Tuesday, 30 October 2018

How to Offload Your Preloved Clothing | FAQ

One of the things I'm asked the most is how to offload the pieces in your wardrobe that you don't wear anymore. So as part of a (hopefully) regular FAQ series, I want to share with you the 5 ways you can make space in your wardrobe and possibly make some money from your unworn clothes and shoes.

1. Ebay
The easiest, most popular marketplace for selling clothes and the one I use the most for well known brands that people search for - Boden, Next etc. You'll get a sufficient market interested in good quality well priced items from these brands and will therefore usually get a fair price to make it with the effort.

Top Tops:
  • First up, check what other similar items are on eBay already and how much they're selling for. Remember to check sold listings to see what price items actually sold for.
  • On eBay, it's all about photos so make sure you take good ones in bright light. Only sell freshly laundered or dry cleaned items and iron them before taking photos. It sounds obvious but you'd be amazed at how many people don't bother and those few minutes will make your item look more appealing and attract more interest.
  • I always take flat lay photos for eBay - items on a hanger don't look as good unless it's a very fluid fabric. Make sure to stand right over the item (use a chair if necessary!) and find a part of your house where there's a neutral floor so that all you're seeing on the photo is the item you're selling - no kids toys or random shoes. Make sure the floor is clean/hoovered!
  • Take a photo of the label of the item showing the size and/or composition. 
  • Do close ups of the sleeves/buttons.
  • Write a detailed description. How long you've had the item, condition, any faults, size, colour description. The more you write, the more the buyer engages. Suggest how to wear it, e.g. 'looks good with a breton top and jeans', 'perfect on a night out with black skinny jeans'. This allows people to visualise how they will wear the item.
  • List your items for sale in the evening - between 6pm and 10pm ideally to attract the most interest and hopefully get some last minute bidding going!
  • Be reasonable with postage prices. I hate paying for postage so I don't charge anything above what I know Royal Mail will charge me. I keep all my packaging from online orders and recycle when I can to save on envelope costs. If you don't have any envelopes to reuse, recycle a carrier bag by turning it inside out. Though not a Tesco bag. True story - I once had a well known and quite high end blogger send me one of her preloved coats wrapped in 2 old Tesco bags. The parcel arrived looking pretty dishevelled and miserable - definitely spoiled the transaction for me and I never really loved the coat for it.
To make eBay super easy, use the app on your phone. It will automatically populate lots of the fields for you if you chose to copy a similar item already on the site. It will also lift your photos easily off your camera roll. 

2. Tictail
Tictail is more like an online shop in that you create your own space with a dedicated template and URL but you also get access to all users of the Tictail website who may find your item on a search. However, the audience on Tictail is substantially lower than eBay and you pay an extra fee to Tictail if someone finds your item via their search, rather than via your dedicated URL. For that reason, Tictail is a good option if you have an audience of your own - either a following on social media or a blog but not if you don't. 

The benefits include a slick packing slip to post with every item and the ability to easily send order progress messages to your customers - much like an online business.

As per eBay, use the Tictail app to add items to your shop - it's much faster and easier.
3. Consignment
Wherever you live, search out your local consignment shop. If nothing else, it's a great place to shop for amazing one off pieces at a fraction of full price. But if you have good quality recent items, you may be able to hand it all over in one go to this local shop and get some cash in your hand when it sells.

Must consignment stores work on a 50/50 split of the proceeds but the benefit of using them is that the item will generally sell for more in the first place and you've no fees to pay, packaging to buy or trips to the post office. So the difference in what you walk away with might not be that much less than selling online and sometimes may be more. Additionally you've no hassle from buyers, no returns and no time spent adding items online and monitoring/answering questions. 

The downside is that if the items don't sell, you get them back! Additionally, if you don't keep in touch with the shop, you might miss the cut off time and your item could get donated to charity. Make sure you find out the policy in your local store and add a reminder on your phone for the time limit for your item to sell.

4. Clothes Swap
A great way  to offload clothing you're no longer wearing is a clothes swap - not selling them per se, though I've attended a few clothes swaps where there's a sale table too.

I organised my first clothes swap myself in my home. I invited about 10 friends to the house and placed a rail in the hallway where everyone hung their stuff on arrival. After a glass of wine (and a bit of re-arrangement of the front room), we descended on the rails and helped ourselves. It was so much fun and everyone went away with something they loved. It was a really good night for catching up too and anything that was left was donated to the local charity shop - a real win/win. I've a VERY old blog post on this link about my night...cringe alert but it's got a bit more detail on how to run one yourself.

5. Charity
If all else fails, just bring what you're not wearing to your local charity shop. I worked in a Cancer Research shop in Belfast a few years back and all good items sold fast for a fair price, generating much needed funds for an amazing charity. Staff in the shop won't take your items - a common concern of people leaving higher quality items into the shop where I worked. We had to buy anything we wanted at the same price that customers would pay. Any items we couldn't sell were passed onto other charities who might have more success selling them and anything that wasn't saleable was recycled. Nothing went to waste!

The benefit for you is that you instantly clear out space in your wardrobe and remove any guilt you   are carrying for not wearing something. Add that to that warm fuzzy feeling you get knowing you're helping a charity as well as giving someone else the chance to pick up a fab piece from your wardrobe that you no longer wear.

No excuses - pack a bag this week and make some space for the winter woolies!

Do fire any other FAQ requests to me....I've a 'how to start a blog' post in the pipeline...number 2 in my most asked questions! 

Hope you're having a great week...

Ax
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Thursday, 25 October 2018

Holly Willoughby at M&S Part 2 | Try On

I have a scoop today because last night I was invited into M&S at Sprucefield - Northern Ireland's only M&S to stock the range - to get a first look at the newest Holly Willoughby Must Haves range - before it even hits the shop floor! Her first drop was back in September and it went down a storm so there has been lots of excitement ahead of today's launch....with this picture in particular getting us all in a frenzy:
There are 25 pieces in this latest drop to include footwear and handbags. It's got a very different colour palette which sets it aside from the pink focussed first collection - teal, black and camel feature strongly with lovely pops of ochre, blue and purple. 
Size-wise in all the pictures, I'm wearing the size 10 unless I say otherwise. Links have been added where I can find the item online. Some items are not showing on the website and may only be available in store.

First up, I tried the faux leather mini skirt - though it's more of a pvc/patent finish than leather. I honestly wasn't expecting to like it as much as I did. It's neat in the size 10 so size up if you're in-between:
And here's the skirt again, this time with my favourite print from the collection - check out this blouse. Such beautiful detail including a stretchy gather at the neckline and concealed zips at the cuffs
Still in the blouse, I tried on the 7/8's trousers next, made from a lovely wool blend.
Black Velvet Mules
There's a matching jacket too though I feel like it's too much together. I'd be happier wearing them individually:
Still in the shoes and trousers but I've added the 100% cashmere roll neck - an absolute wardrobe classic:
Then this is the first of 2 colours in this chunky jumper:
Next to the skirt that Holly wore so well in the PR shots. I wasn't so keen on this in real life at first  because I didn't like the belt but it definitely grew on me. Wearing it with the black cashmere knit first:
Once again though, the coats in the collection won me over - this camel one is an ABSOLUTE classic. Such a gorgeous shade of camel and a beautiful shape - especially if you're tall. It's a warmer shade of camel in real life:
When I put on this next knit (ala Holly above), I finally fell for the skirt! It works better than the black I think:
But the checked skirt got put aside in favour of this beauty - it's a pleather pleated midi skirt. STUNNING and a lovely flattering cut - it doesn't add bulk to the hips:
Next up, the yellow version of the teal chunky knit above, this time worn with the pleated skirt again:
Moving onto the dresses now and this first one was not impressive on the hanger but it's beautiful on - such a gorgeous fit. It's a navy blue base but still links in with the rest of the collection because it would work with the yellow or the teal chunky jumpers. And check out the grey patent boots - stunning:
This next dress was released early online along with a picture of Holly wearing it - it's genuinely beautiful. The material, the cut, the colour. If it wasn't so similar to my & Other Stories dress, I'd have bought it immediately. It's much more affordable too!!
Leather Ring Clutch Bag
Next, I'm wearing the high waist skinny jeans that were in the last collection. A great wardrobe staple, they are neat fitting but not too clingy. Only £19.50 too! Wearing here with the cream satin blouse from the latest collection - another great wardrobe classic:
Super Skinny High Waist Jeans
And then I added the purple coat....this is a 10 and its generous. This is not showing online as it's going to be in the M&S Christmas ad so I think it's being held back until then? I've been told it will be on the shop floor in Sprucefield this morning though.
Purple Coat
Cream Tie Blouse
Super Skinny High Waist Jeans
Finishing with the handbags and close ups of the shoes. Circle handles feature on all of the bags - this is a yellow cross body faux leather bag:
Next up is a large tote. Also faux leather:
Here's a close up of the black boots I wore for most of the try on - so comfortable and made from gorgeous leather:
And these are the grey patent boots - again, so comfortable and a lovely change from black: 
Finishing with these going out shoes - they're a mix of velvet and satin and are a mule style. Surprisingly comfortable and just £35:

And that's it! I can confirm it was a pretty exhausting 80 minutes of trying on and creating Instagram Stories but it was made easier by being allowed to use the Fit & Style private dressing room in Sprucefield. It's bookable for anyone on this link and is a lovely relaxing way to try on for a special occasion or just if you need a wardrobe refresh. Jenny and Michaela will look after you really well.

Massive thanks to Julie, the manager in Sprucefield M&S and to Fit & Style queen, Jenny for organising my sneaky peek try-on. I wasn't paid to do this post but I was offered one of the items as a gift in return for my time and efforts. Can you guess what I chose?

Ax
Disclaimer - I was not paid to write this blog post. My links are affiliate links which means that M&S know you came to their website from my blog and they may pay me a tiny commission if you buy and keep an item. This doesn't change the price for you and the modest income I make from these links helps to keep this blog going so THANK YOU massively for the support so many of you give me in this way



Thanks to Julie and Jenny and the rest of the team at Sprucefield for organising this very special try on session and I hope you enjoyed seeing the range good and early in the day so that you can go forth and shop before the popular pieces sell out!

Ax
Disclosure - I was not paid to write this post but was gifted some pieces from the collection. My links are affiliate links which means M&S know you came to their website from mine and I may receive a tiny commission if you buy and keep an item. This doesn't change the price of the product for you and the small income I make from these links goes towards the running costs of this blog. 
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Sunday, 21 October 2018

Zohara Donard Collection for AW18 | #MyZohara

I've been working with Zohara for a few seasons now. They're another great example of a local company going from strength to strength - great to see in the current climate. They're on their 5th handbag collection and I was asked along to the launch event last week to see each of the bags in real life...and get a dedicated discount code for readers of the blog - the details are at the bottom of this post.

Photographs don't do these bags full justice. The quality of the leather and the detail in the design is best appreciated in real life - a bonus if you're buying online. You'll definitely not be disappointed when it arrives! I see a lot of bags on my shopping travels and there's very little that compares at this price point from a quality of materials point of view.

This season's range is named after my favourite local mountain - Donard - which I've been up 4 times this year alone. It's become a symbolic climb for me because each time I'm up, I'm reminded how far I've come since my back injury in 2017. I honestly never thought I'd be hiking again, not to mind climbing a mountain. So you can see how this new range really struck a chord with me. Any excuse to justify a new bag, eh?

Back to the Donard collection and it's a wonderful mix of suedes and soft pebble leathers with all my favourite colours - Grey, Navy, Burgundy and Black. The tassel colour this season is dark navy - each collection has a common tassel across the range and these are removable and interchangeable.

You can see the whole range on this link - there's so many to share so I thought for this blog post, I'd help you decide between them by narrowing it down to my top 3, starting with the Glenada, a chain strap shoulder bag that can also be worn as a cross body. All the little details have been factored in - I especially love the leather piece in the chain to give you more comfort at the shoulder.
It comes in Burgundy, Tan and Navy in a mix of soft suede and pebble leather and we were told at the event that this is going to be a sell out line as they're down to their last 10% of stock - so don't delay if this is your favourite:
In second place, it's the Glen Handbag, which comes in black and grey. It's a little bit bigger than the Glenada and has a dual strap option making it workable as a cross body bag or for carrying on the arm. It's so difficult to get a nice dark grey bag - I'm regularly asked where the best place is to find one so here you go - Zohara have a few pewter suede & leather options to chose from in this Donard range.
But as you know, I'm all about the workwear at the moment so for my pick of the range, the smaller ones had to make way for something that I can fit my lunch, note book and a pair of heels into. The two I narrowed it down to were the Meelmore Shopper in navy, which is a great bucket style bag with a removable inner and a magnetic closure. The leather is so soft too - really practical and hardwearing....
and the Trassey...which ultimately won my heart. It's not as roomy as the Meelmore but it's got a real designer vibe going on which I loved. The flap-over closure and the red interior make it really unique but it's got all the practicalities you need in a work bag with its removable inner pocket.
It's actually made from double faced leather with soft pebble on the outside and red saffiano leather on the inside. With it's removable long strap, it can be worn cross body or on the shoulder. I'm loving it on the arm without the long strap, which is how I wore it this weekend - it might  be my work bag but it works just as well casually...
Dress - H&M (AW17)
Jacket - Reiss (preloved)
Before I sign off, I need to let you know the discount code should you want to order one of these beautiful locally designed bags. It's valid until the 25th October and it will give you 10% off any bag from the collection. Delivery is free too! Simply use DONARDAK10 at the checkout.

Thanks so much to Zohara for asking me to be part of the Donard launch. I was gifted the Trassey handbag above as part of my collaboration. All the words are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that help keep my blog going!

Ax

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Thursday, 18 October 2018

#FridayRetailTherapy | Jude Law Boutique | Style


I am on the ball with the #FridayRetailTherapy posts - not sure how long I can keep it up but I'll do my best to get as many Friday's as I can filled with try on's!

This week, I'm down to another of my favourite local boutiques - Jude Law in Magherafelt. With many years in retail behind her, Jude Law took over this boutique more than 2 years ago and has transformed it with her wonderful eye for interiors and an immense buying talent. She's on the ball when it comes to filling the shop with exactly what her customers want - a mix of workable youthful pieces that work really well together and come in at a mix of price points. 

The shop doesn't have a website but Jude sells lots over the phone and is happy to post out to anyone not close to Magherafelt. What she does have is an AMAZING Facebook and Instagram account that you should go and follow. She's one of the best examples of how a shop should do social media - her regular videos showcasing new stock are so great to watch and generate lots of interest and sales for her inside and outside of the town.

So here goes with my try on - starting with ALL the coats. This first one is a great putty coloured Part Two wool coat. Lovely neutral colour and so cosy:
Next, a teddy style coat in a gorgeous shade of berry. Again, really cosy and it makes a lovely change from the usual caramel coloured teddy coat:
This short camel jacket caught my eye - it's from a French brand called La Fee Maraboute - so much of the range was calling to me (see below)
But if I had to pick just one coat (if I didn't already have SO many!), it would be this Marco Polo yellow coat - absolutely stunning colour and fit...of course the most expensive one I tried but so worth it:
I think I tried this one on the last time I was down with Jude - it's a cerise pink wool coat from French Connection. A beautiful classic cut and a great colour to lift your mood this winter:
I took this faux fur coat off the mannequin as it's the last one left...such a great colour. It's from Sandwich:
I saw this next coat on one of Jude's recent videos and I can confirm it's a lovely in real life - only one left though! I'm a huge fan of grey leopard - I think it's much more flattering than the traditional brown leopard print:
A jacket next and this is a wee gem - it's a stretchy lightweight biker style jacket with beautiful detail. I loved how flattering it was on - it adds no bulk like a biker would usually and is comfortable enough to wear all day!
Coats all tried, it was time to head to the fitting room and the first thing I tried were these absolutely AMAZING classic black 7/8 trousers from French Connection. If you're looking some work trews, look no further. They're beautifully cut! As a pear shape, I find it difficult to find good work wear trousers but these are perfect on me, though I did size up to a 12. I paired them with this grey ruffle jumper from Sandwich: 
Same trousers but now with an ochre roll neck from Marco Polo:
And again with a green high neck top from French Connection. I can't confirm or deny that I bought this entire outfit...
Same trousers (told you they are a classic), this time with a basic black top and a military style jacket from Sandwich:
A change of trousers now and how beautiful are these wide legged ones, again from French Connection? They're so beautifully cut - somewhere between culottes and a skirt...and in a great brown/grey neutral fabric:
Going more casual now and I fell for these grey moleskin Sandwich slim leg jeans worn here with a layering white shirt and a green oversized jumper from Deck.
The green jumper also comes in classic grey:
This next French Connection jumper is a great one for layering too. Love the mix of Camel, Grey and Black:
Next it's back into the French Connection black trousers but I wanted to see how they would work when dressed up...here they are with a Part Two top which is such a great buy for Christmas. It would work on a night out as well as on Christmas Day itself with its subtle sheer stripe along with the gold and black velvet detail:
I pulled these pinstripe stretch trousers out of a box in the shop as they'd just arrived! They're actually pretty amazing and another great workwear option because they're stretchy but not clingy and have no zip or pockets - perfect for pear shapes who don't want too much going on around the waist or hips. They have a gentle boot leg - great for elongating the leg:
I'm wearing the Part Two trousers above and my own French Connection indigo skinnies (which I bought the last time I was down in Jude's) with a French Connection ochre knit in both of these photos...I'm loving how much of this colour is around this season:
The layering shirt I'm wearing in all these photos is a great classic piece. It's got a regular cotton collar, cuff and hem but the body of it is a stretchy material. So comfortable and lovely to wear under a jumper. 
I'm wearing it in this next picture with a Part Two short sleeved grey knit - has a lovely split hem detail:
Back to that French brand I mentioned above - this star print blouse is from La Fee Maraboute. Again, a really flattering fit with a lower hem at the back:
And this print blouse is from the same brand. I tried this on the last time I was down and still love it. The colours are great and the print is perfect for casual or workwear:
And this asymmetric hem jumper is from the same brand:
Finishing with a few Owen Barry handbags that Jude has a lovely selection of. All real leather and made in the UK. This leopard print tote is my favourite of the big ones:
There's also this mulberry suede cross body with brown straps:
And here I am outside the shop after my try-on, with my purchases and I need to credit Chloe who works with Jude with this picture because she risked life and limb to get it!
Coat - Jaeger
Jeans - French Connection from Jude Law
Loafers - LK Bennett
Bag - Mulberry (preloved)

I'm always asked about getting to and parking in Magherafelt so I'll finish this post by telling you it takes about 30/40 minutes from Belfast. It's actually not that far in miles but there are some roadworks on that main Derry road at the moment so you need to allow an extra 10 or 15 minutes. When I arrive, I head towards the bus station where there is a massive carpark and I use the Parkmobile app to leave the car there while I'm trying on. It's about a quarter of the price of Belfast parking. Today, I parked for 4 hours and it cost £1.50...what's not to love? I can recommend Maud's for soup and a sandwich afterwards - it's right alongside the carpark.

Thanks to Jude and Chloe for the lovely welcome again to Magherafelt. You can follow Jude Law Boutique on Facebook on this link or on Instagram on this link and if you are on Instagram today (Friday), you can see videos of me trying everything on on my profile on this link - they'll be in my highlights if you are reading this after Friday the 19th.

Ax
Disclaimer - Jude covered my mileage and time costs for coming to do the try on. I paid for the items I bought. Thanks for supporting the brands that support this blog - I couldn't do it without them.
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