So with two weeks to go until you can follow Charity Fashion Live I decided to have a practice run. I challenged myself to prove that you can recreate any look in a charity shop by choosing three different celebrities, who’s style I might try to recreate on a trip down to my local British Red Cross store. 

I chose three celebrities with three very different body shapes, to demonstrate that charity shopping is not just for very thin, very gamine looking ladies - but for curvy hourglasses, apples, pears and straight up and down rhubarb shapes alike.

I chose

1) Beyonce for her chameleon like style that has transcended the ages from Destiny’s child days to the super searing hot yummy mummy to Blue Ivy that she is right now in 2014. She has a beautiful curvaceous womanly figure, and has experimented with many different fashion eras and styles.

2) Alexa Chung for the perfect balance of gamine boyishness with an undercurrent of undeniably delicate femininity. 

3) Kate Middleton for nailing simple elegance with every outfit choice.

Take a look at the recreations below and let us know how you think I did?




To recreate Beyonce’s look I picked up on the essence of it - the slightly 70’s vibe and the colour ways and picked out a shirt that had a 70’s feel and a stripy jacket that echoed hers. Be sure to choose a modern style of heel and a punchy red lippy to avoid looking as though you actually stepped out of a 70’s disco.


The secret to Alexa’s delicate balance of boyishness versus femininity is all in the gentle feminine details juxtaposed against boyish cuts - take the jacket with the boyish cut and colour and military buttons  teamed with delicate cream short suit. Here I chose a girly silk shirt with pretty bow detail to team with boyish bretton stripes and oversized androgynous jacket.


The secret to emulating Kate’s style is simple - keep it lady like. Not too figure hugging, and skirt length at, or below the knee. Feminine shapes.


Charity shop co-eds tip - These are not actually co-ords, but if you choose a pattern that’s similar enough in colour, you can get away with it being different and get the ‘feel’ of a co-ord as long as the materials don’t actually meet and overlap each other. See here I’ve used a white shirt to break the two patterns up.



Let me know how I did and which is your favourite celeb look and keep your eyes peeled for the next instalment of Charity shop Celeb recreations! In the meantime we hope you’ll support the Red Cross by watching all our live #CharityfashionLive updates on twitter @backofwardrobe and instagram @backofthewardrobe or britishredcross on the 13th September.

Emma x 


I understand from my personal style clients that sometimes charity shopping can seem a bit daunting if you’re not a seasoned pro.

So with the season transition on the approach and the shop floors switching into Autumn Winter mode I wanted to give you my Top Three Stylist Tips for nailing Autumn Winter 14 on a charity shop run.


In some respects, if you’re unprepared charity shopping can feel a little like sale shopping. For those who are not a pro I find it’s best to go at it with intent to avoid feeling overwhelmed or unsure. So, decide on a look or outfit you are going to update your wardrobe with or an outfit you need for an occasion and look first for a key piece you can build around. This key piece needn’t be from the charity shop it can be from your existing wardrobe, but if this is the case be sure to bring it with you. The easiest place to start is the new AW season’s trends so here’s a helping hand with three of my favourites…


60’s - Look for retro shift dresses, fancy rain macs, funky prints and modern fabrics to keep it fresh - think about mixing in some metallics and leathers and white polos always fit the bill. See Mui Mui, Gucci and Louis Vuitton for inspo.


Winter Pastels - Look for ice cream shades with nice texture details. Layering and detail are the key to nailing this look, so maybe keep an eye out for a pastel knit to get started.


Military colours as the new neutral

Military vibes always come back whether in hue or shape style. This is an easy one to do in a charity shop because you’re bound to find something that works. Look for Khaki mixed with florals, earthy materials like this lumberjack shirt and workman textures. If you’re feeling less adventurous seek out a nice military hue green gentleman’s sweater and team with a pretty skirt to be bang on trend for ‘sweater dressing.’



This ties neatly into my first tip. Most people who are not au fait with charity shopping fear looking less ‘modern and fresh’ and more ‘hand me down esque’. oooh look that sort of rhymes!  So choose a trend (as above) and try to really focus on capturing the essence of it on your first trip to the chaz shop. Then when you’re feeling a little more confident you can go hell for leather with mixing trends. But for now, simple is winning.


Right - not sure I should be sharing this but I’m going to anyhow. tee hee.

Because of the way the sorting is done in charity shops, more often than not the lovely volunteer staff will be well adept at curating and putting aside all of the best bits.  What this means is that you should keep a keen eye out for the golden chalice, the pirates treasure, the cherry on the top of your sundae…. of rails. Now I can’t promise it will always be there but in my experience there will often be a special rail somewhere on the floor with many of the best goodies on it. In some shops this will be a vintage rail and others it may have some fairly recent Stella McCartney on it (for example). Have a look for it on your first few visits and soon you’ll develop a knack for spotting it within minutes of entering the shop.


Recently a friend told me a about a great little analogy her therapist used when trying to explain why we go to certain friends for support with some things and certain friends for others, and why we can’t expect things from our loved ones that they are not inherently best placed to deliver.

She said this…. ‘You wouldn’t go to Wilko’s to get the best smoked Salmon now, would you dear.’

I digress I’m sure, but the crux of it is that there are specific charity shops that have specialities. Here are some very usable very quick tips for you to go ahead and use:

For Recent Designer Pieces -

Head to British Red Cross WESTMINSTER branch (incidentally where we’ll be hosting #Charity Fashion Live on the 13th September) - Here you might find A Burberry Mac, perhaps a Diane Von Furstenberg sequin dress, Ted Baker bits and bobs or even an authentic 80’s varsity jacket. I spotted all of these things in there, just last week.

For Retro Galore and a bit of Vintage 

You’d be better off with Oxfam Dalston where one might find, Miami style Hawaiian swim shorts, fabulous coats and 90’s denim for example.

To channel cool urban looks and celebrity trends

From Cara Delveigne style outfits to Alexa Chung’s gamine parisian charm, or even to pick up a fabulous vintage wedding dress try Traid Clapham Junction. Stay tuned for more on this in an article coming soon!

Catwalk images from glamour



This wall of clothes might feel a little foreboding…

But if you’re a Londoner you’ll probably remember it from earlier this year - a whole  street absolutely smothered in clothes just off Brick Lane.

But what was it all about?

It was part of a campaign that fashion retailers like M&S initiated to urge consumers to help reduce the 1 million tonnes of clothing waste sent to Landfill each year. This street was a visual representation of just 5 minutes worth of UK clothing waste ordinarily destined for the landfill. In total it amounts to around 9,513 pieces of clothing! The campaign aimed to get people thinking differently about their clothing - encouraging Swopping, Restyling and Donating to charity, while the fashion retailers involved and designers like McCartney joined forces to pledge a 15% reduction in carbon, water and waste going to landfill by 2020.

Here at Back of the Wardrobe we are wholeheartedly behind what we have coined ‘Thoughtful Fashion’ - an approach to our clothing that sees every piece in our wardrobe as something special to be treasured. A special relationship with our clothes and a creativity that sees us want to remake, remodel and restyle the things we wear over and over again. Or at the very least to pass them on to someone else who can love them for even longer. And that’s why this year we are so excited to be working on something we think is an even more exciting representation of 2nd hand, making the most of our existing garments and both shopping in, and donating to charity shops.

Charity Fashion Live will see us team up with The British Red Cross over London Fashion Week to promote the idea that you don’t need a massive budget to be a fashionista, to promote the idea that 2nd hand, charity shopping and a more sustainable approach to our clothing, doesn’t need to be dull. On the contrary - tune in on the 13th and you’ll see that it’s on trend, it’s right now, so right now that it’s LIVE. You’ll see us recreate London Fashion Week looks live in a British Red Cross Shop moments after they come out on the LFW catwalk. It’s exciting stuff because we just don’t know what we’re going to get and how we’re going to recreate it, but we trust in the charity shop to deliver up just what we need. And hopefully so will you by the time we finish!….

If that wasn’t enough o get your heart racing, you’ll be able to get your hands on the outfits we put together as we auction them off to raise money for The British Red Cross.

Liz Goodwin: ‘'Clothes cost money. Not getting the most out of them by mixing and matching garments, repairing favoured items, selling them on, or giving to charity shops means we're not getting the most out of that hard earned money, and wasting scarce resources.” WRAP

We couldn’t agree more Liz - so stay tuned for our contribution to the Slow Fashion Movement and the pledge to help reduce carbon, water and waste by 15% simply by loving our clothes longer . And remember somebody worked hard to make the clothes we wear. Let’s give them the long life they deserve.

Read all about what we’ll be up to on the 13th here and watch last years film.  Follow us on the day @backofwardrobe for live twitter updates or see the images of the looks on Instagram @britishredcross or @backofthewardrobe


This London Fashion Week SS15, We are super excited to announce that The Back of the Wardrobe team will be bringing London Fashion Week to The British Red Cross.

Stylist Emma Slade will be showing you how to recreate London Fashion Week looks using charity shop clothing. Once again she’ll be demonstrating this by recreating designer looks just moments after they appear on the #LFW live stream, using only the clothing available in a British Red Cross store. If that wasn’t enough excitement, Top London Fashion photographer Claire Pepper will be capturing the looks and if you tune in you’ll even have the chance to buy the pieces used during the event in a live eBay auction!

Follow the fast paced action @backofwardrobe and @BritishRedCross as they recreate their favourite London Fashion week looks in a bid to prove that you don’t need a big budget to be on trend, that fashion is for everyone, and that charity shop clothing can be cooler than you ever imagined.

To give you a taste for the event check out some of the looks we put together last year or watch the film:


Why charity shopping, and shopping 2nd hand just make sense:

1 million tonnes of clothes go to the landfill each year. Fast fashion has created a climate in which people have a throwaway relationship with their clothes. As a result of this people and the environment are readily exploited by the garment industry.

If we all extended the active use of our clothes for just 3 months, we could each cut down on our carbon and water and waste footprint by up to 10%*.

By utilising clothes that have already been produced, we decrease the amount of clothing heading to landfill each year, we reduce the need for fast fashion and exploitation of people and the environment. We create a more sustainable clothing culture where people value and treasure their clothes instead of subscribing to a throwaway culture, and we learn how to use creativity to get the most out of the clothes we already have.

And hey, wouldn’t it be nice if after we’d exhausted our favorite items, we shared the love and donated them to The British Red Cross so someone else could love them too?

When: Saturday 13th September

Where: Westminster British Red Cross Store (22-24 Buckingham Palace Road)

Follow the action:  @backofwardrobe @BritishRedCross or to see the looks as they materialize.

See the final film: here and @backofwardrobe @BritishRedCross on Sunday 14th

Check back here on the British Red Cross/Back of the Wardrobe blog on Sunday the 14th September to see the final film and all the looks if you missed them live on twitter.

All clothes featured will be from The British Red Cross – Keep your eyes peeled for the auctioning off of these outfits taking place on the day. 100% of proceeds go to The British Red Cross.