frugal fashion shopper

Is age just another number?

On cruises and wearing what you want no matter what your age is!

Hi everyone

I’m back from our cruise to the Faroe Islands, which was great although I’d forgotten how noisy these ships can be (in the cabin, that is) so it was lovely to get back to dry land and some silence!

Anyway, here are some pics and, at the end, some thoughts on wearing whatever you damn well please!


Let’s start with the safety drill – here I am with my life jacket. I’m glad to say that this cruise line makes you find your lifeboat and stay there until the captain inspected us. We had a bossy member of crew who told us to behave and got us all standing in line!  Some grumbled at this – no, people, it’s good to have someone firmly in charge and know where to go, if ever…..


Our first formal night and here is a selfie to see whether I’d put my makeup on OK.  Tricia, I was wearing my Lookfabulousforever base!  And below is a pic of the dress, which is only taken out and worn on cruises; it’s a glorious Monsoon dress made of silk devore that I bought three years ago for around £12 .

Cruise-05-webOur ports of call were Torshaven, which was a lovely, very Danish, little town where I went straight to Gudren & Gudren (where the sweater worn by Sara Lund was knitted). I tried on lots of jumpers but none of them were quite right, although I nearly bought one until I found out it was knitted in Peru. Not what I wanted so in the end bought an amazing scarf and hat, which I’ll feature later in the year. We also went to the Shetlands and Orkneys but both days were grey as were the surroundings.

The best of the cruise days was spent in Edinburgh where we experienced the Edinburgh Festival in all its glory. Very buzzy and whacky – walked up the Royal Mile with dozens and dozens of acts all going at once, and people handing you flyers saying ‘please, please come to my gig, for free’. We went to one in a dive – umm, edgy! Then paid to go to two acts – one was Henning Wehn, a very funny German comedian who has some brilliant observations on us Brits,  He’s been on the panel game QI.  And then we saw John Lloyd who invented QI – my word, what a mind that man has!

OK, while walking round the streets of Edinburgh I noticed that there was a kind of a ‘look’. It was a very short, frothy kilt worn by lots of the lovely students who were obviously aged anything between, say, 19 and 21.

Right, I thought – I’m 69. But, hey, I want one of those! So reader, I bought one.Cruise-09-web I bought one, in a charity shop, of course, for £3. And here it is.

And I’m linking up with a campaign #iwillwearwhatilike run by Catherine Summers who writes the blog Not Dressed As Lamb. I like a list or two but Catherine found a list of things we shouldn’t be wearing after 30! Thirty! Ye gods! Yes, seriously, whatever your age You. Wear. What. You. Want. And that includes wearing short skirts – go on, I dare you!


Thanks Catherine (and Judith Boyd btw) for drawing our attention to this ageist nonsense.

That’s all for now

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


It’s almost Christmas and I’m not nearly ready for it!

Hello again.

I’m back after 16 days away from the blog. I’ve been incredibly busy helping my son to move, and as he’s always rented furnished flats there were two trips to Ikea to buy him some essential stuff like a bed. Phew, what an effort! For those of you reading this who don’t have Ikea selling in your country, Ikea’s a great store, and amazingly cheap. But the drawback is that you see a lovely wardrobe, bed and/or settee, you order it, then it arrives in 50 different flat-pack bits. Ten days after delivery he’s still making his furniture.

How are things with everyone? The consequence of the move and the trips to Ikea is that no way am I ready for Christmas.   Cards not done and cake not made *sighs*

But I did manage to take five minutes to buy a great winter party outfit in a nearby town. This grey/green tulle skirt has a lovely mid-calf length. And in the same shop, I managed to find a green top and a woolly (almost 80s, therefore vintage in some people’s eyes) jumper to wear with it, as it’s quite chilly here now (albeit not as cold as some countries like the States).


I guess because of the weather Jess Cartner Morley extols the virtues of wearing party dresses with sleeves, and I must say that it seems a bit odd to sell sleeveless party dresses at this time of the year. OK, sleeves are good for us as we age – but it’s just good sense to wear a sleeved dress in the winter.  On t’other hand, it may be that I forget that my younger self didn’t feel the cold the way I do now!

Yes, although I love winter and the clothes that go with the season – tweed skirts and jackets, woolly jumpers, hats and scarves – I do feel the cold, and I’m wearing three layers as I write even though the heating is on. But whether I can bear to wear a Christmas jumper is another matter – here’s a link to some comical Christmas jumpers. Will you be wearing one this winter?

That’s all for now, but do let me know if you’ve found a warm party dress!

With love

Penny, the frugalfashionshopper



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.




The glamour of going on a cruise – it’s all about the dressing up!

I do love a good cruise and I’m going on one in May of this year.  And while that doesn’t sound particularly frugal remember I’m prudent and thrifty with clothes. Furthermore, I don’t drink, don’t even eat chocolate, so a cruise every other year – I have to have some vices!   Also at my age (see below) I think, as far as possible, do it now – ten years hence, who knows!

I didn’t always think like this.  Somehow, we got into the habit of spending practically nothing on our holidays.  But to cut a long story short one year we had a disastrous week in a cottage in Scotland.  We drove all the way there (that’s a long drive for Brits) and when we arrived it began to rain (it was the height of summer) and it never stopped.  On the second day my husband started a corker of a cold and was so ill he couldn’t go out of the rather meagerly furnished cottage (it wasn’t like the photo in the brochure).   And on the third day, I slipped getting out of the bath and bruised my leg so badly I couldn’t bear to drive let alone walk.  By the time we recovered it was the end of the week, and then we drove all the way back. This was my epiphany moment – when I got back I said, never again, and booked a cruise for our next holiday.

But, why go on a cruise, I hear you ask? Surely that kind of holiday is i) for old people and ii) it must be horrible going on those ships that look like a block of flats on a pontoon.

Ok, so far I’ve only been on one, and in answer to the first statement, yes there was a large number of people in their 70s and 80s on that particular cruise (to Norway – wonderful, in case you ask). But, isn’t it a bit ageist to think that you won’t have a good time with older people? What’s more I’ll be 68 on this year’s cruise, so I’m not that far away from the 70-year-olds, anyway. Actually, the people we met were dynamic, lively and interesting, and it was also seriously good for the morale being one of the younger participants on board the good ship Saga Ruby. And in answer to the second statement, Saga runs two small ships*, and the delightful Saga Ruby (now retired) looked like a proper old-fashioned ship.

I’m not sure why we decided on Saga, but having been on one of their cruises I have to say their standards are super-high.  What’s more, they pick you up from your front door!  Not sure whether that’s to keep the stress down amongst their older customers so there are no heart attacks just after people arrive (because there’s a lot of running around doing the pre-vacation chores and the packing) but it’s a good feeling to be pampered like that.

black dress on doorCruises take you places, for sure (we’re going to St. Petersburg and the Baltic states in May, international politics permitting) but it’s the dressing up that does it for me, *sighs with contentment*.   We just don’t live that kind of lifestyle so a cruise is the opportunity to wear that beautiful long frock and that sequined top.  Mind you, I absolutely refuse to wear those wide trousers that seem to be ubiquitous in cruise publicity shots.  I wear my skinny jeans during the day with a variety of tops, and then, as is the custom, I change into one of my cruise frocks.

The hunt for the evening wear; the long formal dresses and the shorter cocktail frocks began over two years ago (for the last cruise) and has been a source of great pleasure. Because all of them have come from charity shops, and the thrill of finding not just a bargain but also a beautifully cut, sequined and/or flouncy frock has been beyond thrilling – yes, I know, I’m easily pleased.

silver-dress-smallAbove is one of the cocktail dresses I’ll wear on the May cruise – it’s my 75p Karen Millen frock.  And the one on the left, costing all of £6.99, featured in a post I wrote for StylishOleWoman, where I explain how Claire (House of Cards) Underwood has influenced my dress sense, and I now look for more form-fitting clothes than I used to.

I do wear some of the frocks between cruises but not as often as I would like, because I think we should wear what we’ve got and not leave outfits languishing at the back of the wardrobe. But do let me know what you wear when you dress up and at what occasion, I’d love to hear your stories.

With love, Penny

The Frugal Fashion Shopper

*MS Saga Sapphire is a 37,301 ton ship with a maximum capacity for 720 passengers.   MS Saga Pearl II is an 18,591 ton ship with a capacity for 449 passengers.


Frocks for all ages

There are some delicious, lip-smackingly, delectable party frocks out there. Vogue has a gallery of dresses, of which I totally want no. 3, the cerise Marc Jacobs one at an eye-watering £1710.   Or what about, no. 4, the Mary Katrantzou, at £2065 – so seriously lovely.  And note I’m featuring these expensive dresses as they make one stop, look and then search out something more reasonable at High Street, or even charity shop, prices.

Did you see that the no. 4 dress had volume?  Jess Cartner-Morley has written about wearing dresses that look more expensive than they really are, and one way is to buy clothes that have a deliberately large silhouette.  I do that by seeking out frothy layered skirts, which on me look great anytime, but particularly in the party season.

Here are some more reasonably priced party dresses in this link but for a type of dress that would make anyone look glamorous – and could be great fun – look no further than this video clip of some wonderful sparkly flapper dresses.

But don’t feel you can’t wear any of the above because of your age or your lack of a good pension.  Just because I can’t afford the Marc Jacob dress doesn’t mean I can’t wear something like it.  And Lauren Laverne has written recently that there is no such thing as wearing the wrong clothes. Above all, there is no mutton dressed as lamb – never ever say that.  I mean, the Fabulous Fashionistas did say you have to be sensible so you won’t wear teeny torn shorts (well, actually you could) but don’t worry you wear what you want and like.

black-sparkly-dress2Here is a frock I bought recently for just under £10.00.  And note that the dress has no sleeves and is strapless – not something a woman in her late 60s is meant to wear.  Well, good grief, my view is, wear it and rhubarb to convention!   I wore it to someone’s 70th birthday party and we danced the night away – we all had great time – and it was lovely to have the excuse to dress up.  Thank you for arranging that party, you know who you are!  And by the way, did you realize how on trend you were with your lovely lace form-fitting dress – here is Jess Cartner-Morley again talking about lace dresses as the classic frock for the party season.

That’s all for now  – I will do one final blog before the Christmas holidays on last-minute beauty buys and channeling Gloria Swanson!


Until then, love


The Frugal Fashion Shopper



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