Handbag Review: Coach Crossbody Clutch in Pebble Leather

I’ve been buying bags again. There was a good reason this time though; it was out of genuine need (I was attending a friend’s wedding and realised I didn’t have a suitable small bag to go with my outfit), and, the bigger reason, it’s also part of my current efforts to de-clutter*. Buying yet another bag may seem counter-intuitive, but let me explain: I have a lot of stuff, accumulated from years of picking up cheaply anything that catches my eye. This results in a large quantity of different variations of the same thing (in this case, bags), all of which I like , but none of which I value. My plan is to replace the large quantity of stuff I rarely use, with a small number of items I value and use day in day out.

Justification over; onto the review. Continue reading

Handbag Review: IKKS – The Soldier

Ever heard of IKKS? I hadn’t, until I bought a shirt from the bargain bin of a charity shop (yes, charity shops do have bargain bins), and as it still had the IKKS label attached I did a quick Google to find out just how much of a bargain I’d got.

Part of me regrets Googling this brand, as after less than a minute of browsing their website I had a wish list beyond what I can afford. Continue reading

Glasses Review: Ollie Quinn

Who or what is Ollie Quinn? I hear you ask. A bloody good glasses designer, that’s who.

I always have trouble finding glasses, partly because I would rather not have to wear them in the first place, and also because I’ve got quite a small face which means that a lot of frames stick out a few inches at the side of my head. There’s also the disappointing fact that the majority of frames make me look and feel like someone’s elderly great-aunt. Until I found Ollie Quinn, that is! Continue reading

£5 Plimsolls

These Vans style plimsolls, or some  variation of them, are everywhere at the moment, and have been for sometime. I never considered buying a pair, as I’ve owned several pairs of Vans in the past, which have been flogged for much less than retail price on eBay after a couple of months.

When I was out and about the other day, I spotted a rather chic looking young mum wearing a pair, coupled simply with some well-fitted skinny jeans and comfy jumper. Inspired, I kept my eye out for a pair, (not hard as they are literally everywhere) but given my past experience with shoes of this style I just wasn’t prepared to buy some with a huge price point.

Continue reading

My life in clothes

For as long as I can remember, clothes have been somewhat of on obsession for me. I often wonder where this stems from, and why these Outer Layers have defined so much of my life.

Is it because growing up I was a bit of an outsider and clothes were a way of ‘fitting in’ to a particular social group? Maybe growing up in a family with little money contributed, as the clothes I so desired in order to fit in couldn’t be had. Or could it be rooted in being a younger sibling, stuck with hand-me-downs but desperate to express myself in something to call my own? It may be down to all, or none of these reasons, but many of my most vivid memories centre around particular fashion choices.

The earliest of these memories is of a Minnie Mouse outfit (navy blue skater skirt and a white t-shirt printed with Minnie) that I refused to take off other than to go to bed. I must have only been 2 or 3 at the time, and my mum has often reminded me how she had to wash and dry the outfit under the cover of darkness to avoid temper tantrums the following morning. To this day I haven’t parted with the outfit, and it currently resides in a dusty corner of my Mum’s loft. This attachment to a ‘particular ‘look’ is something that’s continued throughout my life.

I must have been about ten years old when I was first aware of being fashion conscious. This was the mid-nineties, when tracksuits were the height of fashion, and, as I’m sure is still the same today, branding was of the utmost importance. Kids would turn up to class in the latest Adidas tracksuits and trainers (I seem to remember Reebok classics being a popular choice), but alas, my family just couldn’t afford this designer gear. I was left wearing market stall knock-offs until pester power wore my Mum down (sorry Mum) and I was bought an Adidas tracksuit from the bargain bin. This hideous number consisted of a white top with black stripes, and electric blue bottoms with neon orange. The garish colour combo mattered not, as the obligatory three stripes were all present and correct. It baffles me to think now how a ridiculous combination like that was more acceptable because of its branding, when my attempts to wear nice but ‘unfashionable’ clothes, were met with mockery (a particularly hurtful comment from the best looking boy in class about a homemade skirt sticks in my mind).

Whilst my mismatched tracksuits was socially acceptable, they weren’t me, and this conflict definitely contributed to a general lack of confidence in anything I wore by the time I got to secondary school. Whilst I was relatively safe in my uniform during school hours, what I wore after 3:30pm was a great source of stress. By the age of fourteen I’d developed something of a style, and in my wardrobe hung a few outfits, mostly wide leg jeans and grunge t-shirts. I’d wear these at home, but the minute I had to leave the house I would change back into something ‘safe’ or even back into my school trousers out of fear of bumping into someone from school and being laughed at for wearing something a little different. I acknowledge that the problem here was my own confidence rather than the attitude of others, I bet no one cared what I wore, if they noticed me at all.

College brought it’s own challenges. There was a refreshing feeling that ‘anything goes’; the playground politics had disappeared and everyone had just grown up a bit, but which group to try and conform with? Grunge, skater, hippie, preppy, sporty, girly…? I must have experimented with them all and whichever I was into informed my buying choices. I’d walk into a shop and analyse every piece of clothing that I liked to determine if it fitted with the particular look I was going for: “Is it ‘grunge’ enough?” or, “does this say ‘hippy chick’ to you?” If the answer was no, it would go back on the shelf no matter how much I liked it. So, at the age of 18 I still wasn’t dressing for myself, but crying a ‘look’ for the benefit of whichever group I wanted to be part of.

At university I became interested in anything with a ‘vintage’ look, which to this day is more me. However, with my own income for the first time and the rise of discount clothes stores like Primark, my wardrobe became overloaded to the point that any style I had was lost in a jumble of cheap dresses, t-shirts, and knitwear. Oh so much knitwear. (I’m ashamed to admit that at one point I owned upwards of 65 jumpers and cardigans). My wardrobe is only just recovering from the onslaught of outfits during my university days.

It’s only now as a confident(ish) 29 year old that I wear what I feel comfortable in and reflects who I am. Clothes and fashion will always be a passion of mine and reflect my personality. I’m a firm believer that even if you’re someone who claims to have no interest in fashion, your choice of ‘outer layer’ will still be a reflection of who you are; it’s unavoidable.

I’ll still have a bad day if I wear an outfit that’s not right, but as I’ve got older my choices have become much more refined. More often than not, I can be found in a pair of dark skinny jeans, a Breton top, and a pair of scuffed up plimsolls, but, if I do want to wear something a little more ‘out there’, I will, with little regard for what anyone else thinks. I only wish I’d had that confidence when I was younger, but maybe it’s all part of a learning curve and a way of our younger selves figuring out who we really are.

 

 

 

 

 

Charity shop style: Part 5

Another weekend, another charity shop haul. I spent a total of £4.99 on this little lot:

Bally shoes

Check. These. Out. Black patent Bally block heels priced at £2. After looking at prices for new Bally heels, I feel I should donate a few more pounds to charity to easy my conscience slightly, especially as they came in a buy one get one free offer with the fabric below, so actually only cost me £1!

Fabric

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For £1 I couldn’t leave this beautiful fabric in the shop. No idea what I’m going to use it for yet, but I’ll add it to my fabric stash for when the right project comes up!

Patterned blouse

My most expensive find this weekend at £2.99. I love printed blouses, and this one is just patterned enough without being too bold. It’s got a bit of a 70s vibe going on too.

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All this is doing me no favours in trying to reduce the size of my wardrobe, but I have donated a lot recently, and I can never resist a bargain!