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My Vintage Brighton – Jenny Mearns

29 August 2013 No Comment

Pin-up lingerie designer and Miss Twinwood Vintage Glamour Pageant finalist, Jenny Mearns answers our questions on all things Brighton and vintage…

Jenny Mearns

Who are you? Lingerie obsessive, some-time vintage model that drinks waaay too much tea.

What do you do? I am the founder of retro-style lingerie label, Frantic About Frances.

What does vintage mean to you? For me the term ‘vintage’ means drawing inspiration from a time when people generally paid more attention to their attire; and as a result of this appeared more stylish.

How do you like to get dressed in the morning (and afternoon & evening?) It depends on my schedule for the day. If I am going to be working in my home studio all day then I won’t pay as much attention to what I am wearing as I would if I am going out for business meetings – I will normally skip applying make-up to give my skin a bit of a break.

If I’m going out, I will plan my outfit the night before. For daytime, I usually opt for a circle skirt nipped-in at the waist, a blouse and a cardigan, teamed with victory rolls & red lips. I nearly always wear flat shoes because I can move faster in them than heels. For the evening however, I absolutely do wear heels, teamed with seamed stockings and either a pencil skirt or an original 1950’s dress.

Jenny Mearns

What’s your favourite decade for style? Definitely the 1950s, although recently I have been warming towards the 1940s too. I love the youthful exuberance of the 1950s, the age of the ‘teenager’, the bright floral prints, the holiday years after the war. However, I have recently undergone a change in hair colour, going from a vibrant red to a very dark brown, and this has subsequently moved my style choices onto a darker mood, more ‘war years’.

What’s your favourite vintage shop in Brighton & surrounding areas? I really like Bobby & Dandy on Blatchington Road, as owner Donna has a great eye for vintage and always has some stunning 1950s dresses in stock. Hope & Harlequin on Sydney Street is lovely too, full of gorgeous 1930s bias cut dresses. I really liked Scarlet Rage Vintage in Lewes, but sadly they have closed their Lewes branch and only have their London shop now – good excuse to go to London though!

Snoopers Paradise is always worth a rummage, particularly right at the back and in all the corners, even on the floor as items have dropped as customers have looked at them. I have found some wonderful things in there, mostly original 1940’s & 1950’s lingerie pieces.

Jenny Mearns

What’s your favourite online vintage shop? As much as I don’t want to say this, eBay is actually my go-to online place for vintage bits and bobs. I have managed to bag some great buys from there, but buyers be warned: A few items I have purchased didn’t fit (especially vintage gloves, even if the size advises ‘medium’, it could still be super-small compared to our modern day sizes), and some vintage jewellery items that I bought arrived broken in the post. But, there are still some great vintage dresses on there.

Where do you like to go to eat & drink yummy things? Everyone that knows me knows I love my tea! So I have a few places that I go to that do great tea and cakes. The staff at Blackbird Tea Rooms are super friendly and helpful and the cakes are fabulous. The same can be said of MetroDeco in Kemptown. Teddy’s in Shoreham is great for super-sized slices of cake and their lunch menu is good too. I am looking forward to checking out The Parlour Rooms on Dyke Road – a new vintage style tearooms & hair parlour run by my friend Taj.

For evening food, Havanas on Duke Street is wonderful and the Seven Stars pub on Ship Street does an enormous Sunday roast.

Jenny Mearns

Where do you like to go to listen to awesome music? I have been meaning to check out Cotton Tail Club for so long, but never seem to quite get round to leaving the house on Tuesday nights! Lately I have gone to a few Tail End Charlie’s nights, run by Mat Keller. In times past, I used to frequent the Mesmerist for 1950s & ‘60s music, but to be honest now-a-days I prefer being at home with my hair in a pin-curl set listening to Radio Swing Worldwide! I’m just sooo rock n roll…

Have you been to any tip-top vintage events of late? I went to The Chap Olympiad in July with my other-half’s business; The Vintage News, and that was jolly good fun! I am also very excited to attend Twinwood Festival for the first time this year, and even more so as I made it through as a finalist in their annual Miss Twinwood Vintage Glamour Pageant, so I get to stand on stage and meet Vivien Holloway!

What are your favourite vintage hangouts? I don’t tend to go to specifically ‘vintage’ places; in my spare time I like to tootle around with my other-half in his beautiful 1934 Morris 10 named Betsy, which always attracts a few glances!

Jenny Mearns

Where do you like to go hunting for second-hand bargains? George Street in Hove is pretty good, as is the Oxfam on Blatchington Road and British Heart Foundation on Western Road. I often mooch around the charity shops where I live in Shoreham, and whenever I visit towns in the surrounding areas I make sure to check out the charity shops.

What has been your best ever vintage/second-hand/charity shop find? It has to be my glasses! So many people comment on them. They are original late 1940s, feature beautiful intricate acorns and leaves on the cat-eye flicks, and have hand-rolled gold arms. I found them on eBay for around £2.50! I wasn’t sure if they would fit me, as vintage frames are generally smaller than today’s frames, but they fitted perfectly and the aqua colour matches my eyes.

I took them down to my opticians and had my prescription lenses put in them and they survived! Much to my horror I accidentally stood on them whilst getting out of the shower before Christmas, breaking one of the arms, but luckily Bromptons opticians on Gardner Street were able to fix them.

Another great charity shop purchase was a 1980’s cotton dress which is lemon with little red cherries printed on it. It is from that ‘1980s does 1950s’ era, so is tight-bodiced with a full skirt and always makes me smile when I wear it.

Jenny Mearns

What is it about Brighton that makes you smile? I have lived in a few different towns & cities, but Brighton is the only place that feels truly accepting of each and every person. I love that I can have a little mooch around the North Laine in their eclectic mix of shops, then walk through the picturesque Pavilion Gardens and squeal in delight at the squirrels! Then onto the Lanes, which still even to this day I get a little bit lost in! Then as the Lanes open out, the Pier and seafront is revealed in all its kitsch vaudeville style.

There really is something for everyone at any time of year. The seafront looks beautiful in the summer and the North Laine deliciously inviting in winter, when the Christmas lights illuminate the shop-fronts.

Any other hints, tips or recommendations for vintage-lovers in Brighton and beyond? When shopping for vintage clothing, know your measurements and take a tape measure with you to double-check sizes. Remember you can dye items if they are made from natural fibres, so if you like the shape of something but not the colour, reach for the Dylon! It’s also handy to know someone who sews, so if you buy something that needs a little TLC, you can get it repaired easily.

Brighton is a very accepting place, so if you are new to scene have a little look around, see what events are going on and make friends on Facebook. There is so much going on; from dance classes to vintage fairs, from car shows to clothes swaps, that you’re bound to find your ‘crowd’. When I first moved here I was slightly daunted but I soon realised that ‘vintage people’ are in the majority rather than the minority here. Check out websites like Vintage Brighton and The Vintage News to find out what is going on and get out there!

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