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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

FOUND - Tangy 2nd-Hand Silk Scarf

I found this huge 100% silk scarf/shawl at Oxfam in Richmond, southwest London. It's a Shanghai Tang and was still sporting the original tags. Shanghai Tang was founded in 1994 by businessman David Tang with the aim of reintroducing Chinese fashions of the 20s and 30s to a global audience. Tang brought back Manchu Chinese clothing, giving it a modern twist. The company slogan, "Re-Orient Yourself," is the sort of marketing word play that really speaks to me. I came to London the first time as a visitor in my 30s and I can remember wandering into the Shanghai Tang shop on Sloane Street. I was transported. All the silks, brocades and lacquered surfaces piqued my style sensibility. Now - expensive doesn't equate to stylish in my book but silk does. So this absolutely gigantic slash of worm work is top quality, no doubt. But if you need hard numbers as proof, a scarf much like this on Shanghai Tang's website is currently retailing for 189 Great Big Pounds! Really. Me? I took this yum-yum home for just £24.99. Okay, does that put to bed once and for all the idea that charity shops are full of chipped crockery and smelly polyester housecoats?
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Monday, 22 September 2014

FOUND - Stretch-The-Seasons Skirt

I found this skirt at the Fara charity shop in Ealing. It's a French Connection creation but for me, its voluminous folds swirl it back to something from the 1950s. This generously cut circle skirt has weight, making it feel substantial and frankly, expensive. I'll pair it with a short black military-style jacket found in a second-hand stall behind Truman Brewery. Shoes? Well, I'm toying with black peep-toes and flashy tights or brown suede ankle boots. I know, it would be better if the boots were black, but would it? Is black possibly too heavy? The truth is I don't have black ankle boots so I'm going to play around with the skirt using what I've got in my closet to create Style. With a capital S. Call it a Sunday afternoon fashion project - everybody needs a hobby, right? I want to find a way to make this seemingly summer skirt transcend itself and blossom as a piece workable in early Autumn. Can I do it? I hope so as I love this skirt - and at just £7, what's not to love?

Tweet your latest charity shop finds to 
@annielistening, #best2ndever

Friday, 19 September 2014

TRY THIS - Me and Betty Go Way Back

I found this book by style doyenne Betty Halbreich in 1997 - bought new and hot of the press. If you're a dedicated follower of fashion you'll have no doubt noticed Betty popping up all over lately. She is the outspoken, thoughtfully fashionable, highly experienced head of personal shopping at NYC's famed department store Bergdorf Goodman. CLICK HERE to go to BG's rather lovely blog. Betty has 'dressed' everyone from Lauren Bacall to SJP but importantly she's written ANOTHER more recent book entitled I'll Drink to That, CLICK HERE. The new book is on my wish list to be sure BUT I want to give Betty's first book the credit I think it deserves. I've read Secrets of a Fashion Therapist cover to cover at least 3 times. It's full of fashion advice that remains relevant; Betty's practical, honest and upbeat approach always recharges my style battery. This was the very first fashion book I ever bought and while I've an extensive library of style books now, Betty has served me best. She's in every press publication worth it's lipstick lately, but I like the way in which she's discussed on Twitter - #BettyKnowsBest.    

Thursday, 18 September 2014

FOUND - A Stylish Snake in the Grass

I found this snake-skin (maybe) bangle at an antiques fair at Kedleston Hall in Derby. (see Jaguar Fairs for future dates a locations). These traditional selling sprees, once a parade of brown furniture, old china and silver nick-nacks, are becoming style goldmines. From Bakelite jewelry to leather doctor bags, shift dresses to 70s sunglasses, vintage Vogue magazines to military overcoats, these markets are happy hunting grounds for the creative fashion magpie. Often set up around stately homes or interesting historic sites, antiques fairs are fantastic places to not only buy but to train the eye. Be sure to chat with stallholders - they've a wealth of information to impart. This bangle is brass on the inside so marries up perfectly with a super-thin brass bangle set I bought at a Ralph Lauren outlet shop some 20 years ago. The reptilian accessory was just £5.  

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

FOUND - Red Letter Day by the River

I found this Marimekko shirt at the Fara charity shop on the south west side of Richmond Bridge, TW1 2EB, a large, bright shop with a great mix of clothing and housewares. Featuring silver metal buttons this fashion find is akin to a denim shirt, but with stripes. Any number of designers have lead the Marimekko team over the years, but this is Finnish designer Vuokko Eskolin-Nurmesnieni signature print. Dubbed Jokapoika, it's a simple pattern that helped ensure Marimekko's global reputation. Vuokko joined Marimekko in 1953 and along with Maija Isola, was responsible for many of the company's most iconic patterns. This really is a piece fit for a design or fashion museum and to that end Vuokko's work is indeed part of the permanent collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I paid just £8.50 for this piece of fashion history.      
Tweet your best 2nd-hand style finds to 
@annielistening, #best2ndever

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

FOUND - Watercolour One Off Wonder

I found this dress at the Octavia Foundation charity shop in Ealing a few weeks ago. The brand name is Gianni Balenti. While it sounds Italian, research shows it's a trademark registered to Berkertex Ltd, located not in Milan, but Milton Keynes. Nevertheless this is a quality piece of 80s vintage. If the label didn't say polyester, I'd swear it was silk. The pattern - akin to a work of watercolour - is beautifully executed. Further it's finished off with details like silk cord piping around the neckline. On the cuffs, discretely woven into the fabric print the brand name appears - an expensive addition that makers of cheap, throw-away fashions would never dream of including. It's a 3 seasons frock, wearable year round with the exception of summer's hottest days. I take heart in the knowledge that my opposite number on the tube will not also be wearing this vintage stunner. My heart nearly bursts when I recall I paid just £14.99 for it. 
Next week post peek: 2nd-hand finds from 
my holiday in Chicago and NYC.

Monday, 15 September 2014

TRY THIS - Unloading Excess Baggage

This vintage, mint-condition pocketbook was given to me by my friend Miranda. It once belonged to her auntie and she felt it was in good hands with me. I was flattered and thrilled to have this stylish reminder of Miranda. She who stepped up enthusiastically to workshop a set of short plays I wrote a few years ago. For no money and no fanfare she joined me to create a tiny work of theatre. The generosity of actors, something that oft leaves me dumbstruck. Miranda has since left England, and her family, and everything that's familiar to pursue her acting career in Los Angles. Her determination and commitment to her craft inspires me. I see her beautiful mane of brown curls, catching the light, like the graduating colours of this bag. I slip the straps up over my wrist, hold it like a clutch, and it's transformed. Transformation: the actor's perpetual journey.