Sunday, 19 February 2012

Bethnal Green Social - the Affordable Vintage Fashion Fair

 [All photos my own - click to enlarge. Please ask before reproducing].
I spent this afternoon in Bethnal Green's York Hall, which had stepped back in time for the latest evolution of the Affordable Vintage Fashion Fair: the Bethnal Green Social. This was an event which combined vintage shopping with music and refreshments from the past - cue rockabilly and very covetable mismatched crockery. I've been to previous vintage fairs in Brighton, but today was about making it a whole experience and not seeing things so much as pre-loved, but more 'of their time'.

 Rails of clothing were ripe for rummaging. Bargains ranged from 50p charms and jewellery to £80 flapper dresses, £100 British Rail luggage racks and £200 fur coats, with something for everyone.

 The view from the hall's stage.

 If only they weren't in a size 8 - these shorts caught my eye. 1988 Olympics, anyone?

 New Cut Gang performed a brilliant acoustic set.

 Blogger and vintage fashion boutique owner Demelza Toy Toy had a brilliant outfit. I particularly love the way she blended her Moschino belt with shorts and pirate ankle boots. 
Check out her blog, Harper and Eye - it comes with recommendations by Vivienne Westwood and Grazia!

 I'm partial to a bit of menswear and this stall didn't disappoint. It blended casual knits and shirts with the kind of jackets and Panama hats that you'd (well, at least I'd) associate with upper class retro style.

 The yellow dress and blue shirt both reminded me of House of Holland's new A/W 2012 collection in the way that they add bold stripes to great effect, creating contours.

 I absolutely love this shopper's hair - the aqua streak is amazing! The orange tights are bold, jazzy and fun.

 This is a brilliant example of layering. I love how this stallholder has combined different elements of 1970s cool (tan belt, autumnal colours, chiffon, maxi-dresses and loose, wavy hair) but not managed to look like a slave to the trends. She's just enjoying her own style and wearing it in her way - in this case, with Converse.

Lastly, another touch of aqua, but this time not in hair. I wish I could have bought this dress but it was the kind of piece that only a 6ft model lookalike could have pulled off. 

So, what did I buy at the Bethnal Green Social? Well, as there's been a glut of photos in this post, I'm saving the shopping for a later instalment, but I can promise you that I didn't come away empty-handed. Amongst my finds were some amazing Dr. Martens-esque white boots, a hilarious 50p ring with an evil-looking cat on it, and a gorgeous teal crimped dress that I may well be wearing to London Fashion Week on Tuesday. 

Three reasons to go vintage, if the photos didn't convince you:

1. It allows you to be more individual and you don't end up wearing what everyone else has. Although I love fashion and seeing what's going to be big, I really don't want to look like a clone. If you want to know how to dress less like a shop mannequin, go to a vintage fair for inspiration.
2. It's ethical. What some people see as dated or uncool is another person's retro, and it doesn't need to be thrown away just because it's slightly faded or torn. One bugbear of working in a charity shop was that we had to reject anything that was looking vaguely tatty or tired, which was a shame because it was still perfectly good to wear. Vintage fashion stops this needless waste.
3. If you really love a certain style or piece of clothing, why not go back to its roots? Being able to get your hands on a Victorian blouse or a 1960s miniskirt means you get to hold a piece of history in your hands (sounds naff, I know, but it's true). In my case, I don't know the origins of rings with evil-looking cats on, but I'm holding out hope that mine is one of the earlier ones...

For more information on vintage fairs around the country, please see Kate Mulloy's very comprehensive Vintage Fair Directory


  1. Great blog! Would you be ok with me adding it to my vintage fair review blog at I'd include full credits and a backlink to you x

    1. Hi Kate,

      Absolutely! I will add in the link to your blog now - it's a great idea to build a blog around vintage fairs.

      Polly x

  2. Replies
    1. Oh, most definitely, Miss Holdstock! Don't worry, there was plenty of navy and stripey stuff to keep you shopping for hours! xx


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