Could you wear one dress for 365 days?

clothes swap dress

 

I recently came across an amazing project carried out by Canadian journalist and writer, Elizabeth Withey, called Frock Around the Clock.

For all of last year Elizabeth wore just one dress every day. The simple black dress (which she called Laverne, after its style name) was worn with leggings, tights, jumpers, belts, tops etc for all of 2015. Every few days Elizabeth would carefully hand wash it and leave it to dry. It was dressed up for dinner in restaurants, dressed down for camping trips and even went abroad to Iceland.

Elizabeth wore it because she wanted to spend time doing more important things than worrying about what to wear every day. I really recommend you have a look at her blog – which is very honest. I really admire her decision to reduce her wardrobe to just one thing so that she was no longer being sucked into the cycle of worrying about what to wear, shopping for clothes, washing piles of laundry etc.

However I’m not sure I could do this. Over the past couple of years I have struggled with the Capsule Wardrobe concept, Project 333 and have written here and here about my adventures. At present I am taking a break from the project as I try to figure out what works for me.

I guess what it comes down to is personal style. I like to wear clothes that don’t always go together and, while I am far more strong willed when scouring charity shops, I do like to buy quirky, original pieces. BUT it would be so much easier waking up every morning and knowing what I was going to wear – because I didn’t have the choice (as most of the world, beyond our comfy First World status, has).

Could you wear just one piece of clothing all year?

(Below is a really interesting interview with Elizabeth from My Green Closet’s Verena Erin)

 

 

 

Charity Shops or Vintage Boutiques?

I wrote here about whether vintage has become an overused word. I believe there has been an increase in the use of this word over the past few years. It now seems to mean something old, precious and – ironically – fashionable. I still don’t know whether to refer to the clothes I wear as Charity Shop Bargains or Vintage Finds!

What I do find interesting is that when applying the word ‘vintage’ to an item the price tag can really rise.

Last month I went shopping for a 1970s inspired outfit for our annual party. I attempted to try on a couple of dresses that were seventies originals (I got the sizing wrong: old style size 12 means modern size 8/10).

vintage shopping for 1970s dress

Once upon a time these dresses would have been piled high on a jumble sale table, or hanging on a rail in a musty charity shop. Now they were on sale for £15 each and positioned in the dedicated vintage section of the local Julian House charity shop in Bath.

I don’t begrudge charity shops making money from older, vintage pieces. I find it sad that I can buy a dress from H&M, Primark and others for less than this price. But as I have written before these clothes are badly made (by garment workers earning a small wage), and will not have the history or care invested in them that older pieces possess.

Over the past few years I’ve noticed a rise in the number of charity shops that have been turned into vintage style stores. As I mentioned the Julian House shop in Bath has a dedicated vintage area, filled with crockery, magazines, suitcases, accessories and clothing.

Vintage Charity Shops: Julian House, Bath

Vintage Charity Shops: Julian House, Bath

We’ve also visited this brilliant ‘Vintage and Retro’ Thames Hospice charity shop in Windsor on a couple of occasions:

The latest addition to these style of shops in Bath is the Dorothy House vintage boutique and cafe, called ’76’ on Bridge Street. The shop is called ’76’ after the year that the hospice charity was founded and, I imagine, is also a nod to the date of some of the period pieces on sale in store.

 

The shop and cafe was opened last year by local resident, Midge Ure. The fact that a celebrated, and much respected, musician is happy to open a charity shop shows how far this sector has risen in popular esteem. The forerunner of this vintage shop was the Dorothy House shop on Broad Street (which has now become the charity’s record and book store). However with the addition of a coffee house ’76’ has taken charity retail therapy to a new level. I personally enjoyed browsing this shop and, as mentioned in this post, picked up a great 1970s style flared jumpsuit for our party. At £12 the price tag was slightly cheaper as well.

Sadly not all these charity to vintage shop transformations have a happy ending. The   Mercy in Action chain of charity shops opened a dedicated vintage store in the Widcombe area of Bath.  But sadly it stopped trading earlier this year (thankfully this charity still has other shops in the city). Perhaps there are so only so many Vintage Charity Boutiques that a city can take.

Christmas Jumper Day

Today is Christmas Jumper Day: a fundraising event for the charities Macmillan, Make a Wish and Save the Children.

Christmas jumpers seem to have really caught on over the past few years and can be another pressure to buy something that we don’t really need. High street stores seem to be selling cheap – but badly made – jumpers to add to the list of items we feel we need to buy to make Christmas special. ( One of the mums from school was fretting because the kids were told they could wear Christmas jumpers on Wednesday and she was going to have to rush out to buy three of them!)

A friend of mine commented that her local charity shop was selling festive jumpers that they had made from other sweaters. This is a great idea. Or there are lots of tips out there on how to add a seasonal touch to your own jumper.

Or you can pick up a secondhand one, like this one that husband and the kids bought for me from a vintage shop in Bath a few years ago (or donate the money you would have spent on buying a jumper in the first place!)

image

#secondhandfirst week: review

This is a snapshot of some of the clothes I wore this week for TRAID’s #secondhandfirst week.

The aim of the campaign is to encourage people to think about where their clothes come from, who makes them (and what their working conditions are like), and the environmental impact fast fashion has.

If you’re not into trawling around charity shops TRAID have other suggestions such as clothes swaps, mending your own clothes, or just donating any unwanted clothing to charities, including TRAID (who have shops in London).

If you can be persuaded to shop second-hand then welcome to my world!

I started charity shop shopping in my teens and have never looked back! (I’m now in my forties). There are many reasons I buy second-hand but some of them are connected with what TRAID campaign for: encouraging people to wear pre-worn clothes, wear them for longer and be aware of the social, financial and environmental impact the fast fashion industry has.

While I know that someone originally made the clothes I buy from charity shops and that 2,700 litres of water were once used to make the cotton for my second-hand t-shirt, I hope that my purchases extend the lives of these garments.

By shopping at charity shops, clothes swaps, jumble sales and car boot sales I’m also opting out of the fast fashion phenomenon that can see clothing lines constantly being changed. I also know that what I wear will be not be seen on anyone else and that I saved money (as well as gave it to charity).

I hope others may be persuaded to join me in my continuing second-hand quest…

 

 

#Secondhandfirst week: day five

I’m still following #TRAID’s #secondhand first campaign this week and have pledged to wear 90% second hand. Today I caught up on household jobs and wore basically the same outfit as Friday: secondhand TOAST jeans, brown vest top (secondhand) underneath the khaki blouse I wore on Wednesday and my grey jumper from Monday’s post.

However this evening I am going to glam it up as we are all off to the village pantomime! It’s a family treat and the first ‘Christmasey’ activity we are doing as a family. Plus I have now changed my working shifts and am no longer working every Saturday so it feels like the start of a proper weekend!

This evening I will be wearing my burgundy pinafore dress (purchased last year from Dorothy House charity shop in Bath), black polo neck underneath and my gorgeous blue velvet jacket which I picked up years ago from the Shaw Trust charity shop in Bath.

 

#secondhandfirst week: burgundy dress and blue velvet blazer

 

#Secondhandfirst Week: Day Four

Today is Day Four of the national campaign by the organisation, TRAID, called #secondhandfirst week. For seven days we are being encouraged to wear clothing that is second-hand. I have committed to wearing 90% second hand each day (only my shoes and underwear are new).

Today I worked so had to be fairly smart (ish). Saying that all of this outfit, including the necklace (but minus tights and shoes) came from charity shops or clothes swaps:

#secondhandfirst week: Day Four

 

#Secondhandfirst Week: Day Three

It’s Day Three here of TRAID’s #secondhandfirst week, encouraging us to rethink where our clothes from and wear more second hand. Today I was at home and so not a particularly inspiring outfit – just lots of brown:

#secondhandfirst week: Day Three

The brown cords are from a previous clothes swap and the wraparound brown cardigan was given to me by a neighbour. The khaki blouse was picked up from a charity shop in the summer and underneath is a long sleeved brown t-shirt, also from a charity shop. So far I seem to be hitting my target of 90% second-hand.