Autumn Winter Wardrobe reshuffle

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I highly recommend that everyone does a wardrobe clear out at least once a year. You never realise how much stuff you stash away until you start to sort through it all. As I write this I am in the middle of moving house and until now I never realised how out of control my wardrobe is. I am sure I am not the only person in Fermanagh currently moving house and this article will probably be very relevant to a lot of students who are moving out of Fermanagh to start their new life at University.

If you are anything like me and find it difficult to part with your clothes doing a clear out can be a daunting task. My golden rule is if you haven’t worn it in the last year then it’s not worth keeping. If you have time to sort through properly you should make three piles, one for keeping, one for charity shops and one for recycling. I usually separate the things I keep into autumn winter and spring summer piles so that I can store one away in another room to make more space in my wardrobe (though this is probably why I convince myself that I have less than I actually do).

Usually when I am doing a wardrobe clear out I will hold on to items that I think I can alter or fix and put them in an ‘alterations pile’ however because Im moving house and my alteration pile is getting beyond a joke I have had to be ruthless and just get rid of a lot of it. Items that are either in need of or beyond repair can be bagged up and brought to a local ‘cash for clothes’ outlet. It will surprise you how much you can get for a load of junk that you might otherwise just have thrown in the bin. At least in this case the clothes are recycled and not added to landfill.

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When it comes to my current wardrobe I will always keep things that are in season and on trend. Although it is not technically autumn yet it certainly feels like it so I feel now is as good a time as any to prepare for autumn winter and say goodbye to my summer wardrobe. You may think this means saying goodbye to bright colours and prints however this is not the case for the coming season. Striking colours such as hot pinks, electric blue, zingy oranges and lemons will stay with us well into the winter months. Also hold onto anything with a 60s vibe as this will be big news for autumn winter.

An obvious thing for autumn winter is knitwear but in particular layering. Make extra room in your wardrobe for thick cable knits, gillets and faux fur and if you have coloured fur or shearling coats most definitely hold on to these.

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An autumn winter wardrobe can often be a problem because it takes up so much space. Not only do you have bulkier clothes to contend with but also coats, scarves and boots and it’s difficult to find space for it all. One important thing to remember is that one good investment not only takes up much less space than three or four poor quality items but will also last much longer.


Have fun with fashion

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As you all know Fermanagh people are renowned for being happy however many of us don’t exactly dress the part. For many getting dressed in the morning can be a struggle and many either don’t care or don’t take any notice of what they put on. Many will say they are too busy to think about what they wear or in fact don’t actually care about fashion but in reality we all make a choice to part with our hard earned money to purchase the clothes we wear so every single one of us makes a choice to purchase what we wear.

Fashion is a serious multi million pound industry which employs countless people all over the globe from seamstresses to designers and models to magazine editors and right down to the shop sales assistants here in Fermanagh. Many will say they’re just clothes and ridiculous amounts of money are spent every day on designer goods when the people who actually put these clothes together are earning the least. It may interest you to know that the designers themselves don’t earn a huge wage especially new designers and in fact when a designer first starts out many don’t make it. Without financial backing many designers remain in debt for the majority of their career.

This time of year is always most worrying for a designer as they finish off their collections for the season ahead. They rely on public opinion therefor if a fashion critic gives a bad review they may face a financially quiet year. A designer’s work all comes from ideas, musings and artistic flair and they put everything into their work for us to wear and enjoy.

Everyone has their role to play within the industry even you and me. It all begins on a page, the items are made, displayed by models, styled and photographed for magazines, written about by fashion journalists, promoted by advertisers, bought by fashion buyers, displayed in shop windows by visual merchandisers sold by shop assistants and worn by you and I.

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So as you can see fashion is a serious industry with many designers being known for being very deep thinkers. Autumn Winter is a particularly dark month for designers as they cater for the cold, wet and dark months ahead, particularly if you think of Fermanagh. However, Autumn Winter 2014 seems to have brought a change as fashion becomes fun.

Chanel had fun with food, models danced down the runway, gave high fives and were actually smiling and laughing. They were taking selfies with the crowd and the clothes were slightly off the wall. Sponge Bob square pants and McDonalds were the inspiration behind Moschino, 1960s style space dresses at Ashish, Chanel took grocery shopping to a whole new fashion dimension and Anya Hindmarch was thinking of breakfast when she designed her collection of Tony the Tiger and Kellogg’s cockerel handbags.

Although I can’t see many Fermanagh folk dressing in Sponge Bob trousers, I have already seen one or two with the Moschino McDonalds chained handbag (although I am guessing not the real deal). I think this winter could really be fun here in Fermanagh with lots of exciting prints and bright colours making a welcome appearance in our local stores.

Sixties Fermanagh style

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One of my favourite decades has to be the 1960’s not only because it was a decade of fashion revolution and change but also because many of the clothes which are part of my large vintage collection are from the sixties and were given to me by my granny Irvine. I often look at clothes from the sixties and imagine what it would have been like to have lived in Fermanagh back then. Not terribly nice I would imagine, due to the beginning of the troubles, but I often look at some of my grandmothers clothes and imagine what she would have looked like in them. I have to say she had very adventurous taste and I can imagine her standing out from the crowd here in Fermanagh. She certainly wouldn’t have blended into the background judging some of the dresses she has given to me.

I would imagine Fermanagh was pretty backward in the sixties and in modern times it is still struggling to keep up with fashion meccas like London and Dublin and to a lesser extent Belfast.  Many girls my age and younger would have made their own clothes because they just couldn’t get what they were looking for in the shops here and they would often have to make the long journey to Belfast if they had a very special occasion because there just wouldn’t have been the choice at home.

We are very lucky today to have such a selection of high street stores and boutiques and in fact we have so much variety now that a trip to Belfast or Dublin is only called for if there is something really different that you need or you plan on making a weekend out of it.

The sixties are back with a bang this season and I couldn’t be more thrilled as I plan on getting some of those genuine sixties items that I have out on show again. For me the sixties are all about Mod dresses in bright block colours, a-line skirts (no micro minis for me), knee high boots, silk blouses and pea coats.

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1960s style is accessible to everyone and is a style that suits every shape. The fashion revolution that came about in the sixties meant that young women no longer had to dress like their mothers but instead were given a new lease of life and access to styles that made them look like themselves and not like miniature versions of their parents.

I would imagine that it took Fermanagh quite some time to catch on to this whole new outlook on fashion during the sixties so hopefully this time around the people of Fermanagh will embrace this new look much more quickly as I would imagine it will only last one season. If you’re not into bright psychadellic colours don’t worry as the look has been given more of an Autumn/Winter twist with more muted pastel shades taking the lead however if you do like a bit of colour there will also be bold block colours to play with.

Your childhood fashion revisited

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Everyone has fashion memories from their childhood, some fond and some that make us cringe. Obviously growing up in Fermanagh, or in my case on the boarder of Fermanagh and Tyrone, our fashion sense would not have been as cutting edge as kids in the big cities. To us all the hottest fashion was held not here but in the big cities Belfast and Dublin. When I was growing up in Fermanagh there wasn’t a great selection of shops, at least not cool shops anyway, but now look at the selection we have.

My childhood hate was being dressed like my sister, not having my own individuality), Fruit of the Loom sweat shirts and being dragged around M&S and Dunnes Stores (which back then were not full of selection). When I was a child, believe it or not, I hated shopping and hated getting clothes as gifts because it meant my sister would also have the same outfit. I do however remember the big dressing up box at my granny Mac’s house which my aunt used to dress us up from. All those old clothes, hats and bags that belonged to my great granny are probably the reason why I love vintage clothes so much today.

Some of my happiest childhood memories were during the summer holidays and when I look back I only ever remember long hot summer days, living in shorts and t-shirts, being permanently tanned and freckled and my jelly sandals getting stuck in melted tar. The 1990’s seem like a million years ago but with all the 90’s fashion coming back around again it seems as though we are still there.

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Although I wouldn’t like to go back I do have many fond memories of Fermanagh in the 1990s and lately it seems as though I am being constantly reminded of the good old days. It has been eighteen years since the Spice Girls first came on the scene and I remember getting Spice Girls badges in Smash Hits magazine and running around pretending we were pop stars.

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Another memory from my past, which seems to be everywhere at the moment, is Jelly sandals. As far as I can remember I had a pink glitter filled pair and I remember them being pretty uncomfortable. I have seen lots of different versions of the classic jelly sandal in the shops across Fermanagh, even some glittery numbers. It’s not just the high street that’s loving this trip down memory lane. Designers also have their own high end take on the jelly sandal. Prada teamed cute ‘flatform’ jellies with sports socks, Stella McCartney teamed hers with strapless beach dresses and Sophia Webster went for a much more grown up ladylike look with her high heeled strappy Jellies.

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Who would have thought that our childhood fashion loves and hates would come back to bite us a second time around. Although, as they say it takes around twenty years for a fashion trend to come back around again. I’m just hoping those dreaded Fruit of the Loom sweatshirts don’t come back to haunt me again.

Fast food fashion junkie


Every day the media seems to be filled with stories about the rising obesity academic. Just last week the headlines were full of stories about the NHS funding surgery for a million more people. This would mean increasing the criteria for someone who is entitled to weight loss surgery such as the fitting of a gastric band.

At present one in four Britons are now classed as obese, with 3 million people suffering from diabetes, which is closely linked to weight gain. In the face of all this high fashion brands such as Moschino have been criticised for, in a way, making a mockery of the Wests obesity problem by glorifying fast food in their latest collection.

Moschino’s latest collection looks like an advertisement for McDonalds with models being sent down the runway in what looked like McDonalds uniforms carrying trays of ‘Happy Meal’ handbags.

It’s not just the designers who are fast food junkies, the high street have also released their own version of junk food accessories. Many would say that designers are simply showing their own version of the pop art trend that has taken the fashion world by storm at the moment however many critics feel that fashion is making a mockery of weight issues.


I personally feel that designers are just having fun with food but I can understand why people with weight problems may feel that fashion might be making a mockery of their problem. Whatever the view it is clear that Moschino have certainly caused a stir with fashionistas going particularly bonkers for the new I-phone covers featuring fries. It seems its a case of all publicity is good!



Tropical crush

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Despite our typical mild and wet spring climate the Office for National Statistics recently announced that we Fermanagh folk are the happiest in the UK. This surprised me because you would think the constant rain and miserable weather would make us just as miserable. Having said that however, when the sun does shine you really notice how beautiful our county really is. Particularly at the moment when all the colours are starting to come out and the daffodils are in full bloom.

Have you ever noticed that as soon as temperatures hit double figures and as soon as there is so much as a blink of sunshine many Fermanagh folk begin to act very strangely? We are only in the early stages of spring and already I have seen charcoal and barbeques in prime position in local supermarkets.


For some reason as soon as the sun comes out from behind the clouds in Fermanagh people decide that it’s the tropics and they must strip off. It has always amused me to see Fermanagh girls strut about in shorts and vest tops when it’s little over ten degrees and the sun is vaguely shining. There are lots of ways to dress for the nicer weather rather than bare your pasty flesh.

Tropical and Hawaiian prints are the latest must have trend to hit the high street for Spring Summer 2014. Part of the reason for the tropical trend would be due to the fact that with the World Cup taking place in Brazil this summer the world will be going carnival crazy. Tropical and carnival style prints will be seen through all departments over the next few months in sportswear, accessories and even menswear so if your fella decides he wants to wear a Hawaiian print shirt up the town on a Saturday night this summer, as stupid as you may think he looks the fact is he’s completely on trend.

Why not dress the part this spring by going for tropical prints rather than pretending it’s thirty degrees outside and baring your legs and shoulders. If you feel like cooling down a bit wear lighter layers and brighter tones. A summer look will make you feel in a sunnier mood than freezing yourself by trying to brave the cold. A bright or tropical print will make people smile rather than laugh at you looking ridiculous in a pair of shorts in April.

New Year New You!

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So it’s the New Year and by now most of us should be back into routine and gotten over that lethargic stuffed turkey feeling. If like me you have made a new year’s resolution to get fit and lead a healthier lifestyle then you should be in those enthusiastic first stages.

For a lot of us those enthusiastic first stages of becoming healthier and keeping fit are just a fad and don’t last and no matter how hard we try it can be difficult to keep up the routine. I am sorry to say that I am one of those people who throws myself whole heartedly into a new diet and exercise routine, which lasts about three months. This time however I am determined to stick at it at least until I have gotten my bridesmaid role out of the way in July.

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One thing that may just spur me on is the fact that one of spring summers hot trends will be ‘Sports Luxe’. Stylish luxury sports related threads have been around for a few seasons now however this time even the historically polished and glam brands such as Tom Ford and Gucci have opted for a sporty makeover. This high fashion sportswear calls for heels and not trainers so I don’t think I will be splashing out on any designer gear for the gym. I am however a bit more encouraged by the fact that there should be a lot more choice on the high street in terms of sporty gear rather than the usual run of the mill trackie bottoms.

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If the high street reflects the Spring Summer 2014 catwalks then we should see lots more luxurious materials, bright prints, basketball shorts, lightweight cotton dresses, varsity jackets and much more. I’m sure there will still be room in your gym bag for those comfy old trackie bottoms and well-worn trainers. As for me however I don’t think my ten year old Reebok trousers and Adidas trainers can take much more despite their lack of use over the years so as well as figuring out what form of exercise I plan on doing I will need to hit the high street and see what I can find to rock my new sporty lifestyle (here’s hoping).

Fur or Faux

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Ever since the first Neolithic man slayed a woolly mammoth and realised that as well as being useful for food it could also be used for warmth in the harsh winters by turning the thick woolly coat into a blanket; fur coats have been a symbol of status, wealth and good taste. In more recent times fur coats have become a lot more readily available in the mass produced synthetic form (more commonly known as faux fur) and can be quite reasonable to buy.

At one of my recent vintage fairs one of the stall holders had a collection of real fur coats and a few fur wraps with the head and paws still on it, which freaked me out a little. This got me thinking that although some of the other fur coats didn’t have heads attached to them they may as well have considering the fact that although it wasn’t as obvious that they came from a real animal the point is that they were once an animal.

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I’m not about to get into a debate about the rights and wrongs of fur because although I don’t agree with the whole leaving the head on look I do think that some fur coats are incredibly beautiful and elegant and at the end of the day I can’t exactly argue against fur when I eat meat.

I recently inherited a real fur full length coat and have yet to wear it however I certainly appreciate its value and its history. When my great grandmother travelled to Belfast to purchase the coat it would have been a longer and more complicated journey than just hopping into the car and making the hour and a half journey. In those days a fur coat was not only a fashion statement but also a symbol of who you were, your wealth and taste and you couldn’t get one on your local high street, especially if you lived in remote Fermanagh. Not everyone could afford to have a fur coat and therefore by owning one people could immediately see that you were someone important.

Nowadays you can buy faux fur in most high-street stores and can get them in all shades and styles for very reasonable money; however you will still find it much more difficult to get a real fur jacket and will still pay a lot more money for one. Mass produced synthetic fur can be made much quicker and costs less to manufacture and so is much cheaper to buy whereas a lot more skill and time goes into producing a real fur coat.

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During winter the fur coats always come out however this season they seem to be a lot more whacky than ever with designers such as Anna Sui displaying colourful varieties on the catwalk, Simone Rocha going for a leopard print and Dries Van Noten’s cuddly teddy bear style furs. The main difference is that most designers have opted for the faux option this season so whether you are a fan of the fake or not this season it’s all about faking it so animal lovers can breathe a sigh of relief.