By the Kilo: A Vintage Sale in East London

Back to Bethnal Green I went today, when I revisited the York Hall location, which is where the vintage fair I posted about previously, was held. This Sunday’s sale, put on by Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair company, was a great followup event to the last, with the premise this time being that you purchase by the kilo, rather than individual items. At £15 pounds a kilo, that’s an amazing deal. Some of the items on their own should cost that much, so it’s incredibly refreshing to be able to pair a few objects together for the same price!
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I arrived right as the early bird time opened. There were quite a few people there, obviously very excited to fill their purple bags with racks and racks of clothing. I was happy to see that this sale had all sizes of clothing. Sometimes, as a plus size woman interested in fashion, it’s a gamble to go shopping for vintage clothes, as it’s usually hard to find things that fit. But I was definitely not disappointed by the large selection of garments filling the room. It was lovely to see people so happy to find an item, whether it be jewelry or a clothing piece, that made them light up upon pulling it off the rack or picking it up off the table and trying it on.
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After an hour of searching, I ended up only like two items enough to take them home with me. I struggled with some other choices, but ultimately decided on two pieces I know I’d end up wearing a lot. A denim tank, and a lovely green cardigan, to which I changed into in the bathroom at the hall to take advantage of the full-length mirror (which I still need to get one for my own room). My bag only ended up weighing half of a kilo, so I could’ve gotten more, but am very pleased with the two items I got, since I’ll get a lot of use out of them.
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To find out when the next event is, follow the Vintage Clothing Kilo Sale Facebook page. They’re held all over the UK, so if you’re not in London, you don’t have to miss out at all.

Disclosure: I received free entry and a complimentary kilo of clothing for this post, but was intending to attend despite these gifts and loved every minute of the event.

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Outfit of the Day: Vintage Fair Shopping

There’s that moment when you walk into a charity shop or vintage market and you smell that scent; that one of nostalgia, and then in floods knowledge that these items were once owned and used many years ago. It’s that smell of history that be a big turn on for people who frequent any place that sells antique goods. Growing up, I was the person. Every weekend, my mother and I would go to thrift shops and yard sales, hoping to find something interesting and exquisite. These are the places I found many clothing items, boarding games and old cameras I would end up using a lot through my youth.

Today, my love for everything old, took me to Bethnal Green’s Affordable Vintage Fair in London, put on by Judy’s Vintage Fair. Tucked away in a community hall in East London, was a large gathering of vintage and antiques dealers, ready to sell their handpicked items with shoppers like me. I awoke this morning, ready to get up and put on some adorable clothes, and head out to this event I had heard about through Londonist. My outfit was inspired by the Pacific Northwest, concert-going, bohemian look that I love to see others wear.
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Outfit Details

Hat – Forever 21
Necklace – Forever 21
Little Black Dress – Ross Dress for Less
Kimono – Ross Dress for Less
Knee High Socks – Target
Boots – UrbanOG
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Walking into the building, I was immediately welcomed by large signs to tell me I was in the right place. The York City Hall was the perfect venue to place this. It has its own sense of history, and the gymnasium was one of those old style ones that Americans don’t get to see too often. The layout of the room was easy to navigate, and although I walked around in a circle at least 5 times, I was never bored on each rotation, due to something new being seen each time.
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Not only were there tons of pre-worn clothes to choose from, there was old furniture, books, jewelry, household items and more. It was hard to control myself and not want to decorate my whole room with these items, so I tried to control myself by merely browsing and promising myself that someday, when I have a permanent place, I’ll arrange my flat with a vintage theme, purchased from places like this.
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Another fun aspect of this event was seeing all the quirky types of people who showed up. Vintage shopping is clearly a niche thing, and I was happy to see so many young hipsters like myself, so excited to reuse these old items in their daily life. Many people might think that the vintage fashion trend is just a way to be seen as “cool” or “unique,” but it’s also a form of recycling that is fun. It’s a wonderful thought to imagine who else wore the shirt you just bought, or why this fancy ring you purchase was given away. These items all have history.
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There were the most adorable cakes and pastries available for purchase, as well as tea being served in gorgeous cups. I had just eaten, otherwise I would’ve sampled at least something. But all the shiny items and beautiful items in the room entranced me enough, and I was happy enough to walk around and see what I could potentially end up buying!
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In the end, no clothes caught my fancy, but I did end up finding a box full of old French postcards, so I bought 3 for £10. The ones I got were all of couples from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, who looked like they were clearly in love. I hope to find someone to translate the beautiful love notes on the back for me. I also bought two vintage rings for £5, which I’ll add to my jewelry collection. Overall, I’m happy that I got out of there only spending £15, and being very happy with my purchases.
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If you’re interested in attending one of these fairs, the Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair Facebook page can tell you where the next ones are (they span all of the UK) and go find some items for yourself. You’ll definitely see me at the next one in London. It often costs only £2 to enter, but it’s worth a lot more! If you’re not in the UK, I suggest finding your own local vintage fairs and markets to attend, because they are a great way to spend a day in the midst of all that’s old and nostalgic.

London Fashion Observations

In my previous jaunts to Europe, the thing that I really enjoyed (other than the obvious sights, historical landmarks and unique cultures), I was intrigued by the fashion-forwardness and the effort that most people put towards dressing well. I would love to call myself a fashionista, and I do try as hard as possible to stay up to date on current trends in the fashion world, but there’s still a lot I have to learn about the industry. London Fashion Week just ended a couple days ago, and my goal by the next one in February is to get invited to (or somehow sneak int0) at least one of the events.

The more time I spend in Europe, specifically England, I can see and compare my observations on fashion between this continent and America. The United States is known for it’s popular store Forever 21, as well as a variety of other “preppy” clothing stores, including Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle and Hollister. Europe has Primark, H&M, Zara, Topshop, River Island, and many more shops only based in Europe or the UK. For someone like me who cannot pass a clothing store without going in a probably buying something, coming to England is like heaven.

H&M invaded America a couple years ago, and since then, has become a very popular store. Before I left, a new H&M had opened at my local mall, and I went there at least once a week. Other than spending money I didn’t have, which was a mistake, I really should’ve waited until I arrived in London to go shopping, because H&M’s in England are months ahead in their fashion choices. While I did see some items that had been in the American stores, the trend right now in Europe seems to be sweaters and coats made of faux fur. This is something that was not at any of the H&M’s or even Forever 21’s when I left. I do happen to like this style, but won’t be buying any until my financial aid comes in next week. I’ll be interested to see when this style hits America.

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The next lovely thing about the UK in it’s clothing stores is that they seem to be much more willing to cater to larger-sized women who wish to wear the same items as the smaller girls. As you can see from my H&M selfie below, I am a curvy girl, but I still enjoy wearing the styles available to the rest of my fellow fashionistas. H&M has clothes that go up to a UK size 20 (which is about a size 16-18 in the US). Even in American H&M’s they only go up to size US14, and not that many items have that pleasure. Primark’s sizes also go up to a UK20, but a lot of their clothing is oversized and stretchy, so they can accommodate for size.

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As I am stationed in London, I have shopping all around me. There are so many H&M’s. I’ve even seen two across the street from each other. There’s multiple on the same block! It’s crazy. Primark is probably the equivalent to America’s Forever 21, although, there is now a few Forever 21’s in the UK. What I’ve noticed though in the Forever 21’s here is that they’ll take an item that is normally $15 and replace the dollar sign with a pound sign and the $15 item becomes £15, so once you consider the conversion, they’re selling it for $25. That doesn’t seem worth it to me, so I will pass on going to that store while I’m living here.

It’s going to be very hard for me as a shopaholic to be able to function alright in a city known for it’s fashion tendencies, but I am hoping over time, I’ll get so used to the easy access to shopping, that I will get bored of it. My university’s campus is right in the heart of Oxford Street though, so it’s tough to go to classes and pass all these stores, so many fashionable people, and not want to go buy something, but I think I’ll learn to handle myself. I love being in a place where people make an effort to look good. To me, dressing well is one of the best things you can do to present yourself to the world.

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Last American Day

So, I leave America tomorrow. Should I eat a cheeseburger and apple pie before I go? Is there anything American that I will truly miss? Probably more than I realize at the moment, but for now, I am just anxious to get out of here and get on that plane. Today is a day of finalizations. I will be finishing my packing, spending time with family and trying to fully force my mindset into that of a person about to uproot their life and become an expat. There’s a long post I wrote over on Londontopia, that basically sums up what I’m feeling, so definitely check that out, so I don’t have to repeat what I’ve said in two places.

As I prepare to leave, I’m getting myself together, as well as planning out my flight outfit for my journey. Below is what I’m pretty positive I’ll be wearing. It’s simple and will keep me looking fashionable, but practical for the next few days. I probably won’t be changing my clothes until Sunday morning when I prepare to catch the meet and greet shuttle from Heathrow to my temporary housing.

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I really wish I could move into my dorm early, but apparently there’s construction being done, so I can’t arrive until the 13th, but until then, I’m admiring my building from Google Street View, and hoping I get a room with a view, or at least a tiny balcony. After mapping it out, the Starbucks is literally right out the door of my dorm, which may be dangerous for me, but also, nice to have close if I need a place to get away to with free wifi.

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I keep getting invites to a lot of parties and clubbing events for the Freshers, and it’s making me realize that I am too old for all the Freshers events and I don’t want to seem like a curmudgeon when it comes to going out and meeting people, but I will be on a very limited budget my first few weeks (until my financial aid comes in), and I already did the whole first year excitement thing 3 years ago in Chester. I very much want to make friends, but I’ll find another way, since a huge gathering of drunk 18-year-olds is not my idea of fun at this point in my life.

Now, what to do? How will I spend these final 24 hours in America? Enjoying my relaxation time I guess. There’s nothing to do at this point but wait. Wait for the clock to keep ticking away until my departure. Today may be the longest day of my life as I sit here waiting. Everything is prepared, so all I can do it hang out and enjoy the comfort of my home until I have to leave it for a very long time.

Fall Fashion Trends I’m Loving

My closest friends know that I wait all year until it’s fall fashion season once again. Who doesn’t love the comfy, stylish look that the autumn brings? This year, there are some very sexy trends coming up that I am so excited to wear. I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you.

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I can’t wait until it is cold enough outside to wear my thigh-high socks. I think wearing these over tights, paired with boots, is super sexy and shows off the leg in a gorgeous way.

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Large cardigans and kimonos are making their way in at the end of the summer, and right in time for the chiller weather to pair them with. They’re cute and actually keep you warm.

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I think I got on the smoking slipper bandwagon before a lot of people, and I’m glad, because they are adorable shoes, and look great paired with a rolled up skinny jean.

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Burnt orange, mustard, purple and oxblood are beautiful colors, and usually only appropriate in the fall, which is lucky for me, because I get to wear them again!

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I didn’t used to be a fan of this type of shoe, but now I can’t get enough of them! They are very versatile and can be used for everyday wear, as well as for going out at night.

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Backpacks were never my thing, and over the years, my taste in messenger bag has evolved to this lovely brown, leather-look that the recent bags have. They look good with every outfit.

What are your favorite fashion trends for this fall?

What I’m Buying Upon Arrival

Upon Arrical

I obviously cannot fit everything I want to take with me into my bag, but I figure I’ll stuff as much as I can, and then buy anything needed once I arrive in London. But there are a few super crucial items I’ll be getting pretty soon after I get to the city that I will wait to get until I land.

  1. Plane Tickets (or any travel/bus/train/boat ticket for that matter)
    My bucket list is really long and I’ve already budgeted and planned out almost all of my trips for when I’m abroad. Problem is, I don’t want to buy the tickets for these trips until I get over there, or else karma will hurt me for getting ahead of myself and something bad might happen. I will wait until September to start actually paying for the transportation for these trips and that will be better.
  2. Heels
    I was going through the shoes I’ll be taking with me, and I tried to narrow down to just a few pairs, but in the end, none of my heels made the cut, and that’s because I think I just need to wait until I get to London to head to a Primark or something and get myself some heels that’ll fit good and work for me on those occasional nights out that I’ll need them for. More room in my suitcase if I don’t pack them in advance.
  3. Coin Purse
    England uses A LOT of coinage, and when studying abroad before, I definitely had to buy a coin purse just for all the currency that didn’t fit in my wallet. I don’t really want to get one before I go, so I’ll wait until arrival and find something cute to put my money in.
  4. School Supplies & Books
    I don’t even want to think about buying notebooks and such until getting over there because that’s one extra thing to weigh my suitcase down, and as cheap as I could probably find used textbooks in America before I leave, I might as well wait and do it the traditional way and go to the university bookstore and buy all my stuff at once, rather than worry about it in advance. I know I’m heading over for grad school rather than just a fun time, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself with school stuff.
  5. Oyster Card
    Once I am officially enrolled in school, I will be able to get my student discount Oyster Card, but for the few weeks before that, I’ll be okay with getting a normal-priced one that the tourists usually use if they’re staying for a week. I just want to immediately start my adventures around the city the moment I get there, and I know I’ll feel like a true Londoner if I have an Oyster Card the minute I step off the plane.
  6. Full-Length Mirror
    Since I shall attempt to do as much fashion blogging as I can while in London, I really need a full-length mirror to not only see my full outfit, but to take photos of my entire ensemble if I can’t find a willing participant to do it for me. I get super frustrated when I can’t see the whole picture when putting together my clothing for the day, so the first buy for my dorm room will be a long and tall mirror (unless the room comes with one, but it’s doubtful).

Anyone else have any “upon arrival” buys they’d suggest? Share yours with me! 🙂

Hair Preparation

A lot of women with a very tight curl pattern will understand the trials of trying to handle their hair, just in every day life. When you add travel to the mix, the struggle becomes even worse. Now, when it comes to wearing your hair natural, I am a big advocate for letting it loose and not caring about societal standards, but for my own hair, I’ve just never felt comfortable with letting it stay curly with the very short length it has consistently been the past 10 years. I want my hair to grow, but I also like using a flat iron to make it straight so I only have to deal with it once or twice a week.

Through this method, it was not going to want to grow, due to heat damage, and I wasn’t a huge fan of having to wash it every day and try to find a way to let it be short, curly and also cute enough for my standards. So I did what any person in my situation had to do to make themselves feel comfortable in their skin, as well as make it easier on myself while traveling the world; I researched African American hairstylists in Western Washington, and found a lovely shop in Everett to get my hair done at.

And the final product (as well as hundreds of dollars later), is a protective style for my hair commonly called a “weave.” A lot of people don’t actually know what a weave is, so I thought I’d walk you through the process. The first step is to get your hair cornrowed or braided into a formation on your head (as pictured below with me trying to do my most “gangsta” face)

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The next step is to choose the human hair (or cheaper, synthetic hair) that you want. The hair comes on tracks (much like you’d find with normal hair extensions) and the tracks are sewn in (or “weaved”) on the cornrows and braids. So basically, the hair is connected to your hair and is almost like a wig, but one that wont fall off. The end product looks like it does on me in the photo below.

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The hair looks like I grew it out of my own head, is a texture much easier to deal with on the go, and only requires maintenance every three or so months. For a traveler, it’s the perfect way to not have to worry about getting up extra early in the morning just to work on making your hair look fine. All I have to do is put all the hair into a silk cap at night to protect it and I only have to wash the weave hair, and my own hair underneath, once a week with water and conditioner to keep it moisturized and healthy.

I’m looking forward to seeing how I hold up with this hair over the next year in London, and hope it keeps me happy and stress-free when it comes to dealing with my hair. I am an advocate for anyone doing to their hair what makes them happy, and for me, having long, mermaid hair has always been a dream of mine that hadn’t happened with my natural hair. But right now I can feel beautiful and happy with myself with this hair, and hope that in a year or two, my own hair will have grown underneath and can be at a length that I admire. Getting a weave is not for everyone, but it’s what will work for me and my travels right now.

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London Looks

Anyone who knows me, knows I am way too obsessed with shopping and looking fashionable. I probably should stop looking at Pinterest and Polyvore, because it’s fueling my shopaholic problem, while I should wait patiently until I get to London to buy more clothes. Primark, Top Shop, H&M and Dorothy Perkins will be the places I frequent during my downtime, and I thought before I leave I’d put together some potential outfits I am very excited to wear when I arrive in the UK this fall. Please feel free to use these as inspiration for your own fall fashion study abroad clothing choices, because although you don’t have to end up packing this in your bag before you go, you can prepare yourself for items to buy when you touchdown in London.

This look combines my love of the skater dress, scarf, and ankle bootie. I’m also really into knee/thigh-high socks right now as well, and they are very much a fall item that I am looking forward to wearing more once it starts to get colder out. I think the royal blue of the dress nicely contrasts the mulberry color of the scarf. Also, the light brown/cognac shoes and bag go with almost any outfit color scheme and that’s why I like to add those color items so the outfit looks uniform.

I love lace, especially when paired with mostly black to make it stand out. It won’t be cold immediately when arriving to London, so wearing shorts without tights for a month will be alright until the wind and rain starts in. Until then, wearing flats will also be fine since it won’t ruin the shoes when it’s dry out. Keeping the outfit classy with a gold necklace and bracelet also keep it the black and white color scheme without going too far away from the vintage look that the lace provides.

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Dark red skirts with a simple black top is really the way to go, and adding the cognac knee-high boots make this outfit lovely for school, work, or any sort of traveling I’ll end up doing. Pairing it with a fox pattern scarf will give it some excitement and is bound to draw in compliments from the fun nature of it. Since it will be getting cold out, adding in tights and a nice simple peacoat will keep me warm while walking around the streets of London. A cute backpack, that can double as a purse will be very helpful as well.

For those days when I want to be a little more casual, but still try to be fashionable, I’ll put on some high-waisted jeans and a nice loose sweater that will also keep me warm without an extra coat. Since this outfit would be sort of drab with just the sweater and jeans, adding in a scarf with flair and some smoking slippers will make it more exciting and prove I actually care about what I put on in the morning. You don’t really need a belt with these jeans, but sometimes it’s a nice accessory, as well as sunglasses for the rare times the London sun comes out in the fall and winter.

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