frugal fashion shopper

Is age just another number?

I’ve managed to pack a tiny capsule wardrobe!

Regarding the tiny capsule wardrobe I mention in my last post. The one that I’m taking with me to the Faroe Islands. I found it really difficult to pack fewer clothes, but I think I’ve managed it.

I’ve a smaller suitcase than last time, and in it are far fewer clothes than last year – good. But yesterday I was 2 inches from the top and still had 4 dresses to pack – not so good. Maybe, I said to myself, I could take even less with me!!!

But I am taking this one, which I bought months ago.


You may hear from me while I’m away, as I’ll try to put a few pics on the blog, but wifi can be difficult to find. Yes, I know we should take a break from social media and everything else that goes with it, but me, I admit that I am online throughout the day, and I love it!

Btw, the four dresses went in to the suitcase, and I’ve not even had to strain to shut the suitcase.

Anyway, see ya later!

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


Style over fashion

While I was away I wrote a guest blog for the wonderful Tricia of LookFabulousForever makeup –do have a look.  Through this post I got several new followers, so a big welcome to you and thank you for the follow – I appreciate my readers immensely.

Anyway a few of days ago I watched Helen Mirren being interviewed about her most recent film, and sat mesmerised by her lovely shoes – which were brown in contrast to what looks like a little black dress.  She was horrified when she was told that many think her sexy.  ‘Oh, no’, she said, ‘liberate us [me] from that’.  But she’s definitely attractive and very stylish.  And she’s 70 in July this year so she’s certainly a style role model for me.

Yes, it’s style rather than fashion that matters – to me, anyway. And I’m going to quote Lauren Hutton from Alyson Walsh’s book (I’m sure she won’t mind) because this sums up the key difference between the two.

“Fashion is what you’re offered four times a year by designers. And style is what you choose.”

So yes, I like to be aware of what is fashionable and on-trend, because, hey, a particular fashion might suit me very well, so why not go for it. But I think we should, or could, aspire to be stylish rather than fashionable, and particularly so as we age. No torn jeans for me, because any fraying that looks cute on a younger woman can look down-at-heel and shabby.   Nor do I want an 80s vintage dress because while that style might look good on a younger woman, on me it might just be an old dress that’s been in my wardrobe for years! And as for ‘age appropriate’ clothes or even ‘comfortable clothes’ – nope, that’s not for me either!

There shouldn’t really be any rules about what we wear, but I have to admit I do like a list! So, like Alyson Walsh I’m putting out my list of style basics, which are:

  1. Experiment and find out what style suits you – because you can change your style as you age. And you know where to do it for next to nothing, don’t you, in the charity shops!
  2. Get a great haircut – nothing beats feeling good about your hair
  3. Find comfortable but stylish shoes – I shall be devastated when my chunky boots finally fall to pieces, they really are my statement and signature shoes.  And they are very comfortable.
  4. Talking about making a statement. We all want to be warm in winter but don’t fade into the background.  Instead, why not find and wear a statement coat that’s not necessarily black. Doesn’t have to be break the bank because, you know…..
  5. Ditto jackets

My final word is be bold with clothes, and move out of your comfort zone. And never say, never. I’d said to myself that I wasn’t going to wear green quite so much. But I went shopping with my great friend Lorna (who made that lovely film about me that’s uploaded on YouTube) and what did I see, a green dress!

green-graphic-dress-webPicture this in the summer when I shall be wearing it with my red sandals, red handbag and bright red sunglasses.

The dress is handmade and the material is amazing with hairdryers, radios and brushes and combs on it.

Green-graphic-dress-detail-web2I think, maybe it’s been made out of curtain material.   And very reminiscent of The Great Sewing Bee, the material is upside down – I can just hear one of the judges saying ‘yes, it’s a nice dress, but why is it upside down?!’  Oh, and it cost all of £3.00.

That’s all for now, but do tell me about your latest bargain and/or eye-catching find!

With love

Penny, the frugalfashionshopper


Bringing colour to this grey, wet & wintery month

I haven’t made any New Year resolutions yet, although I have some aims: to exercise and write more. I might tell you about these and other goals for 2015 in another post. But I just have to tell you about my latest charity shop buy(s)!

I was feeling quite low, as I hadn’t completely recovered from the cold, which was a nasty one. Lots of people have had it over these last weeks so I’m not alone in feeling this way. But a couple of days ago, I decided this was the day I’d start looking for bargains in Seaford; a town near where I live, which has 8 charity shops all of which are full of potential finds. Of I went with three bags stuffed with my unwanted frocks, skirts and shoes. Yes, I’d cleared out my wardrobe and was raring to go!

It was such a grey wintery day though, which, on top of how I was feeling, was almost depressing.

But look what I found – two outfits bursting with life and colour.   One is a red full-length Gina Bacconi dress (that’s a good label) bought at £16.00 (I think it would have been at least £160 new, if not more).


The other is a fabulous aquamarine and purple Monsoon dress at £6.99, wow!  And it came with a matching green cardigan top.


Both of these dresses cheered me up considerably and reminded me that this grey weather won’t last forever, and that perhaps being bold with colour lifts the spirits.

In fact, I’m going to agree but disagree with Jess Cartner-Morley’s pre-Christmas rallying cry to wear black and white for parties. OK, I’ve got plenty of black skirts and white and silver tops to party in, and they’ll be fine.

But let’s not forget colour and what it can do for our skin, eyes, and general overall mood. Let’s be bold and get away from black and white in these winter months. To be honest the two outfits will be great for my August cruise, and may not be worn before then.  But as soon I got back home I looked again at the party clothes in my cupboard and chucked out a grey cocktail dress and a subdued blue sequinned longer dress. All charity shop outfits that were fine, but they just aren’t vibrant enough for me now, after my eyes have feasted on that glorious red and that piquant aquamarine of the Monsoon dress.

So although I would never lay down rules or say you must – why not be bold with colour?   Let’s drop the grey, let’s be colourful and sassy – it certainly lifted my mood!

That’s all for now

With love

Penny, the frugalfashionshopper


Ageless Style?

Another month, another Vogue falls from my letterbox to the floor with a thump. Like Invisible Woman, I read Vogue so you don’t have to, but I do pity the poor postie as this month’s Vogue is as thick as a brick. It’s the International Collections Special with 460 pages of ‘fashion, style and beauty’ (a lot of ads actually) and there is nothing in it that grabs my fancy apart from some lovely long winter coats, which they say will be on-trend this Autumn. Yes, we’ve reached the month of August and winter clothes are beginning to appear in the fashion media. I do admit that there’s some amazing knitwear in this month’s Vogue, although with the coats at between £500-£800 and one of the knits (a sweater dress) at £5,660 I think I’ll be searching the charity shops for something similar.

I note that two month’s ago the theme in Vogue was Ageless Style. Hmm. I believe the editor’s stance is that Ageless Style is not about what we should be wearing at certain ages, no, the words are meant to imply that one can be stylish at any age, and a piece featuring Mariel Hemingway (aged 52) indeed, states that this month (July) Vogue celebrates women of all ages.  But nowhere within the magazine did I see anyone remotely ‘old’, although there is an ad with Andie MacDowell (aged 56) showing faint lines around her eye, so for me that edition was a disappointing read. Let’s give a big huzzah then for the Guardian who regularly features Jean Woods (aged 76) in their Fashion for All Ages. Come on Vogue, you say you’re aspirational, what about us over 65s who aspire to ageless style?   Go on, next time you talk about ageless style use someone with elegance and a few real wrinkles like Jean – why not!

black-with-flowers-webDresses that can evoke an ageless style are not difficult to find in charity shops and I mentioned that I’d found one recently for £2.00 – and here it is. Can you see the label, it’s a Yessica dress from C&A. As the last C&A store closed in the UK in 2001 this is an old, old dress. And I can tell it is because, I’m a UK size 12 and at a push and a squeeze can even wear a size 10. But this dress, at size 14, is tight and it’s a bit of struggle to do up the zip. (I’m sure you all know that, over the years, as we’ve got bigger so have the sizes.) Never mind once done up it’s fine, and I’m pleased to support the charity shop and wear something that was fashionable some time ago and, in a way, is the epitome of ageless style – well done C&A, we kind of miss you.

That’s all for now

With love,
Penny, The Frugal Fashion Shopper



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.


The colours we wear as we age

Growing up with red(ish) hair my mother would say – ‘never wear pink, dear, not with your colouring’, ‘don’t whatever you do wear red’ and ‘blue is the colour that will suit you, dearest’.  I wore that colour most of my childhood. But as I grew older and my hair darkened to auburn I inclined more and more to the rich hues of Autumn: brown, peat, orange even, and especially the metallic tints of gold, and much of my wardrobe was built around those lovely colours.

blousebackview-webI still wear blue, though, on the odd occasion, and have a striking blouse that I call my ‘cruise blouse’ as it stays in the wardrobe and comes out only for high days and holidays.

But everything changes. Now with my hair a mish-mash of grey and darker colours dyed a light blonde that bleaches a bit in the sun, I have become a lover of the silver side of the colour spectrum.

Just as well, as it seems that silver is quite the business these days. Not only Jess Cartner-Morley thinks it’s on trend, it’s a colour Claire Underwood (House of Cards) would wear with flair and it features often in the fashion media – see Red for the editor’s choice and some lovely metallic bags.

2014-05-28-47-webI wore two metallic silvery dresses on the cruise.  One, was a new M&S Per Una dress bought for £20.00 in a charity shop in a town nearby and another, here on the right, bought at less than half that price. Note the bag. There’s no need to pay a high price for an evening bag. I picked that up in Helsinki for 1 Euro in one of their annual ‘Throw-out days” where everyone goes through their wardrobe, chucks out their unwanted clothes and gathers in the park for a buzzy, band-playing, jumble/car-boot sale. And the wrap? That came from a state run souvenir shop in St. Petersburg, which was quite an experience, with vodka on offer at the door and furs and Russian dolls galore.  I saw that silver scarf and was smitten.  The shoes, btw, are a perfect fit!

If I have any message it is wear the colours that suit you (and don’t listen to anyone including me!) but also be prepared to adapt and change what you wear as you age.  Silver was not something I would have worn when I was younger but now, yes, it is a colour I love.

That’s all for now

With love

Penny, The Frugal Fashion Shopper



How to find fabulous frocks? Try a charity shop!

This is a short blog post (but sweet, I hope) as I’m busy packing for the cruise.  I won’t go into the details of the actual pack, which, while it’s not exactly a military operation, is certainly one that takes a bit of time and thought (I have a dedicated notebook *sighs at self*).

So enough of that.  Anyway, did you know that the Met Gala has just happened?  This is the annual fundraising thing for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. It’s one of New York’s most exclusive high society events with all sorts of clebs and stars attending, and, as per usual, it results in the predictable analysis in various mags and newspapers on who dressed well and who didn’t make the cut.

I did think, for a moment, that this event is so far outside my life experience, why even bother to give it the time of day.  But no: this is about looking at the photos of those beautiful women and their gorgeous dresses, noting what they wear, adapting a look that catches my eye, and then checking that I’ve got something in my wardrobe that fits that look or finding something similar in my local charity shop. And I’m pleased to say that I’m taking three long frocks and four shorter dresses, all fabulous in their own way, and all (save one) bought for under £10.00.

purple-cruise-dressI promise you that I’ll get a photo of me actually wearing each and every outfit!  But here’s one long frock I’m taking with me.

And don’t forget I have the tux to go with a pair of black evening trousers and the mid-length skirt I showed you last week. That may sound a lot but I have been ruthless and rejected several frocks. So, hmm, yes, probably, I have enough evening dresses for a 21-day cruise!

But remember, I’ve been able to build up this wardrobe because all my shopping (for the glamorous frocks, that is) has been done in my local charity shops – an ethical and cost effective way to feeling fabulous!

That’s all for now

With love, Penny

The Frugal Fashion Shopper

P.S. I wasn’t able to get to the premiere of Advanced Style The Documentary attended by Ari Seth Cohen and the New York fashionistas but I hear it went very well. Afterwards Invisible Woman hosted the Q&A and I’m sorry to have missed seeing her in her wonderful red Prada shoes – read all about it here.




Shopping in charity shops – in the States! Guest blog by Lynette Benton

I’m delighted to introduce my first guest blog, on the challenges of charity shop shopping in the States, written by my friend, Lynette, who is the successful writer of not one but two blogs!  Read all about her and get to her blogs in her bio below.  We met on Twitter, btw!  Enjoy the post and do comment – I know I will!

Why I Seldom Shop for Clothes in Thrift Stores

Though I love fashion, I confess that I dislike shopping. That might explain why I’m not a very good thrift store shopper when it comes to buying clothes. I like to get into and out of stores pretty quickly, which I can do very nicely at nationwide discount chains such as TJMaxx, and outlet versions of upscale stores like Talbots.

Lynette TWIN SET copyMy real preference is buying my clothes on sale at lovely little boutiques, where the knowledgeable women who work there hand you the colors you want and the sizes you need, as well as show you items and accessories to compliment whatever it is you’re trying on, like this coral top and decorative cardigan. They’re not really a twin set, but they’re close enough pass for one.

Still, I know I’m not saving as much money at these places as I would at a thrift shop. Until she died in 2012, every spring and fall I used to drive my mother-in-law (queen of frugal shopping), to yard, garage, and estate sales. We loved large rummage events hosted by local churches, especially those in affluent towns nears ours. I might have to search through a ton of preppy styles (pink and light green masculine-looking shirts), but how could I lose when every bag I filled with clothes came to only $5.00?

At that price, I didn’t mind if only one of all the items in my bag turned out to be something I wanted to keep after I got it home. Take a look at this soft wool Ann Freedberg jacket below that I scrunched into one of those shopping bags.

Lynette PEACH JACKET copy

On my own in a thrift shop, I might find 4 or 5 items to try on. If none seems quite right, I have to don my own clothes again, replace the rejects on a rack that seems — and, in giant shops, sometimes is — the equivalent of a city block away, then make some other choices to schlep back to the dressing room. When that second round of goods doesn’t fit, I’m outta there.

Recently my husband and I went to very large Goodwill store. I had high hopes because a well-dressed friend of mine said she shops there. Actually, I wouldn’t have been surprised to find some of my own cast-offs there, since I send Goodwill my excess items.

Masses of clothes were on display: coats, jackets, suits, dresses, shoes. Tops and bottoms. Since I can never have enough sleeveless tops to accommodate my hot flashes, I began my search there, among the hundreds of tops, all neatly lined up on hangers. They were organized by color. Any time I selected a nice yellow or turquoise or pale pink one, it was the wrong size. This happened over and over, but I managed to find enough to put in my cart.

I went on to slacks. Grey, black, brown, tan, russet, white. Since they, too, were organized by color, rather than size, each time I saw a pair I liked, I had to wrestle it off its hanger to find the size. In these stores, there is only one of an item, so if the size 8 slacks my heart desires don’t fit, I’m unlikely to find a 6 or a 10 to try. At Goodwill, nothing I liked fitted me properly. I found the whole effort discouraging and exhausting.

I need Penny’s Frugal Fashion blog to provide a tutorial on thrift shop shopping! In the meantime, if there’s any guidance her readers can offer me I hope they’ll make it available in a comment.

All the same, thrift stores or discounts and sales at regular stores — does it really matter? Since I enjoy being stylishly dressed, I’m usually just hoping to get what I want at the best prices available that day.


Lynette HEADSHOT copyLynette Benton, a published writer and writing instructor, hopes you’ll visit and chime in at her blog, Stylish Ole Woman.

Her other blog, Tools and Tactics for Writers, was named one of the Best 100 Blogs for Writers—2014.






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