Day 365/366: the good. What I learnt this year whilst wearing my wardrobe

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Tweed pinafore by Tu – secondhand via Ebay

Despite the backsliding I described in yesterday’s post, I do think that this year’s exercise in looking at my clothes shopping habits has been helpful.

I went into town yesterday to have a look in the sales, but it was incredibly uninspiring; I looked through the rails and just went “meh” as nothing made me excited.  What I think I have evolved is a bit more of an original style than I had when I was thoughtlessly spending money on clothes and I just bought anything that fitted.

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Skirt is years old M+S, jumper is Oasis via a charity shop

Pretty much all of the clothes I have bought this year and have kept fit me really well.  Most of them have a slight retro feel to them, and I have definitely moved away from any bohemian, frilly, lacy or draped sort of styles.  My wardrobe seems to have refined itself into simple but strong structured garments; either nipped in waist swing dresses with cropped cardigans or straight or slightly A-line skirts with fitted jumpers.

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Secondhand tartan dress via Ebay, cardi from Lindy Bop

 

As a fat child and adult, I always veered towards clothes that draped, hid or disguised my body. This just made me look shapeless when actually I do have a shape, albeit a bit of a butternut squash rather than traditional hourglass shape.

What I have been learning this year during my wardrobe wearing experiment is what suits me.  I have moved out of hiding and into the light of Instagram and blogging.  I take photos of myself and I use them to give other women confidence that they can wear nice clothes too.  Life is too short not to wear pretty clothes, I don’t need to cover myself in shapeless baggy fabric. I don’t need to apologise for existing as I am.

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I do love this outfit.  Skirt is new this year from Primark, jumper is C+A from 2014

What I have also learnt is that charity shopping is thoroughly satisfying, enjoyable and productive, but internet shopping is my downfall.  It’s too easy to turn to the Facebook selling pages, the online vintage repro dress retailers and that old time and money pit, Ebay.  I turn to the internet in times of stress and look at pages and pages of clothes.  I don’t even like most of them, but feel like that old void that needs filling with stuff is still there.

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Second hand Monsoon pinafore dress

So my plan for 2017 is no internet shopping for clothes, shoes, jewellery or makeup.  If I want to buy something I have to get it from a shop.  I also have to buy it with real money, not with a credit/debit card – I have to see those notes cross the counter.  Much as I’d like to, I don’t think I can continue my shopping ban as it really hasn’t worked for the whole year. I do however think that stopping my internet shopping habit will be a helpful and more to the point an achievable goal this year.

Meanwhile, I will continue to wear the gorgeous clothes in my Wardrobe.  Bring on Wearing my Wardrobe in 2017.

 

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The Collectif Caterina – one of the only two dresses I bought in a shop this year. I love it, it has so much weight and swirl.
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Day 263/366: Oniomania aka compulsive buying disorder

Falling off the clothes-buying-ban wagon in mid-August has led me to completely losing my self control.  Having discovered Lindy Bop and found that their lovely dresses were on sale it was like the brakes were off and I went careering downhill back into my clothes buying obsession. I would check the website every day for new sale stock and signed up for notifications when stock came back in.  I also joined two Lindy Bop selling pages on Facebook, and took my obsession to Ebay where I broke my Ebay clothes ban too.

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Lindy Bop navy floral Audrey.  She is so pretty!

This spectacular failure was compounded by going to The Curve Fashion Festival in Liverpool ten days ago.  This plus-size fashion show included stands from amazing plus size retailers including some I’ve not come across before like Emmy Designs and Studio 8 as well as finding that Praslin were selling all their sample dresses for £5.

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Yay – plus size bloggers represent!

It’s been an utter disaster for both my bank account and my mental health.  It would seem that I have an obsession.  There is even a medical term for it: Oniomania or compulsive buying disorder.

I love everything I have purchased.  The clothes are beautiful.  I want to wear them all, in fact I think this is part of it, I just want to Wear ALL the Nice Clothes.  It’s not even like I have anywhere to wear them to.

According to Shopaholics Anonymous, there are several different types of compulsive buyers.  I think I fit into at least three of these categories.

  • Compulsive shopaholics who shop when they are feeling emotional distress
  • Trophy shopaholics who are always shopping for the perfect item
  • Shopaholics who want the image of being a big spender and love flashy items
  • Bargain seekers who purchase items they don’t need because they are on sale
  • Bulimic shoppers who get caught in a vicious cycle of buying and returning
  • Collectors who don’t feel complete unless they have one item in each color or every piece of a set

I am definitely a trophy clothes shopper.  It’s always that the next dress will be perfect and will make me look amazing and everyone will love it.  But once it’s been worn once or twice, the excitement disappears and I’m looking for the next perfect dress.

I am also a sucker for a bargain.  Lady V London posted on Facebook today that all their sale dresses are now under £20.  I had one in my basket this afternoon despite the fact that last night I was nearly in tears about how full my wardrobe is.  But the dress was perfect and I must have it.

I saw someone wearing it at The Curve Fashion Festival and I thought it looked wonderful on her.  I want it.  I want to possess it.  I want to wear it because it will make me look beautiful.  I love the fabric.  And here I am, back to finding the Trophy dress.

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I mean, how gorgeous is this dress?  It needs to be in my wardrobe

I shut the browser and went away and didn’t buy it.  But it was beautiful.

And this is where we come to the third compulsive shopping habit I have.  I’m a bulimic shopper.  I buy clothes and then send them back, or sell them on.  In the last month I have purchased 23 dresses 7 tops and a skirt from Lindy Bop or off Ebay.  Add to that 2 Praslin dresses, an Emmy dress (at huge expense), a Studio 8 dress (also at huge expense) and one from TKMaxx which to be fair is the only dress purchase I have made in an actual shop this year.  Not that it’s much consolation.

Emmy Designs make gorgeous reproduction vintage dresses handmade in Sweden and I wanted them all, I seriously, seriously wanted to buy four or five dresses. I really, nearly bought more than one, but the cost made me think “I could get 10 Lindy Bop dresses for the price of this” as if quantity outweighed quality.  My mind is seriously screwed up if that’s the way I’m thinking.

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The utterly gorgeous Emmy dress I didn’t buy (and have non-buyers remorse oh so badly)

Of the Lindy Bop clothes, I have returned 11 and kept 12 dresses, returned 4 tops and kept 3 and returned the skirt.  Looking at this list makes me feel incredibly ashamed of myself. WHY do I feel the need to keep buying and buying.  Why am I not happy with the lovely clothes that I have got.  What on earth is my problem?

 

Above you can see just some of the clothes I bought from Lindy Bop. They are all pretty. I don’t want to part with any of them.

All the good work I have done since January has been undone in one month of completely uncontrolled binge-buying.  When I dieted, I used to be like this, good for weeks and weeks and then all of a sudden would completely lose control.  It’s the reason I stopped dieting because it made me so very unhappy.

How do I start again and get back on an even keel?  How can I train my brain to stop wanting all the pretties because I already have a lot of pretties.  Where does this void that needs to be filled with pretty dresses come from?  I think I need help….

Day 231/366 : Falling off the wagon

Well, it happened.  I totally fell off the new clothes buying ban wagon big-style and went mad in the Lindy Bop sale.

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This is the Twiggy shift dress. I absolutely love it.

I knew if a failure of willpower was going to happen in my year of no spending that it would be big, but perhaps not as big as it actually was. I bought six dresses, three cardigans and a top that I’m keeping and I’m sending back five dresses, 2 shrugs and a jacket because of fit issues.

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This is the Ariel, it’s got such an amazing shape

Up until now I’ve been SO good for the whole of this year about not browsing in shops that it’s become second nature not to head into the clothes section of supermarkets or just going into town on a Saturday afternoon for a mooch around to see what’s on the rails.

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The pattern of this fabric is so beautiful

I’ve been quite unwell since the start of August and have spent nearly three weeks at home off work, mostly in bed. Frustration and boredom has led to a spending spree starting with buying perfume, shoes and boots online along with various dresses from Facebook selling pages. I can’t stop and have gone well over what I should have spent.

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This is a lovely dress, really nice thick stretchy cotton

So this spree has ended (I hope) with me raiding the Lindy Bop sale.  I feel hugely disappointed with myself, but I also feel that I have picked up some really lovely dresses at bargain prices as the sales at Lindy Bop are known for large discounts – all my dresses were between £12 and £15 and the cardigans were £10 or less.

So there you go, I lasted 226 days of the 366 of 2016, pretty much 2/3 of the year which isn’t all that bad.  I’m not going to go back to buying new things though, although I’m giving myself a free pass for the Curve Fashion Festival in Liverpool on 10th September.

I’m hoping that once I feel better and I’m back at work and not frustrated and ill at home that I will be in a better place for both my head and for my wallet.  Keep your fingers crossed for me that I can scramble back onto the wagon and ride it until the end of the year.

Day 212: I really don’t know what happened there

OK, so I haven’t blogged since April, but this doesn’t mean that I’ve given up.  I have kept to the letter of my promise not to buy any new clothes this year from shops or Ebay, but perhaps not really to the spirit of it.  I’ll explain.

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Lady V London dress via Facebook selling community called Horne’s Curvaceous Hunnies

In April I discovered selling communities on Facebook and these have really been a bit of a downfall as I have bought a quite a lot of clothes from several different sites over the past three months.  What is really good about them (and also really bad for my willpower) is that it’s mostly people selling lovely dresses in plus sizes.  There is such temptation!   I have also continued to buy clothes from charity shops as I do enjoy the thrill of the chase.

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Dress from Evans via a Facebook page called Plus Size Night Market

 

The problem is that probably half of the things I’ve bought from the selling communities don’t fit, or don’t suit me.  And as they are usually a bit more expensive than buying from charity shops (where at least I can try on the clothes).  This has meant that I now find myself with a number of dresses which I can’t wear.  So I’m now trying to sell some of these on but not having too much success.

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“Tess dress” from Yours via Betty Pamper’s Instagram selling page

I have also decided to sell or give away many of the clothes that I don’t feel comfortable wearing, but have kept because I like the idea of them or that they were expensive.  There is one dress in particular that I wore to a really, really horrible meeting, and then later on, on the same day, I got stuck in a lift in it.  It brings me no pleasure to look at or wear the dress despite the fact it’s really lovely.  So that’s on my for sale list now with a sense of relief. It’s unnerving how much an inanimate object can project so many bad feelings.

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Dress from Tu via aforementioned selling page.  I altered this a lot to get it to fit, but I think it was worth it as it’s such a fabulous pattern. 

So, yes I am still wearing my wardrobe, but it is a wardrobe supplemented by clothes from charity shops and selling communities.  Maybe I should have just said I wouldn’t buy any clothes full stop this year.

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Another dress from Tu – I love this and have worn it to work a number of times.  Best of all it has pockets.

I’ll do a rundown of all the amazing things I’ve got from charity shops in another post and also update on how I’m getting on wearing my unworn and unloved clothes – a sneak peek below of something I bought last year and didn’t wear. I have now worn this gorgeous dress several times already this year.

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Joe Browns dress via Depop last year – worn today for an outing to an exhibition of pottery art.

Day 101/366: the first one hundred days

I thought I would look back on the first one hundred days of Wearing My Wardrobe in 2016. Outfit pictures are from Instagram over the past month or so.

  • I have NOT bought any new clothes so far in 2016.  I would class this as a major achievement for me as I never thought I would make it this far.

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  • I have not bought new clothes despite having been to Preston, Manchester and London for work.  Usually I would have made time to check out the shops, but this year I haven’t done this.  It make the visits less eagerly anticipated though which is a bit of a shame.

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  • I have also not bought anything on the internet despite having had a pretty stressful year so far. Internet shopping has been a real bad habit for me in the past during times of stress so I’m pretty pleased about this. Unsubscribing from all the clothing companies’ emails and their feeds on Instagram and Facebook has been a huge help
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I found this AXParis Curve dress in a charity shop in Penrith.  I think it’s the best thing I’ve bought this year, I really like it.
  • I’ve not bought any new boots or shoes.  This wasn’t an aim for the year, but I’m happy with what I’ve got, and not shopping for clothes means that I haven’t been exposed to new  shoes either.

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  • I have not gone overdrawn yet this year because I’ve spent too much money on clothes which was happening with more regularity over the past couple of years

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  • I’ve not worn the same outfit twice (except for scruffy clothes for working at the allotment or housecleaning, but they don’t count!)

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  • I have been motivated to sell clothes on Ebay and have so far sold 24 items of clothing and some unused perfumes.
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This skirt is an ancient Monsoon sale purchase. Having to find new outfits in one’s wardrobe really makes you look through everything you own quite carefully and there are some real gems in mine.
  • I have found out that I don’t actually like some of my clothes very much and these have either been Ebayed, given to friends or donated to charity shops.  It seems that being critical of one’s wardrobe is actually quite cathartic

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  • I have altered quite a lot of my clothes to make them fit better
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I altered this skirt to make it more of a wiggle style (altered on right), I think it looks significantly better now!
  • I have discovered the joy of hunting for interesting clothes and jewellery in charity shops and have started doing a bit of charity shop tourism when I visit other towns.  The thrill of charity shops is that you never know what you’ll find and there’s something new every week.  I have to admit that I may have to stop visiting the shops quite so often as I almost always come away with something to wear.
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I absolutely LOVE this jumper – it’s by Oasis and I would never normally even bother looking in Oasis as the clothes are usually small, but it caught my eye in a charity shop and I think it looks great!
  • I’m looking forward to going through all my summer clothes and wearing my favourites (and also passing on those that I’m not so keen on)

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  • I really don’t like the KonMari method (sorry Cassie and Leah!!)

 

Day 99/366: feeling low

I’m putting on weight.  For all the body/fat acceptance work that I have done with myself, I still feel awful and ashamed about it.  I have been on a particular medication for two years and I was taken off it at the end of February, and I think this is what is causing the weight increase, as I lost weight (unexpectedly and without trying) when I started taking it, going from a solid size 20 to a 16/18.

Add to this nearly losing our dog Marley to an attack of ideopathic vestibulitis two weeks ago, grief from losing Bella and extreme work stress,  I feel terrible both mentally and physically.  Marley still isn’t quite well although he is a lot better and back on his feet.  As he’s so old, I worried that we are keeping him alive for our sake rather than his (although he is so much better now and is definitely still interested in life).  It’s a really hard call, but he didn’t tell us that he was ready to go even when at his sickest two weeks ago, unlike Bella did two months ago.

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Poor sick Marley

The question is, why is my sense of self worth so tied up with my weight?  I do wonder if the huge amount of stress and grief I’m going through at the moment is actually making my emotional reaction to my (so far very small) weight gain worse.  I have observed in the past that when I’m feeling low my attitude to my body is far more negative.  It’s that classic “I feel fat” feeling which really should be more accurately interpreted as “I’m stressed/scared/tired/anxious/upset”.

The problem with documenting my outfits on social media is that I can see the difference between me this year and me early last year.  I wore the dress in the picture below on Tuesday to a meeting and I spent the day feeling incredibly self-conscious about myself.  When I wore the same dress this time last year, I felt wonderful.  Looking at the two images, there are differences, but they are very subtle, so why do I feel them so acutely? Why do I feel ashamed of how I look on the left, but happy and confident on the right?

Kerry who blogs at Ruby Thunder blog (http://www.rubythunder.com/) posted a video on Facebook earlier today.  Its called Embrace and is a trailer for a documentary by Taryn Brumfitt of the Body Image Movement (http://bodyimagemovement.com).  I sat and watched it and cried my eyes out as it pinpoints the fact that most women feel awful about themselves and how they look and that it’s such a complete waste of energy and emotion.

The part that set me off was when the majority of women that Taryn interviewed in the street and asked to describe how they feel about themselves said negative things about themselves.  There were at least five women who called themselves disgusting.  No one should feel that their body or appearance disgusting, but we are living in a society that encourages people to pick on their flaws rather than celebrate the diversity of human appearance.

This is such a sad state of affairs for us, so much negative energy spent telling ourselves that we don’t meet arbitrary societal standards rather than putting that energy into making life better for ourselves and others, or having more fun, or volunteering or baking or doing art or making music.  We spend too much time staring in the mirror pinching our flesh and criticising the vessel that carries us around; feeling inadequate, or thinking that people are staring at us and criticising us for our appearance.

And yet, I know that I don’t go around looking at people in the streets or at meetings or in the pub and thinking critical things about their appearance.  I’m more likely to be concerned about what they do, how they act and how they treat people. So why do I think that other people are looking at me critically.

I seriously need to get myself out of this negative self talk as my work life is unlikely to get better or less stressful over the next two years and my appearance has nothing to do with how I cope with what’s going on. I have had a period of four or five years where I have felt significantly better about myself, partly down to reading wonderful fat acceptance blogs and actually meeting some of these amazing, positive women who have created this social movement for self-acceptance.  I feel like I need to go back to the beginning and start again.

 

Day 74/366: charity shopping is fun

So, my resolution not to buy clothes this year was not buying clothes anywhere apart from in charity shops. This means I have now become an avid charity shopper, popping into the shops in Kendal most weeks and whenever I visit a different town, I look out for the charity shops. This website http://www.charityretail.org.uk/find-a-charity-shop/ is a wonderful tool for finding charity shops and I discovered three new ones in Penrith that I hadn’t come across before as they are in a back street.

These are two of my first three buys this year a Laura Ashley shrug and a purple sweater from M+S.  The third is a 100% cashmere jumper which is not at all smart but very warm so is great for slobbing out at home.  All of these three came from the Salvation Army shop in Kendal.

 Kendal has an Oxfam, British Heart Foundation, Scope, Salvation Army, Barnardos, a tiny Age Concern, RSPCA shop and a tiny Age Concern.  I have had the most success in Oxfam, Scope and Salvation Army and have yet to ever buy clothing in Barnardos as the choice there is truly awful (although they do have a good range of books and DVDs).

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Per Una brown cord coat

This coat is fab. It’s a little small for me, but as I’m wanting to wear it in the spring, I won’t necessarily need to do it up and it fits well everywhere else.  I altered the button position and also took the top button off and sewed up the button hole as it just wouldn’t fit across my bust. Also took up the sleeves, but I have to do this on every single coat I ever buy.

So far, Penrith has afforded the most spoils at the lowest prices, the charity shops in Kendal do seem to be more expensive – they are happy to charge £10 for a dress which I do think is a bit over the top to be honest.  I went to a number of charity shops in Islington when I was in London a couple of weeks ago and was horrified at the prices, and even more horrified that the largest item of clothing was a size 16 (and that there was only one of them).  Obviously charity shopping is not for the poor or fat in the capital.

Some of my Penrith charity shop finds

 

I paid too much for these too dresses (£10  for the Monsoon dress and £8 for the Tu dress), although I do like them both

This cardigan isn’t necessarily my style, but it’s lambswool and has the most amazing decorative cuffs!

One of the things I have made sure I do is actually wear the clothes I purchase from the charity shops as I have in the past been known to buy items and then not wear them, so I have really been trying hard to get them all worn.

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Brand New AXParis Curve dress – I love this the most of everything I’ve bought so far

One of the things I love the most about charity shop shopping is the thrill of the chase, will I find something amazing that someone else has discarded that I can take and make my own, and love and give a new lease of life to.  I really have had some successes this year, and I’m hugely enjoying the challenge as it’s making shopping exciting for me, and it also means that I’m not buying new, I’m helping to reuse clothes that are still very wearable, and that I’m donating to charity at the same time.  There is nothing not to like about this!

So my top tips for charity shopping are:

  • Try on things that aren’t in your size.  My finds above include a size 14 dress and a size 20 dress, both of which fit really well
  • Look for good quality fabrics – I’ve had real luck finding woolly jumpers and cardigans.  I rarely buy acrylic/polyester jumpers though unless they look brand new as they are generally bobbly
  • Be prepared to take things up or take them in.  I will need to take in the Monsoon dress as it’s a bit too big on me, but should be able to do this with no problem
  • There are almost always fantastic coats available
  • Dresses are hit and miss, you really have to look carefully to find anything nice and often there isn’t anything appealing
  • Go into your local charity shops every week or so as new things come in all the time
  • I’ve had no luck finding shoes, but I do hear of people who have scored pretty much brand new pairs for not much money
  • Take stuff to donate to charity shops if you’re not wearing it

 

 

Day 65/366: wardrobe (3) weekly

Have had rather a lot going on recently what with a snotty cold, an excruciatingly bad back and the arrival of a new doggy (see first pic!) which has mean that I’ve been feeling (and looking) terrible and really haven’t felt like taking pictures as much as usual.  However, I have still been attempting to remix my wardrobe and so far, have succeeded in wearing something different every day.

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So, be prepared for an image heavy post – have added details of clothes in each photo

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Primark swing dress 2014
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Monsoon skirt 2011, M+S top via Salvation Army charity shop this year
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Per Una cord coat via Oxfam, January
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Nomads Clothing pinafore 2014
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George skirt probably 2007, Clockhouse jumper 2014
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Monsoon dress 2014, White Stuff cardie 2014
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Monsoon dress 2011 or 2012
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George denim skirt 2009-ish Fat Face top 2013
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Peacocks dress 2013, George cardie 2012
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Wrap London skirt 2010, Laura Ashley zip top 2014
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White Stuff cardie 2015, George dress via Mind charity shop this year
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Dorothy Perkins top via Ebay, Fat Face skirt probably 2009
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Pink Clove dress 2013, Beth Ditto for Evans cardie 2009.  This was worn for a birthday party and is totally one of my most favourite outfits ever!
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George denim skirt (again), wool M+S jumper via charity shop 2015
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Dorothy Perkins swing top/dress. This doesn’t fit well so will be going to the charity shop I think

Day 45/366: wardrobe weekly

As you’ll have seen from my previous post about the death of my dog Bella, I’ve had other things on my mind than clothes and blogging the past ten days.  However in an attempt to try and make me feel a little bit more normal, I have been taking some outfit photos.  This post today is some of the outfits from the past two weeks, the first three were taken before Bella died, so I’m looking a lot happier in these than I do in the rest….

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Simply Be denim dress and Primark layering top both from 2015
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George at Asda dress which I radically altered the neckline of 2014
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Scarlett and Jo dress 2014 which I’ve only worn twice. Shrug is from Laura Ashley via a charity shop (this year)
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£5 dress from Peacocks in their tag end sale probably 2012, red wool cardigan from White Stuff 2014. The Peacocks dress has been a real wardrobe staple.
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Evans skater dress 2014, wool cardigan WrapLondon via Ebay 2014
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Dress White Stuff 2014. This is a great one for meetings. The Charles Rennie Mackintosh brooch was a gift from my parents when I graduated.
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Terrible photo – I was recovering from a migraine. Anyway, this is a staple lying around feeling manky outfit. Skirt Primark 2014 and top H&M also 2014
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I love the fabric of this Scarlett and Jo dress and the cowl neck style.  This one of the last dresses I bought before my clothing ban, so late 2015. Fly London brown boots 2014

 

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Yesterday’s outfit, top Phase 8 2012 or 2013, skirt White Stuff 2014. The top is incredibly low cut and works its way down to show my bra through the day which is v irritating. Definitely not work suitable!

Hopefully normal blogging will be resumed shortly when I’m feeling a bit better.

Day 33/366: clothing catharsis

I went through my wardrobe this weekend and pulled out some clothes to sell on Ebay, and a lot more to take to a charity shop.  Things I haven’t worn for YEARS like some bright pink linen baggy combat-style trousers and some nasty cropped cargo-pants.  Ugh.  What was I thinking?

There is also a pile of 10 bras to go to the Smalls for All charity.

If you’re interestes in looking at the Ebay listing, it can be found here and I’ve posted pics of a few of the dresses etc below.