Category Archives: shopping

Fashion Revolution Day: My Self-Imposed Primark Ban

Primark labelsIt’s been over a year since I bought anything from Primark.

It wasn’t a New Year’s Resolution or a spending-ban challenge, but a decision that I’ve flirted with for many years. As today marks the first international Fashion Revolution Day, I thought it was time to open up and talk about this self-imposed ban, and publish a post I began writing over three months ago.

I first started shopping at Primark when I left home for university. I’d never heard of the fast-fashion budget chain before, but with a dwindling bank account – a student loan can only pay for so many haircuts and trips to the pub – I ventured in, guided by my new flatmates.

Seven years later and I found myself relying on Primark to get my fashion fix whenever I needed a new pair of jeans or a summer dress. I watched programmes highlighting the shocking working conditions enforced by supply chain manufacturers and would swear off shopping there for a few weeks, but I’d always come back.

After Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza disaster (a year ago today) that saw over a thousand labourers die when the factory collapsed, I knew something in my shopping habits had to change. This, compounded with blogging for Oxfam Fashion and feeling overwhelmed by the amount of clothes I own (two wardrobes, one rail, a chest of drawers and counting…) led me to cutting Primark out of my life for good.

I thought I would miss the thrill that only finding a bargain can bring – be it a cheap t-shirt or scouring the reduced shelf in the supermarket and finding the exact ingredient you need at half the price. As it happens, I don’t miss it at all. Buying something that has a history or where the design and production of which has been clearly thought out is far more rewarding than any pair of £4 sandals.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love shopping on the high street, in addition to rummaging through charity shops and vintage boutiques, but I feel so much better knowing that I’m slowly withdrawing from brands that offer clothing at prices that are simply too good to be true.

There is a long way to go before I can honestly say that my shopping habits aren’t hurting anyone else, but this sense of mindfulness towards the fast-fashion feeding chain keeps me from absconding whenever I go looking for a bargain.

This is a topic I’ve shied away from talking about but I’d love to hear your thoughts – how do you feel about buying fast fashion, and would you ever consider a similar clothing ban?

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Dear Santa… A Christmas Wishlist

Christmas wishlist 2013

Jo Malone fragrances in Earl Grey & Cucumber and Blackberry & Bay / Balega running socks / Deep red brogue Chelsea boots, River Island / Zara mens knitted hat / Listography Journal, Play.com / FujiFilm Instax 90, Photojojo/ Lipstick Queen Some Like it Hot gift set / 2014 diary, Paperchase

I know I said no gift guides this year but I couldn’t help putting together a little wishlist for myself, including a new camera – a girl can dream, right?

This year, for the very first time, Mr Ship-Shape and I taking the plunge and hosting Christmas ourselves. Given that we’ll be spending a fair chunk of money on keeping seven people in food and wine for a couple of days, we’ve decided just to give each other stockings this year, so I don’t expect I’ll find a FujiFilm Instax 90 or a new lens under the tree.

We’ll be using the red and white polka dot stockings that I made last Christmas and filling them with small but thoughtful gifts – I already have a couple stowed away that I hope he’ll like!

When I was younger I was all about the Christmas presents – even a few years ago I could barely get to sleep on Christmas Eve for all the excitement – but now I’m a little older, I’ve reached something of a tipping point. A stocking is lovely and I’ll never say no to a bottle of Jo Malone cologne or a pair of wine coloured Chelsea boots, but they can’t compare to family.

I really am just looking forward to spending time with our respective families, enjoying the company of those I see far too infrequently and setting some of our own Christmas traditions, which may or may not include devising a recipe for Baileys hot chocolate…

What are you wishing for most this Christmas?

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Five Alternatives to Pink Princess Coats

Five Alternatives to Pink Princess Coats

Camel and faux leather coat – Zara  /Plum funnel neck coat – Jaeger  / Mustard yellow boucle wool coat  – River Island / 1970 Soul  straight cut blue coat  – Reiss / Orange boucle coat – French Connection

As much as I loved Raf Simon’s princess pink swan-song at Jil Sander (A/w 2012), the whole over-sized, pastel pink, dropped shoulder, Grace Kelly-esque thang isn’t my cup of tea. The show was nothing short of beautiful and when Carven, Mulberry and Celine followed suit with pink coats for A/w 2013, I knew the trend would stick.

I appreciate the sugary sweetness of it all, but pastel, powder, blush or fuchsia; pink just doesn’t suit me. And what’s more, I don’t even like it.

Yep, that’s right, this blog might be covered in the pink stuff but it’s not my favourite colour by a long stretch, partly because it was always a colour I was encouraged to like growing up because ‘you’re a girl’. Pink is now such a loaded hue that apart from the design on this blog, I tend to avoid it at all costs.

I’ve seen a gazillion pink winter coat options on the high street, compiled on wishlists and featured in blog posts (my fave being Amy’s round up), but what I haven’t seen is some decent alternatives.

Above is a selection of five beautiful high street winter coats for the pink-phobic like me. Are you pining for a pink coat this season or does one of these take your fancy?

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Local Love: The Little Shop on Stokes Croft

The Little Shop on Stokes Croft

One of the many things I love about Bristol is that it is truly a hub for creative people. Musicians, illustrators, designers… we’re lucky to have plenty to pick from in the West Country, and heck, even the US think Bristol is the new London. Six such creatives have set up home in The Little Shop this month to sell jewellery, greeting cards, prints and ceramics.

Situated just beyond Stokes Croft at the start of Cheltenham Road, this venue has worn many hats in its time, acting as a pop-up art space and charity shop in recent months, though thanks to The Little Shop it’s now currently covered in giant pineapples and adorable lop eared rabbits, see below.

The Little Shop graffiti on Stokes Croft

The Little Shop opened its doors earlier this month and sits in the perfect spot to catch commuters on their way home and shoppers heading to Gloucester Road. The reason it caught my attention, aside from the stunning frontage, is that it’s currently stocking my friend Amanda’s jewellery collection.

Asanda Jewellery is no shrinking violet, with studs, rope and bold patterned earrings, chunky bangles and necklaces. Throw in a little tribal print, glitter-filled resin and gems nestled in gold claw settings and you can begin to get an idea of creations that lie in wait for you on the shelves.

However jewellery isn’t the only treasure you’ll find in this quirky shop. The ceramic bowls and mugs by Bee Hayes are beautiful and come covered in strawberries or imprinted with lace doilies, while Amber Elise, who started the shop, has a mix of prints and greetings cards on sale. Other Bristol designers include Rolfe & Wills – one day one of their stunning reupholstered chairs WILL be mine – Alex Lucus and Katy Christianson.

Designers and makers will rotate every few months so there will always be plenty of new stock to enjoy. I’m not about to drop the ‘C’ bomb in September, but if you happen to be on the lookout for unique gifts or greeting cards then The Little Shop could be right up your street.

The Little Shop, 125 Cheltenham Road, Bristol, BS6 5RR. Open 11am – 7pm Tuesday – Saturday, 12pm – 5pm on Sundays.

Ceramic mugs by Bee Hayes at The Little Shop on Stokes CroftAsanda JewelleryPrint by Amber EliseYeti and bigfoot are lovers bag by Katy ChristiansonGloucester Road shopping bag by Rolfe and WillisAsanda necklaces by Amanda SaundersHandmade brooch by Katie Johnston

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A Summer Sale Haul from Zara

Zara summer sale outfit of shorts, grey marl top and heavy cotton scarf

I’m not sure I like using the term ‘haul’ as it isn’t technically accurate, but I guess you could say I and my friend Lou needed to haul ourselves out of Zara a couple of weeks ago, as we were there until the Cabot Circus shop was beginning to close!

Zara is one of my favourite places to source sale bargains as there is so much choice, from basic organic cotton t-shirts (£5.99) to more conceptual pieces such as digital print dresses and trousers (starting at £17.99). This time around I unwittingly found a complete outfit, where the colours, textures and silhouettes all go together – an unusual feat for me as I tend to veer towards mismatched impulse buys when it comes to sales shopping.

I was immediately taken with these high waisted balloon style shorts – perfect for this glorious summer weather – as they remind me of the pair of trousers a teddy bear wore in an old television show, the name of which I can’t recall. I feel like he was called Little Ted and possibly lived in a toy box…

Moving on, the grey marl top is ridiculously comfortable, with turned up sleeves and a faux blue and white striped shirt poking out from under the hem. It’s the kind of top one could pair with skinny jeans or wear lounging around the house with leggings, and the stripes remind me of the summer dresses I wore as part of my school uniform.

I have Lou to thank for the scarf – at £49.99 it was waaaay out of my price range but I was so taken with it that she persuaded me to take it to the till incase it had been mislabeled. I don’t know about you but that moment when you take a label-less item to the till is always a bit nerve-wracking, but I needn’t have worried as it was only £19.99, a bargain given how often I wear scarves, even in summer!

What’s your favourite place to shop during the sales?

Grey marl top, Blue and cream striped shorts and Cotton scarf – Zara / Plimsoles – c/o Toast / Silk headscarf – Grandma Ship-Shape / Sunglasses – Primark

Zara heavy cotton scarfZara striped linen shortsZara sale haul outfit