Beyond the Pale

Spoiled Rotten at Liberty

Everyone should get spoiled on their birthday, and while perhaps a bacon sandwich and a mug of tea in bed would have done at a pinch; this year I was absolutely spoiled rotten by the lovely people at Liberty London


Imagine if you will the very moment I received the email telling me that I was the lucky winner of Liberty’s Facebook competition. I read it on my phone during a typically lacklustre lunch break at work. “You recently entered a competition on Liberty’s Facebook page..” it began. “Oh here we go, I bet it’s spam!” I thought cynically, until I read a bit further on and it finally dawned on me this was real. I had WON! I may have squealed quite a lot at this point.


It was arranged that I could do the spa treatments, voucher, Champagne tea & hotel bit of the prize on the tenth of November – my birthday! – and the behind the scenes tour the following week, as the Liberty archivist wasn’t available on that day. Oh no, I’ll have to go back again. How AWFUL. ;p


On a chilly, slightly drizzly grey Saturday, your humble author made her way to London, attempting to travel light and failing as usual, with her beloved fiancé carrying several items she couldn’t fit in her bag. As usual. On arriving at the wonderous W Hotel Leicester Square, the very kind chap at the check-in desk, on learning it was my birthday, gave us an upgrade to a seventh-floor luxury room with spectacular views.


As birthday beginnings go, they don’t get much better than that.


Obligatory explorations of hotel room over, we moved on to obligatory taking of pictures of hotel room, to show expectant friends and family members, before high-tailing it to Liberty and collecting my gift card.



I remember my mother taking me to Liberty when I was a little girl, gazing wide-eyed at the gorgeous things all around me, strangely quiet for a precocious brat, subdued by magnificence. I really think Liberty retains this power to make you feel that excitement of a child in a veritable Wonderland. It’s quite amusing to stand back and watch the facial expressions of grown adults walking in, gasping and giggling as they pick up something, turn to their companions and say “LOOK!” as they exclaim their pleasure, practically bouncing up and down with glee.


Or, of course, actually bouncing up and down with glee, as with this (mostly) grown adult. 😉 I honestly kept thinking someone would wake me up any minute , but they didn’t and the lovely dream continued as I made my way to the Decleor spa rooms with Vicky, their expert therapist.


How to describe the next two hours? I can only say it was pure bliss and leave you to imagine, as words will not do. Suffice to say, In have never felt so entirely relaxed in my life, as every ache and pain was massaged away. Although Liberty was absolutely rammed with people that day, you’d never know it in the peace and seclusion of those rooms.


Thanks to Vicky’s Decleor Facial expertise, I walked out in PUBLIC with no other makeup than a hasty reapplication of lipstick, for the first time since I was about 14 (I jest you not), so healthy, plumped and glowing did I look. I simply cannot recommend her – or Decleor – highly enough. Go and see Vicky at Liberty!


My fiancé had thoughtfully bagged us a table at Cafe Liberty, so I was able to swan past the queue and go straight in to join him for the next treat of a Perrier-Jouët Champagne Tea for Two. Teeny tiny little perfect sandwiches and mini pastries and fruit scones still warm from the oven and slathered with clotted cream and jam. Divine!


This would be a perfect afternoon treat at any time, but it was definitely the sweet centre of this birthday gal’s day. I savoured every single crumb that passed my lips (and there were quite a few of those, it’s a generous tea!)


Slightly bulgy, and very glad that I’d not opted to have the tea prior to my full-body massage (for the therapist’s sake, if not mine) it then fell to me to Make a Choice and use my gift card to buy myself a birthday present. The delicious agony of this was quite overwhelming, and imagine my fiancé’s pleasure as I wandered around and around and around again, clutching my gift card and sort of muttering like a mad woman: “What about this? OOOH but what about that?! Or that one? But maybe I should get this one instead?” I don’t think I would have bourne it with such beneficence, had I been in his shoes, dear readers. Bless him, he didn’t complain once. Outwardly.


I decided that I should get something to do with Liberty’s heritage – a classic Liberty Type Thing – which I could treasure forever, rather than a bang-up- to-the-minute high fashion item. You are rather spoiled for both extremes at Liberty, though, as they really do have something for everyone, from the classic-lovers to the Ultra Trendy Fashionistas I tremble in the shadow of. I especially love the fact that Liberty really believe in supporting and encouraging new and emerging designers, as among these Bright Young Things will be the ‘classics’ of the future.



Amidst the manifold temptations of the infamous Scarf Hall, my beady eye kept getting drawn back to the sumptuously rich Ianthe print wool and silk scarf, specifically in the purple colour way, as I felt this really highlighted the pattern and the lustre of the fabric.


Spoilt for choice doesn’t even begin to cover it, but I’m thrilled with my pick, and delighted at the prospect of owning a Liberty print satchel when the Strawberry Thief print is back in store again.


Oh, it’s just stunning, and something I know I’ll treasure forever. This is the sort of thing you can fling on with jeans and a jumper for a walk in the woods (or more likely, in my case, to the Gin Emporium); or worn draped around your shoulders at the most elegant of weddings or special occasions. What’s not to love?


This is me in my Hera print Liberty shawl, which I wear a lot and had swaddled myself in against the biting chill of the day. I know I’ll love my Ianthe print one all the more for the special memories it holds. 🙂


More scarves. WANT.


Very tempted by the chandelier print scarf, too. Just everywhere you look, it’s gorgeousness abounding.


I loved these quirky Victorian style illustrated letter tiles, and would like the entire alphabet but would settle for my initials. 😉

I did rather have my heart set on getting the Dr Marten’s limited edition Liberty Print large satchel in the Strawberry Thief pattern (indeed, I blogged about lusting after this very satchel not long after it came out, earlier this year), but sadly they are out of stock of it, as it’s so popular! Sad face.


However, the lovely gentleman who served me at the till took my details and said he’d let me know if they got some in again, hopefully before Christmas.


OH NO, another reason to HAVE to go back to Liberty. Again. What a personal disaster.


Fab Christmas windows at Liberty. I was especially drawn to the crazy lobster window.


Higgledy-piggledy decadence is their theme – opulent chaos. Adorable!


Skipping out of Liberty, iconic purple bag in hand, I noticed that it had somehow suddenly got dark. Of course this hasn’t happened ‘suddenly’, but do you know, when you’re being pampered to within an inch of your life, the time veritably whizzes along.


Thence it was back to the hotel to get ready for the W’s award winning Spice Market restaurant’s tasting menu, that my darling chap was so generously treating us to that evening. But first, there was one more surprise in store for me…


On returning to our room, we discovered that the lovely check-in desk guy had arranged for a bottle of Champagne, selection of juicy raspberries and blackberries, massive slice of Red Velvet cake topped with strawberries with a candle and “Happy Birthday” written in glittery chocolate, and a card wishing me a very happy birthday and saying if I needed anything at all, to let him know.


HOW darling is that? I actually cried I was so moved. It had been quite a horrible year thus far, in many ways and for various reasons, but this (forgive me) literally was the icing on the cake!


We decided to save the cake for later on that evening, as we were still quite full from the afternoon tea (talk about First World problems, eh?) and lounged about drinking more Champagne and lazily getting ready for the meal.

When booking our table online, the chap and myself had ooh-ed and ah-ed over the menu for ages, practically drooling at the mere descriptions of the dishes on offer. As their website puts it:

“A timeless paean to Southeast Asian sensuality, Spice Market will delight London with Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s unique interpretations of the region’s cuisine served in an informal and sultry atmosphere.”


And they ain’t wrong. Delightful it was, every single mouthful. We had plumped (quite literally) for the tasting menu, as we just couldn’t settle on what to try. Little bits of everything seemed the best way forward, and so it proved, with waves of delicacies placed before us, and everything absolutely perfectly cooked and immaculately presented.


The Spice Market is laid back but upmarket, exactly the kind of atmosphere to suit the cuisine, we were in a cosy booth on the corner, all the better for people watching (one of my favourite activities) and soaking in the ambience. We couldn’t fault a single thing about the meal, only asking for a break the better to digest and ready ourselves for the next lot of courses (there are nine in total) to begin. Hardly a complaint – “this is all TOO delicious, please cease a while!” You can stow the violins away quite safely, I think.


After the meal we waddled to our room and laid on the bed in the hotel’s dressing gowns, in a sort of gourmet stupor and sipping wine tentatively while watching nonsense films and marvelling at the sheer bliss of the weekend. Somehow, we found room for the birthday cake slice, eaten while tucked up in our little nest of covers, shared out in mouthfuls, buttercream smearing our probably quite horrifically smug faces.


Us: slightly squiffy, woozily blissful.

The next day we sauntered home in golden Autumnal sunshine, smiles wider than the Thames, walking alongside a Salvation Army band as they marched their way down Regent Street on Remembrance Sunday; so grateful for what we’d experienced and most of all, for having each other to share it with.


I have never felt so truly pampered – it’s been a difficult year what with one thing and another, but this was like a break in the clouds. Perfectly timed, so needed, and VERY much appreciated. Thank you to Liberty, Decleor, W London, Spice Market and my darling fiancé for making me feel so thoroughly, wonderfully spoiled!



Bargain du Jour: Bolongaro Trevor Lomasi Shift Dress 68% Off!

I am a huge fan of Bolongaro Trevor, no surprise, really, as they’re the designers who founded another of my favourite clothing brands – All Saints. As such, I am always keeping a watchful eye on their website, waiting to see the latest looks and – with squealing excitement – the last-minute bargains to be had in their amazing sales!

Bolongaro Trevor is created by British Designers Kait Bolongaro and Stuart Trevor – original founders and former designers behind the cult the retail store group All Saints. Original, unique and commercial, the new collection is comprised of contemporary handmade pieces inspired by vintage finds amassed over the past 20 years. The collections have a moody darkness reminiscent of Victorian London, making the brand a hit with the edgy East End crowd, British bands and models – Kate Moss, Agnes Deyene, Daisy Lowe, Pixie Geldof and Emma Watson. Collaborations include The Libertines – Carl Barat & Pete Doherty for their legendary comeback gigs in Reading and Leeds, The Who for their Feb 2010 Superbowl gig USA and uber-cool bands Kasabian and The Kings of Leon for the front cover of music bible NME. Recent collaborations have included and Danny O’Donoghue on BBC’s The Voice, The band behind Rebecca Ferguson and Pendulum.

I am thrilled with my latest purchase, so thought I’d share it with you: the Lomasi Shift Dress in deepest midnight blue cotton lace. I got it for £30 instead of £95, which is the sort of saving I like. 🙂


I shall be wearing this with a little silk slip underneath and with leggings (as my legs are pale as bottles of milk and I don’t think the world is ready for them). In the colder weather I shall layer this over jeans, wear with thick tights and knee boots, or with warmer tops underneath.

There are still a few wonderful bargains left on the Bolongaro Trevor website, but my Top Tip of the day is to steer you toward their eBay outlet shop, where they sell the very last pieces of their biggest bargains! For example, there are now no Lomasi Shift Dresses on the website, but in their eBay shop you can still grab one – if you’re quick!

1 Dress 2 Ways: All Saints Labyrinth
December 5, 2010, 2:57 am
Filed under: Fashion, Fripperies, Style, Trinkets, Winter | Tags: , , ,

Well, we meet again, dear hearts!

After a blogging break due to 1) being whisked out of the country to beautiful Bruges for a birthday surprise, 2) working six days a week at my Proper Job, and 3) prolonged illness (chest infection & horrid virus); I am back with trinkets & fripperies a-plenty…

1 Dress 2 Ways: Warm by day

1 Dress 2 Ways: Warm by day by Beyond the Pale featuring black cardigans

Labyrinth Dress
$218 –
Print dress »

Black angora cardigan
32 GBP –
Black cardigans »

Quiksilver Herring Buddy
$30 –
Beanie hats »

$915 –
Marni shoes »

Cashmere gloves
$36 –
Cashmere glove »

If you regularly flip through the glossies, you might notice they often suggest – to feeble minds, not us, darlings – that one key piece in your wardrobe will see you through every possible situation in life.

This is never a practical item like, say, a black cardigan. No, it’ll be a feathered trench coat that costs more than the deposit on a modestly sized starter home. This will be shown in a variety of ways, styled with everything from wellington boots to tiaras, in order to feed the self-justification of those handing over the dosh in the first place.

So practical, that feathered trench coat.



We know that of course, but I hope you will find that my little attempt at styling a dress two ways isn’t eyebrow-raising ridiculousness. I’d certainly wear both ways of styling the dress (though the first – warmer – selection would be my preferred option with snow & ice currently abounding ’round here).

The dress in question is one I lust after, yet fear of owning for the worry I may spoil it through drooling:

All Saints Labyrinth Dress: £135 (in sale)

The gorgeous hand-painted toile de jouy pattern is inspired by 18th century French textiles, and is printed on pure silk.

All Saints Labyrinth Dress (close-up of fabric)

Yes, yes, silk isn’t the most practical thing in the world, but layer it up and it can be a choice for the colder months, too, I promise!

I hate to think of pretty dresses languishing in the backs of wardrobes, desperately waiting for the two weeks a year it’s usually deemed warm enough to wear them in the UK. Poor things. Shove a thermal top underneath, add thick tights or leggings & boots, and it’s transformed into the height of snuggly practicality. Well, nearly. 🙂

1 Dress 2 Ways: Cool by night

1 Dress 2 Ways: Cool by night by Beyond the Pale featuring ankle shoes

Labyrinth Dress
$218 –
Sleeveless dresses »

Givenchy Fetish Suede Pumps in Grey
$766 –
Ankle shoes »

The evening styling is rather sumptuous – that Alexander Mcqueen clutch is the exact (and only) shade of pink I love – hot to trot magenta. It picks up the colour on the Labyrinth dress print really well, I think. I adore those Givenchy Fetish Suede Pumps, too, but I’d have to be carried everywhere in them. Sitting down shoes, those, for me. [nods sagely]

Not a feathered trench coat in sight, and I do hope you’ll agree that both ways of wearing this dress have their own charms.

Until next time, my chuckie-eggs,

Miss Nightingale


Jack & Gin: Victorian Style

I have no shame in admitting that I’m already planning my outfit (and accessories, of course) for a party that’s not due to take place until February next year!

This poster is very apt for the occasion and, quite apart from loving letterpress type (being a bit of an old font/type nerd), I heartily condone the sentiment. Also loving the name of their shop!

Letterpress Gin Poster by A Two Pipe Problem: $16

The party in question is not your run-of-the-mill kind, but the third incarnation of Gin & Whores: a semi-regular affair held by Mme Guillotine for various reprobate friends who share her passion for Victorian Ladies of The Night, Gin and Jack the Ripper.

Spooky Shades have various items to tempt those seeking unusual lamp shades, but this is one of my favourite. I really like the overlaying of medical illustrations with one of the infamous letters purporting to be from Jack the Ripper.

Jack's Anatomy Lampshade by Spooky Shades: $59

The wonderful Hoolala has been featured a few times on my blog – they do a number of Jack the Ripper themed items, but the one I most covet also happens to be the most expensive. Typical. It’s this luxury pocket watch charm necklace, based on Alan Moore’s brilliant Jack the Ripper graphic novel, From Hell.

(Really interesting story of how Alan Moore actually met the lady behind Hoolala, by the way – clock on the picture below to be taken to that page & read more…)

Jack the Ripper From Hell Charm Necklace by Hoolala: $125

For now, I have just purchased this necklace (featuring a silver Gin bottle label. HOW could I resist?) in preparation, and now can’t wait for it to arrive. I get terribly excited about this sort of thing.

Gin Necklace by Kat Designs NYC

Obviously, this one isn’t available anymore (ha ha), but do have a look at the other pieces in the collection (click on the picture to be whisked to the shop) – there’s a very similar Brandy one.

You cannot beat a bit of fingerless mittens action for adding an element of Victorian sauciness to an outfit, and these, by Hypericumfragile are just the ticket.

Evening Secret Gloves by Hypericumfragile: $35

I had to add this saucy greeting card by Coquinette (all the cards are very amusing, using risqué contemporary images and distinctly modern text).

Naughty Victorian Greeting Card by Coquinette: $5

Gin & Whores basically involves getting togged-up in Victorian-esque outfits (some guests go for historical accuracy, whilst others opt for modern re-interpretations of Victorian outfits or accessories), drinking Gin and cackling with laughter in locations around London’s seedier locales.

This pretty lace-edged, raw silk bolero would be just the thing.

The Paris Romance Bolero by Mary and Angelika: $83

Usually we frequent pubs dating from the Victorian period are preferred, those public houses which (in our wildest imaginings) may have served a glass or two to some of Jack the Ripper’s victims, or even [shivers of macabre excitement] Jack himself.

Antique Leather Doctor's Bag at Nacho Kitty: $375

That antique Doctor’s bag is just the sort of thing one imagines Jack the Ripper would carry about the place, don’t you think?

It possibly sounds a bit odd or mawkish to the casual observer, but we all have enormous fun and it’s all very much tongue-in-cheek. Much like this amusingly saucy Victorian ladies’ fridge magnet, by Pink Burlesque (who are based in Bristol). Really like all their items, actually!

Vintage Picture Fridge Magnet by Pink Burlesque: $2.99

In honour of the occasion, and my outfit hunting, I put together this themed collection of various favourites as an Etsy Treasury, I do hope you have enjoyed this sneak peek!

Direct links to all the items shown are available by going to the treasury’s page, HERE. Enjoy browsing all the lovely shops, but don’t blame me if you want everything, too. 😉

Until next time, duckies,

Miss Nightingale


Modern Vintage: Wrap’s Victorian-esque Delights
September 19, 2010, 8:00 pm
Filed under: Autumn, Fall, Fashion, Fripperies, Modern Nostalgic, Modern Victorian

Ever since their latest brochure arrived, I’ve been obsessing over Wrap’s Autumn collection. Every time I turn the page, I find a new item to lust after – they really have outdone themselves!

Silk Empire-Line Dress

Their silk empire-line dress strikes just the right note of grown-up whimsicality. I would have one of each colour and wear them with my omnipresent biker boots (or, I suppose, Victorian button boots to go with our theme).

Silk Velvet Victorian Style Dress

The above dress also caused palpitations in my dear friend Melanie (writer of the Madame Guillotine blog and brilliant historical novelist to boot). I mean, honestly – a silk velvet dress styled with fingerless gloves and boots for instant [what we like to call] ‘Victorian prostitute chic’. What’s not to like? Both colours are gorgeous, but smoky grey shall forever win my heart.

Embellished Silk Velvet Jacket

Love everything about this outfit. Although I actually (again) prefer the smoky grey option, the mix of colours is winning me over, here. I really like the sprinkling of sequins on this jacket – particularly as they’re matte, so not too ritzy-glitzy to team with jeans, should you wish. And I would.

Weave Detail Silk Dress

The dress worn under the jacket is this one… and I want every single option. Again. Yes, I’m greedy; but if forced at gunpoint to choose (an unlikely situation), I would plump for the aubergine. One of my favourites from the whole collection – I feel this would work especially well on those of us blessed with opulent bosoms and chunky arms…

Studded Merino Cardigan

Another combination I covet all examples of – silk, merino, stud and frills: a marriage made in my personal heaven. The cardigan manages to be both cosy and sexy (a rare pairing) and the top (shown below) is the perfect length and reminds me of my grunge days. In a good way. 🙂

Silk Georgette Frill Trim Top

These have to be my highlights from Wrap’s Autumn collection, but it’s simply bursting with wearable pieces with something special about them. Go and feast your eyes (and sign up for email alerts – their sales are amazing, too!)


Topshop Weddings: Starlet Glam
August 16, 2010, 8:44 pm
Filed under: Decadence, Fashion, Fripperies, Trinkets, Weddings | Tags: , , , ,

Totally over-the-top, but what else would you expect for a starlet bride?

This dress is another from my Topshop Weddings series (in which I style a Topshop dress for an unusual wedding). This one is particularly remarkable, I think – it could quite easily be from a little vintage boutique!

I like this mix of gold and pewter together, it seems to lend a decadent 1930’s air to the ensemble. I added a marabou cape, just because.

There are very few occasions these days when one gets to gad about in a marabou cape, so why not on your wedding day? Or, you know, in the supermarket if you feel like it.

Topshop Weddings: Starlet GlamFashion Trends & Styles - Polyvore

Topshop Weddings: Starlet Glam by Beyond the Pale featuring TopShop dresses

Tiffy Feather Cape
60 GBP –
More Monsoon coats »

This gorgeously packaged lipstick is by Besame, in shade Noir Red – the best dark red I’ve found yet, I think. Love their whole range – makeup as it should be, rather than the sad little plastic containers we’re suckered with from most brands.

A lipstick tube should have a certain heft to it and close with a satisfying click, if you ask me (which nobody does, but I’m telling you anyway).

The last of this series is tomorrow, so watch out for my latest update. 🙂

Until next time, starlets!

Miss Nightingale

Topshop Weddings: Oh! Mr Darcy!

Bonnet optional. 😉

In my continuing series – styling Topshop dresses for various unusual weddings – I thought this one was perfect for a Regency romp in the country. Rosy cheeks & just-bitten lips complete the look!

I love the simplicity of this dress – it could also be great for a really casual beach wedding accented with a bright silk stole and long necklaces. Or for a holiday, come to that. I do like a bit of versatility!

There’s something adorably Alice in Wonderland about that teacup necklace, too. Or, in this instance, tea on the lawn of one’s stately pile. I could totally handle that.

Topshop Weddings: Oh! Mr Darcy!Fashion Trends & Styles - Polyvore

Topshop Weddings: Oh! Mr Darcy! by Beyond the Pale featuring TopShop dresses

NARS – Lip Stain Gloss Pampa
$28 –

Until next time, my dearest ones,

Miss Nightingale