frugal fashion shopper

Is age just another number?

Have you heard of this thing called a ‘gran bod’?

Geez. I nearly spat tacks when I read Alyson Walsh’s blog post highlighting (and arguing against) this ghastly term. This ‘gran bod’ phrase seems to have originated from a recent Daily Mail article (well, quelle surprise) based on a not exactly new research report (a 2014 YouGov poll) of 2000 women polled on their views on body confidence, style and the fashion industry for retailer JD Williams.

The article, which is full of pics of older women in their bikinis (mainly celebs) says it’s time to celebrate the ‘gran bod’. That’s us women who are fit, fabulous and over fifty. Well, how awfully decent of them, and nothing wrong with that is there? But wait a minute, first of all, you have to be fit and fabulous, and second, you have to be a grandmother? Read that sentence with an up-talk Edith Evans sigh of exasperation in your voice.

The point is the demographic of over 50s is a large one that will only increase in time. And the danger is that we get lumped together by journalists, media and policy types as one homogenous group of older people. And stereotypes abound, as we’re all either frail and fragile and in need of help from the NHS or social services, or we’re fit grandmothers – voice is going up again.

But just as there is no one type of 20, 30 or 40-year-old, neither is there one category of older women.   My point is emphatically (and I wrote this as part of a response on Alyson’s blog) that we are all going to be different as we age: some will be grandmothers, some not, some will be large, some small, some will be tall, some short, some will be frail and some will be athletic and active until they die.

So my message to the media/marketers of this world is think before you write and pin labels on us, OK!

With steam coming out of my ears, that’s all for now

Penny, the frugalfashionshopper


Film night outfit – July 2015

Hi there

Our last film of the season was the amazing, and slightly bonkers, Grand Budapest Hotel, directed by Wes Anderson.  The Hillcrest Film Society now has a break until October when we’ll have another set of 10 films to show through the year to our local community.

Another film, another outfit worn that I can definitely say cost just over £10 including the shoes!



It was a warm night last Saturday so I chose a lovely floaty tulle, ballerina length skirt bought last year for £4.50, plus a top that was £1.99 and sandals at 3.99.

The skirt is simply lovely and I’m surprised it wasn’t sold as ‘vintage’ for a much higher price, as its yoke and length is very reminiscent of skirts worn in the 50s era.


Hello, btw, to all my new followers and welcome to this blog, which sometimes digs deep into issues, and other times just sets out to enjoy the glories of charity shop shopping.   Also if I’m honest, the main rationale and engine of this blog is to do my best to change perceptions of ageing, yay!

That’s all for now.

With love

Penny, the frugalfashionshopper



A few maintenance things I do

After my last post someone said to me, ‘you could stain your legs’, and described how her mother used tea, and then a brown pencil to imitate the back seam of those old-fashioned stockings. Wow, that was an evocative glimpse of the past that brought memories of my mother to the fore.

And yes, I could do that, not with tea, but with a good fake sun-tan. And I will, but I did think, that’s another maintenance thing to do of an evening before I get to bed. The list is an ever-increasing one. But on t’other hand I believe that a little effort pays dividends. Here’s a few things I consider essential – as far as I’m concerned, that is:

  1. Moisturising the face There’s no face cream ever, anywhere, that will prevent ageing or take away the lines from your face, but you still need to moisturise. I’ve tried a few in my time, including expensive ones, and I can never see any reason to buy expensive, as the cheaper, but really excellent, Boots No 7 products (and especially Protect & Perfect Intense) are just as good as any of the more costly moisturisers. The website says it’s all about anti-wrinkle technology. No, seriously, no need to say that – it’s a good moisturiser, end of.
  1. Serums I do like a good serum – they’re extra to moisturisers and their ingredients are so good for dry, mature faces. You put them on in the morning, and at night, before you moisturise. I use two serums: the first, which I use in the morning, is the Boots No 7 Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Serum. On the website, again, there’s a lot of text on how anti-ageing it is. Actually, it’s just a very good thing to put on your face.  In the evening I used to swear by Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair. I still recommend it. But I now use the slightly cheaper, but really lovely, Decleor Aromessance Neroli Night Balm. You need just the smallest amount so it lasts for ages.
  1. Tanning my legs Ah yes, the legs. Ok, Sali Hughes has written about self-tanning and she recommends Dove’s Summer Glo, which I’ve used. She also recommends Clarins Radiance-Plus Body Golden Booster, which sounds rather ingenious as all you do is add a couple of drops to your body lotion and a subtle tan appears – might try it. And as it would combine two procedures: applying body lotion and applying fake tan, it could save time – great!
  1. Nails and nail varnish varnish My nails used to crumble to the quick – awful. But this stopped since I’ve been getting the occasional Gel nail varnish.   This is a stronger version of varnish, but not in any way damaging as I don’t use it all the time – my nails are so different since I started this.  I also put organic almond oil (obtained from NHR organic oils – they ship worldwide) on my nails every night, and that’s helped my dry nails and cuticles a lot.
  1. Exercise – twice a week to the gym plus daily yoga plus walking All the creams and moisturisers in the world will be of no use if, like me, you’ve got pronounced tilt forward first thing in the morning, and don’t exercise to walk a bit straighter. Gosh, the joints are stiff (and slightly worse now after twisting my back in April) and I have to work really hard to loosen up. But I’m doing the yoga most days and intend to increase the (senior) gym sessions to twice a week.

No charity shop finds this post as, truly, I don’t go buying stuff every week. But I did go to London for a second visit to Savage Beauty (you’ll hear more about that in another post). So here’s a photo you’ve seen before, but it was exactly what I wore to the V&A.

pale-coat-webIt was a wet drizzly, mizzly day, but the beige coat (bought at £5) has a slight sheen to it, which I wore with a sparkly black scarf over my black Primark skinny jeans (£11).

Remember my ethos – that as we age there’s no need to spend buckets of cash to be smart and stylish.

That’s all for now

With love

Penny, the frugalfashionshopper

P.S. This and last week’s post will, on my new-look blog, be put in a Health & Wellbeing page.  The new-look will be launched in early autumn after I’ve returned from my summer holidays (I’m having a week in Scotland and a week in Suffolk).

And if you’re just dropping by, hi & welcome!  Do sign up to get my regular weekly blog post – thank you!


Summer has arrived – some thoughts on skin protection

Summer is not my favourite season. Why? Ok, it’s all about my skin, and exposing said skin. The day I wrote this blog post it was cloudy, grey and raining, and a bit cooler, and I went ‘yippee I can wear my leggings and cover up my legs, woo hoo, brilliant!’

There are two important reasons why I like covering up. The first is frivolous. I am (or was) a redhead so my skin is very pale, and now that I’m ageing I’m covered with large freckles and age spots or, as the dermatology nurse told me, ‘we don’t call them that any more, as in hot countries 20-year olds get them, they’re sun-spots’.

Also (and still on the frivolous bit) my legs, seriously, are a purple, blue colour. I don’t have visible bumps that denote varicose veins, but I have little dark blue veins here and there, and then those purple, spidery things round my knees and ankles. Yes, I could possibly get something done to them, so I will enquire. But that’s why I love my black tights in winter – they show off my legs and cover up the colour!   In the summer, though, all of this would benefit, you might think, from getting a nice deep tan.

That brings me to my second reason for not liking my skin to be exposed, especially on my legs. Because my legs are where most of my small skin cancers have been found. (OK, only 4 but that’s enough!) They were all minor (non-melanoma) skin cancers and only needed very minor surgery, but nevertheless they were cancers.

I do go in the sun, as you need that Vitamin D (more about that in another blog post) but I never, ever sit directly in the sun, or worse, actually sunbathe. And I cover myself with a good sunscreen every day. I wince when friends show me their suntans – it’s actually a burn. How could you, I think to myself, and there is a serious element to my thinking as I’m sure you all know the following but it’s good to repeat this.

There are two distinct types of skin cancer; melanoma and non-melanoma. A melanoma is a very dangerous skin cancer formed from a rogue mole, which needs some quick action from both you and your doctor. Roughly speaking why not follow the ABCDE rules and act if you see a mole is:

  • Asymmetric or irregular
  • Has a ragged Border
  • Is not the same Colour all over
  • Is larger than 6 millimetres in Diameter
  • And is Evolving and changing

Please act quickly if any of these are happening to you. Meanwhile, the non-melanoma skin cancers are slower growing, but still need to be dealt with. And as ever I would advise what all skin cancer and skin care professionals advise:

  • Check your skin regularly.  And, if you are a fair skinned person, why not have a professional skin check. I go to the Mole Clinic once a year and consider it money well spent.
  • Cover up through the midday sun, and don’t forget a wide-brimmed hat and wrap-round sunglasses
  • Slap on a good sun-screen, and reapply it after 2 hours.  Don’t be mean with the amount (use 1 ounce or 2 tablespoons each time)

If you’ve read to the end, great! All I want is just one person to think twice about that ‘tan’, or do something about that odd looking mole. And I’m not totally against summer – I love the warmth and the sun shining through trees and leaves, and a bright blue sky. And when it’s sunny I do throw off my black tights and go bare legged.  And I love wearing very bright nail varnish and my favourite red sandals.


That’s all for now

With love

Penny, the frugalfashionshopper

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Hatwalk 6 – July 2015

Hello everyone out there

It’s July already and time for another Hat Attack hosted by the wonderful Judith Boyd.  I so enjoy this partnership with hat loving people around the world!

OK, this hat was bought last year in Tallinn, Estonia in a delightful little shop, in the old part of the city, that was full of hand-crafted hats.  I don’t know if you have been to Tallinn, but it’s so beautiful, and I highly recommend a visit.

Hat bought in Tallinn

The weather here in the UK is quite hot (for the UK, that is) and I have a problem with hats in hot weather, because I have really thick hair, which is great, of course, particularly at my age.  But I have to be so careful when I buy sun hats, as they can make me feel even hotter if they’re heavy or made of thick material – even some straw hats make me feel hot.  But this hat is made of a lightweight natural cotton material with a gold thread woven through it.  And it’s cool to wear.


What I remember most about Tallinn was how cold it was!  In two days we went from 30C (84F) in St. Petersburg to 8C (46F) in Tallinn, oooof, that icy wind!

But please, don’t let that put you of going there. This was on last year’s cruise (in May) and I’d taken clothes for all weathers, so I just dressed up in my winter woollies and was fine!


To be quite honest it’s my idea of heaven to be cool in the summer.  I’m someone who was thrilled to bits when it snowed on my trip to Norway, and that was in early September!

Until next month!

Penny, the frugalfashionshopper


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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