Sunday, 22 December 2013

New Year, new you?

The New Year is a wonderful time. Fresh hope and new beginnings linger like the smell of freshly baked bread. We are positively drunk with the promise of new possibilities, buoyant against the tide of all that awaits us in the year ahead.  But, we are hardly going to change overnight and that’s why that resolution to give up smoking/lose 1 stone/stop biting your finger nails (delete as appropriate) is best never made. I loathe lazy January magazine filler stories with the headlines “New Year, new you!” Ok, ok I may be a bit premature with this, jumping the gun that is Christmas and heading straight for the finish line that is New Year’s Eve but I wanted to stop you before you decided on a list of (unrealistic) New Year’s resolutions resolving to …well, resolve nothing.

For two years I have been following a New Year plan trademarked by my friend Posh Jen (named as such because she is the poshest person I know). One year Jen was bemoaning the fact she didn’t have anyone to go to Madrid with when her sister, sick to the back teeth of hearing the broken record again, just said “why don’t you go on your own? Why are you waiting for someone else? You always go on about all these things you want to do and you NEVER DO THEM!”

And that was that – Jen got to thinking about all the other things which she said she wanted to do but never actually did: put a new kitchen in, take sign language classes, organise a singles dinner. She took the bull by the horns and did one thing a month for the whole of 2011. Result? 12 experiences that she was in total control of, instead of a clutch of resolutions that were subject to the whims of the world.
In 2012 I snatched up the gauntlet: I read Pride & Prejudice, cooked mussels, made hummus and baba ghanoush from scratch, went to the theatre 3 times. Instead of that emotional and mental flogging you give yourself when you break a New Year’s resolution I had a year’s worth of fat ticks when I had completed my list.

So instead of thinking ‘I’d like to eat there’ when you pass that Indian restaurant on the bus you actually go and eat there. Tick! It might be finally asking for that pay rise (but before you do bear this in mind: 76% of HR Directors believe that an employee’s style of dress at work influences their chance of promotion). So bearing that in mind it might be sorting out your work wardrobe once and for all. It might not be anything as drastic as Cheryl’s back tattoo but small things can have big consequences which are probably more fun than stopping biting your finger nails will ever be. 

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Christmas Baubles Part deux!

So we've had caring for pearls, now we have caring for sterling silver! 

Open air/oxygen and humidity encourages Sterling Silver to tarnish, therefore, avoid just leaving your jewellery lying around when you’re not wearing them.  To slow down the tarnishing process and reduce the risk of scratching against other jewellery, always put the pieces into their own jewellery bag and store in an air-tight cool dry place. 

Extra tip – for the best results, pop into a little plastic bag too for extra O2 protection! 

Sterling Silver, stored properly, can be worn often and with minimal cleaning required making it very easy to care for.  Silver polishing cloths are impregnated with jewellery cleaner and are an excellent choice for cleaning your Sterling Silver jewellery.  If you wear the items daily, Dee and Gee Designs highly recommends that you just ‘buff’ clean them every day to keep them sparkling!  These polishing cloths are inexpensive, widely available and very easy to use and it‘s a good idea to have one cleaning cloth for gold and one for silver!

Avoid Silver/Gold Plated Jewellery

One of the reasons Dee and Gee Designs only uses precious metals e.g. Sterling Silver, is that whilst plated metals maybe cheaper, there is a huge difference in quality between real sterling silver and silver/gold plated jewellery/components.  For example, silver plated merely has a very thin layer of silver bonded to a base metal, such as brass or copper, which is less durable. Even with little wear or use, the layer wears off quite quickly revealing the unsightly base metal.  Sterling Silver, however, has a more attractive colour and shine as well as the ability to last a lifetime.   When purchasing Sterling Silver jewellery, look out for a hallmark i.e. it should be stamped 'sterling silver' or '925'.

A little care invested in your jewellery pays off in the long run!!

Dee and Gee Designs is an exciting luxury brand focused on bridging the gap between designer and high street.  Their collections, all named after family members, are classical with a contemporary twist and distinctive look and style. Check out their website by clicking here!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

The Art of Re-gifting

In almost every wardrobe I have the pleasure of decluttering and restyling, I find them. Sometimes in a shoe box, sometimes in a carrier bag, sometimes in its original wrapping paper but nonetheless a hangover from the Christmas before the Christmas before: the unwanted gifts that never had the chance to give. It’s always hard when Christmas rocks around and you have to perfect your “I love it” face when 69% of us will be the lucky recipients of gifts we don’t like. Even those who operate a strict Stick to The List policy get the occasional maverick relative who goes off-list gift when all you really wanted was Zara vouchers. In 2012 M&S discovered that during the festive period over one in four of us – a staggering 15 million – admits to putting unwanted gifts straight in to the bin. So what are your alternatives?

·         Take it back - Most shops won’t take Christmas returns during the Christmas sale period so check the receipt before heading to the high street.
·         Sell it – eBay, Vestiaire, Buy My Wardrobe are good go-to sites for clothes, shoes and accessories.
·         Recycle it – Gumtree and Freecycle are two sites that will find a match for your unwanted gift. You can still specify a price on Gumtree but things tend to be free on Freecycle (funny that…)
·         Give it to charity – if you didn't buy a poppy this year then think of your charitable donation as your slice of karma pie to take you in to 2014.
·         Re-gift it - you keep the gift and give it to someone else.

Re-gifting will save you money, save you time and keep things out of landfill. It really is as easy as 1, 2, 3 but you must follow these rules:

1. The gift has to be unsuitable for you but totally perfect for someone else in your life; another friend, relative, colleague (hereby known as the gift-receiver). The gift MUST suit the gift-receivers taste and style as if you had gone to the shops and purchased it for them.
2. You should never tell the gift-giver what happened to their gift – this will make you appear ungrateful
3. The gift-giver and gift-receiver MUST be in separate social circles preferably in another part of the country. This works great if you have friends and family in different cities.

The art of re-gifting is seeing all the possibilities in a gift and thinking beyond it as a gift that you don’t want- who would it bring joy to in your life? The beauty of re-gifting means that you are suitably prepared for the year ahead. All you need to do is wrap the gift and write the card. And you've done your bit by keeping something out of landfill. Now go and polish your halo.

Monday, 2 December 2013

The Recycle for Greater Manchester Fashion Show

Pure talent swept across the stage at MOSI last Wednesday night. Dresses made from newspaper, paper clips and train tickets rubbed shoulders with fantastic upcycled and re-cycled from the likes of Zolibeau

Much like when I spoke to Wayne Hemmingway (CLANG...massive name drop) before the Festival of Thrift, he said that no-one likes to have stuff rammed down their throat or be made to feel that what they do isn't good enough when it comes to recycling and upcycling. And it's a message that the guys at Recycle for Greater Manchester have picked up and run with. 

Commenting on the show, Sheridan Hilton, Waste Prevention Manager at Recycle for Greater Manchester said: “This is the third year of the upcycled fashion show and we are partnering with a range of fantastic and diverse organisations to inspire and encourage residents in Greater Manchester to upcycle and make the most of their clothes."

Yet there is work to be done: Manchester alone buys 90,000 tonnes of clothing each year but throws away over half of that - 59,000 tonnes - to make room for new purchases. The point of the evening for me was to show people that there is life in the old clothes yet and that chucking them in the bin should never be an option. 

Here are some fantastically fashion pictures taken on the night:

Adnan Bayatt dress 'Attachment' crafted from 40,000 paper clips. 

Wedding dress made entirely of newspaper closed the show.