frugal fashion shopper

Is age just another number?

It’s been too darn hot!

We’ve been having unseasonably hot weather in the UK over the last couple of weeks and it’s been just too darn hot. Temperatures have reached just under 30C (86F) and that’s way too high for a Celt like me. However, friends who usually love the heat have said that it’s been too hot for them as well. It’s the humidity that comes with it that makes it so unpleasant and I’m longing for a break from this everlasting sun. (As I edit this post there was a thunderstorm yesterday and today it’s cloudy and cooler so, thankfully, there is a break in the weather.) But yes, I’m never happier when there’s a cool breeze blowing against my face. On t’other hand, do feel free to remind me that I complained about feeling the heat when it’s freezing cold in a few month’s time!

In fact, it’s been so warm I’ve been wearing the kind of clothes I usually wear on holiday in Spain or France. And I even got out a dress worn in the Caribbean some years ago.

Of course, dresses are featuring in the fashion media a lot now, but I don’t usually wear dresses during the day, being a skirts and tops type of person. But this will tell you how hot it is, I’m no longer worrying about exposing my pale purply legs to the world. Because, on the two occasions when I wore leggings, I couldn’t get them off quicker if I tried. Indeed, when I got home after wearing leggings at my choir session I rushed to the fridge and opened the door à la Claire Underwood (House of Cards) – anything to get cool.

tiedye-dress-web2However, the weather has given me an excuse to trawl the charity shops for more dresses. Here’s one bought for £2.98 that I pounced on as it reminded me of the kind of frocks I wore in the 70s. Its quite vintage, in fact, and its lovely tie-dye material goes with the colour of my summer, which is not really purple, but variations on yellow.

Another dress found last week and unworn (still with its Next label) I kind of regret I bought. Why? Because it’s really expensive at £15. I think charity shops in the UK are getting near to the limit with their high prices these days so I won’t be going back to that one. Never mind, I found a lovely old-fashioned charity shop down a back street and into a courtyard – you wouldn’t know it was there if you weren’t looking (a friend had given me directions). What a treasure trove it was with pots and pans, and linen, hats, crockery, clothes, shoes and everything at £1 or £2. I had a long chat with the charity shop assistant, who told me that no-one in that charity is paid, an unusual situation these days, so they can keep their prices low. I found a dress at just £2 – that’s much better!

That’s all for now

With love

Penny, The Frugal Fashion Shopper

P.S. And here’s a link to some waterproofs for the showers we’re getting in the next few days.


Exercise, exercise, exercise!

Hello everyone. In this post I am delighted to welcome back Lynette Benton, the author of the wonderful blog, StylishOleWoman.  Lynette writes about exercise and reminds us that building up muscle is essential as we age especially if we have specific problems with knees and other joints. Over to you, Lynette!

Exercise: It All Started With My Knee

If my husband knew I was about to recount this story, he’d stifle a groan because this true tale, in its full-length form, has become an oft-repeated legend in our home. All it takes to launch me into a retelling is hearing the word snowstorm, fire hydrant, or knee.

Since Penny invited me to write about how I work out with a bad knee, today that word has inspired the story. I’ll keep it brief.

In the winter of 1996, the Boston area where I live seemed to have a sizeable snowstorm every single week. One afternoon, walking back home from our local supermarket in six inches of new snow that was falling on another couple of feet of snow banked up against the curbs, I noticed a car barreling down the steep hill towards me. The woman behind the wheel wore a startled look, as if afraid her vehicle was about to go out of control. I leapt out of her path, into what I thought was a pile of soft snow, but the side of my knee slammed against something hard and immovable. I let out a yelp, glad I was wearing my long, puffy, down coat, which absorbed some of the impact. I managed to get myself up the hill to my house, and days later I realised that under the snow bank I’d jumped into was a fire hydrant.

The knee began to throb. I saw a sports injury doctor who, though unsatisfactory in other ways, gave me some good advice: strengthen the muscles around the injured knee. What he didn’t tell me was that I needed to strengthen those muscles a lot. A few weeks of physical therapy didn’t do the trick. After years of pain from that knee that was so bad that a few times that it was touch and go whether or not I’d be able to get out of my car or make it up the stairs to my apartment, I found out on my own that doing various knee exercises—and avoiding others—eliminated the pain altogether.

Since then, I’ve strengthened my muscles so much that that knee doesn’t give me any trouble at all. After I injured my other knee a year ago, I applied my weight bearing routine to it and it’s doing great. And I do upper body weight training, as well.

I take zumba classes. Who can resist boogying to “I’ve Got the Moves Like Jagger?” I’d always been a good dancer, and zumba is a perfect excuse to dance two or three times a week. I’ve also begun taking classes in NIA (Neuromuscular Integrative Action), which is like a slower zumba. Sometimes, because of other non-knee chronic pain, I only stay in my zumba or NIA class for 20 minutes, but it’s a strengthening, exhilarating 20 minutes.

All it takes to reduce some of our joint and muscle aches, and improve our energy and strength so that everyday tasks are easier, is starting small and then being consistent with our exercising.

Do you have any fitness routines that have made your life easier?

Lynette Benton

Lynette HEADSHOT copy


P.S. And the Frugalfashionshopper says that, of course, if you have health issues you check first with your doctor before exercising but my senior’s fitness class is great, I really enjoy it.  The key though, as Lynette says, is consistency.

Thank you Lynette for this encouraging post!



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The colours of my summer – purple and glorious citrus yellow

We’re having a lovely summer here in the UK. There’s a bit more cloud expected over the next few days but we’ve been having a lot of blue skies and sunny warm weather.   But I do find summer clothes a bit of a trial.

And why is that? Well, my legs look wonderful in thick black tights. I’m definitely a winter person, although, funnily enough I feel the cold a lot.  Even on a summer’s day I can sit in the garden under a clear blue sky and get freezing cold just in a baggy pair of jeans and bare feet. Yes, I love my winter clothes and all that wool against my skin. And it’s exposing these legs to the summer sun that I find so hard because, without their wintery covering, the legs seem spindlier rather than slim, and their colour is best described as a kind of a mixture of very white skin with splodges of navy veins plus an overlay of those fine purple spidery marks around the knees.

I don’t like that look at all. And I don’t tan well either, with my Scottish skin, and don’t want to, now that my skin has those bits that need burning off every other year or so in the Skin Clinic. Yes, do get your skin checked out, because there are consequences as we age from the sunbathing we did in our youth.

What to do? Perhaps the veins need ‘doing’ as the saying goes. In the meantime, I like showing off my painted toenails so unless it’s very hot I wear leggings that cover up most of my legs but leave the toes open to the elements.

And then there’s fake tanning. A spray tan at a beautician’s might be the answer for you, but I find it expensive, so I buy fake tanning lotion over the counter and do it myself. But gosh, although they have improved these a little, what is it about that smell…

black-and-flowered-dress-webI realise I’m hyper aware of the colour of my legs and maybe people don’t notice them as much as I think they do. And there are some lovely dresses in the charity shops to wear while we have this warm weather.

Here’s one that I hesitated over a little. Did I want a black, purple and yellow dress that was £6.99 with a Monsoon label? Well, yes, I did 😉 And I’m so glad I bought it because it has that citrus yellow in it that goes with my sun-bleached hair and a hand-knitted woolly cardigan bought from a friend.

cruise-yellow-topHere’s the cardigan on the right, as worn on the cruise, with a teal coloured satin skirt, with a voile overlay bought for just under £5.00. Not a bad combo!

That’s all for now

With love

Penny, The Frugal Fashion shopper




Let’s have a universal ‘made well’ label for clothes

As I write this I’m wearing jeans bought from Primark. They are the only jeans that fit my legs, and they’re sold at a price that I can afford. I love Primark jeans and currently have three pairs in three different colours. But once again Primark has been the news. Two Swansea shoppers told their local newspaper that they found an extra label sewn into their purchases: one said “Forced to work exhausting hours” the other “Degrading sweatshop conditions”.

At first, that sounded awful. I wrote about fast and cheap fashion in an earlier post and concluded that we shouldn’t boycott Primark because it wasn’t one of the bad guys. Primark paid out the most compensation after the Rana Plaza tragedy and has been active in the Accord agreement, one of the three separate schemes set up to bring Bangladeshi factories under regulation and inspection to agreed standards. But unpick that sentence – that’s just in Bangladesh. What about conditions elsewhere?

Actually, Primark has concluded that it’s a hoax. And there was something odd about the two labels as the labels were very similar, but the garments were made in countries thousands of miles apart and were on sale in 2013. OK, notwithstanding that, another piece of news tell us that a factory that makes garments for the American owned North Face caught fire recently and dozens were injured, but no deaths, fortunately.

I think we have to face up to the fact that our clothes are often made in not entirely satisfactory circumstances. What to do? Do we buy cheap clothes? Well, Primark, for instance, has an excellent website which sets out its ethical stance and the work it is doing to improve the lives of its workers. Or do we buy home-grown, British-made clothes? Grey Fox has a list of men’s clothes made in Britain. That’s wonderful but the prices are not going to be cheap.

That’s why I like buying from charity shops. It’s not just the price. I feel I’m recycling hardly worn clothes that are being saved from landfill and, at the same time, raising money for charity. But really, I’m only one removed from that initial decision to buy a piece of clothing. And I would say, we shoppers, we mainly buy blind, with no idea, whatsoever, what the conditions were, in which that garment was made.

Perhaps we ought to have more openness, transparency and choice at the point of sale. You can buy free-range organic eggs in the supermarket, if you want to, or not, that’s your choice. Couldn’t we have a label for clothing like a ‘kite-mark’, or the red tractor label, or the RSPCA farm-assured label that says the food has been produced in a reasonable way? Why not have that same thing for clothes – a universal label that says that this garment has been made in good manufacturing conditions?  Then we wouldn’t have to go to a shop that sells expensive ‘ethical’ clothing, instead it would be on all clothes.

The production of clothing from growing the cotton, picking it, cleaning and weaving it must be an immensely complex process; far more complicated and convoluted than the production of English eggs. Even so, High Street stores and shops; let’s have more information – in your stores on the clothes about their provenance.

That’s all for now but what do you think about cheap versus ethical but more expensive fashion? And having a universal ‘made well’ label.

With love, Penny, The Frugal Fashion Shopper

P.S. Checked my paper’s website this morning and I note that Aditya Chakrabortty has just published an article asking for a ‘Truth on the Clothes’ label. Must be on to something here – good!



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