Thursday 30 December 2021

Love Clothes Last & Other Stories

Welcome back to my monthly second-hand stories blog with Sarah London and if you are visiting for the first time and are interested in the stories behind clothes then you are in the right place.

My name is Jane.

 I love clothes.

 I love stories. 

After graduating with an English degree, I became a journalist. 

At first, I worked at weekly papers between 1989 and 1992, and then from 1992 until 2003 I worked as a news reporter and features writer at The Liverpool Echo.

 In 2003 until 2010 I was a freelance writer for newpapers and magazines and between 2007 and 2010, a writer in residence at HMP Garth in Lancashire.

After the recession of 2008/9 hit I lost a lot of freelance work and re-trained as a teacher. Between 2011 and 2017 I was a tutor in a sixth form college until 2018 when I left to become a yoga teacher.

Despite my career changes, two things have remained constant: my love of clothes and my love of writing which is where this blog has provided an outlet and an archive for posts such as this.

Today Sarah and I will be discussing re-purposing our clothes.

And the star of the show is this Poppy Parker Dress which I bought in summer 2008 following a collaboration between Oasis and the Bath Fashion Museum.

To see it as a dress, please click on the following links when I wore it..........

To the baptism of a friend's baby in 2008 

In 2008on  Day 1 of my very first blog WorkThatWardrobe here 

On Day 1 of this blog in 2009 here

To my nephew Seth's baptism in September 2009 here 

To prison when I worked as a writer in residence in October 2008 here 

For my PGCE graduation in July  2011 here.

To my daughter in law's 21st birthday in August 2011 here 

At a Farewell Party in July 2012 here

And many more times.

I discovered a kindred spirit in former Vogue editor, Alexandra Shulman when I read her memoir, 'Clothes... and other things that matter.' 

She also shares the ability of  time travel through a simple glimpse of a piece of her wardrobe.

The memories are there forever, unlike this dress.

Yet sadly, I will never wear this dress again.

For it is now a skirt.

Do you see this rocking horse?

It was once a coffee table.

My dad re-purposed it in December 1992 for my son's second Christmas.

Our parents are always our first teachers and for my dad, a war baby, re-purposing was a way of life.

Thanks to the gift of the menopause I have been left with a pair of boobs that no longer fitted into the bodice of this beautiful dress.

But there was no way I was going to throw it out.

As Orsola de Castro explains in her fabulous book: 'Loved Clothes Last' - our relationships with our clothes are forever and we should find ways to wear them when our needs and lives changes.

We should, she says learn how to Mend, Alter and Make - which serendipitously, is the name of my local seamstress' business.

The lovely Tor, who luckily lives in the next road to me took one look at the dress and said she could rescue it as a skirt.

And I rather like the way the skirt sits a little lower and a little longer.

The dress was made using an original 1960s pattern and the detail is wonderful, including the addition of a litte tulle under the skirt.

And its not just this dress Tor has helped me with.

When I felt my 27-year-old Four Seasons black velvet coat was wearing me, rather than I wearing it, she shortened it for me.

The long version I wore for my son's gradutation, November 2012

The shortened version I wore for my Nephew's Wedding, December 2017

Tor also helped re-purpose this Karen Millen dress I bought for my 50th birthday which I felt was a little too short and since it is now a skirt I have worn it so much more.

Dress on the left, Christmas 2017. As a skirt, December 2021

I hope this blog has helped to offer a few ideas on how to ensure your Loved Clothes Last and to make a plea that you love every item in your wardrobe.

And thank you for getting this far and allowing me to indulge in those two favourite loves: clothes and stories!

I am off to read Sarah's blog here now and I hope you will join me.
Until next time, take care,
Jane X

Thursday 23 December 2021

Coming Home to my First Love for Christmas


I'm coming home for Christmas.

Back to this blog where my online style journal began.

For the past year I have been playing away on Instagram - that fickle friend - where just a click of the fingers can upload a photo and post in next to no time.

I have met some lovely people but missed the time and space this blog gives me to ruminate and remember.

In my defence, time has been short and I wanted to photograph myself for a year to see where my style is heading.

Its interesting that the outfits that I enjoyed wearing the most and what I like to see myself wearing were not the most popular.

Far from it.

But here is a collection of my personal favourites.

I will still keep the Instagram account but I want to pledge to post at least once a week here next year.

If you got this far, Happy Christmas and if y ou are reading this in 20 years time Jane - I hope you enjoy your memories.

Happy Christmas.

Jane X

Monday 13 December 2021

Oh Christmas Tree


It’s December 1999. 
I am heavily pregnant with my fourth child. My husband and I are in our local garden centre helping our three young children aged 2,4 and 8 choose a bauble for the tree. 

An annual tradition.

And then I see it. A tall, broad, handsome figure in the distance. A fake tree that looks real. As I get closer, the vision doesn’t disappoint. 
It’s expensive - £140 - but this Christmas we can afford it. 
For the first time since we married in 1989 we are feeling flush. 

In an attempt to cheer my depressed husband up a few months earlier I nominated him for a Father of the year competition in the Daily Mail. 
As evidence I submit true stories of how he works full time as a police officer, studies Law part-time, runs a junior football team and rescued the local Beaver pack from extinction.
 My final piece of evidence is the fact that a few years earlier he saved my life when I collapsed with an ectopic pregnancy. 

The judges agreed. We won the top prize- £10,000 so this year we have some spare cash. 

Every year for the past 23 Christmases my husband meticulously builds the tree, strings fairy lights in perfect proportions around the broad branches before we are allowed to add the baubles we have amassed over 34 Christmases together. 

Except one year. 2006. 

The tree was waiting in its box to be assembled and we had a row. My husband stormed off to bed. 
In revenge , I and my four children cobbled together a magnificently messy tree. 

As I sat back on the sofa snuggled up with my children watching the Take That Christmas special with a glass of wine in my hand I felt invincible. If we did split up. I was having custody of the tree. 

We made up the following morning and that tree stood in a stark warning to my husband of the consequences of behaving like a toddler for the entire festive season.

Happy Christmas

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