It’s Not Grim Up North: “It’s Vintage, Darling.”

“I want everyone to wear what they want and mix it in their own way. That, to me, is what is modern.”

Karl Lagerfeld

Although I am a lover of all things vintage, I don’t make it my life.

I enjoy sifting through rails of clothes as I search for the perfect dress, top or jacket, but I get equally excited perusing the contents of H&M or (if I am feeling flush) Topshop. I like to mix up my style and, rather than wear head to toe vintage – because, quite frankly, I don’t think I could pull it off as wonderfully as some women do – I like to incorporate old, found, or borrowed pieces (I have recently discovered my mum’s 80s collection lurking at the back of the wardrobe in the spare room like some fashion Narnia) into my everyday wardrobe of denim, black t-shirts, camis and fake gold jewellery.

Now, London is a vintage lover’s dream. There are a plethora of independent vintage shops secreted in alleyways and shopping centres – some by big names such as Lilly Allen’s Lucy in Disguise, or – more recently – the fabulous Dawn O’Porter (my girl crush) and her pop up BOB by DOP shop in Covent Garden – and some that have just been there forever (Beyond Retro is a favourite of mine and you can’t go wrong with a bit of Brick Lane for some vintage treasures).

But enough of our capital.

I want to talk about my favourite place (and my current home) Manchester. It’s widely known that this Northern city has its own unique style. From punk, to indie, to the rave-culture of the Hacienda, and the fashion influence of bands such as The Stone Roses and The Happy Mondays (did you catch This is England, 90 recently? I know it was set in Nottingham but the influence of the North, and Manchester in particular, is clearly evident). It’s a place where, even today with our mass-market Primark culture (I love a bit of Primarni, me) you can walk down Market Street and everyone has their own style. I had great fun not so long ago writing a scene in my YA novel, LOL, about the kids who hang out at Cathedral Gardens – all eye liner, skateboards, piercings, black ripped jeans, and attitude. I adore the mish-mash of styles in our rainy city and love nothing more than sitting in the Northern Quarter or St Anne’s Square, and watching these people mill by.

So as you all know it was my 30th Birthday a few days ago, and what I really wanted to do was just have a low key day, including heading into town to sample the EPIC pancakes at Sugar Junction which is fast becoming my favourite place to get breakfast.

Top Tip: It can get pretty busy so head to Sugar Junction on a week day and avoid peak lunch hours. The food is really amazing so to avoid food envy (which you will get) maybe share some breakfast dishes with your companions. The tea and coffee selection is fabulous – my recommendation is the Chai latte (as I love all things Chai) – as is the cake. Go with an elasticated waistband and a good appetite!

Next on my birthday wish list was time spent trawling the Norther Quarter’s vintage shops (although my favourite vintage/second hand emporium has now been replaced by a Turtle Bay) in hot pursuit of my new favourite item of clothing: pleated midi skirts. The obsession is strong.

After hitting up Pop Boutique and trying to decide between all the wonderful sparkly 80s jumpers, I selected a silver and black number, and then headed to COW where I tried on multiple items before finding a green midi that I absolutely loved.

Top Tip: Go forth, vintage shoppers, with a little bit of imagination. I adored the green skirt on the rail but the clasp was broken and there were some questionable looking marks on the material. I hesitated when paying and managed to knock a fiver off  the asking price because I would have to fix the clasps myself. Most places will be open to the haggle, especially when it comes to broken stock.

I ended up wearing my find on a night out that evening – which included a limo ride from my lovely friend Tiff – teaming it with a simple black cami, a denim jacket and some black sandals I have had for a long time. It was an inexpensive addition to my wardrobe that really freshened up an outfit I’d worn many times before. **Black cami addict**

Another top tip, especially if you’re new to the world of vintage clothing or – like me – you like to dabble now and again – is to make sure you visit the free vintage markets and fairs that take place all over the city. My friend, Jess, and I went to Judy’s Vintage Fair at the Freemasons Hall. There was a £2 entry fee but all proceeds went to charity and there were so many stalls we didn’t even know where to start. Although neither of us came away with a new purchase, we did garner an understanding of what styles seemed to suit us. I am an 80s/90s child. I like metallic, full pleated skirts in crazy colours and leather. Jess is a 60s/70s princess. Cord, tan, shift dresses, and lots of leg on show.

The skirt pictured below absolutely broke my heart because there was no way I could alter the pleats and waistband (which was enormous) for a price that would make the purchase worthwhile. Sometimes you find that this is the case with certain items and you just have to let them go. Sob!

Vintage isn’t all about dressing head to toe in a particular decade or adorning yourself with every vintage item you come across, rather it’s about finding pieces you love that can be altered simply by a tailor to modernise the look, or combining new finds with your already existing wardrobe. Plus it’s a lot of fun!

Manchester truly has its own unique style and sense of fun when it comes to fashion. Although in recent years I have seen a change in how people dress on a night out (it seems to have become very dressy) I think it has managed to retain some of its individuality and I hope it stays that way.

So there you go. Vintage, fashion and style. Just another reason why it is #notgrimupnorth and why I think you should visit my adopted hometown.

Thanks for reading this post and welcome back to my new #itsnotgrimupnorth series! Expect photos, tips and tales!

I’d really love to know what you think about the city and my posts.

Remember you can get in touch Twitter @EmmaYatesBadley, Facebook, or drop me an email ( Just look right for details.


3 Replies to “It’s Not Grim Up North: “It’s Vintage, Darling.””

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