In praise of tweed

When I ran my vintage shop tweed jackets, coats and skirts were always best sellers; both the English makes like Bladen and of course Irish tweed from Donegal. They were popular for Goodwood Revival, the great Tweed Run (with vintage bicycles) and just for tweed lovers.

We are very lucky we have family in Donegal town so there’s always a visit to the famous MAGEE shop in the centre of town (The Diamond).

On our last visit a sale was in full swing so we swung in! Result – a pale grey cashmere poncho for me and a fabulous bluey grey tweed jacket for David.

What I love about Irish tweed is the colours which reflect the countryside – not just soft greens, browns and blues but heather hues and much brighter shades too (see my photo of a swatch of tweeds.)20170220_165426

My own tweed jacket is in fact from Boden, a modern tweed but in a lovely shade of burgundy with blues running through it. A real wardrobe staple!


If I’ve whetted my appetite I have men’s tweed jackets and a Miss Marple style skirt all going onto my Ebay shop by Friday at

Do you love tweed? It would be great to hear from you.



Impulse spending on ‘fast’ fashion – and how avoid it (most of the time!)


Nine months ago I was in the process of updating my wardrobe due to lifestyle changes. I found myself buying too many items because they were on sale or I ‘had’ to have them. Now I’ve trained in colour and style, and joined an online style forum. My wardrobe has shrunk and so has my spending but I have more to wear. I feel more in control and much less tempted to spend time online ‘looking’ at clothes.

Impulse buying is yet another harmful effect of ‘fast’ fashion…along with sweated labour, appalling working conditions and being the second largest polluter the fast/disposable fashion industry has resulted in many women buying six items a month and wearing something only seven times….A recent Greenpeace report ‘After the Binge – the Hangover’ studying fashion shopping in Germany, China, Italy, Taiwan and Hong Kong concluded that the clothing consumer was “restless, compulsive and unfulfilled.” because the ‘quick fix’ offered by buying cheap fashion does not last and shoppers can become trapped in a cycle of excitement, regret and guilt.20161231_153808.jpg


Compulsive spending can become a real addiction – but that’s not what I’m discussing here; if your shopping has led to debts, relationship problems and is affecting your life then you need to seek professional help. I’m talking about impulse buying and ways to curb it and perhaps re-direct your clothes budget.


This is what I’ve found helpful:

  1.  I set myself a monthly budget and write down my clothes expenditure with no cheating. If I sell something at a dress agency/consignment shop that’s a credit!
  2. I’ve built a more coordinated wardrobe so everything works together. Not quite a ‘capsule’ – I have about 50 or so items but it’s a lot more functional than before.
  3. In the front of the same notebook I have a shopping list for clothes and every few months I refresh a ‘style file'[ of pictures and ideas I like.
  4. I aim to buy a maximum of three items a month – one good quality piece and two secondhand items from the amazing charity shop where I volunteer.
  5. I press the ‘pause’ button. If it’s online I wait 24 hours – if it’s in a shop I go and have a coffee and think about it – even if it’s a charity shop!
  6. I really think about it – check for fit, style colour and will it go with at least 3 other items in my wardrobe.
  7.  I ask myself it would fit well in my style file. Do I love it? If it’s OK the answer’s no.
  8. Each season I do a wardrobe check, looking for things that need replacing and where there are gaps and duplicates.  I donate items that don’t fit any more (was I ever really a size 10?) or take them for alteration.
  9. IF I buy something I donate something so my wardrobe doesn’t expand too much.
  10.  Finally – and most importantly I have FUN and experiment. If I think I need something I ‘shop my wardrobe’ first to see if there are creative ways of  mixing up what I have with different accessories.

I love clothes and I love shopping but I’m semi-retired and on a budget so I cqan’t afford a lot of the ‘eco’ slow fashion brands. So buying less, buying vintage and second-hand makes a small contribution to cutting down on harming the planet and I feel so much better about my choices.

Does this ring a chord with you? I’d love feedback!




Stop ageism in fashion writers!

A lot has been written, quite rightly, about the fashion industry’s use of ultra skinny models and how this causes body image problems for women.

However another very pernicious influence is the idea of ‘age appropriate’ dressing and how suddenly once someone becomes 40, 50 or 60 they have to alter their style, cover up head to toe, wear pale colours and generally become invisible. I even found an article entitled “30 things women over 30 shouldn’t wear”. Please!

This was confirmed when I did a stall at Daisy Dog Vintage fair locally for my colours and style business. I ran a free prize draw to win a colour consultancy and two older ladies, on separate occasions, said “Oh no I’m past all that” and would not be persuaded otherwise; I thought that was really sad.

You can look great and feel great at any age. Iris Apfel is probably one of the best known stylists; still modelling at 95 with her own quirky style. We don’t all have to be as ‘out there’ as Iris – but if we want to why not?Iris Apfel

When I posted about this on Facebook recently there was a great response. I felt rebellious and bought some silver ankle boots which I will wear this winter with my new leather biker jacket. After all, I partied in the 70s, don’t remember quite a bit of the 80s and if I feel like channelling older rock chick I will! If, like my friend Freda you are tall and have great legs why not wear a short dress or tunic and leggings or a short skirt?

Here are the boots…  boots

What do you think?

Join the debate on  Facebook at

Why women’s magazines can be bad for your health


I wish there were magazines called Bad Housekeeping or Woman and not so perfect Home.  While I was away on holiday I did something I knew I shouldn’t do – and always makes me feel bad and grumpy afterwards.

No, not overindulging in chocolate but reading women’s magazines; there was a selection in the cottage we rented.  All aimed at the”mature” woman who is wanting to grow older gracefully – or, in my case, disgracefully. Not Cosmpolitan or Vogue – these were middle of the road, middle-aged magazines. It made me write a list of at least 10 reasons why women’s magazines are bad for (my) mental health. Here goes!

  1.  The models are all in their late 20s or 30s at least and sizes 6-8 and 5’10 tall.  They would look great in a paper bag. I do not.
  2. If the magazine does a makeover of an older woman in the before pic she is photographed with no makeup and frumpy clothes. No brainer!
  3.  I’m not being ‘craftist’ here – I have friends who love knitting and sewing but I don’t
  4. There are usually at least two articles on celebrity women (one of the magazines featured at least ten. These are supposed to be inspirational but they feature ladies who look amazing, have a family and a highly successful career as well as working out every day etc etc. I have to lie down in a darkened room just thinking about it!
  5. The fashions are really all either ‘mega-expensive’ and out of my price range abd the high-street versions are pretty grim.
  6. The adverts include ‘slimming’ crimple ne trousers with elasticated waistbands, sensible shoes and stair-lifts. Not there (yet).
  7. The articles on how to achieve work/life balance/reduce stress etc are either banal and badly researched or sandwiched between lots of other articles peppered with ‘shoulds’ and oughts’ from de-cluttering to achieving more to converting your wardrobe into a sauna.
  8. I want a magazine that makes me laugh and identify with other normal women who are not superwomen or high-achievers.
  9. I don’t want to finish reading a magazine and feel ‘less than’ or inadequate after being told how to work harder/pack more in.
  10. Where are the articles on how to lose weight without dieting or going for a jog, why renovating your entire home is a waste of time as the new owners will redecorate anyway And why seeing a friend/walking the dog/enjoying a good film is better for you than reading a woman’s magazine.
  11. End of rant. Anyone agree? 



Ireland, tweeds and colours


I’m back from a very relaxing and rejuvenatting 10 days in Ireland. It’s always sad leaving the warmth of the people, their hospitality and of course the dramatic and beautiful scenery.

As I’m continuing my training in style and colour analysis I was fascinated by the different hues of the Donegal tweeds and the colouring of the people and tweeds.

I’ve  always loved tweed abd when I had my vintage shop tweed jackets were best sellers for men and women, along with caps and shawls.  I’d always thought of Irish/celtic colouring to be dark hair, pale skin and blue eyes (Winter paletter) and there are many with this colouring.  However this time, probably because I’m more attuned to it, I noticed many fair haired and redhead/auburn Irish people with spring, summer and even autumn colouring.

Their tweeds also relect both the Winter palette of colours – deep burgundy, forest green, chinese blue and the spring summer palettes with fresh, clear and bright shades and the more muted tones of summer such as heathers and misty blues.

I was able to obtain fabric swatchews from the famous Magee shop in Donegal town, pictured in the photo.  One day I’ll be able to afford one of their tweed jackets! In the meantime the jacket at the top was a find in the Boden sale.



Have you visited Ireland? Do you love tweeds too? I’d love to hear from you.





Off to Ireland

No blog posts for ten days or so as we are offf to sunny (?) Ireland to visit family and friends in Donegal.

Whatever the weather we’ll be able to enjoy the stunning scenery, great food and people. Next post when I’m back.20160615_204549


How to revitalise your wardrobe with colour


I’ve always been fascinated by different colours and how they can make you look and feel good.

Following a visit to an image consultant to have my colours “done” back in the late eighties I was converted to the seasonal method of analysing the best group of colours to reflect a person’s skin tone, eye and hair colouring . As a “Winter” I loved the clear, bright and strong paletter. (I’ve made a Winter collage above).

Having a swatch of colours to shop with definitely saved me both time and money and I made far fewer mistakes. Most of the items in my wardrobe worked together and it was far easier to get dressed.

Over the years I had a couple of refresher sessions and found I was probably choosing ‘safe’ colours rather than experimenting and combining more colours from my palette. I was really enthusiastic about the results. And now I’ve started training myself to help people choose their best colours.

Last weekend I spent three intensive days training with the lovely Gail Morgan of Study in Style.It was fascinating, learning all about the different seasons, how to assess someone’s undertone, depth and brightness.

Now I practise on about twelve people while doing about 40+ hours of online learning and assessments about style, body shapes, clothing personalities.

Helping people, both men and women,  look and feel good about themselves seems like a    great thing to do. The journey begins!

Have you had your colours done? How was it for you?



The joy of hats

One of the many brilliant things about running a vintage shop is that I got to wear hats whenever I wanted – no excuse needed! And as  Margo Nickel said “Whenever you wear your hat, your day will be special.”  It’s true – people smile at you more and feel at liberty to admire/comment on your hat. Try it!

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Josie and Sean in 1940s headgear                            Dapper gents’  hats and accessories

At Wear it Again Sam we used to stock a range of vintage hats for men and women from uniform hats and fedoras to cloche hats and boaters.  I learnt so much about hats in the six years the shop was running – how to measure a head properly, hat sizes and shapes. I often had to encourage people to try a hat with an outfit and I often heard “Oh, I don’t look good in hats” to which I would reply that there was a hat shape and style for everyone depending on your face shape.

We have also had the pleasure of attending the eclectic Bridport Hat Fest which is held in early September and is an amazing event with hat fairs and workshops, lots of live suitably hatted bands  (think Hank Wangford, Madness etc) and an amazing event on the Saturday lunchtime when everyone crowds into the main market square and throws their hats in the air.  There are children with hats, dogs with headgear and people wearing amazing home-made creations which make Carmen Miranda’s headgear seem tame. Thoroughly recommended; Bridport is a really whacky, lively town with a regular vintage fair and set in gorgeous Dorset countryside by the Jurassic coast.Great cream teas too (which I fear may be a recurring theme of this blog!)

I recently added two new additions to my hat collection – a teal blue Annie Hall number which reminds me of one of my favourite films and I can pretend I look like Diane Keaton when I wear it (I wish). The other is a silver faux fur hat with ear flaps which is quite eccentric but great for the cold weather and our planned trip to Ireland (in February – don’t ask!)  My other half says I look like a rabbit so I hope that is a fluffy, cuddly term rather than a rodent-like description.

Do you like hats? Do post your comments and photos! Wear your hat(s) with pride…



Into the blue..

Why is blue considered to be the colour of depression – as someone who has had bad depression in the past I think it should be grey!

Blue is one of my favourite colours and I decided I needed some more accessories to wear.

So here is the result of a trip to two or three charity (thrift) shops the other day (total cost under £10). A quick and easy way to brighten up an outfit! (Just typed that as Brighton – where I used to live and still one of my favourite towns/cities.20170114_153821

Also, on the subject of buying secondhand and charity shopping I really recommend Victoria Lochead’s excellent little book In the Jumble. Lots of good advice and very funny, sadly no photos but you can see those on her website .

And still on the subject of blue I’ve decided to take photos of friends and ladies I see out and about (with their permission of course) so here is our first Wear it Again Sam style lady Patsy.  Patsy is very artistic and always wears great colours for her stunning white hair and blue eyes. Apologies for the quality of the photo which really doesn’t do her – or her outfit – justice. (I’m still struggling with my phone camera).


Thank you for all the messages of support. Any other blue fans out there?


How to do your own Makeover – ten steps

Firstly, thank you all so much for the many comments and messages encouraging me from all around the world. It’s great to be part of such a supportive online community!

This is about my personal makeover journey, inspired by books and blogs and the ten things I’ve done (so far!)  It was necessary because I had a big change in lifestyle – from running a vintage shop and then doing stalls at fairs to returning to work as an addiction groupworker and would-be blogger.

My wardrobe consisted of five or six vintage outfits , jeans and tops for days off and a couple of ‘going out’ items. Vintage bags, vintage-style shoes and even hairstyle (picture below).. It no longer  suited my lifestyle so it was time for change. This is what I did.bluebell-at-war-11-4-13-026-2

  1.  I did lots of homework .  I have over 15 books now on style, fashion, colour . I’ll be reviewing the ones I found most helpful in another blog post.  I look at magazines, I read blogs and I look in the shops. I keep an ‘inspiration’ file of colours, styles and combinations I like.
  2. I had a ‘refresher’ session with my House of Colours consultant Margaret to check I’m still a winter jewel and look at styles that are better for my  current bodyshape – still rectangle but with a tummy!
  3.  I attended one of her Open House sessions to look at the Kettlewell Colours clothes and have a bra fitting. I bought several bras as I’d gone up a cup size and four of the tops and scarves in ‘my’ colours.
  4. Next – new haircut.  This took a few attempts to find what I wanted; eventually I found a hairdresser nearer to me that had great reviews, had a consultation and a much more modern, flattering cut.
  5. 20161231_195042

5. Makeup. Vintage no longer – I had a couple of free classes with Mac and Clinique and then discovered the Look Fabulous Forever range for older skins; brilliant! There are also great video tutorials on the website.

6. Exercise and diet – ongoing! I’ve cut down on sweet things a lot – now I’m not running round in the shop all day I’m doing yoga at home and dog-walking – not an exercise class/gym person!

7.  Wardrobe analysis. After my session with Margaret I looked at the clothes I had for the different activities in my life and could see where the gaps were.

8. Wardrobe detox. Inspired by all the books I went for it. A lot of my vintage pieces were donated to charity shops, along with everything that didn’t fit or was the wrong colour. Kept one pair of Katherine Hepburn 40s style wide leg trousers as a motivator – can nearly get into them now!.After  Christmas and rearranged everything by colour.  This is the result…it’s cheered me up tremendously. I don’t have a large collection of clothes and shoes but now I can see what I have.


9. Shopping. I‘ve been gradually replacing items over the last six months, on a limited budget. So it’s been outlet stores online, charity (thrift) shops and a great local dress agency. I’ve made a few mistakes (mostly online) but I’m trying hard to concentrate on fit and colour and shop with a clear idea of what I’m looking for.

10. Finally, and the very best value so far I’ve joined Imogen Lamport of Inside Out Style’s Evolve your Style programme. For only $10 a daily style challenge . You  post on the group’s Facebook page and receive comments from other members – it’s been so helpful and great to feel part of a community. 10 days to go! My partner said this morning @Another great outfit. It’s like waking up with a different person each day…hmmm. I think that’s a compliment in Manspeak.

So that’s the journey so far. More to follow as I search for style for the over 60s on a budget – with not a twinset in sight!

Are you  or have you been on a makeover mission?  I’d love to hear from you.