I found this vintage sequin top at Bang Bang (CLICK) on Goodge Street in London. It's hand sewn, beautifully made with a light cotton lining. I style it with rolled-up jeans, anything else would leave it feeling overly dated. Paired with denim and vintage heels, it's transformed to low voltage glam. Perfect for a night out with my husband or drinks with girl pals. I work in theatre. Frankly I people watch and get paid, so now and then I long for the days when women dolled-up for an evening at the theatre. Lifestyle changes and the predilections of public transport in London make many high-style choices impossible if not ridiculous. Further, the arts' any-way-is-okay dress-code encourages people to give live theatre a go. But don't sequins, just a few, make the world a better place? This is indeed a perfect West End night-out outfit. The top was £10 - leaving pounds in your purse for an ice cream at the interval.
Friday, 29 August 2014
Thursday, 28 August 2014
Not surprisingly, many of my friends are also 2nd-hand hunters - it seems we gather in groups to compare style notes and admire one another's finds. These talented women are also actors, directors, sculptors, painters, illustrators, musician & songwriters.
Enter Cassie, who found both the hat and skirt above at the Cancer Research charity shop on Portobello Road. A double-bubble hunting hit. (Do forgive the technical jargon.) The hat is unbranded so Cassie embraces its mystery. The skirt - by Fenn Wright Manson - will be transformed on her. Think Stevie Nicks with a dash for Mimi from La bohème for flavor. The skirt was £9 and the hat was £6.
"With these pieces I'm channeling my love of all things fin de siecle. I think I make that association because velvet always feels so ostentatious and luxurious to me, whatever form it takes," Cassie reveals.
Her artistry? Below a spectacular video recalling, for me, sumptuous fashion illustrations of the 20 and 30s. Listen up - it's Cassie's music, both her voice and song providing the stylish underscoring to these inspiring moving pictures.
If you're interested in original music for your fashion video, advertisement or artistic project, or just love Cassie's music (like I do) CLICK HERE for more.
Wednesday, 27 August 2014
I found this handmade brooch at the Oxfam in Richmond, complete with a standard safety pin cleverly embedded in the back - a nice touch. It reminds me of back-to-school; that time of year when colours go from green to flaming orange, signalling not death, but for me, a new wardrobe. I went to school in a small American town where uniforms were not required but new clothes were; corduroys, turtle neck sweaters, an itchy wool skirt, knee socks and packs of panties were the norm. In August, the tome that was the J C Penney catalog would arrive in the post. My sister and I would thumb the girls clothing section, wearing the pages thin. With the start of school just a week away, off we'd go to the shop itself. We'd parade around the department store for hours trying to find the right bits and pieces. 'Let's put together outfits' mom would say. We argued, laughed, talked at pace and eventually settled on the clothes I hoped would transform me from tall weed to stylish flower. Inevitably the first day of school was still sweltering with summer and the new turtle neck I insisted on wearing left me a wilted dandelion. This brooch at just £2.99 is a perfect autumn accessory regardless of the weather and will look perfect on my beautiful wool jacket from The Rose Online (CLICK). Can't wait to wear both!
Tuesday, 26 August 2014
I found these Jigsaw brand shoes at the Fara charity shop on Bond Street in Ealing. I can remember seeing them some years ago, new, in a Jigsaw shop. I really wanted them then but just couldn't justify buying a pair of 'silk slippers,' upwards of £100, that I could only imagine wearing to 'the ball.' Truth is, I don't mix in Cinderella circles. As is the way, styles move on and hi-low mixing is now essential to a modern, fashionable look. Today I can easily imagine wearing these shoes with rolled-up Levis (my default style piece) and cashmere pear jumper (gift from my mom). This rather nice pair of shoes, destined to be mine eventually, was £15.
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Monday, 25 August 2014
I found this leather, yes leather, bangle at the Fara charity shop in Ealing. Several times a week rather than make my way to work via Ealing Broadway tube station, I walk to Chiswick Station and take the train to Waterloo. A long, lovely walk, part of it along the river, that begins with a swing past several local charity shops. Easily enticed and under time pressure, I could make a purchase that I later regret; grab and go, overspend and under-think. In an effort to self-regulate when walking to Chiswick, I put only a fiver in my purse. It's a challenge; can I snag a small bargain and still have enough leftover for refreshments along the 5+ mile journey. Last week I not only bought this bracelet, a unique addition to my vast collection, but had enough for a cool, fruit smoothie too. The bracelet was just a pound. No regrets.
Check out Huntress London in Around Ealing,
the Council Magazine (bottom right corner)
Saturday, 23 August 2014
I found this dress at the Oxfam in Ealing a few years ago. It's a Thomas & Jonathan of Canterbury print for Liberty. A classic. I paid more than I'd like and I shelled out further to have it shortened but boy, has this blue beauty been worth it. Here we are - me and my dress - in Paris, and together we've been to Barcelona, West Palm Beach and Penzance. In a week's time we're off to Chicago. A well-made shirt dress with or without cardie is the very definition of effortless style. I've got 8 or 10 shirt dresses of varying lengths and colours, all charity shop gems. They're perfectly packable and ideal for the lingering Indian Summer of the Windy City. Once back in London I'll bid my frock a fond farewell until the sunshine returns next year. The dress was £24.99. The Paul Smith belt bought at Fara in Ealing was £20.
I'll be armed with my Herb Lester city guide to Chicago.
Find the range of guides at Herb Lester
Always 1st class 2nd-hand shopping tips included.
Friday, 22 August 2014
On the left, the current Vogue cover shot by Mario Testino. On the right, a Vogue cover from December 1924, illustrated by George Plank. I know which I prefer. The 1924 cover was reprinted in a beautiful and inspiring book 'The Art of Vogue Covers 1909-1940,' with commentary from William Packer. I found the book at Oxfam in Putney. Packer rightly observes,
"Today fame rests easily on any face...making the model girl herself the very figure of present beauty. Safety and regularity are put first and all graphic adventure and risk inhibited. The standard face fills the page, armed cap a bouche, hair, eyes, lips and teeth all equal in their perfection, to general admiration and applause...How different things were in the days before the camera's unchallenged ascendancy..."
This compilation of covers offers endless inspiration. Spectacular shapes, juxtaposition of colour, hairstyles, proportions and obvious attitude in these images make them entirely fresh - ageless in fact - despite their years. I long for illustration to make a come-back in the glossies. Coupled with photography, the reintroduction of this nearly lost art of fashion onto the pages of magazines could invigorate the rather predictable way in which we document fashion in the 21st century. The book was £7.99, the price of 2 issues of Vogue.
Thursday, 21 August 2014
I found the fan on the left at the Octavia charity shop in Putney and the one of the right in the famed flea markets of Paris. Over the past few months I've clocked a growing number of stylish women brandishing fans. It's been a steamy summer and these low tech lovelies, that tuck easily into a handbag, can and do alleviate the heat. In centuries past, the fan was the fashionable lady's answer to the text message. These highly embellished accessories clearly communicated, if only you understood the lexicon:
Resting the fan on her lips - I don't trust you.
Fanning herself slowly - I'm not interested.
Passing the fan from one hand to the other -
I see you looking at another.
Examining closely the paint on her fan - I like you.
Tapping her palm with the fan - Love me.
Not just a pretty face, the fan, but well-spoken too. Along with a cotton hanky, I think fans are summer must haves. The charity shop fan was £2.99 while the French flea market find was 14 euros. I'm a fan of both; my niece Rylee collect fans so these will one day be passed on to her.
Wednesday, 20 August 2014
I found these books at Oxfam; Bags at Oxfam Richmond and Shoes at Oxfam Marylebone. They're inspiring additions to my growing fashion library. Outlining our historical obsessions with shoes and bags, books like these offer a look into the past as a way of illuminating the present. Understanding the rise, growth, evolution and even decline of fashionable pieces provides a new and exciting foundation for my personal style. With facts and history in mind, I shop in a more mindful manner. The photos in books like these are exceptional, allowing easy comparisons with my own collection of clothing and accessories. I find fashion magazines increasingly unsatisfying, pulp fiction that fails to turn on my sartorial light bulb. But fashion books! They're providing me with style inspiration and practical provocation. No more expensive than a few magazines, Bags was £2.99 and Shoes was £6.99. These are heavy weight winners in my book.
BREAKING NEWS: Huntress London will join the Oxfam Fashion Team in September, posting on their blog several times a month. We're thrilled to be partnering with this great charity shop tradition.
Tuesday, 19 August 2014
I found this silk bow tie at The Children's Society charity shop on Pitshanger Lane in Ealing. I cannot resist lovely slashes of silk so men's ties, simple and beautifully made, challenge my sartorial creativity. I want them, but how do I wear them? I could style this in the same manner a man would but frankly a red bow tie under my chin is not a look that suits me. It's too done-up, too stiff, too Bozo the Clown. Instead, onto the silk I'll pin my gorgeous, but unlikely cameo brooch - a piece spotted in an old jewellery shop in Harare Zimbabwe. Then I'll knot the tie at the nape of my neck and allow the ends to hang down my back. A masculine accessory made functionally feminine. Was I potty to buy this dotty ditty? No, it was just £4.59.
Backdrop for photo, David Hockney poster from book found in Oxfam charity shop.
Monday, 18 August 2014
I found this Frette silk fringed bag at Traid charity shop in Shepherds Bush (www.traid.org.uk) over the weekend. Traid is relatively new to the charity shop scene; their shop in Shepherds Bush is large, well-stocked and maintained, boasting a friendly staff who were creating a particularly effective window display the day I was in. Frette on the other hand is an Italian textile company that's been knocking about since 1860. In 1894 Frette created the Holy Virgin table cloth for the alter at St Peter's in Rome; however, they may be best known for the luxury linens they've supplied to the likes of The Savoy in London, The Ritz in Paris and The Plaza in NYC. Today a Frette queen-size bed set costs in excess of £300 and their men's pyjamas the same. This company is all about luxury, classic products elevated by their incredible craftsmanship. They are, after all, the firm that originally supplied linens to the famed Orient Express. This silk Frette bag was just £4.99.
Friday, 15 August 2014
I found this Tory Burch skirt at Oxfam in Ealing, a place that over the summer has been the site of some spectacular finds. This is what the fashion world refers to as a 'separate' or 'coordinate.' More than likely it had a matching piece - a jacket, blouse or cardigan by the same designer made specifically to 'go with' the skirt. If the coordinating piece had been available I would have bought it however, I almost never wear my matching separates together. I find the matchy-matchy look too predictable, too dependant on decisions made by the manufacture. I want to decide how I'll wear a piece. Styling your clothes should be fun, an adventure, a creative dance. Enjoy, even relish stamping YOUR style on YOUR wardrobe. I'll wear this skirt with a crisp white blouse, wide black belt and black wedge espadrilles, and finish it off with an armload of mismatched bangles. I wonder how you'd style this skirt? It was just $6.99.
Thursday, 14 August 2014
I found these Bally trainers at the Octavia Foundation charity shop in Putney. There's a common misconception that charity shops are full of musty-smelling vintage and straight up junk. Granny gear and chipped teacups. Okay, sometimes, but there's style gold as well. Week after week, I find high-end, big brand fashions at a fraction of their original price. Last week I found a Mulberry belt for £3, this week Bally trainers that retailed when new for £250. High-end style finds bring a smile to my face. So do quirky vintage pieces. What about that musty smell, I hear you sniff. Here's the trick; spray the offending item with white vinegar, then just let it air out. The vinegar will evaporate quite quickly and with it the pong. Wash as normal. You may need to apply and dry more than once, but I assure you this eliminates eau de vintage. But never mind vintage, today I'm bang on trend - call me Mrs Current - in these all-leather kicks from the famous Swiss shoemaker. Nearly new but sporting a vintage price tag, they were just £15.
Tweet a pic of your best charity shop find to
Wednesday, 13 August 2014
I found this plate - what I call a fashion curio - at Oxfam in Ealing. The little lady immediately reminded me of charms on my mother's bracelet, a lovely piece she passed on to me a few years ago. The bracelet features no less than 3 silvery silhouettes; one for me, and one for both my siblings. I can even remember little framed black silhouette cut-outs of us kids that hung in our sitting room when I was growing up. The craft of creating silhouettes fell out of favour for a time but has made a welcome return; contemporary artist Kara Walker's thought-provoking use of silhouette cutting to comment on race and identity has been exhibited world-wide for example. This statement plate - a fashion curio - is a perfect resting place for jewellery. It was a charming £1.99.
Tuesday, 12 August 2014
I found this vintage souvenir scarf at the Trinity Hospice charity shop in Putney, SW15. Now a popular collectible, these holiday keepsakes are akin to postcards on fabric. Mobile phones chronicle every waking moment of our hols these days but there was a time when cameras were a luxury. A little ditty like this scarf was the best way to recall sights seen while travelling. Souvenir scarves won't keep you especially warm but they will light up your complexion, a little colour around the face should always be welcomed. Tucked into a light-weight coat or the neckline of my Droopy and Brown waistcoat, this elegant accessory adds Parisian flair to any outfit. A bit of vintage that goes a long way. It was £4.
Monday, 11 August 2014
I found this silk t-shirt at the Octavia Foundation charity shop in Ealing last week. It's by Pure Collection, an on-line retailer specializing in cashmere & silk clothing, (www.purecollection.com). This particular shirt retailed for £79 when new. It's actually a v-neck tee but when I tried it on I immediately saw the neckline didn't suit me. Disappointed, I found it difficult to walk away from this quality silk staple. Creativity kicked in. I turned the top back to front and hey presto, I had the perfect silk CREW neck t-shirt that did suit me. I often wear cardies the wrong way round with the buttons running down the back. It's an elegant look that works well with a straight pencil skirt. The easy movement of this silk t-shirt pairs nicely over jeans or tucked into wool trousers. The old switcheroo comes through again. Pure silk for a few pounds. The top was 4 quid.
Tweet a pic of your current favourite
2nd-hand gem to @annielistening #best2ndever
Saturday, 9 August 2014
Friday, 8 August 2014
I found these vintage brass earrings in the window of a Retro Woman shop in Notting Hill. The shop was closed so my boyfriend (now my husband) and I could only admire them in the moonlight. I gushed while he just smiled, hatching a plan. The next day he raced back to the shop, bought the earrings and to my surprise and delight gave them to me the following weekend. The Retro Shops in Notting Hill along Pembridge Gardens are 2nd-hand establishments that buy and sell your gently used items (www.mgeshops.com/retro-woman-20pr). They know their brands and what buyers want. If you bring them items to sell, be prepared for 'no, thanks.' They're choosy. It can be a sobering experience and you won't make a mint but you get cash in hand or twice the cash value in shop vouchers. The Retros are packed out with goods so give yourself plenty of time. The selection they offer is as much high street as high-end, as much vintage as virtually new. These earrings were £32 but they're priceless to me.
Tweet your best vintage finds to @annielistening #best2ndever
Thursday, 7 August 2014
Before Carrie Bradshaw or Hannah Horvath, there was Sally Jay Gorce. Inspired by a year the author spent in Paris, Elaine Dundy's first and surely most compelling novel debuted in 1958. Sally Jay, perceptive but flighty, self-aware but wide-eyed is a character you want to befriend. The plot isn't complicated, simply the re-telling of the adventures of an American in Paris. It opens one morning with Sally Jay drifting down the Boulevard St Michel in a evening dress cinched with a red belt because the laundrette hasn't finished washing her day dresses. Dundy - actress, director and writer - grew up in New York but later lived in London where she would meet her husband, famed theatre critic Kenneth Tynan. Their marriage would not survive the success of her book. His jealousy so seething that Elaine had to move people out of his earshot when they complimented her work. I only wish Tynan could hear me say, 'I loved it - it's a must read!'
Tags: stylish reads
Wednesday, 6 August 2014
I bought this watch on-line. It's a smaller ladies pocket watch and that fact, along with it £10 price tag drove me to buy the timepiece. Its parts are Swiss made, but the German-American company Lucerne, that appears on its face, assembled it. In the 50s Lucerne, a family-owned jeweller, conducted business from its headquarters on 5th Avenue in New York City. The watch dates between 1960 and 1970. I imagined finding a chain and fob to go with the watch and wearing it in my pocket as designed. But tracking down necessary watch accessories that I like has proved difficult. Then last week I found this tiny beaded purse with a silk faille lining, probably circa 1950s, at The Children's Society charity shop on Pitshanger Lane in Ealing. The perfect home for my watch, little purse and ticker fit neatly in my pocket. At times I'm still required to don a wristwatch, but when I'm able to carry the pocket watch I find the ceremony of removing it from its pouch an elegant process that reminds me time is precious indeed. Both watch and purse, tactile and useful, feel lovely in my hand. The tiny vintage bag was just 99p.
Tweet your 2nd-hand gems to @annielistening #best2ndever
Tuesday, 5 August 2014
I found this belt at the Cancer Research charity shop near Ealing Broadway Station last week. I've said it before and I'm sure to say it again; never buy a belt new. Fantastic, high-end and simply well-made waist cinchers are easy pickings in charity shops. This one quite possibly my best buy ever. Best ever - really. There it hung among other cheaper, less enticing belts; you look at a few frogs before you find a perfect pre-owned prince. I saw, I wondered, I hoped. And there on the back of one of the straps, imprinted into the leather, the word Mulberry appeared. I nearly fainted. The belt reminds me of Lauren Hutton, the 70s model who originated the gapped tooth smile. She who typified the safari chic this belt is channelling. And Mulberry? Only an English classic. How much, you ask? I fear you won't believe me, but it was just £3. Honest.
Monday, 4 August 2014
I found this at the Oxfam in Ealing, complete with a hang tag marked 'sample' and note indicating the garment was in 'pre-production.' This well-made wardrobe staple - a t-shirt - may never have been put into production. It's nice to imagine it as a one-off but who knows for sure. As kids, my sister and I chose Peanuts bedspreads for the room we were required to share after my little brother was born. We preferred Snoopy, Lucy, Pig Pen and the gang to Mickey and Minnie. In high school, I was the awkward center on freshman girls basketball team. Everything about this tee is me. But how to style it without looking like a 7-year-old? I'll wear it in Autumn with sleek trousers and a cropped black military-style jacket. Pairing it with 'serious,' highly-tailored pieces will play well against the light-hearted graphic. I relish the challenge of giving this silly shirt a seriously stylish edge. It was just £3.99.
Saturday, 2 August 2014
I recently found the black necklace at the high street shop Jigsaw, on sale, and the ivory necklace at an antiques fair in Derby UK. One is brand new made from glass with a silk tassel, the other 60s, maybe, fashioned from plastic. These simple but lovely beads bring to mind the age of the Flapper and are great for adding an elongating vertical line to your look. The fact that they span time - remaining current while recalling the past - is a testament to their enduring style appeal. Comfortable to wear, they're also a nod to the several strands of pearls that were, and still are, Chanel's calling card. Elegance made easy; the black beads were a tenner and the ivory were just £7.
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Friday, 1 August 2014
I found this ribbon belt at a charity shop while on holiday in Del Ray Beach, Florida. I love creatively integrating preppy touches into my look and I've a soft spot for lobsters. The crustacean was first made a fashion/pop icon by designer, innovator and artist Elsa Schiaparelli. A rival to Coco Chanel, Elsa's fashion risk taking and practical outlook on those who copied her designs - she was flattered - make her a personal hero. In 1937 Elsa asked her friend Salvador Dali to design a lobster graphic that she would then incorporate into fabric that she used to make a dress - not just any dress, but the dress Wallis Simpson wore in a famed Vogue photo shoot. Dress, designer, and lobsters all made more famous by the woman who brought the monarchy to its knees. For more on the fascinating life and designs of Schiap (as she called herself) read The Little Book of Schiaparelli by Emma Baxter-Wright or Schiap's autobio entitled Shocking Life. The belt was $3.
Today is Oxfam's Vintage Friday. Tweet a photo of your vintage dress include #vintagefriday and text VINTAGE to 70066 to donate £3 to Oxfam.