SIGNATURE STYLE: Home Style Vs Personal Style


Are yours one and the same? Or are they are polar opposites? Perhaps you’ve never even thought of the similarities and differences between them before. But if you are like me, and you think a lot, you probably have. And while I’m thinking mine may not be one and the same, they are definitely more alike than not, so while I steer you through a few of mine, please think about yours and be sure to read what my fellow SIGNATURE STYLERS Cindy and Kim have to say 😉


My home is old. It’s facade is 142 years old to be exact. And while we have a relatively modern extension and garden, there is certainly a well lived in theme that flows throughout. It’s styling is based on my heritage and love of the English Country House (although it’s size and grounds are not that grand). So it’s filled with secondhand, mostly inherited eclectic pieces that somehow seem to work. It’s colour palette is warm and repeated in various shades in different rooms. Both of which I seasonally move and sometimes upcycle to sustainably update. And this Spring, in preparation for a late 2023 sale, I’ve started to curate it. I’m currently pairing it back, simplifying, reducing the colour contrast between rooms and creating a muted palette so it appears tonal. What I want is to feel ease, calm and flow as I move through it 🙏🏻


Sound familiar? My wardrobe is also well worn and full of warm autumnal coloured clothes, many of which I’ve had for ages and found secondhand. And as I curated my closet this year, I’ve already paired it down to only include what I love to wear, which not coincidentally I also happen to restyle and upcycle all the time. And I definitely lean towards more tone on tone. All of which makes it simple and easy to wear. It flows….


So let’s take a look at a few outfits inspired by the COLOURS of my interiors…or is it the other way around? I love cream and gold. I love dusty pink with olive green.


And I love a natural palette of various shades of browns and greens…


And while the colours are similar, so is the fact that some of the furniture (bedhead, sofa, dining table, dining chairs and screen) and some of the clothes (both trenchcoats, the pink dress and all necklaces) are all SECONDHAND. Some bought that way, some inherited, like this four panel Chinese carved soapstone Coromandel screen 😍 It was my Husband’s Aunt’s. And when her estate was divided, we were the only ones that requested it. Isn’t she truly divine? I’m using the colours as inspiration for the toning down of my home’s interior colour scheme in preparation for sale. So oranges and honey golds, beiges and creams, various shades of green with black as an accent. I’ve started by purchasing the olive/sage green linen cushions in the picture above.


Before I had my fringed Kathryn Ireland rust and paisley print ones with the Union Jack. The Union Jack is a cushion I currently have in every room, but am in the process of removing as I attempt to simplify. And note the removal of all the candlesticks and blue and white china vase in this picture from the same angle up above… now it’s calmer. And you might note the switch up in dining chairs… the black bentwoods have gone into storage as the larger loose covered ones are a sister-in-law’s hand me downs 😂


And the plaid ottoman is now recovered and repositioned in another room. Replaced with an Antique American Travel Chest in painted wood that my Dad gave me when I moved out of home 35 years ago. And that I have subsequently given to my eldest daughter when she did the same (although now she’s returned home to save for 6 months, it’s back). And I just added this large long timber bowl to its top. All this reminds me of when at the beginning of 2021 I consciously decided to stop over styling myself by choosing one necklace over 3, smaller scaled prints, muted colours and less pattern clashing in my wardrobe. More similarities as I now apply this to styling my home.


My love of sisal, jute, cane, water hyacinth, seagrass, wicker, raffia and straw and wood in accessories for my home also reflects in my use of natural materials in accessories in my wardrobe. Did you note the cane baskets used as storage in my closet? And the seagrass basket used as a plant pot holder on my dining table? That’s just a sample of what else I have that’s similar…. jute rugs, French straw market baskets, water hyacinth stools, rattan trays. I have a thing for natural and handmade in both my home and on me.


Talking about accessories. I deliberately collect them for myself and my table ☺️ as shown below. Of course, all these will need to be behind cupboard doors and in draws when we sell, but I can’t bare to ever part with them. Note the seagrass placemats..they were once a checkerboard floor rug made up of squares that I unpicked (after it faded in parts), and the plates and bone handled cutlery were mostly picked up at markets and charity shops. Others, including crystal and silver were wedding presents- and like my wardrobe, I use them all ☺️


Oh gosh, it’s been a pleasure talking and sharing something other than my wardrobe 😂 and yes, there are definitely similarities in how both my home and personal style have been built. Slowly, and over time I have collected what I love in my own way. It may not be what you do, or your style, and neither should it, because what you lean towards and what you choose to surround yourself with should be, so think about that. And I encourage you to love it, use it, wear it, feel good in it and enjoy being surrounded by it. That’s my aim always in home and with personal style and especially for the next 12 months before I step out of a rather big family home (4BR plus STUDY, 4 BATH, 3 LIVING AREA – feel free to make an offer any time 😂), and downsize into a small cottage by the sea for the next stage of my life.


CINDY HATTERSLEY DESIGN

NORTHERN CAL STYLE

Sarah xx

SECOND HAND STYLE: The joy in finding a new colour and how best to wear it 💕


Welcome to another blog post on Secondhand Style. If you’re new, thank you for making the time to be here, if not, welcome back. And if you do think you’d like to comment, simply press the title of this blog now and it will redirect you to the same page with commenting options at the end.

In my last SAVVY STYLE blog, I covered the joy of curating my closet, and in doing so, I discussed colour. And one thing I’ve found, is that when you do know what colours you prefer on you, it makes it so much easier to add to your wardrobe sustainably. And for most of this year, I have stuck to a few familiar ones and built up an incredibly versatile wardrobe doing so. But what I have started to do, is seek secondhand a colour that is relatively new to me. And today I’ll show you what I’ve found in it so far and how I’ve styled and even upstyled it to work with my wardrobe. 😉

And that “new colour” for me, is a Pink! In particular, a shade I would call a dusty rose. What would you call it ? I’m referring to the first one in the line up above. I only became aware that it suited me after I had my colours analysed last year, and since then I always keep my eyes open on secondhand sites and in stores for it. That’s just one of the great things about shopping secondhand, all colours are available! (As opposed to what’s trending in retail) Brilliant! This pink is from my Muted Autumn palette. I primarily wear a Muted or Warm Autumn, but tend to stick with the safe browns and greens I know, so I really am stepping out of my comfort zone with this one… and it’s been a learning experience as I’m about to show you.

Some of you may remember that earlier this year, I found this Catherine Murphy dress secondhand. I wrote about it and some other 2022 treasures here. It is what started me off on this particular colour tangent and since then I’ve been keeping my eyes open for the same/similar shade in a style that suits.


So when I saw the dress below at my local Red Cross Op shop NWT for $25 I thought I’d found it and snapped it up.


Only to discover, that without a small print on it, I feel the block colour overbearing 😳. It wears me! And with this sheen, even more !! Needless to say, I was a bit surprised and disappointed. And since I have, over the last year, carefully curated every item in my closet to suit me, I am very aware that I only want to hold onto garments and accessories I am absolutely in love with on me. So after a bit of thought, I brought out an old pair of pants (and some scissors) and thought, because the dress has such a fabulous collar and cuff detail, would it make the perfect blouse for them? It would certainly break the vast block of “pink” in half and add some interest with the pattern of the pants to the outfit.


Et voilà…. what do you think? I think it’s really smart! And so much nicer on me.


The joy in finding a new colour and how best to wear it 🙏🏻.

And why do I pay so much attention to a detail like this ? Other than to look good in it 😂 …because ultimately my aim with anything I buy to wear is to feel good, in fact so good that I keep wearing and rewearing it, making my sustainable SECONDHAND STYLE even more sustainable 😉

Sarah xx

BTW… watch out for Jane @thesmallfabricofmylife and I next month on Instagram as we’ve signed up for SECONDHAND SEPTEMBER!

SECONDHAND STYLE: My 2022 Treasures!

How glam is my new “old” belt? This one is a keeper as its perfect to cinch in this tres chic caftan!

Welcome to another fun blogpost that I write with Jane from The Small Fabric of My Life and this month we will both put our own spin on our ”latest treasures”…. AKA what we have recently added secondhand to our closets. So be sure to press on the link at the end to read what Jane has to say, but before I continue, if you would like to comment, quickly go back up to the top, press on the title and this post will reopen with that option at the end.

At the end of 2021 and the start of 2022 I vowed to curate my entire wardrobe (which I have pretty much completed) with the aim of knowing it so well that I would only introduce “new” items that:
1. I really love,
2. Enhance my style, and
3. Think are ”WOW” !!
I want to think of them all as treasures, so no matter what I reach for and decide to wear, it makes me feel and look great 😊 This not just encourages me to wear and rewear (yay sustainability👏🏻), it reduces my consumption (aka shopping habit 😉). And today is a reckoning of kinds to see if what I have added to it secondhand does indeed do all of the above … let’s begin with accessories…

Bags, Scarves, Belts and Jewellery are what I look for first when I visit op shops. While they may be a small in size, they often have a huge impact on an outfit. And if you like to wear and rewear your clothes like I do, they are what makes them feel fresh and repeatedly different. So I like a wide choice in them when deciding how to style what I choose to wear each day. Which makes it a no brainer that it’s what I buy the most of. And at secondhand stores, they tend to be on the periphery and it’s where I’m finding I usually start (shoes are what I seek out next…but I haven’t bought any this year). Here’s a look at what has caught my attention:


I do actually love them all! They are definitely me, but do they ALL have the WOW factor? Perhaps not… infact the grid scarf and tan leather crossbody bag fall short 🤔 I feel I already own nicer alternatives. But given neither cost me more than $8 (and it goes to charity), I don’t think them a waste of money. Instead, how I’m viewing these is as impulse purchases that are now taking up unnecessary space in a well thought out wardrobe. Exactly what I’m trying to stop doing! So I’m taking note and the fact I’m writing about makes me more mindful moving forward. Speaking of which, the bag will be gifted to someone who raved about it, and the scarf will remake its way back to a charity shop (if one of my daughters or their friends don’t take it 😉👏🏻)

Now let’s look at the clothes. When searching the rails, I always start with dresses no matter the season, then jackets and coats. I’m not a big “separates” wearer, so I usually avoid skirts, pants and blouses (I may start looking at these since i just bought a ”new” tweed skirt)…although in Winter I will look at vests and jumpers. What I’ve found this year is these:


My salmon pink midi dress in a stunning french viscose. I mean Wow! And a 100% cotton seersucker cream/white maxi dress, simple but just as WOW when worn with tan and raffia accessories. Both my colours, shape and style and the fact that I’m styling the latter without wearing it is always a sign of a good purchase 😂 its a tad cold for it at the moment, but I have worn the midi several ways already…


I did find a fab leopard skivvy/turtle neck that I was coveting for months after seeing it on my SIGNATURE STYLE blogging pal Cindy. Although I scrolled the secondhand sites for this, not aisles! Needless to say, it satisfies all the criteria ☺️


My Mum actually found the khaki trench below (we spend at least a day op shopping each time I visit her – which although a 4 hour flight away, is fairly regularly now I can 😉), and as it was too small on her, I tried it and voila! I think I’ve found the perfect way to wear it. This outfit will be repeated! I found the tartan jacket with her too, but unfortunately as soon as my daughter saw it, up it went into her wardrobe. Which in hindsight is a good thing, as it really is too vibrant and a bit young for me 😂. The leather jacket on the other hand is a keeper, its gorgeous! So it’s a big WOW for two out of three!


Oops I almost forgot… this gorgeous Leopard Coat that I bought back in January was resold (to a lovely reader who rocks it far better than me 😎). It just wasn’t my colour 😉

And that’s pretty much all I’ve allowed in and to stay 😂 …..

What I am particularly happy with is where my wardrobe is now. I absolutely love everything in it, it is all very me in colours and style and together this creates outfits for every occasion that I think are WOW. Which in turn has changed my relationship with my wardrobe. It’s become far more considered. And I’m becoming a much savvier shopper! So anything that does come in, like what I’ve shown you, must match this WOW factor! … after all, it only wears off on how you feel when wearing it. What a feel good! And that this can be created by shopping secondhand makes me feel even better 🙏🏻

Now, let’s take a look inside Jane’s secondhand wardrobe…

THE SMALL FABRIC OF MY LIFE

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: 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

SECOND HAND STYLE: Why I shop this way 😊


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….

That’s me in the middle in my secondhand stiletto winkle pickers and trilby 😂


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….

Recent secondhand and forever acquisitions 😊

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 🙏🏻.

Oooh… Valentino on my feet 😉 thank you as.if.designer.recycle 🙏🏻

Now please pop on over to Jane’s blog and read about why she shops this way.

Sarah xx