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What Shall I Wear ? Our story so far...

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What Shall I Wear ? Claire McCardell  I named my business after a book written by Claire McCardell,  one of my favourite designers of the 40's and 50's

 

 

One question i'm frequently asked is "how did you end up running a Retro dress Boutique" ?  I must admit that I've asked myself the same question at times - so here is the definitive story...

What Shall I Wear ? was born out of my love for the amazing fashions and styles of the late 1940's, 50's and early 60's, combined with my passion for dressmaking and creating. 

 

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The Early Years

As a child, I used to watch the Saturday Matinee's - there was something magical about the "glorious technicolor", the beautiful leading ladies and of course, the amazing costumes.  Being a child of the 70's, many of my own clothes were handmade by my mum, and I loved watching her sew.  On my 12th Birthday, I got my first sewing machine and many a wild and wonderful creation was made, spending much of my pocket money in the remnant section at Boyes department store, Grimsby.

I decided there and then that I wanted to be a fashion designer, and recreate these gorgeous. glamorous and feminine styles from the films and I eventually found the ideal course at Nottingham Polytechnic, however, life choices and not having the confidence in myself to "follow my dreams" meant that I ended up down the "sensible" route of doing a degree in Social Psychology (more job prospects apparently) and following a very different career path. 

It's now or never....

Fast forward a few years to my 40th Birthday (how did that happen !) and I guess i had a re-evaluation (let's not call it a crisis) and realised that I was not happy in my worklife and needed to make a change.  I'd been selling my handmade creations online for a while in my spare time and decided that I'd actually quite like to make this my full time vocation !  however, I really needed a place to run my business from, as my office (kitchen table) was in real danger of collapsing due to the "stuff" on it.   I happened to drive past a little studio up for rent at Meridian Point, Cleethorpes and phoned up to see if I could look round. That was in June 2014 and by August I was in !.  I kept the name I'd initially thought of and started with opening at weekends and a few hours in the week (I was still working part time in the "day job") I soon realised that in retail, you can't just open your doors when you feel like it, so the following March, I had what could be described as a "sod it" moment and handed in my notice to the day job.  

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My first "publicity" shot

Well, here I (still) am.  It's been a massive learning curve (I've definitely learnt how to survive with less money coming in) I've learnt (sadly) that not everyone who gives you a smile has your best interests at heart,  that saying "yes" to everything isn't always the right option and that having your own business really is a rollercoaster of emotions (ask my husband) - but, I've also met some amazing, lovely, lovely people, learnt more about myself than any psychology degree could teach me and hopefully brought a little vintage sparkle to my customer's day,  and do you know what ? I wouldn't change it for the world (okay maybe an occasional weekend off would be nice) 

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 Two of my lovely customer's showing off their dresses from my exclusive collection

 

I hope you've enjoyed reading a little about my journey.  If you would like to visit my shop, I'm based at Unit 7, Meridian Point Craft Centre, Cleethorpes DN35 0AR

much love

Lou x

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