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Friday, 24 April 2015

FOUND - Coat From Another Time & Place

I found this cotton jacket at the Cancer Research charity shop near Ealing Broadway. It reminded me of the sort of thing that hung on hook in our garage when I was a kid in small town Ohio. My mom would have pulled it on before jumping in the car to zoom up to the local grocery after realizing she didn't have enough milk or eggs or tinned tomatoes. It's the perfect weekend topper; relaxed tom-boy style. When my husband spotted me wearing it, he said, "Nice Harrington." Not more cockney rhyming slang I thought. But it turns out this jacket is a Harrington, the sort of coat James Dean, Frank Sinatra and Rodney Harrington made famous. Rodney is the fictional character played by a young Ryan O'Neal in the 60s blockbuster TV soap opera Peyton Place. Rodney, a kid from a well-off family falls for Mia Farrow's character, Allison MacKenzie, a girl whose father is in prison. Ryan-as-Rodney wore a jacket not unlike this one, and it was consequently dubbed the Harrington. Not long ago I read Peyton Place, the book-come-film-come-TV show that caused a huge stir in the 50s when it debuted. It was once considered trashy and trite but today on reflection Grace Metalious' novel is nothing short of a classic, much like the jacket it inspired. The price of Peyton Place weekend chic? £10.        

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

TRY THIS - It's A Novel Idea. The End.

I find I judge books by their covers, not metaphorically but actually. Oh how often I fancy reading a 2nd-hand book because its graphic first impression captures my imagination. The vibe, colour combo, type face, even the size of certain books inspire my style eye. With that in mind, I've decided to accessorize with reading material. Of course the visionary Olympia Le-Tan is making clutch bags that LOOK just like books CLICK HERE, and I'd love to own one. Sadly my purse isn't nearly big enough to afford one of her's. 

Turn the page and at the 2nd-hand bookstalls on London's South Bank I find these bound beauties. Once each is paired with the perfect clutch purse, I've got a book look that I can't put down. Admittedly it's not an everyday style, and the right bag is crucial if it's to work. But occasionally, making a hardback part of your ensemble is easy-peasy in my book.    

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

FOUND - Reflection of One Not Yet Met

I find secondhand gifts from my sister-in-law some of the best I ever get. She's aware of my penchant for pre-owned and so passes on to me little things that belonged to her mother. I never met my mother-in-law. Sylvia died a year before my path crossed her son's. But through small objects - this compact, my wedding ring, a collection of a hankies - I have made her acquaintance. The stories my husband tells me about his mother and family photos help to round out my mental picture of this much-loved woman.  

Sylvia bought this compact from Kays of Worcester, via their once-ubiquitous catalogue CLICK HERENot unlike Sears and Roebuck - an American retailer that started out as a mail order business - Kays sold all sorts of items via catalogue, including ready-to-wear fashions launched in the 1920s. The scratches and worn patches on this fashionable compact are evidence that Sylvia really used it. She would have checked her hair and make-up or removed dust from the eye that looked on her children with constant concern. I wonder what price Kays put on the compact when it was new? Well worn it's priceless to me.     

Monday, 20 April 2015

FOUND - Face to Face at My Place

I find myself surrounded with like-minded women. They're an eclectic group of gals who've been my friends for years. We're a close knit group - I strip down to my knickers in front of them every day. They are the lovely ladies who line the walls of my dressing room.

Framed ink drawings, ceramic busts, old postcards, a needlepoint portrait, a charcoal nude, photographs and more; all images of women that I've found compelling. 

Of course they're secondhand sirens. From flea markets, garage sales, Ebay, car boots and of course charity shops I've tracked down these highly decorative dollies. 

Like mirrors, the images reflect the me I see and the me I wish I could be. My girls remind me that beauty is an expansive word, its permutations endless. 

Faces from places far and wide, the girls mark my travels. I remember the estate sale in Washington DC, the secondhand shop in Florida, the window in Antwerp, the auction house in Chelsea, the antiques barn in Ohio, the roadside stall in Harare. From high art to cast offs, they are the company I keep.

From my dressing room, a self-important name for the room wear I dress, these lovely ladies wish me well. At day break do I hear them remind me I'm special, so special...

Friday, 17 April 2015

FOUND - Blogs Keeping Us in the Pink

This from my pal, actress Gretchen Egolf:

"Recently on my way to see my friend Anmarie’s utterly charming and smart play, RE-TALE, I found I had a little time to kill before curtain-up so I popped into the Marie Curie charity shop just steps away from the Hen & Chickens theatre in Islington. In honor of the play and Huntress London (I'd been surfing the blog that week), I was inspired to buy this scene-stealing Diane Von Furstenberg number. Seen here at a film premiere, I felt picture perfect wrapped in DVF's fuchsia wool winner. The dress was just £40. I'd like to thank the Academy, the charity shop, Huntress London, my family..."

I'm flattered that Huntress inspired Gretchen. Her hot pink pick got me thinking about the blogs that inspire me. There are so many but here's a stylish sampling of what I've been clicking on lately:

Kerry Taylor Auctions website & blog CLICK HERE features an online catalogue that is glorious. KT's latest fashion auction is scheduled for 28 April and even if you can't afford to buy, the viewing days prior to the auction are FREE. The blog itself is full of fash history and style ideas. Read and Learn.  

I'm a big fan of Caroline Jones, of Knickers My Own CLICK HERE. She's wearing clothes from Cancer Research Charity shops for the whole of 2015. That's 365 days of 2nd-hand chic. She's good at it too, Caroline makes charity shop style look easy, modern and cool. In the process she's raising money for Cancer Research - I like to think of her as a sartorial philanthropist.

I'm from the American midwest state of Ohio, so a virtual visit to Kent State University's fashion museum feels like coming home. The Online Catalogue CLICK HERE allows you to browse their collection, and oh my what a collection! Lovely photos coupled with informative descriptions. It's a nice way to wile away a Sunday afternoon. 

Not surprisingly I'm both a regular reader and contributor to the Oxfam Fashion blog CLICK HERE. A relentless team of 2nd-hand style bloggers provide great ideas, content and photos, making this blog an eclectic style read. Contributor Britishette CLICK HERE is a personal fave, and writes her own rather compelling blog as well.  

Clea Broad CLICK HERE is not just a milliner, not just a florist but a style story teller. Her creations have the power to transport you to an imaginary fashion paradise. I love looking in on her, virtually. I'm always uplifted by Clea's latest and greatest.  

What style blogs are you reading these days? 

Thursday, 16 April 2015

FOUND - A Platform for Reinvention

I found these Spring green platforms at one of the Retro shops around the corner from Notting Hill tube station. This cluster of 2nd-hand stores offers to buy and sell your used clothing, accessories and small housewares. One of the bunch is packed to the rafters with pre-owned luxury clothing, 'It' bags and designer shoes but even this unflappable hunter finds its cramped confines an unpleasant experience. I prefer to pop a few doors down to the Retro shops that sell more vintage, less high-end and bit of high-street. That's where I spotted these beauties. 

Platforms can be traced back to 16th century Venice when women wore shoes - of a fashion - called chopines. They elevated ladies to as much as 30 inches off the ground and servants were required to keep the wearer upright. Not surprisingly chopines, often jewel encrusted, were a symbol of wealth and status. But it was the 20th century that saw three major revivals of platform shoes. In the 1930s a wedge platform made of cork became a popular seaside shoe. Later, in the 40s, platforms were made of wood, a practical solution to the war-time shortage of leather. Platforms would fall out of favor until the 1970s, when these green goddesses were made. After the modern, forward-looking designs of the 1960s, the 70s went nostalgic, resurrecting the chunky chopine-esque shoe of the past. The 70s - often maligned but NOW back in vogue - was actually the first era to significantly appropriate from previous decades. Today the reinterpretation of classics is commonplace, but it was the groovy 70s that used retrospection to recreate. My 70s does the 40s clod-hoppers were just £30.  

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

TRY THIS - Secondhand Soundtrack

The Bargain Store by Dolly Parton

My life is like unto a bargain store
And I may have just what you're lookin' for
If you don't mind the fact that all the merchandise is used
But with a little mending it could be as good as new
Why you take for instance this old broken heart
If you will just replace the missing parts
You would be surprised to find how good it really is
Take it and you never will be sorry that you did

The bargain store is open come inside
You can easily afford the price
Love is all you need to purchase all the merchandise
And I will guarantee you'll be completely satisfied

Take these old used memories from the past
And these broken dreams and plans that didn't last
I'll trade them for a future, I can't use them anymore
I've wasted love but I still have some more

The bargain store is open come inside
You can easily afford the price
Love is all you need to purchase all the merchandise
And I can guarantee you'll be completely satisfied

My life is like unto a bargain store
And I may have just what you're lookin' for
If you don't mind the fact that all the merchandise is used
With a little mendin' it could be as good as new

The bargain store is open, come inside
The bargain store is open, come inside

To my surprise and delight, I've found the Huntress London anthem, in fact the perfect theme tune for any 2nd-hand style siren. It's Dolly Parton's The Bargain Store, a sweetly melancholy track released in 1975. I ran across it after picking up The Very Best of DP, pre-owned of course. I'm old school, no music via a portable MP3 player for me, instead I enjoy and endure the sounds of the city when traveling about London. It's while comfortably confined in my own home that I pop in a CD and crank up the tunes. Behind closed doors I can safely dance about the sitting room and warble into a hairbrush. To hear the Dolly ditty that has me singing her praises, CLICK HERE. The Queen of Country's My Potential New Boyfriend and the classic Jolene make this song compilation a must-have costume jewel.