July 15, 2013

CV interviews Catherine Beck of Vintage Frills

The halfway mark of July (hard to believe, I know!) seems like the perfect time to introduce you to another of July's marvelous new blog sponsors: the informative, absolutely lovely blog Vintage Frills.

Helmed by Catherine Beck, a lifelong vintage fan, past vintage business owner (who recently wrote an excellent post called So You Want To Start A Vintage Business? that pulled on her firsthand knowledge of selling vintage clothes), mom to two darling daughters, sewer, baking fan, furniture upcycler, book lover, and all-around talented, crafty lady from the UK, Vintage Frills is devoted to covering a wide range of vintage topics and interests that are near and dear to its author's heart.

I recently had the great pleasure of interviewing Catherine about her blog, love of the past, wearing vintage, and fondness for a good read, and am delighted to present that interview here today.

Your blog is called Vintage Frills – which is such a fun name. What inspired you to name your blog as such?

The name was mainly inspired by a vintage fashion fair I was organizing around the same time I started the blog. I’d spent ages trying to come up with a cute girlie name for the fair and eventually my husband suggested Frocks and Frills. The world frills had just stuck in my head and so the blog was named Vintage Frills! I like to think of the vintage frills representing all the pretty embellishments and details on vintage items. It could equally be called vintage thrills, a feeling I get when I spot an amazing vintage bargain!

When did you found your blog? What inspired you to become a vintage blogger?

I started writing the blog about a year and a half ago. I had done a few little blog posts in the past for my vintage fair and my old vintage clothing website. I decided to start a personal vintage blog to keep a little record of the things I was doing, reading and buying. I was inspired by some other wonderful vintage blogs I’d been reading for a while as well as a book blog written by a very good friend. I started off not really knowing what I wanted to do with the blog and it’s evolved over time.

What are some of the vintage frills (of any sort) that you adore most?

Well my two biggest vintage addictions are floral dresses and tea cups, they are the two things I just can’t walk away from. I also love cute little kitchen pieces from the 40s and 50s. I also adore vintage clutch bags, they brighten up even the simplest outfits and I love the delicate clasps and beaded details you sometimes find on them.

Like myself, you describe yourself as a lifelong vintage lover. Were there any experiences in particular during your youth that really helped foster this passion for you?

I literally have loved old things since I was a tiny child! I think it must be hereditary because my great grandmother had collected antique clothing from as early as the 1930s and opened a business selling mainly Victorian clothing in the early 50s. She started as a market trader and went on to own 3 shops in London.

When she died her daughter my grandma took over the business which she continued to run well into her eighties! When I was little I would spend hours in the shop trying on Victorian nightdresses and Bakelite jewellery! So I think I was destined to love vintage even before I really knew what vintage was. I still have a large collection on Victorian linens and vintage jewellery which was once in the shop. (I wrote a post which goes into a bit more detail on this here.)

What are some of the main ways you currently enjoy vintage in your daily life? Do many/all of these points make it onto your blog?

If I had more time, everything would make it onto the blog. Vintage is definitely an everyday influence on my life from my fashion choices, to the way I decorate my home, to my attitude to being a full time mum. The biggest reflection would be my home, it’s a very modern take on a vintage theme. For example most of my furniture in vintage, but I’ve painted it and given it my own touch. I love vintage style floral prints alongside antique linens, so although it’s not an authentic vintage home it pays homage to homes of the past.

My actual home was built in the 1930s so I like to think of the house itself being vintage! When it comes to my clothes I don’t wear vintage pieces every day but go for classic pieces that are timeless, at the weekends I usually wear either something vintage or reproduction. I also love making dresses from vintage patterns, so I am also hunting for great vintage fabrics and real vintage buttons and zips to give them an authentic feel.

One thing we often do as a family is go out hunting for vintage pieces be it in charity shops, car boot sales, or salvage yards, so it’s definitely something we do together as a family. I also like to look to women of the past and their many talents as inspiration for my every day life. From that point of view I’m quite an old fashioned mum who bakes, cooks, sews, gardens and knits.

What are some of your favourite topics to blog about?

I have recently started doing outfit posts and this is something I’m going to be doing a lot more of, I have some wonderful dresses and it’s nice to share them a bit more. I like sharing the books I’ve been reading and started a vintage book club to share some of my favourites. I probably most enjoy sharing little projects I’ve been working on, like things I’ve made for my home or dresses I’ve been making. As well as some of the little vintage treasures I’ve bought.

You’re a busy mom with two young daughters, do you find it tricky to carve out time to blog?

Absolutely! Family time always comes first so often I will have an idea for a post in my head for days before I’m able to finish it. I often have to keep my blog posts short, because I literally don’t have time to write as much as I’d like to. However time with my children also inspires me every day and keeps me going with the blog. The best way I’ve found to keep up with everything is to set a little bit of time aside in the evening where I can catch up.

I’m not a parent (yet) myself, but have long said that if I ever am, I will dress my youngsters in vintage/repro clothes at least some of the time when they’re small. Do you ever dress your daughters in vintage, and do you think they may inherit (so to speak) your passion for the past?

I wish I had more opportunities to dress the girls in vintage. Generally I just dress them in normal clothes which they can play in and make a mess in without them damaging something precious. For special occasions I will dress them in something vintage inspired. I think it is something we might embrace together when they’re a little older. Although I've learned from friends with older children that usually they find their own style and it may or may not be vintage. They do however like to dress up with vintage scarfs and both have a few vintage handbags which they love to play with!

And speaking of vintage clothes – if you had to go on a two week holiday and could only take ten vintage (fashion/beauty) items with, what would you pack?

I’m tempted to say 10 vintage dresses! However I don’t think I could live with out: some rollers for my hair, a silk scarf, a red lipstick, Besame crimson rouge, some vintage appropriate wedges, 1950s style sunglasses, a floral dress, pearls, a cute handbag and a vintage book.

On your About page, you say, “When it comes to style to me it’s all about being feminine and elegant on any budget”, which I completely agree with. What are some of your best personal tips for finding vintage or vintage appropriate fashions on a budget?

My first tip would not to be too fussy about having an authentic vintage piece. Of course on a huge budget all my clothes would be true vintage. However in the real world there is nothing wrong with buying an item that looks the part and fits your body shape. The best thing to do is work out which eras you like and pick your favourite few styles from that era. It’s worth researching to know exactly what you’re looking for, then just shop for that style and shape.

So much modern fashion is inspired by the past that you can easily create a vintage look with modern clothing. You can then fill the gaps in your wardrobe with true vintage pieces as and when you can afford them. I also adore reproduction vintage clothing, if an authentic look is what you’re going for.

To create a great vintage look on a budget look for great vintage accessories which are often much easier to find and priced more reasonably. If you want a true vintage piece without a massive price tag I’d recommend looking on Ebay at strange times of day when fewer people will be bidding. People often add stuff late at night or very early in the morning, these are the best times for bargains. I’d also recommend getting to any fairs or sales as they open and pick up the good bits before they’re gone.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate. When I used to buy vintage to sell, I found an immaculate 1950s lace prom dress at a vintage fair. It was absolutely beautiful. I managed to negotiate a price of £45 which was unbelievably good considering it was one of the finest vintage pieces I’ve seen. The saddest part for me was that it was too small, so I sold it on.

You’re a fellow bookworm who frequently discussing/reviews books on your blog. What are some of your all-time favourite titles?

At the moment I love books set in England during the 1930-50s. I love everything by Nancy Mitford especially Love in a Cold Climate. Other authors I love are Barbara Pym, Dodie Smith and Agatha Christy. My favourite book of all time is Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, I’m a huge Austen fan!

Do you have any vintage related books that you really love and would recommend to one and all?

I recently read The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty, a wonderful book set mainly in the 1920s, it’s the perfect book for vintage lovers. I’d also recommend the book of Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote, it’s so much better than the film.

 photo CathKidston4_zps92c6c49d.jpg

{The beautiful lady behind Vintage Frills, Catherine Beck, curled up on the sofa in a darling vintage style Cath Kidston dress, a good page turner in hand.}

♥ ♥ ♥

Thank you very much for this fantastic interview, Catherine, as well as for being one of Chronically Vintage's newest blog sponsors. I hope really that my readers enjoyed getting to know more about you and Vintage Frills as much as I sincerely did.

If haven't paid Vintage Frills a visit before, or lately, why not pop over there right now and say hello to Catherine. I'm sure you'll soon find yourself s as inspired with, and engaged by, her wonderful blog as I am.


  1. Catherine and her blog sound delightful. Heading there now!

  2. What a lovely lady! She has such a fun background too with all her vintage loving family. I will definitely go check her out (and maybe spend the rest of the day on Ebay at weird hours! Need some bargains!).

  3. Thank you so much for your kind words Jessica. I am totally inspired by you and your blog and it's wonderful to be featured here. xxx

    1. You're very welcome, dear Catherine. Thank you again so much for becoming a sponsor, it was a sincere pleasure to interview you and to share about your fantastic blog with my readers.

      ♥ Jessica

  4. I already follow Vintage Frills and love it! There is always something useful and interesting. I really enjoyed this interview. Nice to hear the inside scoop of her blog.

  5. This is one blog I hadn't come across yet, which make me excited to check it out. You asked some really great questions and I feel that I will have a good understanding of what Catherine's blog will be about now. Heading over now to give it a good read. :)

    Hellcat Vintage

  6. Hmm. My first post disappeared. I hope I don't double post this.

    I'm so happy to see the mention of Barbara Pym! She's one of my favorite authors, though sadly not as well known as she should be. I've read Excellent Women so many times I've lost count.

    Thank you for posting the interview.

    1. Thank you very much for your lovely comment, Leigh Ann. This is the first interview as the interviewer that I've done on this blog, and I really enjoyed it. I hope other blog sponsors will be interested in this type of post, too, so that I can share further interviews with my readers.

      Fear not, your first comment didn't disappear. I have my comments set so that I approve all of them first before they go live so as to weed out spam comments (which I get tons of), and both of your comments were waiting to be approved. As they were pretty much identical, I just posted this one.

      Thanks again & have a beautiful evening,
      ♥ Jessica

    2. Thank you! I really like your blog. It's very interesting and very nicely done.

    3. I sincerely appreciate that, Leigh Ann, and love knowing that you enjoy my blog. Thank you!

      Have a fantastic rest of the summer!
      ♥ Jessica

  7. Very nice interview. I cant wait to check out her blog now! Im trying to discover more vintage bloggers so I really appreciate hearing about them

    Kate The Old Fashioned Way

    1. Thank you very much, dear Kate, I'm really happy to have introduced you to Catherine's blog. If you're looking for lots of enjoyable vintage related blogs, I've got oodles listed on my links page (which I update several times a year as I discover new or new-to-me vintage sites): http://www.chronicallyvintage.com/p/links.html

      ♥ Jessica

  8. I loved reading about how it all started and evolved... I like to think that my blog will evolve into something, maybe a shop!

    1. That would be thoroughly awesome, dear Lorena! You have a truly excellent eye for style, colour pairing, and trends - I bet your shop would be a smashing success!

      ♥ Jessica

  9. Another great blog to add to my list:)

  10. Her blog sounds really interesting :3 I'll be sure to check it out!