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Tales from the Dressing Table

Tales from the Dressing Table

Launching my first series on Gloriously Vintage writing about Beauty. 

Welcome to Gloriously Vintage today, dear Reader.  It is exciting for me to begin this new series of posts which will enable me to write about Hair, Makeup and Beauty related subjects, close to my heart. 

Where do you put on your make up?  How do you get ready to face the day?  Dear Reader, I would love to know the answer to those questions.

The one thing I can never be without is my Dressing Table.

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Sitting in front of my Dressing Table, Christmas 2015, ready to go dancing!

It is so important to me that, I have one I can use for travelling and if I am staying in an hotel and there isn’t one I will create one as a matter of priority.

What is a dressing table or vanity as it can be called?

It is the place to sit and apply moisturiser, make up, to dress the hair, apply touch ups and to create the makeup “look” vital to the day’s activities.  It can be simply a table and a chair.  It does not have to be elaborate, but it allows you to have everything needed, easily to hand, laid out like an artist preparing to paint a picture.

This love of a dressing table started at the beginning of my life.  My mother had one.  A solid 1950’s design with drawers and a very large triple mirror.  Here was space to keep makeup, perfume, hair combs and drawers for handkerchiefs and lingerie.  She would sit at her dressing table to put on makeup.  So dear Reader, I learned at an early age what a dressing table was for!

 Today I am so blessed to have the most glamorous dressing table.

It is by far the most beautiful incarnation of my 60 years.

It is a Georgian dressing table with a large oval toilette mirror on top.  There are two turn of the century crystal lamps either side of the mirror.  Finding those lamps is another story.

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The Geogian toilette mirror

Just sitting up to it on my Victorian piano stool makes me feel wonderful.


The small cut glass vases holding lip pencils and brushes on a glass tray.  I made the mat when I was a teenager

I go through my makeup routine so quickly because everything is laid out on the dressing table and in the wide drawer that houses my colour make up, moisturisers for daytime in fact, everything I could possible require is in there ready and waiting.


Tools at the ready!

 My make up brushes are in cut glass vases and containers, separated by use.  The lip and eye pencils are also in small vases just waiting to be applied.  The order that I see on the dressing table is calming.  It enables me to create the look I want – be it a simplified version of my look for work, or a more carefully crafted makeup and hairstyle for going out.

There is also a Georgian chest of drawers with another toilette mirror on it to my right.  I share this with my husband.  Here is a photograph of my tray.

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Mag glass

You can see my powder box, beautiful sterling silver hand mirror engraved with an “E”, a favourite lipstick, “Parisian Red” by Bobbi Brown and my magnifying glass.  The tray is from the 1930’s and I have matching candlesticks to go with it.  I have found some of  the vases and trays in charity shops and vintage fairs.


 Sitting at my dressing table is where I think about “me”.  Nothing is allowed to spoil those precious minutes sitting there getting ready.  My day always starts well, after sitting at my dressing table.  No matter what else is happening or tasks clamouring for my attention, when I am at my dressing table I am making my preparation to create the appearance that will complete what I plan to wear.


Of course not every single day is planned so precisely.  I have make up free days and days when I just wear casual “house clothes” that are clean and comfortable.  For days when I am dressing up – well that is when the Dressing Table comes in to its own!  Even when I am not using it – I can see it there, ready, the very glamorous space where I can make myself look how I want.  Wearing makeup for the sheer love of it, not to hide from anything, but as an expression of who I am.

Fashions and ideas for interior design change.  In these modern times having a dressing table and giving space for one is not the main concern it used to be.  Without one there is a clear choice where to apply makeup.  This can be in the bathroom where the light is usually good.  I will always check colours in the bathroom because of good light there, but I would never forsake my dressing table, in front of the window with maximum natural light and the arrangement of the bedroom it dictates.


So this occasional series is called Tales from the Dressing Table. Stories of adventures into style and image that will enable me to write about hair and beauty.  This is another area of wearing vintage style that means a great deal to me.  I have loved wearing make up since I was 13 years old.  Actually I was 9 years old when my face was powdered for a formal portrait photograph.  I was amazed at the effect that powder had on my skin, it looked so creamy and so different to just being “scrubbed”.


I have always loved to read books on makeup and style.  The stories of the founders of the great makeup houses, Elizabeth Arden, Helena Rubenstein, Christian Dior, Coco Chanel and Este Lauder to name a few have fascinated me.  The changing make up styles through the 20th Century is also of great interest.  My dressing table embodies this activity, this influence and how I interpret it in my make up style today.


Make up application is an Art.  To do it well it is essential to have brushes, applicators, sponges, in fact many tools. I have collected a lot of brushes over my life, and now have the best kit ever, due to the passing of time and moving to a stage of life where I can set the pace.  This is rather than having it set for me by the school run!  When my family was young I would get up at 6.00am to have time at my dressing table so I would be ready and dressed first.  There to assemble the troopes!


It is important to keep developing, reading, looking – trying out testers in shops and constantly updating your makeup look.  I wear a Marilyn Monroe inspired make up look now, that is complimentary to my 1950’s style. Following experts like Bobbi Brown and Lisa Eldridge and I am very interested in the makeup look of Dita von Teese.


Your make up can change and develop with your lifestyle and age.

BB Books

Bobbi Brown is one of my favourite writers

SMV Book

This book is great fun


I love this book – am still reading it!

One great bonus of being 60 years old and wearing vintage style is the pleasure of freedom.  I have nothing to prove now and am not competing with anyone or anything.  I can be me.  I can look how I want, develop statement looks at will.  What could be better?

The look I have now, I intend to tweak and play with forever.  Thus achieving a sense of timelessness.  This is what HM The Queen has done, and it is working very well for her at 90 years old!


How do you feel about hair and makeup? Do you keep changing your look?  I would love to know.  The next tale from the dressing table will be about blending lipsticks, especially red lipstick.  I hope you will join me on that post coming soon to Gloriously Vintage.


It’s been great to be with you today.


About Gloriously Vintage

My name is Elizabeth. I am so thrilled to be learning how to write a blog about my adventures collecting vintage treasures. This new adventure is to mark my 60th Birthday this February in 2016 and to start this decade with something new. I have been collecting Powder compacts, 1950's costume jewellery, vintage handbags, silk scarves, vintage umbrellas and hats for over five years now. I try to wear and use as much of my collections as possible. This has added great enjoyment to my life! As a child my "best game " was always dressing up. I kept all my dressing up clothes in a large wooden banded trunk in the spare bedroom -the third bedroom. Creating outfits and characters, wearing jewellery always with a handbag and a powder compact I would play on my own for hours. Most of my treasures then came from jumble sales and bric a brac shops browsed with my parents on holiday. Life has a way of coming round full circle. In my fifties I found increasing joy in being able to just be myself and adopt the hairstyle I wanted and the vintage look that suited me. I source all my "top clothes" from Oxfam on line and charity shops Mixing new tops, shoes and sometimes handbags with my vintage accessories has given me a signature style that is unique. I have always tried to be an individual and not follow the crowd. I find most of my collections at vintage fairs, charity shops and going to Antiques for Everyone at the NEC has been a marvellous time for hunting out treasures and learning more about the things that have sparked real passion for me.

10 responses »

  1. Pingback: Glamorous Getting Ready! | Gloriously Vintage

  2. Pingback: Tales From the Dressing Table – The March of Time – Skin Care | Gloriously Vintage

  3. Pingback: Tales from the Dressing Table – A Great Vintage Hair Day | Gloriously Vintage

  4. Pingback: Tales from the Dressing Table – Blending Lipsticks | Gloriously Vintage

  5. I adore this post. I don’t have a dressing table all my makeup is jammed in my bathroom and I put it on with my husband Getting ready too. I really need a dressing table. I also want to read your beauty mark


    • “Your Beauty Mark” is fantastic. I always give myself a Christmas present and this was it last year! Thank you so much for your comment – this series is another step in my learning to be blogger! When you get your dressing table, It will be a little oasis of calm in a busy life, as I feel mine is. Best wishes, Elizabeth xx


  6. Absolutely marvelous post, Elizabeth. Your dressing table is a thing of great beauty and one can instantly sense and appreciate just how dear it is to your heart. I’ve always (seriously, since early childhood) wanted a vanity/dressing table of my own, too, but alas, I’ve not yet had a bedroom (or other suitable spot in the house) with room for one. Some day, I just know, it will happen and until then, I’ll happily continue to enjoy them vicariously through other people’s.

    So looking forward to the second post in this exciting new series.

    Many hugs,
    ♥ Jessica


    • I am so glad you enjoyed this post Jessica! It is exciting to be writing this series and I feel I have taken another step forward with my blog. When you love clothes and fashion it is impossible not to love beauty too! When you have your dressing table, it will be very special. Big hugs from UK, Elizabeth xx


  7. Dear Elizabeth. I admit I do not wear any make up due to problems with my skin (allergies) but when I was a 5 years old little girl my grandmother (from my father’s side of the family) tough me how to apply powder and use red lip stick. My love for red lip stick comes from her. I also learned few beauty tricks from her that she used during the war when make up, lip sticks and other beauty products were not affordable due to rationing. I also agree with you a dressing table is an important piece of furniture in a woman’s bedroom. I actually own 2 victorian chest drawers with mirrors but I usually apply my lip stick in the toilet because the light is much better there. Thanks for this post. I’ll look forward to the second one about my passion, red lip sticks! Have a wonderful week, Eva (from Luxembourg/Germany).


    • Dear Eva, thank you for reading this post and leaving your comment. Grandmothers are so very important for the many life lessons they pass on. I am sure the beauty tricks yours taught you have helped you a lot, growing up. It is so important to have good light when applying lipstick – to get a good outline and to get the finish you want. There is something marvellous about red lipstick because it just makes you feel good. I know I feel more “perky” when I have it on! You have a wonderful week too. best wishes, Elizabeth xx



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