Dye-ing for a Change

Is it time to come out of hibernation yet? If you are a fair-skinned English rose then winter is probably the arch-enemy of your skin tone. When it snows, you may inadvertently create a flurry of chaos as you blend into the background with even snowmen mistaking you for one of their kind. The drab winter months seem to drag on and on but there is no need to be a shy wallflower. A change in colour is as good as a holiday and your winter wardrobe can provide the perfect colour injection. Vivid autumnal shades and splashes of vibrant colour will ensure you stand

Sometimes all it needs to transform your garments is the help of a little dye. This white shirt dress was a cheap and almost perfect charity shop purchase. It’s well made, good quality fabric, lovely fit but the colour is unsuitable for my skin tone. I may as well have been naked as we blended in so effortlessly together. So with a box of fabric dye, some ordinary salt and a cycle in the washing machine, it has been transformed into a lovely deep orange shirt dress, or Rosewood Red to quote the packaging. It is a rich and uplifting shade and perfect for cold, cloudy days. The white
rose has now come into bloom and is ready for her winter debut.

If you fall in love with an item when charity shopping there are plenty of ways to alter to make it fit your size, shape and skin. Keep following our fashion blog for more handy tips like this. 

Oxfam Online Shop: Valentine’s Day

Go to the Oxfam Online Shop

Written by: Fran, Emma and Leslie

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and, if Cupid’s arrow has struck, you may already be preparing your special date night outfit. The Oxfam Online Shop has put together a range of romantic outfits that will make you feel like a million dollars. From a funky hot pink jacket to some cute little heart socks, all areas are covered so you are sure to find the perfect look for whatever you have planned.

Outfit 1

This first outfit has been created to be wearable from day into night. To make a statement we’ve gone for an M&S Deep Purple Cocktail Dress which has a neat bow detail on the front. This has been teamed with a cropped Vintage Fendi Black Jacket which pulls the outfit together and adds a hint
of sophistication. Accessorise with a feminine flowery scarf to tie all of the colours together. This outfit would be perfect with any black heels or boots but we’ve gone for a pair of patent kitten heels. Check out the online shoe collection here.

Outfit 2

Keep it fun and flirty by teaming feminine knits such as this Autograph Coral Cashmere Cardigan with a silky scarf like the Flowers and Polka Dots Silk Scarf we have online. Parisian chic as if straight from the city of love.

Outfit 3

In this outfit we have gone for statement contrasts of bright pinks with black. The short length of this tartan mini skirt allows you to subtly show off those gorgeous legs. A bright jacket adds impact and livens up a neutral outfit so we have chosen this Nicole Fahri for Stephen Marks Hot Pink Jacket to add for some colour and warmth. This M&S Hot Pink and Black Geometric Print  Silk Scarf compliments this outfit with on-trend clashing patterns. If you’re feeling bold add a bowler hat or trilby to inject a unique touch, see for yourself online.


Outfit 4

Keeping with the pink theme, this next outfit is the ideal smart/casual combo. The high quality Suchita Hot Pink Angora Cowel Neck Jumper is lovely and soft and perfect for keeping you warm. We have paired this with a black body con skirt but to keep on trend try wearing a ¾ length pencil tube skirt like these listed online here. Finally, we found some cute
heart print socks making this outfit one of our favourites. Wear them with some shoe boots with the top of the socks peeking out.

Outfit 5 

If you want to ooze sophistication then this outfit is for you. The J Crew Merlot Red Silk Halter Neck Top is the staple item which stands out against the figure enhancing shape created by the pencil skirt and jacket.The deep red silk radiates romance, passion and femininity whilst teamed with powerful tailoring such as a black pencil skirt and blazer. This ensemble will command attention on any dinner and drinks date.

The Oxfam Online Shop is a treasure trove of vintage, high street and designer gems for you to create your perfect Valentine’s Day date night outfit.

Valentine’s DIY: Heart Elbow Patch

Go to the Oxfam Online Shop

Wear your heart on your sleeve, literally, this Valentine’s Day with Oxfam Fashion’s DIY elbow patch. Whether single or coupled, love is unavoidably in the air and a hand-made item can make a really personal gift or simply be worn in seasonal spirit. Visit the Oxfam Online Shop for a selection of jumpers, shirts, sweaters and cardigans to customise with this craft.


A shirt, sweater or cardigan
Scrap material (big enough to cut two heart patches from)
Thread (either in matching or contrasting colour to your fabric)
Heart template (we drew around a heart cookie cutter but you could use a paper template)

Draw around the heart template onto your scrap of material twice to outline your patches.

Carefully cut out the two lovely heart shapes.

Now you need to put on your chosen item so you can work out the positioning of your patches. This can be a bit fiddly but we’ve found it’s helpful to bend your elbows then mark where they sit in your item with a piece of tape. It can be handy to grab an extra pair of hands to help with this.

Pin your patches where your tape markers are. Try your item on again to check the positioning and shift around where necessary.

When your patches are in the right place, blanket stitch (see below) around the edges of your heart to secure it in place.

Repeat on the other patch and voila, you have a unique item made with love.


– Anchor your thread by doing a couple of stitches underneath the patch and near where you’re going to begin stitching.

– Push the needle through the garment and your patch approximately ½ – 1cm in from its edge.

– Pull thread through tight and push needle back through over the edge of the patch, back through the garment.

– Bring needle back through right next to where you just exited the last stitch.

– Approx ½-1cm along from and level with where the first stitch began, enter back through the patch and garment but don’t pull the thread too tight so it leaves loop.

– Keeping it vertically in line with the entry hole, bring the needle back though the garment at the edge of the patch making sure you pass it through the loop of thread and pull tight. 

– Enter back through the patch and garment at ½-1cm along from the previous stitch, leaving a loop, and then bring back though at the edge of the patch again passing through the loop. Continue this pattern all along the edge of the patch.

Oxfam and Marks & Spencer Shwop Shop Highlights

It was only a few days ago that Oxfam’s team fash were perched behind the Shwop Shop cash box for the Oxfam and Marks & Spencer pop-up shop but we’re reminiscing already!

The two-day event was a massive success in raising awareness about the Shwopping campaign whilst giving our visitors the chance to get their hands on some unique, quality garments and celebrity clothes – with all money raised going to support Oxfam’s work.

Here are a few of our Shwop Shop highlights…

Prepping the Shwop Shop

After months of planning, the Oxfam team gathered at the Marks & Spencer Marble Arch store. Facing hundreds of empty hangers and bags of stock, it was finally time to bring the Shwop Shop to life. Sorting, hanging, steaming and pricing the stock was very exciting as we could now see all the fabulous Shwopped items that had been selected for the shop as well as a first glimpse of the clothes celebrities had donated.

Joanna Lumley at the Shwop Shop till

On the Thursday morning our Shwopping ambassador, Joanna Lumley, cut the orange ribbon to declare the Shwop Shop open. Spending a few hours chatting to press, exploring the rails and donating her own jacket, Joanna was keen to get behind the till and issue the first few customer purchases.

Super Shwoppers

As well as offering previously Shwopped stock to purchase, the Shwop Shop encouraged people to bring in donations on the day. We had a staggering response and a few overflowing Shwop Drop bins meaning lots of new items for Oxfam. Thank you!

Brix & Grace

Star stylists Brix Smith-Start and Grace Woodward attended the Shwop Shop opening, styling some garments and offering top charity shopping advice. To see what they said, visit our blog post here. Both donated some fantastic items to the shop too.

Statement style

We had some really exquisite, statement items for sale last week which team fash were definitely lusting after… 

Vintage M&S 

The Shwop Shop housed a fine array of vintage M&S from throughout the decades from psychedelic shirts to brightly patterned tea dresses it was a welcome trip down memory lane with this iconic high street brand. We also had some lovely vintage M&S donations into our Shwop Drop bins including this dress…

Percy Pigs

These sugary household favourites were a lifesaver for team fash at the Shwop Shop. So much so, we are all now suffering Percy Pig withdrawals! 

The Lumley jacket

Joanna Lumley donated a striking reversible jacket to the Shwop Shop which took pride of place and it couldn’t have found a better new owner. The lucky buyer was on route to audition for the BBC One TV show Pointless. The show requests its contestants have an interesting fact about themselves and Joanna’s jacket became this lovely lady’s talking point. Keep an eye out for it on the show!

We had a fantastic flow of customers throughout the two days. Thanks for anyone who popped in and we hope you enjoy your bargains and keep on Shwopping!

For more information on Oxfam and Shwopping, visit our website here.

Shwop Shop: Brix Smith-Start & Grace Woodward styling tips

We were lucky enough to have two esteemed fashion stylists in attendance to our Shwop Shop grand opening this week. Brix Smith-Start and Grace Woodward donated items from their own enviable wardrobes as well as styling some fantastic outfit ensembles from Shwopped stock and Oxfam fashion managed to grab them for a quick chat.

brix smith start and grace woodward

Fabulously flamboyant style guru Brix Smith-Start was a serial donator to this Shwop Shop offering a barrage of designer goodies. Grabbing vibrant cashmere sweaters from the left and colourful patterned midi skirts from the right, she was in her element exclaiming: “this Shwop Shop is beyond inspiring me, I keep looking at things thinking how many great outfits there are in here!”

As a stylist, charity shops are treasure troves for last minute or unique additions to a fashion story. To charity shop the Smith-Start way she advises to: “find a single item that you like and walk around the shop with it holding it up against things it would look good with. Sometimes you can go to charity shops and see something that just resonates with you straight away.”

Brix Smith Start

Brix is a firm Shwopping supporter and said: “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and it’s as simple as that. It’s just human nature and it’s so positive.”

grace woodward

Sporting some fantastic sequin striped trousers, was former fashion stylist of the year, Grace Woodward. Having built her career on tending to the fashion needs of the famous and dressing the pages of the glossies, Grace champions individuality and the Shwop Shop has plenty of that!

“This is my heaven, everything here is really individual and special. The list of designer labels here is ridiculous too, there’s Magiela, Marni, Marc Jacobs and then there’s all the fantastic M&S dresses,” she said.

When it comes to charity shopping, Grace defines two approaches: “Either shop for individuality or literally go for the trends. Think what is hot on the catwalk right now and you can have a designer looking wardrobe for next to no money. Go with your gut feeling.”

Having bargain hunted in charity shops for years, her stylist secret lies with her tailor: “the one thing you’re going to find in charity shops is individuality and just because something doesn’t fit doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have it. If you like the fabric and the colour then the fit can be sorted out and you’d be amazed at what a tailor can do for less than £10.”

As the supporter of numerous sustainable fashion campaigns as well as Shwopping, Grace said: “being a stylish person is about being cool and considerate and not leaving a trail of destruction. It’s not just about what you’re wearing on the outside. To be a truly fabulous and stylish person, that comes from within.”

Thanks for Shwopping and talking to Oxfam fashion Grace and Brix!

Marks & Spencer and Oxfam Shwop Shop

The doors of the Marks & Spencer and Oxfam Shwop Shop opened to the public yesterday for a two -day extravaganza filled with hundreds of uniquely shwopped garments and celebrity donations.

The delicious array of items adorning the rails were handpicked by the festival shop team at Wastesaver, Oxfam’s recycling and sorting facility in Huddersfield.  Shwopped items from all over the country were included in the Shwop Shop, with an exciting selection of vintage M&S pieces. The pop-up shop also housed one-off donations from celebrities including Plan B, Gary Barlow, Gemma Cairney, Caroline Flack, Tali Lennox and Peaches Geldof.

The face of Shwopping, Joanna Lumley opened the event to press and headed the till for the first of the public purchases.  She also donated her own ‘absolutely fabulous’ jacket.

Super stylists Brix Smith-Start and Grace Woodward also attended the opening offering their fashion expertise and putting together a selection of top looks from the Shwop stock (more to come on this from team fash…)

Speaking to Joanna Lumley, Shwopping ambassador, she said: ‘Shwopping does nothing but good. It saves landfill sites from being filled with perfectly good clothes and it respects the clothes we’re dealing with made from cottons, silks, wools, nylons and many more. It does absolute immeasurable good through Oxfam for the people it supports in developing countries.’

She admitted to being a seasoned fan of charity shops herself, she said: ‘A lot of charity shops, particularly Oxfam, get the really, really good clothes which are then knocked down to a fraction of the price. I have no qualms about wearing other people’s clothes, it never troubles me!’

After a successful first day of Shwopping, it’s lucky the Oxfam stock room holds many more hidden treasures ready for the Friday sales!                                                                                                                        

If you can’t make it to the Shwop Shop, the Oxfam Online Shop has plenty of vintage and fashion items for you to browse. 

Shwop Shop: Celebrity Donations

  The Oxfam and Marks & Spencer Shwop Shop has had a mass of top quality shwopped clothing and accessories to offer over the last two days and, in among the vintage M&S, we’ve had some extra special items.

Running through the heart of the shop is a collection of garments donated from the wardrobes of our generous celebrity supporters. Below is just a small taster of some of the statement pieces we’ve had on our rails.











M&S and Oxfam launch two-day shwop shop

Marks & Spencer and Oxfam are holding a two-day pop-up shwop shop this week at the flagship M&S Marble Arch store.

Shwoppers can snap up designer bargains donated by Britain’s top contemporary style icons including Alexa Chung, Daisy Lowe, Jo Wood and Zandra Rhodes – as well as the best items shwopped at M&S from the public.


Caroline Flack and Daisy Lowe

Running on the 24th and 25th January, the celebrity shop will be staffed by a host of famous faces including shwopping guru Joanna Lumley, who said:

“By opening your hearts, minds and your wardrobe and going shwopping, you can not only bag an outfit worn on the red carpet or to a glitzy awards evening, but help the environment too. Fashion with a conscience, it is perfect isn’t it? By shwopping all we want you to do is give your unwanted items stuffed in the back of your wardrobe a future. Simply bring an old item back every time you buy a new outfit, shwop and shop! Come to the shwop shop, shwop and shop and leave with a smile – the world will then feel a better place!”

M&S and Oxfam’s shwopping collaboration urges shoppers to donate – or ‘shwop’ – an unwanted item of clothing that will go on to be re-sold, re-used or recycled by Oxfam, cutting waste while raising much-needed funds.

All money raised by the shop will be used to support Oxfam’s projects around the world working to alleviate poverty.

Dozens of famous faces including model and artist Tali Lennox, TV presenter Caroline Flack, model Erin O’Connor, Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt, singer Ellie Goulding, Radio 1 star Gemma Cairney and Style Bubble blogger Susie Lau have already donated items ranging from evening dresses to red carpet frocks to designer denims.

Ellie Goulding and Gemma Cairney

Every celeb item in the pop up store has an A-list history behind them, including Flack’s X Factor dress and Jo Wood’s vintage Susan Small dress bought whilst on tour in America.

Tali Lennox and Gizzi Erskine

There will also be a chance for shoppers to own a piece of fashion history as the shwop shop will have a selection of coveted M&S vintage items.


M&s vintage

Sarah Farquhar, Head of Retail Brand for Oxfam, said: “Oxfam shops are full of hidden treasures and we have regular shoppers who turn up week in week out to get their hands on the latest donations. But this time we are doing the rummaging for them; bringing the best of the shwopped items we have received over the last few months plus exciting celebrity donations straight to the public instead. It will be really exciting to see people browsing Oxfam clothing in the middle of an M&S store.”

Shwop shop is open from 10.30am – 9pm on Thursday 24th & 8am-9pm on Friday 25th January 2013.

Address: Ground Floor, Marks & Spencer, 458 Oxford Street. London. W1C 1AP

Follow @Oxfamfashion and @Shwopping for updates from the event

Charity Shopping for Your Best Colours

A helpful guide to finding your best colours when shopping.

When I am shopping, whether it be in charity shops or otherwise, colour is one of the key factors that determines how successful a purchase will be. There are some colours that look good on me. These are the colours that I feel great wearing, that make my skin glow and that I just can’t help wearing all the time. There are other colours that no matter how much I want to like them, never look quite right, they make me look pale and drained.

I have made countless mistake purchases in colours that don’t suit me including pale pink, turquoise and purple. These colours would look beautiful on someone else but just don’t do me any favours and usually end up designed to be scrunched up in the back of the wardrobe,  never to see the light of day.

So I have resolved to learn from these colour mistakes, donate them to Oxfam so that someone else can look amazing in them and try and buy clothes in colours that look great from now on. My favourite charity shop buys are those that I wear day in, day out, simple pieces of clothing in my ‘best colours’, a bright red cardigan, a black and white striped top and a mustard yellow tunic top.

Many people will instinctively know which colours look great on them but if you don’t , here are a few tips to help you find your best colours:-

• Generally, if you have a cool skin tone (undertones of pink, blue and purple), you will look best in pinks, blues and purples, if you have a warm skin tone with undertones of yellow, olive and brown ) you will look best in beiges, reds, yellows and oranges.
• The greater the contrast between your hair and skin colour, the bolder and brighter the colours that will suit you. e.g is your hair and skin are a light brown colour, you will look best in muted or pastel tones, if your hair is dark and your skin very pale, you will look best in bright colours.
• You will usually look good in any of the colours that you can see when you look into the iris of your eye when you look at it in natural light.
• The easiest way to see if a colour suits you is by holding it against your face. You should also aim to wear your ‘best colours’ near your face for maximum effect.
• The impact of a colour will change depending on what colours it is worn with. Black or a contrasting colour will tend to make it look more intense or bold, whilst white or a complimentary colour will make it more subtle or muted. 
• You could also find a celebrity with a similar colour to yours and see what colours they wear on the red carpet. They are likely to have a very well paid stylist help them choose which colours to wear.

‘I can’t believe I found this amazing vintage jacket in yellow, one of my best colours’