Saturday, 11 August 2012

Swish in the city

Today I ventured to Clapham for Back to the Fuschia's swish. I took a collection of designer goodies including fabulous neon pink Versace trousers (that I got at a previous swish and wasn't brave enough to wear), armani tops (1 of which I wish I'd kept) a Karen Millen top and Levi's bag (both of which found a loving home with the same lady)!

I arrived in plenty of time and we were allowed to browse as items were going on the rails. This is different to most swishes I've attended where you have a drop off time and grab lunch or a cocktail while clothes are being sorted then everyone browses and swishes together. The format for this one was advantageous in that you could suss out the rails immediately but frustrating in that once you were in and had seen all the lovely clothes on offer you wanted to swish straight away!!!

I've been swishing for many years now and in my opinion, the best swishes have a good points system for checking in and out clothes. This one had just that so you weren't left feeling shortchanged like in 1:1 swishes e.g taking in Prada and checking out Primark which is much more akin to shopping with real money (except of course it doesn't cost you anything)! Normally I prefer to take more high street items and come out with less items but of higher quality. Today, since there was an 8 item limit, I took my best bits to give me maximum points to swish with. I had 320 in total. I checked in 8 items but must have checked out around 12 as only a couple are designer so I got more for my 'money' as it were. The points system does generally encourage a better calibre of clothes into the swish which means more delightful labels to rummage through.

During the browsing I clocked a Donna Karen coat, Moshino Jeans, All Saints trousers and a stunning dress. As is the way of the swish it's every eagle- eyed, fashion-hungry woman for herself! I'd prioritised the All Saints trousers so grabbed those first. Then, when I went to grab the Moshino Jeans they weren't there. I did a quick swoop and grabbed another dress I'd seen, a pretty floral top and a pair of jeans. The DKNY coat and pretty dress I'd seen were long gone but my gut instint was telling me those prized Moshino jeans were lurking in amongst the Primark ones so I hunted through every pair. I came across a nice pair of Roxy jeans and some FCUK ones so added those to my already laden arms! Just when I was about to admit defeat on the Moshino jeans I turned over the last pair on the rail to find the classic Moshino brasswear glinting at me! Awesome!

How else can you get a whole new wardrobe for free from a variety of labels in under an hour? We're in a recession and money's tight so take advantage of the opportunity. Swishing is the new shopping!

What an eco-fabulous way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Thanks ladies: I'm already eagarly awaiting the next one!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

My Swish in Brighton

It may have taken me a 4 hour round trip to attend this swish plus 30 minutes (and an arm and a leg to park) but was it worth it?... Yes it was! After checking in my 15 mainly high street items, I relaxed with a nice cup of tea in a vintage china teacup and a decadent handmade cupcake and allowed the electric atmosphere of the event to wash over me. As I wandered around with my camera before the swish opened I spotted the following gems: A brand new with tags Jaeger dress worth £250, an LK Bennett stunning red dress with the tags on, hunter wellies which were the subject of much excitement and a Mulberry bag. Obviously to play fair I couldn't rummage before anyone else but these bits were the subject of much flaunting for the national press- and rightly so!

When the swish opened, as it customary at these events, chaos ensued. Women clamoured for the rails and crammed their feet into idolised shoes a la Cinderella! I managed to nab the coveted Mulberry bag much to the disappointment of many other swishettes but the Jaeger and LK Bennett dresses evaded my grasp!

Hands were flying everywhere and clothes were being hauled of the rails in sheer triumph as ladies managed to find a treasure! There were shrieks of delight all round as every swisher bagged themselves a lovely new wardrobe in exchange for items that had been languishing unloved in their own closets, ready to be loved by someone else!

In addition to the gorgeous tan leather Mulberry bag, I found a stunning All Saints sequinned top and a brand new with tags Jasper Conran designer dress! I'd also found several more lovely items including some Calvin Klein jeans, a brand new debut dress, a Fiorelli bag and a lovely summery Monsoon dress but alas my 160 points didn't stretch far enough so my shortlist had to be culled! They did however, stretch just far enough to add a pair of Cath Kidson pumps to my loot! Bargain!

The bonus about events run with a points system as opposed to 1 in 1 out, is that they are fair and encourage better quality garments to be traded in. The better the items you bring, and the more of them you bring, the better the clobber you can check out with. After attending upwards of 50 swishes since they began, this is definitely the best system in my opinion. In addition, swishes run like this allow you to trade up your wardrobe. For example, I took 14 high street items and 1 designer item and got 4 designer items in exchange. A fair swap in my book! Likewise you may have been given the aforementioned Jaeger dress as a (generous) gift yet not have had anywhere to wear it. In exchange you may be delighted with 5 high street items that you'll wear forever! As the swishettes checked out, there was an excited buzz as everyone gossiped about their gorgeous new garments and when and where they were going to get their first showing!

Huge thanks to all at My Swish for a fabulous event. I'm already looking forward to the next one!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

The Big Swish at Amika

It was an eagerly awaited event that was well attended by fashionistas from far and wide. Ladies queued in their droves to check in their unloved labels and high street items. This swish heralded the introduction of a designer section for those of us who had premium items to swish. This was a welcome addition to the Big Swish and ensured that those swishers who brought high value items got to take out high value items in return.

In return for a Ralph Lauren jumper, shirt and T-shirt, Calvin Klein T-shirts (that didn't fit) and lots of high street goodies, I bagged myself a good selection of clothes. These included a Dolce and Gabbana black T-shirt worth around £100, Calvin Klein Tshirt worth around £50 (that did fit) and a beautiful dress worth around £30. As I was queuing to check out, a lady told me she'd bought the dress from somewhere exotic but it had never been worn!

I also spied a gorgeous pink top with butterflies and bling- (totally sums up my taste) but unfortunately someone else already had it in their arms. I was gutted...'the early bird catches the worm' and I just wasn't early enough (a good chinwag with the people from Raw meant I was at the back of the queue)! However, by the end of the swish just as I was ready to check out I spotted a woman next to a pile of clothes she'd dismissed. Among these items was the pink top I'd spied earlier so obviously I added it to my pile of gorgeous booty. Perfect! 

They say 'one woman's trash is another woman's treasure' and this really is the moto of a good swish!

Thursday, 15 July 2010

The Big Swish Evening

How do you like the idea of discount designer clothes? I bet that means you like the idea of FREE designer clothes even more, right? Well get yourself to a swish and for a small entry fee (around £7.50) and load up on FREE designer booty!

The latest swish was 'The Big Swish' in Covent Garden. I got a whole hoard of gorgeous designer clobber for free that had been donated by other swishers. The idea is this: You clear out your wardrobe before you head off. Fill a bag with bits you no longer wear-maybe you've grown out of it, fallen out of love with it, or wore it once and it's not come off the hanger since. You then get a credit for each good quality item you take. These credits can then be exchanged 1:1 for clothes that you fall in love with. As you know my goal is always to add style and value to my wardrobe. I took items worth around £50 that I no longer used and I filled up my bag with a very satisfying 10 designer items!

So what did I nab? Well here goes: my fave item of the night was definitely a pair of reversed D&G jeans with the back pockets on the front and the back styled with the corner pockets that normally sit on the front-they are infinitely cool. They are worth around £200 on their own! They are a really eye catching item and will definitely see you in the spotlight!

In addition to these fabulous jeans, I also bagged a pair of Diesel jeans worth around £80, a stunning pair of DKNY black trousers worth a tidy £60 and a Guess denim skirt also worth around £60. So just on denim designer gear I netted a cool £600 worth of clothes!

I also clinched a D&G black belt worth around £50, a Calvin Klein blue knitted scarf worth around £40 and a stylish denim Ted Baker bag worth around £60 so total of £150 on accessories alone!

I also got in quick to nab a few stunning dresses. A sexy, on trend black lace French Connection dress worth around £120, a stunning black and white print dress from Coast worth about £150, a Debut dress worth £90. That makes a total of £360 worth of beautiful dresses. 

That makes a grand total of over £1,100 of designer gear for the entrance fee of £7.50! That's 99.3% off. Now that's a saving the high street will never be able to replicate!

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Upgrade Your Wardrobe

Have you ever walked down the street and thought, I'd love to own that woman's dress; or that lady's designer handbag is to die for? I'm sure many of us have, both with complete strangers and our closest friends. Outfit envy is a common phenomenon. Often when you ask someone where they got their stylish outfit, they'll say "It's been sitting in my wardrobe for ages, I never normally even wear it!" Doesn't that just make your heart stop?-clothes lurking unloved in someone else's wardrobe when it could be making you feel a million dollars! So when someone else has clothes you just have-to-have, get them to join you at a swishing party and you can take home their unloved clothes and love them forever! (See the links at the bottom for swishing party listings).

So what's all the fuss about and what happens at a swishing party? Well I've just been to a fabulous swishing party hosted by '' in London. I met loads of friendly ladies while waiting for the swish which was great because I'd gone on my own and felt far from lonely. There's always a real buzz about swishes and it's wonderful meeting so many likeminded people. There was plenty to keep us eager fashionistas occupied while we waited for the swish to begin including 2-4-1 on food and cocktails, free skincare consultations, free make-overs and bargain beautiful henna tatoos!

Still, as wonderful as the company and cocktails were, I was there for designer clothes and I wanted to make sure I got my fair share in exchange for the lovely (but unloved) clothes in my wardrobe. I took a selection of 18 wardrobe staples e.g. M&S black trousers, beautiful evening tops, summer shorts and summer vests. What I claimed in return was definitely an upgrade! 

Among my finds was a Ralph Lauren shirt, an Elle dress, a Banana republic halterneck, a jasper conran top, a Tommy Hilfiger light jumper, a DKNY t-shirt, a Whistles top, 4 pairs of shoes including a new boxed pair of Whistles beaded shoes and a pair of boxed miss sixty shoes. The event cost just £6.50 to attend and I came away with roughly £700 of clothes and the delight of seeing other people offerring my unloved clothes a loving home. Since I know that you're dying to know, the 18 items I took with me cost me a grand total of about £70 (most of the items were free from previous swishes, free from freegle, from charity shops or from high street shops where I can afford to shop). That means that in just a couple of hours, I increased the value of the wardrobe I travelled with tenfold!

One thing is for sure, whether this swish was a swisher's 1st or 31st swish (like me), we'll all be back for more!

Monday, 5 July 2010

Bootfair Booty

This weekend I went and enjoyed the sunshine and browsed around my local bootfair. There were so many bargains to be snapped up! Most designer items at the bootfair were going for between 50p-£2! You can't even get a basic vest in a supermarket for that! So what beautiful bargains did I bring home with me this time? A Pair of Armani Jeans worth around £100 for just £1 that's 99% off! You won't find discounts like that on the high street! I also got a pair of cute Jasper Conran jeans with Jasper conran branding on the turn-ups for just £1-they are worth around £40. I then went on to get 3 diesel tops for £3 worth over £100! Further round I stopped at a stall that had several designer bags- I got a DKNY bag, an FCUK denim bag, Fiorelli bag and a brand new DKNY purse. I paid £6.50 for the 4, pocketing designer items worth a total of around £230! That's a saving of £223.50! 

A crucial point to bear in mind is that 2nd hand does not necessarily mean used. People may get presents that aren't to their taste or don't fit and are consequently never used. So if you look there are also lots of new items at bootfairs (likewise at swishes, on ebay and in charity shops). At this particular bootfair I secured a brand new with tags Guess top and a brand new with tags apple bottoms top worth a total of £90-a saving of over £85!

Totals so far are around £560 of designer clothes for around £15-That's £545 saved and I'm only part way through my booty!

I walked on a little further to find a gorgeous purple DKNY hoodie, a Diesel bright pink top and an armani exchange top for just £3 in total worth a tidy £135!  I snapped up a ralph Lauren Polo Jeans cute pink tshirt for just 50p-worth around £60 and an armani jeans vest top for 50p worth around £40-that's £100 of designer clothes for just £1!

Following this I found a John by John Richmond smart top worth around £40, a Jasper Conran summery white embroidered vest top worth around £30. That's £70 of designer clothes for just £2.

I then bagged a Guess vest top, a beautiful Coast vest top with a cute bow and sequins. I paid just £1.50 for the pair so with them being worth aproximately of £80 I saved £78.50!

I was down to my last few quid and wanted to spend it wisely so it was time for a good rummage. Don't be put off by stalls that don't have clothes neatly laid out on hangers. Sometimes, the more effort someone has made to display their clothes means they are more aware of exactly what's there and they might command higher prices accordingly. To give you an example, I saw a Ted Baker zip up top on a hanging rail and asked how much the seller wanted for it. I was told £6. In fairness, still a bargain considering it's worth around £70, but I knew I could do better. I found another stall further round that had a big pile of clothes to rummage through. I got an even nicer Ted Baker asymetric zip up top with a funky image on the back for just £2-a saving of around £68! Now that's got to be worth a rummage!

It's not always the case that clothes on hangers are more expensive though. I found another stall with so many clothes that the lady had clearly run out of space in the wardrobe-that's like music to my ears! I got a juicy couture velour tracksuit top and 2 juicy couture tshirts. The three cost me a total of £3 and are worth a staggering £270! That's an extra £267 in MY pocket rather than in the greedy hands of a designer store. Coincidently my partner and I are off on holiday to cornwall for 5 days relaxing on gorgeous sunny beaches in a couple of weeks and that saving is exactly enough to pay for both of us to go on this holiday!

My final bargain of the day with my last gold coin was a Prada bag worth about £200! What a bargain! That means that over the course of a 2 hour wander round a bootfair, 10 minutes from my home, I spent under £30 to get a grand total of nearly £1,500 worth of lovely designer clothes!

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Bargains Galore

I had a fabulous couple of hours bargain hunting this week. I got my best haul yet! I went to about 7 shops and spent around £30. That's what most women would spend on a 'cheap' pair of shoes or a 'bargain' dress. People queue from 5am for the Next half price sale-'next'? 'half price'? 'Bargain?' Most people don't know the meaning of the word! Let me tell you what a real bargain my humble opinion!

My mini spree (If you can call £30 a spree) started in an hour after work on Thursday. I started in Scope which helps people with Cerebral Palsy. I bought a Guess denim jacket for £4.99. It's worth around £125. I also snapped up a VINTAGE Christian Dior 100% silk scarf worth a staggering £120 for just £3.50! I then walked across the high street to Marie Curie Cancer Care where I bought a Guess designer tshirt-cost £3.50 worth £35 (10% of what I'd have paid I'd have bought it in the Guess store).

I then wandered over to British Heart Foundation where I got the following booty! A pair of Ralph Lauren Jeans for £4.55-worth around £120 and a pair of gorgeous 'I-want-to-wear-them-every-day' jeans by Versace. I did pay a rather expensive (for me) £9.99 for these but they are worth every penny since they would have cost me £200 if I'd walked into a department store to buy them! I can tell you now that If I had £200 to spend, I certainly wouldn't spend it in an overpriced department store. Let me also tell you this...If I spent the £600 this lot would have cost me, in a department store then no one other than the fat cats at the top would be benefitting from that money! I thought I'd done very well for myself getting £600 worth of designer clothes for under £25- you can't even buy a mass produced sweatshop outfit from Primarni for that these days!

However, yesterday just made the day before pale into insignificance! First stop was the British Heart Foundation in another town. In here I found a stunning purple boho top by Jasper conran for just £4.80. Worth £40-almost 90% off! Across the street in British Red Cross I found a pair of Ralph Lauren sexy black trousers. I paid just £3.75 for them and they are worth a tidy £85. I also found a super stylish Karen Millen skirt for just £3.75 which is worth around £90. With that £7.50 British Red Cross can provide a couple with Mosquito nets to prevent them getting Malaria after their home was destroyed in the Haiti earthquake. (I also have an additional £167.50 in the bank).

Again, I thought I'd done pretty well getting £215 of clothes for just £12.30. Then I stumbled upon The Elleanor Lions. They had a sale on where everything was £1! Queue angels singing in my ears and my happy soul floating up to cloud nine! So was it full of old ladies' cardigans and battered shoes....oh no! Try armfuls of designer clothes at £1 each-yes that's right not £1000, not £100 not even a bargainous £10 each, but £1 per item-10 designer items, worth around £300 for just the price of a £10 mobile top up. You can't say fairer than that-and to top it all the money I spent gets to help people in the community.

This is my hoard: A Calvin Klein men's shirt and a Jeff Banks men's shirt worth around £50 each. (Just so you know it's not all for the ladies). A pair of Rocha John Rocha ladies' trousers worth about £45, a Jasper Conran floral shirt worth around £35, an FCUK silver sparkly top worth around £35, a McKenzie casual top worth around £30, a DKNY top worth around £35, A John by John Richmond black shirt worth around £55, a Diesel black long sleeved top with red stitching, worth about £35 and finally a stunning Fenn Wright Manson dress worth around £100! That's nearly £400 of designer clothes for just £10! That's a £390 saving!

I can shop with a clear conscience going into charity shops knowing that I'm living within my means, (unlike department stores that encourage overspending with store cards charging obscene amounts of interest). I'm helping the environment by keeping clothes out of landfills. For example British Heart Foundation Shops prevent over 25,000 tonnes of textiles going to landfill each year. I'm also helping the community because for every £10 I spend aproximately £8.50 goes to help those whom need it most. (

That means that when I come home with more bags than I can realistically carry I know that my hard earned wages are going to help buy safe water for 15 people in Africa-equivilant to £20 spent in Oxfam (or a pair of Ralph Lauren trousers and a few designer tops). I tend to spend at least £10-20 a month in Scope. Just £10 a month will help toward the running costs of Scope response, whose staff helped nearly 10,000 disabled people last year. So now you have some idea why I can spend so little, get so much and feel so good at the end of the day!