"Knickers Model's Own: A Year of Frugal Fashion" Caroline Jones
In 2014, Caroline Jones' mum died of Cancer. Looking for a way to raise money for Cancer Research UK, a charity her mum had supported for 13 years, a way to help her come to terms with her grief and creating a meaningful legacy for her mum, Caroline hit on the idea of an innovative project: for 365 days she would wear 365 outfits and pose for 365 photos on social media. Each of these 365 outfits would be self styled using only the preloved clothes from the racks of Cancer Research shops.
Caroline began her challenge by posting her photos on Facebook with a link to her Just Giving page. Within a week, her photos had attracted thousands of visitors, press interest, radio interviews and generated generous donations to her fundraising campaign, "Knickers Model's Own". By the end of the year, the inspiring and original project had captured the attention of the national media, won Caroline JustGiving Creative Fundraiser of the Year and Highly Commended Pioneer of the Year by CRUK as well as the Points of Light Volunteer Award from David Cameron. To date she has raised nearly £60,000 for CRUK through her JustGiving page, as well as inspiring hundreds of thousands of people to buy from the charity shops. This book, published by CRUK with 100% profit going to CRUK, is a record of her 365 outfits and her year of "Frugal Fashion". It is an amazing legacy in memory of her mum.
The opening pages include a forward from designer Henry Holland, whose famous line of clothes sell in high profile high street and online places like Debenhams and ASOS. He refers to Caroline's campaign as "inventive, creative, fun and effective." He writes that fashion can unite people; "it brings together a shared love for shopping and self expression and therefore this fundraising project is a way of offering some light relief during a time of grief, tragedy and pain. It gives people a way of sharing something, of bringing them together."
The book is beautifully produced. It is of an exceptional quality. The photography (some of which is by Rankin) is stunning and each page is artistically and attractively put together. Each double page shows each of Jones' 52 weeks of eye-catching outfits on a budget. Jones' talks through her choices, with each week given a heading like "Cape of Good Hope", "Go Faster Stripes," "Follow the Rainbow" and "My Kilty Pleasure." She offers advice about how to get the look and a top tip on every page. The book is fun and reflects Caroline's humour, flair and vitality. The outfits are attractive, contemporary, colourful and most importantly, achievable every day ensembles.
There are also pages with some advice on how to transform your preloved purchases with simple tweaks and twists; how to make the right choice in store and how to select items that suit you best and enhance your shape, colouring and size. There are copies of some of the newspaper interviews and television appearances as well as contributions for famous celebrities. There are also comments about how to take a good photo and how to select outfits for specific occasions. This is a book to read, dip in and out of, to look at again and again and to keep to hand for fashion inspiration as well as a reminder of what can be achieved through self motivation, love and voluntary work.
Jones obvious has a great eye for colour, fashion and style. She does make bold choices with some of her outfits, but what I liked most about the book was that the look Caroline achieved with her purchases was contemporary- not quirky, outlandish or deliberately headline grabbing - but "ordinary" and most definitely enviable! They will appeal to everyone. One of the most important things she has achieved is getting people to consider charity shops to be a serious rival to the High Street chains. This book offers people a way to stay fashionable, to change or update their look regularly and constantly add variety to their wardrobe by buying preloved items. It offers top tips on "How to Shop Preloved," and how to achieve great fashion on a budget. Jones has broken the taboo of charity shops, recycling clothes and rewritten the public's preconception of charity shops. Buying clothes from Cancer Research shops is not something to be ashamed of or hide. In fact, some of the outfits are designer labels, but as Jones points out, ignore the label and look at the detail - think about the colour and shape and what you could do with the item to refresh it and give it a new lease of life. Most of the clothes listed for the photos are High Street names like Top Shop and H&M and 90% of the outfits were bought at her local branch of Cancer Research.
Jones' commitment to her project is unfaltering - she wore her preloved wardrobe to Royal Ascot and for meeting with celebrities and the appearing on the television. Preloved clothing does not have to mean old clothes, tatty clothes, frumpy, causal and "for the garden only" clothes. You can fill your wardrobe for all occasions and eventualities with a bit of insightful rummaging and accessorising!
One of Jones' highlights of the year was when she created a pop up shop to sell off her "year of frugal fashion". She filled a local hall with rails and rails of things that had been considered second hand, discarded, rejected clothes and transformed them into this seasons "must haves". They became exciting and coveted. They were seen as they always had been seen to Jones: beautiful, wanted, cared for, colourful wonders.
This is a gorgeous book for people interested in fashion and clothes - and even those that aren't! The style tips are realistic, authentic, achievable and aimed at the everyday shopper. They are "ordinary" outfits from a woman who is absolutely nothing but "ordinary"!
If you are interested in supporting Caroline Jones' campaign, please go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/knickers-models-own to donate. "A Year of Frugal Fashion" can be purchased online from CRUK (www.cruk.org) or through the shops. You can follow Caroline Jones on Facebook (Knickers Models Own) or Twitter @knickersmyown.