frugal fashion shopper

Is age just another number?

Film night outfit – June 2015

Hello again

I thought I ought to get this post to you before the end of the month.  I help to run a small film society, and our film for June was ‘Cycling with Moliere‘ which was delightful and, unsurprisingly, very, very French!  It was less popular than the previous month’s film, ‘The 100 year-old man who climbed out of the window’, which was a laugh a minute, but most of our audience still thought June’s film either ‘excellent’ or ‘good’.

As usual I wore a new outfit. But unlike my latest buy (see my previous post) it really didn’t break the bank!


The top was a black T-shirt from Peacocks at £4 teamed with a local charity shop skirt at £2.99.  The skirt was a nice mix of grungy black, grey and blue with a sparkly tulle overskirt.


In July we end our 2014-15 season with that wonderful Wes Anderson film ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’.  Can’t wait to see it again.

That’s all for now

With love

Penny, the frugalfashionshopper


Another London trip and an update on the new-look blog

Gosh, it’s taking a wee bit longer than we anticipated to change the look of the blog, as even the IT wiz Mr frugalfashionshopper is finding it a bit of a challenge. But it is happening and you’ll be the first to know when it’s ready, which will probably be in a few more weeks.

And why even bother you might ask, surely everything is fine? But my attitude is that I’ve been writing posts for the frugalfashionshopper for just over two years (wow, yes, I really have) and as I take the blog and my readers very seriously, it’s important to refresh, rethink and keep myself as up-to-date as possible so that’s why I’m working on the look of the blog or the platform as it’s meant to be called!

Ok, well, I was in London yesterday meeting up with my great friend, Tricia Cusden of Look Fabulous Forever who is such a star in the make-up world. We both think very much along the same lines that older women are a neglected demographic, and we both view ageing in a positive way – neither denying it or fighting it. There’s none of that anti-ageing or ageless malarkey with us; we’re proud of our age.

We met in the Victoria & Albert Museum to check out the exhibition ‘Shoes: Pleasure & Pain’ which was excellent and full of mouth-watering and fascinating footwear, some centuries old and some very up-to-date including a couple owned by Lady Gaga – altogether a scrumptious thing to do.

But, oh dear, here’s confession time. I got up to London a bit early so I thought, I’ll just check out that charity shop near Victoria Station that I popped into some time ago. You know, the one where I nearly fainted at the prices. But hey, it is the centre of London we’re talking about not my little seaside town, and it’s all in a good cause as the British Red Cross runs the shop.

OK, in I went and, actually the shop is lovely and the staff so helpful. And immediately I spotted something – deep breath – a bias cut, sage green, silky dress with a DKYN label. Expensive, oh, yes, and quite small, so I thought, ‘good, I’ll never get into it’.’ But why not try it on? Uh oh, it fitted (just) as it’s a tiny American size 4.

Reader, I bought it.  And why, when I’m meant to be the frugalfashionshopper? Well, while most charity shop stuff where I live is around a fiver, with that label when new it would’ve been three times the price I paid (add a nought), so it’s still a bargain!


And remember my style tips in the last but one blog: never say never, experiment and never, ever see yourself wearing age-appropriate clothes. Seriously, wear what you want, why not!


That’s all for now, but if you’re just dropping by and you’d like to get my blog posts on a regular basis do feel free to sign up (on the side-bar). I value all my readers immensely.

With love

Penny, the frugalfashionshopper


Who remembers Laurence Corner and the fashion for military coats and jackets?

When I was younger I didn’t seek out charity shops – did they even exist in the 60s? If they did I never went into one. But I did wear second-hand clothing because I did frequent, what we call in the UK, jumble sales, which were run by charities. I’ve even organised several myself in, I think, the late 70s and 80s.

I clothed my entire family from these sales, which explains why on looking at some old photographs I’m slightly horrified at what we’re wearing. And maybe it’s my eye for what is OK now, and how it clashes with what we’re wearing then, but I often hear myself, saying, ‘gosh, what on earth….?’, and then I recall,’ ah yes, of course, they’re jumble sale clothes!’

But in the 60s and early 70s I wore some really fashionable second-hand clothes bought from the London military clothing surplus store Laurence Corner.

Because military wear was very, very on-trend at one point, although I would argue that the fashion for military gear has never gone away as I still covet a sheep-skin lined pilot’s jacket in that rather battered leather. At Laurence Corner I used to buy sailors’ front-buttoned navy wool trousers, which are, or were, flared and very trendy in their time, I can tell you. And of course, I had a long, dark blue, double-breasted military coat so not an army coat, probably, ho, ho, navy!

And what am I wearing here?


Well, this is my grandfather, Joseph Archibald Martin Hislop’s mess jacket. My lovely cousin Rosemary had it and has given it to me to give it the airing it deserves, as we’ve worked out that this mess jacket must be nearly 100 years old.

Here is a photo of my grandfather as a sergeant-major marrying my grandmother.

Grandfather mother P11 He rose to be an honorary captain in 1917 in the now defunct Bedfordshire regiment and retired in 1928 as a full captain. The mess jacket that I’m wearing is for a captain, but it’s without its pips and buttons, so I need to do some research and go find these to complete the outfit.

What is so striking about this jacket is how small it is. I am a UK size 12 and with buttons I would just about be able to fit into it. Amazing to see the living proof that our forefathers were smaller than us, for so many reasons including diet and poverty and so on. But how wonderful also to have a relic of the past and acknowledge with pride the life of someone who served his King and country. I remember him as he died in 1954.

3 - Johns parents p11

RIP an honourable gentle man.

With love, Penny, the frugalfashionshopper


Ageless Style? Um, no thanks, what about being stylish whatever your age?!

Vogue (yes, you’ve guessed it, I’m having another rant) has just published its annual Ageless Style issue. Deep breath, oh my!

Actually, it’s not a totally bad read, but my beef with Vogue is that they don’t have any gumption, nerve, courage or conviction about ageing per se. Because, this so-called ‘ageless style’ is not about ageing at all, oh no. As my very good friend, Tricia Cusden of Look Fabulous Forever, has said in one of her tweets ‘ageless is the new euphemism for ’never grow old whatever you do’!

So to what purpose do we have on the cover of Vogue the 44-year-old model Stella Tennant? Does she represent agelessness? Nope, not in my eyes, she doesn’t. In her fashion shots her velvety, smooth wrinkle-free face is the personification of air-brushed vacuity. Why not use, instead, the amazing 84-year-old American model Carmen Dell’Orefice or our very own Fabulous Fashionista, 86-year-old Daphne Selfe? At least let’s see someone with a lived-in face. Why not, Vogue, what do you fear?

And if you think that I’m as usual shouting in the wind about Vogue to no avail I’ve decided to join Vogue insiders and hope that my responses to their surveys will contribute to a maybe (here’s hoping) different perspective of what my demographic thinks of their Ageless Style issues.

And OK, let me try to be positive. For instance, there is a fairly useful, albeit small, section on ‘Fashion prescription’ with ideas to cover up troublesome thighs, ageing elbows, problem middles and sun-damaged décolletage. But on turning the page I nearly screamed with rage at the paragraph that asked us to reconsider pearls, lurex and chain belts as obviously we must be seeing these as age-inappropriate.

Because never, ever use the term age-inappropriate (or age-appropriate for that matter) to me in relation to older women and their attire. It’s as bad as that awful phrase ‘mutton dressed as lamb’. We are not to be dictated to or advised about clothing because as I’ve said before we should wear what we want.

Of course, I am guilty of saying ‘we wear what…etc, then offering advice. But my aim is to give older women the confidence to branch out and be stylish in whatever way they think appropriate for their life, and I’m saying this from the point of view of someone who i) hasn’t a lot of cash and ii) is approaching 70. In other words I am not a young fashion journalist on a good salary telling older women what is and isn’t age-appropriate – how b…..y dare they!!!!

And in response to Vogue I leave you with my five style tips for positive ageing:

  1. Never ever see yourself having to wear age-appropriate clothes – we are all so different as we age. What we wear should be appropriate only to our size and taste – that’s all.
  2. Do experiment with your style – you may surprise yourself and others!
  3. As for troublesome areas like flabby arms I cannot recommend this enough – go to the gym. Join a seniors’ class and do weight training – seriously it will sort those upper arms.
  4. Wear comfortable but stylish shoes. Schuh stock some wonderful styles – the shop is    definitely not just for the young.
  5. And never, say never, instead embrace the new. Next challenge after the new-look blog (still a work in progress) will be an Instagram account (yes, I know, to some it’s easy, but for me it’s the next thing to learn). Then after that I have a long-term plan to start vlogging.

That’s all for now but what’s your latest challenge?

With love, Penny, the frugalfashionshopper


Hatwalk 5 – June 2015

Another month, another post on hats for Judith Boyd’s monthly Hat Attack.  Hello again to everyone in the hat loving community!  This post, however, shows a hat that I wouldn’t wear around town, lovely as it is with its tulle covering and navy feather.   Instead this post is a homage to my mother.


I found the hat in Oxfam for the princely price of £1.99, that’s just over 3 US dollars.  Possibly they might have been thinking well, we have to keep it cheap for anyone to buy it, as it is very vintage 50s.  (I bet that in a shop that sold vintage clothes it would have been far more expensive).

But it brings to mind my mother wearing hats exactly like it for special occasions, such as my school’s sports day, when parents dressed up in their Sunday best, or an outing to London to meet her friend for afternoon tea.


She wore hats for years but they were never the large brimmed variety that I like, instead they were always a pillbox size that sat squarely on her head.  Nothing too fancy either but that’s what women of my mother’s ilk wore until in the 60s that fashion faded away.


That’s all for now but do tell me if you have memories of your mother wearing that kind of hat.

Penny, the frugalfashionshopper


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