frugal fashion shopper

Is age just another number?

Coats – I’ve got too many or have I?

Perhaps some may think I do nothing other than shop for clothes. Actually no, I’ve a busy life doing lots of other things, but if I find myself in one of the small towns that are so typical in Britain, I do look in charity shops and often I find something. And yes, as a consequence, I’ve got coats for every occasion and for all sorts of venues and destinations. I like to co-ordinate the colour and style of my outfits and that includes the colour and style of my coat.

There are the coats I wear for the cold weather, which hasn’t arrived yet.  I don’t know about you but I’m finding this mild weather extending into the beginning of November a bit odd. My garden could do with a cold spell to kill off the white fly for a start.

There are coats I wear in my town, coats for the more upmarket county town nearby, coats for Brighton, which is a vibrant, slightly crazy city. And then there are my London coats.

Before you say how extravagant, up to last month, the majority cost under £5 with only one costing more (and that was a classic camel hair coat at £18) apart that is from, the faux fur coat bought recently at the Brighton Vintage Fair and another I bought last week.

I couldn’t resist it.


Here it is and it’s a Brighton coat methinks! It’s faux fur, which is quite on-trend at the moment, in a slightly strawberry colour. It cost a bit more than I usually spend – deep breath – it was £35 but with a Next label and the kind of whacky look that I like to project occasionally, I so enjoy wearing it.

That’s what I want to get over in this post that the clothes we wear as we age, should and can be fun, particularly coats, which are often a very expensive item. In other words, you don’t have to spend a fortune to both keep warm and look good.

That’s all for now. And to new readers, thank you so much for dropping by and reading my post. If you like it why not sign up for regular posts from me.

With love

Penny, The Frugal Fashion Shopper



We all age and our faces change – that’s not news!

This is a bit last week but there’s been quite a lot in the media about Renee Zellweger and her face. I’m not going to add to the comments that have been made below-the-line on various websites and in social media, although I’ll admit that she does look different to the twinkly-eyed, round-faced younger Renee Zellweger.   And that added fat she had on her face was not just for Bridget Jones. Did anyone see her in Jerry Maguire? She had that baby-face look then, but hey, that was 1996 when she was only 26. She’s 45 now and her face looks thinner and quite polished. I guess she must have had something done to her previously quite hooded eyes (which come from her Sami inheritance) and maybe some botox.

But that’s where I’m going to stop apart from saying I trust she’s OK, as she’s obviously lost a lot of weight (but she says she’s well and happy). So, really, I think the phrase is i) get a life as there’s a lot of other stuff we should engage with, and ii) if you must comment then don’t comment negatively, please, about someone growing older.

Because, as I know all too well, when you age the shape of your face changes and that fuller baby-face goes.  Here’s how I’ve aged over the years.  I’ve never been particularly round faced but the outcome of this exercise is that I’m laughing my head off at how Mr & Mrs Frugal Fashion Shopper have changed over the years.




First of all, here we are channelling our Grease look. I made that dress myself, btw.


Looking quite glam here two years ago, but the hair has changed from its natural russet red to a right badger’s mix of dull gun-metal grey and red (which clashes) plus white hair in the front. So there’s no going grey for me, instead, I’ll have a blonde rinse that I’ll, maybe, review when I reach 80.



And here’s another photo taken this year. I’ve got thinner all over (that’s a digestive thing I have) but I’m afraid Mr Frugal Fashion Shopper is a bit bigger!

Finally, here’s a link celebrating Catherine Deneuve’s 71st birthday. She is a role model for us all. Note that in the film Potiche, which I highly recommend, she carries a bit of extra weight and looks all the better for it.

That’s all for now but do let me know what you think about anything (!) but particularly about your ageing.

With love

Penny, The Frugal Fashion Shopper


You can look fabulous without great expense or making your face sore!

I always feel slightly annoyed after reading Vogue. It’s that combination of ads for shoes, jewellery and bags with narry a price-tag on the page, plus the fashion shoots for the monied and not particularly fastidious (as in, a rabbit fur coat to order, seriously? over a £2090 silk-lame dress, what!) which leaves me with the feeling that I’ve just taken a perilous overdose of sickly candy-floss.

But it’s the over-excited advice on the Voguebeauty pages that makes my jaw drop. Take the October Vogue’s opinion piece on face peeling. Apparently, once an alarming prospect, it is now an essential part of the skin care routine. Really?  Well, not at £800 a time it isn’t.

I’m sure you know that peeling is a type of facial that clears dead cells from the face usually with a dissolving-acid component. It can be done at a cheaper rate in salons at around £90 and these days doesn’t have to leave you with that red, raw looking face – although note, it can.

To me peeling sounds so very excessive. People, and this is a message to women of all ages, we don’t have to listen to these breathless not-even-old-but-just-approaching-middle-age journalists who are trying to sell us abrasive (and sometimes invasive) and crucially, exceedingly expensive treatments for our ageing faces.

Because for me, there’s something about accepting the reality of my ageing that I find almost empowering.  For instance, when I reach 70, I’m not going to say ’70 the new 50′ or whatever that expression is!  No I’ll say this is 70, this how we baby boomers are and aren’t we proud!  Mind you, I say ‘almost’ as sometimes I look in the mirror and go, oh dear!  But, on the other hand, there’s quite a lot that can be done that will help the quality of our skin as it ages.

Here are five things we can do that won’t cost the earth – like paying £800 to make your face sore *rolls eyes & sighs*.

  1. An ordinary facial that suits your skin type

Why not have a professional facial in a beauty salon once in a while? There are facials for every skin type and there will be one that is just right for you. They cost from £30-£60 (there are more expensive ones but I am not advocating those) and I consider having my skin looked at and treated by experts every six months or so a good use of my money.

  1. Cleansing, exfoliating and the hot flannel trick

When I was younger I used to think moisturising would fend off those lines. I now know that wrinkles appear whatever you do and to a certain extent, yes, of course moisturising is a good thing. But cleansing and exfoliation is the key to good skin as we age. Clearing those excess skin cells will lighten and brighten your skin and never mind those lines – that’s you!!

My beauty routine is to cleanse my face morning and evening with an inexpensive crème cleanser. It’s difficult in the evening, though, to be sure that every last bit of make-up is gone so my trick is to take a rough face flannel (I have a pile of cheap, white flannels to hand) and soak the flannel in hot water and then cover my face with it. When the heat dissipates I repeat the action rubbing my face at the same time (not over hard rubbing, btw) until there is no evidence of any make-up, including eye makeup. I got this heated flannel trick from Sali Hughes and it’s been excellent for my mild blepharitis as well. The flannel is then discarded after one day. On top of this, every two weeks or so, I use an exfoliating crème after the evening cleanse.   All this takes time (and I’ve written about this before) but I would never, ever, not do this routine – it’s as important to me as cleaning my teeth.

  1. Get good make-up advice

I’m not going to give you any advice about make-up – each to their own, as some people have always worn make-up and some not.   But don’t ever say I can’t wear make-up because of my age – oh no, no and no again! What I do advocate is get some advice on what to wear on your face. And it won’t necessarily be found on the make-up and beauty counter in those large department stores. Rather, go on the internet, and particularly try Tricia Cusden’s YouTube tutorials on make-up and the older woman.  These tutorials are excellent, as are her products. I also rate the aforementioned Sali Hughes, who is the Guardian beauty correspondent.  As you can see from her website she’s just published a book and for me it was a good read and one to keep as a reference for the future.

  1. Eyebrows

I cannot emphasise this enough. Don’t pluck your eyebrows. This is because eyebrows define and frame your face. Forget a surgical facelift – your eyebrows alone will lift your face. If possible, let them grow long and bushy and then get them professionally dyed and tidied. If they’re a bit sparse either use a gel to help them grow again or see Tricia Cusden’s advice on eyebrows and the older woman.

  1. Gel nail varnish

Nails are a kind of skin so I’m including this here! I’ve got old looking hands with thin age-spotted skin plus crumbling fragile nails.   And yes, I know it must be a calcium thing but as I’m already on calcium supplements I can’t take any more. The nails peel and split, particularly in the winter, when, if I’m not careful, my nails go below the quick, which is horrible. But hey, I‘ve found an answer – gel nail varnish.

Gel varnish is applied in a salon and costs around £30 but, wonder of wonders, the varnish lasts for 3-5 weeks and as far as I’m concerned, has changed my nails from being an utter disaster zone to having, near enough, rather long nails – wow! The reason is that as well as looking great, the gel varnish protects the nail, so my nails now grow beyond the quick and they haven’t looked this good for years.

In all of the above I’m recommending things that worked for me, so exercise caution and common-sense, and only use products and treatments that suit you and that you’re happy with.   But do let me know what tricks you use to improve the quality of your skin.

With love, Penny, The frugal fashion shopper


Large and long skirts a frumpy style – no way!

I’ve been brave. I posted a comment below the line after reading Jess Cartner-Morley’s latest article. Apparently, larger, longer skirts are on-trend and that’s great, but, she warns, you have to be careful with these skirts otherwise you’re wearing old-lady clothes. Full title of said article is: ‘What I wore this week: frump chic’. So far so good, but her secondary title ‘The older you get, the harder it is to pull off old-lady clothes. You have to evoke light sartorial irony’, that’s not on.

Wouldn’t say I was overly offended but I couldn’t let it go without commenting as it’s not OK for a younger woman to use or get away with that ageist language. By the way, do have a read of Michele Hanson’s latest article, as she’s commenting on Professor Mary Beard’s campaign to reclaim the word ‘old’ and making the word a positive rather than a negative.  I mean, I really object to that connection old-lady = frumpy. No way, Jess.  And brave, well, you never know whether your own below-the-line comment will come in for narky comments. Just checked and nothing yet and quite a few likes!

To a certain extent I agree with Jess Cartner-Morley that there are skirts and tops that are not a good look.   We’ve all got to find our own style and, personally, I can’t wear high necklines and find mid-length skirts a bit of a trial.

I also find that vintage clothes are not good on me, albeit not counting that fab faux fur coat I bought two weeks ago! First of all, the clothes are too darn expensive in comparison to charity shop clothing. And then most of the vintage stuff available seems to be 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s clothing, which on a younger person does have that sartorial irony – as in, hey, this is a young person wearing something old – wow!   But if I wear anything from those decades (and remember I’m 68 so I’ve worn clothes from all those years) it just looks as though it’s been in the back of my wardrobe for eons and I’m being a bit old-fashioned today. And as that’s not the look I want most vintage is not for me.

swirly-skirt-webHowever, I have bought two mid-length skirts quite recently, and wore one for a disco-singing workshop. I sing in a choir (we sing everything from Beetles, Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel) and learning six disco songs (Bee Gees Staying Alive, was one) was time very well spent.

I always wear chunky ankle length boots with a mid-length skirt – never anything dainty – gives the outfit just a little edge.  Is that what Cartner-Morley means by sartorial irony?  Not sure, as I think the article is aimed at a much younger audience.  The skirt is silk, cost £7.50, has a Phase Eight label (that’s good) and had just the right swishyness for our performance at the end of the workshop, which was on a village green with an audience of 8 people and 6 dogs!  But it was all such fun!

Anyway, do let me know if you like wearing mid-length skirts.

That’s all for now

With love

Penny, The Frugal Fashion Shopper


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