It's a jungle out there!

If you’ve been clothes shopping recently, you will have discovered you cannot MOVE for animal prints - leopard in particular. Now, I know that leopard print has some women running for the hills. One woman visibly shuddered when I picked up a blouse on a recent shopping trip so if it’s really not your thing, then just walk away.

If you’d like to give it a go though, here’s three simple styling ideas for you:

1/ Funk up a plain jeans and t-shirt look with a jacket.

Both looks here are where the coat does all the talking. This is because everything else is stripped back to allow the coat to the be main attraction. Because the coats are styled with neutrals (black, white and denim) the look is less obvious than pairing with with a colour such as red. The coat is from Asos at £75 and the biker jacket is from Boohoo at £35.

2/ Keep the look simple with plain accessories

This wrap dress from Hobbs at £99 is a real classic and even office ready when styled with black shoes and bag. Again, keep the look simple with minimal accessories and if black isn’t your thing, chocolate or rose brown will look equally elegant.

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3/ Add a hint of print with an accessory

If wearing leopard print on clothing seems a step too far, why not try a skinny belt or bag? You decide on the size and have as much impact as you dare! Using it as a tiny accent is a fun (and inexpensive) way to add some personality to an otherwise clean and simple outfit.

I love this belt from LaRedoute Just a flash of it showing under a well cut jacket adds a hint of trend but won’t break the bank or bring you out in a sweat! The bag from Roman is also a really fun way to add a print to your look without being too overpowering. You could even try a pair of shoes or boots.

So there you have it - go as wild or as subtle as you like but above all, have some fun and choose whatever suits your style best x

Make a statement with these bold earrings!

I stumbled across these beautiful statement earrings in Collab this week (I’m pretty sure I was a magpie in a former life as I’m constantly drawn to shiny, colourful things!)

I instantly loved the playful, fun designs and then when I researched the brand and found out there’s repurposing going on too, I loved it even more. 

The range is Dakota Rae Dust and it’s handmade in Bristol by a designer called Bec (maybe another reason I love it!).

While the fixings, zips and tassels are new, the fabrics used are either vintage or secondhand which have been sourced in charity shops and jumble sales or from off cuts and textile left overs. 

To see more of the range either pop into Collab on the Gloucester Rd or shop online here

It's all kicking off!

Goodness me!

If you had told me this time last year that I would be running shopping tours of the charity shops I wouldn't have believed you. But it's very real and the word is getting out there fast. Even the BBC recently filmed a short piece on it as they were intrigued by the concept! So I just wanted to share some of the feedback from recent shoppers as it's such a good feeling to know that other women are now finding joy in pre-loved clothes.

Becky Barnes leading a charity shopping tour on the Gloucester Road

And here's what some of my most recent shoppers had to say about the whole experience:

“I keep meaning to write and say what a BRILLIANT time I had on the last charity shopping tour with Becky. It was so helpful to have your wisdom and eagle eyes Becky and I absolutely love everything I bought, including that amazing 1950s vintage dress for £20. One very happy woman! Thanks so much xxx”
“7 tops, 4 dresses and 4 necklaces...epic shopping session today with the amazing Becky Barnes. Becky you are a total legend and thank you for a fab morning”

So if you fancy seeing what little gems might be out there for you, please have a look at my latest dates and book yourself on before I hang up my shopping shoes for the summer! You can find all the details and book here:

Charity Shopping Tour Tickets

Go on, with summer just around the corner let's bring in some new pieces to help your wardrobe and your style feel refreshed x

Charity Shopping Tours are now live!

When Bristol's Independent District asked whether I'd consider setting up and running shopping tours on the Gloucester Road, I could hardly believe my luck! The answer was always going to be yes as it combines shopping and personal styling with charity shops. All of my favourite things!

The first tour was last week and my intrepid shoppers and I hit the Gloucester Road. We spent two hours scanning a variety of charity shops, carefully selecting different items for each woman to try. 

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As we went, I passed on some of my top tips for successful charity shopping and after two hours my shoppers could barely carry their bulging shopping bags.

One shopper's haul included a Windsmoor coat, two blazers (one from Reiss and one from LK Bennett), two dresses, one waistcoat, two jumpers, five scarves, two bags, three necklaces and two pairs of shoes. All for less than £100!

some finds from the charity shopping tour

The good news is that it was so successful that I've already organised another two tours on Saturday April 21st. If you'd like to find out more or buy a ticket you can click here for the morning tour, or here for the afternoon tour. Tickets cost £25 per person plus a small Eventbrite booking fee. I'd love to see you there and help you find some treasures x

Ever wonder why we feel dissatisfied with our bodies?

I spent some time yesterday evening with the lovely ladies who have been following a Mindful Eating course led by the incredible Lisa Beasley (please check out her website  for forthcoming taster sessions and workshops)

We talked about the relationship we have with our bodies and I think it’s fair to say that every single woman in the room (me included) had some sensitivities about her physical form.

One of the reasons we can have a bit of a downer on our bodies is because we are bombarded with highly unrealistic images every single day. We naturally draw comparisons, and guess what…..we don’t look anything like the images we’re presented with.

 

And it starts young too. Think back to a time where you may have had a Barbie doll.

Did you know that if Barbie was a real woman she'd be forced to walk on all fours and would be physically incapable of lifting her head?

I knew she was super slim, but I hadn’t ever realised just how out of whack her proportions were.

For example, if we scaled the doll up into real life proportions, Barbie's head would be two inches larger than the average woman's while resting on a neck twice as long and six inches thinner!

 Image courtesy of Mail Online

Image courtesy of Mail Online

From these measurements, it is thought it would be impossible for her to lift up her own head.
Her 16-inch waist would also be four inches thinner than her oversized head, leaving room for only half a liver and a few inches of intestine.

Her fragile 3.5 inch wrists would mean she actually couldn’t lift anything heavy and her 6-inch ankles simply could not hold up her body.

Now I know it’s only a doll, but it sends a message to the child playing with it that this is what a real woman looks like.  The reality is, it is NOWHERE near what a real woman looks like. Add in all the highly photoshopped images the glossy magazines present us with day in day out and our expectations of the female physical form are seriously skewed. 

So before you beat yourself up, please remember that most of what you see in the media is completely fictional. It is NOT real life. YOU are real life and your body is beautiful just the way it is x

 

 

 

 

It's happening.........a whole year without buying new clothes!

 

I'm not really a believer in New Year's Resolutions. I've made them in the past but never really stuck to them so this year I thought I'd set myself some challenges instead. Things that were important to me but that actually made a difference to the world in a positive way.

The Challenge:

Not to buy any clothes from brand new sources for an entire year.

Why I hear you ask? Well as of the 1st January, China will no longer accept waste from the rest of the world. This includes a HUGE amount of textile waste from the U.K.

This means we all need to try and reduce the amount of waste created in the first place. In the U.K. alone, we export 365m kilos of used clothes every year and the figure is rising.

Where are all these clothes going? Sadly mostly to landfill and when you know it takes over 1000 years for a faux fur coat to break down, we're creating a huge problem.

 Image from Pinterest

Image from Pinterest

Why will the challenge help?

I started off believing that I could make a difference just by changing my own consumer habits but quickly realised there would be a much bigger impact if more women joined me. I opened up the challenge to the women who follow me on a Facebook and very quickly I had over 70 eco-conscious women all pledging to do the same.

That's over 70 of us who, this year, will source our clothes from charity shops, pre-loved boutiques, clothes swapping events, vintage stores and so on. Re-using clothes that could otherwise end up as waste.

Does the challenge mean absolutely all clothes?

No. There are certain items we're just not prepared to buy secondhand and these are:

Underwear (secondhand pants? Just NO!)

Swimwear

Sleepwear

Specialist items e.g. Sportswear/gym stuff

Footwear

The first port of call will always be to try to source secondhand because brand new items do come onto the secondhand market, but if it's not possible to source the above, new is permitted in these cases.

 Image from Pinterest

Image from Pinterest

 

Every month I'm going to provide support and expert guidance. The first face to face event will be a "how to charity shop like a pro" which will be held in one of my favourite charity shops, free of charge in conjunction with Eco Designer Linda Thomas

Linda gave up shopping on the High Street over 12 years ago, so between us we have a lot to share. If you'd like to come along and listen to our top tips, please book your place here

Care to join us in the challenge too?

If you'd like to have a go, it's not too late! Just start from now but please get in touch with me to let me know you're on board. That was I can make sure you receive all my tips on how to survive the year with ease. Go on, you know you can do it! x

 

 

How would you like to get body confident with your clothes?

All too often I work with women who have a downer on themselves. They feel they should be taller, slimmer, have a more defined waist, have perkier boobs.... I can say this with confidence as I was like that too. For years and years I felt I wasn't good enough, until I hit my 40s and figured I could go on being unkind to myself for the rest of my life, OR, I could accept who I am and work with what I have.

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And that's where a science called anthropometry comes in. Anthropometry is the measure of human form and it's something I've studied closely. Both in terms of theory, but also in reality, having had the opportunity to work with over 200 incredible women of ALL shapes and sizes.

 

I truly believe that all women can look fabulous regardless of age, size or budget. You just need to get to grips with what works on your body. And I mean the body you have right now, not the one you had when you were in your 20's....!

So if you'd like to understand what is going to work for you once and for all, please do come along to an hour long workshop I'm running as part of Bristol Fashion Week. It's just £20 and during our time together I will show you the key to dressing with confidence.

You can get your hands on a ticket here but be quick as places are limited for each workshop (you can choose from 1 of 3 dates).

Would love to see you there and help you achieve the look you've always wanted x

 

 

A strong woman stands up for herself. A stronger woman stands up for others...

Remember the Swap 'til You Drop fundraising event in July? It was just a-maz-ing for so many reasons. 

The first is that I'm over the moon to say I was finally able to present a cheque last week to our charity for the evening, Labour Behind The Label for the sum of £1500!

Honestly, I never ever thought we would raise that amount but I'm thrilled that we did and I know it will be put to good use. The work LBTL undertakes is incredible as they strive to improve the rights of garment workers right across the world. If you want to know more, including how you could help, please visit www.labourbehindthelabel.org

Aside from raising a huge sum of money, the night was so much more than I could have dreamed of!

Here's what one lovely guest had to say:

"What an evening! I went to Becky's charity evening on my own as my mate couldn't make it. So I put on a smile and left telling the babysitter I would be back by 9. I felt nervous but I thought "hey it's for charity and I might find one nice swap". What I didn't expect was the camaraderie, the giggles and the good natured banter with women I've never met. I bonded with one lady over her new floaty blouse and another over an unexpected trouser suit find and another over her dresses. Women of all ages standing around in their bras chatting. I enjoyed myself so much and came away with 4 items to spruce up my wardrobe. When Becky organised another evening like this, I'll definitely be back!"

I know also that women are now considering upcycling too. Another gorgeous guest wrote to me and said:

"Had to tell you I dyed my faded jeans and threw in 3 tops that were likely to head to recycling. So happy with the results, especially the jeans as had there been a pair in Debenhams I would have bought them. I've caught the upcycling bug".

It was an evening that encouraged us to recycle and repurpose our clothes as well as consider who made those clothes in the first place and it was SO much fun in the simply beautiful surroundings of Leigh Court.

However you played a part in the evening this is my personal thank you to you. I couldn't have done it without you and I'm truly grateful for your heartfelt support.

Here's to the next one...... 

Becky x

 

Photography courtesy of www.viktoriakuti.com

 

Is a capsule wardrobe the answer to your style dilemmas?

So how hard could it be to create a capsule wardrobe from scratch and then wear it for 30 days? Honestly, I thought it would be a breeze. I thought it would be great fun to style a new look every day, document the pieces and the price of the outfit and share it with my followers. I thought there might be a few small challenges along the way but I had NO IDEA how quickly it would start to affect me (for the worse).

 My capsule wardrobe of 18 pieces of clothes and a handful of accessories.

My capsule wardrobe of 18 pieces of clothes and a handful of accessories.

I should state that all I sourced all the pieces from local charity shops as I wanted to show that you can pick up some great finds, meaning style is accessible to everyone. I also wanted to highlight how buying secondhand clothes is kinder to the environment. My views on this remain absolutely the same - and I will continue to be an avid shopper of pre-loved clothes, be it from charity shops, second hand boutiques, swishing events and so on.

So how did the 30 days go? I started out full of enthusiasm. It was new, I was keen to see how well the pieces worked together and I felt positive. The outfits came together nicely and I enjoyed the fact that every morning there was no overwhelm. It felt good.

But from day 10 I started to feel differently. I began to crave my old clothes and I was desperate for more colour. And from that point on, I realised I had made more and more mistakes with the 18 items I had selected. By day 20 I thought finishing the challenge would be impossible. I was just so down and felt so unlike 'me' that it felt counterintuitive to continue. I even had my 6 year old daughter beg me to put my "old clothes' on as she just wanted her mummy back. But I was determined to get to the end so started focusing on how a capsule wardrobe could work.

So having reached day 30 (and boy am I glad it's over!) I have the following 6 tips for you to help you if you ever feel like having a go at a capsule wardrobe yourself:

1 - Your clothes have to fit you well. Some of my items didn't - they were a touch too big or too small meaning ultimately, they were uncomfortable to wear. If they don't fit, you're not going to wear them so don't give them wardrobe space.

2 - If colour is your thing, then you've got to have lots of it in your capsule. I purposely chose a lot of neutrals to give me maximum flexibility and I had one accent colour in orange (not one of my favourite colours but I thought I'd give it a go). Turns out I hate wearing orange and I missed all the jewel tones I love so much. I discovered that stripping me of colour, stripped me of happiness. I know that sounds pretty dramatic, but it's true and the speed at which my mood dropped, actually scared me.

3 - You have to love the items and want to wear them. My issue was I didn't love any of my items, they were just OK. But if your clothes are just OK, that's probably how you're going to feel when you're wearing them. Nothing excited me and I started wearing the items in different ways to try and make them work better for me. If you don't believe me, below is a picture of me wearing a pair of trousers as a scarf!

capsule wardrobe experiment

4 - You have to decide what your capsule wardrobe is for and plan accordingly. Mine was supposed to be for both work and play and I just didn't have enough variety or fun to cover all bases. I also work  with a lot of women who want to keep work and weekend clothes very separate. If this resonates with you then I suggest one capsule wardrobe for work and one for home, which leads nicely onto number 5...

5 - You need to have enough clothes in your collection. I had 18 pieces (4 of which were outerwear) and it simply wasn't enough. Although I enjoyed the fact I wasn't overwhelmed with choice, it did feel like I was depriving myself and that's never a good thing! I think you need at least 30 items in a capsule to help you feel you have sufficient variety and to stop the boredom. Trust me when I say I was sick of my items by the end of the challenge!

6 - You can go outside your capsule when you need to. I had a number of evening events to attend during my 30 days and no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't turn my items into 'party wear'. Once I had given myself to go outside the capsule for special occasions, it felt so much better.

So here we are on day 30 and I cannot tell you how excited I am about delving into my own wardrobe tomorrow to choose something fabulous! Having lived with a capsule for 30 days I can see how one could work and I'm going to take the learnings into my own wardrobe where I will definitely be stripping out and refining. But for now, I'm going to select the outfit for day 31 - one which is full of colour and makes me feel like me again x