English Rose, Elizabethan Make-Up

Next in line for historic beauty regimes is a very traditional English look – The Elizabethan Era (1558-1603), or as I like to call it, the ‘English Rose’ look.
The first thing that comes to mind, for me, is like the later Victorian era, the majority of women in an Elizabethan society were fair skinned – however not all of this was purely natural.
For instant, Queen Elizabeth is depicted with this white complexion which is actually enhanced with a heavy make-up base. Some may claim this is due to the famous ‘virgin status’ of the Queen, with the colour white being symbolic of this characteristic.  Additionally, women were inspired by the Queen’s presence that her style was also reflected in daily beauty regimes, a lot like celebrities nowadays being the style icons and trend setters.
As already mentioned in my Victorian regime, there is the additional factor of the paler face being a social status; those with paler skin were seen as wealthy compared to women with natural tans caused by the outdoors and working.
In jumping back to Queen Elizabeth there is actually some evidence of other reasons for this complexion. The young Queen once contracted a form of small pox, resulting in facial scarring. As beauty was regarded as one of the highest forms (drawing from Ancient Greek philosophy) the white powdered face allowed the Queen to have an illusion of societal beauty while masking the marks which could have been subject to criticism and objection by the society she was ruling. After all, she took the thrown as the final child of the King with no one thinking at her birth she would become queen. Similarly she was a powerful woman, a figurehead over traditionally patriarchal societies with a lot of male opposition. She merely could not afford, at first, to show reasons why she would be an unsuccessful leader.
In focusing upon this ‘artificial’ white face, the powered base was created in a form of ‘ceruse’ which was made up on lead and vinegar. Obviously, this is an extremely poisonous combination – potentially cutting the natural life expectancy (Elizabethan clearly missed this bullet, having an extremely long reign for any monarch of the time).

This was not the only way of gaining a foundation, another form was ‘face paint’ which was created from natural entities, like plants and their leaves. Natural seeds and oils were then developed into acting as hair dye while kohl was an ongoing popular way to darken the eyelashes. Unlike the use in the Egyptian style, kohl was used to create the natural, but not overly enhanced eye make-up for the Elizabethans. This whole natural look then ran all the way to probably the 1920s, with the exception of historic actresses or ‘backstreet’ working women, who donned more  extravagant make up.


Cate Blanchett portraying a historically accurate Elizabeth



The English ‘rose’ look was complemented by the signature rose lips and the blush cheeks, also created by different dyes and natural substances gaining the prominent colour.
The main idea that came to mind when researching Elizabethan hairstyles for my ‘tutorial’ is that the era contained various hairstyles, rather than one singular style which is normally associated with certain historical periods.
Commonalities between women’s hairstyles was the ‘frizzy’ nature of the hair, moulded into certain frames on the head using wires and newly invented hairpieces (which are created by their own or other’s hair).
Fun Fact: metal hairpins, like ‘bobby pins’ are an English creation, appearing in around 1545.
Original hairstyles were inspired by the social developments of the time – mimicking a sort of social ‘enlightenment’. Compared to the notorious Middle Ages, the Elizabethan and the general Tudor dynasty paved ways for new themes and lifestyles, including politics, music and art.
Bordering on the philosophical impacts of thought, I believe that women embraced this new society and creativity through their looks, especially their hair styles. Note the variety of hairstyles shown in these pictures:
As mentioned, women were inspired by the coronation of a new Queen, and used her style did have an impact in their everyday routine as well as experimenting with their own hairstyles. For example, Elizabeth is known for the fiery red hair – causing lighter hair to seem more beautiful in a society, hence the development of dying and wig wearing. Elizabeth’s hair colour shade was actually presented as bolder within paintings with the hair thought to be more of a strawberry blonde with hints of red. I believe the way she appears in illustrations is to express her power and her determination to succeed and protect – and this is shown through the symbolic red tone within her hair. Additionally, Elizabeth’s hair was also a wig, she actually had many wigs which became known as ‘periwigs’.
The Elizabethans decorated and embellished their outfits with a range of colourful jewellery. Both precious and semi-precious jewels were contained their jewellery and even the lower classes had access to cheaper, costume like jewellery, resembling real jewels.
Fun fact: Earrings were known as ‘ear-pickes’.
Pearls are commonly associated with heavily decorated, upper class Elizabethan women. I believe that this was popularised by rosary beads – as England had gone through a period of both Catholicism and being Protestant. Elizabeth’s elder sister Mary was a Catholic, wearing rosary beads as a symbol and communication of her faith. The round stones were in necklace, and were worn by a large majority of Tudor women at the time. When the change of royalty came about women kept the string necklaces, opting for more plain white beads – or pearls. With Elizabethan being a Protestant, the religious element then became relaxed and women wore these necklaces and mostly jewellery – in some cases the cross is evident in a lot of Elizabethan depictions.
Alongside my ‘Elizabethan’ make-up, I am sporting a handmade lace ruff which is drawn from one measure of elastic. The ruff was a common garment worn by all in a society to stop the necklace of clothes becoming damaged or dirty.


Ruff – Handmade, (metre of lace and elastic)
Blouse – Vintage
Headpiece – concocted with a pearl necklace and decorative brooch

‘Underwear Undressed’

Volunteering brings a lot of benefits.  Not only do I get the pleasure of getting wonderful experience in my all-time favourite museum – I get the opportunities to listen in on amazing talks by various historians and curators. For those who are unaware (although you all probably are because I talk about it all the time) I volunteer at one of my local museums, York Castle Museum.

Due to an unfortunate staff illness, I responded to an emergency ‘help’ email to assist with an event later that day and became very lucky to get the chance to listen to a wonderful talk from Susanna Cordner, an assistant curator in fashion and textiles from the V&A, London. Her talk, ‘ V&A Undressed: a brief history of underwear’ had been advertised for a few months, which I had my eye on – but being a student on summer break made it pretty impossible to part with £15. However I would like to add that this event was well worth the price! My role was a greeter, before sitting down and listening to the talk.

The topic was a great addition and combination to the Castle’s newest exhibition ‘Shaping the Body’ (If you haven’t been, you really need to) – exploring the innovations and developments of clothing items and body shapes. The exhibition itself spans a timescale of 400 years, having a variety of clothing items in its collection – from regency period dresses, 1960s versions of ‘flapper dresses’ and a dress owned by the most famous Victorian of all time…

Going back to the talk, it took place in the ‘Shaping the Body’ exhibition Hall, being a host for around 50 people.  Susanna is a fantastic orator as well as being very glam!

Unlike most historic underwear talks or research, which is normally very female orientated, Susanna incorporated elements of both genders so I learnt completely new facts and different areas of fashion. For example, corsetry was not exclusively for women – men in fact wore an item which was advertised as having a purpose away from a traditional ‘corset’. One idea is to keep the gentleman’s clothes having straight lines, another is more military centred – protecting the torso and keeping upright in uniforms. A funny fact thrown into this topic was that, although men and womens corsets were made exactly the same they were advertised with completely different names reflecting the feminine and the masculine.

Keeping the focus upon corsets, the talk also explained the sheer variety in the different types of corset. This includes the corset’s predecessor, the stays as well as different types of corset such as the ‘S’ bend and ‘maternity’ corsets. The stay and the S bend provide their intended function in their name – the stay to almost fix the flesh of the upper body in place and the ‘S bend’ explaining the shape it makes (bust out, stomach in, rear out). The latter is more of an idolised figure, used purely for advertisements or models – not practical in any way for day to day life! Regarding the maternity corset, the audience was reassured that this is not as extreme as it sounds. Unlike the stereotypical corset that comes to mind, this corset is made of two front pieces, laced, and a back piece with laced panels up the both sides. As the stomach grew, the side and front lace ties could be tied looser at the same as keeping the fitted shape.

Susanna explained the key differences between the stay and the corset – the former being made of predominately whale bone. In a previous post I explained that a corset’s original purpose was to take the weight off the heavy skirts and dresses worn by women of history. The stay did this, adding stiffness to the torso, allowing a straight posture.

Corsets are less stiff and lacks the detailed structure that stays have. In my personal opinion stays are more informal than corsets, the latter are normally more detailed and embellished, more personal and carry a distant similarity to lingerie. Susanna explained that because stays are made of whale bone they are rooted in the working class in whaling towns, which in part shows reasoning for the plain designs and lack of ‘softness’ the corset is claimed to have.

Accompanying the superb talk was an array of historic pieces from the Castle’s collection including a variety of corsetry in different sizes, lace bralets and some ‘crotchless’ pantaloon/trouser type for women (a great contraption, allowing women to go the toilet without removing the gigantic skirts, underskirts etc…) The most significant piece, for me, was a ‘stay’ dating from, I think, the 1740s-1760s. This piece was too delicate to handle but just to see the parts of this corset alongside a stay ‘busk’ was so interesting.  In regards to a ‘busk’ this is a triangular wooden carved piece – inserted into the front of one’s stay with an edge flattening the stomach in a vertical way. This made it extremely difficult, perhaps impossible, for the wearer to move or bend forward. The busk on display was engraved with the owner’s name and age – the girl was 17 at the time.

I would have loved to get lots of pictures, however I am always cautious of photographing exposed historical items. I’ve included photos on this post of the items within the ‘Shaping the Body’ exhibition, shielded behind glass. Similarly, Susanna included some photographs of the V&A collection in her talk, making me really tempted to book a weekend trip to London…

Victorian Highstreet…


I blogged about the beauty of this era – I thought I may as well mention the fashion!
I am lucky enough to volunteer at a local museum – as a shop assistant in a range of replica Victorian shops. In this role I get to wear a range of different Victorian outfits – representing different class and workplace.
Like today, the Victorian society had numerous styles of fashion, however all fashions were adapted and based on a generic style. This is the idea of long sleeved blouses or shirts and hats and for women, ankle length skirts.
Different patterns were developed and exchanged by some members of society. For example the writer ‘Mrs Beeton’ put together a book named ‘Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management’ which gives an overview of many aspects of Victorian life, including fashion and a series of patterns for one to make clothes.
There is a common assumption that Victorians had dark clothing, monochrome and grey shades. This is certainly true in the later days of Queen Victoria who after the death of her husband in 1861 spent the rest of her days in mourning wear. However unlike the photographs of the era which reflect all light and figures as black and white the Victorian fashions were actually a colourful array of patterns and ‘brave’ clashing ensembles. This excluded schoolchildren and those in house service (servants) who were expected to wear black accompanied by a white pinafore or apron.
Prior to the mid-1800s shopping was not a leisure activity we know today. Shopping for clothes involved going to a dress makers, also known as a Draper’s Shop. (A draper is an individual who trades in cloth and later other materials)
One would be measured for a bespoke suit or dress by the Draper, if a man, or a draper’s assistant if a woman. Lower classes would either purchase fabric or gain hand downs from other relatives or employers (if a good employer of course) and make their own clothes in their own time.
Browsing for fabrics or accessories was limited, and most products were actually hidden under the counter with the Draper choosing possible patterns or material for the customer.
1849 was the year where department stores began to surface, starting with a Newcastle company named Bainbridge’s. This was a shock to me, as I had always had in mind the department store originated from either the States or Paris (I watched too much Mr Selfridge).  Bainbridge had the evolutionary thought to give each product its own department alongside visible price tags. This began the leisure activity of shopping we know today. (Bainbridge’s still exists, under the name John Lewis)
‘Quick’ facts about Victorian fashion
  • The 1851 Great Exhibition in London inspired department stores to flourish and develop in France. (By develop, one Frenchmen made department store shopping more applicable to everyone, but creating separate reading and leisure rooms for men and children)
  • Hat etiquette gets very All Victorian men would wear hats outdoors. Those who did not would be the centre of contrasting gossip. When it came to indoor spaces, it depended on the place. Public places recommended keeping the hat on, with the exception of restaurants wuwpfgeok7oxtzzzpmtti.pnghere part of one’s routine would be to remove the hat before sitting at the table. Public speakers also took off hats, and this was to divert the attention from the hat to the words and expressions of
    that one speaking.
  • Contrasting, women wore hats as nothing more than keeping their hair out of their face and complimenting an outfit. Their hats were normally not removed due to the carefully placed hat
  • Some employers were good, others were not. If the latter young girls and apprenti
    ces may not receive any wage whatsoever for their work –
    especially in the clothes
    industry. Good employers would support other issues (however this may be to advertise and promote their business) – for example some Draper’s would set change their window displays to the outfits of Suffragettes – promoting their cause while stocking the relevant coloured fabrics (Purple and Green)
  • Corsets automatically bring to mind their purpose in gaining that perfect silhouette shape in the waist. As ‘beauty’ developed into a war of personal vanity this became the main reason for a corset. However the original purpose of a corset was to take the weight of the top of the heavy and durable skirts. Victorian skirts were usually made of a wool or felt type material, which, along with the lining made the item extremely heavy. Corsets would take part of this weight and forcing the woman to having a strong straight back to keep upright.



The top two images represent the fashions of the middle class. In an attempt to look the part and present oneself as a having a high social standard working class women who had jobs such as Drapers Assistants would wear similar styles. On one hand it was used as advertisement of that working establishment, on the other women had more confident and given more respect dressing in this way.
The bottom images are a reflection of the working class or casual wear in society. White blouses were a must for all workplaces along with small straw hats which for women were worn at all times.


Charity Shop Haul, Dove House, No.87.

“That time I got a Mary Quant scarf for £3 and I didn’t realise…”


I definitely have an addiction to charity shops. And vintage clothes. So when a charity shop is dedicated purely to vintage items it definitely becomes a problem!

Dove House No.87 in Hull is an example of this. I limit myself to only going in once every through weeks and forcing myself to be good and not buy the whole shop. However as all proceed13419229_994918057224090_2434447962388383310_n.jpgs from the shop go directly to charity I always like doubly (or triply) treat myself knowing that everything is going to a good cause!

I have bought a lot from this shop in the past, so I thought I would share my latest purchases. This time I was extra good only buying 4 items which totalled £25!

I just love wearing vintage clothes and accessories knowing they have mysterious pasts and wondering what kind of person would have owned an item now in my possession. I’m also slightly weird and adore the smell of vintage products and antiques!

The reason I went into the shop that day was to purchase a couple of silk scarves. Like a lot of people I have been bitten by the sewing bug, inspired by the Great British Sewing Bee! I thought it was really interesting the week they created lingerie and lounging items from these silk scarves, and purchasing them from charity shops allows them to be sold at very cheap prices.

In this case all scarves were 13556040_10209870880591754_715195908_o.jpgbetween £2.50 and £4.00 and I chose two which were £3.00 each. One was a chocolate brown colour, decorated by pink, red and white flowers. The other was a white silk which green edging and summer flowers in the corners.

It was actually not until a few days later when I looked at the second scarf, the green one, in detail, that I could never use it to make another item. This is because I didn’t realise that this particular scarf was a Mary Quant original!


Although  Mary Quant scarves are not too dear to purchase at the present time, they are still regarded as designer and will probably one day be worth a lot! Additionally having learnt about Mary Quant and fashion in the 1960s at GCSE level – it is the only thing I can probably remember of that course, meaning that I appreciate moments in time like this and the company derived from Mary Quant.

After choosing the scarves my eyes were drawn to the most beautiful bag hanging on wall on the first floor of the shop!

For ages I had wanted an evening bag big enough to fit more than just a phone and purse in. This bag was the perfect size 13552670_10209861590919518_1037854873_nand the perfect colour! A beautiful blue in a woven wool fabric, handmade in diamond patterns and lighter shades. The factor which sold me in purchasing this bag was the pearl strap, giving it a somewhat Chanel feel! The bag was an absolute bargain at £7.50! 

The last item I purchased was a very pretty pleated skirt. I had got talking with one of the volunteers in the shop, discussing how difficult I find it to buy skirts which really fit. I’m very small with a tiny waist but wide hips so finding skirts that fit my waist normally end up being way too long for me! Anyway this wonderful volunteer found the most perfect midi skirt for me – a cream base with red and navy stripes!


I just ❤ this skirt. I goes with little kitten heels or flats and can be worn both casually or formally! I feel so girly in this £7.00 skirt!

This is the rundown of my latest charity shop haul! I hope you enjoyed :)x




Outfit #3 Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Next up for my Breakfast at Tiffanys challenge is the party scene! This is probably one of my favourite outfits of the movie (bar a later one which involves a pretty orange coat, but we will get to that…)
The dress in this specific scene is very similar to the previous recreation of another black dress – however I wanted each outfit to be different. I had no other access to a black dress at the time but had a perfect white ballerina style which would look perfect at a party hosted by Holly Golightly…


The white dress is a Topshop dress which I have owned for a few years. The ballf2eca9fbc3d021786dad66de315dca6eerina style dress was popular in the 1960s, note the distant similarities to the wedding dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face.
Although a longer dress and a fuller shape, it must be remembered that a wedding dress is obviously part of a more formal occasion, and therefore the traditional aspects of fashion and femininity where reflected in the event. By this I mean that dresses would be at a certain length, contrasting with the party in the film, which is an  informal social affair. This allows dresses to be shorter and more casual.
Additionally, ballerina dresses were popular as dress patterns prior to the 1960s.  The picture below this shows two covers to pattern sheets; the image to the right is of a 1960s addition, showing the ballerina style alongside more fitted and glamorous dress styles. In contrast, however not entirely different is a 1940s cover, again showing how the ballerina skirt is common of the time.
The outfit I am wearing is clearly not a direct recreation, however it carries a similar style in reflecting the event in question. For example the hair is not exactly the same. Instead of the twisted messy yet sophisticated look, I opted for a top knot bun, teasing part of my fringe into a little raised quiff, similar to the effect given by Holly’s twisted hair do.


I managed to find jewellery which are very similar to the necklace and earrings used. The blue and green earrings are from Accessorize and the necklace from Claires.  The earrings are probably my favourite thing about the whole of the outfit because of the art deco style and peacock colours reflecting in the light. Despite buying both pieces of jewellery from different places they compliment each other really well and could even pass as as a set!


I did my make up as I normally would for both day to day and evening wear. I always opt for blush cheeks, pink lip and my trusty sleek eyebrow kit!

I hope you enjoyed! x