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 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). I 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, and 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 wild 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 catfight amongst ourselves for who wants to try them on. And then 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. 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!  

When I go to visit my father in Glasgow he lives very close to Byres Road which has a plethora of fabulous boutiques. These bear pre-loved pieces & 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 crafts to be found.  Spending half an hour on there with a cup of Lapsang restores my faith in handcrafted 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?!

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. 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) 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. Often it’s 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 complete 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 – you 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 to 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!

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