Oct 192014
 

Hands up who secretly wanted to join The Petticoat Club?  Well, now you can.  So many customers have expressed a longing for like-minded, frock-wearing, vintage-loving friends but said that they just don’t know where to find them, that Miss Wednesday realised she is perfectly placed to effect the introductions.  One of the nicest things about the old shop (The March Hare in Looe) was seeing the customers meet and click with each other.  Now the shop has gone, we have to weave that web virtually.

So, here’s the web page that explains everything:  The Petticoat Club

And the Facebook Group is here.

At the moment, membership is restricted to customers of Wednesday March.  If you have a garment with a Wednesday March label, then you have the passport to, er, paradise.   The idea is that there will, eventually, be opportunities to meet up and Miss Wednesday will also share exclusives with you, maybe little discounts and nice things like that.  If you are a customer of Miss Wednesday but don’t use Facebook – and there are plenty who don’t – then just call or email Miss Wednesday and she’ll add you to The Petticoat Club and make sure you don’t miss out on anything, other than virtual chat and gossip.

So there you go.  First steps on the ladder to petticoated World Domination.  Take the idea and run with it.  Let’s have fun!

Ladies in retro frocks drinking cocktails

Assorted members of the Petticoat Club enjoying pre-dinner cocktails at Zute in East Looe. Photo stolen from Tanya Brittain.

 

The Petticoat Club

 Favourite Places, Frocks, Out And About, Wednesday March  Comments Off on The Petticoat Club
Oct 052014
 

You may have heard tell of that shady organisation known as “The Petticoat Club”.  It sounds all sweetness and light, doesn’t it?  But the very name strikes fear into the heart of various restaurateurs in the quiet seaside town of Looe.  When The Petticoat Club meet, mayhem ensues…

It all started back in that hotbed of fundamentalism and radicalisation, The March Hare, late lamented retro boutique in East Looe, Cornwall.  Miss Wednesday – who is not known for being a “people person” – actually developed friendships with some of her customers, who were not put off by her bluntness or fondness for gin.  In fact, several of those customers also shared those attributes. One particular one, known as “Miss Jane”, would spend so much time in the shop on her bi-annual holidays to Looe, that most of the locals assumed that she was (a) also local and (b) a staff member.  Eventually, she and Miss Wednesday went out one evening in October 2013 for a spot of dinner and gossip at Miss Wednesday’s favourite restaurant, Papa Nino’s, in East Looe, which they justified by calling it the Staff Christmas Party.  It was a roaring success so they promptly booked a rematch for the following March.  Complete with crackers.

At this point, Miss Wednesday threw a bit of a curve ball.  Although none of this particular group of customers would describe themselves as “joiners”, she invited three of them to join her and Miss Jane.  It was a bit of a gamble.  Miss Jane was, she now admits, slightly peeved at the presumptuous inviting of “plus three” and more than a little worried at the prospect of meeting “other people who probably all knew each other”.  On further examination, it turned out that the other three people felt exactly the same trepidation as none of them knew each other either.  In fact, they each only knew one person in the group and that was Miss Wednesday, which isn’t exactly a glowing recommendation or a recipe for an evening of jollity.

Against all odds, it was a spectacular success.  They all “clicked” immediately and their friendships were soon cemented by that modern day ritual of  becoming “friends on Facebook”.

Ladies in retro frocks drinking cocktails

Assorted members of the Petticoat Club enjoying pre-dinner cocktails at Zute in East Looe. Photo stolen from Miss Tanya.

Why does this merit a blog post?  Because apart from the fact it shows that petticoat wearers are lovely people and don’t deserve being glared at in supermarkets, it is also proof that it is possible to make friends in adulthood.  Only two days ago, at her tailoring class, Miss Wednesday was chatting with a classmate who mentioned how difficult it is to meet people and make friends when you’re an adult and if you don’t have small children and school gates in your life.  Never a truer word spoken.  Only one of the Petticoat Club has a small child.  Two more have children (one has teenagers and the other has successfully fledged hers) but the others remain resolutely child free and are not judged for that.  Two of them dress in retro style all the time (and can encounter a fair amount of judgement for it), the others dip in and out of “vintage” as it suits them.  There is a fair spread of ages (approximately 20 years) and a massively diverse range of occupations (a frock maker, journalist, cafe owner, environmental health officer, medical secretary, pole-dancer, musician and music festival supremo).  They all have a variety of interests outside their fondness for petticoats but have quickly formed a tight-knit support group and are confident that their relaxed and comfortable friendships will last.  Despite being spiky, occasionally judgemental, and possibly grumpy.  Definitely not “people” people but despite that, all rather thrilled to have discovered such like-minded beings with whom they can let down their hair (in a manner of speaking – nothing dislodges Miss Sara’s victory rolls) and be themselves.

The Club seems to have grown again with the invitation to join us on Thursday of a Potential New Member.  She was invited by one member because it was felt that she (a) wears petticoats with style (b) is a fab person and (c) thoroughly deserved a good night out.  It appears that she slotted perfectly into the one remaining chair at the usual table and is therefore cordially invited to stay.  And if she decides to stay, it means that there’s no more worrying about that spare chair.  It’s taken.

So don’t despair of meeting and making new friendships after leaving educational loiterings behind.  It is possible.  A lot of friendship making appears to be practically tribal but the diversity amongst the “members” of some of those “tribes” can be vast.   Especially if you start hanging around “vintage” and “retro” shops and events, as people who like “that kind of thing” come from every walk of life and occupation.  Admiring someone’s frock, shoes or petticoat is always appreciated by the wearer.  If they just smile and say, “Thank you,” odds are you’ve probably made their day but you never know, they might turn out to be a new friend.  And petticoat friends are fun…

Of course, there’s always one who misbehaves.  And it’s not always Miss Wednesday…

Woman in retro frock draped over long-suffering chef.

Miss Sara assaulting the lovely Joe, who cooked us delicious steaks and didn’t deserve the grief he was given. Photo stolen from Miss Tina.

We don’t think we’re banned from Papa Nino’s but poor Joe did have to go for a lie down after his ordeal.

Sep 282014
 

I know, I know, there was a decided absence of wittering last Sunday.  Please accept my apologies.  The past few weeks have been hectic – for “hectic” read “bonkers” – beyond belief and last Sunday was the last day of the Looe Music Festival and the only day on which I was free to please myself as to what I did.

Two women in 50s retro frocks

Sara & Wednesday ready to party on the beach.

It has to be said that when I had my shop, The March Hare in East Looe, I loathed the Festival Weekend as it invariably had a negative impact on my trade.  The town is full of people intent on watching top class bands and shoppers give it a wide berth.  Frankly, nobody who is attending a music festival for the purpose of making merry, is going to go into a little boutique and order a bespoke frock on the spur of the moment; it’s just not happening.  I know of other Looe businesses who also find Festival Weekend very difficult from a financial point of view, mainly shops with more expensive offerings than the usual “pasties and tat” and cafes and restaurants, who find their afternoon and evening takings down by about 10%, as people party on the beach and then wander back to their base camps via the pubs and the imported food stands along the fish quay.  But – and it’s a big but – having now seen the Festival from the other side, it does bring more business into the town than it scares away,  hopefully gives the town a higher profile and may well entice the Festival goers back at other times of the year to hopefully patronise the shops and restaurants they didn’t have the time or inclination to visit during the festivities.  The organisers are intent on bringing top class music and extending the season of the town and that is exactly what they do, although they can’t please everyone given the demographic and the actual layout of the town.  What I also noticed was the thousands and thousands of very happy faces, the friendly atmosphere and the complete lack of trouble.  And that’s priceless.

“But what on earth was Miss Wednesday doing at a “music festival?” I hear you ask.  It doesn’t really sit with her public image, does it?  The wellies, the mud, the – gasp – general public.  Surely Miss W’s idea of hell on earth.  And yes, you’d be right in thinking that.  Absolutely bang on.  Will she be attending Glastonbury next year?  Unlikely.  But Looe doesn’t have mud.  And she wasn’t camping but staying with her good friend and partner in crime, Miss Sara.

In the words of the, er, immortal Jethro, “What ‘appened was…”  Miss Wednesday’s alter ego (ie, me!) was persuaded by a customer to revive her musical career.  When I made some frocks and a skirt for the organiser of the Looe Music Festival, the rather incredible Tanya Brittain, I had no idea what it was she did. We were introduced by Miss Sara as she knew Tanya wanted some frocks for performing with her newly formed folk collective, The Changing Room.  That I could help with.  What I hadn’t expected was the little question posed by Tanya on her way out, being, “The harpist we used on the EP isn’t available for the opening gig of the LMF, do you fancy doing it?”  What?!  Are you kidding?  I haven’t played in 18 months!  I’m retired!  But she sent me MP3s of the music and I was hooked and found myself imported into a group of incredibly talented, very professional and really, really nice musicians.  It has been an utterly surreal experience to all of a sudden be playing music with other people who really love the music and are very, very good at it but who also have a complete lack of ego and Just Get On With It.

Folk collective The Changing Room on stage

The Changing Room on the Groundworks stage at the Looe Music Festival. Photo by Jim Peters Photography.

We hadn’t actually played together until a couple of hours before the opening gig and rehearsal wasn’t going particularly brilliantly when we were requested to go down to the quay for a photocall.

Woman in 1950s frock being filmed by TV camera

Festival organiser, Tanya Brittain, being interviewed by ITV wearing a WM ‘Verity’. Photo by Elina Kansikas.

Tanya was interviewed for the tellybox and then we were all asked if we’d mind getting on to the Erin, a beautiful old Cornish Lugger (fishing boat) for some pictures and for ITV to record.  That was the most nerveracking part of the entire weekend, as I had to get on and off a boat in the harbour, whilst wearing high heels and a frock and petticoat and carrying a harp.  I entrusted the harp (my little Salvi Eire) to the lovely Lisa from Excess Energy Communications and took my life in my hands.  It all worked out and the ensuing “performance” was one of the best experiences of my entire life.  The world faded away and there was just the four of us, Tanya, Sam Kelly, Jamie Francis and the random harpist they found in a hedge (me!) playing together.  I still get goosebumps thinking about it.  Everything else paled into insignificance.  The pictures were quite nice, too, as my face is hidden!  Tanya and I were both wearing WM frocks for the performances, which kept the demanding Miss Wednesday happy and my father is delighted that the viciously expensive stringy things that have been gathering dust under my staircase for 18 months are now being used again.

Folk collective The Changing Room playing on board a fishing boat

The Changing Room folk collective playing on board the Erin. Photo by Dom Moore Photography.

Obviously, not all the members of The Changing Room are clad in Wednesday March garments.  Miss Wednesday is working on this but so far neither Sam or Jamie seem particularly keen on frocking up.  Funny, that…

Meanwhile, I have a lot of music to arrange for harp in preparation for recording the remainder of The Changing Room’s album next month.  Which isn’t very far away.  But don’t worry, the frocks will keep coming.  A whole load of fabrics have just been purchased for your delight and delectation and the tailoring course has started.  It’s all go!

Oh, and the Petticoat Club are meeting up this week.  At least twice.  That could be messy…

 

 

Sep 072014
 

It’s been quite a week at WM Headquarters.  What with numerous fabric issues – some insurmountable – rearing their ugly heads, plenty of stitching for orders required this month, someone chasing a frock that had already been delivered (I knew I sent that one Special Delivery for a reason!) and a major hurdle just blown out of the water, it’s no wonder I eventually woke up this morning very, very late and with a horrid, dull headache.  Thankfully, the Mr Tigglesworth (aka The Ginger Whinger) kept most of his disapproval to himself (mainly because I fed him immediately and even he finds it difficult to yowl with a gob full of Royal Canin) and the chigguns were more interested in corn than giving me grief.  Funny how feeding things usually puts a stop to whinging, isn’t it?  It works with everything from poultry and cats to children, teenagers and men.  Obviously, with teenagers you have to factor in the accusatory looks, stabbing with a fork and obligatory “Are you trying to kill me?” glares but provided you’ve coped with their latest vegan/no green stuff/if it doesn’t come with breadcrumbs I don’t want to know sensibilities, you’re still on to a winner.

After a bit of gentle pruning* in the garden to see if a spot of fresh air would help, I gave up and donned my trusty Toggis for a rampage over the moor with Alfred.   And here’s the shocker; I didn’t bother with make-up and my hair wasn’t exactly sleekly groomed.  I know.  I’m sorry, I should have warned you.  Used as you are to the image of Miss Wednesday never leaving her dressing room without being fully frocked and with a full face of maquillage, this is a bit much for you.  But, truth be told, she does occasionally – usually on Sundays – skip the eyeliner and bright lipstick.  Today there was just a coat of Besame mascara and a smear of Besame cherry lip balm, because without those she really is frightening.  On days when all you want to do is put your head under pillow in a darkened room, a full face of makeup is just not happening, public image or no.

Inner Goddess:  Oh no!  What if somebody sees me?  What will they think?

Inner Realist:  For goodness sakes, you’re five foot feck all and 46.  That makes you invisible.  Nobody’s going to even see you.  Especially if you hide behind the dog.

So Alfred and I went over the moor, hoping for a nice quiet rampage with no extraneous people.  Alfred had been fed and I’m not a people person so there really was no need.  Naturally, this meant that we saw plenty of people out enjoying the sunshine and blackberries.  And what did I hear, when I’m trudging along, feeling like a bug-eyed mutant whilst attempting to control a huge, manky deerhound who has his eye on a big bag of freshly picked fruit?

“Oh my goodness, that is a GREAT dress!”

Excuse me?!  Here am I, wandering, sans maquillage and heels, traipsing over Beastly Bodmin Moor with the Hound of the Baskervilles and a random bloke notices my frock?

“I’m sorry, but it’s fabulous.  And I do like to compliment wonderful things.”

Well.  Thank you, sir.  Thank you very  much.  Your compliment is much appreciated.

Don’t ever let anybody tell you that you shouldn’t compliment a stranger.  It’s not sexist – women are just as capable of appreciating a well cut suit as men are a decent frock – and quietly telling the wearer of your approval is always appreciated.  And there’s nothing whatsoever stopping a woman from telling another woman she looks amazing, ditto a chap.  (“Suits you, sir!”)  Just as enjoying what you wear makes life more fun for you, having other people appreciate your effort just adds to that happiness.

In fact, I’d go as far as to say that by dressing well, we aspire to enrich the lives of others.  Isn’t it nicer to see people dressed beautifully than slouching along in gratuitous sportswear?  Of course it is.

And it just goes to show that you should never underestimate the power of a good frock…

Tiered sundress in tropical fruit and flower print

The frock in question, the prototype Bardot, in a tropical print. The refined version – in a pale pink rose print – will be unveiled at the Goodwood Revival next weekend. See if you can spot it!

 

*  For ‘gentle pruning’, read ‘wholescale destruction’.  And be grateful I didn’t train as a hairdresser…

A Day Out With Cars and Frocks!

 Favourite Places, Frocks, Out And About, Shoes, Wednesday March  Comments Off on A Day Out With Cars and Frocks!
Aug 102014
 

Occasionally, Miss Wednesday is allowed out.  For the safety of the general public, she’s usually quite strictly chaperoned and it is only very occasionally…

Last Sunday, 3rd August, Miss Sara and Miss Wednesday went to Mount Edgecumbe for their Classic Car Show and Summer Fayre.  There was also a Miss Ivy Events Vintage and Artisan Fair on, so it seemed an ideal opportunity to visit.

Mount Edgecumbe is the former home of the Earls of Mount Edgcumbe. Set in Grade I Cornish Gardens within 865 acres Country Park on the Rame Peninsula, South East Cornwall, it is now council-owned and a wonderful venue for many a wedding and event.  The grounds are stunning and well worth a visit, especially as most of the park is open from 8am to dusk daily, all year round and is free to visit.  The house and the Earl’s Garden are open during the summer, usually from the start of April to the end of September, although not every day.  There is a charge to visit these areas.

But back to last Sunday…

Miss Sara gave strict instructions to Miss Wednesday to arrive by 11.30 at the latest (knowing Miss Wednesday’s tendency to be tardy) and they set off at about 11.45 am.  It proved to be a mistake, as the road from Looe to Mount Edgecumbe is narrow, windy and with more than one bottleneck.  All it takes is for one person to be rubbish at reversing and the entire area snarls up.  But it was a beautiful day and they had the roof off the Lotus so…

On arrival, they were directed to park in with the classics, which was rather nice, and Lottie was much admired and photographed.  Almost as much as Miss Sara, in fact!

Miss Sara was wearing her Sundae Best Dress and Miss Wednesday sported her favourite Diana with sweetheart neckline, in strawberry gingham fabric.  Not the matching shoes, though.  Oh no.  Not for tramping around on grass.  Miss L Fire Dollie wedges were perfect.  Miss Sara had flat, dotty pumps but Miss Wednesday doesn’t own any flat shoes other than her riding boots, which would have looked slightly out of place.

Two women in retro frocks blocking view of vintage Buick

Blocking the view of a very nice car!

They wandered around drooling over the cars for a couple of hours, visited the food stands – Miss Sara is fond of a proper hotdog*, none of that Cumberland sausage in a brioche bun ponciness for her, thank you – and the bar (which had run out of cider and only had nasty additive-filled tonic water so nothing for Wednesday) and then headed up towards the house and the vintage fair.  There were quite a few stands up there, including the wonderful Trish of Just Seven with her glorious hats and quite a lot of proper vintage clothing.  Miss Wednesday spotted The Little Green Van Company, who have a beautiful 1974 Citroen van named Laurent, with a coffee machine, and which was serving coffee, cake and ice cream.  It looked fabulous and Miss Wednesday, who won’t eat walking around but makes an exception for ice-cream, bought the ice-creams, which were the biggest disappointment of the day.  Coming from such a wonderfully presented stand, you could be forgiven for expecting a decent waffle cone and a serving of good ice-cream.  Alas, they turned out to be a very small blog of, frankly, cheap and nasty and mostly ice-crystals, stuff perched precariously on a cheap and nasty cone.  You know the sort of papery cone that sticks to the roof of your mouth?  Yep, that sort.  Ick.  She won’t be patronising that particular stand again, which is a shame because it looked wonderful.

Overall, however, it was a very nice and relaxed day.  Ran into a few friends, drooled over some beautiful cars – what’s not to like?

Miss Sara’s long-suffering partner travelled there on his rather snazzy Lambretta.  It garnered a lot of attention.  Miss Sara agreed to pose with it for pictures but she drove the Lotus home.  Lambrettas and petticoats only work in pictures.

Vintage scooters and woman in retro frock

Lucky Strike!

Back down the hill to the waterside – stunning on a sunny day – and home via the coast road and Downderry.

 

*  In Miss Sara’s opinion, a ‘proper hotdog’ is made from very little meat  – ‘mostly lips and arseholes’ – and comes in an equally dubious bun.  The ketchup should be applied in a line and the mustard dotted, not zigzagged.  She’s quite particular about these things.