If I had to choose my favourite type of bag, it would be the crossbody. I wonder if it’s yours? They are everywhere! And the reason for their popularity, is, I think, you can simply pop your phone, wallet, keys and lipstick in and off you go! Hands free! The funny thing is, I don’t really remember their popularity growing up. I remember bags their size, but they were more often worn on the shoulder. And if one was worn across the body, it was referred to as a traveller, a utility or messenger bag. And it was large with lots of pockets and zips. Anyone else remember them? ….. regardless, because of its practicality, the cross body bag is here to stay so lets check out a few of my current favourites…
But before I do, if you would like to comment, simply press the title of the post now, so the page reopens with a commenting section at the end. And don’t forget to head over to read what my fellow SIGNATURE STYLE bloggers Cindy and Kim have to say afterwards.
I know I’ve featured a few options of crossbody bags over the last few blogs, you can go back and read about the most recent here . So today I might just share a few more obscure ones that I’ve recently come across. All are leather, my material of choice for most crossbody bags, and especially now for my AW22.
Tiggy by Cuddington is an ethical Australian leather bag company who uses craftsmanship in their vintage inspired designs. I don’t own one, but certainly adore their aesthetic. They remind me of one my Mum owned in the 70s… lots of embossing, stamps and stitch details. I prefer the smaller bags but there are larger like my Mum’s.
Mimco is a company that began in Melbourne. Since its 1996 inception, it has changed ownership, but is still synonymous with great quality classic but on-trend designs. A little more urban than the Tiggy’s above.
And then there’s a bag that I always pop in and look at when I walk past Morrison. It’s available in three shapes and two colours, black and tan. I just love the beaded handle that hangs when the canvas strap is used across the body. And it has the added bonus of being handmade in Sydney.
And it wouldn’t be SIGNATURE STYLE if I didn’t feature a couple of my own crossbody bags. Like most of us, I have a collection. This is by no means them in their entirety, but perhaps my most worn….
Which is why I am always interested in adding to it 😉 my most recent crossbody is a vintage Bally. A purchase made to deliberately coordinate with my gold shoe obsession 😂 …. how divine is this! And as its vintage circa 1990, it proves that crossbody bags were around back then….
What I have also done in the past is create my own bag out of a belt and pouch.
And I often create temporary crossbody bags out of ”envelope clutches” if I find it the best option for coordinating an outfit (and if you do watch, safety pins and stitching in a fabric panel have been suggested as a fix 😉):
And as for the said crossbody straps, yes, I am building up a collection of those too! My fave by far is the one below, that I attached to my handmade Greek Lulu by Liana shoulder bag to convert it into a crossbody 😊
You can buy designer straps at most retail stores, but as I prefer no branding, I shop ebay 😉
On that note…lets see what Cindy and Kim’s preferred Crossbody Bag SIGNATURE STYLE is…
Welcome to March’s SECONDHAND STYLE blog with myself and blogging buddy Jane from The Small Fabric of my Life! And this month we are going to talk about something completely different. A Capsule Challenge for April (great idea Jane 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻) ! In which we challenge ourselves (and maybe you would like to join in on INSTAGRAM ?) to gather 10 preloved items from our wardrobe and attempt to style them in as many outfits as possible. If you would like to join in the fun, simply use the hashtag (when posting a picture on IG) #SarahJaneCapsuleChallenge22 😉 …. and if you would like to comment on this blog, simply press the title of it now to open the page with the commenting option at the bottom.
Capsule Wardrobes are new to me. I don’t think I’ve ever really bought or worn them with that term in mind before. But as I was working my way through my wardrobe gathering the 10 (actually I ended up with 9) secondhand items to mix and match, I had a revelation. This really is how I approach packing whenever I go away. So I had some experience after all…. and this is how I approached it.
When I travel, I always start with knowing where I am going and what I am doing. This will tell me the weather I need to dress for and the styles I’ll need. Not quite what I’m doing this time, but as it’s now Autumn, I’ve based this capsule challenge on cooler clothes (think Melbourne Autumn/Winter) and style wise I’m going for everyday creative casual. Outfits that will suit occasions like a road trip, shopping, visiting an art gallery, lunching with friends, and dining out. Then I decide on a colour palette, and for this exercise I’ve gone with primarily browns and tans, with a touch of black 😳 and animal print 🐆 Using block colours always increases the ability for garments to mix and match and keeping any pattern small scale allows for repetition without making it obvious you’re wearing the same item twice. And since leopard is almost always a neutral, it tends to work with a lot. And for this month’s challenge I selected 9 items (jewellery, hosiery and sunglasses not included).
And here are the garments I selected:
A pair of jeans, that I have had cropped, so they look more current,
2. A dress (which is black, perhaps a tad short, but for some reason i can’t part with),
3 & 4. 2 jumpers, a plain and a pattern,
5 & 6. 1 jacket and 1 gilet.
All are secondhand and vary in age from a few months to 10 plus years old in my wardrobe. I think you can already see from the photos how harmonious they are together.
And for the accessories:
7. 1 crossbody bag (that can double as a clutch),
8. 1 scarf,
9. 1 pair of 19 year old boots ( if I had a flat pair of #secondhand shoes that worked, I would have added them too..but to stay true to the theme I don’t).
Since Jane and I decided that jewellery and hosiery doesn’t count in this challenge, you may wear what you like, but to keep it simple, I’ve opted to repeat the brass jewels below, because that is what I would do if I took this capsule on a holiday.
Capsules help you get creative while simplifying things. They also allow you to create a Wabi Sabi look in your own style. I love that, less about what’s trending and more about what you love to wear… your style! And while I don’t really have a need for them everyday, I certainly love the idea. More so for me when I travel. Regardless, It’s been such fun! So I will enjoy sharing with you the 8 outfits I came up with on INSTAGRAM this month…. until then scroll down for my first look … and be sure to read what Jane is putting together by pressing on the link below:
Let me start by saying that at 55, I am finally finding that age-related long-sight (which is totally normal btw) has settled into my eyes and I am well and truly in need of a good pair of reading glasses no matter the near vision activity. And while my own experience currently requires the use of over the counter pairs, I am looking forward to reading what Cindy and Kim have to say, as i’m totally unsure where they are at (perhaps they wear prescription?) and on that I have so much to learn 🙏🏻 so please join me in reading their blogs after you read mine. And if you would like to leave a comment, press the title of this blog NOW so it will give you the commenting option at the end (hope that works in solving any problems that may have happened in the past 😉).
Welcome to March’s SIGNATURE STYLE! And as you know by now, it’s all about glasses. “Readers” as I call them, are my most recent accessory. I have three pairs, and somehow I manage to coordinate them with whatever I am wearing…. so lets run through the brand and shape that they are and what I think about them….
My first brand was and is (I still have 2 pairs) IPIZI. Designed in Paris, this brand seems to be sold everywhere, so it really is a great one to try before you buy. They have +1 to +3 reading glasses (normal and for screen and sun), plus 😎 sunglasses with and without magnification. They also have a eye magnification guide and face shape style guide on line if you are unsure where to start. I have found their frames flexible and light weight and the lens clear and easy to clean. There are many styles to choose from and are available in many colours. What made me try them first is their reasonable price point. My regular reading glasses are pictured above and below and cost $60 each.
But given a majority of my reading, blog writing and streaming is done on a screen, I did find myself in need of reading glasses with specially crafted lenses that block or filter out the blue light given off from digital screens. And I chose Caddis as they claim:
“Our frequency lenses block the most blue light (45%) at, and surrounding, the most harmful wavelength (455 nm) with a nearly clear lens (this is really hard to do).
Importantly, our frequency technology is engineered into the lens material. The blue light protection is infused in, not coated on. It won’t rub or scratch off. This alone is enough to make Frequency lenses better than any coated lens on the market.”
The primary benefit of this for me is that in reducing the high energy frequency that blue light emits, it enables the release of serotonin which in turn allows me to use a screen before bed. Of course, ultimately, no screen time before sleep would be more beneficial. So the following pair of glasses are my current ones:
I can’t quite remember how I came across the brand CADDIS. Perhaps it was on someone else 🤔 but what I loved was the frame thickness and colour. These definitely make more of a statement and because they are tortoiseshell in colour, they also seem to go with anything I wear so are often used as a regular reading glass instead of just a screen reader. They are marginally heavier than the IPIZI, definitely more rigid, but the lens clarity is comparable. The range isn’t as large, but it’s very different! My D 28’s were $149 and I wear these more than the others I own.
Which is why have these Caddis Miklos blue bloc readers on my radar, I just can’t decide which colour 😂 if the comments link works, i’d appreciate your input!
This brand and style also has magnification sunnies, so that’s something to think about for the next beach holiday 🤔 speaking of which, last year I wrote about Resort Wear. You can read that here. In it, I featured a pair of sunglasses that I actually bought myself. They are by Vilo:
Made sustainably from wood in New Zealand, they are lighter than plastic! and the lenses have amber polarised UV400 lenses to protect against harmful UVA/ UVB rays. This brand also has a range of blue bloc and glasses you can have your prescription made up in. And they weren’t that expensive at $129. Here I am in mine:
I’m not a frequent buyer of sunglasses or one that follows the “whats in” trend, so I tend to rotate the ones I already have. And since I’m somewhat of a collector, I have a few. Here are the ones on current rotation:
And while these are all old season and no longer available, here is a pair that have caught my eye….excuse the pun! I love the transparent look… they remind me a bit of the Caddis MIKLOS readers that I shared earlier. Perhaps that narrows down which readers I will get next …. definitely acetate 😂
And here is another pair that are quite lovely 😊 albeit, quite high end!
Gosh! If only my budget would allow for a major glasses overhaul 😂 but that’s not really what MY SIGNATURE STYLE is about … what is, is to wear what I have, and maybe put a pair on my wishlist, sit with it for a while and wait for the universe to deliver 😉. I wonder what Cindy and Kim’s SIGNATURE STYLE on glasses is.. let’s take a look 😊
It’s by no means a new concept, but in a world where it’s now cheaper and easier to dispose and reconsume, it may seem like an out of date one. So I’m here today to share my positive spin (as I’m sure is Jane from The Small Fabric of my Life …be sure to read her blog after mine 😉) on why the practice I grew up with is making a comeback in my life and how it can be part of yours (if it isn’t already).. all by changing your mindset on how you look at it and your wardrobe 🙏🏻
You’ve probably noticed on social platforms and in the media there is a strong movement towards sustainable wardrobes, with a particular emphasis on buying “secondhand”. And while I say BRAVO to anyone who takes part even in the smallest of ways, when it comes to clothes, I would personally like to see more of the sustainable act that the title of this blogpost refers and ”wear and repair” what you already have 😊 In fact, over the last couple of months that’s kind of where I’ve been going….. (coincidentally NOT for the purpose of this post, although it’s practice was timed perfectly 😉)… but first, a little background… one day last October, when I walked into my wardrobe to prepare to film another ”look what you can buy” video for Instagram, I found myself shaking my head, falling to the floor and screaming “NO MORE STUFF” !! I felt overwhelmed! And it was in that moment that I knew my days as an “Influencer”, albeit an eeny teeny micro one, needed a break. The fun of sharing new designs, while I accumulated more free clothes than I would ever need had to stop. As mindful as I was on the type of product I promoted, the amount was slightly ridiculous (my own doing) and the ”feel good” style that I had previously lived by felt anything but!
Fast forward a couple of months and this is where I am…..I am at peace 🙏🏻 I’ve flipped my “let’s share new” mentality for a practical “make do” one….but in a really ”feel good” way 😊I’ve changed from always “wanting more” to loving “what I own”, which has lead to more time doing what I love in what I love to wear. I have also paid particular attention to what that is and why I love it. Some garments have been mended, some altered to fit me a little better, some made to look more modern and some that just aren’t me anymore, I’ve given away. And what I discovered is that there is definitely a common thread and it is IF I LOVE IT, I am more likely to wear and repair it 🥰 And if you retake a look at the title of the book in the first pic above you’ll see it says “LOVED CLOTHES LAST” 😉
For those long time readers and followers on Instagram, I feel like I’ve reached a full circle moment… I’m back to my first love which is STYLE and NOT shopping 🙏🏻 and I’m back on track refocusing on how I wear what I love and making it mine. And there is so much to gain from looking at what you already have in your wardrobes and doing this. And since I’ve been doing this for a while, here are my tips to get you falling in love with your own style, your own clothes, your own wardrobe, so that you will wear it, repair it and make yours last:
▪️Firstly, consider what you have. Can you revamp a few garments? Alter your garments to fit you well, so that you love how they look and feel on your body. Can u change the length, add a dart or two, loosen the elastic, remove a collar, try a different sleeve stye, make it single breasted, change the buttons? …whatever it is, spending time achieving a great fit and look will not only remove the need to buy something new again and again, it will allow you to naturally fall in love with what is altered, as it feels like it was made just for you! Which in turn, will make you hold onto and mend should you need. Here are three dresses I fell in love with because they were my style and colour, but all needed some alteration to fit well, which is why I now consider them bespoke 😂
▪️Pay attention to the fabrics you like the feel and look of and those that last. I am a lover of natural fibres. Wool, cotton, linen, silk.. they like me and I love them back. Learn to read labels. When you seek quality in your garments, they become less disposable and you are more likely to take care of them and lean to mending down the track. For example, this relatively inexpensive pant suit is 100% linen, it feels fabulous! I did have to have the body of it brought up 2cm to fit and a press stud sewn on so it didn’t gape, but I absolutely love it! Its an example of one garment I have refallen in love with from my own wardrobe.
▪️Care for your clothes. Follow the laundering instructions. Although, not too often if you want to make them last. Then, press, steam and hang on your favourite hangers spaced nicely, not squashed in like sardines (because you own too much)… this makes you more likely to see what you have and wear it! And when you wear clothes repeatedly, you are more likely to love them, hold onto, mend, and alter should you need (Also, hold onto those spare buttons and threads… you may just need them 😉)
▪️Invest in scented sachets and drawer liners to protect your treasured items. Choose pretty fabric bags or paper… distribute them evenly throughout your wardrobe space…this will not only make them smell so nice you’ll want to wear them, it will also reduce your need to mend any pesky moth made holes. And if those holes do appear, don’t discard, quality wool and cashmere is always worth darning!
▪️Pay attention to your accessories. Polish shoes. Reheel and resole when needed. After 18 years, I had a zip replaced in the boots below. And I’m so happy I could. They were my first Ebay purchase ever and I’ve worn them consistently. I even have the perfect colour polish! By the way, keeping knee length boots upright (rolled newspaper does the trick) will extend their life. And does using Suede spray on those of this material !! Rotate your handbags, infact rotating shoes and bags will reduce their need for repairs! Sort your jewellery. Accessible items will get worn! And have a mending kit on hand for any unhooking. It is so simple when you know how…google it 😉
▪️ And from now on, take your time selecting what you bring into your wardrobe. Second hand and new! Choose well. Choose for your shape, style and colouring. If you haven’t already, spend time on yourself discovering what that is instead of shopping. Have your colours done. Know your shape. Have your style personality analysed. Look at your lifestyle! Just do it! In the long term, this will save you time, money and effort in getting ready as you will always have clothes you feel great in it, wear more, are likely to love, hold onto, mend, and alter should you need.
▪️Don’t be afraid to get creative. Repair. Repurpose. Reinvent. Here is a simple example of my own handy work 😉
▪️And lastly, but by no means less important…. connect. Connect with your clothes. Connect with that feeling you have when you wear them. Attach memories to them. Where were you when you bought them ? Where have you been in them? Did you wear the perfect dress for an event? Perhaps a wedding? If it felt and looked fantastic, why not make it your ”event dress”? make that connection … why does everything always have to be new? Elevate the way you feel about what you have, give them purpose and meaning. It will only make you love, wear and be more likely to repair 😉
And that’s my spin on how I have reminded myself to “Mend and Make Do” with my own wardrobe. An idea that may initially have connotations of lack, but one I have proven to myself feels abundant…and if you think this was short but sweet, there will be more as it’s the concept that i’ll be starting 2022 off with on my #savvystyle Instagram program 😉
Time to talk “Signature Style” with my buddies Cindy and Kim, and this month we are sharing out thoughts and style tips on bags and my focus is on what I believe, is fast becoming THE new “IT BAG”, the Sustainable Tote ! Whether you like the stylish woven kind, the fabric kind, or even structured leather, there is certainly no shortage of choice out there. And you no longer have to opt for high priced designer versions to find the perfect one. As long as a bag is durable enough to carry the said “number of items” it’s a tote! And we all need a bag like that…
Even Carrie Bradshaw! Rumour has it, her tote of choice relates to the Podcast she now hosts. Time will tell, with HBO SATC remake AJLT airing shortly 😉 And you don’t even have to buy this type, as many companies simply give away canvas (or recycled plastic) bags with their logo on (like Carrie’s) when you purchase. And while reusing these as a “carry all” does have the added eco friendly benefit of being seen as a conscious consumer (ironically perhaps that is a theme the writers of AJLT are promoting 🤔)…. I personally steer away from any free form of advertising and seek a more stylish alternative in which the design is the focus…
I have a large collection of DEED BAGS . These bags are handmade with love by a dear friend. They were designed originally because they are the perfect size to replace that of an average plastic bag. So perfect for a simple trip to the store! But since they have internal pockets for keys, wallet, phone and lippy, they can be so much more! They also happen to fold down to nothing, so easy to slip in a suitcase for travel (if you don’t use one as your carry on 😉) In fact, how you do is up to you…but trust me when I say, they can so easily become a part of your lifestyle, in fact, their motto is SHOP| TRAVEL| LIVE ! which is what they do with me 😊 And since they come in so many lovely patterns, colours and designs there is something for everyone. I think Carrie Bradshaw should have one 😉
Since “tote style” now makes a huge dent in the fashion bag market, I thought i’d share some more that I love that are currently available Worldwide!
The FRENCH FARMERS BASKET is a classic straw tote. I’m sure you all have one! Originally used to carry the produce one would pick up on a provincial market day, they are now so much more than that! And there are so many variations. Usually made in Morocco from palm leaves, they can be bought at relatively inexpensive stores like Etsy with traditional handles, others long. Some are king sized, and some mini. They can also be found at designer stores like Oroton with to Chloe and pretty much everything in between! My preference is the simpler style…but personalised! I’ve recently seen Kim use hers by adding a simple tassel, which I currently covet and love 😍 and Cindy hers, with a sweet scarf. Aren’t these ideas great?
Another tote I adore, but this time from afar is the TURKISH VELVET IKAT Bag. I first saw this in Istanbul in 2019. The style and shape was everywhere, you’ll recognise it from the Dior Shopper…btw, copies of this were going for a song compared to the real deal 🙄 But it was the vibrancy of the silk velvet in this style that I fell in love with 😍 plus the fact, that I’m not really into wearing labels or logos that scream at you 😫 so it was the silk velvet pattern I fell for. Foolishly, I only bought the mules, but not the bag! But again, it’s online shopping to the rescue, if I decide to go ahead. What do you think? Should I? Is a matching bag and shoes in this pattern just too much ?And is it really me? I’m thinking it could be my go to for Melbourne AW22, but am unsure 🤔
Which brings me to another type of tote, those made in Madagascan RAFFIA STRAW 😍 It’s grown on the island, and is a heavier straw which is very durable and flexible. Naturally its a gorgeous wheat colour, but it may be dyed and then braided coarsely or fine and even crocheted. Which is what one of my favourite artists does. I only discovered Sophie Digard last year, but I pretty much adore everything she makes, including these totes. Every item is handmade, take hours to produce, making it bespoke and a piece of art. Her bags are available from small stores worldwide like Eva’s Sunday here in Melbourne. I’m thinking of treating myself to one for my upcoming 55th birthday 😊
And my final tote of choice would be the ALI LAMU bag. Handmade on the island of Lamu out of recycled sail cloth and rope handles. They are just so cool. I’m not usually one for a logo, but theirs speak volumes to me. LOVE. SURF. SWIM. WILD. What’s not to love about these words on a bag? (I am a CHOOSE LIFE Wham loving 80s gal after all😉) I adore the raw details of the hand stitching and painting. More works of art! And again, sold through smaller businesses like Esplora, here in Australia. I have one, in natural, although they actually come in all kinds of different colours, shapes and sizes.
I really do enjoy searching for something a bit different, so I hope you like this selection. I’m guessing what Tote you need really depends on your lifestyle. Mine is casual and relaxed, but I still like to look and feel stylish and chic….so I currently have little need for the leather structured kind, which is why I haven’t actually featured them. And this last sentence has gotten me thinking, I probably wont use the Ikat silk velvet as many times as I should. So while I love it, it won’t make it to my “IT BAG” collection 😂
I wonder what will make it to Cindy and Kim’s, be sure to press on the links below to read about what they love
I’m so glad I managed to coax my “Signature Style” Pals Cindy and Kim into talking leather this month 😊 as it’s a material I have worn since I was 18. My first ever leather garment (other than shoes 😉) was a pair of leather pants I bought on The Queensway in Bayswater, London back in 1984. How I wish I had them now.. they were stunning! High waist, front pleats, rollable cuff and oh so soft…my daughters would love them ! But they were sold to a recycle boutique a few years later so I could purchase a secondhand electric blue pair (another pair I wish I still owned) 😳 I don’t have a pic of those, but here’s a younger me in my black ones (below left) … proving I’ve never been shy of the camera 😂 btw, I’m happy to say I still have 3 of those bangles and the watch on my arm…and I still wear them! I can still remember where and when I got them all. Brass and Gold from the Camden Market, Ivory bangle from Hong Kong and the watch was left to me by my Grandma (who, btw, I believe is the Orb you see in so many of my IGTV’s 😉). I just love that connection to clothes and jewellery that I have. But I digress, back to leather…
Between the ages of 18-38 I owned several leather jackets and skirts. All resold 😬 But over the last 17 years, I have been more mindful and kept all the leather pieces I have purchased. Even the 2004 black leather skirt that no longer fits! My youngest daughter is keen to have this too-small for me leather skirt altered for herself, which I love since I wore it to her Christening (see above right)! In the pic below I’m wearing a coat I bought in, i think, 2004. A bit tight, but still looking good! I have, however, also owned faux leather… many pairs of shoes in my youth but only two garments … one was a pair of navy Zara pants. They looked great for a short time, but I found the colour wore away in the creases, so they made it to landfill after a season 😬 and the second, a snakeskin trench which is still with me.
So which do I feel better about owning and purchasing? Faux or Real? There is definitely a tug of war in my head when it comes to this as I don’t think the choice is simple…
Faux leather, or pleather doesn’t harm animals directly and its strong and durable. However, the production of it creates the same nasty chemicals produced in plastic 😬 it can also shed harmful micro-plastics into the environment, which we ingest and when discarded, it never breaks down! Plant based leather on the other hand, is made from agricultural waste. No animals are harmed in its production, it is made from a renewable source and it breaks down back into organic matter. Unfortunately it’s not readily available (I haven’t seen any 😳), can sometimes smell and no one yet knows about its long term durability. Real leather on the other hand is made from skins of animals. Cows, calf, lamb, and goat ☹️ Technically, they are a co-product of the meat and dairy industries, not a by-product. Traditional tanning produces toxic waste that makes it into our waterways and vegetable tanning while less toxic, still is! However, it is a natural material that degenerates into organic matter and its durable.
You decide where all that leaves you. The best thing for me to do, is wear what I have and wear it sustainably, meaning “for a very long time”. And if I do chose a new piece, perhaps i’ll look at secondhand first. And if not, at least look for ethically made and sourced real leather.
Which makes my recent sharing of the small Melbourne based leather business Raw by Raw a leather company for me. They are small, they are family based, they are true artisans, they source ethically from a company they have dealt with for years (who have ISO accreditation) and they make right here in Melbourne. No mass production. No fast fashion. Just timeless styles that are wardrobe builders. I already had a pair of their pants, an amazing casual style, that I purchased earlier this year. These are called the Frankie Jogger, they are leather at the front (lined) and a ponty fabric at the back, so they are stretchy, but mould to your shape perfectly and are very comfortable. I bought the Sapphire (a navy- the ones on the left) to replace the faux Zara pair but they are also available in black and olive. Definitely a “buy once, buy well” item, and I must say, I feel incredible in them ! So far, I have worn them in Autumn, Winter and Spring. I’m really liking the idea of trying to wear them casually, like a cotton, linen or denim pant so the outfit on the right with trainers and a tee is quite timeless!
And I was lucky enough to be able to share these gorgeous items from them on IGTV, which I worked as suits in three colour ways. The leather suit.. I actually love that idea!
And if you take another look at my jackets in the first photo, you will see I own the Adeline Jacket in Autumn Leaves (which is an olive) and the same colour in the York Culotte.
Now why not pop on over to see what Cindy and Kim have to say on leather in their SIGNATURE STYLE blog post…
Welcome to a new blog and a new monthly instalment called “SECOND HAND STYLE”, this time with blogger and charity shopper extraordinaire Jane from The Small Fabric of my Life. Each month we will be talking about a “second hand” topic from our own perspective… and today it’s a little introduction of how we started shopping this way 😊
I can’t really remember a time I haven’t owned something second hand. Whether it be handed down, salvaged or intentionally purchased. My home is full of curated treasures! So it’s no surprise that my wardrobe is too 😉 Since I started this blog and the Instagram page that accompanies it, I like to think my “second hand style” has slowly made its way from the back to the front of Sarah London Style. And all quite naturally, firstly I introduced you to the clothes in my wardrobe and now I share with you the way they get there.
I love old! I was brought up to love old! (Its no accident i’m a History Major 😉) Although if you asked me when I was ten, if I’d rather wear the old hand me downs from Di and Sue (family friends daughters who were a couple of years older than me) or be taken to the local shopping centre, I would have chosen the latter. You see, my parents were (and still are) thrifters! I grew up with them frequenting antique auctions, markets, garage sales and the advertised section of the newspaper, all in search of what they needed, and when they found what they were after, they always managed to make it work! They rarely threw things out, always chose to repair and often repainted, reupholstered and repurposed. Talk about sustainable! But this was the late 70s and it wasn’t uncommon then, and because my family happened to be good at it, it was fun!
And then I turned 14! December 1980 and I got my first job at the local delicatessen… and an instant cash influx and my parents love of thrift turned into mine. Trash and Treasure Markets at car parks were my favourite! These were the days when I could find a pair of 1960’s winkle picker stilettos for 99cents (I did), vintage was everywhere and it was cheap because with the emergence of Fast Fashion, no one really wanted it. Except me and my 80s gal pals! We were music crazy and always wanted to look like some star on the cover of UK mag Smash Hits! I was a “Mod” 😂, and my friends were “Punks” and “New Romantics” and where did we find our clothes? We bought and repurposed from secondhand….
Fast Forward forty years, and while my style no longer replicates a “mod” or those on the magazine covers 😂, second hand clothes are still an important part of who I am. Yes, I have dabbled with Fast Fashion, I’ve even worked in it! (thank you Myer Miss Shop). And I’ll even admit that I got on the Zara bandwagon for more than a few years 😩. All because I loved clothes and it was easy and cheap. But at the same time, I’d never forgotton my roots and the “upcycling” style habits of my upbringing. So markets on the weekend, op shopping, designer recycle for the “it” bag (albeit a couple of years late) and eBay have remained constant. But now I have more time (thank you mid life and COVID), I find myself reflecting and “deliberately” going back to what I was brought up to know….
And that is, you create your own style! You wear what feels like you and you wear it your way! Which to me, means pulling together an outfit from various sources. It doesn’t have to be perfect, you just have to love it! And most often than not, one item I decide to put on will be second hand! And while I could attribute it to sustainability, going green, saving from landfill, the environment and all that, I won’t… I simply shop like this because it’s what I’ve always known. And it’s freeing. No ties to having the latest trend, just adapting which ones you like from what you have, and dare I say, even creating your own! The aim is to feel good! And shopping this way does that! Take for example the photo below.. all secondhand! The coat I picked at a consignment store. The scarf a local op shop, the jeans and boots from designer recycle. All aged from 12 months to 14 years old. All my style, in my wardrobe and still being worn by me 🙏🏻.
Now please pop on over to Jane’s blog and read about why she shops this way.
What a delight to have shared two wonderful new brands from my studio with everyone in the last month! Both sustainable and ethical Smitten Merino and Cara Cashmere are the most wonderful companies to be an ambassador for. They believe in everything I believe in, and they have done so way before I decided to become more “consciously aware” in the world of style. So what is that? Both are small Aussie brands that ship globally, both design here in Australia, one supports our manufacturing industry here, the other supports a small free range goat herding family and a family based manufacturer in Inner Mongolia. Both ensure that all the workers (and the animals) involved are respected, treated well and paid fairly. And both companies send their item in recyclable packaging and of course, they both also sell the most incredible stylish natural product garments! Slow fashion 🙏🏻
I was so lucky to be sent a few items by Smitten, to share with you all. A Mary dress (which I love), two styles of cardigans- the Boyfriend and the Drape and scarves! I was blessed enough to be able to keep the dress and have already worn it four times. The Mary Dress was named after the Hobart girl who became the Crown Princess of Denmark 😉 classic, and understatedly elegant it sums up the dress and HRH perfectly! I chose the French Navy because it’s one of my colours (hope you read my blog on colour) and it looks and feels incredible on. Loose, but shapely, the wool falls beautifully into a flare skirt with fabulous deep pockets. I feel utterly chic in it. The cardigans speak for themselves in the pics below, timeless in quality and style!
Cara Cashmere sent me two lovely pieces that will also be with me forever! A wonderful scarf and a wrap. Annie was so lovely, she let me choose colours in both! I chose the True Red scarf, because this is a colour that brings life to my face, and it’s also a colour that I don’t have a lot of. The wrap I selected in a neutral cream, because I know it will just go with absolutely everything in any season. Both of course are available in many colour options. Aren’t they divine?
Talk about both brands being the change you want to see in the world of fashion! Both ethical and sustainable, it’s no coincidence I shared them with you! I’m very deliberate about who and what I promote. One of my favourite quotes of all time is Maya Angelou’s “when you know better, do better” 🙏🏻 I like to think I’m doing this with my blog, my styling page and everyday! So, on visiting the Mary Quant exhibition, I very much wanted to make my “mindful and slow fashion” point by wearing sustainable and ethical clothing. I wore boots I’ve had for over 12 years, my Smitten Merino wool Mary Dress, an old coatigan that is a cashmere/wool blend, aged leather belt, my new ethical Cara Cashmere scarf, a 100% merino wool beret and an old (perhaps 10 years) MUI MUI bag I splurged on ( secondhand) years ago. I mixed it up. Old with new! All “buy well” pieces styled my way. SLOW STYLE. It felt good. In fact it felt fabulous. And I think it looked alright too!
Isn’t it funny how things we often write about affect us more than what we talk or think about ? That was the case a couple of blogs ago when it came to talking Black and White with Cindy and Jennifer. And boy am I grateful for that 🙏🏻 because it really got me thinking about how these colour choices in my wardrobe make me feel. (And yes, I know black and white aren’t technically colours 😉)
I’ve always loved colour, and the way it makes us feel when we look at it and cover ourselves in it. I personally love green! It’s been my favourite colour since I was a teen (before that it was chocolate brown 😳… which explains my 1970s Burnham Beeches wall mural). Most people have a favourite and (I think) favour it in what they surround themselves with and even wear. Back in my 40’s and early 50’s with young children, I wore a lot of black (because it was easy) and often punctuated it with green (I’ll never forget wearing my emerald green Juicy Couture tracksuit and matching Nikes when meeting my kids at the school gates 😂). I refer to this stage in my style life as my “rock chic” phase, because any excuse to get out of the house “ dressed loud and proud” was my idea of fun fun fun! I wore a lot of black and I thought I was very chic and cool 😎 But now my youngest child is about to leave school and I’m nearing another milestone (55), I find myself reflecting on this colour and style choice. I still have many of these well worn pieces in my wardrobe and am now asking, do they serve me like they use to? Because if they don’t, why am I holding onto and wearing them just because I have them? ….especially when they no longer make me feel good.
As I’ve aged, I’ve changed. My idea of fun, fun, fun is no longer as loud, I shy away from making wardrobe statements and head to toe bright colour. I feel like I’ve done that and it’s no longer who I am or what I seek. I’m far more relaxed, and a more natural, organic way of dressing, where being deliberate in what (and from whom) I choose to buy and hence “wear” makes me feel good! With age comes this wisdom if you let it in 🙏🏻 And with my years, my skin has also changed. It’s no longer as olive and plump as it use to be, the bags under my eyes have darkened (these I inherited 😐) and the wrinkles continue to emerge. While I happily accept this external badge of ageing (I am just so truly grateful to be here), I do look after myself on the inside. I exercise regularly, eat well (I’m plant based), I don’t do caffeine or alcohol and I sleep well ( the positive side effect being I have few peri-menopausal signs). So while I see others fighting what naturally occurs by attempting to reverse the external ageing process, that’s just not me. I don’t want that pressure and I certainly don’t want to send that message to my daughters! So I’m wondering if there are colours I can wear that will give my face a natural lift and glow? Colours that will soften the lines and accentuate the positive just like style can. If so, I’m sure wearing them will not only make me look great, they will make me feel great too! And knowing that black definitely is not my friend, its time to take stock, reassess and begin what I’m calling my:
MIDLIFE WARDROBE OVERHAUL!
(Which has me thinking this whole blog/ Instagram page could be my crisis 😂)
To simplify things, I’ve removed the “rock chic” black (the juicy couture is long gone) from my wardrobe and popped them in a spare room (there was a time when the house wasn’t big enough… now with only 1 child at home, it seems too big). This spare room is now my home studio, complete with lights, cameras, sewing machine, over locker and it’s very own WIR 😉, which stores garments in several categories:
Vintage pieces that rarely get worn but will never be given away (think Grandma’s fur coats, Grandpa’s suede jacket 😉),
Garments that I’m keeping for my daughters 💕,
Pieces that suit me but may need to be altered or repurposed; and
those I’d like to sell !
This overhaul has even worked its way into a short five part Colour Series on IGTV, where I looked at the remaining colours in my wardrobe that I wear during the Winter months and asked, do they suit me? And how do they make me feel? Indulgent I know! But it’s aim, and this blogs is to get you thinking about your own wardrobes and how the colour choices you wear make you feel. Navy, Teal, Olive and Tan are definitely my go to colours. The latter being more of an accessory than a garment (and something I’m going to stick to). I secretly love the idea of a boot and matching bag in every shade of brown😉 I also looked at Gold (knowing it suits me, I removed the silver). But what has been the biggest revelation are the colours red and coral. Never in a million years would I ever consider these as colours I should wear more of. I like them but have never really looked at them with favour. The red I suit is a warmer red, and I own very few pieces in it. I’m not sure if I’ll deliberately seek the shade out, but I am open to it if there is a style that suits. But coral… this colour I only have one Winter item in! and it was bought on a whim on sale last year 🥰 and now I find myself obsessing over it. It’s soft, feminine, romantic, and the absolute opposite of rock chic black 😂 ….so watch this space!
While I have always focused on finding my own seasonal colour palette (by trial and error), using IGTV as a medium allowed for an influx of comments and opinions from you all. Thank you! But what I have discovered thanks to yourselves and the kindest follower Vicky @stylepixie_consulting is that I actually fall over 3 seasons. Vicky is a qualified colour analyst, makeup artist, personal stylist and hair dresser! If you are on Instagram, give her a follow. Her colour stories are sublime! And I am beyond grateful for her generosity for gifting this to me. And without giving away too many details of what she does (she fully explained why I can wear 1, 2, and 3), I am primarily a “Warm Autumn” and since these are the colours I have, love and feel good in, it will be what I will focus on from now on. Here they are:
And I’m beyond thrilled to now have this palette on my phone whenever I go! (Vicky actually sent me a more detailed one, but I won’t divulge her trade secrets 🤐). From my wardrobe, to my studio, to out and about, I now have an accurate updated version of “go to” look good colours! (BTW… this was done virtually from photos without makeup, so feel free to contact her if you are interested in having it done!) It really is incredibly satisfying to have my questions answered! I know which seasonal colour palette I am and why! This is such a FEEL GOOD! So there you have it, my colour journey so far (the abridged version anyway… I could ramble but won’t), truth be told, I feel like it’s really only the beginning of my wardrobe overhaul anyway 😉
Hello ladies, welcome to my studio! A new concept I launched this month. And I am so grateful to one of my collaborator’s for planting the seed for its creation, my great girlfriend Jackie 😘 for loaning me the vintage mannequin (isn’t she gorgeous? I’ve named her Lady J😉), a little online shopping for my clothes rack and a pre-lockdown dash to source a trusty rug! That’s all I needed (and a spare room) to take my hobby-cum-side hustle to the next level – a small brand 😊 Well, that’s what I like to think I’m doing. Taking Sarah London Style with all its “feel good in midlife vibes” somewhere different, and I’m so excited about where that may be!
So who and what is the SLS brand? Well, it’s simply me 😊 and it’s what I stand for in my wardrobe, on my blog and my social media channels. I’m on all except Twitter 😉. And if you’re a long time reader of my blog, the following will reiterate what you already know. I am a 50 something woman who’s aim is tofeel good. And my style has become a big part of that! Not the fancy super influencer kind, but the “I’m stepping out in something that has the shape, colour and style to make me feel good” kind. Everyday style for everyday women somewhere in midlife, all over the world. I LOVE SAYING THAT! It’s about finding what truly works for you, in your life right now! And I do this deliberately and mindfully, by shopping inside and outside my wardrobe. From within it, I share style tips, style ups, my personal collections, and the occasional purchase. All with the purpose to get you rethinking and reworking your own style, starting with pieces you already have in your wardrobe. I encourage the wearing of them, the accessorising of them, and the curating of them, so then, if a new item does make its way into your wardrobe, it suits you and your style! Which is why I created my “Studio” 😊 a fresh, minimal space to showcase pieces that I believe in! They are buy once and buy well. Garments and accessories that I would purchase myself, that I would wear all the time, have for many years, and that are all either from small, local or Australian brands and businesses. This is a my non-negotiable 😉 It’s been a really hard start to the millennium and one place that hurts are the small, local, family owned (I support mainly female) run businesses that sit online and on the local high street. While it is my aim to build a connection with them while showcasing their garments, I’m also creating awareness of an alternative place to shop, so that when you do mindfully add that stylish sparkly new thing, it can make a difference to the owner, who is usually a woman just like you or me. And that helps keep their dream alive, and your supporting me by watching, commenting and liking what I do keeps mine 😊 … now isn’t that the ultimate feel good?
And the showcasing began in my Studio in lockdown #3. Appropriate since SLS was launched in lockdown #1! First I presented a variety of clothes from the gorgeous online boutique Since I found You (my incredibly talented school friend Phillipa owns this) and then came another instalment from the House of Nicholetta (this time Greek dresses from the beautiful, generous and my first ever collaborator, Nicholetta ). I know what I do is primarily a business transaction, but it’s actually more than this. I really enjoy connecting with the owners of these small businesses to share their product. My aim is to showcase well made, reasonably priced garments that I would wear. I keep it informative yet personal, style the selected garments beautifully but casually, just as I would if they were mine. So if you can see yourselves in them too, you will choose to shop from these little businesses as well. It’s a win win 😊.
There are other Australian brands and businesses that (fingers crossed) you will see me showcase in my Studio. I’ve already shown you so much of them from within my wardrobe already, but I’d like to name them as their collaboration has got me to where I am already. They are Kiitos Living by Design (with the magnificent Maria at the helm of her gorgeous Greek linen brand), Deed Bags (owned by the super talented, and my fashionista bestie Emma), Talamaya (the zen Sheridan and her zen product that always make me feel so relaxed), Zia Lozen (whose gorgeous founder Zia trusted me in my early days), Hut Clothing (with the lovely Donna and her perfect linen shirt), Rebecca Thompson (the vivacious, iconic RT) and I Love That Necklace (with the impeccable Leisa and her chic clothes and accessories). Without them and their loan/gift of product, I wouldn’t have been able to do what I’ve done so far.
And of course, all this would not be possible if it wasn’t for you – the follower…but I simply can’t call you that 😩 You are so much more than this ladies, you are individuals, with your own style, who enjoy spending time looking in your own wardrobes (and others) to create that for yourselves! Just like me 😊 and like me, you want to feel good in midlife, and your style is a part of that. We are more similar than different. And for you, I am forever grateful 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻