I have incredibly low patience as a person. When I go shopping I prefer to go alone so that I can walk fast, duck in and out of shops quickly without having to wait for the person I’m shopping with, and leave as soon as I’ve got what I need. It is no surprise, then, that I’ve never got the hang of vintage shopping. I live in a tiny village tucked away in the English countryside, so shopping for vintage in person would mean driving all the way out to larger towns I’m not super familiar with, and thus, journeys that would fill me with anxiety. Add in the fact that my size means finding good quality vintage clothing in my size and within my budget is unlikely and that effort just doesn’t seem worth it.
Vintage accessories, at least, are something I could likely have more success with, but once you consider that low patience level, the potential high travel anxiety level, and my overall lack of true vintage knowledge, once more the trips just don’t seem worth it. Searching out accessories online at least eliminates one of those factors, but still, it takes a lot of time and more than some savvy to find what you need or want in the pages and pages and pages of vaguely related results produced from every search term. This, folks, is why I am so ecstatically pleased that I stumbled upon Belbeina Lee a few months back. Never again do I need to search, research, ponder, wonder or worry–Katie can handmake items just as beautiful and high quality as true vintage, but with no effort required on my part. Literally, take my money!
Hat: Large Daisy hat in Burgundy handmade by Belbeina Lee
Dress: Harley Wrap Dress previously gifted by Joanie Clothing
Necklace: Old eBay
Faux Fur capelet: Brown Lilian cape by Collectif*
I first ordered from Katie over the summer, requesting an Infinity Hat in a leopard print (review here) which fast became one of my most prized vintage-inspired possessions. I knew I would be ordering from her again, even though I was trying to cut back my spending to minimal levels. And thus, after successfully practicing restraint for a few weeks following the debut of her Large Daisy Hat design, I submitted to beautiful failure and commissioned a burgundy beauty of my own. Katie was even more of a delight to communicate with as she had been on my prior order, made and sent out my hat promptly from New Zealand, and before long it was safely in my hands here in England.
As with all her orders, it arrived lovingly wrapped inside tissue paper, nestled inside a sturdy display box which was wrapped, literally, in a bow. One of the lovelier parts of ordering from a small business is the thought and care that often goes into the packaging of your order, in addition to the abundant care that goes into the making of the product. I love knowing that in shopping from a small business like Belbeina Lee that not only am I getting a stunningly beautiful, high quality product made with love and passion, but I’m also helping to support a woman’s dream of making her living on her own terms creating products she loves. Additionally, for someone like me who loves the idea of vintage but is lacking in knowledge of how to properly care for it, buying a handmade, quality product like this means I know I’m spending my money on a product that will last without requiring specialist knowledge I don’t have in how to care for it .
The hat itself is exquisite. Made from soft burgundy velvet ribbons, the craftsmanship required is immediately obvious upon first glance, let alone when in hand. Four large daisies overlap in a gentle curve that can be molded to the shape of your head with what I must assume is hidden internal wiring. The underside of the hat boasts a lovely muted floral print covering, Belbeina Lee’s hand-stitched label, and two metal combs to help secure it to one’s head along with an elastic. A cluster of beads are stitched into the centre of each daisy, adding texture, a soft glint in the right lighting, and a true feel of luxury. It is, in short, the kind of piece I never thought I’d be lucky enough to own.
I live in England so ordering meant paying international shipping from New Zealand but even with insurance added the cost was far more reasonable than I expected, working out at only about £12.50! Considering that ordering anything from America often means at least £20 on delivery, if not more, I was very surprised by that, and even happier that once posted it arrived with a week.
Belbeina Lee is a one-woman operation, so Katie takes all of her orders via Facebook or Instagram. She offers a range of designs in a variety of shapes and sizes, with and without netting and beadwork, in most colours, but her most popular designs can be found in this recent post if you want to have a quick perusal. The only question is, which style should I order next? I think the Ella cap is calling me!
[Disclaimer: Items marked with an asterix * are items I bought myself but are made by companies I have worked with previously by accepting gifted items in exchange for writing honest reviews to feature them. Items marked as gifted are items sent to me for free in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions expressed in those reviews are my own and wholly truthful, with no input from any companies or any other individuals.]