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Friday, 27 February 2015

FOUND - Boy That Husband Can Hunt

I find my husband's become a superb 2nd-hand hunter. He senses my need for big bright bangles is rivaled only by my desire for fascinating fashion books. Observing Huntress in action, he's seen her pass over Gok Wan's literary musings on style and politely ignore Trinny and Susannah's warnings on What Not To Wear - book shelf stalwarts in any self-respecting charity shop. Mr. Hunter understands I'm picky when it comes to publica-tions. Armed with informed but realistic style targets, his hunting is proving exceptionally fruitful. Look, he's never going to spot the mint vintage handbag or ideal slouchy 2nd-hand trousers - and hey that's my job anyway! But when it comes to a bangle or book he's Top Dog, as this spectacular paperback from the British Heart Foundation in Streatham beautifully illustrates. Keep 'em coming Big Man -    


CLICK HERE for more stylish reads
from Huntress over on the Oxfam Fashion Blog 

Thursday, 26 February 2015

FOUND - Cashmere For Mere Cash


I found this cashmere sweater at the Scope charity shop in Ruislip, north west London. According to Nina Garcia, author of The One Hundred, A Guide to the Pieces Every Woman Must Own, we "first began craving cashmere in 1937, when Lana Turner wore her tight cashmere sweater in the film They Won't Forget." And I think this very berry pullover paired with slouchy black trousers and white brogues will indeed sparkle with casual Hollywood glamour. As Spring in London seeks to make her debut, colourful short-sleeved knitwear won't go amiss. I'm a fan of popping hot pink that's soft, woolly and warm, but who isn't? And it cost me less than a ticket to the pictures - just £5.

Lana Turner in They Won't Forget

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

FOUND - Red Rises from The Ashes

I found this wool, fully-lined dress at the Fara charity shop in Chiswick, near the Turnham Green tube station. It's from Boden, a UK clothier that launched in 1991 with 8 menswear products. A year later they began offering women's wear, now the more substantial of the two ranges CLICK HERE. I have a love/hate relationship with Boden - can't live with it, can't live without it. Clothes on offer are well-made but about half Boden's styles miss the mark in terms of cut and colour. Even this gorgeous red dress will need a bit of tweaking. The odd sleeve length - just above the elbow - is wonky (technical term). In fact, I suspect it's why this frock was donated to Fara - it's hardly been worn. Time and time again, I think the previous owner popped it on only to find it wasn't quite right. The red sleeves align with the bust creating a wadge of uninterrupted colour from shoulder to elbow. Shorter sleeves will transform the dress. Don't dismiss quality clothing with defects - use your sewing skills or a tailor to stitch a winner. My problematic but promising frock was £12. 

Monday, 23 February 2015

TRY THIS - Make a Date with Paste

I find myself longing to sew, paint and draw, but sadly I'm unskilled when it comes to manual crafts. I'm tempted to say I've two left hands but aren't southpaws well-known for their artistic dexterity? While I can turn a phrase, turning-up a trouser leg is well and truly beyond me. 

However, it is possible for the craft-less to conjure a project. Glue stick at the ready, I cobbled together these party invitations all by myself. Old black & white postcards spotted at Oxfam in Ealing are my foundation. Interesting bits and pieces cut from magazines and free catalogs are added. Place, paste and like magic it seems even I'm crafty.

Party details - date, time, place - are simply handwritten on the back of the cards. Popping with personality, I think these rival any store-bought variety. The 12 old postcards were 10p apiece and the glue stick a pound. The feeling of DIY pride - priceless.

These unique little mementos remind everyone that we're off to Zedel's CLICK HERE in March to celebrate my friend Susan's 70th birthday - paper scene stealers that perfectly suit the stylish septuagenarian tucked in our handbags.     

Friday, 20 February 2015

FOUND - Classic Coat Is A Real Belter

I found this classic safari jacket at the Cat Charity shop on lovely Pitshanger Lane, Ealing. It was created by Poivre Blanc, a French company founded in 1984 and best known for ski and tennis gear. Safari jackets however are a much older proposition, probably dating back as far as the 1800s when military officials wore them in far flung tropical climates. By 1968 Yves Saint Laurent re-imagined the utilitarian garment, revealing it in his Saharieene Collection. And when model Veruschka was photographed for Vogue wearing the YSL safari jacket, mini-skirt, floppy hat and low-slung belt CLICK HERE, sartorial history was made. My 2nd-hand jacket came with a matching belt that I'll wear with a dress or trousers. Pairing this jacket with my military belt (yesterday's post CLICK HERE) adds interest and an air of high-end. I'll pop it on over cropped, faded black jeans and pointy leopard-print flats. I bagged this useful classic for just £4.99. 


Thursday, 19 February 2015

FOUND - Military Style's Music To My Ears

I found this military belt at Full House, a clearance and antiques shop on Park Street in Deal, on the Kent coast. Due to its location as a point of embarkation for ships anchored in the Downs, Deal has been associated with The Royal Marines since it was established in 1755. Deal Barracks was constructed shortly after the French Revolution and it was the East barracks that would eventually become the home of the Royal Marines School of Music. In 1989 it was bombed by the IRA resulting in the death of 11 Marine band members as well as many more injuries. In 1996 a special musical ceremony saw The Royal Marine Band Service move from its home in Deal to new quarters in Portsmouth. Every year the Marine Band returns to a bandstand in Deal for a musical display that attracts over 10,000 people. 

I was concerned about wearing the belt, but I've been assured by servicemen and women alike that it not disrespectful for this civilian to wear the well-made and stylish accessory. I paid just £12 for this very special bit of kit. 

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

TRY THIS - Black Brit Experience at V&A

I found the V&A Exhibit, Staying Power: Photographs of British Black Experience 1950s-1990s that opened yesterday both absorbing and optimistic CLICK HERE. Over the last 7 years the V&A has worked with the Black Cultural Archives to acquire images that document the lives of black people in Britain. Supported by Heritage Lottery Funding, the museum has collected 118 works by 17 artists in an effort to beef up their collection.

Al Vandenberg, 'High Street Kensington' from the series 'On a Good Day'   
(c) The Estate of Al Vandenberg / Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The photo above was part of a grouping by Al Vadenberg that were collectively my favourite. Vadenberg lived in New York City in the 60s but would later move to London. He combined street photography with portraiture, posing his subjects, often outside shop fronts. They include a photo of school girls preening for the camera. It seems clear that for these young women the camera retained a magical quality. While they're light-hearted, the girls radiate respect for the process of being photographed. There's also a photo of a woman wearing roller skates who caught my eye - her rope belt something I intend to style into my look come summer. 

Nomski, 'African Homeboy - Brixton, London 1987' printed 2011
(c) Nomski/ Victoria & Albert, London

This photo, part of a trio on exhibit by Nomski, held my attention. While the man may be trying to appear ominous, it's not working. I wonder if his sense of style trumps his desire to intimidate? Another photo of 3 young women entitled 'She Rockers (London Rap/Dance Crew),' shows tough, urban girl friends. But like the photo above, the violent insignia that often adorn contemporary gang culture is absent. The 'She Rockers' appear fresh faced, even naive.        

Neil Kenlock, ‘Untitled [Young woman seated on the floor at home in front of her television 
set]' C- type print, London, 1972, (c) Neil Kenlock/ Victoria & Albert, London

Neil Kenlock's quartet of photos, including the one above, show what appears to be a family (mother, father, daughter and young son) posed with their possessions. I'm drawn to the pattern clashing and matching that dominates this photo. For me, their home is this family's canvas and I envy their courageous and idiosyncratic style.      

JD Okhai Ojeikere, 'Untitled, HG423-04 from the series Headties
silver gelatin print, Nigeria, 2004, From The Estate of
JD Okhai Ojeikere/ Victoria & Albert, London  

Eight photos by JD Okahi Ojeikere, like this, show 4 head ties and 4 contemporary black hair styles. Each set of images, one traditional and one modern, offers up remarkable style sculptures. While we cannot see the women's faces, these imagines are surprisingly personal. The back of the human neck, such a vulnerable place - both strong and sensitive. 

The exhibition runs until 24 May and is free of charge. If you're in the area, I urge you to view these photos and the others on offer. Running alongside the V&A Exhibit is a Staying Power selection of photos at the Black Cultural Archives CLICK HERE. Founded in 1981, Black Cultural Archives' mission is to collect, preserve and celebrate the heritage and history of black people in Britain. Staying Power serves as example of why London is a vibrant, buzzing, world city - an institutional partnership, supported by public funding, produces a thoughtful, stylish and FREE exhibition. 

Monday, 16 February 2015

FOUND - My Style Staple Supreme

I found this denim shirt at the Children's Society charity shop on Pitshanger Lane in Ealing. This one (I have several. Okay 5.) is made by Lee, a company founded by Henry David Lee in 1889 when he opened his first garment factory in Salina, Kansas. Throughout the 1920s Lee unveiled various denim innovations, most notably the zipper fly. In the 30s and 40s the company continued to grow, becoming America's number one manufacturer of work clothing. Even more than denim trousers, denim shirts are a must have for me, working seamlessly in almost any circumstance. Paired with slouchy wool trousers and I'm an urban Land Girl. With a sequinned skirt, the denim shirt transforms evening gear into daytime chic. It multi-tasks as a bathing suit cover-up, making my luggage that much lighter. And under a cashmere or wool jumper, it allows me to layer like a pro. My denim shirt selection includes dark washes, light washes, short sleeve, slim-fit and over-sized. I only hunt for classic denim brands - Levis, Lee and Wrangler. I urge you to get hold of a denim shirt - perfectly worn 2nd-handers are easy to find - and put it to work in your wardrobe. You'll wonder how you've managed without it. My latest "cannot live without" shirt was just £4.99.  

Saturday, 14 February 2015

BONUS POST - Happy V-Day Bargain Lovers

I find Valentines Day a frustrating holiday. Like New Year's Eve, when we're required to have more drunken fun than ever before, on Valentines Day amour and more is forcibly de rigueur. Well, kiss my arsy-varsy St Valentine! I'm not keen on compulsory sentiment, but I do appreciate a well-timed 2nd-hand gift. Yesterday, before today's frantic romantic celebration, my husband gave me this huge Taschen tome, spotted in the window of the British Heart Foundation (naturally) in Streatham. Taschen books CLICK HERE were launched by a clever comic book collecting kid in Cologne in 1980. Today Taschen is synonymous with Big Beautiful Art Book. I don't know what my husband paid for this lovely page turner, full of photographs, illustrations and maps but I know, like me, he loves a bargain! 

Friday, 13 February 2015

TRY THIS - Fraught Films Were The Fashion

I found this book, copyright 1967, in a lovely old bookshop in Penzance called simply Books, 9 Chapel Street. The shop is next to Steckfenster's, a large, wonderful, quirky, slightly untidy 2nd-hand shop that I highly recommend CLICK HERE. A fictional account of the making of a Hollywood blockbuster, The Trojans unfolds via the voices of a colourful cast of insiders. Margaret Dayton, the starlet, has disappeared from the set of Helen of Troy on location in Greece. The film's producer, director, Margaret's mother, her agent, her writer-husband and others fill in the details of the mystery, as they see them. The Trojans is surely inspired by the real life and wildly fraught film-making of Cleopatra staring Elizabeth Taylor, as well as Marilyn Monroe's marriage to writer Arthur Miller. With great human insight and a compelling plot line, Wirt Williams' novel brings a bygone time in Old Hollywood history to sizzling life. On the book jacket, grumpy ole' Ernest Hemingway is quoted, saying, "I think Writ Williams writes as well as anybody writing." High praise indeed from an author who often had scant respect for his peers. I paid £7 for this beautiful hardback edition.    

Search The Trojans in charity shops or 
to find it on Amazon CLICK HERE  

Thursday, 12 February 2015

FOUND - A Cheap & Charmful Armful

I found this stack of plastic bangles at Oxfam in Ealing. I often talk about searching out quality; well-made 2nd-hand pieces, fashioned from silks, wools and brushed cottons that have been looked after by previous owners are what we hunters want. Now and then however, quality is trumped by quantity. These eight plastic, oddly coloured bracelets, combined with 4 wooden ones I already had, make a strong stylish statement that I think Muiccia Prada would find appealing. Their clink clinky sound is sartorial music to my ears. Their £1.98 price tag, an artistic miniature for the eyes.   

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

FOUND - Charity Shop's Just the Ticket

I found this silk scarf at Mary's Living & Giving shop in Richmond, South West London. Its slightly subversive illustrations are courtesy of Adam Dant, a Jerwood Drawing Prize-winning artist, heralded for his Hogarthian graphic interpretations. I work at The National Theatre and coveted this scarf when it appeared in The NT Book Shop CLICK HEREI wanted it but walked away stung by the +£100 price tag. It's since dropped to £70 but that's still a "center stalls" price and I've more of a "back of the circle, with a partially obstructed view" budget.

So last weekend I felt like a Tony Award winner when I found this quirky accessory brand new with box for £15 at Mary's tiny charity shop gem on sunny Richmond Green. Yes £15! And here, in this scarf, the real beauty of charity shop hunting is revealed. That right-time-right-place my-lucky-day exhilaration that makes clothing more than clothing is the hallmark of shopping 2nd-hand. Every few months I find something I adored new on the cheap in a charity shop. From a Boden full-skirted dress to Jigsaw satin shoes, patience has paid off. My advice - bide your time, train your eye and style trophies can be yours. 


Monday, 9 February 2015

TRY THIS - Style That's Going, Going, Gone!

I found this Marilyn Anselm for Hobbs coat via a live online sale hosted by Chiswick Auctions CLICK HERE. I had every intention of popping into the fashion sale at the auction house but it simply slipped my mind. From home, 30 minutes into the event, I registered online and started monitoring the LIVE event. It was almost like being there, all the anticipation typical of any auction was present on screen. I watched nearly 100 lots go under the hammer; everything from Hardy Amies dresses to vintage fans, hardly-worn high-street fashions to handbag collections. 

It was mesmerizing. Most lots sold but when a reasonable opening bid was not offered, items were left unsold. Caught up, I clicked through the lots, identifying a few fashions I thought I'd like to own. The auctioneer started with an opening bid, but I quickly learned if I was patient, he might lower the initial starting point. "I'll take £60 *silence* okay then £50 *more silence* what about £40? No bidders?" His question prompted me to act. With one quick flick of my finger I'd bid £40. Down went the hammer and the lot was mine. The next day I popped into Chiswick Auctions to collect my bid-for booty. I'd actually won a trio with that one bid; my lot included this Winter warmer, as well as a black Jaeger knee-length coat and skirt, ALL for £40. The black coat was passed on to my mate Monica for Christmas and the skirt was gifted to Susan. Auction buying - items sight unseen - was a risk, but I highly recommend the occasional fashion gamble. 

Chiswick Auctions is hosting Fashion Sales 
on 17 Feb and 24 March. For more info CLICK HERE

Friday, 6 February 2015

TRY THIS - Trinket Trio Re-Think

I was recently inspired by Loulou de la Falaise CLICK HERE to pile on a trio of necklaces for an over-the-top turn that earned me compliments all 'round. If you're like me, you have miles of 2nd-hand (and new) chains, beads and baubles yearning to make their debut about your neck. I say, bring on the bling. 

Here a long strand of amber beads picked up at The Avenue Vintage & Antiques Market CLICK HERE, joins a gold Art Deco piece my husband bought me for Christmas. Topped off with a Marie Chavez cloisonne pendant CLICK HERE. A bit machty-matchy maybe, but better together than apart. 

I have to admit, this creative trio is my new favourite. It starts with an old silk scarf bought for a pound at Spitalfields Market. Then white glass beads CLICK HERE and a 80s red multi-strand necklace meld perfectly. Both were picked up on different visits to my beloved Deal, on the Kent Coast. I intend to make it my summer signature look. 

I've struggled to wear this foxy necklace for several years. A gift from my husband, it appears meek and mild when worn on its own. Pair it with a loopy metal necklace from Oxfam CLICK HERE and heavy gold beads and my fox shines with stylish animal magnetism. 

A little something for the weekend? Dramatic and rather Dolce & Gabbana-ish, the scarf was found at Madame Mim vintage shop in Brugge for 3 euros. The others as above. With a black dress or white shirt, this trio offers something that's equally prim and provocative. 

Now it's your turn. Try on your baubles, every trio you can imagine. See what works and wear it. And remember, three is a magic number.      

Thursday, 5 February 2015

TRY THIS - A Play With Words & Dresses

I find myself enjoying a spot of good luck. I'm pleased to announce that my play - RE:Tale - will make its debut at The Hen & Chickens in Islington, North London, 24-28 March. The play is inspired by the women who frequented my clothing shop near Hyde Park, a place Time Out called a "flamboyant nugget." While the shop is now closed, this pacey little play brings it back to life while considering our complicated relationships with clothing and each other. 

"I was only, I don't know, 13-years-old. But already dresses were speaking to me."

Part who-done-it, part dressing room drama, RE:Tale features four talented actresses playing 15 characters. Thanks to Written Foundations, the brainchild of producing powerhouse Brigitte Adela, we've already had our first read through. Huntress London will bring you occasional updates from the rehearsal room, costume reveals (2nd-hand of course) and ticketing details. To book NOW go to Unrestricted View, CLICK HERE

Re:Tale is proudly Sponsored by 
Shoelicks CLICK HERE and 

Poster designed by Alex Grey of Sideline Artwork CLICK HERE 

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

TRY THIS - The Arts & Crafts of Style

I found these hand-made, recycled wrist warmers at a tiny market situated in what's called the Undercroft in Deal, Kent CLICK HERE. A twice-a-week affair, it hosts 6 to 10 tables offering everything from homemade baked goods to wee watercolour paintings. Sue Evans, a local crafter, created these lovely gloves by cutting up a used jumper and 'felting' the sleeves. This, as she explained, is the simple process of washing wool on hotter and hotter settings until the desired effect is achieved. Sue fashions wrist warmers, along with bags and hats from interesting, colourful 2nd-hand cardigans and pullovers.         

I wear these 2 ways. Over a pair of thin leather gloves they look rather stylish - call it Dickensian Chic - and effectively combat winter's chill. I also pop them on indoors. Curled up on the sofa, enjoying an old film or Bargain Hunt (oddly compelling), these soft arm accessories are akin to slippers for your hands. Add several hand-made one-off pieces, like these, to your wardrobe to ensure stylish individuality. Cost? A fiver.

Monday, 2 February 2015

TRY THIS - Window Stopping & Seeing









I find shop windows irresistible. Having once dressed the large, telling window in my own shop, I know creating a porthole that pops is no walk in the park. I appreciate the ingenuity and vision of shop owners and dressers. Windows, like eyes of the city, reflect a story that is instantaneous and infinite.