I have just become a grandma. Having a new baby in my world is the most wonderful thing imaginable. My granddaughter was three weeks old yesterday and I love her to bits. She is utterly perfect. Last night, as I was twirling around in the kitchen to her favourite song – Ed Sheeran’s Perfect – with her in my arms gazing up at me, I thought ‘Life does not get any better than this’.

‘You look perfect to me.’

I am absolutely loving being a grandma. But I’ll be honest with you, I’m struggling with the whole ‘grandma’ thing: the title and what it implies. I haven’t relaxed into it yet. When someone says ‘Grandma’, I look around for my mum, who was the best grandma ever and yet sadly, hasn’t been around for a good few years.

I have an image of a grandma: how a grandma dresses and behaves, who a grandma is, and it is nothing like me.

You know how much I love clothes. I’ve discovered a freedom to dress the way I love and I’m not ready to let that go. However, a couple of days before Delilah was born, I entered crisis mode. I think it was nerves. I became convinced that I needed to sort my wardrobe and get rid of ‘non grandma suitable’ items. I was convinced I couldn’t be a good grandma as I was. I needed to change to fill the role. I looked at my clothes and thought ‘Grandmas don’t dress like this.’ There was one particular item that stood out as needing to go: a crushed velvet short skater dress from Miss Selfridge. Somehow it suddenly seemed far too young for someone like me, far too young for a grandma to wear. And then that perception spread to the rest of my wardrobe:  I didn’t own anything suitable for a grandma to wear!

In my panic, I messaged my daughter and my best friend. My daughter was to be the mother of this precious baby. Her opinion mattered. I won’t repeat the single word she replied with, but it was basically ‘You absolute idiot!’ My friend was no more understanding. Her response was ‘If you start dressing like a grandma, then we’ll have to go out separately from now on!’ Both responses raised a shadow of a smile, but did nothing to alleviate my nerves.

However, when I gazed into the eyes of my grandchild for the first time, everything changed. This is what I communicated with her without speaking aloud.

Hey there, Delilah, I’m your grandma.

I’m not a normal grandma. I don’t knit. I’m a bit quirky. I’ve been called an eccentric dresser.

But that is who I am and that is what I offer you.

I will love you with my whole heart. We will have such fun together.

I’m a big kid at heart and I look forward to being a big kid with you.

I will be unapologetically me, for that is all I can be.

I will love you just as you are and I hope that you will be able to love me just as I am too.

That skater dress has not made it back into my wardrobe. It became a symbol of something and I don’t believe I ever will wear it again. But everything else is staying. I am not the stereotype of a grandma, but then, who is? I will be a wonderful grandma, because I will love all my grandchildren with all that I am and that will be enough. I’m throwing out the stereotype and doing it my way.

I will teach Delilah and all my grandchildren to follow that it is OK – more than OK – to be exactly who they were born to be.

Because that is exactly who I intend to be too.


Chiffon. I’m not a great fan of the word, I have to say. It seems really dated.

But the fabric itself, oh my, I just cannot resist…

Chiffon come from the French word for a cloth or a rag. Really not the right word for this delicate, ethereal material. Chiffon fabrics are produced using natural or synthetic silk. Early chiffon was made purely from silk until 1958, when polyester chiffon was invented and became available as a cheap alternative for all. Of course, the natural silk will have a more delicate quality. The chiffon you’ll find on the High Street is more likely to be a polyester chiffon.

Chiffon is the fabric of my dreams. It’s all about the feel, you see – a soft delicate drape. I love rubbing it between my fingers. I love the feel of it on my skin. My skin through it feels silky and luxurious, the gentlest of touches.

Chiffon is all floaty – light and airy. Weightless. There’s a real freedom there. You hardly notice you’re wearing it. I’m not a fan of wearing clothes – I do, obviously, but clothes you can wear without feeling them, without them restricting you or weighing you down, well, that’s a real gift.

Chiffon’s a transparent fabric – not a mesh or a tulle, but something more ethereal all together. This sheer material is so flattering, particularly in black for me. I feel more comfortable wearing something more figure-hugging if there’s a layer of chiffon over the top. It’s the best overlay in all seasons and for all occasions, giving a floaty appearance to whatever you happen to be wearing underneath.

My love affair with chiffon started back in February – the month of love, how appropriate. As soon as I saw this frilled black chiffon tunic over a pair of jeans and a slogan tee on a mannequin in the H&M window, I was hooked. I didn’t buy it straightaway, as I’d vowed not to buy any new clothes from High Street stores at all in 2017. But I was smitten. I couldn’t stop thinking about that dress. I went back the next day and bought it. I love to wear it with a cobalt blue vest and black leggings, but to be honest it’s so versatile, it’s completed a lot of looks. I pack it every time I go away, because it takes up so little space and I feel so amazing when I wear it. It’s a definite winner.

And then there is the black skirt that’s layer upon layer of wonderful. A nude tulle, a stiff black cut out mesh, finished with a black chiffon overlay. A TKMaxx find that makes me feel like a cinema star when I wear it. It looks so, so pretty and feels incredible to wear. A recent purchase, I wore it to a meal out the other night with black vest, black jacket, black ankle socks and shiny black hefty shoes. I have no idea what anyone else thought of my look. I don’t think I care. I know how I felt and to me, that’s all that matters.

And then there’s the 70s-inspired batwing top that hangs in my wardrobe waiting for the right occasion. Another TKMaxx treasure, the satin string vest top has a long-sleeved batwing overlay in black chiffon with large black stars all over it, ribbed with thick black jersey at the neck, waistline and cuffs. I’m so excited to wear it. I think I need to arrange to go to another Rolladisco. It would be absolutely perfect attire for that. For the moment, I’m happy to take it out of my wardrobe once a week for a look and a feel. I’m just glad that I own it.

I’d say that was pretty restrained as love affairs go, wouldn’t you? More to do with the fact that I haven’t come across more black chiffon delights in my travels. If I had, I can’t guarantee for sure they wouldn’t now be in my wardrobe! It’s weird how we change. Everything for a season. There’s been lace, velvet…and now this. Although lace and velvet still feature too…you never let go of your first loves…

Anyone else in the middle of a love affair with a particular fabric or style or colour? Something you’re drawn to in a fashion store, something you can’t resist touching or trying on or buying….?

PS: I know the photos don’t do the garments justice. Chiffon is an awful fabric to get a good image of for anyone, I think. Feel free to take a picture of me wearing one of these three items and I’ll get that uploaded instead!



Name: Michela Dickinson

Instagram: @micheladickinson


Have you always been into clothes? How did you dress as a kid?

Growing up with three brothers meant that most of the time, I was outside getting mucky and collecting slugs, so fashion wasn’t really on my mind in the early days. We did have a fantastic and slightly bizarre dress up box full of fancy dress outfits and accessories my parents had collected and bought for us over the years, which resulted in some rather strange outfits.

I don’t remember having a particular interest in the way that I dressed up until the age of fourteen, and at this point, I began my metamorphosis from a style-ignorant kid wearing head to toe charity shop finds, into a style conscious teen – still wearing head to toe charity shop finds: the difference was, I was beginning to feel determined to create my own ‘look’ and I remember thinking I wanted it to be distinct.

If I could go back and keep an item of clothing from my childhood, I’d like to get my hands on the beige corduroy flares (Cancer Research UK special) that I despised at the time, but in hindsight, I realise that they were absolute gems. Maybe all the pairs of rainbow coloured glitter jelly sandals too, which I would 100% still wear today.

Now that I think of it, you could probably find items just like that in the very charming children’s vintage inspired Little Bird Clothing by Jools Oliver, which I think is rather lovely really – some looks (jelly shoes and flares) are just timeless.

Who over the years has influenced and inspired the way you dress?

I think my interest in style and appearance stems from looking up to females as I was growing up and being utterly in awe of their seemingly effortless ability to blend their personalities with their appearance and create an entirely unique look. Florence Welch, the ever ethereal and elegant frontwoman of Florence and The Machine, has given me my love for all things vintage; her wardrobe is an incredible combination of recycled designer and vintage pieces, and after many years of being in love with her music, her wardrobe, and her beautifully delicate temperament, I am still starry-eyed anytime I watch or read interviews with her. There’s a fantastic peak into her home in this interview on Youtube –

It’s fascinating to see how someone so creative derives their inspiration from what’s around them, which reflects both her music and her style. To me, that’s what style is. Producing an aesthetic by absorbing the things around you that you find inspiring and creating something entirely original and tailored to you, by you.

Other influences for me have been the likes of Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen. Both are perhaps less delicate and more unapologetic in their forms, yet still have a mysterious air of femininity about them that’s difficult to put your finger on. Having worn winged eyeliner nearly every single day for the past five years or so, it’s fair to say that Amy’s appearance has been inspiring to me.

How would you describe your look? Would you describe it as vintage?

I think it’s difficult to summarise my look as it’s so varied and some days, I can put hours into getting ready and some days, I make no effort at all. And of course, our style is often a fluid thing, it rarely stays the same throughout our lives, which is the beautiful thing about it. I would say that I have a vintage inspired wardrobe, and most days my outfit will have some element of vintage or retro in it.

How do you define the word ‘vintage’?

To me, ‘vintage’ means something is the real deal, anything labelled as vintage is an original piece with history attached to it, and so usually if it’s a genuine vintage piece, it’s pretty valuable. Being on a student budget means that I more often than not buy retro clothing, the difference between retro and vintage being that vintage refers to the construction of a piece, whilst retro refers to the appearance. This being said, I guess the term ‘vintage’ can be pretty subjective and when it comes to vintage, the worth placed on an item can often be relative to the individual that wears it. Feel free to use that as an excuse for buying the piece you’ve been eyeing up for a while – if the tag says it’s fifty pounds and it’s worth fifty pounds in your eyes, it’s definitely not a bad idea to spend your last fifty quid on it, right?

Where do you buy your clothes from?

After having a root around my floordrobe, I’ve realised that the majority of my clothes are either charity shop bargains or floaty woaty cutie tootie things from the very much overpriced Urban Outfitters (fear not, clothing connoisseurs, 99% of the bits I buy in there are from the sale rail).

Where would you never, ever dream of shopping for clothes?

I don’t think I’d completely rule out any stores, with the exception of places like Sports Direct, but that’s mainly because I have no reason to be buying active wear (who needs exercise anyways) and the lighting in those shops makes me feel like I’m under a huge ugly strip light surrounded by garish coloured skin tight ‘breathable’ running clothes. AKA an absolute nightmare.

What was the last item you bought?

I can’t remember the last item I bought, which is good news because I’ve obviously managed to wrestle my clothes shopping addiction into temporary restraint. However, I have just had a little rifle through my best friend’s bin bags full of clothes that she was donating, and claimed at least one third of them to add to the ever growing floordrobe. I now have a wonderful pile of floral patterned trousers and crop tops to add to my own collection, which are the perfect kind of clothes as I can wear them for pyjamas AND get away with wearing them in public. What more could I ask for?

And what’s the favourite piece of clothing you’ve ever owned?

The first thing that came to mind is an incredible shell jacket that I found in Retro Vintage Clothing in Newcastle, which is in a lovely little corner of High Bridge Square, (and is without a doubt one of the best vintage shops I have ever been in) about four years ago and I have worn that jacket to death. It now has more holes in it than it has solid pieces of material, which I tell myself just adds character, but I’m probably starting to look less cool and more hobo the more I wear it.

It’s incredibly difficult to pick just one favourite item, so I’d like to say my favourite(s!) are the vast collection of knitted grandad jumpers I have, with patterns that are so ugly that they’re pretty, which have been solid staples in my wardrobe for a very long time, and I imagine will continue to be. At one point, I counted how many I had and I’m slightly ashamed to admit that it was just over thirty. Since then, I’ve put a few back into charity shops for some other lucky souls to appreciate, but I just can’t help dipping into Oxfam and eyeing up the men’s rail like a cat at a fishpond every time I walk past.

What do you think the way you express yourself through your clothes says about you?

It probably says something like ‘wow, she really does not give a hoot about coordination, does she?’ or ‘why is that girl so shamelessly wearing bright green flowery pyjama type trousers with a cropped glittery purple knitted jumper and socks and sandals?’

What’s your most important accessory?


Literally the most important part of my appearance most of the time is the ten million rings I’m wearing and the larger than life gold hoops that never leave my lobes, PLUS all the various piercings I have put in my face and body.

I find that you can wear the most plain simple outfit and as soon as you put on some beautiful jewellery, you can feel like at least one hundred dollars (maybe not a million, depends on the day). The brilliant thing about jewellery is that you can buy it for mega cheap and most of the time, unless you get the dreaded green finger, nobody would be able to tell.

I remember someone telling me once that the key to wearing jewellery properly and elegantly is to ‘put three items on, take one off’. My motto is more like, ‘put at least eighty percent of the jewellery you own on your body, keep it there, and don’t worry about looking ‘elegant’.’


Name: Imogen Mansfield

Instagram: @imogenski

Website:  www.imogenmansfielddancer.co.uk


Have you always been into clothes? How did you dress as a kid?

No, I was never one of those kids who steals their mum’s high heels and lipstick, and I’ve never had any interest in following trends. My interest in clothes and style has developed as I have matured and grown as a person, though I’ve never really thought too much about what I wear.

Who over the years has influenced and inspired the way that you dress?

I love people watching and I am always so inspired by other people, especially when I visit new places and experience other cultures. My mum is another influence. I always wear her velvet shirts from the 80’s – she had some amazing clothes. Another influence and inspiration is The Beatles. I love their music and style, and I have a pretty extensive collection of John Lennon inspired sunglasses.

How would you describe your look?

Colourful, cosy, creative, quirky.

Would you describe your look as vintage?

A mishmash of vintage, new, and handmade.

How do you define the word ‘vintage’?

Vintage to me is any item of high quality clothing from generations passed. The thing I love about vintage clothes is that each item has a story, and has been loved by someone else. I think vintage clothing is an art, and it’s really cool to own something truly beautiful and unique that you discovered stuffed at the back of a thrift store.

Where do you buy your clothes from?

I love to explore vintage stores whenever I’m visiting a new place. I was dancing in Berlin a few weeks ago and spent hours getting lost in vintage stores! I love to buy clothes in different places in the world, because that item will always remind you of the experiences you’ve had there. I also use Etsy, because you can type in any random thing your heart desires and you will probably find it! My favourite vintage stores in Newcastle are Flip Vintage, and The Yesterday Society, as well as the many huge Vintage fairs and Weigh and Pay sales!

And where would you never, ever dream of shopping for clothes?

Primark. Unoriginal, unethical, mass-produced clothes. I recently watched The True Cost, and I realised just how awful the working conditions are in fast fashion.

What was the last item you bought?

A pair of vintage Levi 501s from Flip Vintage in Newcastle.

And what’s the favourite piece of clothing you’ve ever owned?

Blue velvet Doc Martens. Or a super cosy, bright blue stripy jumper that I never take off – my mum hates it.

What do you think the way you express yourself through your clothes says about you?

That I am crazy, a bit of a weirdo, don’t take myself too seriously, and I enjoy life.

When you wake up in the morning, how do you select what you are going to wear that day?

I don’t! I am always half asleep when I’m getting ready in the morning. But my go-to outfit is always Levi 501s and a vintage t-shirt, plus Doc Martens (obviously).

What’s your most important accessory item – bag, scarf, jewellery etc?

Doc Martens are the only shoes I ever wear, I don’t feel like myself without them! Socks are also really important to me – I can’t dance well if I’m not wearing a good pair of socks.

What do you think your look will be in twenty years’ time?

I hope it will be colourful, unique, and interesting.

Whose look do you really admire right now?

Margaret Zhang, Camille Rowe, Leandra Medine, Djuna Bel, and Maria Kochetkova.

What piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to express themselves more in what they wear?

Don’t think – just do! I never think about how a new item will match and coordinate with the rest of my wardrobe. Just buy what you love and are drawn to, and then experiment.



‘Be an expression of yourself,

rather than a reflection of the rest of the world.’






The word ‘vintage’ seems to mean different things to different people and certainly causes plenty of confusion.

So here’s a dictionary definition –

of high quality and lasting value, or showing the best and most typical characteristics of a particular type of thing, especially from the past

Helpful? Maybe. Interesting? Definitely.

I for one had never considered the quality aspect of vintage. To me, vintage just meant ‘old’. Anything from a time before now. But think of the fast fashion we’re buying these days. How long will any of these pieces last? They’re created with a built-in obsolescence. Nothing is made to last. If we slavishly follow fashion trends, why would we want anything to last longer than one season anyway?

But there was a time when clothing was made to last. Timeless classics. Quality fabrics. That’s why they’re still here. That’s why we can still pick them up in vintage shops and wear them all these years later.

I love the idea that the clothes I’m wearing have a history. I know some people are put off by that, but I take pleasure in that sense of a back story. A story that I’ll never know anything about but it’s there interwoven into the threads. I love that musty smell as you walk into a vintage shop. It’s there in charity shops too. For me, vintage shops are essentially charity shops that someone else has sorted through and picked the best out for me so that I don’t have to. Charity shops take a lot of hard work and perseverance to find that one treasure. In a vintage shop, the treasures are easier to locate.

I don’t believe that vintage has to be any one particular era. Some women pick one era and try to recreate that one look. My sense of vintage is far more eclectic than that. I think I can safely say that will never include 70s fashion, but there’s something about the 20s flapper scene that appeals to me and 80s frills and the ankle grazers of the Mods in the 50s and the swishy skirts of 50s dresses and the 40s long fur coats…

So what is the definition of vintage?

Some would say old-fashioned. I say retro.

Some would say secondhand. I say pre-loved.

Some would say out of date. I say timeless.

Some would say eccentric. I say quirky.

Some would say imperfect. I say it has a story.

And then there’s repro retro, new clothes with a retro feel, like my burgundy velvet ankle grazers from Top Shop – see, I do buy brand new clothes occasionally!

I find it hard to define what it is that attracts me to vintage clothing. It takes my breath away. I love that there is just one of each piece in the shop (like in this cool vintage shop in Manchester I visited a few weeks ago), not rows and rows of the same design in different sizes and different colours. I love that sense of dressing up as I try on a flapper dress that I have absolutely no use for. I just need to try it on. I love the whole sensory experience – the colour, the fit, the feel, the smell (yes, I do smell every item I pick up).

I don’t do it to look different. I tried conforming for a long while. I just wasn’t very good at it. I don’t dress to impress. I wear what I love, it’s as simple as that. What I can’t resist buying.

I had a wonderful day in the charity shops of Whitley Bay last week. But my favourite shop of all was Miss Persnickety, a clothing and accessories shop that describes itself on Facebook as ‘choosy, selective, slightly snobby’. It’s like a living museum of fashion where you can touch and smell and try on your favourite designs. I can’t wait to go back again. I bought an Anna Sui black cardigan with the most fabulous cream lace frills at the neck and sleeves – and I’m totally in love with it.

So if vintage is your thing, then have the confidence to go with the flow. Take the time and follow your intuition. There’s no right or wrong way to do vintage.

Wear what you love. It’s that simple.