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Friday, 19 December 2014

FOUND - Lip Service from Swanky Yankee

I found these leather lips at the Children's Society charity shop on Pitshanger Lane, Ealing. This is the kind of American find (relocated) that puts a smile on my face. It's a lovely 'box' from the high-end Yankee department store Neiman Marcus. NM was founded in Dallas in 1907. A retailing innovator, in 1928 Nemain sold French ties and English shirtings, items rarely found outside NYC and in the 30s it placed ads in Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, the first American shop outside the Big Apple to be so audacious. While its flagship in Texas was not once but twice destroyed by fire in 1913 and 1964, the company continued to expand. Today Neimans can be found in numerous American cities but they didn't actually build their first store outside Texas until 1971. 

In 1982, the Dallas store was granted historical status and it is indeed a beautiful building, a merchandising museum of sorts. NM has a reputation for exceptional customer service and while I haven't shopped there in years, I'm thrilled to get hold of this first class kisser. It was a jaw-dropping £3.49.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

FOUND - Reflected Glory of A Good Gift

I found this little curiosity at the Avenue Vintage Fair & Antiques Market last weekend (CLICK HERE). If you live in West London, I can't urge you enough to visit this lovely, low key 2nd-buyers' bonanza. Located outside the shops around The Drayton Court, an Ealing institution, you're sure to find a pre-owned pleasure that piques your interest. La Semaine de Suzette was a children's magazine founded by Henri Gautier in 1905 after the Church had separated from the State. The aim was to entertain children, in particular young girls, while instilling morality and charity. Girls living abroad, often the daughters of doctors, engineers and diplomats, read the magazine in an effort to improve their French. It published for 55 years, only taking a break during the war. 

This velvet & leatherette circle is in fact a handbag mirror, the sort of promotional item a newsagent gave to the girl who bought the magazine in an effort to keep her custom. Today glossy fashion magazines are often accompanied by complimentary cosmetics tucked inside soulless plastic sleeves. While modern freebies can be enticing, none are as tempting as this tiny, shiny, beveled luxury. I'm thrilled to be giving it to my fashionable friend Susan for Christmas. She speaks impeccable French and perpetually inspires my style eye. On reflection this all around wonder was a steal at just £10. 

Avenue Vintage & Antiques Market is usually the last 
Saturday of the month thru March CLICK HERE
(the Dec market was held earlier)

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

FOUND - Tan Trousers That Deliver Me

I found these Gap khaki trousers at the Scope Charity shop in Wimbledon. Two things I find wildly frustrating: styling khaki trousers and dressing for a long haul flight. While I consider myself a creative, fearless and problem solving stylist, if I start an outfit off with khaki trousers, I always end up resembling a UPS delivery man. United Parcel Service advertisements once asked "What can brown do for you?" Nothing man, I just can't do tan! And when jetting to America, I'm burdened with one gnawing thought. What will I wear? I've tried donning a dress on an international flight but found the loose frock gradually morphed into maternity gear. I worried non-stop that someone on my travels would ask me when I was due. So trousers then? Right. I don't do leggings (ever) or trackie bottoms (outside the gym). What about jeans then? No, thank you. A waistband embedded and reprinted on my skin leaves me feeling like a branded cow. Wool trews? Linen slacks? No, no, no, I need all weather bottoms. Who knew delivery man chic would solve my flight plight? These floral khakis are out-of-this-world but easily paired with a cotton jumper or denim shirt. They're soft, loose but close cut, with no killer denim rivets and wearable in varied weather conditions. BA? It's Huntress, I'm ready to depart! These packable pants were just £8.99. 

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

FOUND - Beauty Buys, 2nd-Hand to Boot(s)

I find beauty products wildly enticing but often disappointing, not to mention expensive. I've 5 cheap and cheerful winners - one that I even picked up recently in a charity shop. 

DRY BRUSHING - This a time-honored way of exfoliating. An invigorating way to start the day, you'll experience increased circulation and smoother skin. Body brushes are widely available and far more economical than jars of goopy, gritty exfoliating products. Dry brush your pins before shaving for super smooth, glowing limbs.

PALMERS COCO BUTTER - A luscious cream that comes in any number of formulations, I prefer the super concentrated stuff. Palmers does what it claims and smells like a Butter Fingers candy bar, a favourite sweet that I stock up on when visiting the ole' USA.

L'OCCITANE SOAP - When did soap become retro? When over-perfumed, wasteful shower gels hit the market. Nothing makes me smile in the shower more than a newly unwrapped cake of bubbles. I stock up on preferred brands - L'Occitane and Claus Porto - when I find them on sale. Soap lasts and lasts, making it highly economical. The 2 tiny brand new bars here were actually found in the Cat Charity Shop on Pitshanger Lane in Ealing for 50p. Talk about pre-owned pleasures!

FLORIDA WATER - This 19th century invention was made for men and women, so its scent is spicy, citrus and fresh. It's what was once referred to as an After-Bath-Splash, and is particularly refreshing in summer after being cooled in the fridge. The name refers to the fabled Fountain of Youth said to be located in Florida. I found this at the Ealing AfroEuro Hair & Beauty Shop at 209 Uxbridge Road (available on Ebay and Amazon too).        

HOLLYWOOD FASHION TAPE - These double-sided pre-cut strips do one thing really well. That bra-revealing gap in your button-up shirt? This keeps it closed, letting your shirt lay against your bosom flat and happy. I buy loads when I'm in the US but it's easily located online too. 

Monday, 15 December 2014

TRY THIS - It's A Small Town, Big Deal

I wish I could claim I found this necklace washed up in the beach. In fact, I found it in the seaside town of Deal on the Kent Coast. And it's indeed one of my favourite places for a great deal of fun and relaxation. From the Astor Theatre CLICK HERE to The Royal CLICK HERE, from The Ship CLICK HERE to The Sarecans Head CLICK HERE, from the 2nd-hand shops in the Old Town to The Fox & Spindle CLICK HERE where I bought a huge hand-knitted scarlet scarf, Deal may be small but it's sensational. The Pier offers lovely views and both Deal and nearby Walmer Castles reveal the area's naval history. 

On our last visit we stayed at Dunkerleys CLICK HERE, a friendly, family-run hotel on the seafront that was comfortable and spotlessly clean. But the highlight of the weekend - Harriet's of Deal CLICK HERE. Quite simply the best tea room I've ever been in. The banana cake rivaled my grandma's. I found this old necklace at a house clearance business on Sondes Road - it sat on a huge piece of brown furniture, that sat among dozens of pieces of huge brown furniture. Don't let furniture put you off. House clearances often include boxes, drawers and bags of old, forgotten bits of chic 2nd-hand, but you've got to be in it to win it. So go inside and LOOK. These white-washed hand-knotted glass beads were £15.

Friday, 12 December 2014

TRY THIS - Ho-Ho-Ho We Go To Market

I found these little scarves at the Avenue Vintage & Antiques Market, near West Ealing Station and the Drayton Court. They'll serve as perfect pressies for friends on my Christmas gift giving list. The selling spree where I found them is a welcome addition to the area's 2nd-hand scene - a vast variety of pre-owned items, friendly traders, situated on a lovely street. What's not to like? Generally held on the last Saturday of the month, the Christmas sale celebration is TOMORROW, Saturday 13 December, from 9am. The scarves were a fiver, but all the fun is free of charge! 

Thursday, 11 December 2014

TRY THIS - Attack Charity Shops Like a Pro

I found this Breton pullover at the Trinity Hospice charity shop in Putney. This work shirt turned style staple, thanks to Coco Channel, has been worn by everyone from F. Scott Fitzgerald to James Dean, from Audrey Hepburn to Patti Smith. This one is made by Hublot, an elusive brand in fact. It's the name of a high-end watch manufacturer, but this Hublot garment doesn't seem at all connected to the tickers. Never mind, it's a quality item. Bretons are now ubiquitous, every Tom, Primark & Harry are cranking out cheap stripy tees. The heavy fabric, classic cut and creamy colour makes THIS one a classic keeper, as well as an example of quickie chic shopping. When I'm pressed for time but can't resist the charms of a charity shop, I narrow my search. First I scan the rails for Breton strips and denim shirts, both versatile wardrobe heroes for me. Then I quickly peruse the shoes, only looking for my size. Quick step and go! Finally, I eye the spines of 2nd-hand books on offer in search of fashion reads. That's it, I'm out. Sure, there may be other pre-owned pleasures I've missed, but when time is of the essence I edit my hunt to a few fab faves. This sea-worthy shirt, spotted and striped, was just 3 quid. 

You've only got 10 minutes. What 3 items would you 
   look for in a compellingly well-stock charity shop?