A few posts back someone mentioned the small wardrobe that she had when growing up, which is what I remember having, and my mother and father having. In fact my parents shared a small wooden wardrobe, and it was only when they reached their 70s that they had something larger. Last year we bought our flat from the family of a deceased Reverend age 95, who obviously was of that generation as there on the old carpet was an imprint of a tiny free-standing cupboard.  And what was the first thing that I did after we moved – fitted a purpose built wardrobe the entire length of the wall!

But I’m increasingly coming to the view that my love of (charity shop) shopping has to be cut back. There are so many reports and articles on the impact of human behaviour on our planet, the most recent being from the WWF saying that humanity has wiped out 60% of animal populations since 1970. We have to change our ways, and while this decimation is mostly about food production, it doesn’t help our planet to have that constant turnover of clothes in our High Street shops. And what’s more I could do without the email that came to my inbox yesterday (from a well-known platform) that informed me of the 12 Pieces I’m Buying To Upgrade My Personal Style This Season (and yes it was all capitalised). Oh please – you don’t need to keep buying stuff.

I admit I do have a lot of clothes but they’re mostly from charity shops. It is OK to recycle – but I do want to stop buying new clothes, which I occasionally do. I am resolved – not any more. And I’ve pruned hard and there’s space between the hangers in my wardrobe, which is pleasing to me. There are very few items I hang on to for sentimental reasons or just in case. If you don’t wear it, why oh why is it still there? Yet, I understand why people do hang on to clothes and I’l tell you a story about one item that I’m pleased to have kept.

I have two weak spots, and no it’s not shoes because, as you know, I tend to wear one pair of ankle boots throughout the winter. And it’s not handbags. I have 6 bags of which 3 I use over and over, and these 3 are variations on backpacks. I have cured my slightly crooked back through Pilates and wearing these items instead of the ubiquitous shoulder bag, which is sooo bad for your posture.

Here’s my favourite backpack bag.

No, my weak spots are coats. I have far too many coats. The thing is I am wearing the yellow coat all the time now, so I’m keeping a beady eye on my two black coats and my two grey coats.  A friend who works as a declutterer says that she helps clients put clothes ‘on probation’. Yup, one of the black coats and one of the grey coats is for the chop quite soon if I don’t wear it. Then do you remember there’s the Michael Kors 3/4 length red puffer coat bought when I got soaked in a rainstorm.

I’ve also got a new (charity shopped) long mac for rainy days.  Also there’s the vintage fur coat for the freezing weather, and as we’re not quite there yet with that kind of cold, I’ll have to keep that.

Then there’s my hats.  Oh dearie me, I have so many hats. I have many berets, 4 fedoras, and 3 furry hats that are for the cold weather.  And I have several big black hats that are bigger brimmed than my fedoras. I can’t bring myself to get rid of these as they’re lovely and really I should wear them more.

Then there’s this hat.

Look at the colour of it. Actually I have never worn it, as I thought it typical of a certain kind of hat that is worn by a lot of British women, which I’m sorry to say I thought boring, and also the wonderful deep violet colour clashed with my dyed hair.  It seems different now my hair is mostly white.

I put it on this morning and wondered why on earth I hadn’t worn it before.  But maybe you’ll understand when I tell you that I’ve had this hat for just under 20 years. This is my sister’s hat. My only sister Elizabeth Jane (known as Liz) died unexpectedly in 1999 and I was devastated. We were very different and over the years were quite distant from each other, but caring for my mother brought us closer together. How glad I am that we came to understand and love each other, far more than when we were children, because 3 years after my mother died Liz died, at the age of only 50.

I didn’t have much to remember her. She knitted at lot and I took two of her jumpers as keepsakes, but they went years ago, probably to a charity shop. But the hat, ‘no’, I said to myself,’ I don’t like it but I’ll keep it’.  And here we are nearly 20 years later and I love it.

Thank goodness I kept it. So you see, I do understand the keeping of things.

And just look at that necklace.  That’s a recent buy at only £4.99 from Oxfam in Brighton – I pounced when I saw it!

That’s all for now, but do you have an item that you haven’t worn but simply cannot throw out?  Do tell!

With love, Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper 

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36 thoughts on “The hat that belonged to my sister

  • 2nd November 2018 at 9:00 am

    Great yellow backpack – charity shop or high street?

    • 3rd November 2018 at 8:22 am

      The yellow backpack (Roka) is new bought in the summer from the shop Wickle, in Lewes. The shop stocks a lot of ethical labels like People Tree, but everything is quite expensive. The backpack wasn’t too bad a price and here’s the website https://rokalondon.com

  • 2nd November 2018 at 9:22 am

    Love the hat. Such a gorgeous colour.

    • 3rd November 2018 at 8:23 am

      Thank you – it is a superb colour and I don’t know why I didn’t notice that before!!!

  • 2nd November 2018 at 9:44 am

    What a lovely way to remember your sister.Looks brilliant with your silver hair x

    • 3rd November 2018 at 8:24 am

      Thank you – I’m so glad I kept it.

  • 2nd November 2018 at 10:17 am

    What a lovely story. A great remembrance of your sister.
    I too have become quite the op shopper and am finding I have purchased too many items, jackets especially. Have really no where to wear them but fell in love with them when I saw them.
    Handbags are the same.
    Now hats, I have never found one that suited me, if necessary I wear one to garden.
    That purple looks gorgeous on, time to take your sister out to tea!

    • 3rd November 2018 at 8:30 am

      Thank you Jeanette. You know I was a bit like you in that I had so many jackets, some from work and ten years on I still had them, and others I just fell in love with, but I didn’t wear them!!! So actually I have got rid of several. It does feel quite good to have done that.

      I will wear the hat now.

  • 2nd November 2018 at 10:59 am

    Love the hat but I would turn the brim back and slope it to one side -try it! Like you I have an awful lot of everything, and I’m trying to discipline myself more. Most of it is secondhand from e-bay and I’ve used this is an excuse as I then pass it on to a charity shop having only worn a dress two or three times. Apart from dresses my weakness is jewellery, both expensive and cheap. I have a ‘collection’ of vintage stuff which I really love but fills three drawers and I often buy bits in charity shops.
    I think in the past clothes were much more expensive, made of quality fabrics and were not washed or cleaned very often so they lasted many years. You bought a winter coat and wore it for decades as fashion changed very slowly, particularly outside the big cities. People dressed what we now think of as very formally and didn’t need such a range of outfits. I was the eldest of three sisters and our non-school uniform in winter was a red tartan kilt worn with jumpers knitted furiously by my Mother. At the end of a season these skirts were washed and put away after my Father had stitched the pleats in place with big cross stitces. They were passed on down the line and as I stayed small mine lasted for years. My Aunt in America sent us dresses made of new fabrics unavailable here and both grandmothers bought us clothes as well, often as presents. It was all so simple. My Mother liked fashion and once bought a pale pink coat to go to my Aunt’s wedding, very extravagant of her! the ease of washing and drying clothes now was completely unknown, even in the 70’s when I had young children. I used to make a lot of their clothes very cheaply but now children’s clothes are so cheap and creatively designed.
    Now we’ve been told that washing synthetics in a problem for the oceans, I’m also trying not to wash things as often as I have been doing. We never used to wash clothes after every wearing and I don’t think we need to now.

    • 3rd November 2018 at 5:08 pm

      Yes, the washing of clothes as soon as they’re worn was unheard of as we were growing up. Monday was wash day and that was that. My poor mother I remember she washed clothes by hand until she got ill and my father had to do it for her. A washing machine arrived the very next week! Actually if we wore more woollen clothes we could wash less – woolly jumpers really shouldn’t washed more than once a year, if that.

      What I also remember was the parcel of clothes that came from aunts without children and then as I was the oldest cousins and my sister was the second oldest we in turn parcelled up clothes to be sent onto younger cousins. I have been looking at my wardrobe today for more things to go.

      Thanks so much for the lovely long comment – I can see that others have read it.

  • 2nd November 2018 at 12:38 pm

    Love your blog and almost everything you post. The bag is great but the hat is fabulous.
    You asked about what items we keep but haven’t worn for ages. Years ago I had to go to a black tie formal event. I had a black velvet skirt and pretty shoes but I splashed out on a stunningly beautiful sequinned butterfly shaped top in silver, black and sapphire blue. It was amazing and I felt a million dollars. I have worn it a few times, I have loaned it out many times and it is still beautiful. I can’t part with it.

    • 5th November 2018 at 9:26 am

      Oh sequins – sliver, black and turquoise – I bet it’s lovely. And how kind of you to loan it out! I do hope you wear it again many times. So interesting to hear this x

  • 2nd November 2018 at 12:43 pm

    Lovely story about your sister’s hat. It looks mighty fine too. I had one item that I’d never worn but couldn’t throw out. It was a black dress with jet beading at the bottom. It was always too small. Then, a couple of years ago, I was going to a glam event and had nothing to wear. I remembered the dress and it fitted! Once I’d worn it the spell was broken and I gave it away. I feel guilty about coats though. I have a black velvet coat with a fur lined hood. I probably wear it once every winter? It’s not very warm. But I love it too much to give it away.

    • 5th November 2018 at 9:31 am

      I have a long black velvet coat (gifted and second-hand before that) which I haven’t worn but it’s just right for a special occasion and I’m waiting for that special occasion!!!! Oh dear – we all do it!!!

  • 2nd November 2018 at 12:55 pm

    I like you Penny, love coats, I have a caramel colour cashmere coat that I have had for thirty years, it has fox fur cuffs, which started to look ratty a couple of years ago, I have changed the lining twice, and having read this post today, have decided to have the coat shortened to just below the knee, (right now, it’s nearly to my ankle) I’m also going to have new fur cuffs made for it. I have loved it so much over the years, and as it is extremely good quality, unlike a lot of expensive coats on the market these days,I will continue to enjoy wearing it, if it’s shorter, I think it will be more versatile, it has a lovely swing back, which will look good over pants, it will probably outlast me!
    I adore your purple hat, such a lovely colour, and great with your hair, I should think it looks awesome with your yellow coat.

    • 5th November 2018 at 9:34 am

      Yes, that’s a coat to hang on to and how clever of you to adapt that way. It is good to have those quality items.

  • 2nd November 2018 at 1:16 pm

    Hi Penny,loving the hat with your hair colour.I actually volunteer in a charity shop but never find the bargains you find. Our local tip closes two days a week and customers use the shop for a dumping ground for all their rubbish! I agree with you we need to recycle more. As for clothes I have a velvet jacket in my wardrobe that I’ve had for 40 years! Will I ever part with!?

    • 5th November 2018 at 9:37 am

      Oh wow! Forty years – that has to be some kind of record! I remember having a brown velvet trouser suit, which I wore when I first met Mr F, which is long gone – but I think of it still!

      Charity shops do vary a lot. There are good and bad ones in Brighton, but other towns are actually better than Brighton, and I think it’s because people have to travel into town donate.

  • 2nd November 2018 at 5:41 pm

    This is such a poignant post, Penny…the memories of your sister, the impact of fast fashion on our planet, and our personal biases in finding “treasures”. L. Banister’s comment jarred my memories of being a child in the 50’s, growing up in a 2-bedroom home with one set of grandparents, parents, and three kids. Talk about limited closet space! While I do remember favorite outfits (red pedal-pushers, gingham top), I do not remember feeling like I didn’t have enough. Yet today, getting dressed for visiting with a friend, I had a fleeting thought, “Wish I had another color top.” :/ I have enough! Pinterest, email, Facebook, Instagram are great instigators for Want.
    I have been reading about sustainable fashion and ethical clothing companies. It is interesting to see young people trying to be responsible while keeping up with fashion. The high prices keep their closets at a minimal size.
    Thank you for another thoughtful and thought-provoking post. I must watch the documentary you recommended a few posts back.
    BTW…your sister’s hat looks wonderful on you. May you wear it with confidence and love.

    • 5th November 2018 at 9:44 am

      Thank you Charlene, the shop where I bought the yellow back pack has many ethical labels including People Tree – but phew the prices. You’d definitely go back to buying one item every other year if you had to pay at that rate, but on the other hand, maybe we should…..

      Yes, I also remember having Sunday best clothes and of course, many hand knitted items (knitted by my mother and grandmother) that weren’t washed all the time. And everything put into a shared small wooden cupboard which also had two small drawers (this was a utility cupboard made during the Second World War).

      I absolutely will wear my sister’s hat now – thank you Charlene.

  • 2nd November 2018 at 8:35 pm

    For intimate sharing of your sister’s purple hat, I thank you. Yes, the fabric of our lives lives inside well seasoned garments. Last week I wore a blue fur collar that my mother gifted me before her passing. Remembering her in the wearing was comforting. Judy @fancified.ca

    • 5th November 2018 at 9:44 am

      That’s so lovely Judy. I shall wear my sister’s hat now 🙂

  • 2nd November 2018 at 11:02 pm

    I love the hat, it is such a lovely keepsake. I seldom wear hats as they don’t really suit me. I once had a pair of black satin boutique sort-of-harem pants. They were the most flattering garment that I have ever worn, and were quite expensive. I wore them, at least 3x a week, for 6 years, mending them over and over. Finally I took them to a dressmaker, asked if she could duplicate them exactly then return them to me. Of course, she assured me. She “made a better pair”, and biffed the original. I nearly wept, actually I wanted to do terrible things to her, but we won’t go there…… The “new & better” pants were so unflattering. I have never been back to a dressmaker.

    • 3rd November 2018 at 10:57 am

      What a shame she did not just unpick them and use the originals as a pattern! can be difficult to find an exact match to a fabric however.

    • 5th November 2018 at 11:51 am

      Oh gosh what sad story as I bet the harem pants were great – not surprised you haven’t tried it again!

  • 3rd November 2018 at 3:33 pm

    Hi Penny

    Loved the hat as so many have commented. Having just looked at the Roka site I was wondering if you could tell me exactly which bag you purchased. There are so many on the site I found it difficult to tell which one I would like.
    Really annoying because I have just been staying in Lewes for a few days and could so easily have gone into the shop if I’d known about it!

    • 5th November 2018 at 11:57 am

      Well I can’t find the exact bag on the website, and the bag I bought doesn’t have a label saying which one it is. The thing to note about the bag I bought is that is the small one. In Wickle there were two sizes and I got the smaller one and actually I swear it was cheaper than the price on the Roka website. I note that the Wickle website https://wickle.co.uk says it’s going to do online shopping soon – sorry that I can’t be more of a help.

      • 7th November 2018 at 10:27 am

        Thanks Penny for getting back to me about the Roka bag. It was most helpful.

  • 3rd November 2018 at 7:58 pm

    Hi Penny, that’s such a lovely way to remember your sister, it’s a fabulous hat. I have my mother’s wedding dress (1941) and the Christening robe (1942) that she hand knitted in 4ply for my brother and was used by my sister and me. It is so beautiful and so delicate that it weighs almost nothing. I’m hoping one of my nieces will treasure these items after I’m gone.
    My ‘never discard’ item is a pair of pink linen baggy dungarees I bought in Spain in 1981. I was delighted three years ago to be able to wear them to a 1980’s party, especially as my sister-in-law had told me that I’d ‘never get into them now’. Maybe they’re not quite as baggy as 1981, but I still felt good.
    I can remember most of my clothes from my childhood and teenage years, they lasted for years. Even when working I bought things for going out, then used them for work, and after that for doing the housework. It was a real wrench to get rid of these old friends at last, it’s sad that clothes have become such a disposable item.
    Also, and I’m on my soapbox here, I’m infuriated by adverts for liquids to add to the washing machine to get rid of bacteria in the washing! Just wash them at a sensible temperature – it doesn’t make any sense to me to wash at 30 and then have to add a liquid manufactured to kill the germs. What about the power, the chemicals, the plastic bottle used for this stuff? I’m ranting – I think I’ve turned into a grumpy old women!
    Enjoy your Sunday and wear that fab hat, Chrissie x

    • 5th November 2018 at 12:02 pm

      I will wear the hat, Chrissie, thank you. Wow, fancy keeping your mother’s wedding dress – that’s amazing. And so good that you could wear your dungarees 🙂

      Yes, two weeks ago I bought that liquid by mistake (didn’t have my reading glasses on) and was astonished to find that it wasn’t for washing but for bacteria whilst using the washing machine. I do a hot wash once a week to clean the washing machine – that’s quite sufficient. I use the low temperatures for delicate things but yes use a hotter wash – that’s all that’s needed!!!

  • 4th November 2018 at 12:04 pm

    I am a great hoarder of coats, though they do all get worn even if only a few times in a year. My black ultra-soft )fake) fur comes out every December, year after year. It feels a bit Christmassy for earlier in the year and so when I get it out it’s like having a new coat again. The ‘rediscovering’ aspect of having lots of clothes is the one I like best.

    • 5th November 2018 at 12:03 pm

      Yes, I agree with you about the (fake) fur – it’s so good to have it ready for the big freeze!

  • 4th November 2018 at 3:56 pm

    Funnily enough I have an East coat that my sister gave me years ago. She was a stewardess for BA and travelled the world buying clothes everywhere she went and often passing them on to me, as I have always loathed shopping. Most of them weren’t me or I wore them out, but this coat is beautiful – a sort of Kashmir shawl type woven wool in a delicate black, gold, red and brown paisley pattern with a dark red braided border down the front and on the cuffs. She gave me this very expensive coat because she felt swamped by it – she’s shorter than I am. It’s quite dressy so I save it for special occasions (though I could wear it any time if I was bold enough) but every time I wear it people admire it, and several times my sister has been there and groaned with (mock) annoyance. Quite funny really. I would never get rid of it. My daughter loves it too, so it will go to her eventually.

  • 5th November 2018 at 12:05 pm

    That coat sounds amazing, Umi.

  • 5th November 2018 at 2:59 pm

    Rather late commenting on this poignant post, Penny. I think the hat has a touch of seventies Biba, about it! It looks fantastic with your hair colour. I can’t imagine you ever looking boring. I’m surprisingly unsentimental about clothes but I do have a bit of a passion for jackets, coats and boots.

  • 5th November 2018 at 9:36 pm

    It’s a fab hat, Penny and it looks great on you! I’m so sorry to hear about your sister; 50 is far too young to die. What a lovely keepsake, though.

    I love your yellow backpack – it matches your yellow coat!

    I try and buy everything second hand especially clothes but occasionally buy new; I always feel guilty when I do…

    The item I have kept for many years was a Christmas present from my daughter some years ago. It was expensive and she shouldn’t have spent so much on me. It’s a beautiful teal velvet skirt but it’s calf length on me. I hate calf length skirts on me and can only wear them with boots. I never really know what to wear on top with it and consequently I’ve only worn it once or twice. In fact, having read your post I’m going to go and dig it out of the chest and see what I might pair it with because it shouldn’t languish in a chest when I could be wearing it!

    Have a great week.

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