October 25, 2021

Sustainable Fashion on the High Street

If you've been following me for a while you'll already know I'm a big fan of wearing vintage and preloved clothes. Not just because it's good for my bank balance but also because I think we all need to play our part in creating a more sustainable fashion environment. You can create sustainable style whilst shopping on the high street too. I love fashion and always will do but I am becoming increasingly conscious of the damaging impact the fast fashion industry has on our environment; let's face it, it's impossible to ignore! But it doesn't mean we can't remain stylish.

I completely understand that the thought of going vintage shopping is a little daunting for some and that spending hours in a charity shop or on Ebay isn't going to be for everyone. That's why it's exciting to see high street brands bringing this conversation into the mainstream. I love what the Designer Boutique as part of Next have been doing to make sustainable fashion more accessible.

The recently launched collaboration with designers Marques Almeida and Caroline Issa turns unloved, deadstock fabrics into 'wearable works of art'. Vogue business recently reported that "deadstock fabric and unsold inventory are weighing down the fashion industry, which is responsible for 10 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions" perhaps a sobering thought next time you look in your wardrobe!

With this in mind I'm really wanting to create a wardrobe that works harder for me, with pieces that can transition across the seasons.

I love this Marques Almeida X Label stripe shirt dress #gifted ,which will look great this Winter with a black polo jumper, thick tights and biker boots or over jeans as well as dressed up with heels for a night out.

In the Summer I'll be back in my faithful white pumps and denim jacket so this dress will still look fresh. You might be thinking £129 is a bit pricey for a shirt dress but when you think about how much wear you could actually get out of it then it becomes a sound investment.

Wrap organisation , a charity that works to promote and support sustainable resources, reported that "As a whole in the UK, the average lifetime for a garment of clothing is estimated as ~2.2 years" But if we extend the active wear of our clothing by an extra 9 months we can significantly reduce the negative impact on our environment.

I've also got my eye on the Bright check coat designed by Caroline Issa as part of this collection.

Of course it's not just Next that are making positive changes with sustainable fashion on the high street, here's a few of my favourites to follow!

H&M made a commitment to make sure at least 50% of each piece in their Conscious collection is made from sustainable materials.

Asos Responsible Edit is a one stop shop for environmentally conscious clothing and accessories. This seems like a particularly important move for a brand known for its fast fashion links.

You can't go wrong with & Other Stories and they have a great collection of clothes made from recycled and sustainably sourced materials.

If you're wanting a bit of luxury why not take a look at the Rixo Sustainable collection. I love the Pink Paisley dress made from  recyclable materials and off cuts of fabric that would have otherwise been wasted and it's made in a female owned factory in India too. Only available on line.

“As consumers, we have so much power to change the world by just being careful in what we buy”

#Emma Watson


If you'd like to read more about how to create a sustainable wardrobe why not read my Style Swops & Charity Shops post.

#gifted #sustainablefashion #highstreetfashion #sustainablestyle #midlifestyle #over50style #shirtdress #stripes #fashionafter40 #fashionblogger




March 18, 2020

Have you heard about Cabi Clothing?

I thought I was pretty good at knowing what's out there in the fashion industry so I was quite surprised I'd never heard of Cabi clothing before now.

Am I the only one that this has passed by? I first heard about them through my lovely friend and co-organiser of the Silver & Sassy York fashion Week event, Annie Stirk.

Annie organised independent Cabi stylist Deborah Richardson to include Cabi clothing in our fashion show; we spent a fabulous morning looking at the Spring Collection and I was really impressed.

Annie and I are obviously gutted to have to postpone our event due to Coronavirus but it was the right decision and we are already making plans to be back when the time is right even sassier than before!

Cabi is an American clothing brand, founded in 2002 by Carol Anderson and Kimberly Inskeep (who I've now added to my podcast guest wish list), alongside 10 other co-founders. Cabi have made huge waves in the American fashion industry with sales now reported at £200m a year, this is a serious brand that has now moved in to the UK market.

I loved hearing the story behind the idea, born from women feeling unfulfilled with their working lives and bored with their wardrobes. They set out to create a direct home selling fashion brand; you need to get the 1970's Tupperware party image out of your head right now! They've certainly proved there's a market for it.

Think of it as a styling party with friends, a chance to try new looks without the confinements of a shop changing room with poor lighting.The stylist sets up the seasons' collection, showcases individual pieces and gives styling tips and advice along the way. The fun part comes when you get to play dress up and try the clothes on. It seems like in a world where we are all craving that connectivity and personal touch this is a brand with great timing.

It's a huge success in America and had been in the UK for three and a half years now. What impressed me most was the quality of the clothes, the material and the cut is better than in your average high street shop.

The price is mid range but although some items may seem a bit pricey, you are paying for better quality and designs that will carry on working in your wardrobe for years to come. I should point out I'm not affiliated with Cabi and this is just my first impression of something new to me.

Deborah kindly came to my home with the whole of the Spring Collection so I could have a one to one session and I tried on so many great items, I was spoilt for choice.

Here are some of my favourite pieces.

This Botanical Kimono is not something I would normally go for but I really liked how the geometric print breaks up the floral design and teamed with a bright Yellow Cami it looks fresh.

I'm a huge fan of wearing Red and Deborah showed me how to turn this Siren wrap dress in to a completely different look. That's why It's great to have a stylist on board that can give you great tips and push you out of your comfort zone.

This was one of my favourites and I don't normally go for the boho look but this Poet jacket and Discovery Trouser felt so comfortable and easy to wear. I can imagine living in this in the Summer and it would be great for travelling. I'm sure I'm not the only one mentally planning where they can escape to for some sun once we've got through this current time!

This Green library jacket would work with so many different looks, dressed down with blue jeans and a white t-shirt and trainers or dressed up Chanel style with a little black dress and ballet pumps.

Pretty in Pink. This blazer is part of the Grace suit and it's on my wish list. It's all in the detail, scarves can make such a difference to an outfit too.

Which outfit do you like most?

I could have created so many different wearable outfits and as I was trying things on I found myself thinking of my friends and who would suit what, so I have booked a Cabi party for when life gets back to normal. Fashion should be fun and shopping for new clothes should be a positive experience which I feel has been sadly lacking on the high street recently, especially for women hitting midlife who don't feel represented out there.

We all know there has been a sharp increase on shopping on line for convenience but maybe Cabi's home selling marketing might help bridge the gap for those wanting a more personal shopping experience. If you're thinking that direct home selling is not for you Cabi have been forward thinking to also create the Cabi Ap. Recently launched so you can watch style shows, see the full collection, create looks with previously ordered items which helps make sure you get the most of your wardrobe and then order on line.

I've been converted!

To find out more visit https://deborahrichardson.cabionline.uk/

Keep being fabulous!

Rachel x

October 7, 2019

Fighting ageism in fashion with Jacynth Bassett

The week I chatted with Jacynth Bassett founder of The-Bias-Cut.com. We find out why at 26 years old Jacynth is so passionate about fighting ageism in the fashion industry alongside some tips on how to take steps to regain your fashion confidence.

Where did the idea come from Jacynth?

I was at university, studying Law but I realised it wasn't really for me. I wanted to do something that I found I cared about and I'd always loved the fashion industry, not just the clothes but the industry as a whole. I quickly got to thinking about my mum and how we'd go shopping a lot when I was a teenager. She had me at 40 so she was already experiencing ageing quite quickly when I was young. She loves clothes and she was really struggling to find beautiful things that she loved to wear. We'd go into shops and shop assistants would be quite dismissive of her and she would often say 'Oh this isn't for me and then bought me things because she felt she couldn't wear them. It was really from that I gained the inspiration, I wanted to give back her confidence through style and fashion.

During your period of research into how older women felt about fashion what surprised you the most?

I think what surprised me the most was the split view of what I wanted to do. I did a survey and one of the questions was about using women over forty as models of all shapes and sizes, all the people I surveyed were late forties, fifties and about half said they didn't like the idea. That really surprised me but what I realised was a lot of the women comments were based on their own pre-judged biased. It's what they have been used to seeing and then can't imagine what I was thinking of. A website that would really empower women they thought it would be really dowdy and frumpy. After I initially launched the blog a couple of those women then emailed me saying ,'If this is what you meant, I really like this'.

Have you come across that ageist attitude because you are younger in an older category, have peoples attitudes been different towards you?

Not really, I found people have really responded well to that, a lot of people have commented that they really like that I'm younger. Women seem to think I can bring an objective perspective in to it and I'm not just going to choose clothes that I would wear, although I do love all the clothes. I've had the odd patronising person but most people have been very positive and I've been welcomed with open arms. Just because I'm not directly affected by ageism doesn't mean I shouldn't care about it.

What is your age demographic for The-Bias-Cut.com?

Mainly forties to late sixties, but actually we have customers of all ages, because the brands we sell don't specifically target that bracket. The idea is everything is ageless. It's nice that I get so many women sending me messages and photos in the clothes, saying its given them loads of confidence from wearing their outfits.

You must see a difference in women's confidence when they are buying clothes that they feel really good in.

It's really interesting because when it first started people went with really safe options and as the business as gone on those customers have really started to step out of their comfort zone. We have an exceptionally low return rate on line shopping because women are having fun experimenting. When I do events I can guess which pieces they will gravitate towards and it's about saying why don't you try this but in a different colour because a lot of women put themselves in a box about what they can wear.

What about internet shopping for this particular age group, that's another challenge isn't it, to ask them to buy on line with confidence, how have you found that?

Challenging! I do have people that say to me surely that demographic don't buy on line but that's just not true, it's the fastest growing demographic for online shopping. There is still a lack of confidence there, mainly down to previous experience of shopping online where there's been lack of quality and fit, I do events which help show the customers our pieces directly. It's about building a good reputation based on the quality of service.

I like buying online because you have the luxury of having your wardrobe there to try with different shoes, your accessories.

Exactly you can see how it's going to fit in to your wardrobe there. I think you have less buyers remorse too.

Why do you think it is that women in their forties and fifties often lose their fashion confidence, what do you think the industry does wrong?

Well first of all its about the imagery. I think the stats are something like we see between 3000-5000 images a day so the majority of those adverts feature women that are younger. It takes someone with a very thick skin to somehow not be affected by that, even sub-consciously. When you have the likes off Cara Delevingne, whose my age, the face of an anti-ageing product, it's not great!

It's an interesting thing with ageism I've found through different discussions with people. There are people who say they are pro-ageing but they still have a very restricted idea of how we should age.I've had someone say to me that after the age of 50 you shouldn't care about looking sexy.

I don't get that. I've never felt more sexy than in my forties.

A lot of women have said they've been a mother, career orientated and then lost a sense of self and stuck in practical clothes or office wear all the time. Women have told me that want to be stylish again but they don't know how to get back there.

I really like the fact that you use non-model women, of all shapes and sizes who we can all relate to. I hate the term 'real women' because we are all real.

People can just apply to model for us and the number of women applying have really gone up since the beginning. It's really lovely to see that they are confident enough and willing to do that and try something different.

What I also love about you is aside from the-bias-cut.com you are also really proactive within the industry about fighting ageism. Can you tell us a little bit more about the kind of things you have been involved in?

So I started this campaign movement called 'Ageism is never in style' back in 2016.

It started as an online community on facebook, a group where people came together to share their thoughts and ideas. I share what's going on the industry, different articles and people can have their voice heard by leaving comments. It's an interesting thing ageism , because its about choice and I still don't think we're there yet with everyones understanding of that.I write a lot of articles for magazines, forty plus communities and speak at events. In February 2018 I had this eleventh hour brainwave that I wanted to create these 'Ageism is never in style' badges just before fashion week. I thought to myself this is either going to be a really big hit or let's just pretend that never happened, but yeah it took off massively. They're free and people were ordering them in batches to give to there friends and it really sparked off conversations. *these badges are still available to order free https://www.facebook.com/commerce/products/2006883626047089/

What piece of advice could you give to a woman that has that craving to get back to feeling good in their clothes?

The thing I always say to people is just give it a go. If it doesn't work on you can just take it off. I see customers more at our pop up events and I get such a lovely reaction to clothes and then they say but I couldn't wear that. It's not until they try things on and see for themselves and hear other peoples reactions to them. Just try it you might be surprised.

Last three questions I ask every guest

Do you have a favourite song that motivates you?

I do but its so embarrassing!! 'All I do is Win' which is a hiphop rap song by DJ Khaled, don't judge me!

A Favourite book

I'm going to be completely honest with you I don't read a lot of books even though I love them. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte and I recently read Amy Poehler's autobiography, Yes Please, which was really interested, I liked how candid and honest she was.

Who Inspires you?

My mum is a big inspiration in my life.

Women like Natalie Massenet with the career she's had inspire me, there are lots of women that inspire by the things they've done.

You can follow Jacynth on Instagram @the_bias_cutcom Facebook @the-bias-cut.com and Twitter @the_Bias_Cutcom and check out www.the-bias-cut.com on line store for lots of fashion inspiration.

To listen to the full interview-


In the meantime .....keep being fabulous!


October 8, 2018

Women over 40 are not invisible. When will fashion brands and advertising catch up?

When JD Williams partnered with ZPRSoho to create a protest against the lack of representation on the high street for the over 45's I jumped at the chance to be involved. It's something I am passionate about and equally frustrated by it too.

I love fashion and it wasn't until i hit my 40's that my body confidence really grew and I love experimenting with different looks. I do shop right across the board in high street stores, including Top Shop, Next, Mango etc etc. I will walk in to a store and try hard to ignore the clear signs that this is aimed at a younger generation, pretty hard to do when you are bombarded with bill boards of young women modelling the clothes, don't get me started on the size 8 mannequins! I am also aware that not all women reach there 40's with a lots of body confidence and a new found sense of direction, making the thought of walking into high street stores that much harder and intimidating. JD Williams commissioned a report with women over 45 and sadly 70% of them felt ignored by the high street. Something has to change!

I dream of a day when high street stores show women of all ages wearing their clothes, how inspiring would it be to be able to relate to someone your age in an outfit. Shopping would be a much happier experience for everyone involved.

Photo with Ava Fay Thompson, both wearing Next.

Pretty in Pink with Ava Fay Thompson, wearing Next jumpsuits.

That's why I am so happy and proud to have been involved in JDWilliams AW18 'I Am' campaign, which has really showcased diversity with relatable women. Love this photo with Annie Hawkins, Anna Parkes, Savi Reynolds and Paulina Byrne.

Autumn I AM campaign with JDWilliams.

So four women including the beautiful Jilly Johnson, who is regularly seen voicing her opinions on the failure of the fashion industry to represent the older women set off on a busy Oxford Street armed with placards and loud voices.

Oxford Street protest with Jilly Johnson for JDWilliams with ZPR.

Jilly Johnson protesting with JDWilliams for better representation for older women on the high street.

It may only have been a small step but we have to keep pushing those boundaries and reminding the industry that we are not going away and need to be seen and heard.

I AM not going quietly!

I AM NOT INVISIBLE! Wearing Next leopard print dress and my favourite leather jacket.


April 30, 2018

Why are women over 40 so invisible in the fashion industry?

Flick through any fashion magazine and you will notice a distinct lack of middle aged 40-50 year old models . Whilst it is wonderful to see the increase in older models such as the incredible 70 year old Maye Musk, the industry seems to be completely overlooking the middle aged bracket. Why are we so invisible to the high street fashion market? Especially when you consider that women over 50 make up 47% of the spending market. I want to be inspired when I open up magazines by women of my own age group that I can relate to and that reflect me, wearing high street modern fashion. We have money to spend and there is #nowrongage to express yourself through your clothes.

Green top- UK16 www.boohoo.com

Vinyl skirt- UK14 www.simplybe.co.uk

Shoes vintage www.etsy.com/uk/shop/myvintagebeau

I love this outfit an ended up buying the whole outfit,including the vintage beret from https://facebook.com/myvintagebeau Trousers and dustecoat www.simplybe.co.uk

Flamenco dancer in the making! Beautiful dress from Simply, UK16

It's good to step out of your fashion comfort zone and try different looks, after all there are lots of different sides to our personalities.

Trousers and jacket www.simplybe.co.uk Boots www.tkmaxx.com

Thank you Laura Carly Adams for the fab photography and Trudy Beau stylist for helping showcase some cool outfits.


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