In an effort to rejuvinate her working from home wardrobe, model and writer Charlie Newman takes on the #30Wears challenge, delving into both her’s and her mum’s wardrobe in the hunt for the perfect vintage inspired outfit.
Having worked as a model for almost 10 years, I’ve seen fashion in all its glory and hideousness, from a dashing silky number with a daringly low back, to prim peplums and bulky pleating. It doesn’t take someone who works within the fashion industry to notice that clothes can utterly transform your day. Even when we haven’t made the conscious decision for them to make an impact, they creep into your day and can completely change your mood to that of the confident girl parading your outfit on the morning commute.
Today and the days filling the previous weeks have felt like one hazy, long smog. We’re in the depths of isolation as a result of Coronavirus and cannot see the wind for the trees. I think the nations response to our newly found working from home wardrobes can be divided into two different camps: those who revel in rolling out of bed, slipping into something that defies all constrictions; or there are the people desperately craving the mad dash of normality, with outfits still being planned and clothes no longer being saved for best. Of course like everything in life, you’re allowed to dive in and out of both of these camps, I certainly have. Every morning is a game of fashion roulette for me: I’m either Carrie Bradshaw pre or post break up with Mr Big depending on my mood.
This #30wearschallenge has been such a joyful exercise for me and one that I encourage everyone to dip their toes into. I’m quarantining away from London at my Mum’s so have a restricted wardrobe as a result, but all the better for it as it means I can delve into hers! I defy anyone to not feel sentimental when flicking through a wardrobe of 40 odd years (don’t worry Mum, no one can figure out your age out from that). Whether it’s that straw bag you bagged at a market on holiday, a hat you wore to a loved one’s wedding, a pair of stilettos that have seen better days but the best of nights, the heavy, woollen knit you shrug on to battle illness and break ups or the pair of jeans that fit just perfectly, we can all categorically agree that the longer you hold onto these trinkets of time the better.
So behold my #30wearschallenge, a combination of the basics I brought back from London with me and a smattering of my mums ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ clothes, worn not only 30 times but over 30 years! To anyone who’s feeling a bit sluggish and lost whilst isolating and working from home, I highly recommend throwing on what makes you feel your best. You’ll be surprised with what you reach for, a new alter ego certainly came to the surface for me. Dress like nobody is watching, because you guessed it, nobody is!
Like a magpie to a jewel, I knew immediately what I wanted to wear first to start this challenge off. I don’t know if you can see in this much detail, but the candy pink cropped cashmere cardigan of my Mums is dotted with tiny diamonds. When I was younger I wanted to wear it as an ice skater or ballerina, neither of which came true so here I am wearing it with my MIH jeans, a London-based denim brand with a conscience.
The JLo-style chain belt is also my Mothers and quite possibly my most worn item of hers over the years. You can add it with anything and it instantly lifts an outfit. The pink gingham edged socks are hand sewn and finished by a friend whose collection has a sock for every colour, pattern and sock and trainer combo. This is undoubtedly my most girly outfit of the week, a nod to Cher in ‘Clueless’ and gee was it fun. Normally I wouldn’t have the confidence to go out in something like this, but with only my Mum and dog to witness, I know I’m in safe hands.
From sugar and spice and all things nice, by day 2 I’ve transformed into full on Adams Family meets Matrix fierce. Now this outfit I would definitely don back in London, most likely on a date or for an event. Sadly there is no way my Mother would let me part with any of these items, so I’ll simply just have to savour them at home!
Everything in this outfit is my Mums apart from the jeans which I bought from in a vintage shop in Covent Garden when I first moved down to London seven years ago. The shop was only a stones throw from my modelling agency, so no doubt I ambled into the store and treated myself after a casting. The black cami was a summer staple for my Mum, purchased in Morgan back in the 90’s. I’ve paired it with a fake leather jacket from Rackhams, now House of Fraser, circa 2000. The flash of sparkle is a delicious mix of high and low, a combination of: Stuart Weitzman heels Mum treated herself to on holiday in Portugal back in 2002, the heart belt Mum has worn on Christmas day every year for as long as I can remember and is Marks and Spencer’s. Lastly the diamanté clip is from a market – Britney Spears eat your heart out.
Continuing on the theme of dressing with strength but this time with a different approach. These trousers are probably my ‘save from a fire’ item – I was lucky enough to bag for a bargain at a Victoria Beckham sample sale. I didn’t get the chance to try them on there and then amongst other ravenous and raging customers (never thought I’d look back on a sample sale experience so fondly but hey ho, that’s quarantine for you). Once I arrived back in the safe confines of my home, I whipped them on and it was love at first sight; expertly tailored, crease proof trousers that mean business. They are the closest this pale, gangly Brit will ever get to feeling swag.
Anyway, enough of my love affair with this almighty pair of trousers. The vintage Chloé sunglasses were a surprise birthday gift from my boyfriend 3 years ago – who knew a boy from the Shires could nail shades like these, a surprise indeed! I like to think they add a touch of Julia Roberts à la ‘Notting Hill’ to whatever I’m wearing that day. They’re also one of my things Mum would like to covet, perhaps I could do a trade? The boots Mum bought on holiday in Lake Louise, Canada in 1999 and have since stomped mountains, festivals and high streets with me. Each year I like to buy them a brand new pair of laces to spruce them, occasionally getting them resoled and reheeled too. Lastly the top Mum bought to accompany a black skirt for a School ball in 1998. Now I wear it to breakfast – how the mighty have fallen.
Today is a baking hot day so naturally I will make the fatal mistake of attempting to work outside whilst simultaneously working on my tan. The bikini is by top model and sustainable swimwear designer, Alicia Rountree. Alicia’s attention to detail is commendable. Each piece is made of a regenerated nylon called ECONYL® which is sourced from abandoned fishing nets, they also use 50% less water in the printing process and each piece is hand made in a factory that only employs women.
Layered over this is a shirt from one of my favourite scandi brands, Filippa K, a company who have remained environmentally conscious since its humble beginnings. The shirt not only shielded by reddening shoulders from the sun but quickly made me ‘Zoom’ call appropriate, assuring my colleagues that I’m oh-so professional despite the tropical heat outside. The Kangol hat I bought in a wonder of a shop aptly named, ‘The Hat Shop’ in New York. Come winter or summer it’s always the last thing I pop on before I dart outside. It’s blue and fluffy and like a cuddle on my head. The sarong my Mum bought for a memorable holiday from an independent boutique called Frances Thackeray, a treasure trove that sells intimates and swimwear for special occasions.
I first wore these Nomadic State of Mind sandals for a modelling job and fell in love with them so much I had to buy my own. Every single step, from their design to production to post and packaging, has been addressed sustainably, they’re also the comfiest shoe on earth. Another pair of vintage sunglasses to complete the outfit in the form of my Grandfather’s vintage Raybans, adding a touch of old school suave to any look.
This outfit was inspired by yesterday’s day in the sun (and subsequent newly developed tan). The top is from the millennial mega brand Reformation, a brand that has truly transformed peoples approach to recycled fabrics. This oversized denim jacket I bought last year from my all time favourite clothes market on Melrose in Los Angeles and have paired it with these blue cord Levi’s I found in a vintae shop in Soho, London. The belt is, surprise surprise my Mums, finishing off my Dolly Parton look just perfectly.
I confess, I may not have teetered around in my Mums Stuart Weitzman diamanté heeled sling backs all day, but they just deserved admiring. I digress, the navy Cerruti blazer is one half of a suit my Mum bought almost 25 years ago and still wears to work to this day. I have paired it with a vintage Vespa t-shirt I bought in Milan last year, a multicoloured link necklace I bought from that same market in LA and a pair of Filippa K’s recycled gym leggings, all topped off with an Hermès scarf bought for my Mum as a Birthday present.
Smiling so damn hard for an exciting jaunt to the supermarket, and what better way to mark it than with a Giraffe print trench coat? I bought this last year from one of my favourite vintages stores in London called Phoenix on Golborne Road in Notting Hill. Well priced and good conditioned vintage is a rare pairing, but the ladies at Phoenix have mastered it. I often found myself diving in the shop looking for a bedside table but coming out with an item of clothing instead! The dungarees are once again from Reformation which somehow have managed to escape curry, wine and oil spills over the years. If I got a pound for every time I got called a painter/decorator/window cleaner for every time I wore these I’d be a wealthy woman indeed! The long sleeved white top I salvaged from my boyfriends wardrobe before it got thrown out. I bought these trainers as a Christmas gift to myself from Dover Street market and the sunglasses were a present to myself from when I lived in Milan last year. Every time I slide them on, I feel a touch Jackie O/Diana/Cindy Crawford, which is not a bad trio of ladies to join. Note the sustainable accessory: clutching my reusable water bottle for dear life. What you can’t see in these pictures is that every day I have been slipping into the softest of all 100% cotton undies, thanks to Stripe & Stare.
Wearing sustainable clothing has never been easier or more appealing, it’s not just a better option for the planet but for your style too. Go forth and do your own #30Wears Challenge – a sure fire way to rejuvenate your wardrobe and punctuate some fun into your days during lockdown.
Read Charlie’s top tips for shopping vintage in Los Angeles.
Inspired to by Charlie’s use of her Mum’s wardrobe? See the pieces Team Eco-Age have inherited from their mum’s.