Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Sharing the Love

This week I'm sharing my love and passion for fair trade and ethical fashion over on Oxfam's fashion blog! I was very excited to be interviewed by the Monsoon Accessorize Trust on my challenge and my views on the fashion industry... Head on over to the amazing Oxfam blog for a little read!
For all you fair trade fashion fanatics: I suggest you keep an eye out for their other posts... and check out the great work of the Monsoon Accessorize Trust as well!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

One Last Summer Breeze

I'm just back from a one week holiday on the beautiful southern coast of France and - although it's grey and rainy here and the autumn clothes are already in the shops - I am just not ready to say good-bye to summer yet... so let's look at some beautiful fair trade summer dresses, remember the warmth of sun on our skin, the sound of the waves, the taste of ice-cream and hold onto that summer feeling for a tad longer... Also, lots of these dresses are currently on sale - the ideal time for a little summer shopping spree. Here are some of my favourites...

Floral Dress by ASOS Africa
This hip floral dress by the ASOS' fair trade label ASOS Africa is currently on sale for only £31.50 and there's free delivery and returns!

Bright and Light 

I love the pale colours and airy feel of these short dresses. From left to right we have: Philippa Blossom Sun Dress from fair trade fashion house PeopleTree (reduced from £79 to £49), followed by Phily Printed Cotton Voile Dress from fair trade label Komodo (reduced from £55 to £33), and on the right the cute Sofia Stripes dress by German fair trade label Armed Angels (currently on sale for only €39.90). 

Poly Rayon Maxi Dress by Komodo
I wish I had known about this beauty before I went to France. This would have been perfect for a beach day or a nice meal out at a local Bistro. I love Komodo's effortless and chic aesthetic. And guess what - the Poly Rayon Maxi Dress is also on sale at the moment for a fantastic £39!

A Blue Hue

The colour palette of these cute dresses remind me of the many blues of the Mediterranean Sea... having said that, they would easily transition to autumn too! On the left and right are two more dresses by German fair trade label Armed Angels: the Tracy Ahoi Dress with a cute nautically themed print and the lovely Valetta Feathers dress. In the middle is one of Annie Greenabelle's sweet knot back dresses. I love the cool back detail of this one (see the pic above!). Ethically made in England, this dress is also on sale for only £30.

Net Tunic by Bibico

This casual tunic by ethical clothing brand Bibico is made from soft cotton jersey and just looks so comfortable - perfect for a day at the beach. I love the lace back... and the price - reduced from £55 to £24!

Can you see yourself spending a summer's day in one of these dresses? Which one is your favourite?

Monday, 12 August 2013

The Craft to Inspire

Jim Melin inspiring us all
Last Friday, the second talk in the series of 5-9 talks brought together a bunch of committed crafters and artists, who spend the few free hours of their busy days making and creating beautiful things and an audience, excited to hear about how they do it. And that's what the 5-9 talks, co-organized by ReFound Belfast and FairEnough Blog, are all about; inspiring people. Isn't it true that we often don't achieve the really amazing things during working hours, but afterwards, once we get home, once we can do what we really want? I'm sure many of you have a 5-9 passion of your own. So last Friday, the very talented craftspeople Sue Cathcart, Alison Lowry and Jim Melin showed us how and why they sacrifice so much of their free time for their art.

Derry Walls by Mr. Papers

Besides being an outreach officer for the Ulster Museum, Sue Cathcart is the face behind the eccentric Mr. Papers who appears on lots of hilarious and distinctly Northern Irish Greeting Cards. Made out of old pages of the Belfast Telegraph, Mr. Papers cards are - like most of Sue's craft - wholly recycled. Sue doesn't just make cards though, she can fashion almost anything from paper, including beautiful statues and figurines. Head over to Mr. Papers' website to find out more!

Triptych of Life
Next up was Alison Lowry, who, next to raising three kids, somehow finds time to make the most stunning glass art. Alison is inspired by her Irish heritage and the female craft of lace-making and sowing that runs in her family. In her piece Triptych of Life, she manages to capture the fragility and delicacy of an Irish lace christening gown in rigid glass. Alison shared a great deal about her techniques in creating these pieces and she also teaches classes where you can try your hand at making beautiful glass pieces or learn about pate de verre.

a wall made out of pallets by Jim Melin
Lastly, Jim Melin took us on a tour de force of his incredibly varied and inspiring work. Employed as a teacher during the day, Jim uses his free time to literally make everything out of anything! A mural out of bottle tops, a wall out of old pallets, a tree out of books... you name it, he's probably made it. Jim doesn't see rubbish as rubbish... he sees endless possibilities. He also can't stick to one art form... most recently, he's even tried his hand at welding. You can buy his rustic and beautifully industrial furniture pieces at ReFound Belfast.

I think it's not an exaggeration to say that we all left with lots of ideas blooming in our mind, inspired by having heard people talk about their passion... I have to say, I can't wait for the next one...

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Wear it Seven Ways

 Kate Middleton has been both applauded and chided for wearing the same dresses twice. 'Really?' You may think, 'That actually makes head-lines?' Well apparently it does...  Judging by the endless list of 'celebrity repeat fashion offenders' I found when I googled the topic, there are millions of snap-happy fashionistas out there hungrily waiting to pounce on any star who is stupid enough to show up anywhere wearing the same thing a second time. My goodness - the faux pas... the world will probably end...

Well go you Kate Middleton I say! I hope you wear your expensive gorgeous dresses a million times! Despite feeling ever so superior to all the fashion-slaves out there, the headlines did get me thinking about my own wardrobe choices... How many times have I convince myself that I simply MUST buy something new because I 'just' don't have exactly that top in exactly that shade of grey, or that I absolutely need a new bag to go with this new dress and match my new shoes... Over my year of shopping ethically and sustainably, I've felt challenged to think about sustainability in a more holistic way. I've come to realise that sustainability entails more than just buying second-hand or organic. It it also about versatility and redefining 'need'. Truth is, I don't need 75% of the clothes in my wardrobe. If I lost them today, I could still go on living tomorrow. Maybe rather than always buying something new, we could take a more creative approach to our own wardrobe. To inspire us all to do this, I've set myself a week-long challenge to wear one piece of clothing seven different ways utilizing the clothes I already have. Here are some of the ideas I came up with...

The item of clothing I chose to do my experiment with was this lovely black and white floral printed blouse... I agree the first outfit is a bit of a given... Combined with my fairtrade black cotton skirt from Annie Greenabelle, a black blazer, tights and some heels, this turns into a neat business look. I wore this to work, but would also wear it to a job interview or formal occasion.

To achieve a more summery, girly look I introduced some bold colour. I love this blue pleated skirt I got at a swap shop. Having some uni-coloured items in your wardrobe is always a good idea and makes combining outfits so much easier! Still formal enough to wear to work, this outfit is also totally comfortable - perfect for that after-work drink.

For looks two and five the idea was to wear the top over and under clothes I wouldn't usually wear it with. So in the first one, I've put it on over a dark grey beach dress. Arranged in this way, it turned an otherwise very casual dress into a more formal look. Similarly I love how putting the blouse on under my black Peopletree maxi dress and combining it with a neat little yellow belt and satchel completely changes the feel of that dress. Good-by beach, hello office!

Now this top is not one I would usually wear out... but  the challenge was seven days, seven ways and one day was Saturday. So I combined the top with a second-hand sequins skirt and my vintage silver heels... And - despite what I had first thought - I happily wore this outfit on a night out. Totally disco-ready!

Last but not least, there's always the option to go casual. Wearing the blouse with my mint jeans and throwing on a little denim jacket made for a super comfy casual weekend outfit. 

I actually had so much fun doing this little challenge, and it's made me see my wardrobe with new eyes! I felt really happy about all the clothes I own, when previously I often felt unsatisfied and bored with them. I also made the choice to approach future buys with more caution. Thinking about what I already own and investing in high quality pieces that work well with my other clothes, rather than buying on a whim or being influenced by a sale...

We'll see how long that lasts :).

Many thanks also to the lovely Claire Dalton for taking all the beautiful pictures. You're a star.