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How to RESTYLE recycled fashion

28 Oct

One of my favourite things about opshopping is the huge array of fashion styles spanning decades that you might find in a single shop. For an imaginative person this is great fun and if you’re like me whose style is non specific bordering on schizophrenic its the perfect way to shop, but many people tell me they struggle with the idea of making a 1980’s jacket work into their current wardrobe. My advice is to leave your signature style at the door and enter op shops with an open mind. Try on things you love but have never been game to try in a retail shop, take a risk. The small outlay in cash for a pre-loved item means fashion can be fun again. This is not investment shopping or even a planned purchase. Op shopping is spontaneous, surprising and I think more rewarding than buying retail.

In August I participated in a fashion challenge on Instagram. I must admit to being a much more prolific Instagrammer than a blogger so if you’d love to see more of my second-hand finds and haunts you can follow me here. The RESTYLE challenge was run by the Perth Fashion Festival. Each day presented a new theme to restyle a pre-loved fashion piece.

restyle

Here’s a selection of my entries into the Restyle challenge. What do you think?

Collar - Men's YSL shirt with a beautiful suede tie.

Collar – Men’s YSL shirt with a beautiful suede tie.

Button Down - a have a few thrifted denim jackets but this one is is a fave.

Button Down – I have a few thrifted denim jackets but this LEE Riders one is is a fave.

Fringed - everything in this shot is thrifted - the Aldo bag, the vintage mags, even the mat!

Fringed – everything in this shot is thrifted – the Aldo bag, the vintage mags, even the mat!

Classic - the Claudia Strater silk knit top, the Ellery scarf & the silver/copper earrings were all found second hand.

Classic – the Claudia Strater silk knit top, the Ellery scarf & the silver/copper earrings were all found second-hand.

The DIY challenge was about modifing a pre-loved garment. This top had big ruffled sleeves that I simply cut into fringe for an edgier look.

The DIY challenge was about modifying a pre-loved garment. This top had big ruffled sleeves that I simply cut into fringe for an edgier look.

Graphic - a fave Lola Vs Harper top found in an op shop still with the tags attached.

Graphic – a fave Lola Vs Harper top found in an op shop still with the tags attached.

Arm Candy - all of these silver bangles were found second hand and most of them I wear everyday.

Arm Candy – all of these silver bangles were found second-hand and most of them I wear everyday.

Tomboy - This outfit cost a total of $9. Ksubi denim cut offs, muscle shirt & Converse.

Tomboy – This outfit cost a total of $9. Ksubi denim cut offs, muscle shirt & Converse.

Knit - Someone knitted this super long, super soft scarf with love & now I'm loving wearing it.

Knit – Someone knitted this super long, super soft scarf with love & now I’m loving wearing it.

Monochrome - The leather Kahlo shorts, Zara top & graphic Converse all thrifted finds.

Monochrome – The leather Kahlo shorts, Zara top & graphic Converse all thrifted finds.

Spots - I wish I could find more spotted clothing, they are so much fun! This knit & the satin Wittner heels are both op shops finds.

Spots – I wish I could find more spotted clothing, they are so much fun! This knit & the satin Wittner heels are both op shops finds.

Cropped - thrifted leather Damselfly vest worn back the front. All the jewellery is pre-loved.

Cropped – thrifted leather Damselfly vest worn back the front. All the jewellery is pre-loved.

Outerwear - This felt Brixton hat is a favourite in winter and it only cost me $4

Outerwear – This felt Brixton hat is a favourite in winter and it only cost me $4

 

These challenges are pretty hard work but I find them very rewarding. I love seeing what everyone comes up with everyday and meeting so many like-minded op shoppers. It creates a little community but also a melting pot of ideas. Here are some of my fave posts by other Instagrammers during the challenge.

restyle Collage 1 restyle2 Collage

Aren’t they just fabulous? So much fabulousness! Go forth & follow them on Instagram.

 

 

 

Thrifty Beauty Tips

6 Nov

Those of you who know me, know of my obsession with beauty products. Call me superficial but I don’t care, I’ve long loved the Feel Good factor that some products can deliver. The beauty industry is a marketing mecca and many women spend far more than they intend to, well I’m here to tell you that you don’t always have to fork out the big bucks. Here’s a few tricks I keep up my sleeve.

Upcycle your mascara: Before you throw out your old mascara, remove the brush and wash it. You can toss the tube. Mascara wands are perfect for brushing clumps out of your lashes and shaping eyebrows. For easier handling try bending the wand at the base of the brush to an angle. With a range of wand styles available now, you can rack up quite the collection for specific needs. The short-handled wands that come in sample sized mascaras are perfect for travel. Keep one in you handbag and car console for touch ups.

In house Hairdresser: My kids have never been to a hairdresser and I’d be lucky to visit one maybe twice a year. I’ve always trimmed my girl’s hair (and occasionally my husband’s) It’s really not that hard, all you need it a water spray, a fine comb and a pair of sharp scissors. Invest in a pair of hairdresser’s scissors and use them exclusively for cutting hair or you will dull the blades. I picked up mine for around $20 from Priceline. Admittedly my girls don’t have tricky hairstyles so keep to the basics if you are not a hairdresser. I also trim my own fringe regularly. The rest of my hair is a long wavy mess so it disguises my lack of commitment to a salon pretty well. DIY conditioning treatments and avoiding heat styling where possible keeps your hair in top condition, stretching out the need for trims.

DIY Dye: I’ve had a long-standing relationship with hair dye. Though I wouldn’t say I was loyal. I’ve flitted from one colour to another with no fear. Afterall its just hair, you can always cut it or redye it. I’ve gone from brown to blonde and everything in between. Now that random grey strands of hair have emerged and announced themselves my nemesis, my committment to dyeing my own hair has taken on more of an essential beauty routine rather than a fun one. On the odd occasion that I have had my (long, thick)  hair coloured in a salon I’ve been astounded at the prices charged and sulked away a couple of hundred dollars lighter. Wasting a whole day in a salon, bruising my neck on those horrid basin sinks is not my idea of an indulgence. So, I dye my own hair. Currently I’m obsessed with Ombre hair. The Baylayge technique is way easier than trying to DIY own foils. No mucking about with fiddly bits of foil, yay! Invest in a hairdresser’s cape to protect your clothes, a colour bowl and brush makes bleaching easier. Supermarket brands of hair colour are good quality and a cinch to use. I highly recommend the L’Oreal colours as they always give me the best results and accurate colour guides. You can buy professional salon colour from stores like Price Attack and Hairhouse Warehouse. These stores are staffed by hairdressers who will help you with your selection.

Ombre hair / Bayalge

Baby Smooth Skin: Instead of buying tubs of body scrub and dropping half of it on the shower floor whilst rinsing the rest down the drain, buy a mitt. Body scrubbing mitts are far more effective at removing dead skin cells, fake tan and preventing ingrown hairs. A mitt will easily outlast several tubs of body scrub and guys will love it too as they are not technically using “a product”. Try a Riffi Mitt for only $20 or the new Le Tan Exfoliating Mitt for less than $10.

Whiten your nails: As much as I fuss over my nails, endlessly filing, painting them and refusing to do dishes I must admit to being very lax about wearing garden gloves. Then after a day of blissfully pottering around in the garden I curse myself for trashing my nails and staining them with dirt. It can be very difficult to remove these sort of stains without resorting to clinical grade bleach. That used to be my solution. Clean the bathroom with bleach and clean my nails at the same time but aside from drying out my skin and nail beds I couldn’t stand my hands smelling like a toilet, ugh. Now I have a much better way of removing stubborn stains from my hands & nails – Denture tablets. Just dissolve a tablet in a bowl of water and soak your nails til they are clean. You will notice the nails will be gleaming white and your skin softened. It’s very gentle and only takes a few minutes.

I couldn’t resist taking this shot of my gardener friend!

Do your homework: I’m not totally convinced that you need to spend lots of money on skincare. That said I have forked out the big bucks but not before researching exactly what is in the product and what the properties of those ingredients are. I always read the ingredient labels and if the label doesn’t disclose them then I won’t buy it. Personally I try to avoid petrochemicals and all its alibis – propylene glycol, mineral oil, petroleum, paraffin. Tons of companies use petrochemicals (which is derived from crude oil) because they are extremely cheap. I’d estimate 90% of lip balms, glosses and lipsticks are petroleum-based. Remember, you always end up consuming what you apply to your mouth so if you can’t survive without your Lucas Paw Paw ointment upgrade it to one of the natural versions available now (my new love is Nature’s Care Paw Paw Lip Balm, it tastes like mango!) or you might as well just use Vaseline *vomit*. My skin is sensitive to sulphates which are commonly used in practically any product that foams. That’s their job, they are foaming agents but hardcore foaming agents tend to inflame sensitive skin. Again there are many natural alternatives. Yes, I hear you – why do companies persist in using these chemicals when there are safer alternatives? The answer is money. Its much more cost-effective to use them though I have to question a brand ethics if they are willing to risk their customer’s health for the sake of profit. I’d rather support the many companies that work hard to bring us safe, effective and beautiful ranges. 

Tip: ingredients are always listed in order of concentration from highest to lowest. So if you are looking to buy a wrinkle busting product but all the active ingredients they spruik on the advertisement are at the end of the list, then its just not going to be as effective as you hope. The fewer ingredients the better, beware of lists with 263 ingredients.

Here are some great websites to bookmark. It takes a while but reading through the lists about what goes into your products will sink in and you can then make better informed choices and support companies that are doing the right thing. MooGoo is an Australian company who are passionate about simple products and clear labelling. They make great products for sensitive skin types. Burt’s Bees, Pangea Organics, Badger Balm and The Purist Company all like to inform their consumers exactly what goes into their products, I love that. The Cosmetic Cop has a comprehensive alphabetical list of practically everything. The Ethical Consumer Guide is a great handbook for brands across the board.

Protect yourself: If you take your quest for great skin seriously and you want to save loads of money on expensive anti-ageing creams and salon treatments like laser, then the best tip I can give you is, WEAR SUNSCREEN EVERY SINGLE DAY. It doesn’t have to be a fancy pants expensive sunscreen but it does have to be broad spectrum SPF30+. The benefit of protecting your skin from the harmful effects of UV rays is well documented but I’ve found that sunscreen has a lot more to offer. I prefer a physical sunscreen to a chemical one as I find it lasts longer on the skin and the active ingredient, zinc oxide is very beneficial. Mums will know that most nappy rash creams are zinc oxide based as it helps heal and soothe irritated skin. This is perfect is you suffer acne or sensitive skin conditions. Think about where the sun hits you on a regular basis and make sure you extend protection to those areas too – neck, chest and backs of hands get hammered by the sun especially whilst driving.

Do you have any thrifty beauty tips you’d like to share?

Dye the Dead

13 Aug

If an old shirt is looking beyond repair, stained and faded I say “that’s dead” and toss it. Well I used to, until a few years ago a stylish friend confessed that she re-dyes many of her clothes to freshen them up and hang onto her favourites. What? Bells went off in my head, stars twinkled around my eyes. Of course! What a fabulous idea! Since then I haven’t looked back. I think twice before ditching a faded item and I even op shop with re-dying in mind. If I find a fantastic dress that is not quite my colour I now have the potential to dye it.

Re-dying fabric is not as hard as you might imagine thanks to Dylon. You can buy Dylon dye sachets in your supermarket for around $10 and here’s the best bit – your washing machine does all the work! Simply empty the dye into the drum of your machine, top with 500g of table salt then 500g-1k of fabric and run on a 40 degree delicate cycle. Then run another wash cycle with detergent to remove excess dye, wipe any residual dye from the drum & rubber of the machine. You will be amazed when you hang your once faded clothes on the line to find that they now look brand new! Its pretty satisfying. unfortunately the sachets come in a limited colour range – black, brown, navy and purple. You can of course still dye the old fashioned way with Dylon’s hand dyes.

 

Tip: Cotton will yield the best colour retention though I have dyed synthetics with varying success. You may get a more subtle effect or the dye will only take to the cotton parts of the fabric mix. Check the fabric type beforehand and guesstimate the result. Take a risk!

Tip: The more fabric you add the less saturated the colour will be. The Dylon machine packs recommend 500g-1kg of fabric per pack. If you want the best results try to limit your fabric load.

Tip: If the item you are dyeing is multi-coloured or has contrasting details, then the dye will affect those too. You may end up with a black item with grey details for example. Printed fabric works well. I’ve had no issue with printed logos or transfers.

Tip: After you have run the first wash cycle with the dye and are ready to run the second cycle with detergent, throw some other like coloured clothes in to pick up any residual dye. It freshens them up a bit.

Just follow the instructions, use a bit of common sense and you can’t go wrong. If like me you wear a lot of black then you will find this trick a great investment. Nothing fades faster than black and nothing looks tackier. How many times have you thrown out a favourite item simply because it had too much wash fade? Despair no longer. Next time you find a great set of sun faded curtains or a beautiful worn in linen shirt that was black sometime ago, buy them with confidence and re-dye.

The Dress Up Box

22 Mar

My kids are so spoilt. Their collection of dress ups is the stuff of my childhood dreams. Most of my youth was spent off in LaLa Land pretending I was a gypsy princess wandering the vast mystical lands on some adventure or another. I spent my days singing in the tops of trees, making cubby houses and forcing my parents to watch (and pay for tickets to) yet another one of my “shows”. It is with much pride that I now watch my offspring play pretend with as much imagination as I once did. Its becoming a lost art in this electronic age where kids are lost in video games instead of their imaginations. Sometimes they need props to make pretend a little more real for them. Dress ups can ignite even the most reluctant player.

Over the years I have accumulated quite an impressive collection of kid’s dress ups, practically all of it sourced from op shops for next to nothing. Luckily I have girls as most of what’s on offer in stores are retired dancing costumes but I often spot a superhero suit or a cowboy hat in the mix. Although the young boys that visit our house are not as adverse to sequins and feather boas as you might think. In the heat of play kids abandon learned gender stereotypes like; boys don’t wear dresses, oh really?

Dancing costumes I picked up yesterday at St Vinnies.

Some op shops have a designated fancy dress section where you might find options for children and adults, wedding dresses, school uniforms and ethnic clothing like beautiful Indian saris. Prices vary but generally I’ve been able to pick up kids sized dress ups for as little as fifty cents, $1-$3. Considering the work that has gone into some of those dancing/ice-skating costumes, it’s an absolute bargain! My daughter dances and I often fork out up to $100 per costume. Costumes that are handmade and adorned with sequins & beadwork.

Little Miss loved this op shop ensemble. She thought she might wear it to the school disco!

Many people go to their local op shop looking for specific fancy dress items for an event like a retro party (unlike me who is just looking for any fancy dress all of the time). This is not as easy as it first appears. Unseasoned op shoppers are often overwhelmed by the whole op shopping experience. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask the staff. I’m sure they get asked if they have any khaki safari suits all the time.

Have you been fancy dress hunting at the op shop? What did you find?

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