Since starting out on my Silly Old Sea Dog journey in 2013, I always wanted ethical, fairly made products to be at the heart of the business.
I always felt it a shame that so many products are now made overseas, by cheap labour, that can often be forced, and very much impose unfair working conditions on the people who make the products.
I started out designing and making the garments all by myself, in my studio in Newquay. It soon became apparent that it was unscaleable and unsuitable to continue doing this and that I had to find a factory to take over the workload. This would allow me time to spend marketing the products and travelling to events across the country to meet you all. It also ensures that our standards are kept high regardless of the quantity we are producing and that we have the best people available making our dresses.
Our first few batches of dresses were made by a factory in Manchester in 2014. Unfortunately after a management takeover in 2016 at this factory our relationship broke down and I was left hunting for another factory that could produce garments to the standard I expected from Silly Old Sea Dog and that you expect to receive.
In 2016 I was lucky enough to find Derek, who runs a lovely small family operated factory in Scotland – and this is where all of our dresses are made today.
Derek has a small team who have worked together for a number of years (many of the ladies in the factory have worked there for over 20 years). Upon visiting the factory (although quite a trek from Newquay!) I immediately had a good feeling about it and about moving my business there. Derek showed me around all the departments of the factory, from cutting to sewing, pressing and packaging and I had a really great feel for the place. The staff are all from local surrounding villages and the factory is located right in the Scottish highlands in a lovely spot.
Knowing that our products are made in Scotland rest assures me that the brand is ethical, our staff are all paid fairly for the hard work that they do and protected by EU laws. I also know that if there are ever questions, I can always pick up the phone and speak to someone straight away who speaks English as their native tongue. It also means that our dresses can be turned around quickly and easily and that we can make special order items for you., something which wouldnt be possible if we produced overseas.
I continue to design the dresses from Newquay and choose all of the fabrics that we use, I like to be in control of what we are producing and am involved with all aspects of the production and sales cycle. Our patterns are also made in the UK by our lovely Pattern Maker Belinda, who initially makes a sample which we try and test and from here grad the patterns into all sizes from 6 – 24. You can watch a little video HERE with me testing a new style dress on our plus size fit model Steff.
Our dresses are all made of 100% cotton, they can be washed and tumble dried. Every part of the production process from cutting to stitching and packaging is completed in Scotland (unlike some companies who only make part of their garments in the UK, but label the products as UK produced regardless). Our pricing may not be as low as many reproduction competitors, however we know our products are built to last, like original vintage dresses and are fully ethical as well as being made in short runs, so it is unlikely that you will see someone out in the same dress as you!
We hope that you enjoy your dresses and know that they come from a well thought out background supporting small and British business.
If you have any more questions about our production process, please do get in touch.
Many women feel that there is a serious lack of ladies over 40 representing fashion and brands in the modelling world. I have been told by many mature ladies that they feel certain looks and fashions are not for them and that they can’t wear items they would have years before. It’s always such a shame when women lack the confidence to wear selected clothes because of their age, size and other factors.
That is why, for our Christmas 2017 campaign we have gathered 3 fabulous ladies together, aged from their 40’s to nearly 80, to model our collection.
So, lets meet them:
Location: Milton Keynes / Belfast
Dress Size Wearing: 18
Kelly is a Teacher, who has worked all over the world, including in the USA. Kelly has recently had her first son who is 16 months old. She has never modelled before, and was really excited to participate in our shoot. Kelly has been a great model as she is really bubbly and confident, and nether I, Lisa our Photographer or Keeleigh our Make Up Artist could believe she hadn’t done it previously!
Kelly loves vintage and owns a lot of reproduction clothing in 1930’s – 60’s style, although she had not tried a Silly old Sea Dog Dress until the shoot (she is now the proud owner of the Nutcracker Dress)
Kelly loves colour, she has been told that more mature ladies “shouldn’t wear colour”, but I think that today’s shoot proves that point wrong as all the ladies look great! She also really liked the length of the dresses modelled (all 3 of these are in our longer 62cm skirts).
Kelly’s Favourite dress is the Silly Old Sea Dog Nutcracker Dress. One for the colour and style, but also because she used to be a dancer, and it brings back fond memories. . As a feeding Mum, the fact that the dress ties on the shoulders, is also a plus as it could be opened easily for feeding, something which Kelly has said is difficult to find for Mum’s, while wanting to remain stylish.
Her favourite Christmas pastime is making and decorating a Gingerbread House on Christmas Eve, Kelly is a keen crafter, especially when it comes to cooking, sewing and knitting! Kelly also loves turning on the Christmas lights for the first time as it is a magical moment.
What would Kelly’s advice be to ladies over 40 who are not so confident with their style and are looking for the perfect Christmas outfit? “Age like dress size, is just a number. What is important is how the clothes make you feel”.
Location: St Austell
Dress Size Wearing: 10
Suzy has worked in the modelling industry for 40 years having previously also owned and managed a modelling agency, before retiring in her 40’s due to ill health. Suzy took up modelling again at age 57 after realising there was such a lack of professional mature models in the industry, she has been featured in many local publications and also in national press. Suzy enjoys modelling as both a profession and as a hobby, sometimes helping out local photographers with fun and interesting shoots.
Suzy is also a little vintage obsessed, but her main style is anything brightly coloured and fun. Which is why her favourite dress was our Christmas Sprouts Dress. At 66 Suzy is a keen swimwear model, and has no objectives to modelling bikinis and lingerie. But, for those ladies who feel a little more self-conscious, she agrees that the Sprouts Dress is perfect as it has a sleeve to cover up if you are conscious about your arms, and a longer 62cm skirt.
Her favourite Christmas Day activity is a stroll with husband John and their Dog Venus on their local beach. Especially as we have such lovely beaches and coastal walks in Cornwall – this is normally followed by a home cooked Christmas Dinner and game of chess in front of the log fire.
I asked Suzy what advice she would after to ladies her age looking for something to wear over the Christmas season “I would say to always put comfort first when choosing an outfit and wearing it for a long period of time, but all of the pieces today have made me feel that way, and very glamorous too. I would never listen to anyone who tells me I can’t wear a certain something because of my age, I wear anything and everything that I like, that’s what is important”.
Suzy is pictured also modelling a fabulous bag from Vendula, The Toy Shop Bag gave a fun nostalgic Christmas feel to the outfits, we all agreed it paired perfectly with the Silly Old Sea Dog St Nicholas Dress for a fun evening look, or even to wear casually in the day for a festive event.
Dress Size Wearing: 12
79-year-old vintage enthusiast and former Racecourse Concierge Marlene had been up since 3am as she was so excited to model our Christmas collection, and although nervous she was very excited.
Marlene has always loved make-up and is never without it, after I asked all the ladies to turn up to the shoot make up free (for Artist Keeleigh to work her magic) Marlene had to send husband of 60 years, Brian into the supermarket to get her lunch as she was not fully dressed without her lipstick! Her day to day fashion style is 1+40’s dresses, furs and hats, and wearing dark tnes such as black, brown and grey.
She had never tried a colourful patterned 1950’s dress before, so trying on the Silly Old Sea Dog collection was a first. Our dresses are’t something Marlene would usually choose and she didn’t know what to expect. However once the dress was on, and she saw herself in the mirror, she felt very festive and feels the dress would be great to add some fun to Christmas Day celebrations.
Marlene likes to walk on the beach on Christmas Day. She is a people person and loves socialising and meeting people, so walking on the beach with husband Brian on Christmas Day is always a joyful experience as there are lots of people to meet and dogs to say hello to. Marlene has been married for 60 years, and has many lovely memories with her husband, including one comical memory of receiving a very large box for Christmas, and thinking it was something really exciting, before opening it and finding out it was disappointingly a tumble drier!
I attend a lot of events and vintage fairs and often see women in different stages of pregnancy staring longingly at the clothes but always saying they can’t wear the pieces as they are pregnant. I always let them know that vintage and reproduction pieces with circular skirts work great as maternity wear and can be worn up until late stages if you buy a larger size. But not many of them seem to believe me.
So, I have gathered three lovely ladies together to prove the point!
Just because you’re pregnant, doesn’t mean you have to wear leggings and maternity jeans for the next 9 months! All three ladies are first time Mums-to-be, and at different stages of their pregnancy and a range of dress sizes before and during. We are here to show you a range of pieces from Silly Old Sea Dog– and all have worked great for each ladies maternity figure.
We hope that through this article, you can see how thinking outside the box can help you to dress more confidently throughout your pregnancy.
Let’s meet the girls:
Number of weeks pregnant: 30 weeks.
Babies Sex: A surprise!
Pre-pregnancy dress size: Size 8/10
Dress Size Wearing on Shoot: 12
A little bit more about Becky:
My partner is Matt, he was in the year above me at school so I always knew who he was although I didn’t know him well, I
just thought he was hot! It wasn’t until years later at a mutual friends birthday party as I was dressed as batgirl that we started chatting and got to know each other more. I soon realised not only was he gorgeous, he was also very funny, kind and just lovely! We soon became a couple. We got married in August 2016 after 9 years of being together. He proposed the previous Christmas. We got married in the lovely church in our village just down the road and then had a marque in a friend’s field. We did everything ourselves (with lots of help from friends and family) apart from catering and photography. We had a Mexican food van, hay bales, sack races, garden games, a band and plenty of prosecco! We loved planning it and I absolutely loved the lead up to the wedding, organising everything and I collected so many pretty vintage bits and bobs to decorate the entire marque and outside. It was one huge laid back party and completely us. I had the best day ever marrying the man made for me. I’m a primary school teacher. I like to keep busy and have lots of hobbies! I have a passion for sewing, in particular I love free machine embroidery and I have a little Etsy shop. My lovely husband built me a sewing shed in the garden and I love escaping out there after busy day, unwinding with the radio on and a hot cup of tea. I also love baking and of course eating what I bake! I really enjoy walking and being outside. We live in St Erth, Cornwall and have the beautiful river bank to enjoy every day. We’ve got a little Staffy called Betty who we absolutely adore. She’s 6 now and we’ve had her since she was a pup. She comes everywhere with us and even came on our honeymoon to Italy with us. She’s a well travelled pooch. I love to go on holiday, in this country or abroad and can’t wait for a snowboarding trip with the little one. I love to chill out at home, pottering in the garden, watching films or reading. I love looking at home interiors and really enjoy scouring local charity shops and car boot sales for pretty pieces and of course fabric!
Number of weeks pregnant: 35
Babies Sex: A little boy
Pre-pregnancy dress size: I had successfully lost weight and gone from a 24-26 to a size 16 prior to falling pregnant.
Dress Size Wearing on Shoot: 22
A little bit more about Sarah:
I’m embarrassed to admit this, bit I met my partner Tom on Plenty of Fish, it took him a year of talking to me and persuading me before I agreed to go on our first date. On reflection im so pleased I joined up and agreed to go on the date with him, we have now been together for 4 years. He proposed in November in Orlando in front of my favourite place Hogwarts Castle (I’m a total Harry Potter geek) and we are planning the wedding after the arrival of our son. We live together in Penzance.
I’m a freelance journalist and weight loss and lifestyle blogger (my blog is @diaryofafatenglishgirl on Instagram). I have been working a lot on my blog and sharing my weight loss story, meal plans, healthy eating etc with ladies across the world. Once I have given birth I will also be blogging about motherhood and the new experiences it brings to my life. Alongside my blog, I am currently writing my first children’s book, which is very exciting and I am hoping to write more pieces and gain more publications. Alongside my freelance passions and creativity, I also work part time in Costa.
My birth plan is very simple – rock up and try with only gas and air. I will have an epidural if I really need one. I can’t wait to leave the hospital with my little man – I’m happy.
Number of weeks pregnant: 32 weeks
Babies Sex: A little boy
Pre-pregnancy dress size: 12
Dress Size Wearing on Shoot: 14
A little bit more about Ruth:
I met my partner Sean in 2004 when I joined the company we both work for. We didn’t start dating until 9 years later! We finally got married in September 2015.
I’m a Software Engineer, and before I got pregnant I enjoyed fencing as a hobby (I am sure I will get back into this after the birth of our son). I also enjoy painting and drawing. I live in a village called Slimbridge in Gloucestershire and have 3 dogs and 2 house rabbits. I love my animals – Alice and Harry are dachshunds, Bruce is a French Bulldog and the bunnies are called Douglas and Rosie.
Our location today are the sweet Finley and Poppy. Two retro Airstream Caravans, renovated to a high standard, located just outside of St Agnes, Cornwall. They are situated on a tranquil farm site, surrounded by greenery, within a short drive to the beaches of St Agnes and Perranporth. The Airstreams are on site with 4 lovely horsey residents – Martha, Vera, Ralph and Puzzle, all who are very friendly. The properties are available to hire as holiday accommodation via Classic Cottages and on a day of sunshine like the day of our shoot are just perfect to sit outside of in the peace and quiet with a good book (or magazine) and cup of tea!
From trying on lots of clothing, what feedback do the ladies have from this experience?
What was your favourite dress to wear on the shoot?
I absolutely adored the pink Alice Cards Silly Old Sea Dog dress. Not only was the fabric just gorgeous, it felt so lovely on. Pretty and feminine but also fun and quirky. The fit was great and I loved the neckline and sleeves. Very flattering. The Silly Old Sea Dog dresses were the loveliest to wear. They were just so comfy and fit it all the right places. You could still see your bump and everywhere else looked great still. I also liked the fact you only had to go up a size or two.
What items would you / would you not wear (whilst pregnant)?
I’d wear most things but above anything else I’ve realised you just want to be comfortable. Your body is changing so much and you’ve got lumps and bumps in places you never had before. I love clothes but wanting to look nice definitely come second to feeling comfortable. I personally wouldn’t wear anything low cut while pregnant mainly because my boobs just feel huge and so different.
What was your favourite dress to wear on the shoot?
I fell in love with the Retro Gamer dress but in all honesty I loved all of them. I found that the light cotton dresses were very comfortable, however some didn’t have sleeves and I’m not that confident revealing my arms. I have bingo wings and a lot of loose skin after my weight loss, so I always prefer a dress that has a sleeve in it. I loved all of the 100% cotton ones. With my weight loss programme and then pregnancy I have found it hard to judge my size in recent months, so it has been nice to wear well fitting styles. I also liked how all of the dresses I wore matched well with flat shoes, I wore my Vans throughout most of the shoot and they paired really well. At this stage of pregnancy, comfortable shoes are a must!
What items would you / would you not wear (whilst pregnant)?
I currently wear leggings, stretchy dresses and shirts so it was lovely to try on some fantastic dresses that not only fit but felt really comfortable. Comfort is what I’m mainly looking for at the moment.
What was your favourite dress to wear on the shoot?
I loved the Foxy Foxes Dress I think that it really matched my skin tone. I also liked the tie shoulder dresses, as for pregnancy they allowed the girls to tighten the tops (where they were still small) and leaving room to alter the neckline as your bust grows. I didn’t wear one of these during the photoshoot, but I really liked the style.
Finally, what advice can the ladies give to others looking for a pregnancy wardrobe that is comfortable yet fashionable? Becky:
I’ve realised you don’t have to wear just maternity clothes and how lovely dresses can still look in just a few sizes up. It’s also made me re-think what I wear while I’m pregnant. I love clothes and being experimental with what I wear however I started to slip into wearing just the same stretchy dresses or leggings and just wanted to be comfortable. However, after the shoot it made me realise you can be comfortable and love what you’re wearing as well. My mindsets changed a little, before it was you’re only pregnant for 9 months so just be comfy and you can wear lovely clothes again after, but now I’m more of the mindset you’re only pregnant for 9 months and you’re body is only going to look like this right now with that gorgeous bump. So embrace it, be comfortable but also love what you’re wearing! Your body is changing so much and you’re also feeling quite emotional! So, enjoy your new body for now and wear what you want and what makes you feel good.
I would say to try anything and everything! You never know what is going to work for you until you try it. I had got stuck wearing whatever fit and was stretchy whilst pregnant which had me feeling fat and frumpy. After being part of this shoot I have realised that I can wear pretty things and still feel glamorous now that I’m heavily pregnant. There is a lot of choice out there, if you are not confident to go into the shops, order pieces online that you can try in the comfort of your own home. There are no rules, you can wear day to day fashions that aren’t designed as maternity pieces as long as you hunt out the right cuts.
I would advise other mums-to-be to keep an open mind about what they can wear while pregnant. They aren’t, by any means, restricted to traditional maternity wear and with a bit of imagination and by asking retailers for the measurements of their garments they can continue to wear items that make them happy. I have really enjoyed trying on different pieces during the shoot as it has shown me what styles can look great on a maternity figure.
We hope that you have enjoyed seeing how the different garments fit and the ladies honest thoughts about the pieces. All we can say is embrace your maternity figure, go out there and try on some dresses and see what suits you. You can still retain a fantastic fashionable vintage wardrobe throughout your pregnancy.
Links to Dresses Featured:
Becky is wearing our
Sarah is wearing our
Ruth is wearing our
Photography: Lisa Simmons of House of Pin Up
Hair & Make Up: Keeleigh Remnant of KJR Hairdressing
Models: Becky Hawkins, Sarah Woodside and Ruth Taylor
Location: Homeland Farm St Agnes, bookable via Classic Cottages Telephone: 01326 555555