Fashion, Life & Style

Your Ethical Style: Jen Gale

make do and mend

I’ve got another great Your Ethical Style interview again for you today.  I know I say they’re all great, but I really do love how each person interviewed so far has different takes on ethical fashion.  In today’s interview, I’ve got blogger Jen Gale, from the blog My Make Do and Mend Year.  A little while ago Jen spent a whole year buying nothing new for her or her family (bar the essentials) so I thought it would be fascinating to have Jen’s take on ethical fashion, and to hear of her experience buying nothing new:

Jen Gale

Jen in a jumper she cunningly converted to a cardigan and jeans she made into a skirt!

Hi Jen, readers of Moral Fibres might know you from your blog, My Make Do and Mend Year, but can you share with us three facts about you that we might not know? 
1)  I have started to use my deodorant to wash my face…!
2)  I am quite good at making a noise like a guinea pig!
3)  We have a 76 year old tortoise called Speedy.

Where are your favourite places to shop for ethical clothing?
Charity shops mainly.  I tend to try and buy second-hand, and that way, I am avoiding contributing to the demand for fast fashion.

If I’m looking for something special, I will have a root round the vintage shops.  We are lucky enough to live near Frome, which has a couple of fabulous ones.  If I need something quite specific, and can’t face trawling around the charity shops on the off chance one of them will have what I’m looking for, and in the right size, then I do occasionally resort to eBay.

The only new clothes I have bought recently have been pants!  And I got them from a brilliant company called Who Made Your Pants – they use end of line lingerie material that the big companies no longer want, and employ disadvantaged woman from the local community (in Southampton) to make them.

who made your pants

One of the workers at Who Made Your Pants – photo c/o Who Made Your Pants

What’s the last ethical item that you bought?
A hat from the Eden Project, called a Tarp-hat.  As the name suggests, it’s made from old tarpaulins that were used to cover goods in lorries in Brazil.

Is there anything secondhand or ethical that you are lusting over at the moment? 
Having recently watched Dawn O’Porter in This Old Thing on Channel 4, I am lusting over any vintage clothes!  I really want to go mad in a vintage shop and buy fabulous clothes from the ’20’s through to the ’60’s, to replace all the boring ones in my wardrobe!

Do you have a top tip for shopping ethically?
As I said earlier, my main ‘method’ of shopping ethically involves Buying Nothing New.  It’s my little stand against the seemingly insatiable demand for disposable clothes.

I know that the issues around fast fashion are huge, and there is the argument that if we didn’t buy the cheap clothes, then the garment industries in countries like Bangladesh would collapse, and the workers would find themselves even worse off.  But the thing is I just can’t bring myself to buy something that I know might have been made by a child, or by a woman trying to scrape an existence for herself and her family.  All so that we can have cheap clothes.  We spent a year Buying Nothing New, and I really do think that with a bit of time and patience, you can find pretty much anything you want secondhand.

Is there anything you find difficult about shopping ethically?
When shopping secondhand, sometimes it is hard to find specific things, and you have to make do with things that might not be exactly what you want.  But a little bit of thinking ‘outside the box’ can often work wonders.  If something isn’t the right colour, you can dye it; if you don’t like the buttons, you can change them; if it’s too big, you can get it altered.

Mostly, the difficulty comes when I need something quickly, and don’t have time to spend in and out of the charity shops, or changing something!

Where do you get your style inspiration from?
I’m not sure I can be said to have style!

What is your best secondhand or ethical find ever?
I was recently given a brand new pair of jeans by someone in my local Buy Nothing Group – for free!  My old jeans are starting to look more patch than jeans, and I live in jeans most of the time, so these are a very welcome find!

What would be your ultimate thrifted find?
I am on the look out for a 1960’s shift dress, and I have also been hunting for the elusive perfect pair of Winter boots for the last 2 years.

Could you tell us your top three style tricks/DIYs?
1)  Buttons!  Buttons are awesome.  Changing the buttons on an item can totally transform it.  I bought an M&S coat in a charity shop for less than £5.  I loved the coat but hated the buttons, so I raided my stash for some bright, mis-matched buttons, and now I love it!
2)  Learn to look at old clothes as just ‘fabric’ rather than specific items of clothing.  For example, old jeans have 101 different uses – they can be turned into skirts, bags, shoes, bunting – the list is endless! My favourite clothes upcycle is turning trousers into skirts.  It’s really easy to do, and they look great!
3) Look out for old woollen jumpers in the charity shop.  If you strike it lucky and find one that is at least 80% wool, you can felt it and use it for any number of projects.  I recently turned an old jumper into a cardi, and have been wearing it throughout the winter!

Thanks for taking part Jen!  You can visit Jen’s blog, and find her on Twitter, and Facebook.  Jen also runs a fabulous Make Do and Mend Facebook group, where you can offer any craft supplies you don’t want anymore to other members, and also pick other craft supplies.  It’s a great way of decluttering your crafting stash!

New to Moral Fibres?  You can also check out the other Your Ethical Style posts!

Do you want to share your ethical style with Moral Fibres readers?  Whatever your age, sex, size, style, budget or location I’d love to feature you to show that ethical fashion is for everyone!  Get in touch via to take part in Your Ethical Style!  There are no barriers to taking part – you don’t have to be a blogger to be featured!

Fashion, Life & Style

Your Ethical Style: Kathryn Sillince

kathryn sillince

Today Kathryn Sillince is sharing her ethical style tips and inspirations with us.  Kathryn is the creative director behind Magpie Accessories, an online store selling British made accessories.  Kathryn has a particularly impressive CV – prior to founding Magpie Accessories in 2008, she worked for worked for designers such as Matthew Williamson, Paul Seville and Hanna Hammarber!

Hi Kathryn, can you share with us three facts about you?

1) I have a new miniature dachshund puppy called Lionel, who is the love of my life.  He comes to the studio with me and runs off with bulldog clips & scraps of leather.  At weekends we love hiking with him in the nearby Peaks: it’s the perfect way to unwind from a hectic week.  He hates bath-time at the end though!
2) I’m obsessed with baking and of course the Great British Bake off.  A highlight was when they made the Hungarian Dobos Torta.  I love hosting dinner parties and trying out new recipes, with varying success!  My favourite cake to make is carrot & walnut cake or cheesecake.  One memorable disaster was Rachel Khoo’s wild mushroom terrine which turned out as a rectangular omelette!  My guests were very polite, bless them!
3) I’m a culture vulture for all art forms (having studied Contemporary Art before my handbag degree in London) & love going to countless art exhibitions and arthouse films at the Showroom Cinema, which I’ve been going to for years.  My favourite directors include Jean Cocteau, David Lynch & Wes Anderson.

magpie accessories

Where do you get your style inspiration from?

My roots probably have something to do with it.  My mother is Hungarian, so I love anything folk inspired, with rich colours and crazy prints or details.  Rooted in the traditional but with a twist, and anything that clashes with my pink hair is a bonus!  My summer wardrobe is always the most nourished as it’s my favourite season & time of the year.  Contrastingly, I love the 80’s too, so bold ‘wrong’ looks as I call them.  It’s literally either anything synthy like Lindestrom or Gypsy Kings that’s blaring in my house!

kathryn sillince

Where are your favourite places to shop for ethical clothing?

Well, my favourite and most fun would be the clothes swap parties me & my friends take in turns to host every month or so.  One of my best buddies started them about ten years ago while at uni; the group of friends who come along each time is never the same and we have such a giggle!  We each bring a bag of pre-loved clobber and a bottle of wine, then once the two hours of catching up on all the gossip & sampling the hostess’ new beetroot & chocolate cake recipe & generally grazing the nibbles table has passed, we troop into the living room, taking it in turns to ‘do our bag.’  Each item is lovingly brought to life, complete with funny stories & memories attached to them, their size, and then we cat fight amongst ourselves for who wants to try them on & we all decide who should keep what.  You end up with a massive bag of new treats, and you end up trying looks that you would never normally go for, which is great!  Things that aren’t wanted by anyone go in a massive pile in the middle and get taken to a local charity shop by the hostess.  Some of my favourite items of clothing are from these parties, it’s a chance to have a catch up with friends, and it’s so much more fun than going around a big shopping centre!

One of my best friends has a vintage clothing business with her partner called The Magical Tree: Vintage & Retro, and their studio is forever abounding with decadent treasures, so I love popping in for a cup of tea & a peruse through the mountains of 60’s dresses & magpie-friendly sparkly finds.  They mainly sell at Rockabilly, Americana & Folk festivals across the land, but also have an eBay shop and Etsy boutique just for the ladies launching very soon.

the magical tree

Also, I love second hand shops for vintage clothes, there are so many great ones near where I live in Sheffield; while I’m there I can also collect cute things for my house/puppy Lionel too.  In Derbyshire, Chesterfield Flea Market on Thursday mornings is close by for anything vintage, and the recently opened Nichols Building has four floors of treats in Shalesmoor, Sheffield.

When I go to visit my father in Glasgow he lives very close to Byres Road which has a plethora of fabulous boutiques bearing pre-loved pieces like Vintage Guru & kooky bars which is a delightful way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  Often I’ll have a browse of the vintage shops then do a few sketches for designs & struggle with the Guardian crossword armed with a fishbowl of Sauvignon Blanc in the Ubiquitous Chip!

Finally, online, Etsy is fab for unusual items, I love the variety and unique range of vintage and high quality craft to be found.  Spending half an hour on there with a cup of Lapsang restores my faith in hand crafted items from all over our planet.  I’ve bought everything from earrings to personalised pencils.  It has a very strong community feel, and the sellers are very friendly too!  It’s rare that I buy vintage clothing online, as much of it is made to a one off pattern, but if I like something enough I go for it!

ethical style blog

What’s the last ethical item that you bought?

Second hand books on the net and nearly new printing equipment for the business, does that count?  We’re going to be launching personalised leather items where people can have their cherished photos rendered onto our Classic Small accessories range in the New Year, so we’re excited about that!  Prints are one of my obsessions!  My team will also be launching a new eponymous handbag label towards the end of this year too, which will heavily feature prints and my illustrations too.  I can’t wait!

Is there anything ethical or second hand that you are lusting over at the moment?

Always!  I have loads of things in my favourite items at the moment on Etsy, some lovely rainbow wool from MissKnitYarns, as I’m wanting to knit a rad scarf with my giant needles ( I try and make as much stuff as I can myself, or else, where’s the pleasure!).  Also I love this jewellery organiser from Vintage Vibrancy, and this divine waist’cut (as we say in Yorkshire ;D) from Hookedonhoney.

ethical wish list

Do you have a top tip for shopping ethically?

Trawl, have patience, trawl again, and the book ‘Green is the New Black’ by Tamsin Blanchard is a great place to start if you’re unsure.  There’s loads of information, a glossary about ethical fashion & loads of links to websites to inspire you.

Is there anything you find difficult about shopping ethically?

Not really as I’m an internet geek these days!  One thing I find annoying about trying to find ethical items is that many companies present themselves as ethical, and aren’t really, either the materials used or the manufacture I often don’t agree with.  So do your research I’d say, there are many good ones out there so keep looking!

What is your best second hand or ethical find ever?

I was delighted to come across a vintage Jean Muir jacket in Soho which I wore to uni quite often, with my Stella McCartney skinny jeans and boots.  In the week at the studio where it’s a hive of activity and a puppy running around, practicality wins for me so normally a vintage dress over jeans and my man boots, and loads of Aztec inspired jewellery.  My ring from ‘MakinJewellery’ (a gift one Christmas from another of my best friends Abi Makin) is another favourite – her collections are inspired by organic creatures from the sea; many items are completely one-offs or limited editions made using PMC silver.  I also love my thrifted charm bracelet – I keep adding pieces to it.

What would be your ultimate thrifted find?

My adored hand carved table and my two Buddhas I found in a skip, can’t get more thrifty than that!

skip finds

Can you share three ethical style tips with us?

1) The main one would be to go with what you love, try new things out, ask friends what they think, and try to emulate that through ethical means.

2) Have a peruse on Pinterest for inspiration for how to wear looks, and save ideas on your phone or make a sketchbook of ideas.  I’m an avid cuttings from magazines freak!

3) Set up your own clothes swap party with friends!

4) Am I allowed a number 4?! Try making something yourself out of recycled materials, it’s loads of fun & will lead onto new ideas!

Thanks for taking part Kathryn!  You can follow her blog, and find her on Facebook.  New to Moral Fibres?  You can also check out the other Your Ethical Style posts!

Do you want to share your ethical style with Moral Fibres readers?  Whatever your age, sex, size, style, budget or location I’d love to feature you to show that ethical fashion is for everyone!  Get in touch via to take part in Your Ethical Style!  There are no barriers to taking part – you don’t have to be a blogger to be featured!