Why pre loved?

Given I’m such a fan of buying Pre Loved clothes I thought it was about time I explained why. A recent edit of my own wardrobe showed that over half of my clothes were initially bought by someone else for someone else.

Having worked in the retail industry for over fifteen years it’s easy to be swayed by new trends and brands. My retail career began before I’d even graduated, as a languages student I lived in Madrid and discovered Spanish fashion retailer Zara, (yes there was a day pre the year 2000 when there wasn’t one on every street corner and shopping mall the world over) On my return to the UK I decided I wanted to work for them and from then onwards the business of clothes became my career.

Fast forward a few years and I’m living in London working for Arcadia Group where I discovered the weekly sample sale, with cast offs from the likes of Top Shop and Miss Selfridge, it didn’t matter that part of the garment was ripped, or missing a button or wrongly sized, these were (almost free) clothes and when you are 23 and styling yourself in one of the world’s most expensive cities you soon learn to make do and mend. I was hooked on the concept of taking clothes that someone else didn’t want and making them work for me.

Wearing Pre Loved 2

Ten years later I’m living in Hong Kong (yes, I know, another expensive city!) I started to organize Frock Swaps, for charity. Women would come along with the clothes they no longer wore, I’d set them all up like a boutique and other women could take them away. Everyone goes away with something new to them, and the clothes get a new lease of life.

In fact one of the first things that took Make My Wardrobe Work from an idea to a reality was the feedback at the Frock Swaps. Women kept telling me that had so much more at home but didn’t know what to keep, tailor or donate. I was also frustrated by the amount of amazing clothes hanging in wardrobes all over Hong Kong that never saw the light of day. So in 2013 I set about helping women to love and feel fabulous in the clothes they already owned and teach them how to become a savvy shopper, not wasting money on pieces that didn’t get worn past the fitting room.

It is well documented that the textile industry is the second biggest polluter after oil and the continued media frenzy of “buy new, buy often” encourages us to buy and then discard clothes all too quickly. Well-made and cared for clothes will last a lifetime, sometimes two. Pre Loved is a simple concept that’s good for your wallet and the environment. Many women, myself included, love having new clothes, and why not fashion is fun but buying items you don’t love nor wear only serves the growing profits of retailers.

Shopping Pre Loved

What’s not to love about fabulous new to you clothes from brands that are often out of our budgets, or an opportunity to experiment with styles and colours without breaking the bank, or even simply to pick up great pieces which you will love and wear and in doing so keep the lifecycle of a garment going longer. It’s fashions biggest win win!

For more on the best of the Hong Kong Pre loved scene check out;

And of course the annual charity Make My Wardrobe Work Festive Frock Swap.

Packing Top Tips

Returning from our family mini break, our neighbour remarked upon how little luggage we had, although my husband would disagree, (he still thinks all four of us should be able to travel with a ruck sack) I was quite pleased at the recognition I’d received for my savvy packing. In years gone by I would travel with countless bikinis and enough shoes to cover every eventuality but these days travelling with children means I need to pack smart if I want to showcase a different look using limited pieces. So I thought I’d share my top tips on what to take on your next sunshine trip;

  • SWIMWEAR: it’s small so you can afford to take a couple of options, (reversible gives you even more choice). Remember: this is not your 1998 Ibiza trip- you do not need two different bikinis every day!IMG_7324
  • KAFTAN: long enough to double as a sun dress. Essential when the sun is too strong, or when you don’t think lunching in your bikini top is quite as appropriate as it was in the days when you were haggling for free shots.
  • A good sized COTTON SCARF: this works as sarong for the beach, a cover up when visiting any religious buildings, and you can wear on the plane when it gets a bit chilly.
  • MAXI DRESS: this is your numero uno piece- universally flattering, preferably in a colour or print (for many women black is not as forgiving as they think). Choose one that you can wear casually around the pool, or accessorize for dinner. Add in an extra sundress to see you through the week, I have one that can be worn as a top too, so perfect to also wear with………IMG_1052
  • SHORTS: denim or chino-esque, these are key for mixing and matching with a casual vest (take a few, small and easily washable if needed) for daytime, and pair with a fancier top (see above dress) for the evening.IMG_7328
  • FLIP FLOPS & SANDALS: yep, that is it on the footwear front. Sorry ladies.  A pair of fancy, or coloured, sandals that can be dressed up or down will go with everything. Come on, who really wears the two pairs of heels they packed?
  • TRAVEL IN TROUSERS: Woven joggers, lightweight wide legs, or capri’s all fit the bill. Not only are they ideal if you are covering up on a sightseeing trip, but perfect paired with another fancy top for dinner.
  • PACKING: if you are packing a hat and don’t want to wander around the airport wearing it, pack it upside down in your case, filled with your underwear and swimwear to protect the shape. When packing, to avoid creased clothes, always roll, never fold. Finally, always put a swimsuit for you and your family in hand luggage so, even in the worst case and you arrive before your bags, you can still head straight to the pool and worry about the rest later.


Happy Holidays!

Make My Wardrobe Work