Charity Shop Tuesday: Testing Out Checks

One of the things I love most about charity shopping is that as most of the stock is second-hand, charity shops don't follow fashion, and thus you can try on a wide range of styles all under one roof. Before I discovered the delights of charity shopping, I would often complain that I couldn't buy new clothes for years at a time, because everything in the shops didn't suit me or was in colours I didn't like.

As the clothes are usually cheaper (hint: look for higher-end high street brands to find the biggest bargains), I don't hesitate to try on anything that catches my eye, even if I have some doubts about it when I'm looking at it on the hanger, and if I like it, I usually don't hesitate to buy it either!

So it was with this dress, which was a donation to the charity shop I used to volunteer in - check out 6 Reasons Why You Should Volunteer in a Charity Shop and How to Donate to Charity Shops (an insider's guide) for more on my experience there.

I hadn't really worn a lot of either dark blue or checked fabric since I'd left school and the trauma of my hideous navy-and-cream-checked uniform behind, but this dress caught my eye for some reason. I decided to try it on, and I fell in love.

Dark blue, it turns out, looks really good with my brown hair and brown eyes, and wearing this dress also gives me an excuse to wear dark blue eye-makeup and nail polish.

I love the shape of it, it wraps around and the skirt sticks out a bit - I often emphasise this by wearing another skirt underneath!

Unfortunately, although I have worn it on some memorable occasions (an early date with my boyfriend, and to a couple of parties), it doesn't get that frequent an airing. It's one of those dresses that's a bit too fancy for everyday wear but not formal enough for really special occasions.

Also, with its low neckline it's strictly a summer dress - wearing a long-sleeved top underneath it doesn't work, though I have a black wraparound top I can wear on top to make it suitable for slightly cooler days.

If I'd owned this dress back in my student days I'm sure I would have worn it a lot, but now it tends to languish at the back of my wardrobe for most of the year. If only I'd discovered charity shopping sooner!

When did you start (assuming you have started!) charity shopping?


Charity Shop Tuesday: Bubble Hem Blast from the Past

Who remembers the great fashion blogger bubble hem craze of 2007?

You probably don't, so I'll explain. Back in the day, when fashion blogs still predominantly featured photos taken in bedroom mirrors and slightly out-of-focus street style snaps, anything that could be DIYed really took off.

One such DIY trend was the bubble hem. It took a while for it to transfer from high fashion to the high street, so bloggers were desperate to make their own. I remember having this bubble hem tutorial from Kingdom of Style bookmarked before I bought my first bubble hem dress in H&M.

A couple of years later, I found this dress in Oxfam.

The bubble hem craze was long dead, but I couldn't resist the vivid blue-purple and the beaded flowers. It was a size too big, but I quickly realised that if I unpicked one of the flowers from the straps, I could adjust them properly and make it fit fine.

I like what I like, regardless of how popular or short-lived a trend is, but still, I haven't worn this dress a lot. Not only is it very much a summer dress - thin, with tiny straps, unwearable in the winter -  but I think it obviously belongs to a previous fad, and that makes me a bit self-conscious.

Still, there is hope. Earlier this year, Who What Wear wondered Is the Bubble Skirt Actually Coming Back in Style? and apparently Amal Clooney wore one to Cannes, so maybe? Pleeeeeeease? This one isn't very puffy, and I quite fancy one of those properly poofy ones...

Are there any fads that you loved so much you kept wearing them after they'd had their moment in the sun (and the shops)?


Charity Shop Tuesday: The Drunk Pixie Dress

I call this dress the Drunk Pixie Dress because I think it looks like it was created by a drunk pixie.

I can't imagine a human or any sober being having the idea for this dress. It's completely bonkers. It just kind of hangs there, with all these random panels and those drapey bits, which are made out of some of the softest fabric I have ever had the pleasure to touch. It's always creased because I don't have the faintest clue how to iron something with such an irregular shape.

The label says Sportsmax Code, which probably means that it was originally about £200. I can't remember exactly what I paid for it but I expect it was less than £10. I do remember that the cashier looked relieved that I was buying it. They probably thought 'This dress is bizarre, thank God someone came in early to take it off our hands', while I thought 'This dress is bizarre, I love it'.

The oddness of this dress makes it strangely formal. I only wear it to look at art. It's the sole time it feels remotely appropriate. I must have worn it to at least three of my sister's private views by now. They're not that fancy, as occasions go, so I dress it down - as much as you can dress a piece like this down - with black tights or thigh-high socks and Doc Martens and a cardigan. When I'm wearing it, I feel like something out of a Holly Black faerie novel. It's a pretty good feeling.

I previously wrote about this dress for Day 6 of the 2012 May 31 Day Fashion Blogger Challenge: Something out of your comfort zone but you love it.

What's the weirdest item of clothing in your wardrobe?


Friday Favourites: Litsy - Goodreads meets Instagram?

I think it's about time I start another regular series, to join Charity Shop Tuesday, and this is another simple one. I will be writing about one thing, every Friday, that has brought me joy or inspiration or has made my life more productive or convenient.

This week, let me introduce you to Litsy. Litsy is, essentially, Goodreads meets Instagram. The photos are optional, the books are the whole point. It's an app that was originally released for iOS and my friend Jim at YA Yeah Yeah was really enthusiastic about it, so when the Android version came out a couple of weeks ago, I jumped straight onto the bandwagon.

What I really like about it is that all posts fall into three categories:

Reviews - which are limited to 451 characters, so you have to be succinct when you're writing them, and it's easy to read several whenever you have a spare few minutes. I've really embraced the character limit, almost all of my posts on Litsy are reviews. It feels a lot less pressured than writing reviews for my blog.

One of my reviews got featured by Litsy. I'm still not entirely sure what this means, because I don't seem to see any 'featured' posts in my feed, but it has been pretty cool!

This photo, that I originally took for Instagram months ago, has been up on Litsy since last Tuesday, and is still getting likes and comments from Littens (that appears to be the most common term Litsy users uses to describe themselves and each other). It currently has 310 likes, plus 131 more people have added it to their stacks!

That's another thing I really like, the Stack feature. Litsy lets you add books other people have posted about to either a to-read, currently reading, or have read 'stack' (list). It's wonderful that this is part of the app and that I don't have to jump across to Goodreads to keep track of books I want to read. You can also rate books using a really simple system - 'Rate', 'So-So', 'Pan, or 'Bail' - much quicker than dithering over star ratings!

Blurbs - this is any comment about a book. I like to use blurbs to share photos of things related to books, and I plan to use it to show books I've just acquired in the future.

Quotes - does what it says on the tin!

Every post has to be tied to a specific book, which makes it slightly confusing when people just want to post memes and pick a random book to associate them with. I hope this is something that Litsy sort out in future updates.

Will you be giving Litsy a try, or are you already a member? If you do or are, please leave your username in the comments so that I can follow you!


Charity Shop Tuesday: A Strawberry Daquiri Dress

It's not Thursday, but the day still begins with a 'T' so let's #TBT to a post I wrote earlier, three years earlier: Fashionable Fiction 1: Edie, from Diary of a Crush (I never did write Fashionable Fiction 2. Oh well, there's still time). 

In that post I wrote about one of my favourite YA characters of all time, Ms Edie Wheeler. Edie is in a band, in a waitress uniform (to quote her bio from the original J-17 column), and in many wonderful outfits, some of which I attempted to put together using Polyvore.

One of the most memorable outfits Edie wears is a pale pink Sixties shift dress that her Gay Best Friend tells her makes her look like a 'strawberry milkshake'. This idea really got stuck in my head, especially after writing that blog post. I don't do pale pink, or Sixties shift dresses, really, but I wanted a dress that reminded me of strawberries somehow. It would obviously have to be a lot pinker. Maybe like an artifically-coloured strawberry milkshake. Or a strawberry smoothie. 

Or, you know what's better than milkshakes and smoothies?

Cocktails, of course! And this dress is the perfect colour to celebrate a drink beloved by my mother and myself, the strawberry daquiri. 

Now, of course, I'm craving a strawberry daquiri. At least I have this dress, which, although it's such a bright summery colour, is nearly impossible to wear in summer because it's so warm! Fully lined, with an exterior that feels soft and thick and almost wooly, I have to stick to wearing this dress in Spring and Autumn with tights and a cardigan, and commonly a coat or jacket.

It's a bit creased around the sleeves as it has one of those awkward necklines that only fits on certain hangers, and I had to scrunch it up to get it to stay on the hanger it was on before this photo.

Because it's so pink, I always wear it with plenty of black - eyeliner, boots, cardigan, jacket - and often lilac tights, to get some purple in there in a way that won't fight the pink.

Do you get fictional characters' outfits stuck in your head? Do you ever try to emulate them? Do you also have rules for what to wear with what to avoid looking too girly?
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