Buying vintage bins in the time of Coronavirus

I am not sure where “bins” the abbreviation for glasses comes from, but considering my need for increasingly telescopic lenses it seems appropriate to refer to them as my binoculars. 

I enjoy the time when it comes to choose new glasses, well new old glasses as I always opt for vintage when it comes to opticals. If you are more conscious of buying vintage personal items during the pandemic then rest assured that many vintage specs have never been used.

For me, part of the fun usually involves visiting a shop dressed with antique cabinets, drawers and trays presenting styles for a try-on session. I had my eyes on a market, where online vintage eyewear emporium, Retro Spectacle was exhibiting but coronavirus ruled that impossible so I took the plunge and picked from pictures. Their selection of frames spans spectacles, sunglasses, designer names and desirable collectables like NHS styles, which date back to the late ‘40s.

In this day and age you can even shop reclaimed shop display cabinets online to add to the magic when looking at stock irl. These [from a selection on Salvo] soothed my craving.

Brass framed shop display cabinet c1970 from Art Furniture
Gilded Domed Display Cabinet from Edward Haes 

There is something about lockdown that heightens your screen experiences, and exchanges with Retro Spectacle’s owner Charlotte made it for me. She is an optician in practise so advised me well on frames that would work with my prescription, and shared selfies to help me choose between the seven styles I was eyeing; particularly kind as few people felt like taking selfies in lockdown. Apart from the tech between us, it felt like good old fashioned service, the kind that I dream the customers of couturier Christian Lacroix were treated to back in the day. Needless to say I chose vintage cat eye glasses by Christian Lacroix and an unapologetic ’80s pair by Christian Dior. Some people spent on earrings to jazz up video calls, but I’m wearing glasses more, so I got two vintage pairs for less than you would pay for a new pair of designer glasses.  

Picture of my mum wearing ’80s glasses, in the ’80s
My ’80s Dior frames from Retro Spectacle

Prices start from £29 at Retro Spectacle. They also do lenses but after all that screen time I had to get my eyes tested. Travelling on the tube again – just me in the carriage, I had time to take-in my new masked reflection and it confirmed that personality eyewear was a good investment right now. 

I personally love vintage glasses for their uniqueness, handmade quality and because it’s a more sustainable option, and I definitely needed to do something right by the planet given the amount of plastic PPE involved in eye examinations now. Plastic-free July fail. However, my first “normal” errand in a while did have its thrills. I left with the knowledge of the tissue trick. Listen up glasses wearers, if you place a tissue over your nose before positioning your face mask then it helps with the condensation. Handy, because I hope to be able to see in my new glasses. 

My Christian Lacroix frames from Retro Spectacle
Mid-Century Industrial Steel Vitrine Glass Display Cabinet from The Architectural Forum 

© Photographs Reclaimed Woman & courtesy of Retro Spectacle and Salvo

Hot Hot Hot! Reclaimed Woman

How will fashion become fashionable again after lockdown? We are waiting to see if the expected shift to more conscious shopping will be accelerated following the reflection time that beings, brands and businesses have had to take in the bigger picture. Categories like locally made, vegan or organic are certainly popping up more frequently on shopping platforms, like the newly launched PARO STORE. But its most compelling component is that you can tell the founders, Ruth and Zoe chose the brands because they personally want to shop from them. The progressive offering ranges from clothes and jewellery to independent magazines that shine fresh light on heavy issues like climate change.

PARO STORE edit, from the top:

Organic ribbed cotton Anai Bodysuit II by Aniela Parys

Hot hot hot! magazine Issue 3

Candy Person shorts and cardi by ULLAC oy

Recycled silver and oyster shell earrings by Mia Larsson

© Photographs courtesy of PARO STORE

Is fashion self-care? Revelations for Fashion Revolution Week with Ilk + Ernie

This is Fashion Revolution Week, where we ask #whomademyclothes to coincide with and commemorate the Rana Plaza factory, which collapsed seven years ago today. This is the day Fashion Revolution was born. 

A month in lockdown has likely resulted in more time for self-care for some, and forced self-care for others. Sometimes it takes getting sick to remember the importance of taking better care of our bodies and minds because we shy away from acts that soothe the self.  Me-time is usually last on the list. Self Care is the name of the new collection from ethical fashion label, Ilk + Ernie, which has me contemplating is fashion self-care?

Arguably fashion is moving towards pillars of self-care practice with the emergence of kinder, comfortable shoe styles and athleisure that makes it easier to go from office mode to exercise mode.  On a deeper level, I truly believe clothes have the power to transform our mental state, and the emergence of ethical fashion labels like Ilk + Ernie can make buying fashion a happy thing – both for yourself and the people that made it.  If fashion is to find its meaning again then it will surely come from a pivot towards kindness to ourselves, others and the planet. 

Jessica McCleave, the woman behind Ilk + Ernie took some time this Fashion Rev Week to share her journey into the sustainability scene. 

What did you do before you started Ilk + Ernie?

Much like you, I began my career working in the fashion industry. I started out as a visual merchandiser for Topshop HO and later moved into styling and PR. If I’m honest I really struggled with it, I found fashion to be a cruel, cut throat and at times very unkind industry. I once got told by a manager of mine that I was “too nice to work in fashion” which as you can imagine was very unmotivating! I think what I struggled with most is why we weren’t celebrating each other’s creativity instead of squandering it.

So I left! After some time working as a PA I became miserable enough to want to go back, but on my own terms. Working in high street fashion made me realise how wasteful the industry could be. I grew up designing and decided I wanted to give it another shot. I’d heard good things about textiles in India, so I booked a one way flight, packed up my life and went. I spent 4 months looking for ethical production and eventually found Sam. His father opened their factory 30 years ago and have been working with start-ups like mine ever since. Their business is Sedex certified, which means they’re on the map for doing things ethically. 

Sam made your clothes if you shop with Ilk + Ernie

What is the inspiration behind the name?

Ilk + Ernie was not the businesses first name. Back in the day it went by the name KIN LDN. Named so because I wanted to start a business that celebrated kinship amongst women. I was tired of the negativity I’d experienced in the industry and I wanted something positive; a sisterhood to buy from and be a part of. The name felt perfect. However after a feature in Vogue and some other mags my business got noticed by John Lewis, who was in the middle of launching a collection in their department store called KIN. They slapped me with a cease and desist and that was that, a classic case of the struggles of a small business against the big guys. I took a year out to restart and rebrand my business and in SS18 Ilk + Ernie was born. The name is unusual haha, but I learnt my generic naming lesson! Ilk was my follow on from KIN, I loved the name and meaning so much that I wanted to hold onto it in another form. Ernie is from my Irish dad. The first born son of every generation of his family was called Ernist. I was the first girl. The name means a lot to me and I wanted to carry it on. So in sum, the name is for family and community!

@ilkandernie Instagram post of women that dedicated a rainy Sunday to filming the label’s Crowdfunding video

Do you have any self-care routines or recommendations?

Right now self-care is the biggest thing on my agenda. I think it’s something that all human beings can do more of. For such a long time people didn’t talk about their mental health, yet we’ve all suffered from poor mental health at some point in our lives. In this crazy time of uncertainty, self-care is the most important kindness we can give ourselves. We all need to find our own way to stay sane and healthy! For me right now that’s routine. I wake up at the same time every morning [apart from weekends!], do my friends live stream hiit class, finish up with some yoga, shower, eat a tasty breakfast and then sit down to work. I don’t work past 5pm because I really rely on my afternoon stroll these days. When I’m feeling crap and unmotivated I let myself. When I want to eat junk food I let myself. When I want to sleep I let myself. I try not to allow myself to feel guilty – being overwhelmed is normal, especially when you’re running a small business. I have an amazing boyfriend and I live in a guardianship community with lots of incredible people, and for that I am grateful. Basically I allow myself to think and feel what I need to think and feel. I find that helps me stay positive. 

What is your favourite thing to do in Brighton? And assuming it is something you can’t enjoy right now – what will you wear when you can do it again after lockdown?

GAAAD! I miss being out and about in Brighton soooo much. After 10 years of living in London, I was so bowled over by the kind, friendly people of this city. My favourite thing….being able to walk to the beach in 15 minutes. I love the Laines and the amazing community Brighton has. The food scene is insane! I’ll never tire of eating out here. I can’t wait to sit out on a cobbled street and sink a glass of wine haha, so English. 

After lockdown I will be parading around in Ilk + Ernie’s SS20 clobber! I am genuinely so excited about this collection. It’s colourful, fun and can be worn all year round. The green Mom Suit is my favourite 🙂

Ilk + Ernie’s Mom Suit

What does Fashion Revolution mean to you? 

Fashion Rev has created a much needed voice for an industry that was in such dire need of change. It has brought ethics and sustainability to the forefront and forced people to listen. There has been such a surge in people’s acknowledgment of how damaging fast fashion is. I honestly don’t think people considered the links between fast fashion and global warming. Over consumption of poor quality garments made by exploited garment workers wasn’t exactly a thing people wanted to admit to knowing, but on some level we all knew. How else could companies like Pretty Little Thing be producing £6 dresses? 

What Fashion Rev has done is amazing. They’ve created a passion in people to do the right thing, shop responsibly and care about where their clothes come from. It’s an exciting time to be part of the ethical fashion community as a small business. When I was starting out no one cared about the sustainability behind my business. It’s so great to finally see people take notice. 

I grew up in Brighton, where the brand is based, so like Jessica, I am keen to soothe my soul with the creativity and kindness in Bri-Town when we are allowed out and about again.  But until that time comes, enjoy some Self Care

We hope you stay safe, sane and well in these times of madness. 

© Photographs courtesy of Ilk + Ernie 

Ready-to-wake: Should fashion weeks be cancelled?

Upcycled kitten heels by Ancuta Sarca at London Fashion Week

“Wake me up when September ends” are words I’ve heard from editors doing the four fashion capitals in less than four weeks.  

Our eyes are closed to the emergency according to Extinction Rebellion, the movement making non-violent resistance to demand action on climate change. The activists illustrated this with a ‘die-in’ outside the main venue for London Fashion Week, calling for it to be cancelled.  Yet inside, the British Fashion Council (BFC) staged showrooms fully dedicated to ‘Positive Fashion’ and sustainable design.  Of course, a small group of designers aren’t going to shift the wasteful speedy system, but it was a sea change on the press releases previously put out by the BFC, boasting stats like 32,000 miles driven between shows by a fleet of Mercedes-Benz, 20,000 cups of espresso consumed [almost entirely in single-use cups]…The carbon footprint of London Fashion Week was no doubt similar this season, but the tone changed.  

I saw sustainable designer Phoebe English join Extinction Rebellion and others on a panel discussion hosted by the BFC in London.  Gabriela Hearst claimed to host the first carbon neutral catwalk show in New York. Gucci declared its show in Milan and operations, including its global supply chain 100% carbon neutral. Stella McCartney hosted a round-table chat with activists on the eve before her show in Paris. 

These moves and commitments sound positive, but skeptics might say brands are just paying for carbon offsets or that Stella McCartney’s show—claimed to be her most sustainable to date, with over 75% of the ready-to-wear made from environmentally-friendly materials—still falls short, by containing some non-organic cotton.  Still, more problematic, is the sheer volume because speed matters, not just on the high street, but more than ever in the luxury market too. 

When you really take all this in, fashion can feel hopeless.  As former fashion editor, now Extinction Rebellion activist, Bel Jacobs acknowledged on the panel at London Fashion Week: 

“The fashion industry which markets, produces, consumes, disposes at an ever increasing rate. This is not an industry under threat and it’s set to rise by 63% in 10 years time… when you are part of Extinction Rebellion, grief is a large part.” 

The discussion heralded the benefit of slowing down and even stopping, with Phoebe English sharing how she halted production for three seasons to find more sustainable ways of creating and shifting the label away from virgin resources. 

Stockholm fashion week is usually prelude to fashion month, but this year the Swedish Fashion Council cancelled it to give them time to remodel, reach sustainability goals and set a new standard.  Maybe they’ll create something that the global fashion community will demand as much as Scandinavian influencers? 

Many industries are complicit in climate change, and fashion straddles many of them, including mining and agriculture. However, zeroing in on fashion first might be a clever move by campaigners, because collectively and creatively, I believe it has the ability to change and wake others to follow.

Cameron Saul, co-founder of the sustainable British brand, Bottletop also spoke on the BFC’s panel and showcased their #TOGETHERBAND campaign for change.

It is clear that fashion needs to change, not only for the planet, but also to save itself because somehow it feels off right now. What do you think fashion weeks could be if they should be?

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman

Seasonal vegging & voguing

This edit sums up my mood for the month ahead. It’s that time of year when your pinkie ring should give you super powers and you can cloak your face and your body in pillows [when not showing off that you’re capable of dancing in white whilst eating cranberry canapés].

Repurposed men’s cuff link Super Hero ring Pushkie 

Hero high-waisted trousers & Aegis drape top  Laura Ironside
[also available at The Maiyet Collective Concept Store in London. See Maiyet Collective for their next event]

Cushions & quilts Mother of Pearl 

Eye Pillow by Blasta Henriet from The Keep Boutique

Vintage floral jacket from Lime Green Bow

Eko collection BomBom bag made from decommissioned seatbelts From Belo

Dancing Queen socks Birdsong London

Monica trousers 31 Chapel Lane

©Photographs courtesy of the brands featured

 

 

Going Zero Waste could be the best thing to happen to you hair

Is it me or are haircare ads stuck in the 1950s? Can the contents of one plastic bottle really deliver on all of those promises? And are we even looking for those things at the end of a good shampooing?

Hair diaries of women with great locks usually involve a lotta steps and it is easy to succumb to the idea that we need a complicated routine to achieve the hair of our dreams.  I just discovered a shampoo that needs no conditioner step, which is quite a significant discovery for my habitual hair routine. So could zero waste be the philosophy that actually delivers the haircare promise without a long, product heavy process?

Having heard that I was working to overhaul my beauty routine, Olivia of ethical homeware and accessories brand Nido Collective introduced me to Hanna of Acala, who offered to let me sample zero waste shampoo called Beauty Kubes.

Fellow member of Ethical Writers & Creatives, Hanna Pumfrey created her online store Acala to empower people with easy sustainable alternatives. Expect natural, organic and vegan health and beauty. But before you click to discover Acala’s plastic-freedom, let me spoil the end with the promise that I am a zero waste haircare convert.

My Acala delivery arrived in reusable packaging by RePack, which I was almost equally intrigued by so I put the whole thing in my weekender ready for my night away in Paris.

Good timing for a hair treat trial, I chose shampoo cubes for normal to dry hair, as living in the city I tend to wash my hair a lot and my lengths get dry. Plus I’m a sucker for anything rose or grapefruit and this formula is infused with rose extract, a blend of organic palmarosa, orange and grapefruit essential oils.  

If you are less than thrilled about taking plastic bottles into the shower, but quite like an escape to the Cornish Riviera then Beauty Kubes could be for you too. Made in Cornwall, the product and packaging is 100% biodegradable. The cubes are cruelty free and free from palm oil, sulphates, and packed with vitamin E and pro vitamin B5 to promote growth, a healthy scalp and hair.   

Apart from an unfortunate purple Halloween hair-in-can incident when I was about eleven, I do not dye my hair and I am particular about what I subject it to. It took me a moment to balance the right amount of water to shampoo cube – whilst sussing out how to work the shower in my hotel – but back home I perfected the crumbling technique. In the palm of your hand you gradually work it into a paste and a pleasing lather.  If you’re accustomed to equating lather with cleanliness then it will take some getting used to natural shampoo, but honestly my hair feels clarified and cleaner.

Upon return to London, I posted the RePack packaging, which is returned to its source for free and then cleaned and redistributed to brands and stores using the service (many of which offer incentives through RePack’s online community).  Then I washed my hair. Beauty Kubes passed the was my head just happier in Paris? test and my hair still feels softer in London’s hard water.

[Cue shot of woman in urban jungle having sexual experience with freshly washed hair]

And she’s back. Shop Beauty Kubes at Acala 

Wearing hair washed with Beauty Kubes in Paris with pre-loved fake snake trousers & hair washed with Beauty Kubes in London with a poppy print jumpsuit from People Tree for their collaboration with the V&A Museum. See the latest V&A collection here

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman

 

 

“we could be the ones to change it all” – Sustainable steps at London Fashion Week

Paolo Carzana, the boy behind this quote and the collection below titled The Boy You Stole was one emerging talent presented in the season that put sustainability top of mind at LFW.  

The British Fashion Council’s announcement that London Fashion Week would be entirely fur-free was just one step, but caring for animals can quickly lead to more environmental awareness if fashion graduate Paolo Carzana’s vegan journey is anything to go by.  At first Paolo went vegan becasue of caring for animals, but now he does it for the environment too and works with planet-friendly fabrics like Pinatex. There is a myriad of aspects in the production of both real leather and leather alternatives that can cause harm to animals, people and the environment, but Pinatex (a textile made from reclaimed pineapple leaves that would otherwise be wasted) arguably ticks multiple sustainability choices at once.  

Beneath the vegan fabrics and vegetable dyes, Paolo’s graduate collection (pictured below) was also a comment that the government controls us like puppets with models swamped by clothes and freaky figures that shadowed over them on the catwalk.

Multiple tabs with Celine reviews from Paris Fashion Week were shadowing over this post as I tried to focus on writing about my delights from LFW… Hedi Slimane just showed his first collection – after stepping into Phoebe Philo’s furry sandals – as Artistic Director of the French fashion house Celine.  I allowed myself to digress because it turns out Hedi Slimane and the next designer that caught my eye in London both count Lady Gaga among their fans…

Cassandra Verity Green manipulated plastic waste to create bags that explore early existence with the digital world to comment on today’s excess and create future artefacts in handbags designed to be treasured.

The question on many lips right now is what did Hedi’s Celine give us to treasure? See the collection on NOW Fashion to decide for yourself.

He rebelled against the current move towards inclusiveness and cast very young, mainly white models, yet opened up the new menswear line to women with sizes that will cater to their bodies too. It is impossible to ignore Hedi’s power to make big changes with a CV that notes transforming the image of male sex appeal through skinny tailoring at Dior Homme almost 20 years ago to the recent shift in Saint Laurent.  But right now, with such a deviation from feminist design it is hard to appreciate the change at Celine as it feels like a step backward.  

On a positive note –  here are some other favourites under London Fashion Week’s Positive Fashion initiative that are definitely pushing the path for change forward. 

Paradise Row 

E.L.V Denim

Davy J 

Wires  

Last fashion week I was doing my Six Items Challenge for Labour Behind the Label so this time I was free to step out in anything. Above, wearing a vintage Bay Trading dress and vintage Daks jacket, ’80s Persol glasses from Spex in the City, boots from my days working at Gucci & bag by Muuñ.

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman

 

 

Designing a happy wardrobe

I didn’t see myself squeezing into another capsule challenge so soon – having spent 6 of the coldest weeks in just 6 items of clothes for Labour Behind the Label at the start of the year – but this was too good to resist… 10 items, 10 days, easy right? Ah, but this time the count includes shoes. And this challenge calls for the most out there, fun, fashiony pieces, hence the name #GlamCapsule to show that our wildest eco-glitter filled dream where fashion and sustainability hold hands and skip into the sunset can be a reality. 

Designed to prove that sustainable fashion doesn’t just do neutrals, the Glam Capsule is the brainchild of fellow Ethical Writers & CreativesElizabeth L. Cline and Benita Robledo.

I’ve never been a capsule wardrobe kinda woman because a career in fashion has given me A LOT of clothes, but I am eager to make my wardrobe sustainable and one way of doing that is by giving more life to the things I already own. 

So at the start of #zerowasteweek, here’s to reuse and designing happy wardrobes by wearing all the beautiful things we usually save for best. Wear, don’t waste and put your clothes and accessories somewhere you can see them [like in this ex museum display cabinet below].

And if you reaaaallly want something happy and new [or new for you], here’s some reclaimed and ethical ideas to get those fashion juices flowing…

Slip dress made from upcycled vintage silks We-Resonate

Jacket made from surplus furniture fabric Noumenon

Rose gold plated recycled silver Millie Hoops Gung Ho x Chalk Designs      [£5 from every purchase goes to Friends of the Earth]

Vegan snake Lulu boots Beyond Skin

Reclaimed Museum display cabinet Retrouvius

Above, I am wearing an ’80s dress from Revivals 42 St Peter’s St, Canterbury, UK, Paul Andrew shoes, ’60s bag from Wolf & Gypsy Vintage and sunglasses from Klasik

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman & courtesy of the brands featured

 

 

Do you believe in magic? Interview with Anne-Sophie Planet, founder of Kimaya  

If you’re looking for proof that magic exists then Kimaya’s ethical elegance will suit you. 

After more than a decade working on fashion planet aka Paris, Anne-Sophie Planet swapped city life for southern India to realise her dreams as a designer.

Following her intuition, she landed in the international sustainable township of Auroville and created her eco-conscious fashion brand Kimaya.

Sitting somewhere between the forest and the ocean, Anne-Sophie writes to me – sitting somewhere between London’s Holland Park and Portobello Road – and through the wizardry of the web we realise that we both believe in magic.

Anne-Sophie Planet 

“I just followed my heart. It was maybe the first and only time of my life where I had almost no expectations. I was really in the moment. Discovering, meeting new people, resting, enjoying life, taking care of myself.”

The first collection has the carefree kindness of a globe-trotting woman that is as interested in others as she is independent. Anne-Sophie wants Kimaya to bring out the best in you: the authentic. Naturally cool in organic cotton, banana silk and tencel with respect for ancient print techniques, handloom, dyes from roots, nuts, flowers and fruits, and for mother earth herself.

UNESCO has protected the township of Auroville since its birth in 1968 and today over forty nations from all age groups, social classes and cultures make up around 2500 residents.  It is recognised as the first and only ongoing experiment in human unity and transformation of consciousness.

Sometimes, without realising it, we live life like we’re stuck on repeat, so what advice would she give herself on arrival in India, knowing what she knows now?

“My advice would be to enjoy even more every minute of this time because living in the flow without thinking of tomorrow is precious.”

Revived with essential values: co-creation, respect for people, connection with nature and simplicity of life, she was ready to create her brand.  All of the fabrics are from India, and mostly from southern India as she is keen to keep Kimaya as local as possible.

“We are so lucky to have this cultural diversity here and so many skilled people,” says Anne-Sophie who collaborates with Aurovilian artisans from India, Germany, France, Switzerland, the US and the UK.  “Auroville is a laboratory, where we all experiment and learn how to grow individually and collectively. That’s unending education.”

   

She is aware of the part she plays as both designer and consumer. She spent the majority of her time in Paris working for small, humane designer labels, but also did a three year stint with a mass market brand. 

“I have been to factories in China, India, Bangladesh, North Africa, Turkey… Always more, faster and cheaper! I was part of the play. But in a way, we are all part of the play because we are all consumers. We often hear ‘shopping is voting’ and it is true because as the final consumer, we have the last word. If we become more conscious about the way we consume and what we consume, things will change. Not only regarding fashion.”

Kimaya is designed to challenge the idea of shopping as a mindless occupation, and to encourage us to re-evaluate the relationship society has with clothing. If shopping is voting then don’t we all have the right and duty to choose consciously and express the power of the purse?

“Of course sometimes it is challenging but it is worth the work for making a change and manifesting something. I feel grateful to be part of this adventure in constant progress, to have the possibility to do what I love most and to evolve with people from so many countries, cultures and backgrounds,” says Anne-Sophie.   

A real change in fashion may take more than one miracle – the meaning of Kimaya in Sanskrit – but I do believe in magic, do you? 

Not putting words in your mouth, but I do love this indigo batik ‘oui’ tee.

Shop Kimaya with worldwide shipping

[And don’t miss adorable accessories like the notebooks covered with misprints from the floor of a local screen-printing workshop]

©Photographs courtesy of Kimaya

 

 

 

Resolutions from Berlin Ethical Fashion Show

I packed learnings of balance in my suitcase back from Berlin (alongside this Resolution organic cotton tee by Cruba). 

I should have known it would be a knowledge excursion when I spotted my school history teacher on our flight over. Ms Hodson taught me everything I know about Berlin’s past, and I was about to learn about the future and significant hub the city has created for the international fashion crowd that likes their lewk sustainable. 

I could share spring summer 2019 trends from the Greenshowroom, now rebranded NEONYT – a combination of the old Greek and Swedish words for new,  but this isn’t a show that promotes out with the old, in with the new seasonal dressing. One could note hemp like you’ve never seen it; cullotes; the colours yellow, rose, summer black, and athleisure with a persuasion for tennis above all other sports, but the newness at NEONYT is more about optimism for a change in fashion for good. The designers showing here are about capsule wardrobes with considered additions and innovation like this clever cork bag by COSSAC. 

This bag will beautifully balance summer essentials – beach towel + big book, which brings me back to the dressing lesson I’m taking back from Berlin – balance.

Even though the city was sweltering, Berliners struck the balance in summer-wear they felt comfortable in that didn’t look like it belonged at the beach. Sometimes it is tough in the city to get the right harmony of skin-on-show, shoes that are pavement or even cobble friendly, but aren’t sweaty and Berlin handled the heat perfectly.

My strategy was a lotta linen, like this ’80s Oscar de la Renta dress (above) and Noumenon shirt (below) with trainers or a wedge. 

And a free and easy Etro wrap skirt from my local Mary’s Living and Giving Shop worn with a COSSAC t-shirt and a choker made from surplus furniture fabric by Noumenon, as before.  

The other resolution I made, actually just before Berlin was to give up gel nail varnish. I’m ashamed to say that despite making an effort to live green, my make-up bag has RSVP’d, but is yet to attend the party. I’ve swapped all lipsticks for organic Ilia shades, but I am still working through things, so next up it’s nails. People in the clean beauty scene talk in the number of chemicals a nail polish is free from – the starting point being 3-free – meaning formulas with no formaldehyde, toluene or dibutyl phthalate. I love having long nails and gel polishes kept them strong and long, albeit unnaturally, so I was thrilled to find vegan non-toxic 10-free formulas by Kure Bazaar. The nail polishes are nourishing with 85% of the formulation derived of natural origin, such as wood pulp and potato.

I’m wearing them shorter in Beige Milk whilst they repair, but the collection is full of awesome spring summer 19 ready colours like Sunset (above).  

*Content Beauty is currently  offering a free base coat when you buy two Kure Bazaar nail polishes, so it’s a good time to buy if you’re trying to cure a gel mani addiction.

The Fresh Therapies remover is designed to retain the natural oil in your nails and all of the ingredients are biodegradable, plus it actually smells good (as if you’ve just been squeezing limes).  

But as ever, when you commit to resolutions, there’s always more you can do. I’ve been a pescatarian since I was nine and in recent years I’ve removed more and more dairy from my diet. Agata, founder of COSSAC and Dena, founder of Noumenon invited me and my friend Rebecca for dinner with the team from Vegan Good Life magazine.  By chance, we sat by dietary group with the meat eaters on one end, vegans on the other and me in the middle.  There was no logic to our seating order as we were all sharing vegan plates at 1990 Vegan Living, which was, as billed, ‘hands down the best Vietnamese place.’

I’m not going vegan yet, but I’m thinking about it, and the Vegan Good Life special edition, Ethical Fashion Today is good fashion for thought.

Get your copy here

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman & courtesy of COSSAC