Films that changed the way I shopped

When I started work as a personal stylist, I admit that concern for the environment was nowhere on my agenda. Absolutely nowhere.

I honestly put no thought as to how my clothes were made, the conditions in which they were made, the materials they were made from or what happened to them when I was finished with them. It was off my radar in a big way.

But over the years I’ve been on a journey and the things I’ve learnt along the way have meant big changes not only in terms of how I shop personally, but also how I run my whole business.

Part of that journey (and it’s an ongoing one) is to share that knowledge with you. I strongly feel that the more I share, the more informed we all become and therefore the better choices we can make.

So in I’m going to share films and short videos that have fundamentally changed the way I work with clothes. I wish I could say these films were fun, but they’re not. They are all heavy, hard hitting and leave you feeling pretty crap. But it’s a place I had to go to in order to unearth the truth about the fashion industry - the industry in which I work.

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1/ First up is actually the most recent production on the list. It’s a 90 minute film called RiverBlue where conservationist, Mark Angelo, travels the world to show us what the fashion industry is doing to our waterways AND the people who rely on them for drinking water. 

The film highlights the damage caused by harsh chemical manufacturing processes and the irresponsible disposal of toxic chemical waste has had on the rivers.

It’s honestly horrific and it brought me to tears numerous times. I had no idea that 70% of China’s lakes are now highly contaminated, liver cancer rates are through the roof and that chromium has now officially entered their food chain. All because toxic waste is being dumped in the waterways. 

One of the biggest polluters is the humble pair of jeans. In Xintang, 300 million pairs a year are produced - that’s a 1/3rd of the worlds supply. They use dyes which contain mercury, cadmium and lead. Workers are coming into contact with them with no regard for their own health and the waste products are dumped directly into watercourses. Acids are also being used to create lighter patches and designer ‘whiskers’.

We have to put pressure on companies to clean up their act. That’s why I’m such a huge fan of Polly Higgins because if her concept of Ecocide was implemented, the CEOs of these factories would be going straight to jail for the damage they’re causing.

And if you feel it’s already too late, it’s NOT.

Did you know that just 40 years ago there was no sign of life in the Thames? The water was so polluted nothing could survive but major measures were put in place, processes were cleaned up and now 125 species of fish can be found there. So this destruction can be reversed, but not until big businesses change the way they work and YOU can put pressure on them to do something about it.

2/ Next up in my list of influential films is just a 3 minute watch by Jay Shetty, so I urge you to sit through it if you can.

Here you get a snapshot of what it’s like to be a garment worker.

This is exactly why I’m a big supporter of Labour Behind the Label and the reason ALL funds raised from the swaps events I hold go directly towards the work they do.

What this video doesn’t show is what happens when the workers complain about the long hours, or unsafe premises, or working with toxic materials. They are often beaten, and far too many of them are even beaten to death for speaking out.

It is completely unacceptable and we have to put pressure on companies to ensure these practices are a thing of the past.

The woman speaking in this short clip is actually a success story. She escaped the sweatshops and set up www.locwom.org to improve the lives of women and children ❤️ but much more still has to be done to end modern day slavery.

3/ Next up in the list of things that influenced me is a Ted talk that I connected with in a BIG way. I can’t tell you exactly how many times I’ve watched this talk, but it’s a lot! 

It’s a 16 minute video by Christina Dean called ‘You are what you wear’

Although she makes reference to the nasty side of fashion, this talk is upbeat and really made me believe I could do something positive about it.

She’s gone on to be one of my heroines and by setting up sustainable businesses such as www.redress.com and www.thercollective.com she’s really walking her talk. 

She was one of the reasons I bought only second hand clothes for a year. She was one of the reasons I go and talk passionately to organisations about how we can all have a more sustainable wardrobe and she is one of the reasons I changed what I offer through my business services.

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4/ Moving on to number 4 and it’s another recent one. Hands up if back in October 2018 you watched the BBC documentary called ‘Fashions dirty secrets’?

Stacey Dooley did a brilliant job of highlighting some of the key issues within the fashion industry and bringing the info to the masses.

One of them was the devastation of the Aral Sea where an area of water the size of Ireland has disappeared in the space of 40 years. Mostly due to irrigating cotton crops.

She also tried to speak to fast fashion heavyweights such as ASOS and Primark at a huge sustainability summit in Copenhagen. Unsurprisingly, when she approached them for comment on what they’re doing to limit the problem, absolutely nobody would talk to her.

She did manage to speak to Levi’s who shared how the company is coming up with solutions to reduce water waste. They are currently working on a solution that takes old garments and turns them into a new fibre that feels, looks and behaves like cotton with zero water impact.

So it’s a thumbs up to Levi’s from me!

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5/ Lastly, is a 50 minute film called ‘The world according to H&M’ from 2014.

H&M is a brilliant example of why choosing sustainable clothes can be a minefield because all is not necessarily as it seems.

On the face on it, I want to love H&M.

This is because they sell organic cotton ranges, they have in-store recycling points, they promote their Conscious Collection and have signed up to lots of sustainability targets.

This film is now 5 years old, but it seems not everything is as it should though.

Only recently it was alleged that H&M had burnt 12 tonnes of unsold but usable clothes. It was also reported that H&M was burning discarded clothing alongside recycled wood and waste at the Västerås power station, as part of its move to becoming a fossil-free facility by 2020.

They have also failed to meet their sustainability targets. One example is promising that all their garment workers would receive the minimum wage. The trouble is, in countries such as Ethiopia, there is no minimum wage (unless you’re a civil servant) and they have some of the lowest wages in the globe.

And there’s also a segment on tax avoidance but that’s a whole other thing....

It’s news like this that makes their sustainability statements hard to truly believe and you can see the complexities of the wider situation. 

H&M were once described to me as the yin and yang of the ethical fashion world and I think that’s an apt way to view them. 

I always come down on the side of some positive action is better than no action but for me H&M need to up their game by actually delivering on their promises.

There are also so many more films, books and courses I could refer you too, but I’ll tackle that another day!

 

 

 

Simple ways to be kinder to the planet with your wardrobe

Earlier this month I attended the Going Green 2019 summit which had some brilliant speakers and ideas on how to be more ‘green’ - including what you wear. This got me thinking about small but effective changes we can all make to our everyday lives which can have a big impact on our planet. So here’s my top 6 tips on how your can be more eco with you clothes without much effort at all.

1/ Look after what you already have. 

Simple as it sounds, cherishing what you already own can have a huge impact. This is because WRAP research has shown that increasing the active life of your clothing by just nine months would reduce the annual carbon, water and waste footprints of UK clothing by 20-30% each, and cut resource costs by £5 billion!

As if she read my mind, my friend Robyn posted how she spruced up a leather jacket with a brilliant eco product by Forest Hog . There’s definitely more than 9 months usage left there now!

Just look at the before and after photos: ️

2/ Buy as much as you can from second hand sources first.

There are so many pre-loved clothes in circulation and many ways to access them at a whole range of price points. This means there must be something for everyone!  A few months ago I found a beautiful dress in the vintage section of St Peters Hospice, Westbury Hill. I can’t vouch for how old it is but I do know that it’s been hand made and I love the fact that at some stage somebody has put some considerable love into making it.

It all would have taken time and effort so I’m really pleased to be able to give it a new home. I’ve no idea who wore it first time around or for what occasion, but I’m just happy it’s now in my possession and I will love it for the foreseeable future.

3/ Get to know your fabrics.

When I first began my journey into understanding how to have a more sustainable wardrobe, I believed that natural fibres (cotton, linen, wool, cashmere, jute, hemp, silk etc.) were by far the best as they biodegraded easily and they didn’t leak plastic microfibres into our waterways unlike polyester and acrylic.

Then I learnt how much water cotton crops take - even organic cotton crops are heavy on water consumption. I also learnt how silk, leather and wool are not acceptable to those clients living a vegan lifestyle. There were many many other factors to consider too - it’s truly a case of the more I learn, the more complicated it becomes!

So I had to start seeking out alternatives to suit everyone and that meant really getting to grips with different types of fabrics.

I’m going to do blog soon on alternative fabrics as it’s such an enormous topic but I just wanted to share that although the following fibres are man made, they actually come from plant cellulose rather than oil or plastic and DO biodegrade over time:

- bamboo 

- lyocell (from eucalyptus trees)

- modal (from beech trees)

- rayon/viscose (from wood pulp)

- vegan leathers (pineapple, apple, mushroom etc)

Also to bust a common myth, there’s PU (polyurethane) as a vegan alternative to leather. It does not require the same chemical plasticisers as PVC (polyvinylchloride) which it often gets confused with and will eventually degrade over time whereas PVC won’t.

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4/ Get to know your OWN personal style. 

Take some time to figure out what you like to wear, what shapes and colours work well on your body and what feels like ‘you’ when you’ve got it on. The more you know your style, the more likely you are to buy the right pieces and this means a number of things:

  • You won’t be swayed by the latest trends (which seem to hit the shop floors on a weekly basis) and be tempted to over-consume 

  •  You will love your clothes more and therefore look after them for longer

  • You will wear more of what’s in your wardrobe and find it easier to create outfits

  • You will find it quicker to make decisions on pieces because you can see whether it expresses your identity or not 

  • You will make less impulse purchases (you know...like when you didn’t really need anything but you found an absolute bargain in the sales that you intend to fit into when you’ve lost that weight....

  •  And lastly, other people can easily find things for you! 

This dress is a case in point. The fab manager of the Cats Protection shop on the Gloucester Road showed me this dress as soon as I walked into his shop. He’d correctly identified it as something I’d wear so not only does it help you find pieces, it makes it easier for others too!

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5/ Use your voice and collaborate with others to create more impact and bring about positive change.

In particular I’d like to draw your attention to the work Polly Higgins carried out before her recent death to try to raise awareness of and pass a law on ecocide. Her campaign is that ecocide should be recognised as a crime. If you’re wondering what ecocide is, it’s 

“extensive damage to, destruction of or loss of ecosystems of a given territory, whether by human or other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been or will be severely diminished”

She sold her house and gave up a high-paying job so she could dedicate herself to attempt to create a law that would make corporate executives and government ministers criminally liable for the damage they do to ecosystems.

Just imagine that. 

The CEO of a clothing factory for example, could be found guilty of a criminal offence if their factory damaged their local ecosystem. I’m pretty sure it would result in some radical and swift changes to the way the clothing industry worked.

If you’d like to find out more, or learn how you can take action, please visit www.stopecocide.earth

6/ Re-think how you wash your clothes.

This is because an estimated 50% of the greenhouse gas emissions from clothing takes place in the consumer use stage. This means we have huge control over the environmental impact we have so here are my 5 super easy tips and tricks for washing and drying clothes in a more environmentally friendly way.


 If you have clothes made with polyester or plastic based textiles like a lot of my 1970’s vintage dresses and pretty much all the kids sports kits, each time you wash them they release microfibres into the water system. Greenpeace estimates that 30% of ocean plastic pollution comes from microplastics with an estimated 35% of these coming from synthetic clothing and other fabrics. To prevent this, pop them in a Guppy Friend Bag when you wash them and the bag will catch all the nasty microfibres for you.

 Washing by hand is good for the environment but with the amount of clothes my family gets through it just isn’t practical for me. However, I do wash at cooler temperatures and just by turning down your washing machine from 40°C to 30°C will save 100 grams of CO2 per load as well as being gentler on your clothes

Something really easy to do is to change from a regular detergent to a natural detergent. So many eco and zero waste shops now sell them and they are usually refillable so it’s a win win as well as being gentle on your skin.

 To reduce your footprint (and therefore your energy bills!) hang-dry your clothes whenever possible. I know it can be a challenge in our climate so if you can’t always hang your clothes outside, get an indoor clothes dryer and watch your clothes last longer than being tumble dried.

 Lastly, wash your clothes less. Probably because we all have machines there’s a tendency to toss everything into the laundry basket regardless of how dirty it actually is. There is a downside to this though.....in my case there’s an eternal pile of clothes on the chest that are too dirty to put back in the wardrobe but too clean to put in the wash! 


Phew…that was a long one, but worth a read and even if you just make a couple of changes, the cumulative effects all add up!

The charity shopping tours are back for 2019!

Becky Barnes personal stylist shopping in a charity shop in Bristol

It’s a brand new year and the charity shopping tours ARE BACK!!

Last year they were so much fun and so many women joined me that it seemed silly not to run them again. I mean, what’s not to like about:

  • exploring the fabulous charity shops within Bristols Independent District

  • supporting some amazing charities

  • shopping in a way that’s kind to our planet

  • experiencing what it’s like to shop with a personal shopper

  • trying new looks (whilst being guided by an expert eye)

  • having a lot of fun!

They were even recognised last year by The South West Tourist Board which was just brilliant!

So, if you fancy giving it a go, please book yourself on a tour by clicking this link

I’d love to shop with you and show you what treasures are out there!

What to wear to Lapland (and other places that are mighty cold!)

We’ve been lucky enough to spend 3 days in Lapland this December where it reached minus 12 degrees. It didn’t get light until around 11am and the light was already fading by 2.30pm. At this time of year the sun doesn’t fully rise above the horizon so it’s chilly!  If you’re heading to a similar climate, here’s my 5 top tips;

1/ Wool is your friend whereas cotton is not.

Why? Well once cotton gets wet perhaps through snow or perspiration it doesn’t dry out. It holds in the moisture, which can cool you down quickly. Also clothes that are damp don’t have the breath-ability of dry clothes, which is key in a cold environment. So do try to avoid cotton where possible. Jeans are equally as useless as cotton so ditch those in favour of fleece lined leggings unless you want frozen pins. Wool on the other hand is amazing and seemed to keep us toasty warm. 

2/ Layers are key

It’s better to have multiple thinner layers than one thick one. This is because the air gets trapped between the layers to keep you warm. You might feel like a Russian doll getting dressed every morning and going to the loo can be seriously challenging but you’ll be thankful once you’re outside. On my hands I wore liners, woollen mittens and then leather outers. On my feet were merino liners, boiled wool inners and heavy duty boots. I also had thermal base layers, a jumper, a fleece, a neck warmer and a hat. It might sound excessive but it was needed and to be honest, after 45 minutes on a snowmobile even this wasn’t enough to keep my extremities as warm as I would have liked. The children also had fleece balaclavas.

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3/ Go for the best quality gear you can afford. 

Most of my winter kit is 15 years old and still going strong. Merino is king if you really want to get the best so keep your eyes peeled for bargains in the sales as well as charity shops and stock up for future use. Cashmere is also great for warmth as is fleece. I also really recommend that if you’re planning on taking photos using your smartphone then buy a pair of base layer gloves with little patches on the thumb and index finger that let you use the touchscreen. Thick gloves (especially mittens) make it impossible to work any controls on your camera, and you don’t want to be continuously exposing your bare hands to the cold air to get your camera to work! If you’re investing in snowboots, I recommend you buy them a size larger than your normal shoes. This way, you can wear thick woolly socks and still have extra room inside the boot for warm air to circulate around your toes.

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4/ Mind the gap(s)

Where you can, tuck things in. For example, tuck tops into bottoms and put your gloves on BEFORE you put on your coat/ski suit. This helps prevent those little gaps where cold air can seap in (and once it’s in it’s horrid) Don’t underestimate the importance of a neck warmer or a scarf and do your coat ALL the way up!

5/ Don’t forget the moisturiser and lip balm 

Temperatures that don’t get above freezing are harsh on your skin and lips. You’ll dry out in no time so take care of your face too and lather on the moisturiser! But.... make sure your products are NOT water-based as water-based lotions accelerate frostbite!


Remember, there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. If you dress correctly for the conditions, you can go out in practically any weather…….even I had my limits though!

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Celebrating in style (and why photographs are so important)

In September, my lovely mum reached 70 years young. She didn’t want a party and really didn’t want to be the centre of attention, but I somehow wanted all her family and friends to be a part of her special day. I therefore asked everyone who loves her to send me their photos of them with mum and any stories or anecdotes they had. I could then compile them into a big book of love to give to mum on her birthday so that she was surrounded by messages and images of all the people who were close to her.

And here was the problem. Although I had numerous phone photos of mum and I together, there was actually no ‘proper’ photos of us to speak of. I even dug out our wedding album out from years ago only to discover there weren’t any of us together in there either. I just found it so sad that the woman who has been my rock my entire life wasn’t captured on film. We simply had no quality mother & daughter shots so the simple solution was to arrange a birthday photoshoot to put this right!

I happen to know many many really talented photographers in Bristol but for this shoot, it had to be Viktoria Kuti. Why? Well apart from being one of the nicest people on the planet and a flipping brilliant photographer, the whole reason Vik set up her business was because she had no photos of her mum. I just knew, therefore, that she’d get where I was coming from and would understand the significance of the session.

So, the session was booked, we discussed what on earth to wear (yes, we did have outfit changes ready planned but that’s a whole other blog post!) and the big day finally arrived. Shari Knowles was our expert make up artist and really helped us feel amazing. Then Vik worked her magic with her camera and the time just flew by. The results….well see for yourself. We have an entire album of gorgeousness to treasure and here are just some of my favourites.

So if you’re thinking about having some professional shots taken, just do it! I’m both thrilled and thankful that we were able to celebrate 3 generations of women and now have beautiful images that will last a lifetime. The special bond that we share has been captured forever and I will never ever tire of looking at the images x

DIY Halloween Outfits

You don’t have to buy cheap tat…!


Halloween has become a bit of a thing in recent years whether we like it or not. Shops and supermarkets are currently flooded with costumes (almost all will be made from synthetic fibres) but before you buy one, ask yourself could you knock up something at home?


I gave DIY costuming a go because my daughter asked for a ‘mummy’ costume to wear to a school disco. I raided her wardrobe and picked the lightest clothes possible (white leggings and a light grey t-shirt) and headed to our medicine box to dig out all the crepe bandages. YouTube provided an easy tutorial for me to turn her face into a skeleton, and about 50 safety pins later, we had a costume!

If you’re not feeling creative, or you’re stretched for time, why not also try the charity shops? Every single one I’ve been in recently has had an area dedicated to Halloween and there’s been some seriously good stuff secondhand goods to buy.

So, before you buy some brand new tat, maybe see what you can find secondhand, or already in your house? 

An evening of styling and shopping

On the 25th October, Village Green (which is a gorgeous, pre-loved designer boutique) and I will be joining forces to offer you an evening of styling and shopping.

I’ll be sharing my tips on how to choose clothes for your own unique bodyshape before helping you pick some lovely things from the shop.

Tickets are £15 and include drinks, nibbles and 10% off all purchases. There’s two slots to choose from and numbers will be limited so that I can help everybody.

So if you fancy some new additions to your wardrobe or perhaps something for the festive season, this is for you.

You can get your tickets here!

Hope to see you there x

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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

A re-boot isn't just for computers

The family and I recently went to Vancouver to visit one of our sons who works there and I admit, I went a bit feral.

The reason? I put thought into my outfits every single day. I see myself as my own walking CV and my professional integrity means I present myself in a way I see as appropriate for my job. Day in, day out.

So on holiday, I can let all of that go and just focus on the moment, not what I’m wearing. It was like pushing the reboot button.

It was also an action packed holiday (including camping on a really basic site) and that meant functionality won over anything else time and time again. At one point I even had tie dye socks on with my Skechers and didn’t give a flying f**k about it.

Make up was also on hold and my hair had a break from being either straightened or curled. I also stepped away from social media.

It was a case of stripping everything right back and having a proper break from my daily routine. A spot of true downtime and the chance to just ‘be’.

I know this isn’t for everyone. I work with women who relish their holiday wardrobe - perhaps because at work they are forced to wear things they wouldn’t normally choose or similar. But this holiday I needed a break from absolutely everything, to completely power down and it felt good to get back to the very basics.

You can tell it worked though because as soon as we got home, I was dying to step back into my old self. I’d enjoyed the simple life but not enough to want to continue in my day to day routine. So today a bit of light make up was back, a few accessories were donned and a ‘proper’ outfit was worn with relish.

Will you be re-booting this summer? x
 

The Big Clothes Swap is BACK!

I don't exactly know how it's happened but I've been convinced to host another huge clothes swap to raise funds for the charity Labour Behind the Label who work to improve the lives of garment workers around the world.

If you came last year you'll know how it works but if it's your first time, here's what to expect...

You will need a ticket to enter the event which is being held at the stunning venue of Leigh Court and upon arrival you will receive a glass of prosecco. You will need to bring 3 items of clothing that you don't wear, but you think another woman would love. These will be taken from you on arrival and placed on rails of clothes of that size. Once everyone has arrived and all the clothes are hung, I will formally open the event and you will be free to find another 3 items to take home!

Honestly, it's brilliant fun and all the women who attended last year had a blast as well as refreshing their wardrobe with some fabulous pieces. I've been busy collecting clothes for a while and the pre-loved designer boutique Village Green has also kindly donated so there will be over 100 items on the rails before anyone has even arrived!

To find out more and book your ticket, please click here 

Please come - I know you'll love it! xx

 

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

 

 

Some of my favourite boutiques in Bristol

The party season is almost here! From office parties, family gatherings to New Year’s festivities, there are plenty of opportunities to look glamorous. That’s why I love the season so much! Next time you’re in Bristol, you don’t necessarily need to rely on the High Street when looking for that special outfit - if you want something a bit different and extra special to wear, give one of Bristol’s numerous boutiques a go. I know we’re all busy in the lead up to Christmas, so to save you time I’ve put together a list of some of my favourite hidden gems in Bristol to help you begin exploring...

Rhubarb Jumble

I love Rhubarb Jumble and they specialise in 1950s to 1970s fashion as well as homeware. Their collection is just amazing which is why they were recently featured as one of Bristol and Bath’s 'hot spots' in none other than Vogue magazine. They take a lot of care in choosing fabulous pieces so you’re bound to discover something unique. As a bonus you’ll might find a perfect gift for someone too, such as Lea Stein jewellery.

Location: 52 North Street, Bedminster, BS3 1HJ and their website is here

Amulet Boutique

You’ll find an exciting range of brands at Amulet and there’s something to suit so many styles and occasions. From dresses to outerwear, skirts to accessories, they have something for everyone in their extensive range. They also stock  Fair-trade and ethical products as well as British made and organic items too. If you try to source your clothes ethically and sustainably then you will love what’s on offer.

Location: 39A Cotham Hill, BS6 6JY and their website is here

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Motiq

No outfit is complete without stunning jewellery – and Motiq has just that! They carefully select the most beautiful pieces of jewellery as well as other accessories such as sumptuous shawls and silk scarves. You’ll find a range of showstopper party pieces too available during the lead up to Christmas. We all deserve to treat ourselves to something special during the festive period so go and see if you can find yourself something amazing.

Location: 8 Boyce's Avenue, Clifton, BS8 4AA and their website is here

Vintage Boutique Personal Stylist Bristol

Heartfelt Vintage

As the name suggests, Heartfelt Vintage specialise in all things vintage and their shop is absolutely beautiful to look at. You’ll find a carefully selected range of designer vintage pieces that combines style and quality. If you haven’t given pre-loved fashion a go yet, I promise you’ll only find very high quality, faultless pieces here. Once you’ve finished shopping, you can give yourself a break and enjoy a scrumptious afternoon tea in their beautiful tearoom – just be sure to book in advance. 

Location: 32 Alma Vale Road, Bristol, BS8 2HY and their website is here

Movement Boutique

Movement Boutique is relatively new on the scene after launching in March 2016 and they’ve already blown me away with their great taste. You’ll find brands and items here from across the world, many of which are completely new to Bristol. They currently have some beautiful dresses by Rixo which I urge you to go take a look at. They’ll definitely give you a warm welcome and help you find something special,whatever the occasion.

Location: 66 Alma Rd, BS8 2DJ and their website is here

ethical sustainable fashion bristol

And if it's still too hard, I can take you shopping and provide invaluable support and guidance to help you find the perfect look. Happy exploring! x

 

In need of a confidence boost? I might have just the thing for you!

One of the reasons I set up my business was because I witnessed women losing their confidence over the years and I wanted to help give some back. I can say this from a position of authority as I was one of those women. The type that had a career, a great social life and didn't think twice about spending time and money on myself. 

Then babies happened. My world changed overnight. Post natal depression kicked in, I felt isolated, incompetent as a mother and over time, I slowly lost my identity. 

My self esteem took a nose dive, my body took a battering and as a result I morphed into the background. My son didn't sleep through the night until he started primary school and I gave birth to another baby in his first term. So just as I had one successful sleeper, another round of sleepless nights began.....

You will be hard pressed to find ANY photos of me at this stage of my life. I really didn't like what I saw and to some extent, I gave up. I was in survival mode and when you're there you just don't have the capacity for anything else.

But slowly things got better, the children became older, I got some sleep and I began my second career as a stylist to enable me to work around their needs.

 

Personal Stylist Bristol Becky Barnes Style

And that is where the magic happened. My love of colour and clothes returned. The excitement of buying a beautiful piece came flooding back. I got my hair cut, had my nails done and started to put myself further up the priority list. I was turning into me again and it was bloody powerful stuff!

Over time I started to rebuild my sense of self worth and noticed that instead of it being an indulgence, the whole family benefitted from my new found happiness.

So why am I telling you all this? Because over the next 12 months I'm going to be teaming up with other incredible business women whose purpose is exactly the same as mine - to help you feel better about yourself, to give you a shot of confidence and to help you see just how beautiful you are just the way you are now.

The first collaboration is super exciting as I'll be working with Janette from Beautifully You Photography. Janette creates absolutely stunning photos of women and is as passionate as I am about helping women to see their true beauty. You can check out her work here: https://www.facebook.com/beautifullywomanportraits/

For a limited period we are coming together to offer you a unique makeover package which includes: 

A style and body shape consultation

A full colour consultation and booklet of colour swatches to keep

A wardrobe edit to include an outfit building session 

A shopping list of suggested pieces to invest in

A high quality, luxury makeover photoshoot including professional hair and make up

A gorgeous 10 x 8 inch image to treasure forever

 

And most importantly:  A HUGE boost of confidence and much needed pick me up! All for just £399. 

style makeover

So if you feel like a you're ready for a little lift, we're here for you  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

 

Don't miss the Swap 'til You Drop event!

What will you bring?

What will you bring?

Hands up if you have clothes sitting unworn and unloved in your wardrobe? I know you do, so why not swap them for different ones and raise some money for charity at the same time? It's simple, just bring along 3 quality items in great condition and swap them for something different, all whilst drinking prosecco and having a lovely time!

The rather fab people at Leigh Court have offered their spectacular venue to hold the event and the gorgeous pre-loved designer boutique Village Green have donated two sacks of designer clothes to help fill my rails and increase the chances of you finding new pieces you'll love.

You'll also have the chance to bid at the auction for some of the pieces I wore during the capsule wardrobe challenge (I put my money on the coatigan going for the highest bid!) and to get your hands on a beautiful, one off, silk and hand felted creation by Linda Thomas Eco Design.

The magnificent Leigh Court - what a place to shop!

The magnificent Leigh Court - what a place to shop!

What's more, the BBC Coast presenter and conservationist Miranda Krestovnikoff will open the event for us so you'll be in great company!

All the money raised on the night will go to the Bristol based charity Labour Behind The Label which campaigns to improve the lives of garment workers around the world. So not only will you hopefully come away with some shiny new things but you've shopped in a way that is kind to the environment AND you've helped raise money for a fantastic cause. It's a win, win, win!

Half of the available tickets sold in the first 48 hours so to ensure your place at the event, please click on the link below. Tickets cost £10 plus a small processing fee and includes bubbles on arrival! 

Please come along and support this unique event - I'd LOVE to see you and your clothes there! x