Friday Feature: Delightful Dolly

Happy Friday everyone! Well with wedding planning and kitchen renovations ongoing, it’s been a pretty crazy week! So instead of an interview, this week I am going to share a some quotes and a few fun facts about one of my favourite women ever – the incredibly inspirational Dolly Parton! There are not many people who’s quotes are so well known they have become part of modern lexicon. Or who have simultaneously made a name for themselves both as a larger than life big breasted blonde, modelled on the town tramp…. and a feminist icon.  If I had a theme song, it would definitely be a Dolly Parton track…

Dolly Parton in the 1970s

Earlier in the year, Bust magazine published a great article and interview with Dolly (July issue, highly recommended read!). They included an excellent compilation of “Dolly-isms” which I am going to include here, as well as a couple more I also love!

“There’s no such thing as natural beauty.”

“I’m not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I’m not dumb…and I also know that I’m not blonde.” 

dolly wardrobe

“If you talk bad about country music, it’s like saying bad things about my momma. Them’s fightin’ words.”

“I was the first woman to burn my bra – it took the fire department four days to out it out.”

sagging dolly

” I look just like the girls next door… if you happen to live next door to an amusement park.”

“I like to buy clothes that are 2 sizes too small and then take them in a little.”


“I have little feet because nothing grows in the shade.”

“After Momma gave birth to 12 of us kids, we put her up on a pedestal. It was mostly to keep Daddy away from here.”

dolly drag queen

“I always pattern my look after the town tramp. I swear to God that’s true, but I can’t giver her name.”


Now if you are a Dolly fan this none of this will be news to you, but here are a few things you might not have known about Dolly…

  • She has recorded 42 studio albums, and recorded her first song in 1960 at only 14. She has had 46 Grammy award nominations and 8 wins.
  • Dolly’s original song “I Will Always Love You” went number 1 on the charts 3 separate times. When first released by Dolly in 1974, again in 1982 when she re-recorded it for her movie “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” and of course when it was covered by Whitney Houston in 1992.
  • Dolly has been married to her husband Carl for nearly fifty years, after meeting at the Wishy Washy laundromat soon after she arrived in Nashville, the couple were married in 1966.
  • She was born the 4th of 12 children and lived in a one room cabin growing up in Tennessee – her song “Coat of Many Colours” is autobiographical


The latest issue of Glory Days features a Q & A with Dolly, get yourself a copy if you haven’t already, it’s a whole country themed issue!

Wishing you all a lovely weekend,

Lorelei Louise xx





Friday Feature: Q & A with Lady Salsa about her label Ava and Rose!

lady salsa

Lady Salsa in Ava&Rose

In this first post of a series on inspirational women, I ask Melbourne based Suzanne Marambio, or Lady Salsa as her alter ego is known, to tell us more about herself, and her gorgeous line of vintage inspired playsuits! She has some great tips on how to juggle being a working Mum of 2 with running her business Ava and Rose where she designs and even models her pinup perfect creations. I happen to think her playsuits with matching wrap skirts might just be the ultimate versatile piece for the pinup wardrobe! I will leave it to the lady herself to tell you more…

1. Tell us a little about your label, Ava and Rose

I created the label in August 2013. I was frustrated at not finding vintage inspired playsuits suitable for sleepwear, I looked at all the well known mainstream labels in Aust and overseas but was frustrated at how you always had to remove the straps and unbutton when you had to go the bathroom! After days of research on my internet I decided to create a draft template of what I envisioned to be the perfect playsuits that was still fun, feminine, flirty but most importantly functional. Body suits have been around for a long time so why couldn’t it be blended so that hidden snap fasteners could be concealed and therefore worn under skirts, swing pants and used as a foundation piece. I have been very fortunate as I am also a trained Intimo stylist with Intimo Lingerie Australia therefore I had seen many body types and understood bra straps were a must as women differ in their torso length. Many straps on playsuits in store are fixed and therefore can look a disaster if you are short or too tall. I contacted a professional seamstress, Carole Herd, from Sew Happy Workshop in my area and explained what I wanted regarding the pattern and let her draft it up for me. She created my first template sample and as soon as I tried it on I knew it was almost there. Carole graded the pattern to small, medium and large and she recommended a seamstress that could assist in creating my playsuits. Our partnership is perfect as I source for all materials and trimming, cut and pin the patterns and her role is to sew the playsuits and we both double QC check them.
My first playsuits were in gingham and polka dot fabric and I asked a few of my work colleagues to be my first fit models to define what size small, medium and large. They also helped in perfecting the template as we added more length to the short for depth and widen the width of the short so it wasn’t tight and restrictive around the thighs.
They all loved the final layout and recommended I go ahead and create more as they were placing pre-orders with me. The brand name comes from my daughter (Lavinia Ava) and god daughters middle name (Tyler Rose) blended together.

collage banner

2. Your playsuits and sets have some very clever and unique features, can you tell us a bit about those?

Miss Ruby front pose

Miss Ruby Rabbit in Miss Ruby Loves Retro playsuit and matching bolero

The body of the playsuits are made from 100% cotton as I wanted them to breathable and comfortable for both sleepwear and daywear. Then I added the adjustable bra straps so the bodice could be adjusted to fit the body shape of ladies. I wanted it to have a vintage inspired feel and after researching lots of original patterns in Pinterest I added the slightly elasticized waist to cinch and create an hour glass shape. The attached knicker short had to have a cotton frill trimming to make the look feminine and I love all the extra details of satin bows and appliques to define the mood and character of the playsuit. They are based on fictional characters of Hollywood Starlets from the 1950s…so when I shop for fabric I am always thinking about what I will call her! They are categorised as either a Siren or Sweetheart as you can channel your inner Goddess or Hollywood sweetheart when you wear an Ava and Rose playsuit. I find 20-30s love the Sweetheart look like Miss Joanie, Miss Greta and Miss Bettie and 30s plus like the Siren look like Miss Sophia, Miss Audrey and Miss Ruby. Each playsuit has the same template but differs slightly in bow, trimming and applique detail to define the personality and mood it is suited for.

The wrap skirt was developed so you could wear it out with the playsuit and thus it would look like a dress. Plus would give a bit of modesty for those who aren’t as comfortably strutting on the street in a playsuit. I also love the fact that my playsuit is designed for mums too. I have two young children and am very comfortable with the style as the bodice doesn’t open and cause breast spillage and is a square neckline and the attached knicker looks like a short and covers up my bottom.
3. I first saw your label modelled by Australian pinup model Miss Ruby Rabbit, wearing the amazing “Ruby Loves Retro” playsuit. Do you ever do other custom pieces?

the Pacific Belles with Lady Salsa

The Pacific Belles and Lady Salsa

My favourite part of being a designer is creating new playsuits, especially custom pieces. I met the Pacific Belles, a Swing singing trio in Melbourne at the Love Vintage show and was instantly drawn to their musical talent and energy. I knew at that moment I had to dress them for future gigs. We caught up afterwards and they were keen for a new costume to take on their June trip to WCOPA (World Championships of Performing Arts) in Hollywood. It was fate and perfect timing as Miss Greta the nautical playsuit was in the Australian colours of red, white and blue and we agreed that this would be their opening ceremony outfit. I set about researching a pattern for a suitable wrap skirt and matching bolero. For added detail I organised for their initials to be sewn on the bolero to keep it personal to their roles as Betty, Dot and Mabel Belle. The best part of creating custom pieces is seeing them up on stage and photographed by other pinup artists in different settings both indoors and outdoors. I have another custom order in creation for a Perth Cabaret Act and always welcome costume designs as I love theatre and also have a tap dancing background so understand the need for stage presence and creating a costume that is not only comfortable but is a showstopper! I strive to keep the production runs low to keep the look exclusive and not mass produced like fast fashion today. We also take care to double stitch and overlock the seams so the playsuits last with wash and wear.

Lady Lace in Miss Betty loves Cherries pl aysuit

Lady Lace in Miss Betty Loves Cherries Playsuit

4. Where do you find inspiration from when creating your designs?

I have always loved watching old Hollywood movies, as a teenager my room was covered in posters of Marilyn Monroe and I have always loved the fashion from the 1940s- 50s. It is only recently that I have embraced it more and made it part of my daily routine and dress sense of both retro inspired and Japanese vintage pieces. I look at my favourite actresses, Doris Day, Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn and modern designers like Bernie Dexter for inspiration on how to pick suitable prints which meets the needs of the rockabilly doll. For example with the Miss Audrey playsuit it is based on the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s the colours black and white representing the character Holly dress sense and Siren persona on screen. I am keen to make a Miss Monroe and Miss Doris in 2015 so stay tuned for red and white polka dots and Daisy/ floral print.

5. Now as well as designing and creating your own clothing line and running a small business, you are also a Mum! What is your best advice for keeping all those balls in the air?

I follow for her video tutorials and advice on staying focussed on my dreams and keeping a balanced life in check with my role as mum and designer.

I also follow Franklin Covey’s lifestyle of the 5 Choices and 7 Habits of highly effective people which helps me to schedule the big rocks and begin with the end in mind and focus on the bigger goals. I am lucky to have a supportive family and friends around me who encourage and allow me to explore new opportunities and this keeps me motivated and positive too.

I do have a scatterbrain so you will see lots of scribble pads in my kitchen and on my wall calendar, vision boards and my mobile phone calendar full with tasks and dates as I do lead a busy lifestyle. After work I also do the mummy duties such as after school activities, dance every Sat morning and maintain a house just like a 50s housewife, with cherry apron and all!

But I wouldn’t want it any other way. I hate having nothing to do, setting goals and creating designs keeps life interesting and fun and has made the last 12 months so exciting with meeting new people and connecting with a global audience. I pinch myself sometimes as I did not study in fashion school but have been fortunate to surround myself with professional people who are skilled at drafting patterns and sewing. I take care of the marketing, personally shopping for fabric and trims, social media, photo shoots and designing new collections as I am passionate about connecting with women’s needs and wanting to be a leader in creating playsuits that are quirky like me!

6. What future plans and projects can we be looking out for?

2015 will be new direction as I venture into vintage inspired playsuits for Brides and Bridesmaids. I will be exhibiting at the Vintage Bride Fair in Melbourne on Sun 22 March and over Christmas will design 3-4 new white playsuits and offer Brides a perfect lingerie piece for their honeymoon and the option to create personal gifts for their Bridesmaids instead of the traditional jewellery and bathrobes.
I also welcome new costume making opportunities, custom made designs and will continue to find new stockists and new connections wtith retro loving women though online magazines, my Facebook, twitter and instagram pages @avaandrose.

7. Lastly, as I’m sure you are all wondering, ‘where can we get our hands on one of your fabulous creations?

I am best contacted via facebook at and I like the personal discussion with my customers about what they are looking for and what I can make for them.
There is an Etsy Store set up as well at and my playsuits can be bought at Once More, With Feeling at 73 Charles Street, Seddon in Victoria.
Would be lovely to find a stockist in NZ – so hopefully your blog will make that happen!

blue gingham

Miss Dorothy playsuit and wrap skirt

Gorgeous retro designs, quality, delightful details, comfort (clothes I can wear to bed, yes please), unique features such as adjustable straps and snaps to win the clothing vs toiletting battle once and for all… I want them all! Lucky for me, my very own custom playsuit and wrap skirt are on their way and I can’t wait to share. Thank you Suzanne for answering my questions, you are one inspiring lady!

I am sure we will be seeing a lot more of Ava and Rose!

Lorelei Louise xx

Luxe for less! Beautiful candles on a budget, for any decor

I am obsessed with lighting. Of all shapes and forms… lamps, vintage ceiling lights, fairy lights, flamingo lights, neon lights! But when it comes down to it, you can’t beat the basics. The mesmerising flame and romantic atmosphere of a good old fashioned candle…

I think a nice candle is such a worthwhile thing to treat yourself to! Smell is a very powerful sense, and can really affect your mood. Not to mention the lovely ambience of a flickering candle. My favourite thing is to light a candle for a few hours in the evening, it gives feeling of luxury and spoiling yourself as well as leaving a lovely lingering scent in the home. And there is definitely something to be said for a quality candle. Longer and cleaner burning, real scents and perfumes (with no hint of toilet spray) and novelty shapes. But they don’t have to cost a fortune!

Here are a few of my favourites, all $20 or under!

Recently I discovered Trio candles and became a convert. They are a local small business based in Matakana an hour north of Auckland. These handmade, luxury soy candles are poured in beautiful vintage tea cups and jars as well as other vintage style treasures. Not only that, they are the most divine scented candles I have ever come across! And they are very budget friendly compared to other market alternatives. For $20 or less you can get a beautiful candle as well as the gorgeous glass to reuse. You can find Trio candles on Felt here, or check out their Facebook page here.

trio candles

I found these amazing handmade skull candles from a Kerikeri based seller on Trademe. Now I have seen skull candles in fancy shops for upwards of $50, and also budget versions in places like the Warehouse. But what I love about these is that they are made from beeswax, which has such a lovely scent and they are a real quality candle at a budget price. They come in several sizes and a range of colours including gold and silver. The small ones are only $5.50, or 4 for $20 and the large ones are around $20. Listings for these candles can be found here.


Now I’m a sucker for anything tropical, so I couldn’t resist these pineapple shaped candles I came across recently!


pineapple candleThese are only $12.50 from The Importer and can be purchased online here, or they have a shop in Albany. Although I prefer to support local businesses when possible, they really are so cheap and cheerful I couldn’t help myself!

Lorelei Louise xx

Which Rago will work for me? A go to guide!


I’ve done a few posts now about Rago shapewear, it’s not secret I’m a big fan! I haven’t yet met a Rago I didn’t like, but there are A LOT of different styles and some work better than others for different body types, problem areas and depend on the outfit you are planning on wearing your shapewear under! Cinchers, girdles, level of shaping, garters, open bottom, lacette… so many options, which one do you choose?

Rather than a review, in this post I will look at some popular Rago shapewear types and styles, and summarise what their various strengths are, in my experience! In that spirit, the styles here are all ones I own and wear 🙂 From what I’ve seen, the majority  of women who wear or want to wear shapewear desire a good amount of control and shaping, I certainly do! So all of the styles I have tried and am going to mention are firm or extra firm level of shaping.

Here are 3 types of shapewear, compared to wearing none at all. The extent of overall smoothing and shaping is a bit hard to see in the photos, but all of these take 1-2 inches off various areas 🙂


Waist Cincher (also known as a Waist Nipper)
I have Rago cinchers in 3 different styles (It’s my favourite!!) – the Rag0 21 (firm shaping with garters), Rago 821 (firm shaping) and Rago 2107 (extra firm shaping with garters).
cinchersAll 3 of these styles come in various colours and on me, there is no discernible difference between the firm and extra firm, I would just choose whichever colour you like and whether you want garters or not. The garters on these styles are removeable.
Best for:
-Defining the waist to create an enhanced hourglass figure (by a few inches, it won’t work like a corset!)
-Overall smoothing of the tummy area
-Shorter than an open bottom girdle, if you are sitting for long periods, there is nothing to dig into your bottom
-Wearing with trousers, shorts or shorter dresses
When I would wear this: Every day! My problem area is around my middle only, so I find this shapewear perfect for me, as it targets specifically my waist and really nips it in (30 inches to 28 inches) , while not having anything over my bottom and legs.

Open Bottom Girdle
The Rago 1294 is a very popular girdle! It is extra firm shaping, and has a side zip with hook and eye closures to make getting it on a little easier. It has 6  non detachable garters.
Best for:
-Overall shaping and smoothing of the waist, tummy , bottom and hips
-A great all rounder
-Greater coverage (you won’t see your knickers)
When I would wear this: I love the look of this girdle and it is one I wear for photoshoots or when it might be seen! It doesn’t bring my waist in quite as much as the waist cincher, but does take in a good inch over the waist and hips, I would recommend this or the long leg shaper if your lower half is the area you are wanting to minimise!

High waist long leg shaper (Shaping shorts)
The Rago 6207 is an extra firm high waist long leg shaper. It has 4 detachable garters, and the stocking tuck up into the leg (they look a little like a more attractive version of bike shorts!)
Best for:
-Overall shaping and smoothing of the waist, tummy , bottom and hips
-A smoother line than the open bottom girdle
-Another great all rounder
-Wearing with trousers
-Targetting thighs
When I would wear this: Under tight trousers or a wiggle dress where I didn’t want to see a seam showing, or I wanted a bit of bottom and thigh shaping!

Stockists and more information
In my opinion, Rago shapewear is very reasonable priced, but like any good undergarment shapewear it is an investment and you get what you pay for! So a little time spent on research and maybe asking a few questions can save you the expense of return and exchange postage.

I hope you have found this guide helpful, and I am always happy to answer questions! Contact me through my contact page, or on Facebook 🙂

Lorelei Louise xx