Beyond the Pale

Where Liberty [print] is, there is my country…

“Where Liberty [print] is, there is my country.” – Slightly adapted from a quote by Benjamin Franklin.


One is supposed to harbour a seething hatred of the monstrosities one is forcibly dressed in as a child, though it’s easier to live with when your mother was a fashion buyer, I suppose, and therefore seemed to escape the deepest realms of hideousness that several of my contemporaries endured while growing up in the 1970’s.

– Page from the Liberty Book of Home Sewing.

One of my favourite items of clothing as a child was a Liberty Print pinafore dress, which had puffed ‘leg o’mutton’ Victorian style sleeves. As I rather fancied myself a Victorian Urchin at the time (one of my favourite games, being already obsessed with the era, though perhaps for authenticity’s sake, urchins of any era tend not to have access to legally obtained items from Liberties of London); it quickly became my most beloved dress. I still have a hankering for most things Liberty Print, and I especially like the way many contemporary designers and clothing brands have incorporated the prints into their ranges.


I just adore everything about this satchel by Dr. Martens, featuring the iconic Strawberry Thief print. It’s a design classic and VERY much on my Want List.


Again by Dr. Martens, these floral Liberty Print boots take me right back to my days as an English student, swishing about the bluebell woods in long skirts, flower pattern DM’s, white shirts, pinstripe waistcoats and a huge silver fob watch I worse on a long silver chain around my neck. I was obviously a neo-Steampunk. ;P


I’m not generally a fan of trainers, but would definitely wear these beautiful Nike ones, exclusive to Liberties. They manage to be pretty without being twee or reminiscent of the kind of trainers that sports brands bring out imagining all women want to look like Barbie while playing sport/working out. Or at any other time. I don’t require everything to be pink just because I’m female, thank you, because I’m no longer 4 years old – and I didn’t much like it then, either. I can feel my Disposable Razors Aimed At Women rant coming on, so shall gloss over the topic and move swiftly on.


Talking of trainers, Nike have designed a pair of their Zoom Victory Elite trainers exclusively for Team GB Olympic hopeful, Perri Shakes-Drayton, who’ll be proudly wearing them for her 400m hurdle event on Sunday. Combining ultra-modern design with a striking heritage ‘Mirabelle’ print first introduced in the 1960’s by Liberty, they form part of an ongoing collaboration between the companies that goes from strength to strength. I’m always drawn to the designs that happily mix the the old with the new, and the work Nike and Dr. Martens are doing with Liberty is an outstanding example of how it should be done. Bravo!

“Life without Liberty [print] is like a body without spirit.” – Slightly adapted from a quote by Khalil Gibran.


[NOT a Wedding Dress] Wedding Dress Ideas. #1: All Saints Heather Dress

I very rarely see traditional wedding dresses – even dresses that breezily claim they are ‘alternative’ wedding dresses – that I like. It often seems that designers cannot quite wrench themselves away from the poofy meringue or dull as dishwater ‘Virginal Simplicity’ yawn-fests that inhabit page after glossy, anodyne page in most mainstream Bridal magazines.

With this in mind, I set about seeking out gorgeous dresses that could easily be worn by a bride, but could also (hopefully) be worn again afterwards. Some are more traditional or vintage looking, others may be a little bit ‘out there’, but while they may not appeal to all, I have found something to love in every single one, which gives me hope if nothing else, while searching for my own wedding dress!

There’s something for every budget, from under £50 to several thousand bucks, which may only be dreams for most of us, but I hope may also serve as inspiration and give you other ideas about where to look for THE dress…


This is the ‘Heather’ maxi dress, by All Saints. It’s £395, and while out of my budget for a normal everyday dress, I think is still an okay price for The Best Day Of Your Life in which you will be worshipped as a Princess et-cetera et-cetera.


I really like the flattering cut and drape of this All Saints dress – very 1930’s starlet, or BCLWCCP (Before Courtney Love Went Completely Coco Pops). Bless her. Okay, maybe she’s been that way since immemorial, but you catch my drift.

You could wear the Heather dress again bedecked with costume jewellery (I’m thinking multiple layers of charm-loaded chains or perhaps one of the Butler & Wilson diamanté skull necklaces) and layered with a biker jacket for a funky evening look. It’s also available in black, if darker hues are your thing (and they are usually mine, though I’m trying to steer away from an all-black wedding dress).


Regardless of how you style it – wafty Goddess or rock chick chic – this is a classy looking and actually quite classic dress that would see you through many years.

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


Swinging on a Chandelier: Red or Dead’s FABULOUS Bag for Cancer Research

Now, dear readers, those who have been with me for any length of time will know I’m a sucker for 1) Bawdy Victoriana, 2) Chandeliers, 3) Bags. Put those three elements together and charge me a mere pittance (£3.99) for the resulting splendour, and I am pretty much in state of rapture.

Behold: Red or Dead’s “Swinging on a Chandelier” print bag, designed for the charity Cancer Research (click the picture to go to their online shop)…

Swinging on a Chandelier eco bag by Red or Dead for Cancer Relief: £3.99

I espied this in the window of my local Cancer Relief and snapped one up quick smart.

Busty Victorian wenches swinging on chandeliers? To say it’s my cup of tea is something of an understatement! Oh for a silk dress in this print. Or a cushion, or bed linen or… anything! Wonderful stuff. I demand more.

The print also happens to be in navy, and I have fallen for navy in a big way. I know I’m 100 years behind the rest of the world, and am perhaps lapsing into a mid-life decline (I have sensible shoes due to my work-ruined feet, my foundation matches my natural skin tone and my wardrobe has colours in it – QUELLE HORREUR!) but navy – teamed with red & white for freshness or grey for subdued glamour – is calling to me at last.

Just to overdose on chandeliers for a little while (and why not?) this navy scarf by Analogue People would be sublime teamed with the Red or Dead bag. Toss it nonchalantly around your shoulders or tie over the handles of the bag itself. Love it!

Jersey Chandelier Scarf by Analogue People: $25

The thing about teaming navy & white with a splash of scarlet red is that, sooner or later, you start imagining yourself to be sauntering about Paris in the sunshine. The wheels of that particular daydream will be oiled all the more by wearing this snappy little “Bonjour” t-shirt by Two String Jane. Dare you to wear it with bright red lipstick and a fake French accent.

Bonjour T-Shirt by Two String Jane: $24

Another t-shirt I love is the Mr Dary Proposal shirt by the divine Brookish. Simple yet stylish, this conveys your romanticism to the world without being in the least bit cutesy. Yet another item on my ever-expanding wants list.

Mr Dary Proposal shirt by Brookish: $25

For the smarter do, and perfect for those summer weddings or a day at the races, this perky little velvet ribbon rose hat is just darling, don’t you think? The talented UK designer – Janine Basil – has a whole collection of burlesque/vintage inspired hats, fascinators and accessories, all with a quirky flair and a jaunty wink. Adorable.

Vintage Style Velvet Rose Hat by Janine Basil: $95

These earrings have to the filed in the category “weirdly beautiful” – they are quite classically stunning in design, yet are made from the vertebrae of birds. Not a medium I would usually associate with jewelery, but all of Marya Zoya’s pieces are incredibly well put together and so imaginative – truly wearable art. Certainly a talking point at a dinner party!

Taxidermy Bird Earrings by Marya Zoya: $50

Take a look at the rest of the Navy wonders I have gathered together for you to gaze upon – all of the shops are well worth a browse, even if navy isn’t grabbing you by the shoulders and kissing you full on the lips.

Direct links to items shown, left to right:

1st Row: 1) Marya Zoya, 2) Janine Basil, 3) Madame Mortalitas

2nd Row: 1) Thief and Bandit, 2) Analogue People, 3) Brookish

3rd Row: 1) aaarealgem, 2) Two String Jane, 3) Silent Mint

4th Row: 1) Zoe Chen, 2) Raine Style Home, 3) Dear Lillie

Until next time, darlings…

Miss Nightingale


What Would Marie Antoinette Wear Now? / Let Them Eat Cake Competition!

[UPDATE] The amazingly generous Blu Lima has offered one of her Let Them Eat Cake prints as a give-away prize for readers of my blog! Scroll down to see how to enter (you just have to leave a comment on this post, nothing complicated!) 🙂

What would Marie Antoinette wear if she were around today?

When I’m not pondering the great mysteries of the universe or musing on the latest developments in space travel, such are the questions that tickle my fancy. Also, it’s rather cold and depressing, lately, what with The Great Snow Débâcle and everyone and their dog on diets and seemingly mooching around all grumpy with faces like wet weekends. How utterly miserable and boring!

Let’s cheer ourselves up with frills and furbelows…

The first piece that caught my eye – and in fact the inspiration for this entire post, is the be-ruffled extravaganza that is this stunning handmade top by the ultra talented Steam Machine. The designer poses the question of what Marie would dress like today…

“This awesome top reminds me of Marie Antoinette but in a modern way. What would she dress like if she lived today? I think she would love the ruffles and the soft, stretchy cotton in peach.”

Let Them Eat Cake Ruffled Top by Steam Machine: $95

I absolutely love it. It is made to order and takes up to 14 days to complete, using vintage fabrics, so will be completely unique. I would absolutely wear it with jeans and riding boots (or the Woland and Moon boots featured in a little while!) but Marie may have preferred something a little dressier.

To each their own. 🙂 However you wear it, it’s one of those classic with a twist pieces you just know you’d hang on to forever.

Let Them Eat Cake Ruffled Top by Steam Machine: $95

I think a bit of self-referential style wouldn’t go amiss, and I’m sure she’d love the colours of this t-shirt by 2 Girls Plastic.

Marie Antoinette T-shirt by 2 Girls Plastic: $19.95

I think she would be a huge fan of the sugary, beautiful little works of art that are Macarons, and would thus like to saunter around the house in pyjama bottoms and the J’aime Le Macaron t-shirt by A Table for Two.

I have to say, this t-shirt would also surely be perfect for Carol Gillott of the wonderful blog, Paris Breakfasts. She is often to be found waxing lyrical about Macarons – indeed, macarons are almost a religion in and of themselves!

I Love Macaron with Feet T-shirt by A Table for Two: $27

In case you are wondering about the curious “avec les pieds”, the designer assures us that “J’aime les macaron avec les pieds” – is the French way to express how much you love macaron… with feet, literally.”

Oh yes, these boots are undeniably more expensive than a simple high-street purchase, but they are entirely handmade for each customer using the finest leather and Venetian silk with an antique floral print, so hardly unjustified!

Antoinette Boots by Woland and Moon: $700

I think Marie would have quite liked stomping around in these when she tired of elaborate heels and wanted to give her tootsies a rest. Woland and Moon have one of the most unusual ranges of chunky, kick-ass yet incredibly feminine ranges of footwear I’ve ever seen.

On more delicate days, she could slip on these gorgeous vintage couture shoes being sold by A-Hem Vintage. Beautiful fabric, and I love the huge pom-pom rosettes on the front!

50's/60's Couture Shoes, A-Hem Vintage: $36

These couture quality painstakingly hand-embroidered cuffs by La Camelot are just breathtakingly beautiful and could be a future heirloom.

Marie Antoinette Embroidered Cuffs by La Camelot: $800

Incredibly cheering, this Let Them Eat Cake print by Blu Lima would be perfect in a kitchen.I particularly like the yellow version.

You can win your very own copy of this print simply by leaving a comment on this post, letting me know which is your favourite colour, and where you would hang your print.

Go and browse Blu Lima’s other colour options (and have a gander at the other lovely prints she’s selling) and leave that comment now to be in with a chance of winning!

I will close entries at the end of  Monday 18th January 2010. Good luck!

Many thanks to the lovely Sharon for offering this fabulous prize. 🙂

Let Them Eat Cake print by Blu Lima: $5

If you were to have one of the Marie Antoinette themed tea-parties I wrote about previously, you would absolutely need these cute chandelier print bags to fill with goodies for your guests to take home, don’t you think? Perhaps a mini cupcake, a feather plume hair clip, some pretty vintage ribbons and homemade chocolates?

Shabby Chic French Chandelier Gift Bags (10) by Parlene: $5

I like this updated cage panier hooped skirt very much, though I think you’d have to be a pretty young slip of a gal to get away with it in every day wear. 🙂

Cage Panier Skirt by Youth Diaspora: $250

The tarnished crown charm is rather appropriate on this Bouquet for Marie bracelet. I have always loved this combination of colours, too. Says the designer:

“I’ve been feeling overwhelmingly inspired by Marie lately, or maybe the cinematography and costumes in the movie have gone to my head! Either way, it has made for some pretty and interesting creations depicting the lavishness, opulence, and bold fashion that Marie was known for. It is my hope to create a sort of enchanted, slightly excessive, yet whimisical dream world that will have you basking in the glory of your own little empire (but you get to skip the French Revolution and keep your head)!”

A Bouquet for Marie Bracelet by Eclectic Orchid: $26.50

These little hand-stamped notecards are so sweet – who wouldn’t be happy to receive one of these through the post instead of the usual dreary dross we are delivered? Indeed, just about everything in The French Nest Co’s shop would have been appropriate to this Marie Antoinette theme. If you like unusual French inspired shabby chic items, you’ll be in Heaven!

Set of 4 Love Letters from Marie Antoinette by The French Nest Co: $5

“Bold and brilliant yet so delicate and charming” is an excellent description of this upcycled vintage necklace. I would wear it with something quite casual for everyday, and it would turn a little black dress into a showstopping outfit – especially if it was a low-cut one that showed the necklace to its best advantage. Love it!

Her Royal Highness Vintage Assemblage Necklace by Jealous Cat: $149

And here they are all gathered together for your delectation – cheering to the soul, I think you’ll agree!

I DO want to show a few more items not in the selection due to lack of space, but which are equally lust-after-able and very suited to Marie Antoinette 2010, I hope you’ll agree… Scroll down for further eye-candy.

Sorry for this image-heavy post, but I just couldn’t resist showing you these ones, too!

More chandelier goodness in the form of a cushion, this time. I like the fact the image is an old-fashioned idea of decor, yet the colour and the bold printing method bring this bang up to date. The juxtaposition of old and new is one of my favourite looks in interior design.

Chandelier Pillow by Pillow Palllooza: $78

There are many females of my close acquaintance who would be delighted to wear this whimsical custom-made cupcake print dress. I think you’d have to toughen it up a bit with leggings or thick tights and my go-to suggestion of stompy boots or chunky-heeled shoes (to avoid it looking too cutesy) but I imagine the gals at Domestic Sluttery might also coo after this one. 🙂

Custom Cupcakes Smocked Dress by Anayna DF: $62

Cake and Ice cream, a match made in Heaven… this print is part of the “You & Me” 2009 Valentine series, in which the artist has “…picked iconic couplings that I hope people and their partners will identify with.” I can certainly identify with this! I think it would look just darling when teamed with the Let Them Eat Cake print show earlier in this post.

Cake and Ice Cream framed print by Bishop Art: $15

I’m sure Marie Antoinette would appreciate the coupling, too. She’d definitely have this in her kitchen. Well, if she wouldn’t, I certainly would!

I do hope you have enjoyed this rather rambling and giddy post, my dears; and that it has gladdened your hearts or made you feel a little sunnier, wherever you are.

Until next time,

Miss Nightingale


Cranford Redux: Costume Drama Style

Hullo dear hearts,

I return misty-eyed from watching the second part of BBC1’s Cranford Christmas special. I take back what some of what I said just before actually watching it. There I bemoaned (well, tutted a little) that it hadn’t really been as moving or gripping as the first [proper] series. Well. Rest assured, the second half is infinitely superior to the first episode!

Loved it. Cried a lot. Smiled a lot.

If I had a lace hankie I’d have dabbed at eyes in a delicate fashion, but had to make do with the back of a pyjama sleeve.

I promised a selection of suitably Cranfordian themed goodies, and I shall not fail you…

Direct links to items shown, left to right:

1st Row: 1) Lady Rose Treasures, 2) Miss Sadie Baxter, 3) Art Photo Girl

2nd Row: 1) Carton Company, 2) Poppenkraal, 3) Teardrum

3rd Row: 1) Matti Online, 2) Sky Watcher 1121, 3) Flutter

4th Row: 1) Pish Posh Vintage, 2) Chrissy Piper, 3) Prudence Mae Patterns

All of these finds warrant a closer look. The Locomotive Scarf, for example,  is so intricately worked and has the phrase “Got Steam?” crocheted into the design. Amazing!

Until next time, poppets,

Miss Nightingale

Thinking of Alison: Adventures, Quips & Cocktails
December 22, 2009, 11:11 pm
Filed under: Books, Brooches, Etsy, Fripperies, Gift Ideas, Style, Trinkets

In a follow-up to yesterday’s post, I present the latest hand-picked selection of gifts where It’s The Thought That Counts

This little selection of temptations is inspired by Alison – a fabulous lady I don’t know as well as Hester (the previous incumbent of the Fantasy Gift Recipient), but wish I did.

On the first occasion I met her, I was slightly intimidated as she’s one of those people who seem to have it all, who can walk into a room and keep everyone entertained whilst juggling volovants, making witty quips and dancing a waltz. She’s a sarcastic adventuress with an eye for good makeup, and she has excellent taste in music.

And so, the following is a selection of items I think she’d like. I’m not as sure as with my selection for Hester, but certainly they certainly make me think “Ah, that’s very Alison…”

Direct links to items shown, left to right:

1st Row: 1) Jennifer Morris Photo, 2) Nan Lawson, 3) Bookity

2nd Row: 2) Mishima, 2) Banana Strudel, 3) Yummy Pocket

3rd Row: 1) Ju Ju Too, 2) Tent Pitcher, 3) Simple to Enchant

4th Row: 1) Sarah Anntiques, 2) Boy Girl Party, 3) Bajue Boutique

The brooch I could also have given to Hester. Indeed, I am very glad to say, to any number of my friends who have equally book-addled brains!

Until next time, I do hope you enjoy browsing these wonderful shops.

Miss Nightingale