SIGNATURE STYLE: The Crossbody Bag

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…

CINDY HATTERSLEY DESIGN

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA STYLE

Sarah xx

SECONDHAND STYLE: What I’ve learnt from the #sarahjanecapsulechallenge ☺️


Welcome back to the Secondhand Style blog that I write with Jane from The Small Fabric of My Life. And this month it’s a recap on what I’ve learnt from my experience of wearing a “preloved capsule” over the last month after writing the last secondhand style blog. But before I continue, if you would like to comment, please scroll back up to the title, press on it and this post will reopen with a commenting option at the bottom. Now, if you did just go back and read last month’s blog, you’ll recognise that I summised with this at the end:

“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!”

Still completely on point for me and how I feel about them today. Although I did have a major “aha moment” for my own #savvystyle while reflecting which I’ll share at the end. So hold that thought and take a look at these final 8 creative looks (couldn’t quite reach the required 10) I came up with from 10 preloved garments:


The two outfits at the end are perhaps my favourites. Why? When I wear a pant, I love a dress over them. It’s a look I’ve been wearing since the early 2000’s! And as I’m always saying on IG, I do love the way a self tie belt gives me shape, while not cutting my short frame (163 cm) in half! I could have created more if i’d chosen to wear jeans and the short jacket, but wanting to keep it authentic i didn’t, because that’s simply not my style. Interestingly, when I put all the outfits up on IG stories, the one below was voted as the best by my IG community:


A community who also happened to join in the fun! Thank you so much Belinda @queenbzyb.fashion and Jackie @queanbeenan for taking up the challenge!


I’ve learnt a few practical tips for creating capsules for myself through this exercise. Firstly, if you stick to a colour palette- I used tans and browns with a pop of orange everything is more likely to coordinate. Tonal is key to me. Secondly, use a majority in block colours, and keep any patterns small scale. This will increase the ability to mix and match. Remember Leopard is almost always a neutral so always include a tonal option. Thirdly, choose clothes that fit you and your life and style. Comfort is key! And lastly, great style doesn’t have to be new, on trend or cost a lot of money!

Which makes any capsule (or in this case a 10 item “preloved capsule”) time and cost effective and a great way to “up your sustainability” by increasing the number of wears from garments. And as the garments I styled were those I already owned, I found that in the planning and creating I focused more on what I had to use VS. what I may want to purchase. Which in turn, had me wearing items I’ve had for ages! What was old felt fresh again! Albeit, in a wabi-sabi way. Less influencing “new” and more “style” … which actually resulted in reloving and rewearing my wardrobe on the remaining 21 days. I felt no urge to consume virgin retail or secondhand in April at all 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻! While I try to do this for 3-4 months a year, having a capsule challenge made it easier! Perhaps we should do this again come my Spring, your Autumn Jane? ….just a thought 😉

Which leads me once again to what I’m always harping on about … know your own Style! Because once you do know the shapes, looks and colours that make you look and feel good and you focus on buying only those ….this is my aha……your entire wardrobe can become its own capsule (albeit, a slightly larger version) … a collection of your own style that you enthusiastically and authentically mix and match! Which is what my own “curating my closet” has really been about all year. Working my way through everything I own seasonally, in order to create a harmonious considered collection of clothes that I can wear and rewear for years. So, moving forward, I only “occasionally” pause my wearing to allow in an additional item that will compliment its careful curation 🙏🏻

Which is why i think I’m onto something with this ”curate your closet” mentality… it makes creating capsules for any occasion incredibly easy! And since you’ll only mindfully add items of your STYLE to it, it has the added bonus of these not needing to be ”on trend or new retail” which makes “treasure hunting” (AKA shopping secondhand – I’ve even written about that here) a no brainer! And why in May on my IG page, I’ll be featuring a little bit more of it ….. in of course my style!

Now, why not join me in pressing the link below to read Jane’s recap 😊

THE SMALL FABRIC OF MY LIFE

Sarah xx

SIGNATURE STYLE : Spring Wedding


Welcome 🙏🏻 This month on SIGNATURE STYLE Cindy, Kim and I are going to be talking wedding attire. But before I do, if you would like to comment, please go back up to the top and press on the title (this should reopen the page in commenting mode).

I’ve only been to two weddings in the last four years, both of which were in the Summer. So I don’t currently have much experience or need for a new outfit for such an occasion. And to be honest, if I did, I’d probably wear what I wore to the last one (if appropriate). A beautiful silk Zia Lozen wrap dress (that’s it in the pic above with hubs – and below). I’ve written about it before, in this blog. For that wedding, the dress code called for ”lounge suit” …which got me thinking 🤔 not everyone might know what that means, so lets start with approaching what you do select to wear with addressing the dress code.

Dress codes vary depending on where you live. Here in Australia, they usually fall under one of five categories. Black or White Tie, Formal, Cocktail, Lounge Suit or Smart Casual. And since my most recent invitations called for LS, let’s look into exactly what that is on this blog post. But before I do, I must say that there are two rules I follow when selecting an outfit. The first is I usually avoid the colours the Bride, Bridesmaids and Mothers of the Bride and Groom wear. Secondly, I always try and keep it relevant and appropriate within the dress code itself. For example, for the Wedding in which I wore the Zia Lozen dress, the Bride was Brazilian and asked guests to embrace colour. There were many Brazilian guests, plenty of latin dancing … imagine a carnivale atmosphere…. all dressed in their version of Lounge Suit. So I felt the above dress sophisticated enough but fun with the statement silver accessories I chose. You can see me in it all at the end 😉

So….. Lounge Suit ….it’s a loose term, but generally it means a suit and tie for men (how easy) and some sort of semi-formal outfit for women. I like it because it doesn’t have you falling into a frenzy about what to wear… let’s look at my interpretation of it….Firstly, depending on whether the event is during the day or evening will indicate the outfit length, heel height and type of fabric worn. During the day knee length works, with a flatter shoe and more relaxed fabric (and even perhaps a hat). For the evening the length could be longer and the heel higher – just an option and neither compulsory of course! For the Wedding I went to in the pic above, I mixed it with a just below the knee length dress and higher heel. Pant suits would be equally acceptable too – although I usually stick to a dress. With regards to fabric, I prefer soft silks or chiffons with small scale patterns. But that’s me and block colours would work just as well. Having said all of that, we are a pretty relaxed bunch down under and as long as it’s smart ”you’ll be right mate” 😉

But just for the fun of it, let’s take a look at some current designs ….

There is a lovely local store in my suburb called ASPIRATIONS, it’s been around for 25 years and has a great reputation for being a place to start looking for a dress for a wedding. If I was after a new dress for such an occasion, I would try these two dresses. I love the style -sleeve length and neckline ✔️, the on trend small scale florals ✔️, the soft flowy fabrics ✔️. Perfect for a Spring Garden Wedding! But they also have the added benefit of being able to be worn to so many other smart occasions. I also feel, while young and fun, I could still wear it well.


We are also spoilt with such great home grown designers on my local high street. CARLA ZAMPATTI is one. Although she recently passed away, her exquiste elegance in design continues, and her Waterfall Dress Collection is timeless. It’s a little more serious than the dresses above but I honestly think this dress could take you anywhere. In fact, I like to think of it as a perfect Mother of the Bride or Groom dress! Sophisticated but soft and feminine. I adore the navy.


Which is why Carla’s daughter BIANCA SPENDER is worth looking at as well. Personally, I love the Reflection Dress 🤍 but these structured designs are a nice alternative to it and the flowing ones I’ve shown above.


And of course, I have to mention ZIMMERMANN. Now this label is incredible! Not quite the small scale pattern kind of look I love 😂 … and you can definitely tell when someone is wearing one without looking at the label! But if you scroll their website, some of the designs fall in the dress code Lounge Suit. Like this and this. But because they have a large following and reputation for “unforgettable dresses” you’d be hoping no one else was wearing the same one, which is what happened when “The Accidental Stylist” Julia Perry wore the Zimmerman Billow dress to Lady Kitty Spencer’s Rome Wedding last year (she wrote about it on her IG page). Here she is in it alongside BFF Maye Musk in D&G … (anyone else just realise Maye is Elon’s mum 😳)…. btw, dress code for that was Black Tie….. aren’t these ladies fabulous? I’ve printed out this pic and popped it on my Future Board for my 60 and 70 year old self 🙏🏻


Which is why these statement dresses are often up for resale….. too noticeable to wear twice perhaps ? Speaking of secondhand, never discount this idea when searching for a dress to wear to a Wedding 😉 Vestiaire Collective has an amazing number and range.


No matter whether you decide on pattern or plain, I do think investing in a fabulous neutral shoe and clutch the perfect accessory to either. I wish I could find a pic of what Julia and Maye had on their feet. I’m guessing gold or nude for Julia and silver, gold or black for Maye 🤷🏼‍♀️ Don’t you just love the idea of always having a shoe/bag combination ready and waiting to go? No matter which dress you choose to wear. And because you always wear them, they become so comfortable 🙏🏻 I do, in-fact I find a metallic shoe and clutch bag are the perfect wedding accessory. Think of them as an elevated neutral…here’s mine 😉 All seasons old I’m afraid, but my bag is Olga Berg and my shoes Castaner. Great brands to start with… and btw, I always bring a sneaker to the reception to change into to dance in 😂


I also have quite a nice gold combination (both could be updated) that I used to style my Peacock Bloom Kimono Dress in back in 2020. Did I mention that there is a matching Kimono Jacket as well?


Gold shoes seem to be everywhere right now. So there’s a huge range out there if you want to jump straight in before your next invitation (there Is nothing worse than not finding what you are after when you need it). Here’s a few to start you dreaming…


And of course you’ll need a clutch, mine above has a chain, so doubles as a shoulder bag too. I like this idea….

I feel like I could keep going, this is so much fun! Probably because dressing this way doesn’t currently happen that often 😂 But perhaps it does for Cindy and Kim, so I can’t wait to find out what they have to say…but before you do, scroll down to see the outfit I wore to the last wedding replicated 😉

CINDY HATTERSLEY DESIGN

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA STYLE

Sarah xx

SECONDHAND STYLE: AW22 Capsule Wardrobe Challenge 🤎


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:

  1. 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:

Sarah xx

THE SMALL FABRIC OF MY LIFE

SIGNATURE STYLE: Readers and sunnies 🤓😎


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 😊

CINDY HATTERSLEY DESIGN

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA STYLE

SIGNATURE STYLE: Leopard is a neutral 🐆

My new “old” leopard coat !

Welcome to the February SIGNATURE STYLE blogpost with Cindy, Kim and I. Thanks for stopping by and reading what all of us have to say 🙏🏻 And i’m thrilled we are writing about leopard print this month as I am a bit fond 😂 but isn’t everyone? If you look at what is in the stores, you would think the world is leopard mad! But it hasn’t always been that way…

So here’s a little story of how I fell for it and it only happened about 10 years ago. (And keep in mind, back then here wasn’t an awful lot of leopard print around except on old ladies and cushions 😂) I was only 45 and my style was quite different to how it is today. I wore a lot of black… as did my then business partner. She thought it elegant, chic and the simple backdrop in clothing needed to work in the Interior Design industry. (That way anything we showed clients wouldn’t clash). But what she always did, was add a bit of leopard … because as she always said “leopard is a neutral” … scarves, a cuff, a coat, a blouse, a shoe… there was always “just a bit” and the result was pure sophistication. And I was sold! I wanted that, albeit, my twist was more rock chick than her Euro Chic 😂


This does not mean I own a ton of it nor wear it head to toe, but whenever I do slip on a leopard garment, I can’t do so without thinking of Isabella 😍 So when I purchased this old season Top Shop coat (for $50) in the top pic secondhand recently, I knew she’d approve. And it would definitely work with one of her all black ensembles! But as you know, I’ve said goodbye to most of my black so using my existing wardrobe, I’m wondering if I can style it a few ways to look more Euro chic than rock chick 😂

For my first look, I’ve gone for an everyday run around outfit. Trainers, leather leggings and an oversized knit. All great for a cooler day indoors, then throw on the leopard coat to jazz it up with a pop of pattern when you head out…


And for work…i’d choose similar colours. Black bottoms, but this time a pair of culottes. A lovely merino wool turtle neck and some flat boots (also purchased secondhand.. you can read about how I bought those HERE 😉). It’s a little more tailored…


And for the evening I’ve pulled out an ancient dress. I really like the pattern and texture clash between the dress and the coat. The dress however is no longer my best length so it’s since been put in my alteration pile as I think it may make a great blouse, with the belt as a pussy bow …. unless I can find another secondhand somewhere to add an extra tier🤔


If you do happen to like this coat, you may find it on a secondhand site. I actually saw the exact same one on the UK Depop site while writing this. It may have gone by now. Alternatively, there is a similar one HERE, but its way more expensive and more blue than grey. Regardless, its a very common leopard print, colourway and style, so it wouldn’t be hard to replicate. And you can always use my image in the top pic and ”shop it with the google lens” in the GOOGLE APP. I wrote about how you can do this on my last blog post that you read HERE.

The wonderful thing about leopard print is that it is now a staple, so will now never look ”old lady” or strictly be for cushions 😂… and below are a few of my previously shared looks that I will continue to wear and repeat 🐆😊 Interestingly, all are for the cooler weather 🤔


Which made me take a look at my Summer wardrobe…. and I only have one garment, a blouse, which you can watch me style in this video:

Now … I do wonder what my blogging pals have to say:

CINDY HATTERSLEY DESIGN

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA STYLE

Sarah xx

SAVVY STYLE: Shopping

Welcome back to another blogpost on how I look at my life to make me feel good. And today I’m tackling the pillar that really grew SLS, so I hope you like what I have to say now I’ve pivoted 😂 once again 🙄, although its more of a 350/360 degree pivot as it’s brought me back to being the mindful stylist … so with that in mind, lets talk SHOPPING!

Tackling being the appropriate verb 😩 as I have (until now) had a love/hate relationship with SHOPPING, from how I see it on instagram (don’t start me on the haul mentality) and it’s contribution to our over consuming world, to my own flawed ”add to cart” moments and serious fashion influencing over the last 18 months (yes, I am guilty of contributing to the problem). So the new year has me slowing it right down and questioning my intentions on what I should buy (and share with you) SHOPPING wise. And this little blog is simply about that, written down (primarily for my very cool ethical daughters to read in the future), but in the mean time, hopeful some of what I say and do resonates with you, so together we can all be the change we need to see. This is the beginning of my own return to SLOW fashion (albeit wabi-sabi) story 😊


Slow Fashion is an approach to producing clothes which takes into consideration all aspect of the supply chain and in doing so aims to respect people, the environment and animals. It also means spending more time on the design process, ensuring that each piece of apparel is quality made. It is the exact opposite of Fast Fashion. What I love, other than all of the above, is that it teaches you to be more thoughtful and intentional about your clothing. More mindful styling… 🙏🏻

Thanks MsBeltempo 🙏🏻


I’ve already written about RELOVE and about WEARING here. With all this in mind… it’s Slow Fashion that makes me “feel good” about shopping “new” as my style is NOT ALL about wearing what you have or buying PRELOVED clothing. Although they are my ”go to” and I always feel good about those 😍 I also love to hunt down new WOW garments in my colour and style that flatter me and coordinate with my current carefully curated closet 🙏🏻 So my aim is to share some small amazing designers out there, who use quality, ethically sourced fabrics, and pay their workers a fair wage. And today I’m going to talk about Catherine Murphy The Label.

I’ve never met Catherine. And until early 2018, I wasn’t even aware of her brand, despite her being a Melbournian who’s been in the industry for more over 20 years! But one day on my local high street a dress caught my eye in a small boutique. The attention to detail blew me away, the cut, the embroidery, the scalloping, the contast fabrics in body and fluted sleeve. The silhouette that hugs the bust, but covers it, the high waist that makes my legs look longer and the A-line skirt that skims the hips. And not much volume, which I’m learning suits me more than the tiered dress I often lean towards. No alteration needed (which is rare) and after a quick try on, I was sold, not on one but these two dresses. It’s like her designs are made for me!


Since then, I’ve followed her designs each season and luckily picked up another forever dress at the end of 2020. Even more forever since I dyed it Dylon Expresso Brown 😉


But let’s look at the Catherine Murphy story, because as you all know, I like to connect my clothes to the people who design and make them. Catherine designs for the luxe bohemian, which as I age, is how I like to feel. (Although, I do not see any 50 plus models on her site 🤔) She definitely has quality made garments, in exquisite natural fabrics with sophisticated details. She uses local artisans and manufacturers limited quantities of each size here in Melbourne. All of which I love 🙏🏻 It may bring the price up (although keep in mind, there are other Aussie brands that mass produce offshore with similar prices), but I would rather own less by buying better, knowing that these garments in my wardrobe are thoughtfully made and then mindfully purchased to serve my style well over time. And personally, i’d rather rewear one Catherine Murphy dress like this, than alternate four disposable mass produced chain store ones (which I have in the past).

Having mentioned price. Lets talk SHOPPING her brand. I did actually purchase all mine on sale from small local boutiques. So I’m currently looking for her stockists to keep my eye on their sales. Their sales will often differ to those from the designer’s own website. Although, I’m not having much luck, so I’m beginning to think she may only sell direct now 🤔 The SALE section on the CM website currently includes Summer season. It only just started.( So I’m making a note of the date to see if a pattern forms… that’s savvy 😉) But remember, given the limited quantities of each dress made, size may be an issue if you do wait ! Which is why 10% off full price from her website for first time orders appeals for new season. Some stockists may have this offer too. But this doesn’t mean that i’ve given up on prelove, as I also have Catherine Murphy as a “saved search” on eBay just incase any older season comes up or someone else’s wrong size purchase works in my favour. I’m currently contemplating this ONE. It is very old season, but timeless in my mind. And quite iconic given it was worn by Nina Proudman in Offspring 😂 I feel confident bidding on this because I know the quality will be great, I know how her style suits me, I know my colours and I now know my size in her brand. I absolutely love SHOPPING all these ways because it’s just so savvy 😉


So wish me luck🤞🏻…. and on that note, I’m so looking forward to what CM creates for AW22 😊

If this way to shop does in fact resonate with you, why not look at a garment you adore in your wardrobe and research who designed and made it and see if buying from them makes you feel good 😉 If it does… why not get on board with shopping the savvy style way?

Sarah xx

SECONDHAND STYLE: Accessories 😊


I am crazy about accessories! Jewellery, Bags, Belts, Shoes, Scarves, Hats … well maybe I’m slowly getting there with hats… 😂 But I’m all in when it comes to the others and I always have been. In fact, since I find a great accessory can either make or break an outfit, I’m always on the lookout for something different . And one way to find that is to shop secondhand! So welcome to a SECOND HAND STYLE blogpost on just that! Well at least the Jewellery bit for now 😉 and what and where I look for my costume jewellery. And be sure to read what my secondhand blogging buddy Jane from The Small Fabric of my Life has to say about her secondhand accessories after reading this 😊

A mix of secondhand on the lid of my secondhand (hand me down) jewellery box 😊

You can find secondhand accessories everywhere. And a great place to start is your local thrift shop. It truly is a treasure trove for costume jewels, as it seems people are more than ready to discard them! In fact, I really have no idea why you would want to look anywhere else for fun but cheap bangles, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, brooches and the like. Those discount mass produced pieces you find at your nearest Westfield make it to your local secondhand shop pretty quickly. And if you are a jewellery creator like me, you will find all kinds of beads and pendants you can pull apart and redesign. Just like the pieces below. I use my tools, and then mix bits and bobs from various jewels to create bespoke pieces. What is becoming harder to find at these stores though is quality retro or vintage, (although some shops do) and these you will usually find behind glass and you will pay accordingly. But its always good to look. And remember..all proceeds go to charity!


I do find quite a few quirky jewellery pieces at local markets. Think trash and treasure, car boot sales, garage/yard sales. The price may be a tiny bit more than the charity shop, but the quality is usually a little better. And don’t be afraid to barter here! What I find are items that people don’t necessarily want to give away, but because they are here to make money, they may take a little bit off the asking price. Although you will get some people reselling what they have bought at Op shops. So be prepared for that and keep your eyes open for something different. I found this lovely brass statement necklace at my neighbourhood market one Sunday morning years ago. It gets worn often and I can never imagine not having it as an option. The other I made with a pendant I found 😊


I also have a thing for Ebay 😂 I have shopped it more than any other secondhand online platform. The only downfall is that you don’t actually get to see before you buy, so I tend to stick to brands I know. The giraffe patterned bangle in the top picture was bought on Ebay, it’s Mimco and was relatively cheap. I have a thing for what you could call neck plates. Large necklaces that cover part of the chest. Sometimes they are on trend, sometimes not. But I keep mine handy and wear them regardless as I find them handy when a garment’s neckline doesn’t suit. They can be a bit pricey new, so I have found shopping old season on Ebay a great way to build my collection at a fraction of the price.


Another place I look for secondhand jewellery is Designer Recycle stores, although I have only ever bought one necklace this way. And while it still wasn’t cheap, it was significantly less expensive than new. You have to be careful here and always ask for authenticity. This is my Marni necklace. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it before I had any idea of its brand. And I think it makes this outfit.

And then of course there are Antique Jewellers, Auction Houses and Pawn Brokers where there are many bargains to be had! Although they tend to focus on valuable secondhand jewellery rather than costume. I actually have a secret to share here about my own engagement ring….. yup! It is actually secondhand! I don’t think I’ve told many people that 😳

And lastly, inherited pieces 😊 jewels worn by loved family members and now by you. I am lucky enough to have such pieces and I adore the stories I have discovered behind every one. In fact, I must write them down as it can be hard knowing all the details because it’s usually too late to ask. Take the watch in the top picture. It was my paternal Grandmother’s but that’s all I know 😢

The lovely thing about buying secondhand is that there are so many different ways to do it. Not to mention the bargain factor, that I have actually mentioned all the way through 😂Regardless, what I love the most is the fun had while doing it….you never really know what you’re going to find. Sometimes nothing, sometimes treasure … which is actually what next month’s topic might be on 😉 But until then, join me in popping over to read what Jane has to say.

Sarah xx

SECONDHAND STYLE: Shoes…do you buy yours preloved?

Apparently Not!

Well, neither did I really, or haven’t actively for many years, so when Jane from The Small Fabric of My Life blog suggested “shoes” as a topic for this month, I jumped at it! Not because I own many preloved pairs (don’t worry I have some to show you 😉), but because it’s not my usual “go to” way of purchasing them. And as an avid yet mindful wearer of style, who strives to improve her sustainable shopping habits, I’m very aware that not all I receive NEW from the shoe department is as sustainable (or as my style) in my wardrobe as I like to think. So it got me wondering, can I improve my own sustainability and add to my style by buying “SECONDHAND” shoes instead ? 🤔

Now, for those of you who know my wardrobe, know that I have more pairs of shoes than i’ll ever wear out. (I even recently announced that I won’t be buying or accepting any gifted product until after Christmas) And tbh, to be truly sustainable I should just forget about any new or secondhand and wear these! But being someone who seeks to improve her style, and enjoys wearing and sharing it, I’m also aware that I will add to it too. Which is what I did last year with these #secondhand boots 🤩 …. aren’t they gorgeous? I bought them from a designer recycle boutique (AS IF DESIGNER RECYCLE). Which is definitely one way to get the sustainable “designer” style factor ! And although designer labels are not usually what I gravitate towards, when I first saw these “Valentinos”, I just loved them! And that’s before I found out the brand or cost…. I just knew they would work well with my wardrobe for many years to come…and that is the exact feeling and type of shoe I am after on my feet!

Acknowledging that this WOW provoking purchase was from secondhand vs. new retail got me researching. I downloaded a few popular secondhand shopping Apps (eBay, Vestiare Collective and Depop) and typed in some familiar designer shoe brands that I happen to know my size in. And voila, instantly, the most divine preloved Spanish espadrille wedges by Castaner, iconic heeled Clergeries and fur lined Guccis were available at the click of a button in my size and my price range! Albeit, the higher end… I was actually quite shocked 😳 Talk about improving my sustainability and style! … and btw, when I last looked on VC, my Polka Dot Valentino’s were available in another size 😉

This doesn’t mean that every pair of shoes I look at buying secondhand have to be designer. I just want the wow 🤩 And so with a non-designer price tag, the range is endless. So, to further my research, I focussed on a shoe in my style and colour palette that I wore almost everyday last Winter, but lacked variety in ….the flatter heeled knee high boot. But this time in the brown/tan tones of “suede”… and look what came up 😍 an all leather over the knee mottled, chocolate brown wedge heeled pair of Filippo Raphaels 🤎 clearly worn, but stunning in my eyes just the same! Oh so my colour! Oh so my style! I’m already putting together outfits in my head 😂 and as these are a brand I am most familiar with, having both boots and shoes in them already I may have slipped up and made a “no more shopping” faux pas 😳 … all in the name of research of course 😉! This brand is specific to Australian Boutique Edward Meller, who source them from Spain and Turkey and stamp their in-house label Filippo Raphael brand onto them. They are very well made, and designed to remain stylish for years. The Boutique would have originally retailed them in the $300 plus price bracket. Yet, here they were, albeit aged (but doesn’t suede look better that way?) on Ebayau for $25 plus $15 postage 😳… how could I say no?


And of course, there is always MarketPlace on Facebook. This is where sellers in your area allow you to pick up preloved items, which allows you to see before you buy and avoid postage costs. So, again in the interest of this blogpost, I searched long suede boot 36 (my size) and came up with another amazing pair! This time, from a brand I wasn’t familiar with shoe wise, but had their clothing . Elk is a highly considered slow fashion brand based here in Melbourne, who promote shopping for quality investment pieces that build on your existing wardrobe. So you know, when you buy this brand, you will get quality! Which is what I got with this pair…..


So thank you Jane 🙏🏻, this entire exercise has been quite an eye opener for me. Two stunning pairs of boots have sustainably and stylishly made their way onto my shelves, for the total cost of $100! It’s actually proved to be a really great money saving exercise shopping like this, let alone, a planet friendly one 😊 and if you don’t mind placing your feet in someone else’s shoes, it’s easier than you think. (Fyi… I always wipe (or brush in the case of suede) down the outside and use anti-bac wipes on the inside before wearing 😂). The secret for me, I found, is to stick with my own style (knowing what yours is and following it instead of fashion will always serve you well 😉), stick to my colour palette, seek brands I am familiar with in quality and size, then save and filter these in my online searches. And if I am after something a little high end, from an unfamiliar label that I may want to try (wear socks) before I buy, building a connection with designer recycle boutiques will certainly help. And that’s before I even visit the charity shops! Have I got you thinking? Jane certainly got me…

Which is why I wonder what Jane’s experience holds, be sure to read her blogpost on THE SMALL FABRIC OF MY LIFE …that’s where I’m heading now 😊

Sarah xx

SIGNATURE STYLE: LEATHER

My Leather Coats and Jackets

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.

Leather Coat circa 2004

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…

CINDY HATTERSLEY DESIGN

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA STYLE

Sarah xx