Reuse, Recycle, Relove – Sustainable Fashion

Vintage Gap jumpsuit bought on Vinted

My lovely vintage Gap jumpsuit bought on Vinted. Photo credit: Yi Ling Huang

Vintage dresser for my vintage clothes and accesories

My vintage dresser to house some of my vintage clothing and accessory finds

I have always been a bit of a hoarder, particularly when it comes to fashion. I keep clothes and accessories for years and years, and often wear a mixture of old and new pieces, lovingly matched and coordinated. I do love to be “matchy-matchy” with coordinating colours across all my clothes and accessories! I have luckily not really changed size too much since my late teens, meaning I have been able to keep and continue using old favourites and bring them back to life with some new additions to the wardrobe.

 

I also love vintage fashion and buy a lot of it online, from like-minded ladies on Twitter, where a group of us meet up every wednesday at 8pm for #vintagefindhour, organised by the lovely Sarah-Jane Hosegood (find her on Twitter at @vintagefindhour or @vintagehomeshop), through using handy apps such as Vinted and Etsy, and regularly combing charity shops, vintage and secondhand designer clothes stores for vintage bargains.

I also love a nod to vintage styles, such as historical fabrics and prints from Liberty or the V&A. I was very excited to see that the V&A had recently collaborated with Oasis, one of my favourite high street shops, on a range of stunning clothes and accessories with vintage prints. I bought a number of pretty tops – my favourite is this silky electric blue number, which I have worn and worn!

Lovely blue top from V and A and Oasis collaboration

My favourite top from the beautiful V and A and Oasis collaboration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is something that has been passed down to me through the generations: I have a very glamorous grandmother who always has beautifully matched and coordinated outfits, as well as a very impressive shoe and handbag collection – including a pair of shoes with Wedgewood heels from the 70s – with many items dating back through the years. My mum, also glamorous and youthful, also keeps her good quality items for many years and, like me, matches with new items or vintage treasures that she has a particularly good eye in seeking out.

1980s YSL jacket from a charity shop

Fab charity shop vintage find – a 1980s YSL jacket

While I love shopping and browsing fashion magazines, keeping and reusing my clothes and accessories has always been important to me. I’m a firm believer in reloving and reusing classic items and mixing fashions from different eras. And it’s stood me in good stead – everything comes back into fashion again (I knew I shouldn’t part with my super-flattering 90s flared jeans when skinnies took over – and I was right!)

These days, it is more important than ever to be eco conscious, so by reusing, recycling and reloving your clothing and accessories, this is a a real and easy way to be able to make a difference and contribute to the sustainable fashion movement. Certain high street shops are also now doing their part – H&M gives a £5 voucher for every bag donated to their textile recycling bin, where you can also – very usefully – recycle your unwanted household textiles. Marks & Spencer has a similar donation box and scheme to take your unwanted clothes. Both H&M and Marks & Spencer also offer Earth friendly ranges made from sustainable and organic fabrics.

I was recently interviewed as a case study for a national newspaper about using Vinted and some of the fabulous items I have purchased on there, taking some pictures and sharing some of my fab fashion finds – another post to follow once it’s been published! I also sell a number of items of clothing and accessories on there – adding some items every few weeks. I even managed to pay for our removals last time we moved house with the proceeds of my sales so far. There is a real sense of community among “Vinties”, and I have found it very enjoyable both hunting for bargains and selling a few of my own.

I also love the camaraderie within the vintage community. The lovely people who join #vintagefindhour each week are vintage enthusiasts across the spectrum – they all sell or buy vintage items, from antiques and upcycled furniture, to vintage clothes from the 1920s-1980s, to vintage china, crockery and homewares. I discovered this wonderful group a couple of years ago now – and, as well as finding a number of fabulous vintage bargains, have found some lovely, likeminded friends. We even try to meet together when we can for an in-person meet up, but I have yet to be able to make one of those with a pretty hectic schedule. Definitely next time, though!

Vintage patterns

Lovely vintage inspired patterns from Oasis

Vintage Chanel shoes and Oasis patterned trousers

Vintage Chanel shoes with brightly patterned trousers from Oasis

 

Until next time, why not embrace the joys of reusing and recycling your own wardrobe? It’s really good fun to rummage through your own clothes, bags, shoes, jewellery and scarves, and to rediscover past favourites or items that have come back into style. Even if you’re not interested in collecting or buying vintage clothes and accessories, by making the most of the wardrobe you already have, you may well find some undiscovered treasures, some fab new outfits, and who knows – perhaps the vintage of the future?

Wearing my blue V and A and Oasis top in London

Me wearing my favourite blue top out and about in London

Tea and vintage

Enjoying a nice cup of tea in my vintage Gap jumpsuit, bought on Vinted

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have fun!

Rachael xx

An inspiring evening with Ilene Steele, jewellery designer

Last week, I was privileged to be invited to a “Meet the Maker” evening with the jewellery designer, Ilene Steele, organised by the fab people at Thinkers PR. The evening was an intimate gathering of bloggers and writers, offering a unique opportunity to introduce the fabulous new collection and to meet the lady herself in her studios and workshop in London’s jewellery capital of Hatton Garden. I was excited to attend, having seen pictures of some stunning jewellery and some really different designs on Ilene’s website, so was thrilled to travel across London with my fellow blogger friend to see where it all happens, to meet Ilene and her delightful daughter, the Thinkers team and a group of lovely like-minded bloggers.

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IMG_2150On muggy, sunny, evening, it was a little too hot to sit down and chat over a cup of tea (or coffee, being Ilene’s hot drink of choice!) but I did get the chance to try on and view Ilene’s beautiful latest jewellery collections and to natter with her and other guests over an ice-cold drink and some amazing home-made Guacamole (made by the designer herself, naturally)!

Originally hailing from New York, (one of my favourite cities – more on that later!) Ilene lives in East London and loves the creative, vibrant atmosphere of Dalston and the surrounding areas, which remind her of parts of the Big Apple! Ilene told us that the hustle and bustle of city life is one of the key inspirations for Ilene’s work, reflecting the ‘sea of life’ that is experienced in a busy metropolis, “I draw inspiration from the urban environment: the architecture, the swarms of people, the pace of life…” I can completely identify with that as a source of energy and inspiration, particularly the buzz that you get from New York, and I’m not even a native New Yorker (though often wish I was)! I am also always inspired by water and the sea in particular, so this collection certainly struck a chord with me.

My favourite piece from Ilene’s Wave Collection is this blue ring, in 18-Carat White Gold with an emerald-cut stone and strikingly different band. The ‘wave’ effect is created using a cuttlefish, bringing togetheIMG_2155r inspiration from the sea and modern life in one stunning piece of jewellery. It reminds me of waves on the sand, and Ilene mentioned that it is one of her favourite pieces, too!

Ilene’s work is genuinely different in that the sparkling precious stones in the jewellery actually face the wearer – implying special meaning or significance for the wearer themselves. It’s also a cheering sight to see a little bit of sparkle on a gloomy day! This makes it so much more appealing than mass-produced items, and means you can have a piece of jewellery that is really unique to you, and you alone. This also particularly appealed to me, as each and every piece of jewellery I own or have owned has always held special meaning for me in some way, and reminds me of specific life events, people, or thoughts.

IMG_2163Bringing together all this creativity into such high-quality pieces of jewellery is clearly no mean feat – it’s very hard to believe that Ilene has only been designing jewellery for four years! “I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly practical or creative person,” laughed Ilene, “I come from a very academic background. But I find designing and shaping the pieces therapeutic – always learning as I go, and in turn learning from each mistake! I discover new techniques, styles and inspiration along the way.”

IMG_2165I found it a truly inspiring evening, and was delighted to meet Ilene and find out more about her work and what makes her tick in an informal and intimate setting.

Ilene will feature again in my New York/London piece soon, but in the meantime, I am jotting down a few of her styles on my wish list! There’s still my wedding anniversary and Christmas left for not-so-subtle hints this year, so who knows?! 😉

Keep sparkling! X