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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

TRY THIS - Style & Community Support

I found this strand of amber glass beads at the NEW West Ealing Antiques Market CLICK HERE on Saturday. Mark your Calendar: October's market is scheduled for the 25th. At September's kickoff about 8 wonderful stalls adorned the pavement in and around The Drayton Court. Stallholders offered a nice variety of quality items, including interesting 2nd-hand and vintage clothing and accessories. I found prices reasonable and stallholders approachable, friendly and willing to bargain. It was a sunny, stylish morning, right in my own backyard. Supporting your community by ATTENDING events like this is the best way to BUILD community. Thumbs up Ealing! The beads were a tenner. See you there in October?

Check out Huntress London's first Oxfam Fashion 
blog post at Circle of Style  

Monday, 29 September 2014

FOUND - Uniform Style Really Works

I found these high-waist sailor trousers at a men's second-hand shop in Soho. They're made from heavy quality wool, and keep me warm as toast. All the buttons are working, they're not just for looks, and the wide legs hang beautifully. A lovely lace-up in the back of the trousers had to be removed when the waist was taken in but worth it for the custom fit. Don't shy away from items because they need mending or tailoring. If you've found a quality piece, the extra care needed will be well worth the effort. Check out Army-Navy surplus shops, 2nd hand men's wear and always be on the look out for 'former uniforms.' The utilitarian feel of 'work wear' can make an interesting style statement. These super dark navy trousers were £20.        

Friday, 26 September 2014

TRY THIS - Double Belted Double Time

I found this double wrap belt at Oxfam in Putney. It's a quality accessory that I'd never buy new, the expense would be too great. My friend Lucy accuses me of "living richly." What she means, I think, is that I manage rather nicely on a shoestring budget. She respects my choice of time over money because I seem to rarely go without. I once competed hard for the best office jobs with the highest salaries, indeed I whirled round the hamster wheel of regular work. Today however, I forgo potential money in exchange for more time. My purse is lighter but I've hours in the bank for writing, thinking, creating, blogging, yoga-ing etc. I work in a customer service position at a theatre where any number of people have also chosen time over money. My friend Susan, someone who stepped outside the mainstream work circle some years ago, has a belt just like this. Maybe it's part of the uniform all us "time earners" wear. It was $8.99 and it's about time I wear it.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

TRY THIS - Make Sequins Shine Your Way

I found this sleeveless, sparkly top at Mary's Living & Giving charity shop in Ealing. I don't go to red-carpet shin-digs or ball gown blowouts but I do turn up at evening events with friends or the husband which long for a little glamour. Just a little. Paired with black three-quarter length trousers or straight, rolled-up jeans and kitten heels or flats, this boxy top is exactly what my after-eight affairs require. Sequins that aren't trying too hard, thank you. It's a true vintage piece, 1950s or 60s. The label tells me that the bodice is 100% lambs wool, covered in shimmer obviously. Made in Hong Kong, a place I'm keen to visit, it was likely created for the export market. A classic with only a few sequins missing - I imagine they fell into the punch bowl when the previous owner was reaching for a vol-au-vent. Every wardrobe needs at least one sequinned piece. No matter your style - even minimalist - sparkle brings your basics to (night) life. Pinky here was just £27. Shine on girl! 

Tweet your 2nd-hand style finds to 
@annielistening, #best2ndever -- Go on, I'll RT!  

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

FOUND - Spectacular Specs for a Song

I found these sunglasses at the Octavia charity shop in Ealing. Large frames with pastel inlay - the curves and zig zags on the frames are actually light blue & pink in colour - they're high quality and importantly, sport a brand name. Unfamiliar labels offer me lovely little challenges. I can't wait to research an unknown brand, uncover its story. 

"What really knocked me out was her
cheap sunglasses" 
                                   -ZZ Top

Saphira is an exclusive German eyewear brand circa 70s/80s known for bold modern design. While I've found little else about the brand, what I have noticed is that on 2nd-hand and vintage selling sites (Ebay, Etsy and others) Saphira sunglasses range in price from £50 to £125. Initially I had no idea these were SUCH a well-loved brand but it was worth finding out. Let's say I had a hunch. These specs saw me fork over just $4 - worth the risk, as either way they're knock out, cheap sunglasses. 

Check out the new West Ealing antique & vintage market 
THIS Saturday. For details CLICK HERE  

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

FOUND - Tangy 2nd-Hand Silk Scarf

I found this huge 100% silk scarf/shawl at Oxfam in Richmond, southwest London. It's a Shanghai Tang and was still sporting the original tags. Shanghai Tang was founded in 1994 by businessman David Tang with the aim of reintroducing Chinese fashions of the 20s and 30s to a global audience. Tang brought back Manchu Chinese clothing, giving it a modern twist. The company slogan, "Re-Orient Yourself," is the sort of marketing word play that really speaks to me. I came to London the first time as a visitor in my 30s and I can remember wandering into the Shanghai Tang shop on Sloane Street. I was transported. All the silks, brocades and lacquered surfaces piqued my style sensibility. Now - expensive doesn't equate to stylish in my book but silk does. So this absolutely gigantic slash of worm work is top quality, no doubt. But if you need hard numbers as proof, a scarf much like this on Shanghai Tang's website is currently retailing for 189 Great Big Pounds! Really. Me? I took this yum-yum home for just £24.99. Okay, does that put to bed once and for all the idea that charity shops are full of chipped crockery and smelly polyester housecoats?
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Monday, 22 September 2014

FOUND - Stretch-The-Seasons Skirt

I found this skirt at the Fara charity shop in Ealing. It's a French Connection creation but for me, its voluminous folds swirl it back to something from the 1950s. This generously cut circle skirt has weight, making it feel substantial and frankly, expensive. I'll pair it with a short black military-style jacket found in a second-hand stall behind Truman Brewery. Shoes? Well, I'm toying with black peep-toes and flashy tights or brown suede ankle boots. I know, it would be better if the boots were black, but would it? Is black possibly too heavy? The truth is I don't have black ankle boots so I'm going to play around with the skirt using what I've got in my closet to create Style. With a capital S. Call it a Sunday afternoon fashion project - everybody needs a hobby, right? I want to find a way to make this seemingly summer skirt transcend itself and blossom as a piece workable in early Autumn. Can I do it? I hope so as I love this skirt - and at just £7, what's not to love?

Tweet your latest charity shop finds to 
@annielistening, #best2ndever

Friday, 19 September 2014

TRY THIS - Me and Betty Go Way Back

I found this book by style doyenne Betty Halbreich in 1997 - bought new and hot of the press. If you're a dedicated follower of fashion you'll have no doubt noticed Betty popping up all over lately. She is the outspoken, thoughtfully fashionable, highly experienced head of personal shopping at NYC's famed department store Bergdorf Goodman. CLICK HERE to go to BG's rather lovely blog. Betty has 'dressed' everyone from Lauren Bacall to SJP but importantly she's written ANOTHER more recent book entitled I'll Drink to That, CLICK HERE. The new book is on my wish list to be sure BUT I want to give Betty's first book the credit I think it deserves. I've read Secrets of a Fashion Therapist cover to cover at least 3 times. It's full of fashion advice that remains relevant; Betty's practical, honest and upbeat approach always recharges my style battery. This was the very first fashion book I ever bought and while I've an extensive library of style books now, Betty has served me best. She's in every press publication worth it's lipstick lately, but I like the way in which she's discussed on Twitter - #BettyKnowsBest.    

Thursday, 18 September 2014

FOUND - A Stylish Snake in the Grass

I found this snake-skin (maybe) bangle at an antiques fair at Kedleston Hall in Derby. (see Jaguar Fairs for future dates a locations). These traditional selling sprees, once a parade of brown furniture, old china and silver nick-nacks, are becoming style goldmines. From Bakelite jewelry to leather doctor bags, shift dresses to 70s sunglasses, vintage Vogue magazines to military overcoats, these markets are happy hunting grounds for the creative fashion magpie. Often set up around stately homes or interesting historic sites, antiques fairs are fantastic places to not only buy but to train the eye. Be sure to chat with stallholders - they've a wealth of information to impart. This bangle is brass on the inside so marries up perfectly with a super-thin brass bangle set I bought at a Ralph Lauren outlet shop some 20 years ago. The reptilian accessory was just £5.  

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

FOUND - Red Letter Day by the River

I found this Marimekko shirt at the Fara charity shop on the south west side of Richmond Bridge, TW1 2EB, a large, bright shop with a great mix of clothing and housewares. Featuring silver metal buttons this fashion find is akin to a denim shirt, but with stripes. Any number of designers have lead the Marimekko team over the years, but this is Finnish designer Vuokko Eskolin-Nurmesnieni signature print. Dubbed Jokapoika, it's a simple pattern that helped ensure Marimekko's global reputation. Vuokko joined Marimekko in 1953 and along with Maija Isola, was responsible for many of the company's most iconic patterns. This really is a piece fit for a design or fashion museum and to that end Vuokko's work is indeed part of the permanent collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I paid just £8.50 for this piece of fashion history.      
Tweet your best 2nd-hand style finds to 
@annielistening, #best2ndever

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

FOUND - Watercolour One Off Wonder

I found this dress at the Octavia Foundation charity shop in Ealing a few weeks ago. The brand name is Gianni Balenti. While it sounds Italian, research shows it's a trademark registered to Berkertex Ltd, located not in Milan, but Milton Keynes. Nevertheless this is a quality piece of 80s vintage. If the label didn't say polyester, I'd swear it was silk. The pattern - akin to a work of watercolour - is beautifully executed. Further it's finished off with details like silk cord piping around the neckline. On the cuffs, discretely woven into the fabric print the brand name appears - an expensive addition that makers of cheap, throw-away fashions would never dream of including. It's a 3 seasons frock, wearable year round with the exception of summer's hottest days. I take heart in the knowledge that my opposite number on the tube will not also be wearing this vintage stunner. My heart nearly bursts when I recall I paid just £14.99 for it. 
Next week post peek: 2nd-hand finds from 
my holiday in Chicago and NYC.

Monday, 15 September 2014

TRY THIS - Unloading Excess Baggage

This vintage, mint-condition pocketbook was given to me by my friend Miranda. It once belonged to her auntie and she felt it was in good hands with me. I was flattered and thrilled to have this stylish reminder of Miranda. She who stepped up enthusiastically to workshop a set of short plays I wrote a few years ago. For no money and no fanfare she joined me to create a tiny work of theatre. The generosity of actors, something that oft leaves me dumbstruck. Miranda has since left England, and her family, and everything that's familiar to pursue her acting career in Los Angles. Her determination and commitment to her craft inspires me. I see her beautiful mane of brown curls, catching the light, like the graduating colours of this bag. I slip the straps up over my wrist, hold it like a clutch, and it's transformed. Transformation: the actor's perpetual journey. 

Friday, 12 September 2014

FOUND - My 'Boyfriend' Gets Shirty

I found this boyfriend shirt at the Octavia Foundation charity shop in Ealing, West London. If boyfriend jeans are a must, then a quality boyfriend shirt is a hero in the making. This one is made by Harvie & Hudson, a London firm founded in 1949 with the third generation of H&H's now at the helm. All their shirts feature mother of pearl buttons, not plastic and their bespoke shirts are still made at their Jermyn Street headquarters. This is a quality garment; made from light weight but textured hounds tooth cotton, it's nicely shaped along the bottom hem. Important, as I'll wear it un-tucked with slim fit, cropped denim. Charity shops are absolutely heaving with men's shirts, so be selective. A label that says Jermyn Street is a good place to start. Some wear is important. You want your boyfriend to be soft and even a little worn. Current/Elliot, a high-end cult denim label, is offering a good-looking mannish shirt for women that retails for £305. This handsome devil was just a fiver.
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Thursday, 11 September 2014

FOUND - Making a Break from the Pack

I found this 100% silk top at the Cancer Research charity shop not far from Ealing Broadway Station. It's from Jigsaw, one of my preferred high-street retailers. Jigsaw, Toast, Boden and a few others create clothing that occasionally capture my imagination. It's their shops that leave me uninspired. Rails and rails of what are referred to as 'size runs' hang with lifeless organization; two size 8s, three size 10s, 3 size 12s, 2 size 14s and 2 size 16s. Repeat with dresses. Repeat with trousers. Repeat. Lined up like identical inmates waiting for day release, they take on a mob mentality. The lack of diversity on the rails leaves me stifled. Each piece's individuality is muffled as the spectacular order imposed on the merchandise serves to blind me to any sartorial potential. Of course, the sea of sameness inspires many shoppers, compelling them to reach for their wallets. But not me. Give me a rail full of one-offs, a riot of colour and texture, singing chaos and dancing diversity. Give me a typical charity shop selection and my style sense soars. This Jigsaw top, hanging hopefully between a purple cotton t-shirt and an 80s green print blouse, was just £5.     

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

TRY THIS - Tis The Season to Be Stylish

I found this 50s vintage bag at the Oxfam in Ealing. Featuring a heavy satin interior and matching coin purse, it was missing its chain handle. I took the bag and a string of red beads I found ages ago at the same Oxfam to my local jeweler. He happily attached the beads to the bag, making a perfect handle. The book is also an Oxfam find; this duo was a wonderful gift for my step-mother who collects vintage bags. We met my dad and step-mom in Chicago last week and as they suggested, celebrated Christmas in September, since we'll be back in London come the actual Ho Ho holiday. I was thrilled to be with them to exchange gifts and toast the season, albeit months in advance. Come on, Christmas is a state of mind (as well as a town in Florida). The handbag was £25 and the book was £3. Stylish Seasons Greetings!  

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

FOUND - Cashmere Cover Uncovered

I found this cashmere jumper at the Fara Charity shop in Chiswick near Turnham Green Station. It's the most beautiful shade of butter yellow, in good nick, with no moth holes. The only label in the garment is in the side and indicates the jumper was made in Scotland. Success! You can count on the Scots for quality cashmere. I found it in the men's section of the shop. TOP TIP: Always pick through men's 2nd-hand, always. This softie is marked XL but if this is a MAN's extra large, I'm a pot plant. I suspect it's a woman's extra large, and while not actually overly big, it's spot-on for me. A sumptuous basic, perfect for travel and layering. It was £12.

Monday, 8 September 2014

FOUND - Sheer Bliss in Richmond

I found this chiffon scarf at the Mary Portas Living & Giving shop in Richmond. It's a tiny space, with a lovely view across Richmond Green, run by super friendly staff. Chiffon scarves may be considered ultra-vintage or even old-fashioned, but paired with a woolly knit or soft opaque cashmere, you begin to create a texture story that's winter style at it's best. Sure, this scarf reminds me of my childhood, a bonus. I can see either of my grandmothers wearing a chiffon scarf around their sky-high hair. Whether to protected tresses carefully wound round fat pink rollers or to save a freshly done do from the elements, the sheer blissful memory of a chiffon scarf makes me smile. Wish I could buy both those amazing women a drink in The Prince's Head (CLICK), just next door to Mary's (we highly recommend this pub). Plenty of dosh leftover from my scarf buy - the see-thru sensation was just 3 quid.            

Friday, 5 September 2014

TRY THIS - Make the Most of a Market

I found both these bracelets (bangles even!) at Shepherds Bush Market in London. The market is dwarfed by the retail playground that is Westfields. While admittedly it won't be everyone's cup of tea, I'd take this market over a mall every time. Westfields may have anything you'd want to buy, but Shepherds Bush Market is an inspiring feast for the eyes. With the smell of falafel, the best I've eaten in ages, wafting through the air, this market - offering more new than used - is a riot of colour, form and proportion. The building blocks of style. 

"All the kids in the market place say: 
Walk like an Egyptian"
                   -The Bangles

No, you won't find the latest A/W 14 runway sensation, but you will find stunning garments crafted from African wax print, handmade in a tiny stall barely big enough for seamstress and sewing machine. You'll find every size and shaped nylon night gown in the world, but look closely and you'll find a few cotton varieties as well. Plastic fruit, coloured zippers, fake flowers, beach balls, hand towels, bed spreads, strainers, drainers, kaftans, petroleum jelly, real fruit, real veg, cheap luggage, hardware, soft furnishings and more are on offer. The stallholders hailing from at least 3 continents are friendly and approachable. These bracelet were £2.99 apiece. The afternoon stroll through the market, exhilarating.            

Thursday, 4 September 2014

TRY THIS - Damsel Duster in Distress

I pulled this gorgeous girl at Cologne & Cotton (CLICK) on Marylebone High Street but she wasn't exactly brand new. While modelled after an old-style novelty clothes brush, she was probably mass-made in the last few years. Dumped on a table of sale bits and bobs, she was sold 'as is.' The 'as is' was an unwound skirt. Her pink grosgrain ribbon middle had come undone. Don't you hate it when that happens? I snapped her up, couldn't resist. This damsel was in distress and I intend to rescue her. Once home, I carefully re-wound her ribbon and stitched it in place. Good as new, 'Trixie' now confidently bosses my dressing table. In perfect nick, a version of her was £18 - faltering but fixable I got this gal for just £7. Look carefully at 'as is' offerings - for half you can often make them whole again. 

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

FOUND - T-Shirt with the Feelgood Factor

I found this Dr Feelgood gig t-shirt in my husband's cupboard. When he bought it I didn't know him or the band, the Atlantic Ocean separated us. In 1971, on Canvey Island, Essex, Dr Feelgood formed an R&B group led by the energetic guitar riffs of Wilko Johnson, featuring the vocal interpretations of Lee Brilleaux. My husband's band - JB and The Wolfmen - perform Feelgood songs, in fact I heard my husband sing She Does It Right long before I had any idea who this Brilleaux character was, God rest his soul. When I wear this t-shirt, quite simply the coolest thing I own, men notice. Dr Feelgood followers are loyal to be sure and mostly blokes. My musical credentials, virtually nil, sky rocket when I don this faded bit of jersey. I pair it with a velvet blazer and occasionally a long red silk scarf. For the way it makes me feel, I thank the good Doctor and my supremely cool husband - it's simply priceless. 

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

FOUND - Leather With My Name On It

I found this hand-tooled leather bag at the Trinity Hospice near the South Kensington tube station. This bag sings of the Wild West with a harmony that recalls something from my childhood. When I was a kid I imagined the women who carried these sorts of handbags were not only well-healed but well-travelled. I'd yet to venture west of the Mississippi River so an accessory like this whispered, 'I've been there. You haven't.' Every year my family did travel to Lake Erie, essentially the Ohio coastline, to a huge amusement park called Cedar Point. Along with cotton candy, roller coaster rides & giant souvenir pencils, you could buy a custom-made leather ID bracelet. A man with a degree of expertise would 'hand tool' your name into a strap with a snap that you wore around your wrist. The 12-year-old custom was to then exchange the ID bracelet with a boy you fancied. Bill Hunt and I made the swap, although by the end of summer he'd already asked for his back. Early heartache and a lesson in falling too fast. Even though it was £45, I fell hard for this tough but lady-like leather lovely. 

Monday, 1 September 2014

TRY THIS - Big, Beautiful Scarf x 2

This amazing raw silk scarf was given to me by a Cambodian woman who headed a democracy building program in the country. For a month, many years ago, I scurried round the streets of Phnom Penh on the back of a motorbike or wedged into the seat of a pedal powered rickshaw. This colourful woven fabric, a spectacular reminder of the most truly exotic place I've ever been. But I found it was too big. For years I tried to wear it and while the length was perfect the width made it an unwieldy neck piece. Finally though, the light bulb came on and I had it cut in half, the raw edge sewn, leaving me with two long but thinner scarves. I gave the newly created 2nd to my sister. I've now got a wonderful exotic scarf that works, and so does she. 
Huntress is proud to report our necktie project is featured 
as Make of the Month on The Good Wardrobe. Click Here.