Sunday 23 June 2019

Shropshire Lads (and Lasses!)

We're off to Glasto first thing in the morning but I just had to squeeze in a quick post before we left. Today - for the second time in a fortnight - we've met up with more fabulous people who blog! This time it was the turn of our dear friends Ann and Jos, who drove over from their home in Belgium yesterday for their annual trip to the UK and, as they're staying in the neighbouring county of Shropshire, we decided to meet halfway in the wonderfully picturesque town of Bridgnorth.

The River Severn splits Bridgnorth, named after a bridge further down the river, into High Town and Low Town. The earliest historical reference to the town is in 895 where it was reported that the Danes created a camp. After the Norman Conquest, William I granted the manor of Bridgnorth to Roger de Montgomerie although the town was not established until 1101 when Roger's son, Robert, moved here building a church and a castle.

 Opened in 1892, the Bridgnorth Cliff Railway ferries visitors between the Low and High Towns. It is one of only four funicular railways in operation in the UK.

We were surprised that the River Severn wasn't more swollen, considering the amount of rain we'd had recently.

The remains of the castle built, as mentioned previously, in 1101 which tilts at 15 degrees (an even steeper angle than the Leaning Tower of Pisa) following the damage caused during the English Civil War.

 After exploring the charity shops (Ann and Jos both found bargains) we partook in a slap-up 'Spoons  lunch before heading to Dudmaston Hall, the nearest National Trust property to Bridgnorth.

Dudmaston Hall has been a family home for 875 years and houses one of the most important collections of modern art in Britain including pieces by Moore, Matisse and Hepworth. Sadly photography aren't permitted inside the house but there's plenty on their website HERE.

 The grounds were spectacular and the views from the house over to the Big Pool were spellbinding. The lord of the manor purchased some vintage menswear from us a few years ago when we used to sell at a vintage fair in Bridgnorth so we know he's got great taste. 

After civilised drinks on the lawn underneath some ancient apple trees, the rain which had evaded us for a few days made a comeback. We hurried back to our cars, hugged one another goodbye and promised we wouldn't leave it a whole year until the next time we met.

We were spoilt! Here's the wonderful gifts Ann & Jos gave us - a traditional crate of Belgium beer and local biscuits, the first two albums by legendary Belgian punk band The Kids, a guidebook to Antwerp (a hint?), two amazing vintage maxi skirts, a groovy man's shirt, an embroidered ethnic bag, two bangles and a bottle of wine.

Who knew when I started writing a blog ten years and (1401 posts) ago that I'd make such wonderful real-life friends? Blogging well and truly rocks!

See you soon!

Thursday 20 June 2019

Glasto-Ready! Festival Preparation, Slow Fashion & Secondhand Shopping

A massive thank you to all who've signed up and shared the love for Slow Fashion Season. We've only gone and smashed the original target of 10,000 with the total of pledges now exceeding 13,400. Can we reach 15,000 by tomorrow's deadline? 

Several people have mentioned not signing up as they're unable to go for three months without buying underwear which I find a little puzzling. I've got pants in my drawer I've owned for over a decade, the last time I bought new undies was over two years ago and do you know what? They're perfectly fine. If you need to buy new underwear every 12 weeks all I can say is that you're either washing it wrong or buying crap. Buy quality cotton and dye it when it starts to fade. Come on people, you've got a day to stock up on bras and knickers, we can do this! Sign up HERE.

The challenge doesn't start till tomorrow but here's what I've been wearing this week which, with the exception of my two year old red clogs, I didn't buy new: a vintage Mexican cotton hand-embroidered tomato dress worn with two year old Lotta from Stockholm clogs; a late 1960s brown cheesecloth maxi dress by Chelsea Girl worn with a vintage Indian crewelwork waistcoat; a vintage Eastern European hand-embroidered blouse, a 1970s Indian block printed midi skirt by Interlinks, London and some charity shopped clogs; a 1960s Indian cotton kaftan by Ayesha worn with a hand embroidered Kashmiri velvet waistcoat, 1990s red leather platforms and a charity shopped wool felt hat. 

None of this week's outfits are mass produced, they're all made from natural fabrics and feature hand-printed and hand-embroidered elements, if they were new I probably wouldn't have been able to afford them. Don't be a clothes snob, secondhand doesn't mean second-rate! 

Here's a close-up of my crazy platform boots. As I always say, wait long enough and the thing you most want will turn up secondhand and it's true. I fell in love with these red leather rave boots in Shelly's, London window in the early 1990s but couldn't afford them. Fast forward twenty five years and there they were, in a box of rusty power tools at Sunday's car boot sale. 

Here's another reason why I'll never stop buying secondhand clothes - the social history behind them. Take these two beautiful Greek blouses I spotted on eBay the other day. To my amazement I won them both for significantly less than a single blouse from a high street fashion shop would have cost. When they turned up the package contained this little note, which made me sad for those two beautiful young Irish girls who never had the confidence to wear their grandfather's gift. Don't worry though, these blouses will have the time of their lives under my ownership, I think a return trip to Greece may well be on the cards!

This week has mostly been spent getting prepared for trading at the world's biggest music festival, Glastonbury. After spending last week preparing the stock we packed it on Sunday and proceeded (and failed) to load it into the van the following day. Four attempts and a drastic cull later we're finally there and the stock, the trade tent, the flooring, drapes, awning, rails, table, shop sign, changing room cubicle, two mannequins and a weeks' worth of dry food are all in there. There's just our clothes, the fresh food and the booze to go - I can see me sitting on it!

Outfits from festivals past: Silver lurex '70s Bernshaw maxi; Thomas the Tank Engine maxi (made by me from a chazza-shopped pair of curtains) with a Mongolian lamb boa bought from a jumble sale; 1960s Jean Allen silk evening dress with a jumble sale 1950s Italian souvenir parasol; Me-made curtain maxi skirt & gypsy scarf top; 1970s Bernshaw white maxi with sequinned and fake fur trimmed coat (bought from a festival neighbour); 1970s psych print maxi skirt by Prova worn with a £1 car boot sale 1980s sequinned bustier; 1970s psych print maxi worn with a £3 yeti coat

Of course, my next task is to decide what to wear. Obviously it's a festival and anything goes but try telling that to the fashion editors who publish those ludicrous What to wear at festival guides every year in a bid to make women feel so out-dated and insecure that they invariably end up spending a fortune on stuff that never really feels like them and ends up in the charity shop a year later. According to one on-line article I read, we need a £715 pair of high heeled Gucci boots, a jumpsuit (great idea for negotiating the long drops...not!) as well as a multitude of mundane high street dresses made from, using Beate's words, blood, sweat and petrol. Madness. Before you shop new for bank-busting identikit fast fashion festival styles have a look at what you already own or shop secondhand and, failing that, hit the on site festival shops where traders like us will have freshly laundered, ready to wear, unique vintage clothes and a changing area so you can walk out wearing a new-to-you outfit.

Vintage 1960s handmade evening gown (£2, Cancer UK) worn with vintage feather boa (charity shop, 2015) and handmade pompom earrings

My wardrobe is already stuffed with festival-worthy attire but when a gem like this lamé evening gown practically throws itself at you in a charity shop it would be rude not to add it to my collection!

.....especially at that price! The feather boa was a charity shop buy three years ago and I made the pom-pom earrings myself from wool remnants and a broken necklace.

This maxi dress was listed in the wrong category on eBay so I got it for a song.  Bought from a boutique in London's swinging Carnaby Street and last worn for a wedding in 1969, it had been in a bag in the bottom of the seller's wardrobe for the best part of half a century. A strong Glasto possibility, just look at those sleeves!

As #slowfashionseason kicks off on Friday I had a good hard think about whether I needed to buy anything new before the challenge started and to my horror I did, the over-the-knee socks I purchased 15 years ago from Poundland had finally given up the ghost. Imagine my delight when I discovered not one but four pairs of welly socks in my local charity shop. Forget £700 boots, socks really are a festival essential. Talking of festival essentials I've already packed my mac (a 1970s see thru' plastic one, bought for 50p from a church fete 15 years ago) and I'll be travelling in my wellies!

When I met up with my blog pals in London a fortnight ago Monica mentioned that she enjoyed my packing posts so this is especially for her - the toiletries I'll be taking for my week on Worthy Farm. 

  • Baby wipes: I'm sure you're already aware that wipes are one of the biggest pollutants on the planet due to their plastic content but, as water is precious at festivals, they're an essential. We've been using this brand for a few years, their wipes are fragrance free, hypoallergenic and, most importantly, they're made from 100% naturally derived fibres making them completely biodegradable. Available HERE. Even though they're plastic-free remember never to flush them!
  • Calypso Once A Day sun screen
  • Palmer's Raw Shea body lotion: A week in a field doesn't half dry out my skin.
  • Travel Soap: For hair, body and laundry and even for shaving. Does it all, it's animal friendly and it's even antiseptic and insect repellent. Buy HERE.
  • Ibuprofen: Just in case someone overdoes it on the cans of gin.
  • Corn Starch dental floss: 100% plastic free and refillable. Buy HERE.
  • Toothbrushes: At home we use electric toothbrushes. When I replace these I'll buy bamboo but it's wasteful not to use what we've got first.
  • Toothpaste: We use Truthpaste at home but packed this conventional toothpaste as glass is a bit of a no-no at festivals.
  • Tangle Tamer: Simply the best travel hairbrush.
  • Liquid hand gel: The portaloos always run out.
  • Batiste: Because I won't be able to wash my hair for over a week.
  • Lush Sunflower solid deodorant: I bought this last September and it's still going. Buy HERE.
  • Lush solid facial oil: A fantastic (and space saving) alternative to moisturiser. Buy HERE.
  • Also taking (but not pictured) loo roll (never join a festival loo queue without any!) and Jon's razor and blades.

And here's my make-up:

  • Revolution palette (like Barry M products they're vegan, cruelty-free and made in the UK)
  • Sleek creme blush
  • Ardal false lashes
  • Eyelure eyelash adhesive
  • Revolution concealer
  • Barry M matt lip paint
  • Tweezers
  • Barry M waterproof eyeliner
  • Nail file
  • Barry M nail paint (wrapped in bubble wrap as glass isn't good at festivals)
**Not a sponsored post - I name the products I use as I love them, not so I can get a backhander! I bought everything with my own money.**

I've managed to squeeze in another exciting blogger meet-up before we leave on Monday. I'm not sure if I'll have time to post before we go so if not, I'll see you in a fortnight! 

Thursday 13 June 2019

Choose Used - It's Slow Fashion Season

 Have you heard about Slow Fashion Season? The idea is that 10000 people commit to not buying new clothes from 21st June - 21st September with the idea of raising awareness of the problems with fast fashion. As you're doubtlessly aware, I rarely buy new clothes and there's just six items in my wardrobe that were bought new from British retailers, but I'm sure that out of the 35,000 who view my blog every month there must a handful of readers who might have a bit of a fast fashion habit so I've added my signature to the cause and if I can convert just one person to the joys of shopping secondhand first I'll be thrilled.

Our clothing has a life cycle: from design, raw material and production, to distribution, wear and waste. With Slow Fashion Season, the aim is to make this circular by not buying any new clothes for 3 months and instead thrift, repair, swap and upcycle. Every time we #chooseused and tell a friend about the challenge, it brings us a step closer to making the fashion industry more sustainable and less polluting. For example, if 10,000 people commit to our project, then we will save up to 360 million litres of water and prevent 1,4 kg CO2 emission that would otherwise go into the life cycle of our new clothes.

There are only 8 days left to join the movement and more members are needed to reach the target. Are you with us? If so then sign up HERE - you don't need to be on Instagram, write a blog or even have a Facebook account - just by adding your name , supporting the cause and spreading the word to friends, family, workmates or just random people in the street (like I do!) you really could make a difference.

Even the Glastonbury Festival is on board (HERE), urging festival goers to shun the new and buy vintage and secondhand clothing from the stalls on site - that's great news for Kinky Melon!! 

You can follow Slow Fashion Season on Instagram HERE or join the Facebook community HERE.

Its been a bit grim here in the UK this week what with torrential rain, temperatures barely getting above 10°C and numerous flood alerts and severe weather warnings up and down the country but looking on the bright side at least I've been able to wear the suede coat I won on eBay the other day, I didn't expect it to see the light of day until the Autumn.

One of the reasons I don't publish a blog post every day is that I often wear my clothes on repeat and (shock, horror!) don't even wash them between wears. Pictured above was both Tuesday and Wednesday's outfit; my 1960s Indian Imports of Rhode Island block print maxi dress (rather appropriate for this wet week as it's decorated with fish), the 1970s suede & sheepskin jacket, a vintage wool felt hat, green velvet boots & 1970s Indian screen printed silk scarf (which were all charity shop finds). 

The thing that puzzles me is why would anyone need to buy cheap fast fashion when there's so much quality secondhand treasure out there? By Tuesday I'd already acquired a vintage Phool dress, an Anokhi bag and a pair of green velvet ankle boots, all with at least one previous owner and so what? They're mine now!

In my opinion, a successful wardrobe is one that contains clothes suitable for any occasion, so there's never any need to rush out at the last minute and compromise by buying something cheap in a mad panic. Having learnt my lesson 20 years ago when out of season I was reduced to buying a not particularly attractive bikini for a winter holiday, I now look out for swimwear all year round. Lots of people buy new claiming that there's nothing available in charity shops but at the beginning of the summer you'll often find unworn swimwear bought for last years' holiday but donated to charity as they're no longer on-trend (I hate that expression!) Today I found this rather glam tropical one-piece from H&M's Conscious Collection, still with the hygiene strip and store tags attached. It's the perfect match with the 1980s Italian-made fold up beach hat I bought from the charity clearance shop yesterday. Now I'm Greek beach ready and at £3.50 the outfit didn't cost the earth in both senses of the word.

Today I'm "shopping from my wardrobe" and wearing the block printed cotton Peshwaz dress I bought new (!) from Anokhi in Jaipur back in January along with this week's charity shopped velvet boots (originally from River Island) and Ebayed Anokhi bag, an Aldo trilby hat bought from a charity shop back in 2016 and a vintage cotton velvet pixie jacket made in India by Devi which I found in the charity clearance shop last year. My bra, waist slip and socks were all charity shopped and my Marks & Spencer knickers are over ten years old.

Can you last three months without caving into temptation from the high street? Go on, give it a try, it's easier than you think!


See you soon!