Simplicity in Silk – How to Style a Silk Blouse

Recently I found a beautiful pure silk blouse in my local Oxfam store on Bold Street in Liverpool. I instantly knew how I would wear it – my incredibly comfortable cropped straight jeans and loafers. The simplicity of this outfit is perfect for a casual day at home. The first time I wore this I was at home studying…cat by my side and fire warming my feet (thinking about aesthetics here). The pure silk falls beautifully and is so soft. I would say I felt pretty smart – the buttoned-up style and collar with
the elegant material creates the illusion of being dressed up (even when you replace the jeans for flared black trousers and you’re giving off a classic casual ’70s look which is always a yes from me).

Another look you could go for is pairing the blouse and cropped jeans with skinny ankle boots and some tights – I am constantly considering layers with this sharp winter weather. I love layering in winter as it not only looks great but it means it is easier to reuse your favourite pieces throughout the year.

Whilst writing this article I was planning social media for a Clothes Swap event run by Just Love Liverpool, a branch of the NGO Just Love UK. This organisation aims to spread awareness about social injustices such as slavery, sex trafficking and homelessness as well as raising awareness of how to be more ethical and sustainable, including when it comes to thinking about what we wear. I was reflecting on the incredible way in which reusing clothes is not only helping our environment – did you know that ‘UK households binned 300,000 tonnes of clothing in 2016‘?  but it is also causing us the evaluate questions such as how are our clothes being made? Where are they coming from? These questions I have found are being asked more and more as we have seen an increase in the number of social media pages now devoted to ending fast fashion and believing in
alternative ethical and sustainable ways.

If someone asks me where I bought this blouse and I say a charity shop, immediately I’ve got a conversation starter in which to spread awareness of the injustice of slavery. Simply buying a blouse from a charity shop is making a statement that fast fashion is out of hand and there are alternative ways to shop. Charity shopping is fun (how many times have you found the oddest and most random things that probably haven’t seen the light in decades?). But at the same time, we can be activists for so many issues!

A devastating issue that I am passionate about is tackling the gender inequality and utter lack of women rights when we look at the unethical practices of factories focused on producing the cheap t-shirts for example we can purchase on the high streets. “A recent report  by the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) revealed that recruiters in southern India convince parents in impoverished rural areas to send their daughters to spinning mills with promises of a well-paid job, comfortable accommodation, three nutritious meals a day and opportunities for training and schooling, as well as a lump sum payment at the end of three years. Their field research shows that “in reality, they are working under appalling conditions that amount to modern day slavery and the worst forms of child labour“.

Isn’t it unfathomable that we are still living in a world where slavery is still a major issue? Over 40 million people are trapped in slavery right now.

Furthermore, with their 12 partners across the world Oxfam interviewed ‘hundreds of women workers and many farm and factory managers, supply chain agents, retail and brand company staff, unions and government officials’. They discovered that ‘Fewer than half of the women employed in Bangladesh’s textile and garment export sector have a contract, and the vast majority get no maternity or health coverage – but 80 per cent fear dismissal if they complain.’

The clothing industry is clearly intertwined with issues of gender inequality. Women are severely devalued and frankly it would seem dehumanised. By charity/vintage shopping and raising awareness at the same time, we can create a huge impact on the clothing industry.

So, this silk blouse from an Oxfam store on a small corner of the world sure can do a lot of loud talking…

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How to Upcycle Using Embroidery – A Denim Jacket Transformation

Some of you may already know that I am an embroidery nerd. I taught myself needlepoint and cross-stitch way back during my Fine Art degree and have been stitching pretty much every day since. Stitching by hand can be incredibly time consuming, and working full-time means there’s little time left in the day to complete lots of projects.

Thankfully, I’ve found a way around this and a way of combining two of my favourite things – charity shopping and needlepoint. For the past couple of years I have been scouring the charity shops for abandoned embroidery projects, with the hope of finishing them off or unpicking areas of stitches and reworking them into something else entirely. The perk of this is that most of the stitching has already been done for me, and all that’s left is for me to put my own spin on it.

One of my first reworking attempts was a completed needlepoint piece of a large ship at sea, to which I added some ginormous sea monster tentacles attacking the ship. The next was a small landscape piece that someone had completed but not bothered to frame, which I decided to add the Instagram ‘Like’ icon to the bottom corner and finish into a small cushion complete with a pom-pom trim.

While trawling the charity shops in Halifax (spoiler alert: they’re great and I always find something) I came across a small, completed, swan needlepoint in a frame for just £1.00! Of course I bought it. Initially, I didn’t have plans for this piece, but on a whim, I removed it from its frame and pinned it to the back panel of my denim jacket. I decided to keep things deliberately ‘rough’ and really simple; I pinned the piece to my jacket, and simply hand-stitched it in place, leaving the edges frayed and loose.

 

 

My next project? Well, I have an embarrassingly large collection of completed needlepoint pieces I’ve found in charity shops now, so I really need to start to work my way through them all, but I have my eye on reworking this tiger I found in my local Oxfam in Oldham…

 

 

As much as I’d love to hog all of the embroidery pieces in the world for myself, should you come across some, there are many things you could do with it. If you’re feeling handy with a needle and thread, you could follow suit, and rework areas of it. Confident using a sewing machine? Make it into a bag or cushion. Or, you could simply display it just as it is and appreciate the time someone put into making it for you.

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My Top Tips for Newbie Fashion Charity Shoppers

I have been charity shopping for years now, and for a long time I would avoid the clothing rails altogether. It seems ludicrous now, but I never had much luck finding anything I liked, or perhaps I wasn’t as open minded back then. These days, I make sure I check every part of the shop and consequently I’ve come away with some great finds!

My first rule of thumb is to skim past all of the ex-Primark, supermarket brands – my reasoning being that these pieces were cheap to begin with, so why pay the same price for secondhand? Secondly, check all areas – that’s right, men’s and women’s clothing. All items can be altered relatively cheaply, buttons can be replaced, holes darned and zips fixed. What you’re looking for is well made pieces (you can’t go wrong with 100% cotton, wool or leather if you wear it…) in prints that you love with no dodgy stains or marks that you’ll never be able to
get out.

Finally, bonus points if you have items in mind that you’d love to find so that you have some focus when you go shopping. Pinterest is perfect for saving images of different looks and items of clothing you like, and I keep a fantasy shopping list in the notes on my phone. Of course, with charity shopping you never know what you’ll find, but persevere and go in every charity shop you come across. I have a thing for coats and jackets so I always look for those. My collection is growing a little out of hand, but I have now ticked-off all of the styles I was looking for.

Unfortunately, while most women my age are taking their styling inspiration from Kate Moss and Alexa Chung, it occurred to me that I look like I’ve been watching one too many episodes of Only Fools and Horses and have every coat and jacket as seen on Del-Boy and Rodney Trotter.

 

 

Credit picture 1: Daily Mail / Credit Picture 2:  Birmingham Mail



It began with the flannel shirt. Plaid shirts are another growing collection of mine, and I love this particular shirt as it’s thick enough to wear as a lightweight jacket and I love the bison logo on the label! A steal for £3. What I thought was a nineties grunge staple á la Judd Nelson punching the air at the end of The Breakfast Club, turned out to be reminiscent of Rodney’s lumberjack coat.

 



Then along came the £10 shearling wool coat. I had been hunting for one for years but every one I came across previously was far too big or far too expensive.  What I thought was the perfect seventies winter coat, is actually perfect for channelling your inner Del Boy selling wind-up barking dogs out of a suitcase on the high-streets of Peckham.

 



Finally, the £7 camo jacket. I thought a camo jacket would be a great “Oh, this old thing?!” jacket to throw on over a t-shirt, and would look great with a pop of colour worn underneath (think Mickey with her bright red swimsuit and camo combo in Netflix’s Love) but it turns out it’s another Rodney Trotter go-to.

I may have left the south-east to live in Manchester, but sartorially I’ll always be a Trotter. But please remember, my name’s not Rodney, it’s Sarah.

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How to DIY your own Lace Bottom Tailored Trousers

As all you fashion lovers will have probably seen in almost every high street shop, Lace trousers are totally on trend this season! Why not Revamp some boring old trousers into an on trend pair of beauties?

What you need

– Some Old Trousers

– A Lace

– A Sewing Machine

– Needle & Thread

If you don’t own any old trousers, come and visit us in any of our local Oxfam Shops or in our Online shop.

Follow these steps

1.  First of all, I started by shortening my trousers by 7″. When shortening I took into account that the hem was 1inch so overall they would be 8 inch shorter. If your not sure how much to take off, put them on and ask someone to give you a hand measuring so you can see how long you want them.

 

2. Secondly, I turned the raw edge over by 1.5cm and did a full machine stitch all the way around to hold in place. The reason I didn’t use an over locker is because I know many people don’t own one so I have done the way everyone would be able to do if they owned a sewing machine, but with an over locker would be much quicker and easier.

 

3. Then turn up again another 1.5 cm and sew. This will lock in the raw edge and make a nice neat new French seam.

 

 

4. Now to the best bit using whichever lace you desire.

I used heavy weight hole lace which is easy to cut into shapes to appliqué on. I cut the same parts of the lace for both the front and back of the trousers so they match. Pin in place making sure both legs are matching!

 

5. Finally,  using a needle and thread I did little tack stitches on parts of the lace where it wouldn’t be seen to hold it to the trousers!



 

And…Da Da! You have your own on trend lace hem trousers!


Don’t forget to share all your creations with us @OxfamFashion #foundinoxfam

Post written by Leah Topham, volunteer at Oxfam Batley where she helps upcycle the clothes. She’s written this series called Rags to Riches where she lets us in on
her DIY secrets, keep your eye out for her next post! You can also check out her last one ‘How to make a Victorian D&G dress’

 

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5 Reasons to Buy Your Wedding Dress From Oxfam

With the average cost of a wedding in the UK estimated at £25,000 what better way to get fantastic value for money than buying your dress at Oxfam Online Shop or in one our our Bridal Boutiques? Not only will you look good but you will feel great knowing your cash is being used to fight poverty. Oxfam Bridal even recently featured on an episode of Say Yes To The Dress!

 

Here are my top 5 reasons why you should try Oxfam Bridal for your wedding gown:

1. Huge selection

Oxfam has over 1,000 vintage wedding dresses from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and contemporary styles online. The online site makes it really easy to search through our selections from the comfort of your own home. Your dress will be delivered by courier to your door and we offer free returns. What could be simpler?

2. Unique Styles

Want something different that will make you stand out from the crowd? Your friends looked amazing in their traditional gowns but you want something that little bit different. Maybe you are planning a vintage wedding with a 50s feel just like film star Grace Kelly or have your heart set on a classic 90s minimalist affair.

3. Brand new and designer dresses

Oxfam has a selection of dresses that are brand new with tags still attached offering brides-to-be excellent value at a fraction of the RRP. The Batley range currently includes dresses from big name designers including Vera Wang, Biba and Jasper Conran!

4. Manage costs

The average cost of a UK wedding is estimated at £25,000 – that is a sum that is out of reach for many. The dress is often one of the biggest costs and by using Oxfam you can find your dream dress at a fraction of the cost. Prices currently start at £39.99.

5. Help make a difference

By buying from Oxfam you are supporting our work fighting poverty in Britain and around the world. Because of you we can campaign for girls around the world to be educated, respond to disasters and help get women into work. Buying one dress has the power to change lives; it means we can provide support for eight refugees or buy a family of goats. Thank you for your support, we won’t live with poverty and we know you won’t either.

But don’t take our word for it. Here are the thoughts of some of our customers:

“I chose to buy my dress from Oxfam because I liked that I could give something back” Kat

“It’s a brand new Johanna Hehir dress….it was the first dress I tried on and it felt really special” Lucy

Shop online now or visit our Bridal Pop-Up Shop in Batley

Don’t forget to share pictures of your best finds with us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook using #foundinoxfam

Post written by Joanne Ginley, a sometime blogger and volunteer at Oxfam Online. She says “Ask anyone who knows me and they will confirm clothes shopping is my favourite hobby! I love nothing more than scouring the shops or searching online for a real bargain. I’m a firm believer in the power of accessories and am currently developing a real liking for homeware.”

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5 Top Tips for Charity Shopping from Preloved Style Expert Paloma in Disguise

I have done a few charity shop outfit round-up’s over on my blog, Paloma In Disguise, throughout the years but I have never done an Oxfam round-up over here, on the Oxfam Fashion Blog. I thought it was about time since many, many of my photographed blog outfits over the years have consisted of a lotta, lotta Oxfam. 

Combined with a few tips to ensure you get the most out of second-hand shopping I thought I would go through a few of my favourite Oxfam purchases.

 

Tip 1: Visit Often

My number one tip to ensure you get the most out of charity shopping is to visit often. Whether it’s a fleeting visit as you have a few minutes to spare, a scroll on Oxfam Online Shop or you have decided to spend the afternoon browsing the charity shops. Due to the nature of charity shops, you never know when someone your size, with your style and a beautiful wardrobe has dropped of a whole load of loveliness. The more you visit, the more likely you are to find things, from the quirky vintage dress you didn’t know you needed (which was
the case with my paisley pink, full length shirt) or the jumper in the style and colour you had been after for bloomin’ ages. By going fairly often (read: a lot!) I have found a heavily embellished top for New Years Eve, a black midi dress convenient for every single day of my life and a glitterball of a jumper that dresses up even the most casual of outfits! The term ‘right place, right time’ was invented for charity shopping – I’m sure!


Boots, belts and bags
Tip 2: Don’t forget the Accessorise

I should listen to my own advice here. I’m first to the rail of dresses in all charity shops. It’s like I’m on a mission – and that mission is to rummage through every single dress. Then before I know it, it’s time to leave and I walk straight out past the basket FULL of bargain belts. I have found some amazing belts, necklaces and bags over the years that really are a fraction of their original high-street/designer price. Charity shop bargains at their absolute best.


Tip 3: With a little DIY…

Sometimes charity shopping can be daunting in that it’s unlikely you are going to find exactly what you’re after. However, that doesn’t stop you buying something similar and adapting it a little. After a specific slogan T-Shirt? Chances are your local charity shop will sell plain t-shirt’s that, with a few iron on letters from the ol’ internet, can lead to exactly the slogan t-shirt you were after. I shared my own how-to with Oxfam Fashion and created my own lil’ slogan top here. Hems
can be taken up and waistbands can be taken in. One of my most worn Oxfam dresses was my denim button front dress which was originally so long in the length that I would have had a denim train had I left it long. After cutting the hem of to suit short ol’ me better, it is still is the dress I go to for a little effortless, comfortable dressing.

 


Tip 4: Be open minded

Another thing I am a repeat offender of. Someone will tell me that they picked something up from Oxfam. Next time I’m in there I will be not-so-unconsciously scouting out for that particular item and chances are, I won’t leave with it because it won’t be there!  By looking for specific items, you can miss the things that, with a little thought, can be slotted into your wardrobe perfectly. On the hanger, the check blue shorts weren’t something I thought would work well with the tops and shoes already in my wardrobe. I went ahead and bought these anyway and they
became my absolute favourite outfit when paired with a white shirt and sandals. This was also the case with the check green and red skirt in the autumn before. Worn with thick black tights and either a leather or faux fur jacket, this became my favourite autumnal outfit of 2015. By trying on a few pieces you wouldn’t normally choose, and thinking up a few outfits to incorporate the item into, you can find new favourites you could have missed.

 

Tip 5: Go with a friend

This tip goes with Tip 4. I find that by going with a friend I am more open to trying things I wouldn’t have tried had I been mooching around by myself. By discussing items I am unsure of, my friends can often provide outfit combinations I wouldn’t have thought of or prompt me to try on clothes I may have dismissed. It’s usually these things I end up loving that little bit more.

And that’s it! Five charity shopping tricks I always use to ensure I don’t miss any second-hand bargains. I wish you good luck as you scour the shops for those hidden gems!

 

Enjoyed Hannah’s tips? Put them into practise, head to your local Oxfam or Oxfam Online Shop now. 

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How to make your own Upcycled Vintage D&G Style Dress

Everybody loves a little black dress! But I’m sure you girls out there have one hanging in your wardrobe that could do with a whole new revamp! In just 3 quick steps!

 

I have started with a plain black tight strapless dress and some old vintage buttons. If you do not own a dress to work with you can pick one up at your local Oxfam or Oxfam Online Shop.  And
I’m sure a relative will have a box of old buttons you can use! If not, these are easily found in many charity or antique shops!

 

 

1. Firstly, I gave my dress a quick press to make sure there wasn’t any creases before I pointed out the central line

 

2. Secondly, I started by marking a straight line down the middle of the dress where my buttons will be sewn with tailors chalk. Which will rub straight off with a wet wipe

 

3. Finally, I finished by sewing all my buttons down my line, to reveal a classic plain black dress turned into a Victorian D&G style dress!

 

 

Easy, right? Give it a go and you will see how everyone will be impressed about your Victorian D&G style dress!

Post written by Leah Topham, volunteer at Oxfam Batley where she helps upcycle the clothes. She’s written this series called Rags to Riches where she lets us in on her DIY secrets, keep your eye out for her next post! You can also check out her last one How
to make your own Upcycled Vintage 20′ Cloche Cap

 

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What Fashion Means to Me: Georgia Bridgett’s View

For me, the way a piece of clothing is cut, the shape it provides for a particular person, the array of colours we have to choose from, all work together to form a piece that will suit certain people and not others, or will be preferred by some and not others; that I find absolutely fascinating. The reason many of us love fashion is because it is a form of expression, it is empowering. It makes us feel good. I am fascinated with the way designers like Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen take basic pieces like the t-shirt and put their creative energy into how it fits and falls. We all love a
beautiful design but we want it to complement different body types and skin tones.

 

My love for personal style led me to start my blog. I wanted to use it as a way of exploring my interests. Since I moved to Liverpool for university I have been rummaging through the abundance of fabulous charity and vintage shops. My finds started to become the heart of my blog and I increasingly started to question the ethical and sustainable status of high street stores. I wanted to understand how and where the garments I was buying were being made. This led me to find some shocking figures. The Guardian printed an
Oxfam report on Unilever’s treatment of its employees in Vietnam. Employees were struggling to provide for their families and ‘Of workers in the Cu Chi factory, 80% said they needed another source of income’.

 

Ethically Conscius

 

Workers in a garment factory in Vietnam where the employees work 12 hour days 6 days a week for as little as $1 an hour (Photo Credit: Eleanor Farmer| Oxfam) 

 

 

So charity and vintage shopping became for me a way of being ethical and sustainable in the consumerist world of fast fashion. It is fantastic that the money we spend on clothes from charity shops are going towards fighting incredible causes. ‘Shining Mothers’ is a women’s group in Nairobi that is supported by Oxfam. Jane, leader of the
women’s group, ‘trains other women on their basic rights and skills for running small businesses.’

 

Jane Muthoni, leader of ‘Shining Mothers’, buying ingredients to make homemade yoghurt which she sells to the local community in Kawangware, Nairobi, Kenya. 2016 (Image Credit:Allan Gichigi/Oxfam)

Despite the amazing benefits of charity shopping, it is a shame that it has a reputation for being for the less fortunate. I used to volunteer at a charity shop and I was often asked if we had any shopping bags that did not say the name of the charity on it. From my perspective they did not want other people to have the view that they couldn’t afford high street fashion. These customers tended to be the older generation whilst the younger generations today appear to be taking charity shopping as a new trend, a way of finding something quirky. I have a
friend who chooses only to shop in charity shops for ethical and sustainable reasons. I’ll always remember a short, deep purple cardigan she bought. It was knitted and had beautiful little buttons sown on and a ribbed rim. When she told me it was from a charity shop my heart sank – it was gorgeous and I was desperate to wear it! Only now with my own little finds do I truly appreciate the satisfaction of owning an item of clothing that contributes to your unique style. These pieces also have a story.  Perhaps that cardigan was worn on a trip to Canada or the French Alps. May be
the gorgeous vintage dress I bought from Pop Boutique in Leeds was worn on an evening out in 1960s Paris, walking by the Seine River. Or maybe it was simply worn to a family birthday party, whilst sharing laughs and food in good company. As I sit writing this blog post, a white beige cross-stitched jumper is resting by my side. I bought it today for £6 at a vintage fair in an old Church in the centre of Leeds. I rummaged through the racks of t-shirts, dresses and finally jumpers until I spotted it. The label says ‘CANADA’. Who brought it over here? Was it shipped with many others,
bought as stock? It has history. It will be loved all over again.

 

Laura Jones talking to a customer at the Cowley Road Shop, Oxford.  (Image Credit: Rachel Manns| Oxfam)


I can still appreciate the craftsmanship of designers and show my support for the ones who are environmentally and ethically conscious like Stella McCartney. I can still enjoy a high street purchase but I try to make sure it is from an ethical company.

The most beautiful designs begin with the beauty of ethical working conditions and sustainable sources and I hope one day all of fast fashion will become fair fashion.

 

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Glastonbury Round Up 2017 – The Oxfam Shop Edition!

Each year the Oxfam festival team make the journey down to Somerset to assemble four Oxfam shops with four different themes, types of stock and targeted consumer in the hopes of raising as much money as possible for Oxfam’s many causes. This year we battled the hottest Glasto set up of all time and raised a record amount of money for the Festival shop! Here is a blog post to sum up our time at the festival and to mention some of my own highlights. If you want to take a sneaky look at some of the goodies in our shops check out my last blog .

Oxfam’s Glastonbury Shops:

Glade

Oxfam Shop at Glade, Glastonbury

If you visited our shop in the Glade area of Glastonbury then you will know that it was a one-stop-shop for sleeping bags, wellies, socks and a dip into our £3 hat bucket (because why not). This year’s Glade shop had a 60’s ‘summer of love’ theme which was perfectly fitting for the weather. We stocked floral dresses and fake fur and sheepskin coats, which were, as always, popular amongst male customers and they pulled them off in true style.

Park

Oxfam Shop at Park, Glastonbury

If you were in the market for some ‘Wavy Garms’ then our shop in the Park area would have been perfect for you. Stocking everything from one off  vintage items to retro branded goods like Levi Jackets, Adidas tracksuits to name a few, Park catered to the eclectic tastes of Glastonbury’s hipsters. This year we also featured hand painted jackets created by some of our volunteers, these were popular amongst people wanting to get their hands on a one-off creation.

Treasure Trove

Oxfam Shop at Treasure Trove, Glastonbury

This year we said goodbye to one of our shops, Pom Pom Palace and said hello instead to Treasure Trove!  A shop that was filled with the best sparkle and gems that we could find. The shop’s new concept was embraced by everyone with free glitter being done by our Oxfam campaigns team.

 

4th Shop (Interstage)

Oxfam Shop Interstage, Glastonbury

Our 4th shop was located in the interstage area between the Pyramid and Other stage of Glastonbury, catering to journalists and VIPs it stocking items like Cashmere jumpers, Barbour jackets and vintage/ boutique gems. With previous customers like Alexa Chung and Nick Grimshaw this year’s celeb visitors included Matt Smith, Dan from Bastille Blossoms, Black Honey and photographer Charlotte Patmore.

Oxfam Festival Shop Team at Glastonbury 2017

Overall it was an amazing year for the me and the shop, Thank you to all our amazing volunteers who made the running of the shops as smooth as ever and thanks to all our amazing customers who helped us raise an amazing amount of money for Oxfam. See you all in 2019!

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Espadrille: Mixing and Matching New and Old for My Own Twist On The Trend

I think I’ve always had a bit of an eye for spying the latest trend, be it the neon new rave fad of 2007 (cue that klaxon noise), or the bell bottom trend last Summer – Or more recently, the cropped denim jean/culotte look du jour.

 

When I noticed (how could you not?) the espadrille trend growing ever more apparent on my Instagram feed and usual online haunts, I immediately started to seek out the best pair I could. The ever-so-trendy espadrille, worn by the likes of a la mode French fashion bloggers, Jeanne Damas, Adenorah and Camille Charriere, of course I had to have a pair. I went for a navy pair in a low wedge and teamed it with a vintage black and white 4 buttoned shirt I got in Oxfam a few years ago and vintage Levi jeans.

The epitome of french cool, not only are they some of the comfiest shoes I’ve ever owned, they are perfect for the inevitable transition from relaxed day time attire of cropped denim jeans and t shirt, to partying the night away in, without the risk of blisters!

Oxfam Polka Dot Blouse

Mix and Match - Preloved and brand new

Trends from Charity Shops

Elizabeth Miles and Oxfam Fashion

Shoes

I’m wearing: Blue espadrilles in Navy – Shirt: Oxfam – Jeans: Vintage Levi’s.

All photo’s by Alex Amoros

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