Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Stylish thrifting

We are enjoying another short break on the English coast [I know!]. This time we are in Scarborough, a quintessentially British seaside resort, all cream cakes, donkey rides and predictably wet weather!

I wanted to make a start on a post that I've had in mind for a while now. Many of you will have already read my thoughts on thrifting and second-hand shopping, but this is a kind of manifesto to bear in mind.

My previous life as a fashion editor on women's magazines was thrilling, but even then I never really bought into the high-fashion, high-spending life. Some of my colleagues would not blink an eye at spending £250 a season on the latest it-bag. I think my stoic Yorkshire-upbringing was too deep-rooted. I scoured second-hand markets and designer sample sales for things that I would fall in love with. London was the ideal place to find wonderful things and my position meant I could go to a Chanel [only invited once!], or a Jimmy Choo sample sale [yes I did!].

And so my suggestions on thrifting stylishly and well. This is not about looking like you buy second hand but looking chic and up-to-the-minute without breaking the bank. I believe it can be done.

1. The main principle is to take time. To find the good stuff you have to be prepared to rummage and go out of your way to find the right shops and markets. If you have a wedding or a party to go to at the weekend and you need an outfit now you'll struggle to find exactly what you're after in a hurry.

2. My other main point is to go through your current wardrobe and have a really good sort out. If you have the number of a really good tailor it is amazing what can be done with ill-fitting dresses, trousers and jackets. Things can practically be made new if given a little attention. Being frugal with fashion is about getting the most out of what you already own. As a stay-at-home Mum I no longer have the disposable income to spend on clothes that I used to so I have taken to rethinking what I already own. Dresses I normally wear in the evening can be layered over a long-sleeved t-shirt for day time with a pair of flat biker boots and tights in the winter or vest top and flip flops in the summer. Smart work jackets look great over rolled up chinos and a stripy T shirt. A relaxed denim jacket makes a maxi skirt and vest look effortless.

3. Which brings me to another point, always think timeless and effortless when looking for clothes. Particularly after a certain age women should try to avoid anything that looks too trendy or try-hard. Eurrgghhh! I hear you moan. I don't want to preach about skirt lengths and bingo wings as I know some of the hippest gals who are over 40, but real style comes from not trying too hard - FACT.

4. I've written about it before and I'll keep writing about it: fabric, fabric, fabric. Particularly with second-hand clothes. The quality of the fabric is the main thing. If you're buying second-hand you should be looking for quality labels anyway, this is about finding the Sportmax coat at the same price as a Zara [think ebay or charity shops in the best areas!]. I once found a pair of Marni cotton twill trousers for £35 from a charity shop on Marylebone High Street [it can be done].

5. Don't be tempted to buy something just because it is cheap - I speak from experience. It should at least fit properly and be something that you love, although the first point can always be altered with the help of your tailor. Skirts and trousers can be shortened if they are too long, but tops are a little harder to make right so look for the correct size as much as possible.

6. T K Maxx in the UK is a source of many of my bargains. Some of the labels I've seen there include: Nicole Farhi, Missoni, Earl jeans, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Gharani Strok. This is where time and patience really does pay.

So here endeth the first lesson. I'm toying around with the idea of photographing some of my finds again, let me know what you think. Time to get back to the cream cakes...


  1. What a lovely blog! Welcome to the Netmums Bloggers Network. x

  2. Thanks Kate - very happy to be a member - writing from the heart and the hip - hoping for a few more readers to join me on my journey! Amy x


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