Frockery Talk

  • Wetsuit kimono, anyone?

    November 2, 2012

    It's car crash telly at its very best (or worst) and not normally our cup of tea. However, since we had failed to avoid the new series hype, which promised retro rag trade rummagery in the first episode, we tuned in last night to watch the Young Apprentice in which 12 over-confident youngsters were tasked with making money from selling second hand clothing.

    Unlike most entrepreneurs, young or otherwise, they had the twin benefits of a ready supply of raw materials from local recycling companies and (presumably paid-for) well-positioned pitches for selling their wares at a heaving London shopping 'mall' and the busy Battersea Park car boot sale.

    We're not knocking the young people for having ambition and drive to succeed in the world of business, but it was excruciatingly painful to watch some of them in action (or inaction in Max's case, whose trouser folding skills made no appreciable impact on profit and led to him being first to be fired). The boys' 16 year old team leader and alleged fashion designer Patrick, had meanwhile committed a crime of gross indecency against an innocent wetsuit and brightly coloured kimono by melding them, at great expense, into a hybrid horror which, inevitably, no one wanted to buy. As Lord Sugar quipped, it might have gone down well at a cocktail party on the Titanic, but what was the boy thinking?  In true disaster movie style, they inexplicably abandoned the busy shopping centre early for Brick Lane, where they eventually found a real life rag trader willing to take their remaining stock for £40.

    The girls were rather more sensible in having appointed an accountancy student / bridal shop assistant as their team leader as she kept tight rein on the budget, especially the 'customising' creative (?) activity with which Patrick lost the entire plot. Apart from not recognising the difference between a tumble dryer and washing machine in the laundrette, which had to be pointed out by the local Dot Cotton, they swept to victory, although it was somewhat Pyrrhic in nature given the little money either team actually turned over.

    You certainly don't need Max's 11 A* GCSEs to calculate that 12 people spending two days on  hand picking, laundering, customising and selling second hand clothes at two premier London pitches, each with massive footfall, should have made a lot more money than they did - a profit, even?  Between them they made less than £1000 and we don't know how much, if anything, they paid for their stock or for their premier pitches.

    So it's goodbye to Max, while the frankly irritating Patrick survives to commit more crimes of fashion (and probably business) in the coming weeks. Sadly, he isn't alone in his quest to destroy the integrity of original garments in the name of creativity. Upcycling and customising seem to have become the trendy new replacements for recycling and repair, the carving up and total destruction of original pieces being the preferred option even when they are entirely fit for purpose and re-lovable in their presenting state, albeit with a bit of TLC.

    While we are not averse to a bit of hem shortening and tailoring ourselves in order to make a garment rather more courant, we are always saddened to see beautiful vintage pieces lose their soul (and often their value) as the result of the scissor-happy activities of self-proclaimed style gurus. Too often we have come across 50s dresses which have been shortened to destructive lengths and we have even seen original sought-after vintage labels (Horrockses, anyone?) cut out of garments to be replaced with local shop branding, which may be nouveau but is most definitely not art! We would call it a veritable scandal.

    Vintage and antique textiles may naturally have deteriorated due to age, damage, storage and/or general 'wearage', in which case they may need to be modified or even de-constructed if they are to be reworn or reused, and we don't have a problem with that. However, the wanton destruction of original pieces is, in our opinion, every bit as eco-criminal as the fast fashion industry which churns out a never ending supply of cheap and cheerless textiles which will go straight to landfill after one wear (or sometimes none at all).

    When it comes to quality second hand or vintage clothing, remember that buttons and zips can easily be replaced, belts and accessories can customise a garment without doing irreversible damage, and hemlines and sleeves can be lengthened or shortened (but please try to maintain the integrity of the original piece if it is of a particular era/style). We confess to having quite a few frocks in our possession which are waiting for small repairs and adjustments so that they can enjoy a new lease of life. Others have small flaws which don't affect wearability and simply add to their character, while a few need some professional help from specialist seamstresses and cleaning professionals - but they're worth it!

    Although the Young Apprentice wannabes didn't manage to make a silk purse out of the proverbial sow's ear (unless the wetsuit kimono becomes the Next Big Thing through prime time media exposure alone), the rag trade can be a rewarding business for those of us who are in it for the love as well as the livelihood. A little common sense goes a long way, but then you're only young once!

  • Arthur takes a trip (and loses his head)

    October 31, 2012

    arthur frocker

    Arthur Frocker has been complaining bitterly (in that moodily mute manner only a male mannequin can manage - just look at that less than impressed expression above!) about being left stood in a corner of the Frockery office with little attention (apart for some tacky tinsel round his shoulders last Christmas) and no outings for the past year.

    Since his Spice Girls pals went off on tour and were such a massive hit at RARA, the best wee vintage shop in Downtown Dundee, a touch of the green eyed monster has begun to afflict our ageing mannequin, who wants a bit of the action (or maybe that should be inaction) for himself.

    spice girls rara

    So since it's Halloween, which is definitely Arthur's time of year, we have once again dressed him up in his tailcoat, tuxedo shirt and bow tie for a surprise trip to Dundee. He looked distinctly unimpressed when being loaded (horizontally) into Johnny Frocker's van and lost his head again. [Readers may remember that the same fate befell him last  year when his head rolled off his shoulders while sitting in the passenger seat of Alison's Merc as she negotiated a roundabout]. He keels over a lot as well these days, and some of his body parts are no longer in working order - all part of the vintage mannequin's ageing process, it seems - but we love him nonetheless.

    arthur takes a trip

    If you want meet Arthur in the flesh (or should that be resin?) pop into RARA and the Pretty Vacant Showrooms this week, where he'll be delighted to greet you.  What's more, if you send us a picture of yourself with Arthur,  you'll be in with a chance of winning £20 of Frockery goods. (Judging will take place next week, and remember to send your contact details in case you win!)

    Arthur says:

    "Relax, I'm 'armless, and I don't have my head (or hands) screwed on either!"

    arthur frocker

    Happy Halloween from the Frockers and RARA!

  • Back from the deep south (of London)

    October 25, 2012

    We're back from our trip to the deep south (of London) where we visited our lovely daughter (who features on our website banner and is now living and working in the capital) and enjoyed some vintage retail therapy as well as revisiting many old haunts. The weekend was not without its share of adventure, either, the most memorable of which was a mad and super scary midnight taxi ride around Docklands with the Frockers holding on to their seat belts for dear life while their luggage flew around the boot! We must confess we are glad to have survived to tell the tale and to have returned to the one-tractor Scottish town whence we came.

    We have now caught up on the backlog of orders which were waiting for us on our return and thank our customers for their patience during our short absence. We have already begun adding some super new stock to the catalogue, so please check out our What's New section for the latest additions.

    Meanwhile here are a few tasters of what's still in the pipeline:

    fair isle cardigan

     Land Girls style Fair Isle wool cardigan

    paul costelloe dressage trench coat

    Paul Costelloe Dressage trench coat

    (We also have a Burberrys trench coat in a size UK8 Long)

    louis feraud peplum tunic

    Vintage 80s Louis Feraud spotted monochrome peplum tunic

    80s new wave brown suede shoes

    80s brown suede New Wave shoes with amazing heels

    80s brown suede statement belt

    80s cinched suede corset belt with statement buckle

    pink devore evening gown

    Pink devore evening gown

    vintage print pinny

     Vintage yellow print pinny with kitchen paraphernalia print

    (We have a few of these aprons in different prints)

    We also have lots of day and evening dresses, including a Laura Ashley green floral needlecord frock, a Diane Freis scarf print dress and a gold Cinderella style ball gown; lots of warm woollens, including a warm winter white mohair slouch cardigan jacket and Tulchan lambswool 'coatigan'; skirts, blouses, shoes, bags, accessories and more. So don't forget to keep swinging by to check out our latest bargains!

  • Customer Notice

    October 17, 2012

    The Frockery office will be closed from 12 noon on Thursday 18th October until 9am on Monday 22nd October.

    This will not affect online ordering.

    Orders received by 11am on Thursday will be posted immediately. Orders received after 11am on Thursday will be posted on Monday.

    Apologies for any inconvenience.

  • Cosy up to cashmere

    October 15, 2012

    Now that we're half way through October, a distinct chill has entered the air, the central heating is back on and our wardrobes are having to move with the season.

    In our case (not least because we live in Scotland which is consistently colder than southern parts) the lightweight frocks, blouses and skirts have given way to an autumn / winter  wardrobe of wool skirts, sweaters and jumper dresses, knee length boots and our hardy perennial faux fur coat.

    As the nights draw in and the C word (which we promise not to mention at least until the clocks change) looms, with all its accompanying expense and stress that none of us can really afford, it's time to warm up our wardrobes with a few carefully chosen classic pieces to see us through to next spring.

    We always have a couple of cashmere jumpers to hand, which we team with wool skirts, trousers or jeans, and we often accessorise them with scarves and brooches. Our two particular favourites, which we wear constantly (and which, lovingly hand washed, come up as good as new every time) are an Autograph black cashmere roll neck jumper, which goes with anything, and a raspberry cashmere sweater which brightens up the dullest of days. But we are also tempted this autumn by some of the jazzier colours and patterns that make a bit more of a statement.

    As green fans, we are rather taken with this lime green striped jumper in 100% cashmere and and  the one below with its more subtle  pattern (and long sleeves!)

    lime green cashmere jumper

    green cashmere jumper

    For the classic woman, this vintage Jaeger cashmere sweater strikes just the right note.

    pink Jaeger cashmere sewater

    Or how about this super soft and super snuggly Oasis grey and blue striped cashmere jumper with cute off-centre pussy bow? It looks great with jeans, but would also bring a smart grey business suit to life.

    striped cashmere pussy bow jumper

    We also have a selection of go-with-anything cashmere jumpers and cardigans in plain colours to suit a variety of tastes and budgets.

    This Florence & Fred shawl collar red cashmere cardigan is a perfect wardrobe staple. A black pencil skirt would be our choice of accompaniment if it fitted us!

    red cashmere cardigan

    And finally, vintage Munrospun honeysuckle cashmere - just too small for us, sadly.

    honeysuckle cashmere jumper

    All preloved and waiting to be reloved! Why not cosy up to cashmere this winter and enjoy a touch of luxury at a fraction of the original price?

  • Dollyfrockers website goes live

    October 14, 2012

    As our regular readers already know, the Frockery doesn't just sell frocks! We also work in collaboration with Sandra Cormack of SC Make Up Artistry as Dollyfrockers on commissioned styling projects for fashion shows, magazine photo shoots and portfolios, as well as making 'ordinary' people look amazing for any occasion.

    We are delighted to announce that our new dedicated website has now gone live. Designed by Sandra's talented other half, Alan Cormack, we're sure you'll agree that it is absolutely fabulous.


    Do especially check out our Gallery for examples of our collaborative work - more will be coming soon to illustrate the breadth of our portfolio. As our website images testify, the photographers we work with are among the best in Scotland, capturing magical memories of the myriad looks we create .

    We also have a Facebook page and Twitter feed, so do please 'like' us and 'follow' us if you are interested in keeping up to date with our combined frockery and make up artistry 'dollyfrocking' activities.

    Coming very soon is one of our commissions on the front page of  (with more inside!) Invite Magazine.

    invite mag front page