Autumnal Colours and a new-look Charity Shop in Bath

Autumnal colours, the second-hand way via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

Yesterday I took myself into Bath: my nearest city and favourite haunt for second-hand goodies. [Note to self: I must update my second-hand shopping in Bath post here, which is now two years old]

I was delighted to see that the Save the Children shop on Walcot Street had received a very impressive update.

Save the Children charity shop, Bath (before the revamp)

Save the Children charity shop, Bath (before the revamp)

The interior was awash with stripped floorboards, wooden crates and clean white spaces. I had the distinct feeling I had walked inside a Fat Face or White Stuff store. Some of their (donated) clothing was even hanging from the beautifully curated rails. Every item was on a wooden hanger and the colour coordination was a feast for the eyes. I felt instantly drawn to the blacks and silvers, with thoughts of dressing for Christmas parties on the cheap.

The shop floor was spacious and the clothing on display was cleverly selected to show a range of high-end stores and good quality high street designs, with just enough on the rails to allow you to browse comfortably.

I spotted a couple of White Stuff skirts but was disappointed that they didn’t fit. At £7 each I didn’t think they were overpriced too. In fact my one final purchase at the store, a Top Shop jumper, only cost me £4.

(second-hand) burnt orange Top Shop jumper, bought from Save the Children charity shop in Bath via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

I happened to stumble upon the Save the Children shop’s opening day and the store seemed constantly busy. When I popped along later in the afternoon to see if I could persuade the White Stuff skirt to fit me, it had gone. The lady in front of me spend £120, although I’m not sure how as the clothing was reasonably priced.

The burnt orange jumper has become an instant favourite and autumnal colours must have been on my mind. I picked up this burgundy M&S top from The Shaw Trust shop on George St for a bargain £2.50.

second-hand burgundy top

I did also pick up two pairs of new tights, in matching orange and plum, but I’m very pleased my second-hand purchases only came to £6.50 (The Flower Fairy book was picked up at the bookstall at our village May Fair here)

charity shop labels via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

I was really impressed with the new-look Save the Children shop, as I know they have struggled in the past to stay open and are still in need of volunteers. I can’t even begin to stress what an important charity this is (working with children in Syria and refugees in the Mediterranean: see here). Their new store now ranks them among the other vintage-style charity shop boutiques that have opened up in Bath (Dorothy House; Julian House’s vintage section), but also marks a divide between those charity shops that can afford the refits and the rest…..

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PS I’ve been thinking of running a regular slot on this blog to share our ‘Thrifty Finds’. Not just second-hand purchases, but also making use of things we already have (food, fabric scraps,old clothes), and when we choose not to buy. Lovely readers, what are your thoughts?

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Jumble Sale Haul

I wrote here about the impending school jumble sale which was held a couple of weeks ago. Life has been v busy since but I thought it was about time to reveal what I had picked up for myself at the sale.

While I have decided to take a break from the capsule wardrobe programme, Project 333, I have still tried to be very thoughtful when picking up new (to me) clothing. It’s very easy at Jumble Sales to grab vast handfuls of clothing and take it all home, only for the majority of it to stay at the back of the wardrobe. While I know that this unworn clothing can be donated to charity shops I would prefer not to take it in the first place.

So after much deliberation I came home with just three items of clothing:

Jumble Sale Haul

 

I did also pick up this scarf. I am rather partial to orange (see here) and I thought it had such a great print on it. I will definitely be wearing it as an accompaniment to my orange coat – or as a contrast with my cobalt blue jeans and jumper.

Jumble Sale Haul

I also picked up this small collection of books for the family:

Jumble Sale haul: books

My youngest daughter is really into the ‘Naughty Amelia Jane’ books so I was really lucky to pick up this complete set. My husband had already ordered ‘The Buried Giant’ from the local library but for the sake of 20p I bought this edition for him. The next novel we are reading for Book Group is ‘The Rosie Project’ so imagine my delight at getting hold of a good-as-new copy. Finally, I was intrigued by the Pat Barker book. I always associate her with World War One novels and was fascinated to find this Virago paperback, published in 1982 but set in 1973. It is her debut novel and focuses on working class life during a period of industrial unrest and, in particular, the lives of seven women living on the same street.  Having been born at the beginning of the 1970s I find that, as I get older, this decade seems so distant and really of another era. I shall be fascinated to read this novel.

(PS The school Jumble Sale raised £1200 – the best fundraiser of the school year!)

2015: Learning from “failures”

As befits this time of year there have been many blog posts and tweets about New Year Resolutions. However one of the most interesting tweets I saw was asking about our own failures from 2015, and what we have learned from them.

As I’m not a big fan of making resolutions on 1st January I thought I would look back to see what I could learn from goals that weren’t achieved, and challenges that weren’t met last year (NB this isn’t supposed to be a morose, ‘glass half empty’ post; I just find the concept of becoming successful through learning from failures a genuinely interesting idea).

1) Not Moving House

This time last year we had put our house up for sale and had great plans of relocating to a larger property within the village. However this didn’t work out. BUT it was with great relief that we decided last summer to take our house off the market and stay where we are. We realised that we really love the location of our small cottage. We have plans to extend a little in the next couple of years to provide another bedroom. In the meantime we have made a few alterations (see below) and fallen back in love with our home.

new look lounge with renovated fireplace

2) Not securing a job

Despite many job applications and a few interviews I have failed to get a weekday job. My aim is to return to marketing but in a part time capacity. At times I have felt disheartened that my painstakingly filled applications haven’t even secured a job interview but I have learned many things along the way: I need more digital marketing experience; I need to write my CV in a different way; I need to make more personal contacts. To this end I have become more digitally literate and have started voluntary work providing marketing support. I have also changed my  hours at the Arts Centre cafe where I work, ensuring I have my weekends free with my family once more.

I have a few ideas for generating some income for 2016 and have faith that the right job is out there for me.

On a smaller scale I didn’t succeed at:

3) Project 333

If you’ve read any of my previous posts on the subject you will know that I have dabbled with Project 333 – the capsule wardrobe programme – for the past year. The idea is that you reduce your clothing, shoes and accessories to just 33 items. and rotate these every three months. While I really like the idea of a small, but perfectly matched, closet I have come to the conclusion that this just isn’t my style. Sometimes I like to wear, and buy, clothes that just don’t match with anything else in my wardrobe. While I still aim to have a small selection of outfits and, as always, buy them second-hand, I have realised that Project 333 just isn’t for me.

Project 333: Winter/Spring 2015

4) Plastic Free, Zero Waste

While these are two causes I feel very strongly about my commitment to them towards the end of 2015 has wavered. While I’m proud that our attempts at a zero waste holiday were fairly successful I have continued to fail at refusing plastic straws. Knowing that these items don’t decompose and seeing the terrible damage they do to marine life this is something I must try harder at in 2016. I realise that there are many plastic-free/waste-free habits I have acquired over the past couple of years that have become so automatic I don’t even think about them (using cloth bags, using my onya grocery bags for loose veg, taking reusable drinks bottle with me), but there are many more that I can adopt for 2016.

waste free festival kit

I’m sure if I think about it, there are many more ‘failures’ from 2015 from which I could learn. However if I could take two things with me into 2016 it would be to 1) continue to live small and accept what I have, and 2) to continue to strive to reduce my impact on the planet. Maybe these are New Year’s resolutions after all…

Second-hand ‘statement’ necklace

I bought this necklace from a charity shop a couple of weeks ago and have been undecided about it:

second hand necklace

Having sorted out (most of) my wardrobe for the next installment of Project 333 I knew I wanted to get a necklace that I could wear with jumpers. This summer I chose just one silver necklace to wear with all my outfits and I really enjoyed the simplicity of having one item of jewellery that went with everything.

This time I wanted a chunkier necklace which I guess is called a ‘statement’ piece of jewellery (although I’m still not sure what that means). I don’t have many necklaces so decided to ‘splurge’ on a second-hand one.

I bought the necklace pictured above for £2.50. It originally had a tassle which I took off straight away. While it fitted with many of the jumpers I wear I was still undecided. However since I have started wearing it I have received a few compliments, and it’s beginning to grow on me so I think it might stay.

 

second hand necklace

 

Autumn: Slow Fashion October & Project 333

Autumn: slow fashion and project 333

This month sees the inaugural Slow Fashion October, a great idea from Karen at the Fringe Association blog. She is encouraging us to think more about where our clothing comes from, and how this impacts on the environment. If you have a look at her blog you will see there are suggested topics for each week, including (my favourite) talking about ‘loved’ and ‘worn’ clothing.

This week she is encouraging conversations about ‘small’, which includes capsule wardrobes and living with less. As October also sees the latest installment of my attempt at Project 333 I thought I would add some thoughts.

Project 333 is a capsule wardrobe concept that I have been following for the past year. I can’t believe that it’s been 12 months since I first embarked on wearing a simplified wardrobe: just 33 items of clothing, incl shoes and coats, for three months.

There have been times when I have felt frustrated by the limited closet I have found myself with, and have questioned whether it fits with my own style. But I have also relished the opportunity to get dressed quicker and easier because everything I choose for the season has to match. I have also enjoyed putting some items away for a while and then rediscovering them at a later date.

Below is a snapshot of some of my capsule wardrobes throughout the past year:

Now the seasons have turned again and I am putting together my Autumn/Winter wardrobe. I have, once again, emptied my wardrobe and been brutally honest about some of the items. There are a couple of dresses that are now too ‘snug’ and so they have been sent to the charity shop, along with a jumper that was no longer working for me. Other items have been put away and I realise that I am now left with a few gaps.

The current installment looks like this:

 

For the first time I’ve also included accessories (scarves, hat, bracelet and belt). I really enjoyed just having one simple piece of jewellery to wear last season and I shall be on the lookout for a junk shop necklace to wear for this season. I’m also ditching my calf length brown boots and will be hunting for some black ankle boots from local charity shops. There are also a couple of long sleeved tops that I want to replace and perhaps a new (to me) skirt. Knowing that I have some gaps in my wardrobe makes clothes shopping so much easier. I take a list with me and browse the second-hand shops.

Over at mymakedoandmendlife blog Jen is trying to go without buying any clothes for a year. There are some useful links and tips on how to better care for the clothes that you have which I am going to really try to follow, although I couldn’t give up buying outfits for 12 months – even when they are always second-hand!

Clothes Swap update

 

A couple of weeks ago we held a Clothes Swap Party to raise funds for a couple of local charities. Once again we were inundated with good quality women’s clothing, great names and in excellent condition. However as we held the party on the eve of the Bank Holiday weekend (and the start of the school’s half term holiday) we had a really small attendance.

Still we raised money for the charities and those who attended had an amazing choice of clothes to try on and take home – all for a £5 donation! As I’m still trying to stick to my Project 333 ‘diet’ I was very restrained and only took home two tops and a dress which I think I will wear in the winter.

clothes swap party 'haul'

 

clothes swap party 'haul'

I’m really pleased with the vest top and t-shirt as they will go to replace older items I had in my current Project 333 wardrobe. Now the weather has finally turned warmer (apart from two cold wet days at the beginning of the week) I am really enjoying this season’s wardrobe as everything seems to match. At the beginning of the half term holidays we went camping for three days and I packed hardly anything as everything I took could be matched and layered with each other. It also helped that the weather was good as I’m a bit of a fair weather camper when it comes to camping in May!

 

Project 333 – the Summer version

So I have struggled with the latest installment of Project 333. The weather has been warm and then bloomin’ cold again (windy, showery and 13 degrees C today). While I have gone through my wardrobe and brought out some summery clothes I find that I’ve also reverted to winter clothing. But after nearly two months’ of procrastination I think I’m finally ready to reveal my summer wardrobe a la Project 333.

Items 1-7:

Three ‘neutral’ dresses: my hardworking burgundy pinafore, black dress and blue linen smock dress. One grey skirt and one red tunic (can be worn on its own, with jeans or leggings). Two patterned dresses which are probably the hardest to mix and match but I really like them and receive lots of compliments when I wear them.

Items 8-16: Black, white and grey t-shirts/blouses and a collection of long sleeve tops/shirts in blue, khaki, red and plum. Plus (not seen) Items 17-19: vest tops in black and blue, navy blue t-shirt.

Items 20-25: Jumpers and cardigans in blue, grey, purple and black

 

 

Items 26-30: 3 pairs of trousers in beige, teal and  blue plus jeans and leggings.

Project 333 Summer 2015

Items 31-35 (oops): 5 pairs of shoes:

Project 333 Summer 2015

 

Plus I also have two coats and two scarves. So I have sort of gone over the 33 items limit and there may also be some days where I wear shorts (wishful thinking!). But I plan on taking this latest instalment through to the end of July. In August we will be travelling around Europe so my wardrobe will change for that. As we will be travelling by train with backpacks I will have to really limit what I am taking. But this is wear Project 333 comes in handy: I’m used to limiting my wardrobe and getting the most out of it so packing for a three week trip should be a breeze?!