The Harlequin Tea Room and Curios

I feel a shopping blog post is well overdue, so today I’ll be blogging about one of my favourite places in the whole world, The Harlequin Tea Room and Curios in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. It’s a bit of a trek from London, I know, but well worth it and you can visit the beautiful Cotswolds while you’re at it (and there are loads of great charity shops in the area too!).

This unique little shop is full of weird and wonderful goodies, it’s got vintage, it’s got foreign, it’s got character AND it’s got tea, cake and sandwiches! What more could anyone want?

Enticing you in, the shop window has all sorts of eccentric items on display from cake stands to vintage fabric and leather goods. Stepping into the store you’re greeted by an array of cushions, knick-knacks, clothing and memorabilia.

For those curious (pardon the pun) about what exactly a curios is… the definition of a curio is: A strange and interesting object which invokes curiosity or something (as a decorative object)considered novel, rare, or bizarre. So my understanding of a curios is the either: more than one curio, or a place where curios are kept.

As you can see it’s a bit of a treasure trove! In their glove basket I found some really cute brown sheepskin mittens for £7.50, a bargain compared to ASOS’s pair (£36 now £21).

The cabinets display beautiful ornaments and jewellery, I particularly liked some art deco drop earrings priced at £20, and the soldier bottle opener made me smile.

They have a good selection of vintage pearls (my personal favourite), and also stock kooky vintage/retro glasses (the ones below are £50, a little steep, but cheap compared to a designer pair).

They also have various pieces of vintage clothing, from a pink coat with a leopard print trim and baby blue lace cape to Victorian nightdresses and Indian sari’s. I’d say prices equal London vintage shops, but here you’re getting a unique shopping experience to go with.

What tops it off for me is the ambience. There’s 40′s music playing, each table and chair is different and unique, as is the crockery (their collection of teapots is unbelievable!). I feel like I’ve been whisked off to another era, where factories don’t exist and craftsmanship does. It’s cosy, homely and… fabulous!

We ended our visit with a pot of tea for two and a slice of cherry shortbread. We were so keen that I forgot to take a before picture, so here’s the after! An afternoon of fun for only £5.60, not often you get that nowadays!

Want to visit The Harlequin Tea Room and Curios? You can find it at 270 Cheltenham High Street (near-ish The Brewery). You can contact them on 01242 252 933 if you are looking for a particular Curio, or just want to know their opening hours.

The Best and Worst Dressed at The Brit’s

So I’m still catching up with the awards ceremonies! Here are my thoughts on The Brit Awards:

Up and coming star and Critics Choice winner, Jessie J, tops the list in this Quality Street green number. Yes, the Westwood dress is incredibly short, but the top half covers up enough to make it decent, and complimented by the Henry Holland heart suspender tights, Jessie showcased her strong personality through her outfit. What I want to know is how she gets her hair looking so glossy!

Not only was Tinie Tempah named Best Breakthrough Artist, he was also easily the best dressed male. He looked suave in this Dolce and Gabbana white tuxedo jacket, and matching polka dot bow tie. Looking retro, he epitomises geek chic with the addition of his trademark glasses. If only every guy could be this confident with his style eh?

There were quite a few unfortunate style choices, but I thought, as an awards ceremony veteran, Cheryl Cole would know better. The full length Stella McCartney black dress did nothing for her fabulous figure (except show off her 90′s “tramp stamp”). And sequins? Are we back in Winter 2009? The hair resembles a 1980′s mullet and is it just me or has she been a little bit tangoed? Sack the stylist Cheryl!

The Best and Worst Dressed at the Grammy’s

Rihanna topped the best dressed list at this years Grammy’s in this risqué Jean Paul Gaultier dress. The dress, consisting of sheer white ruffles contrasting with flesh revealing net, would make most celebs fear a wardrobe malfunction. Rihanna, however, showcased her curves and glowing skin, whilst maintaining her modesty. Her flame red hair and bright lippie only added to her unique yet sexy look.

Next on the list, our very own, Florence Welch in Givenchy. You may see the similarities between Florence and Rihanna’s look, sheer fabrics, and of course, that red hair. However, Florence makes the look arty rather than overtly sexual, stylish rather than outlandish. Florence isn’t trying too hard for the attention, she’s looking subtly beautiful, neither standing out or blending in. Those flared sleeves and strappy gold platforms also hint at the upcoming 70′s trend which will hit the high street this Summer. Keep flying that flag for us Florence!

Rounding up our best dressed list are Katy Perry and her ‘Grammy’. I was thoroughly impressed by Katy’s family spirit in bring her 90 year old grandmother to the ceremony, and equally so by the theme that ran through their (and Russel Brand’s) Armani outfits. There aren’t many celebs who could pull off angel wings, a mirrored crop top and metallic skirt but Katy looked sensational. ‘Grammy’ looked elegant in her tie-knot jacket and layered skirt, complimented by her bling-tastic walking stick.

Topping the worst dressed has to be Glee’s Amber Riley. What WAS she thinking?! Kudos for her unique designer choice, Ema Savahl, but she couldn’t have chosen a less flattering cut for her beautiful curvy figure. And that choker-cum-shoulder pad (with a tassle?!), topped off by a gold chunky ring? It may have been passable in silver, but certainly not gold. We just don’t get it, sorry Amber!

The Best and Worst Dressed at the BAFTA’s

It’s safe to say that Awards Season is upon us. This week we’ve had The BAFTA’s, The Grammys, The Elle Style Awards and we’ve got the Brits tonight! Here are my personal favourites from the BAFTA’s:

Jessica Alba stole the show in this radiant blue grecian inspired Versace maxi dress. Complimented by her glowing skin, plaited updo and vintage necklace, she looked every bit the Grecian Goddess.

This was closely followed by Helena Bonham Carter, who looked magnificent in Vivienne Westwood. Obviously not trying to be ‘on trend’, instead she looked clasically stylish and elegant embracing her womanliness in this gown and jacket combo. She also took home the gong for Best Supporting Actress, not a bad night for her!

Emma Watson is never far down the list these days when it comes to dressing well, and here she is again. She wore a Valentino asymmetric lace style maxi, thoroughly embracing the pleats trend, and the neutral tone only added to her natural grace and youth. She kept accessories minimal with just a pair of striking gold earrings, which complimented her pixie crop.

Now for the Worst Dressed…. I’m sad to say it’s the beautiful Eva Green. She usually looks stunning, but this Tom Ford dress does nothing for her figure and the colour makes her look almost deathly. I do like the sheer arms, and the ruffle texture, but otherwise it’s all wrong and this frock is more Emily Dickinson than glamourous film star…. Oh Eva!!! Let’s hope she makes up for it at The Oscars.

Bring out the Ballerina…

Have you recovered after seeing The Black Swan yet? No, I’m not sure I have either! For those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s an Oscar-nominated psychological thriller (verging on twisted horror), based on a ballerina’s rise to become Swan Queen in Swan Lake.

Natalie Portman in THE Black Tutu Credit: The Telegraph

The drama surrounding the costume design has been heavily discussed since the film’s Oscar nomination for best costume design. The use of costumes, by various designers rather than just one, means that Amy Wescott would, controversially, receive the Award rather than Rodarte, aka Kate and Laura Mulleavy, who created forty costumes for the film, including the black tutu featured on the official poster.

Original Drawing by Kate Mulleavy for Rodarte Credit: The Telegraph

Nevertheless, I found the costumes truly inspiring. From the leotards and wraparound cardigans, to the feather embellished tutus and tiaras. It’s what every little girl dreams of and has now filtered into mainstream fashion.

I found myself eyeing up a ‘strap detail body’ from ASOS a few days ago, and ended up buying it in both black and pale pink (it’s surprisingly flattering)! Paired with a black tutu skirt I bought 5 years in H+M, I feel every inch the ballerina. For a more wearable look, team with jeans, ballet pumps and a cardigan for a subtle hint of the trend.

Strap Detail Body at ASOS

Was £15 now £12

Other ballet inspired pieces include:

Lipsy Tutu Skirt Ballet Slip Dress at ASOS

Was £70 now £31.50

ASOS Asymmetric Hem Tutu Skirt (also available in the CURVE range)

Was £34 now £21

One Teaspoon Leather Bandeau Tutu Dress at ASOS

Was £230 now £161

Vibrant Ballet Pumps (In a range of colours) at Topshop

£16

Frilly Tutu Skirt at Topshop


£35

Glamour magazine has also noticed this trend and included a feature, which has some great pieces including this one:

Tutu Strapless Dress at Rare Opulence

£165

MovieScope magazine has a great article on the costumes featured.

The Ballet Blog also has an excellent interview with costume designer Amy Wescott.

Whether you were traumatised or enthused by The Black Swan, don your ballet flats, tutu and leotard, and you’ll embrace your inner ballerina. Girly, graceful and elegant, I hope this trend is here to stay!