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Monday, 20 October 2014

FOUND - Making A Case That's On Point

I found this homemade eyeglass case at Oxfam in Ealing. I love needlepoint. An easy-peasy project resulting in a highly effective graphic design, a point not lost on the fashion industry. In 2012 everyone from Dolce & Gabbana to Tory Burch showed needlepoint looks. Ornate dresses and handbags featured the time-honored stitchery. Me, I like the 80s preppy needlepoint belts that tended to feature seaside themes - whales, sailboats, buoys and anchors. I'm also head-over-heels for needlepoint flats from Stubbs & Wootten, CLICK HERE to view their rather charming website. These beauties don't come cheap. I managed to find a less-than-perfect pair on Ebay some years ago for £80. They're a personal favourite, as I oddly prize high-end that's a little down at heel. To see Huntress Post "Damaged Goodness" CLICK HERE. The eyeglass case holds extra appeal, along with my specs because someone sat on their sofa and made it. Like me, they longed to create, to invent, to be useful with their hands. And maybe like me, their skill level is wanting. All the same they stitched up a perfect, useful, lovely, handmade object. A lot of work (and heart I suspect) that cost just 49p.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

FOUND - Ab West Finds Huntress

Huntress London is proud to be featured in the November issue of Absolutely West. Not just a "vintage junkie," I'm a 2nd-hand style seeker. If I've said it once, I've said it 100 times, Never Buy New. To see the page on Pinterest, CLICK HERE. Sure, this is horn blowing, but who doesn't love a bit of brass? 

Friday, 17 October 2014

TRY THIS - Costume Flights of Fancy

My friend Monica gave me this little bird. I admired it in a 2nd-hand shop in NYC and while my head was turned, probably looking at bangles, she quietly bought him. He's costume jewelry by Monet - making him a sought after species. Costume once thought of as junk jewelry or fake, is often made with the same craftsmanship and technique as fine jewelry. Monet was launched by 2 brothers in 1937. Their early collections were influenced by both Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli, famed designers who both expected to be copied. By the 80s Monet was manufacturing for Yves Saint Laurent, probably the only jewelry maker able to meet the high-end designer's strict requirements. In 1995, Monet began manufacturing costume baubles for Christian Lacroix. This wee bird is not especially old, yet, but he is marked 'Monet' on the back and came to me under lovely circumstances. I'll wear him on a capped-sleeve black cashmere jumper (Oxfam) paired with a sheer black accordion pleat LK Bennett skirt (Fara) and COS black heels (RSPCA, yesterday's post) - with NAVY tights. I'm loving Navy + Black styling and this little birdie will get the look off the ground for me. 

Thursday, 16 October 2014

FOUND - Stone Cold Black Gold

I found these black COS heels at the RSPCA charity shop in Ealing. How often do I hear doubtful hunters remark "yeah but you can't find current fashions in charity shops" or "you never find the stuff you really need." Don't these covet-able courts crush those old chestnuts? COS, Collection of Style, is a Swedish brand founded in 2007. Simple, striking, superior design is what it brings to the British High Street. Who doesn't need black heels? And these were hardly worn. 

Even though you're wearin' them citified heels, I can tell by your giant steps, 
you been walkin' through the cotton fields - 
                                        The Rolling Stones

A quickie inventory of my wardrobe reveals Reiss, Cacharel, Jigsaw, Boden, LK Bennett, Hobbs, not to mention Mulberry, Churches and Bally. All FOUND lightly used in charity shops. The trick is looking often, which needn't take ages. Lunch hour, Saturday morning, day off, while on holiday. The more you do it, the quicker you'll get at it. You might even consider volunteering at a local charity shop. And make sure you buy it when you find it. Don't hesitate if the item (and the price) is right. These trendy high street heels were only £8. 

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

FOUND - That Hat's Got My Name On It

I found this bowler hat at Retro Woman in Notting Hill. A clutch of shops selling 2nd-hand clothing and housewares, the Retros (there are several in the area) will buy your top-notch used items for cash. The hat is from Guerra, an Italian firm that's been making hats since 1885 - think quality, heritage, craftsmanship. I'd pitched up at Retro to trade in a Luella Gisele handbag; you know the one, seemingly classic bag sat inside a cage of S&M inspired straps? Stunning but completely impractical. Opening it was like a daily IQ test. I expected to swap her for a woman-friendly IT bag with an easy-open top. Once in the shop though I spied with my 2nd-hand eye this immaculate crimson topper. At the time, I was a few weeks from marrying, from joyfully becoming Mrs AJ Bowler. Really. I was thrilled with the idea that I would be Mrs Classic Style Accessory. From the Queen's Guards to the Quechua women of Bolivia, my new name was simple style excellence. Giddy with excitement, I turned over my Luella bag, the impracticality of my past, for the quirky but time-honored style of my future. 

Be sure to check out one of my fave fash blogs

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

FOUND - Pop-Bang-Fizz, Oh How Fab It Is

I found this velvet, embellished clutch bag at the Oxfam in Ealing. The stones are real, the silver and gold threading spectacular. In the latest Vogue UK, Julia Hobbs coins an interesting and rather useful style term; the Fizz Buy, "the utterly rash, entirely exciting, heart-pounding purchase that defies ordinary logic." This splashy bag is full of it. Okay I need another clutch bag like I need a net umbrella. To boot, this black beauty is rather small; phone, keys, lippy - that's it. It "defies ordinary logic" indeed. However, the workmanship, quality and high wattage elegance left my "heart pounding." Charity shops are THE place to look for Fizz Buys - off the rails fashion finds that aren't what you need but definitely what you want, but when purchased 2nd-hand don't drain your purse dry. I'm likely to team this with a mix of casual (jeans) and glam (silk blouse). But I'm tempted to pair it with my large leather caramel-coloured Hobbs "Kelly" bag, re-purposing the clutch as a highly ornate organizer. I'd fill it with cards, pens, a notebook, and then slip it inside my handbag - snap! Every day fizz for just £4.99. 

The puffin in the photo is from Audubon's Birds of America book   

Monday, 13 October 2014

TRY THIS - Cardigan Replacement Therapy

I found this silk Chinese-style jacket at the Randolph Street Market in Chicago CLICK HERE. It's soft, a beautiful gold neutral-ish hue, with a lovely aged patina. I came to live in London some 8 years ago and can say with great certainty the Big Smoke has influenced my style in positive fashion. I've become less matchy-matchy, I've developed a kind of colour courage that once eluded me and I can make brogues work with almost anything. I credit London for these style turns. I've also come to rely on a cardigan capsule wardrobe, a team of button-through sweaters, I never had (or needed) in the USA; for this London's changeable weather must take credit. Cardigans, while 4-season saviors, have easily become my dull fashion default.                  

So this gold jacket offered welcome Cardigan Replacement Therapy - a first step in learning to use cardigans more sparingly. Perfect alone in the late days of August, this brocade beauty also works underneath the heavy coats we'll be wearing all too soon. Atop a dress or trousers it provides stylish relief from cardigan repeat. Need a change of life style? Find a few flashy cardigan alternatives. My Chinese jacket was US$20.

What style pieces do you wear to  
combat the banality of cardigan-ality?