Clare Lewis on First Timer Vintage

Retold was founded by Clare Lewis in 2018 with the mission of curating beautiful vintage pieces for lovers of modern and contemporary fashion. Based in east London, Clare handpicks each item – her edited finds are listed on retoldvintage.com every week! Clare hopes Retold encourages more women to consider vintage and secondhand shopping as an alternative to buying new which in turn will contribute to a more circular and sustainable fashion model.

We discuss vintage (and much more) in this week’s podcast episode, but here, Clare shares her tips for incorporating vintage into a wardrobe of new.

Balance

“Avoid the head to toe vintage look! Unless thats your vibe, which is totally cool, but if you are new to vintage then start off small. It may simply be an accessory such as a vintage belt or bag or a beautiful silk blouse that you can wear with your favourite jeans.”

Contemporary Shoes

“For me, adding a pair of modern shoes to a vintage dress or skirt instantly makes the outfit still feel current yet unique and individual.”

Measure Up

“Make a tape measure your new best friend! Avoid referring to labels on vintage clothes; sizing has changed so dramatically over the years and also depends on the country you are in, so ditch the habit and shop with a tape measure instead. YouTube has some great videos on how to measure yourself so make a note of all your details and refer to this when shopping for vintage. You may be pleasantly surprised!”

Inject Personality

“Be you! The joy of vintage is there is something out there for everyone’s style and taste. Just because you start shopping vintage, you have to change your whole aesthetic. Like you have your favourite high street brands, get to know vintage traders and what they specialise in. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice, they are the experts and can advise on fit, style and after care. “

Madeline Petrow’s Favourite Mamoq Brands

Humphries & Begg

“I love their style. They have amazing jumpsuits that are all block printed by hand in Jaipur, India. I think that humanitarian elements really speaks to me because that is my background. They produce really awesome, fun clothing. What’s really special about Humphries & Begg is their a young company. Seeing them improve their supply chains while we’ve worked together is so inspiring. They’re now phasing out any conventional cotton and are moving into organic. When we spoke about a year ago, they told us that was their goal. It’s been really amazing to see them actually execute that. It’s all about doing the best you can and continuing to make changes.”

Elvis & Kresse

“Elvis & Kresse are so impressive. Kresse Wesling who runs the company is an OBE. They are really interesting because they work ‘problem first, product second’. She found the problem of firehouse waste, then designed her accessories to take it away. The whole design process is completely flipped backwards for them. They now take 100 percent of all firehose waste from the UK, and 50 percent of their profits go back into firefighting charities.”

Rakha

“Rakha is a really beautiful brand. You’d look at them in a magazine and all you’d think would be, it’s gorgeous. Then you delve deep into the story. The founder, Gözde, is currently getting her Masters from the University of Cambridge in how to better recycle textiles and make a more circular economy. In think it’s a really inspiring brand because it’s all about active learning. It’s not about running with the status quo. They’re always think about how to get better and how to inspire others.”

Jennifer Ewah on Balancing Social Entrepreneurship with a 9-5

Straight after recording this week’s podcast episode, Jennifer Ewah shared what she’s learnt from balancing her job as a lawyer, with her ethical jewellery brand Eden Diodati.

“Definitely focus on time management. It’s not fun, but it is important to prioritise the things that you need to do over the things that you want to do, when you have two different jobs.

“That means getting up early and prioritising the paperwork you have to do over the content creation that you want to do. Or doing the stuff that is a little bit more procedural, but needs to be done as a matter of priority.

“I’m awful at that. So much of the brand is such a pleasure for me – being artistic, creating, designing – but I can’t spend all of my time creating and crafting, or bonding and philosophising. Sometimes you need to do really boring stuff. But if it has to be done because it’s essential, get that done first. It’s like delayed gratification.

“Equally important – believe in your own vision. Even if other people don’t. Fashion is often about trends, and that means you’re asked to believe in what other people will find desirable. You need to find what your voice is. If your voice is unique, offer it. And make sure it’s visible. Then you don’t need the trends. You are a trend.

“Often, you need to refuse to take no for an answer. And a refuse to believe that certain things can’t be done. One thing is certain through every up and down: you’ll never regret doing this, because you and your business are about making the world a better place.


Eden Diodati is launching a product based crowdfunding campaign in Autumn 2019. To register your interest for exclusive campaign benefits, visit www.edendiodati.com.

Sara Arnold on Supporting Extinction Rebellion

“The International Rebellion starts on 15th April. The idea is to block streets and major junctions, bringing cities to a halt.

In the UK, everyone is making their way to London – there is currently a 70 year old walking from Cornwall. We’ll stay on the streets until the government negotiates. And we’ll have a party!

“If you think about social movements in the past which have achieved political change, it is through masses of people coming out on the streets… and staying there.

“A huge amount of research goes into the methods we’re using to create these changes. A really important aspect of Extinction Rebellion is that we’re non-violent. Once you have violence, you stop holding the moral high ground.

“We train people in non-violent direct action. The number one piece of advice we give is, if someone’s angry, let them vent their anger – don’t try and fight back. Nod your head and be compassionate. Only once they’ve calmed down should you start saying your point of view.

“Sometimes it gets to the point where we’re sitting in the middle of the road, and the police want to drag us away, so we do practice runs. It’s important to think about what you would do in those situations.

“But you definitely don’t need to be prepared to be arrested to be part of Extinction Rebellion! We need masses of people to do a myriad of other roles – just being there is a great start.

“If you want to help the Rebellion, be there on 15th. Book time off work and help us take action.”

Listen to Sara’s episode of the Clothes and The Rest podcast to hear more about Extinction Rebellion, as well as Sara’s incredible clothing rental company, Higher Studio.

Wardrobe Re-Discovery with Emma Slade Edmondson

On the Clothes & The Rest podcast this week, I chat to Creative Consultant Emma Slade Edmondson. We talk charity shops, freelance life and the accessibility of sustainability – please check out the full episode if you haven’t already!

Here, Emma casts her mind back to her Back of the Wardrobe styling days to share some advice on how to re-discover what we already have in our wardrobes:

“Something I always used to say to my Back of the Wardrobe clients is that you should have a night in with your wardrobe. Treat it like you’re on a date with your wardrobe and you need to get to know it again. Put your favourite pyjamas on, play some good tunes, and pour a glass of wine (or whatever your vice is!). Take the time to get to grips with what is actually in there.

“Do it alone! Would you take your friends along on a date? No. Kick everyone out of the house and spend some one on one time with your wardrobe.

“Try things on and figure out how you feel. It’s really as much about how comfortable and how confident you feel in pieces, as it is about eventually pulling looks together.

“Sometimes, we have items in our wardrobes that we haven’t worn for a long time, and it’s good to discover why we’re not wearing them. Often with my clients, it was down to a fear. They were scared that the reality of what they looked like in a piece wouldn’t live up to their aspiration, but sometimes those negative thoughts were about a body hang up, rather than a reality about how the piece fitted or appeared. Often those sessions were as much therapy as they were styling.

“It’s really helpful to have some knowledge about how to create silhouettes. Often people will let t-shirts hang out because they are concerned about their tummy area, when in reality, having a baggy top is sometimes the thing that will draw attention to an area you may be insecure about. Tucking in instead might actually give you the silhouette you’re looking for. Similarly, nipping in your waist with a belt is sometimes a good idea.

“Ultimately, be confident! All bodies are beautiful bodies and styling is about working with what you’ve got. You’re supposed to have a fun relationship with your clothes, so create one!

Find Emma on Instagram and on her website, emmasladeedmondson.com

Sara Benincasa

On dissent, disruption, and fighting back against the bullshit

Sara Benincasa started Excellent Coats on Irritated Women in December 2018 and since then, she’s gained a healthy following of 26,000 Instagram users. If you’re not already one of Excellent Coats’ fans, it’s definitely time to delve into the account. Spotlighting women who are “all outta fucks in a fabulous coat,” Benincasa’s content is equal parts humour and herstory. This week, I spoke to the woman behind the coats about fashion, politics, and joyful anger.

“I created it because Nancy Pelosi wore this fabulous Max Mara coat for a meeting that she and Chuck Schumer had with Trump. It was really cool to see her claim her throne as someone who’s an effective antidote to the president; both rhetoric-wise and legislation-wise.

“She walked out with that fabulous coat on that everybody loved, and so I tweeted: “This is a great day for excellent coats on irritated women,” and a few people said: “this should be a thing!”

“People say things like: “all politics is personal,” and I think that extends to our purchasing choices, and the way we choose to present ourselves in the world. We live in a capitalist society that runs on commerce, regardless of our feelings about that and how it could, or should, be amended. A lot of people operating in this system are doing really great work to affect change, so I wanted to celebrate them.

“People often think of fashion as being this very superficial thing that only has to do with how you want to represent your status to the world, so I wanted to take these people, who are celebrated (or denigrated) for their beliefs, and look at their fashion; it’s a cool high-low mix. Why don’t we praise them for their presentation and beauty as well? Not to take away from their other accomplishments, but to highlight them in fact. Maybe some people who are most interested in fashion more than anything else will come to the account and learn about some really cool leaders who could help change their lives.

“I’m learning as I go. People send me images of women who I hadn’t heard of or seen before all the time. I don’t always have a credit for the photographers, so people will often research them for me. It’s really important to me to credit the artists I spotlight properly for their work.

Growing up, I loved watching a show on MTV called House of Style. It was hosted by 90s supermodels like Shalom Harlow and Cindy Crawford, they had a rotating list of hosts over the years, and Kevin Aucion, who was a brilliant makeup artist. Watching that show was so much fun because you got to meet the designers and see them in a new light. They were funny and silly and over the top and dramatic. That introduced me to the notion that there were real people who made up the fashion world.

“Obviously, fashion can be, to use an over-used word, toxic. When you only see tiny people in clothes, it can be really limiting, but I think that we’re in a such a fascinating and exciting era for fashion because we are starting to have models of different sizes, shapes and colours of different backgrounds. The internet has empowered them to have their own voice.

“I did, at one time, work as a paralegal for a law firm specialising in immigration for fashion models in New York. They hire extra seasonal help the way retail shops will. I was 26, and just out of graduate school for teaching, and making portfolios where we would have to prove a certain level of excellence or expertise in the field. For the models, we would use recommendations from people like Anna Wintour and Mario Testino. It was like applying to university, but more so. Looking at the way my country treats immigrants of all kinds, I’m really glad I had that experience. It showed me what happens when you get the elite treatment.

“Until recently, I had just been emphasising the women in the clothing, but then I started to think about the clothing that I was showing. I realised that I was inadvertently promoting whatever designer was showing. I want to highlight designers who are using recycled materials, who are trying to be zero-waste, who are local, and who are incorporating designs from their own cultures.

“I can’t control what celebrities or icons of history wear. If it’s Mahalia Jackson singing on the steps of an institution where she was barred from singing because she was a black woman, and she’s wearing fur, I’m not going to put my 2019 values on it, because this is about something much bigger. It’s about this woman’s accomplishments and what she did.

“I want to highlight women who have demonstrated through their actions that they have been irritated. Sometimes there’s a joyful rage that powers activism and powers making a change. They don’t always look angry, but I try to highlight women who have engaged in dissent, disruption and fighting back against the bullshit, and sometimes they look pretty happy.

“I love this quote from Molly Ivins. She’s my role model. She was a brilliant journalist and humorist from Texas, and she wrote amazing columns about politics in the 80s and 90s. She said:

“So keep fighting for freedom and justice beloveds, but don’t forget to have fun doing it. Be outrageous, ridicule the ‘fraid-y cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce, and when you get through kicking ass and celebrating the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was.”

Molly Irvins

“It’s guiding principle for myself and a guiding principle for Excellent Coats on Irritated Women too. I will show people who are angry at a protest and who are pissed off, but also people who are joyful in the midst of whatever their struggle, or the struggle of which they’ve chosen to be a part to uplift others. Ultimately, I spotlight dissent, disruption, and fighting back against the bullshit.”

Follow Sara Benincasa on Instagram and Twitter.

Follow Excellent Coats on Irritated Women.

Jemma Finch on Clothes That Mean More

On the Clothes & The Rest podcast this week, I chatted to Jemma Finch, co-founder of Stories Behind Things. In the episode, we talk about the beginnings of Stories Behind Things, how fast fashion impacts mental health, and why Instagram is both a blessing and a curse. To listen to the full episode, please click here. In this post, however, Jemma shares some advice for how we can all find deeper connection with the clothes we wear…

“Go to your wardrobe, look at what you already have, pick an item that you haven’t worn in a while and ‘mend into’ it. Up-cycling is one of the best ways to rediscover things. Buy some thread, or a sew-on badge; both really good ways to inject some love back into items that need it. You’ll be surprised that they can feel totally new.

“Up-cycling does take time, but I think that’s a really nice thing. You’re putting energy into it, so I think you’ll value it more.

“Having a clear out is a really good idea, and can be really powerful… it’s just about whether you can bring yourself to get rid of things! It’s good for your mind to make space for new things.

“When I’m shopping, I don’t have the best willpower. With shopping second hand, if you see something you love, you have to get it because it might be gone the next day! I’m lucky that I have friends I can pass things on to if I don’t wear it as much as I thought I would; I always share with my friends.

Our swapping events are just a scaled up version of swapping with friends. You get the same dopamine hit of buying something new when you buy something second hand. It’s an important message to relay to yourself; it’s the same thing. You don’t have to got to a shopping centre, you can go to a clothes swap or a charity shop instead. And second hand clothes definitely have better stories!

For more from Stories Behind Things, please follow them on Instagram.