Tuesday, 28 May 2013

How to wear a midi skirt if you're not a midi skirt kinda gal.

I bought this Topshop skirt from eBay, new with tags, for £6. I never saw it in store (I have been banned from setting foot in there now I live just off Oxford Street) but when I saw it online I fell in love.  I’d seen a similar one in stock in The Kooples on Carnaby Street, for £240, however it had a tie waist rather than elastic. That’s the only noticeable difference (except the quality of lace but hey, beggars can’t be choosers!).

I am not a girly girl, nor am I a midi skirt wearer – I am fairly tall, have a hefty bum but a small waist and whenever I tried them on they made me look like a heifer. However I wasn’t bothered – I turned into MUST HAVE IT mode and for £6 it was all mine. There is a matching turtle-neck cropped top in stock at the moment in Topshop, but I am not about to go all 90s late-Top 40 Girl Band just yet.

The skirt is Paisley patterned lace which ticks one trend box, but I didn’t buy this because it was cool. I bought it because it is already one of the most versatile pieces in my wardrobe. I have worn it to work, with a pair of 100 denier tights, some Matalan ankle boots (from the post before…at £22 I could not resist!) and a vintage Specials band tshirt from some charity shop in Sheffield. I topped this look with a statement necklace from ASOS and my favourite Acne leather jacket. As it has a mini-skirt underneath the midi-length lace skirt, for work, tights are a must. Playing down the lace was also key – it became less of a statement piece and more of an outfit as a whole. I loved this look and so many people complimented me on it.

After I was head over heels in love with it, I wore the skirt again on a night out back in Stoke. I forgot to bring a t-shirt to wear with it, so I stole a Banana Republic plain black silk t-shirt from my mum (which I might have possibly bought back to London with me…), and wore a very cool jewelled necklace from H&M a couple of months ago. With bare legs underneath, the skirt became less cool and more sexy, which is why I was keen not to pair it with anything too risqué… as my mum said, ‘is that your grungey take on glamorous?!’ With a pair of ankle-strap velvet & gold heels from Topshop’s Abigail’s Party range about four years ago and duh, my leather jacket, it felt great, was super comfortable and looked different to my usual mini-dress, ankle boots going-out look.

I thought midi-skirts were for those more… tanned than I. But no, I’ve since bought two more (a bias cut silk one from Topshop Unique, and a floral tapestry-effect jersey one from…Topshop). Teamed with a plain Gap linen-mix t-shirt and some ankle strap sandals, they’re cool, easy to wear and most important of all, good for the booty.

Jesus Shoes

or...more PC. Sandals.


So I’ve been on a bit of summer spending spree recently as I had sold some stuff on eBay and had some money hidden in my PayPal (so L wouldn’t see it! I’ve given my secret away now…). One thing I really need was some summer shoes. I love ankle boots more than anybody should – but I own way too many and they’re not always great for the occasional summer day, and can often drag down an otherwise summery look! I wanted to get some with buckles – my favourite shoes at the minute are EVERYTHING at Opening Ceremony in Covent Garden. So anything Proenza Schouler, Acne, Christopher Kane… and I love a good chunky buckle. I’m not and never have been a dainty shoe girl. I love clumpy shoes, I am a child of the nineties so obviously the Spice Girls have stuck with me more than I like to admit. Except for jelly shoes. You will never find me in a pair of jellies. Sorry. Anyway – I was conscious not to go too far with the buckles and look like a goth, I am far too pale and dark-haired to risk running into that territory. I also like to have a tan version of anything I have in black. Call me boring, I don’t care. There is no colourway in the world that won’t go with one or the other of these. So anyway… here’s what I ended up buying. All of which were bargains…

£15, eBay


These black faux leather ankle strap heels are exactly what I was after. Chic enough for the office (sometimes a girl needs a lift) but also cool enough for non-office hours (whenever they may be). The gold detailing is great as it goes with everything, and the ankle strap makes them look much much more expensive than they were. People in the office thought they were Acne/Zara. The heel isn’t too high and they look good with jeans AND midi-skirts and erm I think I will stop singing their praises now. But I love them and they love my wardrobe. They’ll probably save me a fortune as I won’t have to re-do all of my summer outfits – they bring it up to date… [/end of justifying fifteen pound shoes].

£12, Primark


These were not an intended buy – my budgeted black sandals were meant to be as above but JUST LOOK AT THEM. They are a blatant rip-off of Acne but who cares, it meant I could have them AND go out at the weekend. They are black (again) and have buckles (again) and have an ankle strap (again) but they are super comfortable, especially if you’re awkward like me and can’t wear the post between your toes. Normal thongs are bad enough, don’t make me wear shoe thongs too. They were quite wide fitting which sucks if you have narrow feet like me but…the joy of buckles!! I adjusted them and they now fit perfectly, the silver detailing is very cool AND they look tres expensive. Win win win.

£3, Topshop via eBay


Did absolutely 100% not need these shoes BUT. These are the holiday version of my office sandals. Raffia heel, canvas straps, silver detailing – a lighter sandal to wear on sunny days and holidays. Though they did give me carpet burn the first time I wore them. But for £3, I have no shame. I love a buckle, so sue me. Plus they look very cool with some baggy boyfriend jeans. Not that I wear those as they are very unforgiving on someone with a generous sized bottom. But they do. I’ve seen them on a blog. Somewhere. I’ll find the post eventually.

I know this post was a bit boring but sandals took me forever to find (so long, in fact, that the sun had disappeared by the time I wanted to wear them) so I am doing this as a public service. Having been round every shop in Central London, these are the best of the bunch. Apart from these ones I saw in Topshop………

Thrifty Thrifty

What eBay is like in my head...
What eBay is like in my head...

As I get approximately three hundred* parcels delivered to work each week, people have started to ask me for tips on how to buy stuff on eBay that isn’t total junk. ‘Where did you get that dress, Tash?’ has become ‘how much was that on eBay, Tash?’ This is usually followed by disgruntled WHAAATTs when I tell them my totally Christopher Kane inspired vintage denim & leather pinafore was £1.40. Haters gonna hate. So here are my tips for eBay. My friend Gemma from GG's Closet asked for some tips the other day and I drew a blank, so I've given it some thought. I am in no way the best eBayer and have cried myself to sleep over some items I’ve lost – some embroidered Giuseppe Zanotti ankle boots I lost for £12 have appeared in my dreams no less than seven times. But I do spend a lot of time on there and have learnt a few tricks…

Sundays are the best times to list, but conversely, the most expensive times to buy...

The app is so useful – it sounds obvious but set up alerts for watched items and make sure you’re free at the time that your listing is ending. There is no worse feeling than losing an item purely because you forgot about it.

DON’T USE A BIDSNIPER! They’re unfair and I can’t believe eBay doesn’t stop use of them. They’re also a very easy way to spend a lot of money very quickly. Just put an honest bid on the item and wait and see – you can’t be mad at yourself if you were honest. But at the same time, be realistic. That Chanel purse might be on £6 now, but are you going to be upset if your £15 bid isn’t quite enough? eBay is ephemeral – here today and gone tomorrow. Dry your eyes - there’ll be another.

Have a limit on each item and promise yourself you won’t go over it. Bidsnipers encourage the ‘oh it’s only £3 more’ attitude, but this adds up. Trust me. I can’t guarantee you won’t want to punch yourself in the face but it’s so easy to get carried away with the odd few pounds, you can land yourself in trouble! Remember – we’re bargain hunting!

If you’ve missed your DREAM ITEM (we’ve all been there more than once), then there are steps you can take. Firstly, don’t remove it from your watched or bidded on items. If the buyer doesn’t pay for whatever reason, you may become eligible for a second chance offer, or be notified when it gets relisted. Secondly, set up an alert for when the same item gets relisted (but think carefully about what people might name it!).

When searching for an item, be aware that not everybody may be as fashion-savvy as you. So you may know lovely satchel bags as ‘Proenza PS1 style’ or that Peter Pan collar dress as ‘Valentino AW13’. But what about your aunt who’s emptied her loft of some vintage treasures? What would she call it? Think laterally about these things…

Also if an item has been seen on a celebrity and you have loads of money, go ahead and search for that celebrity’s name. If you think you might want it if it’s a fiver, then don’t search for their name. The reason they go for more money with a celebrity name in the title is because they’re easy to find. No pain no gain my friend. Remember those hours spent searching in TK Maxx for a pair of discounted Cheap Mondays in year 9? Well those hours have shifted onto the computer. To win at eBay, you need to dedicate a little searching time. As my favourite TV show, Extreme Couponing, shows us – you can’t be the Coupon Queen without a few papercuts! Don’t judge me – there’s a moral in there. You can’t be the eBay queen without a couple of hours digging…

There’s a lot to be said for these sellers in Hong Kong. They make excellent replicas, particularly of high-end high street items (think Zara/Reiss/Cos) at a fraction of the price. Don’t expect them to be amazing quality, but if you’re buying them for a season, you might not want to spend £300 on a leather sleeved coat when a pleather one would do. I have lots of love for pleather. Once you find a good seller, favourite them as they update their stock very frequently and you might be surprised! The postage tends to be cheap too considering it’s shipped, though naturally the wait is longer than if your item is coming from the UK.

If someone says ‘check out my other items’ then…check out their other items! It’s a great way to combine postage, and if you like one item of theirs, then chances are you’ll like some of their others. Always make sure you message to ask them to combine the postage unless it’s listed in the description, as it’s not a necessity but is generally seen as good eBay practice and most people are happy to oblige.

Don’t be scared of menswear. It is often cheaper than womenswear – how many men want to sit in front of a laptop for two hours on a Sunday? THIS IS YOUR SPACE. I got an amazing paisley vintage mens shirt for £2. The same item would have undoubtedly sold for a tenner if listed in womenswear. So long as it’s a loose fitting item or something with a good cut, you’ll be fine. Androgyny is eternally cool.

Be realistic about the item you’re expecting. Sometimes you will get a pristine leather satchel bag for £2 (this did happen once), but sometimes you might get a battered up, old crappy pair of shoes with about three minutes wear left in them. What did you expect for 99p? You’ll learn from it, you’ll spot when people are being dodgy with their pictures and you won’t do it again. Think about if the return postage is enough, it’s sometimes cost me more to actually return an item and that’s just not in the eBay spirit! I’m not suggesting you let people get away with selling crap, but leave honest feedback and move on…some people take it way to seriously…

Don’t be afraid of designers! So you can’t afford that Burberry trench coat Cara’s wearing in the new print ad? But maybe you can afford a Burberry trench coat that’s a couple of seasons old for the price of a new one in New Look! I am not kidding. Designer clothes go for less than you would imagine on eBay (notable exception – Chanel. Everything Karl touches turns to PayPal GOLD). Be brave and search out designers that you wouldn’t normally even dare look in the window of. It won’t be this season, we’re not in Kansas any more, Toto, but if you look for classic items you can get exceptional quality and the cuts will be so much more flattering. One thing to take into account is that designer clothes tend to be tailored much more accurately than high street ones – there’s no glamour sizing for Prada. So be honest about your size – if it’s listed as a size 8, then it will absolutely be a true size 8. Just be prepared to dry clean it once you’ve got it - you don’t always need to, but at least it won’t be a surprise dent in your shopping budget then! And if it says dry clean only and you ignore it – you only have yourself to blame.

Brush up on your needlework. Nothing big, you don’t need a sewing machine. But beautiful items with very small amounts of damage go for a hell of a lot less than pristine ones. Sweeping generalisation but: most people are lazy. Think of eBay like the Hunger Games. He with the most skills wins. You need patience, you need timing, you need savvy and you need your year 8 certificate in needlework. There’s a button missing? A bit of stitching has come away? A collar needs starching? MAN UP and DO IT. Or ask your Nan very kindly to teach you – remember that saying about giving a man a fish or teaching him to fish? You will not regret learning a quick technique or two.

*Slight exaggeration. I promise.