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Friday, 30 January 2015

FOUND - Country Cool in Steamy Soho

I found this cotton, unlined, full skirt at Bang Bang on Berwick Street CLICK HERE. Designed by Aquascutum, it's beautifully made, and once paired with a thin denim shirt and my Mulberry belt CLICK HERE, will combine for the sort of English preppy vibe that is right up my fashion thoroughfare. For Spring style I'll top the Aquascutum skirt with my old faithful Burberry trench. These two classic Brit brands are retailing rivals so I can't resist wearing them well and at once. I'm nothing if not a style peacemaker. The skirt was £15.  

Thursday, 29 January 2015

TRY THIS - Collar Public School Chic

I found this man's shirt at Mary's Living & Giving shop in Ealing. It was made by New & Lingwood CLICK HERE, not just a shirt maker but a men's outfitter dating back to the 1800s. Miss Elizabeth New and Mr Samuel Lingwood established the company in 1865. A female founder, and unmarried at that, is unusual for a 150-year-old men's clothier (she would eventually make an honest man of Samuel). Located in Eton, New & Lingwood were official outfitters to Eton College, the renowned English public school. By 1922 the company had opened a shop in Jermyn Street but it was sadly destroyed in the Blitz. After the war N&L situated itself on the corner of Piccadilly Arcade where it remains to this day. 

A quality garment, this shirt is softened to perfection from previous wear. If you buy only one thing in charity shops, make it a versatile, well-made men's shirt. It will be your perfect beach cover-up, sleep shirt and casual denim partner. Tied at the waist in the summer or hanging out of a cropped jacket in winter, quality shirts, as Miss Elizabeth knew, well serve stylish men and women alike. This cotton candy striped 2nd-hander was just £6.99.  

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

TRY THIS - Stylish Buys & Sparkling Skies

I found these sparkling paste bangles at a Saturday 2nd-hand market in the seaside town of Deal, Kent. This small but perfectly formed buyers' delight is located in Union Road car park in the 'Old Town' CLICK HERE. Traders are friendly but pack up promptly at 3pm. Once the market moves on, Deal's clutch of antique shops, vintage emporiums and charity shops will keep a 2nd-hand shopper happy for the balance of an afternoon. I'd plenty of spending left over from my bracelet buy, these dazzlers were just £3. 

On this visit to Deal we booked in at bright and cozy Turnstone Cottage CLICK HERE. Teaming with quirky twists and turns, the seaside 2-bedroom home, stocked full of amenities, is the perfect HQ for exploring the Kent coast. The Middle Street Fish Bar is a 'must eat' CLICK HERE and The Ship, also on Middle Street, has a relaxed but traditional pub vibe. The new fast trains whizzed us into Deal from London St Pancras in under 90 minutes - sparkling sky and sea beckoned us the moment we disembarked. This lovely little (high speed) whistle stop has become my home-from-home, a peaceful but buzzy village with lively pubs, 2nd-hand hot spots, welcoming people and an unending view of the sea. 

Monday, 26 January 2015

FOUND - Dress Takes A Kew from Batik

I found this cotton dress by Kew at the Trinity Hospice charity shop near the South Kensington tube station. It combines two of my favourite style turns - a shirt waist and a vibrant pattern. This fabric is aping traditional batik, a printing process that uses wax to displace dye. Wax is brushed or drawn on parts of the fabric. Dye adheres to the un-waxed areas, leaving behind the desired pattern. If this dress were made from actual batik cloth I'd feel like I'd won the lottery. My batik-ish garment is more like finding a tenner in an old handbag; not the lottery but lucky all the same. I'll push the seasons by pairing it with a wool hacking jacket and tights for an early Spring dress debut, but once Summer arrives (and it will) this cotton staple will come into its own teamed with espadrilles and a straw bag. A fantastic find at just, you guessed it, £10.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

FOUND - Selfie And The City

I find hand-held technology remarkable. That said, I don't have a smart phone or a tablet, and my MP3 player is gathering dust in my desk drawer. The sights and sounds of the city so heavily inspire what I wear and write that I can't afford to block them out with 'personal' music or lower my eyes in favour of a blinking screen. I have however lately snapped a handful of selfies, with a camera (not a phone). This pop culture portrait phenomenon and its limited perspective quickly left me spiritless. But as soon as I turned the lens outward, something far more interesting developed. 

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

TRY THIS - Teachings of Untouched Toys

At 50-years-old, I find I'm still attracted to dolls. I couldn't resist this wee Japanese cutie, spotted at the Octavia charity shop in Ealing last week for £1.50. The white porcelain lady was a gift from a friend, the tiny pink mistress - a brooch - was found on Ebay CLICK HERE and the brush babe an 'as-is' bargain buy CLICK HERE. When I was a girl, I loved my dolls with abandon, resulting in Barbies with mismatched shoes and a Raggedy Ann that was far more raggedy than Ann. 

I wonder if my grown-up fascination is misguided atonement for the childish, even reckless attention I lavished on dollies long gone? Sadly these modern-day dears pictured, collected and cared for, enjoy no fun and games. These are fashion curios rather than play things. These do not star in immature but imaginative dramas, they do not converse with green plastic Army men or ride about on the shoulders of hand-knit teddy bears. A lesson for this living doll? Indeed. At 50, at any age maybe, let me be a moppet with mismatched shoes rather than an impeccable figurine, cherished but untouched. 

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

TRY THIS - Stylish Finds Down on the Farm

At the weekend I found this gorgeous hand-made bag at Duck Pond Market in Ruislip, North West London CLICK HERE. What a find, both the purse and the place! This leather accessory is the work of Amma Gyan, a skilled designer whose jewellery has featured on the shelves of high-street retailer Jigsaw. A Londoner born in Ghana, Amma's designs (see more below) combine leather and metals in a manner that is warm and inviting. Teamed with vintage, these well-made accessories keep your 2nd-hand style looking fresh and modern. To see Amma's complete line CLICK HERE.

Duck Pond Market is located in a lovely barn on the grounds of Manor Farm in the borough of Hillingdon CLICK HERE. The site - the remains of a pre-Norman Motte and Baily fort - boasts an extensive series of barns and outbuildings that house artisan workshops, an impressive library, a 350-seat theatre and more. It's a lovely natural setting not far from the high street. 

The afternoon was topped off with a tipple in The Duck House, a friendly pub in the shadow of Manor Farm CLICK HERE. The next Duck Pond Market is scheduled for Sunday 15 February. See you there.

Monday, 19 January 2015

FOUND - It's My Cuppa' Silk Skirt, OK?

I found this Orla Kiely lined, silk skirt at The Cat Charity shop on Pitshanger Lane in Ealing. Kiely is an Irish print designer who experienced success after Harrods bought her degree show. She'd been designing for Esprit but with encouragement from her husband established her own label in 1997. Today her simple but evocative repeating patterns can be found on everything from backpacks to bed sheets, and on anyone from The Duchess of Cambridge to Huntress London. This skirt's colour combinations grabbed me from the get-go and once I realized it was OK (Orla Kiely), I snapped it up feeling both smug and lucky. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that it wasn't until I pinned it to the fence to click this picture that I properly saw the coffee pot pattern. For me, this skirt was a series of interesting circles and spaces, conceptual rather than actual. I pride myself on my eye for detail but the strong imagery initially eluded me. All's well, as I am the consummate coffee drinker - me and joe are the best of friends. If you're looking for a relaxing spot to sit and enjoy a mug of java in Ealing, my patch, might I suggest The Electric CLICK HERE. In addition to quality coffee, the staff are friendly and the view over Haven Green, well, green. My 2nd-hand find was £14.99. I've plenty left in my pocket for a black Americano and maybe a slice of banana cake.
For more Orla Kiely CLICK HERE  

Friday, 16 January 2015

TRY THIS - Face It, She's Better With Age

I find 2nd-hand infinitely more interesting than brand new, hence Huntress London. It seems new fashions only become significant to me once they've been knocked around. I bought this Mulberry bag in 2003, a time in my life when while I had a bit of dosh, I was unsettled, in transition, searching. I'd taken time off from 'real' work to write. Write, I did not, instead I wandered (the streets of Central London) and wondered (lost in my own thoughts). One day while weaving my way around Oxford Street, down along St Christopher's Place, I spotted this decidedly un-Mulberry bag in a shop window. 

In a moment of madness I walked into the shop and said, "I'll take it." I've never regretted the pricey purchase, it's a striking, well-made bag from a classic British fashion house. All the same, she sat in my closet, nearly unused, for years. I could always find something more appealing to sling over my shoulder. Then one day I noticed the wine-coloured leather trim was coming away from the tapestry. I immediately had the bag repaired by a local, reliable shoe guy and voilĂ ! I fell head-over-heels in love with her. Over time she enjoyed more wear and tear, acquiring a patina that said she was full of experience and purpose. Not unlike me.  

Thursday, 15 January 2015

TRY THIS - Be Emboldened by Bloggers

I found this striking necklace - metal and stone - at the Mind charity shop across the road from Highgate tube station. Looking like a one-off unearthed on an exotic holiday, it's weighty and well-traveled. Once home though, the £4.99 find felt surprisingly pedestrian. I'd planned to use it as 'filler' in the neck of a crisp with shirt but somehow the effect was wanting. However the necklace won't be re-donated to my local charity shop, for mercifully styling rescue arrived this week in the form of a fellow fashion blogger. Alyson, freelance journalist, former fashion editor and creator of That's Not My Age CLICK HERE, re-introduced me to accessorizing aristocrat, Loulou de la Falaise. Alyson's recent blog post is a compelling case for a coffee table tome about the Yves Saint Laurent muse and accessory designer (published by Rizzoil). The stunning photos in the post (and book) gave my stale styling vibe fresh stimulation. Do CLICK HERE for a sneak peek at LouLou's jewellery genius. 

This is what my fellow blogger inspired. Three very different necklaces combining for a look that is greater than the sum of its parts. My charity shop find is topped with a string of heavy gold beads I picked up ages ago at the American discount retailer Target. It's actually a quality item, a staple that style shifts depending on what it accompanies. Nestled between the two is a pendant created by Pididdly Links bought in 1994 on an interminable car journey through upstate New York. In 1969 Pididdly Links began creating Victorian-inspired high-quality costume jewellery in Lake Katrine, NY. The company stopped production in 1995, but not before I got hold of my gold medal girl. I like to think this trio, now a singular sensation, would leave Loulou positively spellbound.  

Thanks That's Not My Age.  

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

TRY THIS - Be Inspired by the Flapper in You

I found this book at the Cancer Research charity shop in Putney. I'm not alone, I don't suspect, in my fascination with the 1920s, a "dangerous generation." The 6 women featured in Flappers include socialite Diana Cooper, activist Nancy Cunard, actress Tallulah Bankhead, dancer Josephine Baker, painter Tamara de Lempicka and 20s flag bearer Zelda Fitzgerald. 
"None of them got as far as they wanted, and they all had to settle for being artistic rather than artists."                     The Guardian 
I'm particularly drawn to Zelda - the wife of F Scott - for like me, she was an aspiring writer born in Alabama. My Southern roots aren't deep. I've no independent memory of the small military town, Ozark, where I was born. But it is in fact the sheer brevity of my early time in Dixie that makes the place and its people all the more compelling in my head. My mother tells a story of finding a snake in my baby shoe one morning and recalls the real poverty they faced trying to make ends meet on my father's Army salary. Accounts of Zelda's life and my own recreate the American South in my imagination, at once dark and garish. It's a mysterious never-never landscape that I cannot resist visiting.      

For the full review of Flappers in The Guardian CLICK HERE

Monday, 12 January 2015

FOUND - The Definition of 2nd-hand Style

I find my husband's style sense both thoughtful and bold. While everyone in his office is wearing chinos and relaxed shirts, he wears a suit five days week. It's the punk in him - that tearaway need to be outside the everyday, to defy not just authority but the norm. So while his suited & booted, shirt & tied attire may look ordinary to you, in his professional but casual environment he's an iconoclast. Look closely, you'll see only white shirts, brogues by Doc Martin of course, 40 or 50s neckties with non-repeating patterns are preferred and there'll be a tie pin holding the look together. Not any tie pin mind, my husband has definite ideas about this little piece of man bling - definite, undefinable ideas. For me, his constant search for suitable ties and tie pins make him my favourite 2nd-hand wing man. Together we can quietly scourer a vintage market with an eye for one another's perfect finds. In addition to his own sartorial accessories, he's spotted countless fashion books for me and uncovered several sensational silk scarves. His interest in history and memories of his well turned-out granddad fuel his 2nd-hand clothing choices. Along with a gentle push from me of course. 

Does your partner find 2nd-hand
first class or third rate? 

Friday, 9 January 2015

FOUND - Passing the Hat? No Way!

I find my friends' relationships with their mothers endlessly compelling. Our moms, live fun fair mirrors reflecting their daughters, are the first women to shape us, even in their absence. My friend Monica (pictured above) has inherited the easy grace of her mother Maria, as well as her eye for tip-top pre-owned fashions. When Monica returned home to Toronto for Christmas this year, her mom had tracked down, among many other first class 2nd-hand bargains, this made-to-measure mink hat. While fur is not for everyone, for me 2nd-hand fur is fair game. Mom Maria picked it up for just $10.   

The daughter on the subject of her Austrian mother (pictured above)--
"When her family's fortunes were lost during the War, her mother, my Omama, became a seamstress for well-connected friends. Omama could see an image in a magazine and replicate it. My mom has an even keener eye, I think, and appreciates great fabrics and designs despite not being a fashionista or following trends. Her tastes lean toward classic but she has a real appreciation for new takes on time-honored styles. When she visits London, countless days were spent walking up to Hampstead to find a gently-worn tweed, a Burberry coat, or anything that was Made in England. Clothing that's edgy, black and short, she calls 'punk.' She pioneered her way to Canada in the early sixties as a recently graduated physiotherapist. Some 50+ years later, she enjoys herself at estate sales, church bazaars in posh neighborhoods and charity shops..."

Together, Monica and her mother wrote this deliciously charming cookbook, The Viennese Kitchen, based on family recipes CLICK HERE. As this book illustrates, mothers and daughters make formidable teams. So I tip my hat to both of these talented, well-dressed style hunters. 

Thursday, 8 January 2015

FOUND - A Ticket to Cheap Chic

I found this style guide at the Cancer Research charity shop in Kilburn CLICK HERE. I was in the area to see The House That Will Not Stand at The Tricycle Theatre, indeed the most memorable play I saw in 2014. I headed over early, hoping the buzzy high street would reveal some 2nd-hand secrets. Seems the stars were aligned on the day because I bagged a book apropos of the evening. The House That Will Not Stand is set in New Orleans, 1836. Following an era of French colonial rule, Louisiana's "free people of colour" are prospering, but at a price. This remarkable drama, brimming with vibrant and compelling female characters, stormed the stage, and my imagination for days to follow. So it seemed a cherry on my theatrical sundae to find a fashion book with a French connection and female author. I was a bit sniffy about this book when it hit the shelves, feeling I had it up to my oo la la with so-called French fashion supremacy. However, this is a terrific read full of specific and inspirational style advice, as well as small French shop recommendations. The book was £2, less than a tub of ice cream at the interval. 

Eurostar is currently offering £59 
trips to Paris CLICK HERE (book before 14 Jan)  

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

FOUND - It's Got All the Bells & Whistles

I found this Whistles jumper at the Barnardos charity shop in Chiswick not far from Turnham Green tube station CLICK HERE. There's a Whistles retail shop around the corner from where I found the stripy sparkler, making it all the more satisfying. I'm a fan of Whistles ethos and the feminine utilitarianism of the brand and its founder Jane Shepherdson CLICK HERE. Frankly I like the idea of buying women's clothing from a company headed by a woman. If I could afford Ms Shepherdson's fashions, her shops would be my high street home. Instead I always look out for the Whistles' label - the newer grey & white version, as well as the old school cream & pink one - on charity shop rails. While rewards are rare, as this find proves, Whistles is not unheard of in 2nd-hand shops. At just £5.99, this sweater sounds very good indeed. 

Monday, 5 January 2015

TRY THIS - Exhibit V&A: Walk This Way

I found this large coffee table book about shoes at the Oxfam on Marylebone Road. A dream shop, three quarters of its floor space is shelves of well-organized books while the remaining quarter is given over to high quality 2nd-hand clothing and accessories. Recently while in New York City I popped into the Killer Heels exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum CLICK HERE. Among other spectacular items, I was able to view up close the famed shoe-hat fashioned by personal style hero Elsa Schiaparelli. If you're planning a trip to the Big Apple do not overlook Brooklyn and its impressive museum. Along with a herd of historic footwear, the museum boasts a quirky gift shop where I walked away with this soleful bracelet made of plastic Barbie shoes. Buying new is not my style, but occasionally I give pristine fashions a 2nd chance. Interestingly in June, Shoes: Pleasure & Pain opens at the V&A in London CLICK HERE. I'm looking forward to the fancy footwork sure to be on show. Exhibits like these inspire our dress sense but also remind us that fashion marches in step with history and human endeavor. The shoe book was £8.99. 

To follow the V&A's 
Pleasure & Pain Blog CLICK HERE 

Friday, 2 January 2015

FOUND - Style You Can Take to the Bank

I found this Christian Dior coat circa 1990 in my mom's closet. She hadn't worn it in years and most of the shiny CD-inscribed buttons were missing. She happily let me have it, and while it took me ages to find decent button replacements, it was worth the effort. Through much of my life, my mom worked at The Metropolitan Bank, a locally-owned savings institution in the small Ohio town where I grew up. She 'dressed' five days a week, decked out in a skirt suit, heels and pantyhose. After years of service, the bank gave her this ring, another style marker in my mother's life that she passed on to me. 

I can picture her in The Met Bank, a good-looking, highly accomplished career woman who could count money really fast. To this day her style and confident attitude influences what I wear and who I am. Barbara Ann, my mother, looked formidable but feminine in this spectacularly long coat. Because I walk and take public transport, I've toughened it up, making the military topper urban, edgy, and just a little bit punk. Donning something that belonged to my mom feels as once stylish and safe. Nab a bit of kit from your mom, gran, sister, auntie or even your dad - it feels good to keep fashion in the family.

Happy New Year Style Hunters - 
All the Best in 2015!

Thursday, 1 January 2015

TRY THIS - New Year, New Perspective

I find New Year's Resolutions hard to keep. This year, rather than trying to up end my world, only to find it crumbled around my feet, I'm simply adjusting my focus. In 2015 I'm going to,

1 Compliment friends more often. CLICK HERE

2 Compliment strangers, without appearing strange. CLICK HERE

3 Get off the tube 3 or 4 stops earlier and walk the rest of the way to my destination.

4 Return to my Thursday morning yoga class at the Brentham Club. If you live in Ealing, Victoria is an excellent instructor. CLICK HERE

5 Have a clear out. A little bit from every room will get bagged and donated to charity shops.

6 Eat only really good chocolate, dark, high quality. Once a week.

That's it. Oh, and I'll be posting 4 days a week in the coming year. I started my blog by posting 7 days a week, then dropped back to 5 days. Now that Huntress London is established, 4 days a week seems the perfect posting point. Thanks for your sartorial support and happy 2nd-hand hunting in 2015.