this!! Our caravans have previously graced the Dursley Farmers' Market and have received lots of attention, but the RHS Malvern Show is something else!!!

You could be forgiven for thinking that the caravans have recently taken a back seat to the shop, and you would be right!! We have been very busy making sure that the Lily & Violet Vintage boutique is everything we hoped it would be and Yes!! we have succeeded in this. Phew!! But, it has meant not having quite so much time to spend on our beloved caravans. So, over the winter we decided to let the vans take a back seat!....

...but not anymore!!

Our Hilda!! Cute but not Cool!!
We have decided that we will unveil our gorgeous Hilda at the show.  You may recall that Hilda was our very first baby and she remains the apple of our eye.  (At the moment her appeal is quite limited so only we could love her - she does leave a lot to be desired!)

Over the winter months, tucked away in a very breezy (and often very smelly) farm shed, we have been slowly completing all of Hilda's preparation work - she has been  re-sealed, windows have been removed and replaced, her gas has been checked and her electrics upgraded. Now all she needs are two new tyres and she will be ready for some pampering!

Hilda, as with all our vintage vans, will be getting a full Lily & Violet Vintage transformation. Our little Thomson Glen, will go from seriously uncool and bland to a veritable feast of colour - think English Country Garden with a flamenco twist!!  Buttercup yellow, pink check, green foliage and yellow twill - sounds perfect doesn't it??  We can't wait!! 

We will keep you posted on her progress over the next few weeks but to see her completely transformed you will have to come along to the RHS Spring Garden Show. It runs from 7 - 10 May - stop by and say "hello"!! We will be the very excited ones, by the Festival Gardens, banging on about Hilda.. You can't miss Hilda - she is the colourful caravan! - Or, she will be!!

Mary & Lisa x 

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Going Global!!

We are always being asked if we sell online and many people just assume that we do (they are the ones who don't know us well!! - think old school, non-techy and thats us!)

But things are changing.....
from now on, the answer to the question "Do you sell online?" is "Yes we do!!!" Woooohoooo....

Yes you heard it here first - we are all set to conquer the world!! Well, that might be overstating it a bit, but for us this is a big step! A HUGE, GIGANTIC, SCARY step!! Aarrrgghhhh!! 

Is it too late to back out?!?!?!

Some people might be wondering what has taken us so long...... Well, we have been worried that we just couldn't do ourselves (and our fabulous collection) justice without the beautiful surroundings of the Lily & Violet Vintage Boutique.  But, heck!! who are we to deprive the world of the Totally Unique, Totally Gorgeous Lily & Violet Vintage? We are surrounded by gorgeousness every day and we want to share it!!

So, here we are - Taking It Global!!!

As with everything we do (and as our wonderful supporters have come to expect), we have no intention on embarking on a run of the mill online shopping venture....Oh no!!! Those 'carts' and 'baskets' are not for us!!  So, how will it work???

Our photography skills are getting better!!
We have been busy photographing our beautiful array of stock. This has become more time consuming than you might imagine; involving impromptu trying on sessions and lots of stopping to admire!!

We have put these photographs, with descriptions, guide sizes and prices on to Pinterest.  You can access our boards from the clothing section of our website:

If you are not a Pinterest user, trust us you will love it!!! Thousands of wonderful (and sometimes crazy) ideas for everything you could be interested in; from frocks to frocaccia!! 

Click something that looks like this...
If you find something you like on our boards, then get in touch and we will be pleased to send more pictures, measurements, a condition report etc. The easiest way to do this is directly from Pinterest but you can also contact us via:

email -
web -
fb -
twitter -
phone - 01453 549962
owl /pigeon - not to be confused with tweeting!!!

It couldn't be simpler!!  Well, ok it could, but to buy vintage with confidence, you really need to have as much information as possible. You can't beat trying it on but if that isn't an option, we think this is the next best thing!!  

If you then want to buy, just let us know and we will send you an invoice to pay via card or Paypal and thats it!  Sit back and await your beautifully packaged box of goodies!!

So for all of you who can't make it to the Boutique, take look at what we have to offer via our website. We will not be featuring all of our stock online, so a mooch around the store will never become mundane - we have new and exciting stock coming in every day.  

If you are looking for something for a specific event or have a particular requirement - get in touch and we will try to help.  We love nothing better than trying to come up with those special vintage gems!!!

#goingglobal #lily&violetvintage

Mary & Lisa x