Oxfam Fashion Blogger’s Meet Up

Yesterday was the Oxfam Fashion blogger’s meet, a fantastic opportunity for me to the other the others who blog for Oxfam Fashion, find out some more about Oxfam Fashion and talking ethical fashion, blogging and social media.

 

We met at the showrooms of Foundation PR which was crammed with rails of amazing ethical fashion, definitely a feast for the eyes. My lovely fellow bloggers and the team at Oxfam included Kathryn of Kat Got the Cream, Jen of Little BirdEmma Waight, Sadie of Sadies Wardrobe, Rupy Kaur, Emily of Erose and Hattie of Inside the Mind of a Disco Ball Thea, Caroline and Belle. It was great to meet everyone and have a chat over lunch. I was truly inspired by how passionate everyone was about ethical fashion, recycling and Oxfam. We had some realy interesting conversations about why people buy do and don’t buy ethical and charity shop fashion, some food for thought and perhaps a few ideas for blog posts there. I would definitely recommend checking out their blogs and posts.

I wanted to share with you a little that I learnt about Oxfam Fashion as even though I work for them as a volunteer, I never even realised all of this!

 Oxfam will be at London Fashion Week

Image from Oxfam Fashion SS12 look book. Photographer: Chris Mosey

Well sort of! Oxfam Fashion will be at The Good Fashion Show on Saturday, the biggest off schedule event during LFW. They will be hosting a pop-up boutique selling a range of winter (the cold is not over yet) and spring clothing, including accessories and handbags. They will also be featuring 5 of the outfits from their recent lookbook in the catwalk show.

Oxfam have some great resources for Upcyclers

Oxfam actively promote reuse of clothing and one way that we can do that is by upcycling or customising a charity shop piece to make it individual and unique. Last June Oxfam launched their first DIY Boutique in Camden, which is a bespoke fashion destination which inspires individuality and clothing customisation . They also have a DIY collection, designed by stylist Mrs Jones and have some great DIY tutorials on their website as well as some cards which I believe will be in the shops. They have some great craft supplies including pieces which can be used to embellish clothing, buttons and craft kits which are availble online and from the shops. Check out the Oxfam Fashion DIY pages for more information.

Virtually Nothing Gets Wasted at Oxfam

 At Oxfam, even the clothing that doesn’t get sold at the shops does not go to landfill. Everything that is not sold goes to Wastesaver, Oxfam’s own clothing recycling plant which also maximises the revenue from clothing that has been donate. The clothes are sorted by specialist who pick out the different types of clothes which are then sent to different high street shops (sometimes more specialist or boutiques), sold through the online shop or Oxfam Festival Shop or go to designers who work with recycled garments. Anything that cannot be used in the UK will go abroad to markets in  Europe, Africa or Asia or Oxfam’s social enterprise projects. Finally the lowest grades will be used for industrial use like car sound proofing or matress stuffing.

A big thanks to the team at Oxfam Fashion for a lovely day! You can check out Oxfam Fashion blog and online shop here.

I hope you are having a lovely weekend.

With warmest wishes

Ceri X

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An Upcycled Heart Top For Valentine’s Day

This month’s DIY / upcycling round up on Ethical Fashion Bloggers has a Valentines Day theme. I decided to make a simple top using an old Fruits of the Loom sweatshirt that has been nestled in my airing cupboard for over 10 years (I am such a hoarder). The fitted cuffs, high neck and  band around the bottom of the sweatshirt look a little dated so I just cut them off and made the sleeves even shorter, cutting them at a slight angle. I used a small piece of heart patterned fabric which I had leftover from upcycling an old maternity top. All I did was cut out a heart shape from the fabric and sew onto the sweatshirt (over the Fruits of the Loom) emblem, with really tiny and close together handstitches. That is it.

Top- upcycled
Vest top underneath and skirt – really old (from high street retailers)
Shoes – Melissa

I doubt whether myself and Mr Style Eyes will be doing anything this Valentines Day. In fact I am sure we won’t as we have no babysitter and I have a School Governors meeting to go to. I am not too bothered as I dislike the whole overpriced, cheesy entertainment, set menu thing that many restaurants do. After 12 years of marriage, with 2 children and me working most evenings, we are just happy to have a rare hour or two together and a few glasses of wine at home. I can’t really complain as I get a bunch of flowers from Mr Style Eyes every week.

Will you be doing anything fun for Valentines Day this year? If you would like to join in with Ethical Fashion Bloggers DIY/ Upcycling round ups or outfit challenges, you can join here.

With warmest wishes

Ceri X  

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How to recycle your jewellery

If you are like me and you love wearing recycled jewellery and beautiful vintage clothes, then you are sure to enjoy getting creative by making your very own jewellery, using old accessories you hardly wear any more. Not only is this a great way to recycle, but it is a fun past time which also helps you to save some money.

Many fair trade shops sell beautiful jewellery and art sculptures which use recycled materials. If you have seen some lovely handmade accessories in your local art shop, and now you are keen to try making some items yourself because you think it makes a nice change from wearing your stylish silver 77 Diamonds jewellery everyday, then this blog post will show you how you can create your very own recycled jewellery using many of your old accessories.

Charm bracelets

If you have a stack of old bracelets which you rarely wear, then why not take the pretty parts from each one to create one beautiful charm bracelet? Take a bracelet with large loops and thread on various beads and charms from your other bracelets to create a funky, mismatching arty accessory. Beads, shells and silver pendants work well together, but try to keep gold and silver charms separate as they clash.

Leather Band

Get a Roman-style look with this home made leather band accessory. Begin by finding an old leather strap and pierce small holes around the band using a pin. Between the holes, stick (or sew) some gold and copper coloured sequins onto the leather. Carefully thread some strong gold string in and out of the holes and let it hang a little bit to create gentle loops around the bracelet. This accessory will look great with a pair of gold gladiator shoes and some other gold jewellery.

Do you have any other creative ideas on how to recycled jewellery?

Image – The Affordable Vintage Fair

Updating an Old Dress with a Peter Pan Collar

I had a really relaxing weekend and for the first time in ages I didn’t do any work, not even the ironing! Problem was I really wasn’t ready to go back to it all this morning. On saturday I went for a birthday lunch with family. I decided to wear a dress that I have had for ages uodated with the leather Peter pan collar (by Rokit Recycled) that I got for Christmas from my mum. 

On Sunday, we went to a fantastic new restaurant called Za Za Bazaar in Bristol. It is a massive place on the waterfront that seat hundreds of people and has the theme of a street market with lots of different food kiosks. For just £10 per head you could eat as much as you liked including Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, English, French, Italian, Indian, Mexican, Caribean and Portuguese. I really thought they had managed to capture the atmosphere of a market (or as much as you can with an indoor restaurant). I would usually avoid this sort of eat as much as you like restaurant on the basis that the food will be rubbish but I had read a good review which turned out to be incredibly accurate. The food was delicious and you could even have some dishes freshly prepared in front of you. I has sushi, Vietnamese soup and a variety of meat and vegetarian curries and was slightly disappointed when I was too full to eat any more as there was so much I hadn’t tried, I will definitely be going back. For desert there were mini patisseries, an icecream machine, a chocolate fountain, lots of jellies and a giant cake stand filled with cupcakes. The children loved it! Sorry no food pictures as I was far too busy eating it.

So that was it, my weekend basically consisted of little else except stuffing my face. Well I did go for a run on Saturday so hopefully that might help in balancing out the calorie overload.

I hope you had a good weekend.

With warmest wishes

Ceri X

8 Ways to Ensure That You Stick to Your New Year Shopping Ban

January 1st

Ok so I have caved in. I promised myself I wasn’t going to post one of those New Year resolution kind of posts, partly because I couldn’t be bothered to make any. Now as I start to read everyone else’s new year resolutions, I keep think ‘I want to do that one too’ or ‘perhaps I ought to…’. I now seem to have a steadily growing list but instead of rehashing everyone elses ideas again in a ‘My New Years Resolutions’ kind of post, I thought I would share with you some ideas which I came up with and that worked for me during last years shopping ban.

Feel Positive About It

For those who have imposed a shopping ban for the new year for either financial or environmental reasons, there is no need to feel down in the mouth about it. I actually found my shopping ban last year incredibly enlightening and surprisingly enjoyable. As a result, I have really changed my shopping habits (and set up this blog!) because I realised just how pointless it was buying lots of badly made clothes that didn’t seem to enrich my wardrobe at all or make choosing a stylish outfit in the morning any easier. If you have imposed the ban for financial reasons, just think about the positive impact of all that money you will save.

Evaluate Your Wardrobe

A shopping ban is the perfect time to evaluate your wardrobe. Try wearing every single item of clothing in your  wardrobe at least once over the next month or two (depending on how many clothes you have). If you can’t wear anything, it is time to think about why and if it really deserves that precious space in the wardrobe. This is also a great way to work out where the gaps are in your wardrobe so when you begin shopping again, you buy what you are most likely to wear.

During my shopping ban, I realised how many of my clothes were impractical for day to day wear (whilst looking after 2 children), I actually don’t wear a lot of it most of the time yet when I used to go shopping would buy more of the same. Now the majority of clothes that I buy (and I don’t buy many) have to be practical and wearable. 

Think About Why You Shop

If you go shopping because you are bored, stressed or fed up, surely it doesn’t really help. You may get an initial buzz when you make a purchase but how long does the buzz last? I am guessing it is not very long and in cases has ended by the time you get home and decide your buy was not such a great choice. Is that short term shopping buzz really worth it, surely there must be a better way to deal with your emotions? Once you recognise what it is that makes you want to shop, it is much easier to combat it.

Avoid Browsing

Avoid wandering around the shops or browse online stores. You are only putting temptation in your way and making life more difficult for yourself. If you feel like you might be missing out on something amazing that you just have to have, remind yourself that there is nothing that you desperately need and the shops will always have a ready supply of amazing stuff to buy. Reading fashion magazines and blogs is also a form of browsing, you will be bombarded with advertising and persuaded that you need all sorts of new stuff. I rarely buy fashion magazines anymore, instead I concentrate on reading blogs by those who inspire me by making amazing outfits with what they already have or vintage or charity shop pieces.

 Do Something Different With Your Time

If you are a serious shopaholic you can take your mind off shopping by trying something different with your time instead. Check out a museum, go for a walk or invite a friend round  for coffee or lunch or take up a hobby. None of these activities cost much money, but are probably much more enjoyable than shopping. I rarely had time for going to the shops but online browsing was my danger zone, my ‘me’ time is now spent going for a run, baking cakes or listening to music rather than spending hours trawling the internet.

Look After Your Clothes

Pretty obvious I know but worth a mention. If you look after your clothes, you will have less need to buy new ones. Stick to the old saying ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ and you can’t go far wrong. As soon as the soles of your shoes start to look worn out get them resoled. If a button falls off sew it on straight away before you loose it.

Get Creative

Some times limiting your choice can be a good way to be much more creative with your outfits. I put together some of my favourite outfits whilst on my shopping ban because I was forced to think creatively and look into the depths of my wardrobe rather than buying another new piece of clothing. If you are bored of a piece of clothing in your wardrobe, you could also try turning it into something new or ‘upcycling it’. If you are stuck for inspiration, there are loads of blogs with ideas and tutorials. Also check out Ethical Fashion Bloggers.

Swap, beg or borrow

If you really need a piece of clothing that you don’t have, try swapping or borrowing from someone else. Clothes swap parties are great fun or you can try a clothes swapping website to find what you want. www.closetswap.co.uk is a useful tool for swapping, lending and borrowing clothes with your friends.

If all else fails try shopping in your local charity shop, it will have much less impact on the environment than buying new stuff but be warned, whilst it may feel more virtuous, it is also highly addictive!

 Are you on a shopping ban, how are you finding it so far? do you have any more tips?

With warmest wishes

Ceri X

DIY Christmas Present

This year I had planned to make most of my Christmas pressies. Unfortunately with the demands of trying to run a business, look after 2 children and be the domestic goddess that I definitely am not, I kind of ran out of time for making all of my presents. Here is one of the presents that I did manage to make. You might recognise the fabric it was from the vintage dress that I shortened that I wore in this outfit for another an Ethical Fashion Bloggers outfit challenge. I got the chain from the local vintage shop.

I also featured this DIY project in my most recent post for Oxfam Fashion, How I am reclaiming Christmas. This post is also part of the Ethical Fashion Bloggers Christmas DIY Roundup, if you are interested in taking part in our round ups and outfit challenges, you can find out more about how to join here.

I hope that you are all ready for Christmas and also finding time to relax and enjoy yourself.

With warmest wishes

Ceri X

30 Days of Ethical Fashion – Antiform

Antiform was set up by Lizzie Harrison in 2007 and upcycles high quality materials that would otherwise become waste to make women’s wear. Lizzie has a wealth of experience in sustainable fashion design, textiles upcycling and local fashion systems. At Antiform they work with people from the community with the aim of recognising the diversity of local skills, creating local employment, adding value to local waste clothing and bringing people together through a shared passion.The collection is all hand made in Leeds with the help and support of 64 local people, including beaders, knitters, artists, seamstresses and volunteers.

Antiform’s partner organisation Remade in Leeds also runs workshops on upcyling, garment repair and alterations aswell as organising a monthly clothes exchange.

The AW11 collection is jam packed with bold patterns, handknitted accessories and classic styles with a twist. There are some of the seasons hottest trends including patterned leggings and some more unique and individual pieces like the floaty chiffon shirts finished with patterned collars.

 

 

You can buy Antiform from the Antiform online shop but if they don’t stock what you are looking for, the label is also stocked in Remade in Leeds or in online Ethical Boutiques Magic Number 3, Think Boutique and Ethics Girls.

I think that the prices are very reasonable especially considering the attention to detail that has gone into making these clothes. I also love that this is an ethical brand that can definitely hold its own amongst the conventional fashion labels in terms of design and innovation.

What do you think?

With warmest wishes

Ceri X

P.s you can check out the rest of my 30 days of ethical fashion series here

A Frugal Girl’s Guide to Sustainable Fashion

Image credit

Since deciding to try and be more sustainable with my fashion and style choices, surprisingly I have managed to save loads of money. This has the added bonus of meaning that I can afford to work less and spend more time with family and friends, making my life much happier for me. I used to avoid ethical fashion on the basis that it was going to cost me more but ethical and sustainable clothing has come on in leaps and bounds over the last year and I now firmly believe that it is possible to look stylish whilst wearing sustainable fashion and sticking to a budget. Here are my tips on how (some maybe a bit obvious, but sometimes a little reminder/ refresher is a good thing):

Buy Less

Very obvious really, if you buy less, you will spend less and you will be having less of an impact on the environment. But buying less doesn’t mean that you have to miss out. You can still look on trend, stylish, elegant, whatever you like. Just consider your purchases carefully.

If you develop your own style (rather than being a slave to fashion), there will be no need to keep replacing your wardrobe as your clothes won’t ever go out of fashion. By buying less you can afford to invest in something high quality perhaps from an ethical brand. In the long run this will pay off as the clothes will last better and many ethical brands design timeless styles. If you are unsure of where to look check out my post on 50 places to buy affordable ethical fashion online.

Image credit

Also think about how you store your clothes. The easier it is for you to see what you already have, the more likely you will be to wear it and the less likely to buy more of the same. I like to hang my necklaces on hooks on the wall, keep rings and brooches in a teacup on my dressing table and hand scarves on a scarf hanger.

Sometime buying less can force you to be more creative with your wardrobe with the end result being a unique and very stylish you. If you don’t believe me, check out The Uniform Project for proof of how many ways (365 to be precise) you can wear a black dress. There are countless other challenges where fashion bloggers have created a variety of different outfits from a limited wardrobe. Trust me, this really works, why not start with a 2 month shopping ban – just seeing how much money you save!

It is worth thinking about why you shop. If you are just looking for the feel good factor of buying something new, find another way to get this feeling perhaps coffee with friends, a DIY pamper session or baking cakes.

Look after your clothes well

If you are investing in  high quality well made clothes, it is worth looking after them as they will last you for years. Valuing what you have is the easiest way to buy less and the best way to save money and be more sustainable. Always read the labels before you wash your clothes. Handwash delicate items and store them carefully. My biggest problem is tights getting laddered. I tuck them inside a sock to wash so that they don’t get damaged. You can also wash delicate clothing inside an old pillow case. Polish and reheel your shoes regularly and store in boxes to keep them in good as new condition. I also like to keep my handbags in dust bags which you can run up from old clothes and pieces of fabric.

Watch out for moths especially with cashmere. I once had a £200 cashmere jumper ruined when one ate a great big hole right in the middle. I now scatter lots of cedar wood balls in my knitwear drawer. There are countless articles on the internet on how to care for your clothes, if you have any great tips, please share them in the comments below.

Choose carefully

How many times have you made a mistake buy buying something that you never wear or only wear once? These mistakes are costly to you and  the environment so choose carefully to avoid them. Some say that most people only wear 20% of their wardrobe for 80% of the time, you should try and make sure that any new purchases increase that 20% not the 80%, this will mean you will need to buy less clothes in the future.  Common mistakes are buying clothes that don’t fit properly, don’t suit you body shape or colouring or which are another version of something you already have lots of or are just not right for your life style. Do a wardrobe check before you go shopping and think about what clothes suit you and your lifestyle. No good buying yet more party dresses, if you never go to any parties!

Recycle

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There are lots of ways that recycling can  save you money. Firstly, you can upcycle clothes to give them a new lease of life. So you are really bored with that maxi dress,  why not shorten it and make a mini dress? Plain tops can be customised in countless ways including by bleaching, dying, shredding, cropping, applique and embroidery. Upcycling is a huge trend at the moment and there is certainly no shortage of places to go for inspiration. Try Threadbanger, Ethical Fashion Bloggers and Outsapop.com.

Sell or swap your clothes

Even with the best will in the world, you will sometimes have clothes that you no longer want or need. A frugal girl will make the most of these clothes by selling or swapping them. Ebay is the usual port of call for those wanting to sell something but you can also list and swap or sell them for free on Posh-swaps.com. If you have clothing of a high value, you could try selling through a local dress agency. Check our www.swishing.com for swap parties in your area. I also have a sort of informal arrangement with my friends that we let each other have a look through any unwanted clothes before they go in the charity bag.

Cash your clothes in

Some brands and retailers now collect old clothes and give you a voucher to spend in exchange. With M & S, you can recycle your old clothes at Oxfam in exchange for a voucher. Monsoon have a similar scheme clothes for life where you get £10 off a new item.   

Buy second hand

Buying second hand is a great way to get more for your money. Charity shops, ebay and carboot sales are packed with bargains often that have hardly or never been worn. I actually tend to wear my second hand charity shop clothes more often than some of the new clothes that I have bought, perhaps because when you take away the marketing, trends etc that persuade you to buy new clothes, it is much easier to focus on what you want and what will look good on you. if you don’t have time to trawl charity shops Oxfam have a great selection including vintage and Cancer Research have some great designer finds.

Look out for ethical bargains

Even with all of the affordable ethical brands out there, you may still find ethical fashion a bit more expensive than the really low priced fast fashion retailers. If you wait until the sales though you can get yourself something amazing for a great price. Many ethical brands and retailers run year round promotions and sales, you can follow me on Twitter to keep up with them. People Tree and Fashion Conscience always have great offers and sales.

What do you think? is it easy to be frugal and sustainable with your style?

With warmest wishes

Ceri X

 

Charity Shop Faux Fur Outfits

I can’t seem to get enough of faux fur at the moment. Here the outfits that I wore this weekend including some of my faux fur charity shop finds. The funny thing is when I wear faux fur my girls just want to cuddle up to me and stroke the fur all the time, they have nicknamed the coat my teddy bear coat.

Faux fur jacket – Oxfam
skirt – ASOS Africa
Boots – Dream on Green
Necklace and bracelet – Swarovski Crystallised
Bag – Spartoo

On Saturday, I popped into Bath for a little bit of shopping and lunch in ASK with the girls. I had some Tesco vouchers that needed using up so naturally we had to use them all up with plenty of icecream.

Coat – Blue Cross charity shop
Tunic/ dress – Blue cross charity shop (originally Linea)
Leggings – People Tree
Shoes – given to me by a friend as she didn’t want them!
Belt- Next

Saturday night, Mr Style Eyes and I went for food at the pub followed by a beer or two. I love this fur coat for a night out it is really warm and also a size too big so I can fit an extra cardigan underneath if needed.

Dress – over 15 years old,  upcycled
Jacket and necklace – as above
Shoes – Nine West

This dress is the DIY project that I have been working on this weekend. You can read more about it on my recycled fashion post for Oxfam fashion to be published soon.

Check out Oxfam for Cancer Research for some great charity shop faux fur and  fur trimmed coats. 

Do you have any faux fur? how do you wear yours?

With warmest wishes

Ceri X

WhoMadeYourPants? Social Enterprise in Southampton

Most ethical fashion focuses on minimising the negative impacts of the fashion industry, whether that be using organic fabrics to preserve the environment or making sure the clothes are produced using fair trade labour. But what if fashion was more than that, what if it could be used as a mechanism for social good?

That’s exactly what starting a social enterprise can do. Quite a few social enterprises have popped up in the fashion and textiles world, but most of them are based overseas using local artisan skills and helping to develop disadvantaged communities. One based in the UK however, is the co-operative whomadeyourpants? Whomadeyourpants? was set up by Becky John in 2009 when she was unable to find pretty, ethical lingerie.  Stated simply, whomadeyourpants? is a social enterprise selling ethical underwear made by local Southampton women who might otherwise have struggled to find employment due to lack of confidence, qualifications or language barriers.  Most of the workers are refugees and through whomadeyourpants? they can learn English, employment skills and gain an NVQ in Manufacturing of Sewn Products.  As a co-operative all of the members have a vote towards business decisions.

The materials are upcycled from the lingerie trade, ends of fabric rolls that would otherwise be thrown away. The result is ethical undies that you can feel great about buying. The enterprise makes a huge difference to the lives of the workers, as Becky explains:  “They are given hope for the future, they have greater financial independence, and a number are planning what jobs they want with us or elsewhere.  When we ask what life is like with no wmyp, they say it’s boring!”

At the moment they only produce ladies knickers, but in the future they hope to expand to other product areas, and to other areas of the country. The pants are made in luscious stretch lace in a range of colours, many of which are extra special limited edition. If you buy their pants you can even log on online and check to see who was working on the day your pants were made, and thus see who made your pants! Find them at www.whomadeyourpants.co.uk

Emma Waight is a PhD student and freelance writer. She writes fashion news and trend stories at www.clothes.org.uk but her real passion is ethical fashion and sustainable consumption.