“Life’s a Party. Dress like it”.

I am pleased to be able to publish my latest blog post collaboration and honoured to have been able to chat with Fiona Ainslie, owner of Sparkle O’Hara, and Kirstie Sivapalan, Social Media for Sparkle O’Hara and owner of Astro-Rocks. 

Thank you for finding time to introduce yourselves to our readers. 

Fiona Ainslie- Owner of Sparkle O’Hara 

Christine @Rations2R_n_R (C) Please tell our readers about the woman behind Sparkle O’Hara.

Fiona @SparkleOHara (F) Ever since being a little girl I have loved fashion. In particular, like most little girls pretty sparkly frocks! As I grew older my favourite film was Gone with the Wind where the gowns and the romance that went with it began to influence my style and my wardrobe choices.

I had a passion for history and loved different fashions from the past now referred as vintage. I loved the old-fashion glamour of the 40s and 50s with the classic black and white movies. This was my perfect idea of romance.

(C) Sparkle O’Hara…I’m sensing a “Gone with the Wind” influence. Please tell us about the name.

(F) My friend came up with the name as she always used to laugh at the amount of sparkle in the shop and it seemed a natural progression from there.

(C) I love the tag line “Life’s a Party. Dress like it” and would like to know more.

(F) This is a classic quote from Audrey Hepburn and it just fits in with our style and my view on life. I also love this quote from Mary Quant “Fashion is not frivolous. It is a part of being alive today”.

(C) Our readers would be fascinated to learn about the Sparkle O’Hara shopping experience.

(F) We like to find our customers the perfect dress for them that suits their personality and, above all gives them the confidence to shine. Customers often come to us looking for a dress for a special event. With my knowledge and understanding of the dresses and what looks good on people (which people refer to as my “eye”) we can provide the customer with a number of different options for them to try rather than spend their time looking for the dress themselves. We do this by either customers stopping by during our opening hours or we can book an appointment where the customer can have privacy and comfort, often this involves opening a bottle of bubbles!

(C) You stock both vintage and vintage inspired dresses. I would like to know the inspiration that led to Sparkle O’Hara and, in particular, why this style of fashion is so appealing to you and to so many women.

(F) Vintage fashion appeals to me because whatever your shape you can usually find something vintage to suit. When you put on something that makes you feel really good and glamorous you can feel like a different person. You feel more confident and even empowered.

After being made redundant at the age of 53 I thought it was time to follow my passion and do something for myself. I started with jewellery based on old-fashioned designs in the famous Portobello Road. I then decided to sell some of my own ball-gowns which went so well I decided to select and sell dresses for special occasions.

(C) Please tell us more about the items that you stock. Do you also retail vintage and vintage inspired accessories.

(F) We have a wide range of dresses and two-pieces for special events be it weddings, proms, summer and winter balls, a day at the races or work conferences. We also have provided a number of outfits to singers and actresses for performances and red carpet events.

Our dresses are mainly vintage from 1960s to 1980s or vintage inspired from 20s Jazz Age to the 50s RocknRoll and always glamorous! We also sell a selection of silver and gold jewellery set with semi-precious gems, a number of vintage brooches and pendants as well as some fun vintage inspired costume pieces. 

(C) Our readers would love to hear about the women that have inspired you.

(F) There are too many to really feature out but strong women that have always followed their dreams and passions have inspired me such as Joan Collins, because of her love of glamour, Adele who is a great modern role model for beauty and elegance, Maya Angelou for her incredible and powerful words and of course Coco Chanel for rising to iconic status by following her own inimitable style.

(C) How do you envisage the future development of Sparkle O’Hara?

(F) We plan developing our website sparkleohara.strikingly.com to offer an on-line shop and are planning an event for the autumn. Last year we had a fashion show and a number of open evenings so we will carry on this tradition. We also have a surprise in store for September so watch this space!

(C) Where may we find your wonderful products?

(F) We are based at 4 Queens Parade, Willesden Green, NW2 5HT. We are less than a 2 minute walk from the Jubilee Line and only 15 mins from central London.

(C) Please tell us how you may be contacted.

(F) Our website; sparkleohara.strikingly.com, is the best way to contact us. We are also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I am further pleased to have been able to talk with Kirstie Sivapalan – Crystal Lady at Sparkle O’Hara. 

Kirstie Sivapalan – Social Media for Sparkle O’Hara and owner of Astro-Rocks 

(C) Please tell us about yourself Kirstie and, particularly, about your enthusiasm for crystals.

Kirstie @AstroRocksUK (K) I work with and sell crystals for healing and the home. Crystals have been in my life since I was a child in some form or other as semi-precious stone and finding curious rocks on various beaches, until about 20 years ago when a friend introduced me them to help me with my symptoms. (I have M.E). Being of a scientific mind I was blown away by the sensations I could feel from these pretty rocks such as amethyst, rose quartz, citrine and jasper and something deep inside was triggered. My intuition. I then trained in Crystal Healing to deepen my understanding in 2003 whilst still in my career as an HR professional, teaching and sharing my love for crystals along the way. Now, I divide my time between Sparkle O’Hara and my own business, Astro-Rocks where I sell and teach others about crystals, and provide Astrology readings. I am also planning on writing a book about my experience with crystals and how crystal can support our personal growth and our evolution.

(C) Your Twitter bio tells us that you are a proponent of vibrational medicine. I’m intrigued and would like to know more.

(K) Vibrational medicine works on the key premise that everything is energy. Everything is in a constant state of flux and we, ourselves, are an energy system including what we call our physical form. Vibrational medicine such as crystal healing, acupuncture, reiki and homeopathy work on this principle of assessing and changing our vibrations which through our lifestyles, thoughts, environment and other factors may not be “in tune”, to help us find the optimal healthy vibrations that works for us. It is individual as everyone is unique and has their own specific vibration patterns.

(C) You provide astrology readings and guided meditation. Please tell us about this and how you may be contacted.

(K) Astro-Rocks is the name of the consultation that I do. It is based on analysing a person’s birthchart, looking at the position of and the relationship between the planets and what astrologers call “angles”; specifically their sun, moon and ascendant which are the main (but not all) components of our character. The Sun indicates our desire, essential self, where we shine, Moon indicates our instincts, our emotions, where we are comfortable and the Ascendant our first reaction and how we approach the world. Most of the time the Sun, Moon and Ascendant are in different sometimes conflicting signs. By exploring how this manifests for the client I am able to recommend certain crystals to help integrate the conflicting energies or to enhance qualities they want to bring out. This can support them in making different choices with more information and awareness.

I also run a group where we work with crystals and I conduct a guided visualisation meditation to deepen the group’s work with crystals.

I can be contacted through my website crystallisingdream.wordpress.com where I have also written extensively about my own spiritual journey. I also have a Facebook group Astro-Rocks where people can join and share their work with crystals.

Once again I would like to thank both Fiona and Kirstie for their enthusiasm for providing such fascinating responses that I know our readers will enjoy. I wish them both well for the future. 


The Lux Look.

Thank you for reading my latest blog post in which I shall offer myself as “Miss Fisher” and “investigate” a vintage advert presented to me by @b8eak by way of an intriguing tweet. A tweet that suggested that the following vintage advertisement is from the 1940s.

A timeframe that I questioned as the advertisement says that “Lux helps stockings to retain their elasticity…”. 

In the 1940s stockings were (if available) manufactured from Nylon that has no elasticity; as any of us that wear 100% Nylon stockings nowadays are able to confirm.

So let us start with a history of hosiery during the first half of the 20th Century.

Stockings first emerged as a fashion accessory in the 1920s as the “flapper” styles of the time exposed the calves; with shorter dressses, ranging in length from mid-calf to just below the knee. 

Stockings of the era were made from silk, wool, cotton or rayon…a synthetic material.

Moving forward to the 1930s hosiery thoughts would turn first to silk stockings, although stockings could also be selected with a wool content; including a combination of wool and Rayon or wool and silk.

Silk stockings were replaced by the man made synthetic fibre Nylon in 1939 by DuPont; although supply of hosiery was interrupted during the World War II years. 

Nylon, like its predecessors of silk and Rayon (sometimes referred to as artificial silk) has no elasticity. It was not until the invention of Lycra in the late 1950s; and its subsequent introduction into hosiery, that we see stretch stockings with which we are familiar today. 

Returning to the advertisement and clues as to its date.

The spellings indicate of British origin and interestingly state that “…now that Lux is unrationed…”. Obviously post World War II with rationing of soap products continuing from 1942 to 1950…with each person receiving four soap coupons per month to meet their cleaning needs. 

The reference to “”Moonlight Becomes You” connects with the 1940s and the Paramount Pictures release Road to Morocco (1942). The reference to sketches in Paris Harambure may refer to P d’Harambure who; apparently, operated as a photographer during the 1950s.

I am finding much to challenge me but I would unreservedly suggest that the advertisement cannot be 1940s as soap rationing would still have been in place at the time.

I further support my position that Nylon stockings; that have no elasticity, were the hosiery of choice at the time as women chose to  “regain” their “femininity” after the austerity of World War II.

An interesting advertisement with much remaining unanswered.

I would love to hear comments that either support my conclusion or prove it as being inaccurate.


Introducing Rebecca Dodman. 

I am pleased to be able to feature in my latest collaborative blog post a chat with Rebecca Dodman; a part time model who, like @Rations2R_n_R, has a particular enthusiasm for vintage style fashion.

Christine @Rations2R_n_R (C) Hello Rebecca. Thank you for talking to @Rations2R_n_R. Nothing pleases me more than the opportunity to introduce those starting out on their chosen journey. Please tell our followers a little about you.

Rebecca @rebecca_kdodman (R) I am hoping to start university next year as a film student focusing on old Hollywood and Weimar German cinema. I love going to WW2/vintage events in the summer; taking part as a reenactor, as I love the vintage lifestyle and culture around these events.

(C) You are a part time model. Please tell us about Rebecca; the model, including the shoot styles that you are looking for.

(R) As a model I love to indulge more in my vintage wardrobe and am starting to get into telling stories through the photos. I love doing lifestyle and portrait shots as well as fashion.

(C) Your Twitter profile @rebecca_kdodman indicates that you are a vintage model for Primm Rose Clothing. We would love to know more.

(R) Primm Rose Clothing is where I really started modelling at a more professional standard, they are a vintage retro clothing line handmade to great quality! About a month ago they held a competition looking for a new model to showcase new clothes they are bringing out this summer. I applied really thinking it would be fun to have a go and see what happens, so I wasn’t really determined to win as I thought it would just be quite fun to apply. When I won it was a great shock and I was full of excitement!! This was a whole new experience travelling down to Blackpool and having all these clothes custom made to my fit. Before this I did 1940s modelling at reenactments and events, so it wasn’t too scary, and a great deal of fun finding props to pose with; taking some fun shots as well as serious. This all has really made me want to do more fashion shoots and portrait shots as I had only really done lifestyle before.

(C) I am intrigued about your reference to vintage and pin up work. Please tell our followers the reasons that you particularly favour these styles.

(R) I have always loved history from as far back as I can remember! Not only at primary school did we have Egyptian and Victorian days dressing up but my mum’s cousins really live an amazing vintage life. They are who got me into going to 1940s events, although not many my age are as in love with it all as I am. However the clothing style of the 40s and 50s is very elegant, feminine and yet powerful… especially through World War Two. 

(C) What, or who, encouraged you to seek modelling work?

(R) I don’t believe it was any one person; but again at many historic events of the war and 1940s era I was one of the few younger women there, so many photography clubs who attended would ask for photographs and I really took a liking to it and wanted to do more. 

(C) Which female figures do you most admire and why?

(R) I most admire Audrey Hepburn as she came from a tough background and was then put into the spotlight quite suddenly, and still remained cheerful and kind spirited with her head high. That is what I aspire to be like and know my own mind like her. I also funnily admire Queen Elizabeth I as she was so strong and a powerful figure in British history. She managed to stay collected throughout her reign and the challenges that she faced.

(C) Please tell our followers about your professional aspirations.

(R) my professional aspirations are to do something relating to film and history! As I want to do something I love whether it be a film critic or carry on doing some modelling. As long as I enjoy what I do! 

(C) How may you be contacted for modelling assignments?

(R) i can be contacted by the email: rebeccakdodman@gmail.com. 

Thank you again for taking the time to talk with me. You have provided wonderful answers and I wish you every success for the future.

Further information about Rebecca may also be found at https://purpleport.com/portfolio/rebeccakd.


Pink is the love you discover. 

Welcome to today’s vintage fashion pick; from Ballyhoo Vintage Clothing (link below *).

Summer 1950s Pink Eyelet Cotton Day Dress. The pattern of the eyelets includes embroidered vines and leaves. (Belt not included). Bust 40″ – 42″ Waist to 36″ Hips 47″. Priced at US$69.00 (approximately £54.00).


* http://www.ballyhoovintage.com/product/38146.html

When is vintage not vintage? 

Although I shall admit to knowing very little about cars and, even less about them mechanically, I should like to start this blog post with reference to the words “veteran” and “vintage”.

A “veteran” car is an old style or model of car, specifically one made before 1919 or (strictly) before 1905…well that’s clear!

More clear is the definition of a “vintage” car as an old style or model of car, specifically one made between 1919 and 1930.

I’m hearing whisperings from the unruly bunch at the back of class that they thought that they had enrolled on a fashion course and not a lecture on motor mechanics.

So let me explain the automobile analogy! 

Exploring fashion in preparation for my daily vintage style fashion pick I often come across garments that represent designs as late as the 1990s being described as vintage.

Let’s look at representations of each decade in the 20th Century.


Early 90’s Vintage Checked Pinafore Dress priced at £24.95 from The East End Thrift Store (https://m.marketplace.asos.com/listing/dresses/vintage-90s-checked-pinafore-dress/3276104).


Vintage 80’s Denim Pencil Dress priced at £25.00 from LuckyGirlVintage (https://m.marketplace.asos.com/listing/dresses/vintage-80s-denim-pencil–dress/3280024).


Fringed black and gold disco era late 1970s mini dress priced at £35.00 from Candy Says Vintage Clothing UK (https://www.candysays.co.uk/collections/new-in-vintage-products/products/fringed-black-and-gold-disco-era-late-1970s-mini-dress).


Bell sleeved black lace and pleated cotton 1960s maxi dress priced at £65.00 from Candy Says Vintage Clothing UK (https://www.candysays.co.uk/collections/1960s/products/bell-sleeved-black-lace-and-pleated-cotton-1960s-maxi-dress).


Fifties Spring Floral Dress priced at US$79.00 (approximately £62.00) from Ballyhoo Vintage Clothing (http://www.ballyhoovintage.com/product/38125.html).


1940s Sheer Print Dress priced at US$128.00 (approximately £100.00) from Ballyhoo Vintage Clothing (http://www.ballyhoovintage.com/product/38129.html).


1930s Vintage Style Tan Tulle Sleeved Long Dress priced at $252.00 (approximately £197.00) from Unique Vintage (http://www.unique-vintage.com/clothing/shop-by-era/1930s/1930s-vintage-style-tan-tulle-sleeved-long-dress.html).


1920s Style Seafoam & Ivory Wilshire Flapper Day Dress priced at US$78.00 (approximately £61.00) from Unique Vintage (http://www.unique-vintage.com/clothing/shop-by-era/1930s/unique-vintage-1920s-style-seafoam-ivory-wilshire-flapper-day-dress.html).


Hand-embroidered linen walking suit, 1910s priced at US$1,275.00 (approximately £995.00) from Vintage Textile (https://www.vintagetextile.com/new_page_380.htm).


B. Altman French satin tea gown, c.1900 priced at US$1,400.00 (approximately £1,092.00) from Vintage Textile (https://www.vintagetextile.com/new_page_41.htm).

To return to the question posed as to the latest era that may be regarded as vintage.

The dictionary defines “vintage” as “…something from the past of high quality, especially something representing the best of its kind”. Using this definition and interpreting it in the most strict of ways a item from “yesterday” could be described as vintage. I suggest that each individual will have their own interpretation of vintage without their interpretation coming under scrutiny.

To me I consider anything before I was born as vintage and hence the 1950s and earlier. Personally this nicely corresponds with my belief that 1950s fashion was the last era where “old-fashioned” elegance and glamour were the “norm”. The 1960s then brought a revolution in clothing. 

I would love to hear comments.

Thank you.


Wiggle just a little bit. 

Welcome to today’s vintage fashion pick.

From http://www.ballyhoovintage.com (link below *).

Late 1950s Wiggle Dress in pink linen; by the Hollywood designer Peggy Hunt, and featuring an appliqué ribbon effect in pale green. The fitted bodice with princess seam construction has a narrow piping transition to the straight pencil skirt. The pale green ribbon illusion functions as a layering detail at the hem. The dress has a zipper down the back. Bust 38″ Waist 29″ Hips 38″ Bodice length 16.5″ Skirt length 24″. Priced at US$149.00 (approximately £116.00)

* http://www.ballyhoovintage.com/product/58172.html

In the pastel shades of sunlight I have wandered.

Welcome to today’s fashion pick and a 1950s vintage dress from http://www.melamela.co.uk (link below). 

1950s Vintage Dress Pink and Blue Pastel Strapless with Jacket (30″ Bust 24″ Waist Length Neck to Hem 36″) made from a soft cotton fabric with a pink and blue pastel floral pattern. The strapless sundress has a boned bodice and fastens at the back with a metal zipper. It is fitted at the bust and waist and flared over the hips. The bolero style jacket has short sleeves and ties at the waist. Priced at £125.00.


* http://www.melamela.co.uk/1950s-vintage-dress-pink-blue-pastel-strapless-jacket.html#.WTHY2IXTWEc