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My Guide To Buying Secondhand Clothing

You can pick up some absolute gems when searching through racks of pre-loved clothes, all it takes is a little patience. I’ve been doing it for years and love creating outfits with beautiful pieces I’ve bought either on Depop, in a charity shop or vintage store. There’s something to suit everyone’s style. Here are my top tips for buying secondhand clothing for this seasons wardrobe.

Forget Any Preconceived Ideas

Charity shops have come a long way over the years and aren’t full of stained or moth eaten clothing that no one would ever dream of wearing. The stores are stocked with carefully chosen pieces that have already been washed and everywhere is laid out in sections, either by colour or style. The staff are extremely helpful and knowledgeable, just as you’d find in a high street store.

Minor Problems Can Be Fixed

You can easily sew on a button or put on a complete new set to jazz up a blazer or coat. Broken zip, no worries, a new zip can simply be sewn in, either by you or anyone you know with a sewing machine. A hem can be taken up to make a skirt or dress just the perfect length and if a top or dress is slightly too low cut across the bust, a few stitches are all it takes to protect your modesty. If there does happen to be a slight mark it can easily be removed by one of the many fabric cleaners on the market. Failing that take it along to a local dry cleaners, which is well worth doing for a one off vintage or designer garment.

Always Try It On

Clothes may look fabulous on a hanger but can look absolutely hideous the minute you try on what you thought was the perfect looking dress. The same rule applies the other way round, it could hang like a sack on the hanger but once you slip it on the dress could give you the most stunning shape and drape beautifully across the body.

Always Check The Returns Policy

This is definitely worth checking if you’re buying on Depop, Ebay or Oxfam On Line. Imagine how heartbroken you’d be after ordering a stunning piece of clothing only for it to arrive and it didn’t fit. Or there was a hole in the garment that wasn’t shown in the photo and the seller wouldn’t give you a refund.

Trust Your Instinct

If you know an item will go with at least 3 outfits in your wardrobe and you know you’ll get lots of wear from that piece then it’s worth having. Does it suit your personal style or are you buying it just because it’s something that’s on trend? Also don’t be a label snob, if you think you will wear the item then buy it.

Don’t Rule Out Accessories

Hats, jewellery and bags all add those perfect finishing touches to any outfit. You may stumble across a 1950s bag that looks brand new and you’re unlikely to see one of your friends with the same one. If you can’t quite stretch to a full price designer handbag, then buying secondhand is the best way to go, especially if it’s a classic design that’s never going to go out of style.

Have you found a great secondhand bargain?

You may also like to read My Autumn Charity and Vintage Shop Haul

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October Round Up: What I’ve Been Up To This Month

I say this every time, but what the heck happened to October? I seemed to have been catapulted forward in time from the end of September. I feel like the days have wizzed past so quick, I’ve hardly had time to catch my breath. To be fair, I’ve had loads of fun this month which you’ll see later on in this post. The clocks went back, which always seems strange for the first week. The nights are getting darker, yes the candles have been lit and fairy lights are now on, I don’t need an excuse. We’ve been doing plenty of seasonal baking in our house, cakes and cookies as well as casseroles and pasta dishes, so the house smells divine. I finally went to the cinema to watch Downton Abbey and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve got every episode on box set and couldn’t wait to watch the film.

 As we’d had such a great day at Hitchin Lavender in the summer, we decided to go back again for a spot of pumpkin picking. I hadn’t realised they’d even got a pumpkin field until I saw a few photos on my friend’s Facebook page and couldn’t wait to go along to see for myself. Adrian had to lift on the straw bale and I chose that very moment to get the fit giggles. We took along a flask of tea and packet of biscuits to share, which was most welcome. There’s also a very rare sight in this photo…..I’m wearing jean’s.

As if I didn’t think this year could get any worse. On 8th October my sweet little Pepper said goodnight for the very last time. She was 22 years old and we’d had her for 11 of those years after adopting her from our neighbours. My heart was literally broken. Her funny little ways have given us so much joy over the years. I’ll miss the cuddles she gave when I’d been poorly, her cute furry face and soggy pink nose staring over me first thing in the morning and the way she’d snuggle up to any of my clothes or in the washing basket. I’ll miss the look of excitement when she’d hear the sound of her favourite packet of treats and her sweet little meow when she’d want my attention.

We’ve planted a chrysanthemum bush on her grave, so every October it will flower as beautiful as she was. Sleep tight sweet Pepper, Nan will look after you now.

I thought I’d share a few snaps from some of our Autumnal walks. The weather has been absolutely gorgeous, cold but sunny, and it seemed the perfect opportunity to get out and explore. We didn’t have to go far to find some beautiful woodland walks and the crisp air certainly blew the cobwebs away. I love seeing all the beautiful colours around this time of year and of course had to collect all things Autumnal.

Speaking of the countryside, while we were out and about in the villages we came across a bus shelter that’s being used as a library where people donate books. What a fab idea, I know where to take my unused books now. Luckily I was able to pick up some inspiration for an Autumn baking session from The Great British Bake Off.

When our friend Andrew invites us to his party, Adrian and I are usually first through the door. Not because I’m eager to tuck into the amazing buffet he’d prepared or anything like that, no I love just love a good party. It was lovely to see our other friends there too, we all lead pretty different lives and don’t get to catch up with each other as often as we’d like to. We all had a wonderful everything, paying silly games, dancing to the music and chatting until the wee small hours.

On the 18th October we took a walk into town to visit a French Market. I tried delicious delicacies, chatted to stall holders and danced along to music being played. I came home with a beautiful blanket scarf for when the weather turns colder and some tasty fruit tartlets. It certainly was a fantastic few hours, plus it was a great excuse to wear the new coat I’d featured in my latest fashion post 8 Autumn Pieces To Wear Everyday.

I couldn’t finish this post without a mention of Halloween. There was a time when I wouldn’t have stepped foot near anything spooky, so to attend a themed party for the third year in a row is such an achievement for me. I chose to dress up as a Grave Yard Bride and oh my word did we have an absolute ball. I’ll leave a link here if you’d like to see a few more photos. I’d love to say that I baked these Halloween cookies but sadly not, they were in the window of a local bakers and I thought they looked delicious. And a great photo to complete my October round up with.

What have you been up to this month? Have you been celebrating Halloween?

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My Illness Doesn’t Define The Person I Am Today

Illness isn’t a defining role in my life, it may have shaped me but it isn’t who I am. I’m a wife, sister, friend, fundraiser, blogger, and cat lover amongst many other things. These are how I define myself, I just happened to have a neurological illness. I am no more defined by my illness than I am by my blonde hair or the fact that I survived an abusive childhood. Having an illness or being a survivor of abuse doesn’t define my character, it’s what I’ve done afterwards that’s made all the difference to the person I am today.

Every time I have a bad day there’s an overwhelming feeling that hits me like a slap in the face. Irrational thoughts of I’m a failure or I’m not good enough come out of nowhere. The frustration that follows a neurological relapse is unreal, parts of my body no longer work as they’re supposed to and stop me from physically doing things I once took for granted. I’m willing my legs to move, my speech not to sound slurred and my hand to un-clench, but without Harry Potter’s wand it’s never going to happen.

On the outside I “look so well” but on the inside I’m trapped while the world moves on around me. I feel so alone. The fear hangs over me like a dark cloud. What if something happens to Adrian and I can’t get out of bed for days and no one knows I’m there? A million “What if” questions run through my head and bring on a panic attack. I can’t breathe, the walls are closing in around me and I want to scream but no sound leaves my mouth.

I’m both mentally and physically exhausted.

Life has been difficult at times. I had to give up full time work due to my physical disability. My eyesight is failing, I have tremors and lack of sensation in my legs, arms and lower back. I suffer from seizures that leave me unable to move for days and often I’m crying in agony because the pain is so severe.

With the help of a counsellor, a physiotherapist, an alternate therapist and, of course, Adrian, I’m making the best out of life that I possibly can. I had to re-evaluate how I did things. I joined a support group for people in the same situation as me, eventually becoming a “buddy” for newly diagnosed members to talk through how they were feeling. I began raising money for the charity by doing a sponsored wheelchair push and arranging a pamper evening for all the ladies. I developed new friendships as well as strengthening life long relationships. I also gave a presentation to health and social care workers where I talked about the advantages of using a day care centre or charity support group from a clients’ point of view.

It gave me a sense of purpose again. My anxiety improved and I felt mentally stronger. It was one day a week but I was making a difference to someone else’s life, not just my own.

I started writing my blog which allowed me to continue my love of fashion and beauty. I began talking to people on line who had similar interests to me, we’d have a laugh, a moan or support each other in whatever way we could. I learnt new photography skills by working my way round the manual settings of a camera, all about lighting and the use of props to tell a story. I stepped out of my comfort zone by posing in front of the camera and (hopefully) inspiring people on what outfits to wear. I’ve explored local places I perhaps wouldn’t have done if it wasn’t for writing my blog. I’ve even learnt how to bake cakes which I especially love doing for friend’s birthdays or baby showers. I find it very therapeutic mixing the ingredients from scratch and creating something that tastes delicious.

I still have bad days, both mentally and physically. I’m proud of all the little things I’ve achieved despite having a disability. I’ve learnt to understand what triggers a neurological symptom to flare up or what causes my panic attacks. Everything feels a million times worse if I cannot control a situation, however much I try to use my coping techniques. Yes I need the help of carers and cannot leave the house on my own or go to the ladies without assistance. But I won’t give up living life and doing the things I enjoy.

I’m incredibly proud of the small things I’ve achieved and won’t let it hold me back. I take life at my pace and still need to hide in my sanctuary every so often, but there’s nothing wrong in that. We all need to a day or two to recharge, no matter what we’re going through.

However bad life gets, I won’t let my illness define who I am, I’m more than just medical appointments, tablets and a wheelchair. It doesn’t make me a failure just because I’m not able to do something the way I once did. My illness isn’t a barrier to stop me doing the things I want to achieve in life, I just have to do them slightly differently.

If you’re in a dark place, remember there’s always someone you can talk to and get help. Most importantly, remember you’re not alone.

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A Celebratory Picnic At Hitchin Lavender

I’m extremely lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the UK with places such as Hitchin Lavender practically on my doorstep. I didn’t need to think twice when it came to deciding how we’d celebrate our anniversary this year. No fancy meal in a restaurant, no weekend break or a big family party.

I wanted to enjoy a picnic, surrounded by a sea of stunning purple flowers and feel relaxed by the divine smell of lavender. Adrian and I packed up the hamper with pasta, fruit salad, a Victoria Sponge and a bottle of wine to toast our happy day.

We couldn’t have asked for better weather, the sun was shining and the skies were blue. The lavender fields were extremely busy, yet so peaceful with everyone going about their business, getting lost in their own thoughts. We were both given a paper bag each on the way in, so we collected as much lavender as we could to take home. I love to let the flowers dry out and make lavender bags for my wardrobes and drawers, they keep my clothes smelling fresh and the moths away!

Naturally, we had to take plenty of photos, I’ll be popping one in a frame to remember the day. Our actual wedding anniversary is in April when the weather can be a bit hit and miss. Instead, every year on 4th July (the date of our first night out together) we do something a little extra special rather than just watching a film and having a take away.

I felt super feminine in my white broderie anglaise mini dress, a straw hat that’s so old I can’t remember where it’s from and a basket bag I picked up from a charity shop for £4. My pearl jewellery is from a local vintage shop and made the perfect finishing touch to a pretty summer outfit.

We both had a wonderful afternoon, extremely full from all the food we ate and a little merry from the wine. I certainly slept well that night!

Have you been anywhere to celebrate a special day? I’d love to hear about the place you visited.

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Let’s Catch Up: What Have I Been Up To

Wearing my favourite pair of ankle boots while I sit down to have a catch up

I can’t believe we’re well into December and only a few weeks away from Christmas. I love this time of year, coming home on a dark evening and looking at all the pretty Christmas trees people have in their windows. I love getting home, closing the curtains, lighting the candles and switching on all the fairy lights we’ve got hung round the room, The first thing I do is change into my pyjamas, make a hot chocolate and get cosy under a blanket on the sofa for half an hour and enjoy the peace and quiet. 

Since the first of December I’ve been opening a mini stocking from my home made advent calendar that Adrian puts together for me. So far this year I’ve had some fantastic mini Decleor skincare products. I haven’t got round to taking any photos yet as I’m such a bad blogger.

In this month's catch up I'm toasting my husband's birthday with a glass of moet
In this month's catch up I show how we made a candle out of left over bits of wax using a candle making kit
In this month's catch up I show how we made a candle out of left over bits of wax using a candle making kit

On the 24th November we celebrated Adrian’s birthday with a glass of Moet that I was lucky enough to have been sent via the O2 Priority app. I wasn’t going to turn my nose up at a free bottle of drink. Adrian chose to stay at home on his birthday, order in a take away and watch a film. We are complete opposites when it comes to birthdays, I prefer to get dressed up and go out to celebrate. 

There’s so much waste left after a candle has finished burning. We’ve been saving up all the autumnal smelling bits of wax, then melted them down in a saucepan and made our own layered candle using a candle making kit we found on Amazon. Each layer smells absolutely delicious. 

having my hair cut and coloured in my monthly catch up post

I love that feeling when you’ve just had your hair cut at the salon. I’ve been going to Style Me Hairdressing for two years and my hair is in much better condition than it was back in 2016. The ends were dry and kept splitting, and my hair had absolutely no shape to it at all. I love how it looks now, especially when my hair stylist, Amy, puts a few waves in for me. I colour my hair at home using Clairol Nice and easy Permanent Dye in the shade SB1, it’s just been redone and will last me until the New Year.

in my monthly catch up I wanted to  talk about Blogosphire magazine where my photo had been featured
In this months catch up I'm featuring the candle and reed diffuser I won in a competition

There was one week where three fabulous things happened all close together. It started off on the Monday when I was extremely lucky and won a competition run by Alice and the prize was this amazing bundle from Heyland and Whittle gift company.  The room smells absolutely divine with this very festive Frankincense reed diffuser and Winter Spice candle, perfect for our cosy nights in, watching Christmas films and wrapped up under a fluffy blanket.

Next I got a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with the high street fashion brand Warehouse, featuring What To wear To An Office Party. I was so excited to put this post together and have chosen the trouser suit and pleated midi dress to wear to two parties I have coming up. 

Finally, I could not believe my eyes when I opened the latest edition of Blogosphere Magazine, which is run by bloggers for bloggers. On the page where they feature their favourite photos of the magazine was one of my photos. I quite literally cried with joy. 

in this months catch up post I'm wearing a cosy coat and bobble hat

At the end of November we went into town to see the Christmas lights being switched on. We had a fantastic evening watching the Christmas parade with Santa on his sleigh, drinking mulled wine and going round the stalls tasting all the yummy festive food. We enjoyed listening to a local school choir singing all the old Christmas carols and the DJ who kept us all entertained by playing our favourite Christmas number one songs and got us all excited ready for the countdown to the light switch on.  It was so busy, Adrian and I went back a few days later just so I could have my photo taken next to the tree. 

Adrian and I are just about ready for Christmas now. Our decorations went up the first week in December and I’ve finished all my Christmas shopping, apart from fresh items which I’ll get a few days before. I’ve wrapped all the gifts and written out cards ready to posts to friends and family far away. This year we’ve chosen to send personalised cards to close family and the photo we decided to have on the front was this one of a robin sitting in our garden. Adrian took it a few years ago and it’s one of my all time favourite winter themed photos. All that’s left is to make some mince pies, it’s amazing how many of my friends still think these actually have meat inside.

I also had a great time at a Christmas Victorian themed market where we bought little stocking fillers from small businesses. The atmosphere was buzzing and I wish I was able to get dressed up in one of the amazing costumes. 

I’ve been going through my wardrobe and recycling clothes that have been in there for ages. I’m much more mindful about the way I shop now, instead of buying loads of items I’ll never wear I add in a few new key pieces all built around my 10 Winter Wardrobe Staples. It’s been great to make up new outfits from clothes I already had just by wearing them with a different accessory, skirt or jumper. I did treat myself to a new pair of nude ankle boots from TK Maxx, they’re the ones in the main photo and worn with this dress from Zara. I can see myself wearing these all year round, how cute would these look with a floaty knee length dress on chillier summer days?

Well that’s all for now, I hope you’ve enjoyed this very festive catch up.  Are you ready for Christmas? Have you been to a Christmas light switch on or festive themed markets?

You may also enjoy last year’s festive catch up.

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