Dee Chadwick
02 Sep 2019
Or are you too much of a dedicated follower of fashion to consider this? No – I haven’t changed direction to become a fashion blogger. Rather, another recently re-heard song from the sixties – for those old enough to remember, yes, it is the Trogs, along with September being designated ‘Second Hand September’ by Oxfam were my cues to writing this piece.


I need to be upfront about where I stand with regards to fashion. Like everyone, I am influenced by what is available in the shops if and when I venture in. I tend to go out specifically to buy a certain garment, though I can also be drawn to an impulse buy – if it is a bargain! On rare occasions I have ventured in to a shop proudly labelled as a boutique, to tell the assistant who pounced as we entered that I was looking for a particular shade. Her look of disdain as she informed me that it wasn’t one of this season’s shades led to a p.d.q. exit. Said exit being aided and abetted by a quick glance at a couple of price labels too!  I guess I was made to feel rather like Vivian in ‘Pretty Woman’.  However, on more than one occasion, I have found that the shade I sought became prominent on fashion rails the following year …. maybe I was ahead of the game, and should have been a fashion influencer. Then again, maybe not.

However, I would not go out to specifically buy something to be ‘on trend’. I am happy to wear what suits me – my shape, colouring, lifestyle, age. I am happy to continue wearing things as long as they still fit the bill for me.  I used to have a smart wardrobe for my years in teaching, as I felt that I wanted to show respect to the pupils with whom I worked and the schools which I visited. It came down to standards. When I retired, the local charity shops and a couple of friends benefitted. Also a small charity supporting young women trying to get in to the world of work. This support took the form of being provided with interview appropriate clothing along with interview techniques and support with writing a c.v.

I guess I could never be described as a fashionista or a dedicated follower of fashion. However, I have to say that I was in my local town recently and two women separately stopped to compliment me on how I looked. One comment was on my blouse and another on my shoes and how well they went with said blouse. I accepted their comments with a smile and a thank you, then left with a chuckle as the blouse was kindly donated by a friend and the shoes came from a charity shop. It made my day – on so many levels, and how good that women can complement each other in this way.


Maybe, in a way, I am ahead of the trend and probably by some distance as the new month is being advertised as ‘Second Hand September’ with Oxfam encouraging us not to buy any new clothes this month. 

They point out that it would take thirteen years to drink the water needed to make one t-shirt and a pair of jeans. At 2 litres a day, that’s 1,460 litres of water; approximately 36 baths or 58 showers.

Every week, the UK sends 11 million items of clothing to landfill, weighing the same as the Empire State Building. I have to say that I have no idea how much the building actually weighs, or how anyone would go about estimating that. I am pleased to say that I am sure that I have only contributed a few grams to this. I take things to the charity shops. I downgrade (casual) things to be worn for gardening, for decorating. They are then cut up into dusters or rags, or used to line the bases of plant pots.

Some countries, including Sweden, are way ahead of us with recycling cotton textiles to give new textiles leading to lower water usage, less landfill chemical usage, and fewer emissions.

I well remember a snowsuit worn by my elder son, then my younger. It was then passed on to friends whose two children had good use out of it. I am sure it then went on to another family …..

Do people actually throw clothes into the dustbin because they no longer fit or are no longer felt to be fashionable? Surely not. Maybe the landfill is from clothing rejected by charity shops? Or are ‘seconds’ disposed of in this way by manufacturers or shops?


I guess that the answer to the above question is – those ‘influencers’ on social media (though I have never checked them out to see how they function), celebs, and the younger royals. I have to say that I get hot under my not very trendy collar when the press describe an outfit worn by one of the duchesses as being recycled ….. NO, it has simply been worn in public more than once, a function common to the vast majority of clothing for the vast majority of us. Maybe, a trend that they could make use of more frequently in support of this planet of ours.


I love to look at pictures of fashions past – the sporting ladies encumbered by voluminous skirts. The swimmers stepping carefully from a bathing machine clad in body covering outfits. The cinched in waists brought about by the reining in of a tight corset. How on earth did women breathe effectively when wearing one? How very free we are compared with our predecessors.  Having said that, there can come a time when we feel that a little extra help is required with that tummy control. I accompanied my friend to buy a pair of those controlling knickers that supposedly pull in all the bits that we wish to have pulled in. I mooched round the shop whilst she followed the assistant’s suggestion of trying on said pants to ensure she had the right ones. My mooching ground to a halt when a ‘psst – Dee’ caught my attention. Long story short – she was in the pants – obviously atop her own – but was unable to get out of them. It was down to business. I got on my knees and began yanking whilst she endeavoured to retain her dignity by clutching on to her own underwear. How we stifled the giggles and grunts I’m not sure. How she had managed to pull them up I have no idea. Within the confines of a small changing room we managed to separate her from the offending article. She retained her dignity when handing them back, neatly folded, to the assistant with a ‘thank you, but no thank you’! She would go au natural.


It’s those little tweaks that make all of the difference. OK, it does come in handy being able to visualise how something will look – most importantly how it will look on you and reflect the person that you are. Adding that personal touch can achieve this. You don’t have to be a whizz on a sewing machine or with a needle, but it helps. There are always, shock horror, safety pins pinned through from the inside. Craft and makers’ fairs are great places for picking up little bits and bobs, as are the many ‘antique’ centres. I have appliqued flowers onto a jacket that had a hole in it, giving it a new look and whole new lease of life too.

I do admit to liking somewhat quirky shoes and, before retirement led to a tightening of the purse strings could find them hard to resist. I am very light on my shoes, so they last me years. The local cobbler is also a useful ally.

I guess it was a way for me to express myself, just as many women use their shoes to express their femininity, or take a stand against such a concept by wearing chunky boots as an expression of their individuality. Shoe fashions are blamed for many women of a certain age having bunions thanks to wearing the good old winkle pickers. I am not sure what the feet of those who sport the uber high heels look like in the raw, though I do believe that if worn daily for long enough periods they then find that wearing a pair of good old trainers is uncomfortable. Not only are feet affected, but so too are stance and gait, which can lead to back problems in later life.

It seems that the Japanese women are hoping to be able to wear shoes of their choice, including flat shoes, to their offices. Currently, most are required to wear high heels for work, whether as a company standard, or simply because their boss says so. The high heel wearing is currently described as ‘necessary and appropriate’ and deemed the equivalent to their male colleagues wearing a tie. Especially in the business world, the tie for men and high heels for women are seen as a form of power dressing. Maybe having a choice of footwear styles would be more appropriate – but then what about the men and their ties, though these tend not to cause discomfort and possible future physical problems.


For both men and women, it can be a statement of identity showing that you are one of the people who is on trend and can presumably afford to be so. A way to impress both personally and professionally.

However, it doesn’t have to be a particular popular, current fashion trend that you follow. I have friends who always look the part. One is fully aware of her colour palette and mixes and matches wonderfully. Another allows her quirky sense of style to shine through in what she wears, especially with the way that she accessorises. Both uniquely setting their own style in fashion. Neither goes with what may happen to be a current trend, rather they wear clothes that they like, that suit them and make them feel happy. Both look good and express themselves as the unique individual people they are, dedicated to their own fashion trends.

How boring it would be if everyone was a slave to current trends. Trends which can lead people to wear styles, colours that really don’t suit them because of their colouring, shape and sometimes age. Trends that include lengths, fits, fabric patterns that simply can’t and won’t suit everyone. I know that it is said that we should be able to wear something no matter what size we are, so I am probably old fashioned in my belief that there are limits. By attempting to wear a fashion originally designed for a much more slender person simply does us no favours.  The same applies to age – it’s down to the individual to recognise when they really do look like mutton dressed as lamb in certain styles. Having said that, I personally don’t feel that I am yet ready for a sensible skirt and twin set outfit. For others, this will look good and feel right for them. Fashion should be down to individual taste rather than a one-size fits all approach.


So many of us complained about having to wear school uniform. OK, probably the main complaint was against said uniform’s colour, style, fit. Yet, we go on to seek out the uniformity of fashion trends.

As they say, there’s nowt so queer as folk. I remember trying to get my sons to wear ’sensible’ shoes for school. As soon as they left – Doc Martens ruled, though maybe these may have been frowned upon in school. I don’t think they would have appreciated Second Hand September as they complained in later life of having been given clothes from a friend’s son for scrambling around in the woods riding their bikes and building dens!

You can’t win ‘em all.


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