frugal fashion shopper

Is age just another number?

Autumn trends – do we heed the fashion journos or do we dress as we please?

I’m always saying we should dress as we please. Because I believe that as we age we should wear what we want, and not what some young fashionista puts in an article as the thing to wear, or what the current fashion mags are saying is on trend for the coming colder months.

At the moment there are a lot of lists on autumn fashion trends. But my favourite fashion writer, Hadley Freeman, nails it as usual. (Favourite because her style of writing is top-notch, and reminiscent of Nora Ephron. And she repeatedly berates the fashion industry in an ironic tongue-in-cheek manner!) This time she looks at Vanity Fair’s best-dressed list and calls it hilarious and deranged. You could say the same about a recent list in the Guardian on ‘20 autumn fashion trends you need to know about’. Let me see, Gucci on the High Street? With pussybow blouses or floral dresses that look like 1970s upholstery – nope. The 70s and 80s – nope, and school-bully hair, I don’t think so. As for black tights and maxi coats, all I can say is I’m wearing them already, darling. Yes, that list is just as deranged as they get.

Yet, fashion matters. Because nobody wants to wear clothes that look odd or desperately out-of-date. The point is to note what the fashion of the day is, adapt it, and then wear our clothes with the confidence and knowledge that we look good.

And most of you do have preferences; you know you have to wear formal suits or skirts for work, or now that you’re retired, or moved to the country, you prefer to be comfortable and ready for that session of gardening.

But perhaps as you age, you’ve become unsure – and you’re saying to yourself what should I wear now I’m retired? As I’ve said before I wore nothing but jeans for three years after my retirement. So here’s a list of some dress styles: What type are you?

  • Sporty                                            trousers & wool jacket
  • Country casual                                  Ditto
  • Comfortable in jeans                  jeans with a variety of tops
  • Urban formal superwoman      skirt or trouser suit
  • Glamorous and fabulous           skirts & frocks
  • Ageing rocker                              jeans & leather jackets
  • Old, bold and edgy                     anything goes

There have to be more ways to dress. Do look, btw, at Alyson Walsh’s book, which really gets at this business of different styles, and is a brilliant guide to looking good as we age.

Personally, I think, after a lot of fun and experimentation (through buying in charity shops) I wear a mix of the last three styles.

Remember that little blue tartan skirt – here it is worn over my charity shop Gap jeans and Peacocks top.


I’ve worn it several times now. But that was a look that I saw in Edinburgh and adapted for myself. Blue-kilt-4-web

Anyway, if I have any message it is while we shouldn’t heed the nonsense in the fashion trade, we can always reflect on the image we want to portray, and then experiment and have fun while we try out our style. Because we should wear what we want!

That’s all for now

With love

Penny, the frugalfashionshopper


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



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


Coats, coats, coats. Yes, I found that fabulous coat and some!

Perhaps the weather is just a tad chillier here in the UK – being a Celt I don’t mind. I love the autumn and relish dressing up in wool and tweed in the winter. And I found my fabulous coat, well, *coughs, covers mouth and feels slightly embarrassed* perhaps I should say coats!

First of all, I found a long mackintosh; a bit beige, but beautifully cut. Did I say that the big, long coat is the on-trend winter buy? That’s good for keeping warm, although I don’t know about you, but I have to be really careful, because, despite my height, these almost floor-length, coats can look a bit like a dressing-gown on me. And this one is very long – won’t wear it going down the escalators on the London underground, that’s for sure. It’s an Aquaberry mac, which, I think, no longer trades, so you could call it a vintage coat or, as I see it, pre-loved. And not bad at £8.99.

Then, what about this fabulous Vintage snow-leopard faux fur coat found on a stall last Sunday at the Brighton Vintage Fair?






I’m so pleased I bought it as I’ve been searching for a leopard skin coat for a long time, but, oh my, the price! It was an eye-watering £65 but that’s vintage for you – still cheaper than the High Street, though. I went up to an old fort on a hill in my town for a shoot (actually just me and my husband, Mr Frugal Fashion Shopper) and I sure am no model because in the majority of photos I was pulling a face!!



But the view here is great– I love my town.

Then, finally, I bought quite an unusual, navy, knee-length wool coat. No lining, beautifully cut, in perfect condition, I’ll wear it over jeans. I spotted it in a great little charity shop in Seaford, had a look and saw the labels. On one side of the coat was a big Harrods label, and t’other side, a label saying Weill, Paris. This, my dears, is a ready-to-wear couture label – what a find! What a bargain! It was just £5.00.

That’s it for now, but do drop me a line on what coats you’ll be wearing in the coming months.

With love

Penny, The Frugal Fashion Shopper




My skin sorted plus I’m searching for a fabulous winter coat!

Last week I had my two miniscule skin cancers zapped – all good, and OK now. You remember I wrote about this in February, when I went to London and treated myself to the Isabella Blow exhibition, after going to the Mole Clinic for a skin examination. And no, the NHS waiting list isn’t that slow, I’d postponed one appointment.

But, seriously, I cannot emphasise enough to you – if you’re fair skinned go get your skin checked. Forty years ago we all wanted to get that Bridget Bardot look of bleached hair, pale lips and dark suntanned skin. Well I did! Now, there are the consequences of that tanning, but if caught in time (and most of these skin things are very slow growing anyway) there’s no problem.

Haven’t done much charity shop shopping lately, although I did try on a beautiful grey Jaegar winter coat yesterday, but it was too big *sighs*.  Pity, as that’s a very good brand and it was just the colour of the coming season.

We’re having lovely warm weather in the UK at the moment so it seems a bit odd to think of winter clothes, but charity shops are beginning to put out their winter stock and you could find yourself a great bargain.

Hadley Freeman’s written her usual amusing article and this week it’s about cheering yourself up through the winter months by buying and wearing a fabulous (slightly wacky) coat. How I agree with her.

brown-top-webAnd, before you say, I want to be warm not fabulous, and furthermore, I can’t afford to buy that type of coat, the point is when you shop in charity shops you can buy a fabulous coat plus another warmer one – it really is cheaper buying coats that way – and it’s great fun looking.

Hope to put up a photo soon of a fab coat, but in the meantime here’s a grey (!) M&S Per Una top I bought for £1.00 in the depths of Dorset, where we had a short break at the beginning of the month.

That’s all for now

With love

Penny, The Frugal Fashion Shopper


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Grey for the autumn – why not try this excellent colour

I packed far too many clothes for that cruise. Seriously, I could have taken fewer evening outfits, and as for my day clothes, well, the colours oscillated from that in-your-face yellow cardigan and scarf (which looked good) to pink trousers and a green t-shirt (never wore it). When going on holiday, the saying goes, take double the money and half the clothes – yup, that just about sums up what I should have done.

But I’ve just come back from a week away, and this time I took a capsule wardrobe of three pairs of jeans (all from Primark) in black, grey and pink, plus a variety of tops and one statement outfit (for a conference) that fitted nicely into a small suitcase – was proud of myself!

Grey’s an interesting colour. Jess Cartner-Morley says that grey is often associated with the colour of one’s underwear after a lot of washes. You know, that dull dishwater, off-white colour. But grey clothes can look stunning. You know I love the way Claire Underwood dresses with that muted palette of grey, blue and black clothing, which is to die for – can’t wait for the next series of House of Cards. But grey can also look good on the older woman especially against our ageing and paler skin. And it can also look good with both grey hair and the blonde colour that I, and so many others use for our greying locks. Yes, I know I could go white, but that’s a debate for another time! And if you think grey is too leaden a colour for you to wear, think of the variety of grey colours there are, and, perhaps even see silver as a possibility for you.

No need to spend £300 or so on a cashmere top, though. Here’s some suggestions for wearing grey from the High Street and my favourite autumn/winter top is a grey cashmere jumper bought from a charity shop three years ago for just £5.00! What I will be looking out for, however, is a grey coat similar to one that features in the Cartner-Morley video. But more about coats and winter wear later this year.

jacket-&-skirt-webAnd, last but not least, I’ve just read in the latest Vogue issue that one should forget frou-frou and go urban edgy. OK, I could go for that but, oops sorry, couldn’t resist this frothy skirt bought last week, not in a charity shop, but in a sale for just over £10.00 in, you note, grey, teamed here with my favourite jacket.

That’s all for now

With love

Penny, The Frugal Fashion Shopper



Jackets and trousers for this changeable weather!

The weather’s changed. It’s wetter, colder, greyer here in the UK and my nail-varnished toes are going to be hidden away for the duration. Or maybe not as warmer weather is forecast for next week.  OK, the weather is unsettled at the moment. Time to get out the jackets and the shoes that can take the rain.

Jackets are certainly are a topic for some of the fashion journalists. Here’s Lauren Cochrane on how to wear the denim jacket, which she says doesn’t have to be in that ubiquitous blue colour. I’ve got a Calvin Klein denim jacket (from a charity shop, natch) which is in the usual blue, but the jacket I love best at this time of year is the bomber jacket. There’s nothing quite like one of those jackets for bringing a casual but zingy feel to an outfit, and they’re just right for spring or autumn weather, although looking at some of those prices. £549 – really?   Why not just drop into to your local charity shop and find one for around £5.00, which I did recently.

yellow-top-webHere’s the £5.00 bomber jacket in, you might notice, my favourite summer colour, a vibrant yellow. But I want to draw your attention to the trousers. In my last post I mentioned I’d bought an unworn M&S pair of linen trousers so yesterday I put them on to take a photo. Now I bought these trousers on a hot day so they felt refreshingly cool when I put them on, but looking at the first couple of photos my jaw dropped to the floor as the trousers might have made me feel cool, but they certainly didn’t look cool.  In fact, they foreshortened and fattened my legs so much that I looked, well, kind of big. And I’m, as you know, slim. The photo on the left is taken with a different lens so they look slightly better than the first two photos but still….

Just compare those trousers with my favourite type of jeans the skinny variety,black-outfit-web here on the right. People, ladies, women, I don’t believe in giving anyone any advice, because there are no rules when you age, you wear what you want. However! Whatever your size, I’m really not sure about wide (sometimes known as boyfriend/mom size) flappy trousers. Why, because they widen, fatten and enlarge your legs. Look at the two photos. I rest my case.

That’s all for now, but what do you think – do you wear skinny or wide?

With love

Penny, The Frugal Fashion Shopper


Throwing out the old and welcoming the new – as in new skirts!

I’ve written about de-cluttering before but since I’ve got back from my holiday I’ve gone through my wardrobe, like a dose of salts, as the saying goes, and thrown out loads of my clothes. There’s something about returning from a vacation and seeing your home, garden and wardrobe in a new light.

And I certainly did, saying to myself ‘good grief, the dust in the house’. To be quite honest I spend more time in the garden than the house, particularly now, with this lovely weather in the UK. Then there was the lushness of the garden – that was a good feeling. And a day or two later I turned a critical eye to my wardrobe, and, it was, ‘now why do I keep that in my cupboard?’

red top flowered skrtWe know that clothes have a far deeper meaning than just being a covering for our bodies but that is no reason for keeping clothes, I tell myself, that are hardly ever worn or kept – just in case.

I mean my cruise frocks, especially the three full-length ones, will go into the back of my wardrobe and stay there until the next cruise, which might be in two or three years time or even longer. But those frocks have a role to play in my life and I know why they’re there. It’s the others that I’ve bought because I thought I would wear them, but haven’t, or old favourites that haven’t seen the light of day for, well to be honest, several years.

Dress-&-Top-webYou would be proud of me – I took a very large sack of those two types to the charity shops yesterday. And don’t forget I haven’t wasted a lot of money – they’re mostly charity shop clothes being recycled for others to wear and love.

OK, so after throwing out the old I have three skirts to show you.  I’ve been wearing the one above a lot lately as it’s full-skirted and floaty, which is great in this unusually warm weather we’re having in the UK.

grey-dress-&-top-webThen there are two pencil skirts I’ve bought for the Autumn &/or cooler days. The one on the right cost just under £10 for both the skirt and the jacket. This one on the left is in a jersey material, is unworn, comes with an Italian label and has a matching top plus a jacket, all for just £12.99

That’s all for now, although I would just like to say a very big thank you to all my readers as in one year, this month, I’ve passed 7000 hits. Many thanks for spending time with me. And to those of you who come on to the blog and comment I value your views and appreciate all that you have to say hugely.

But what do you think about the whole business of hanging on to clothes – just in case?

With love,

Penny, The Frugal fashion Shopper



Coats. Another style statement to make for next to nothing!

Fashion, as I’ve said in a previous blog, is ridiculous.  But, take note, apparently the new season trends are fluffy jumpers and kilts.  Oh, I like a bit of tartan in the winter!   Anyway, although I will return to comment on the kilt I have written rather a lot of blogs about skirts.  So this blog is all about coats.

This Autumn the on-trend coat is a pink one, and I’ve given you a link to quite a reasonably priced version of this season’s so-called must buy.   But I’ve never bought a new coat.  Well, perhaps in the past when I was much younger I may have bought a coat or two from the high street.  Now, though, it’s charity shops for coats and what bargains I’ve found!!

If you’re short of cash and your budget is tight, promise me something, don’t ever buy a new coat.  I have around 7 coats bought, I hasten to add, over several years, and have never spent more than £15.00 on any one of them.

It all started in the 1980s with a buy from a fusty old junk shop in the North Laines in Brighton.  There hanging on the rail was a black swagger coat made from that curly lambs wool which was so fashionable in the 30s and 40s.  Now, with our sensibilities changed towards fur, perhaps I wouldn’t have bought it but, buy it I did and it’s a classic.  I don’t wear this coat much these days but when I do I can see it’s beautifully cut and looks sensational – the price, I think was around £15.00, which was a lot in those days.

Then there are the two coats that I call my London coats.  These were bought more recently for £15.00 each.  One is a classic camel-hair coat bought in a charity shop in Seaford, another is a dark grey coat bought in Lewes, which features in Lorna’s film.  Both are long and each has a matching hat sourced from different charity shops for under a fiver.


But perhaps I am more on-trend than I thought as I already have two pink coats!  A Next coat bought for £14.00 in pink tweed, with a lovely silky lining, which I often wear with a pink beret.  I usually wear this in Brighton.

And my most recent buy is another, almost retro, pinkish tweed coat bought for £12.99 in the Vintage section of a Brighton charity shop, which I also wear with the pink beret.   Here I am outside the V&A in London wearing the outfit.


But neither of these coats is particularly warm, so, when it’s freezing cold, I wear a long Rocha padded cream coat that zips up from top to bottom.  This was bought about five years ago for only £3.00 – wow, you can get some amazing bargains from charity shops in my home town – I highly recommend them!

However, even though this £3.00 Rocha coat, with its beautiful deep faux fur collar and cuffs, is the warmest, toastiest coat I’ve ever had, it has a fatal flaw – it doesn’t have a hood.  As Hadley Freeman said last winter, hoods on coats should be a ‘non-negotiable essential on winter coats….’ Hear, hear, Hadley!  Hence, my last and seventh coat bought in Brighton at Oxfam three years ago for a fiver; a hooded Per Una green parka.  In the cold weather I wear this all the time and love it to bits.  I also have a fleece and two macs: one red and one light brown and don’t start me on my jackets – that’s another blog altogether!

With love


The frugal fashion shopper

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