Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TANEWS to 80360, or email
Caroline loves having the vintage advantage
Caroline Brown loves to be different.
High street fashion is something for everyone which explains why you're more likely to be standing next to a party-goer sporting the same outfit. It's what most women dread when turning up at a do. Yet unless you can afford to fork out for limited edition and designer pieces it's going to happen.
The self-styled vintage doyenne' doesn't have that problem. She hasn't banished high street labels entirely from her closet. "For practical reasons I have some things which aren't brand new, I never buy anything brand new, but it is hard to buy vintage trousers which fit and I don't wear jeans."
Caroline loves the authentic Fifties frocks and Sixties-inspired styles, accumulated during her days as an interior design student at Huddersfield University.
It was there where she met husband Julian. While Caroline's passion is mainly for vintage fashion, he loves listening to the sounds of bygone eras, from the 1920s to the 1980s. "Although he has a wonderful 1970s leather jacket!" laughs Caroline.
The pair originate from Surrey. They discovered their parents live only miles apart yet they only met when they came to study in Yorkshire!
"Julian's parents lived about 15 miles away from my parents yet we had to travel 230 miles to meet! It was one of those things that was meant to be."
Their mutual love of bygone times was evident at their wedding eight years ago in Brighton, where work took them once they'd completed their studies.
Caroline designed the beautiful empire line gown she had made up in a stunning turquoise and ivory silk.
The couple hired a 1950s double decker bus to take them and their guests for a stroll along Brighton beach before dancing the night away to the sounds of the Fifties.
At that time Julian's parents had just bought a house in Brighton. They offered the couple a room. "We were too skint to afford our own place and Brighton is a gorgeous place by the sea and it's good for artists," says Caroline.
Exploring her own brush skills led to her contacting local landlords and utilising their empty shops as a temporary showcase of the work of the fellow artists and photographers she came into contact with.
A former post office, even a launderette, provided temporary art space while giving locals the opportunity to explore the history of the place.
"We acknowledged the history of the places we used. It was more than an exhibition, it was something positive out of something negative. The old dry cleaners was turned into a fantastic gallery and we kept up the old signs like knitwear and furnishings," recalls Caroline.
Three years later they arrived in Shipley. Caroline explains they wanted to move closer to Julian's brother and his wife in Saltaire. "I am very adaptable and I always have slightly itchy feet!" laughs Caroline.
"We'd been in Brighton for eight years but we wanted to come back to Yorkshire."
They moved to their home in Shipley in October, 2005. Julian found work as a health care assistant at a hospital in Leeds. "My intention was to work for three years doing a proper job!" laughs Caroline.
Her first role was a secretary within a Leeds solicitors firm. I ask how the vintage gear went down in the office. "I had to temper it a bit!" she said.
She moved from there to an administrator's role, promoting creativity within schools, with the Arts Council based in Dewsbury but she always had in mind her ambition to open a vintage shop enabling her to make a career out of an enjoyable hobby.
Caroline's love of old things, she believes, stems back to the days she'd help her mum polishing the silver and preparing for dinner parties in her role as housekeeper to the Lord of the Manor in Surrey where she spent her childhood.
"I remember Saturday mornings were supposed to be spent cleaning the bedrooms but I'd spend the time reading old books and snooping round!" she laughs.
"My mum used to have to prepare for dinner parties and I remember cleaning the silver and stringing the green beans which people don't do any more so I think that is where I got into old things.
"Even in my schooldays I was into Sixties and Seventies music, the Kinks and the Stranglers while my friends were swooning over Bros and Jason Donovan!
"And I loved all the old films, Hitchcock, Laurel and Hardy, all those things which have a bit more style than current or contemporary films and music."
Her biggest fashion statement, she fondly recalls, was a pair of culottes. "I dyed them black and covered them in lyrics by the Doors and Jimi Hendrix in metallic paint. I wanted them to stand out a bit!" laughs Caroline.
Her favourite vintage item is a beautiful 1950s green dress. "It's 50 years old yet it looks like it was made for me," she beams.
She also has some maxi dresses which, she reminds me, were popular in the Seventies when they were worn by the likes of Margo (Penelope Keith) and Barbara (Felicity Kendal) in the hit TV sitcom, The Good Life.
Such is Caroline's passion for vintage fashion she's rapidly running out of storage space in her Shipley home. "The house was getting over-run with it so I thought I would pass it on to other people."
Caroline's ambition was to one day open her own shop and, after successfully winning business advice and support for her idea through Enterprise Island, an initiative for encouraging entrepreneurs, she recently launched The House of Rose & Brown in Saltaire, christened after her mum and Caroline's surname. "It's a thank you to mum as well because we used to go round the second-hand shops together."
"I saw an empty shop in Saltaire. This goes back to my time in Brighton when I used to contact landlords. I could see the potential so I approached the landlord and asked if I could have it as a two week showcase for all the Enterprise Island winners knowing they were painters, photographers and makers to show people how creative we are. The landlord was really into the idea so we all chipped in and opened up.
"Over the two weeks it just took off. The reception we had from local people and from tourists and friends of all the people taking part was so positive the landlord said I think you can make a go of this.' I said I'd like nothing better. I'd been dreaming about doing this."
So she did and the business is giving her an excuse to buy! "I do go out on buying frenzies!" she laughs.
She also has customers popping in seeking a good home for their treasured vintage possessions. "One lady came in saying her mum had an amazing collection of clothes but she'd now died and she wanted them to be passed on to someone who could give them a good home."
The saying they don't make things how they used to' rings true when Caroline tells me why demand for vintage is growing. "People recognise quality with things that have been hand-made and the stitching is fantastic. It wasn't cheap when it was made or first bought.
"I love gorgeous old stuff. I'm passionate about it and I feel like a bit of an old hand at it!" laughs Caroline.