Happy New Year, Refashioners!
I’m going to start the year off with an extended series of posts showing the holiday wardrobe I made/acquired for my trip to Kenya last month. Spoiler alert: there are trillions of pictures #sorrynotsorry
First off is an outfit that was invaluable when exploring this beautiful country. I started with this vintage blouse that I picked up on a trip to Budapest last year. It has broderie anglaise style lace around the neck and arms and down the button placket, so pretty. Unfortunately it was a bit too big.
I bought this in a vintage shop (below), not a charity shop, so prices were a little more than I am used to. I paid 3500 Hungarian Forints for it, and left feeling a little ripped off (I did not haggle; I’m British). On actually checking my mental arithmetic using a calculator, it turned out to be only £9.50 so not really a big deal. The shop was quite cute with lots of unusual vintage gear, including loads of bags and hats. Unfortunately my luggage space was limited!
Turns out that Hungarians love second hand clothes shops and I spotted several of them on my travels. I was a little disappointed to realise that most were full of clothes from the British high street, but still enjoyed having a rummage. I did memorise the Hungarian for ‘second-hand clothes’ before I went over (in case you wondered, it’s ‘használt ruha’) to help me find suitable shops.
Anyway… I digress. To complete the outfit, I selected this vintage Benetton skirt in the Age UK shop in Middlesbrough (from the sublime to the ridiculous…)
There isn’t a before pic of the skirt (sorry) as I didn’t really alter it much, you get the idea from the pictures below. It’s made from this incredible 100% cotton fabric printed with vintage French maps. Over the maps are palm leaves and tropical flowers. It fit the retro Africa vibe of my holiday wardrobe perfectly.
The overall look I’m aiming for is “Dirty Dancing Baby in slightly more grown-up vintage outfit”.
The shirt was marked 36, but 36 what I don’t know.
I ended up cutting rather a large chunk out of both sides.
I also sewed on a couple of the buttons that had fallen off in the process.
Here’s a close up of the lace. It’s gorgeous!
All I did to the skirt was to take it up about 10cm.
Here’s me in my best ‘Baby’ pose to show you how it turned out.
The white cotton-mix fabric was great against tanned skin (don’t laugh, yes this is me with a tan).
Showing off the map and palm leaf print in front of some real Kenyan palms!
I forgot to mention – it has pockets!
I wore the skirt as part of my ‘explorer’ outfit many times on my trip. Also essential to any explorer outfit is a large hat; this one is straw with wire around the brim to keep it under control.
Here I am exploring the ruins of the 15th century Mosque at Mnarani.There are actually two swahili mosques on this site (it being the highest point for miles around) but they were destroyed by the Galla in the early 17th century.
This is the Mihrab of the larger mosque.
On the same site is the biggest Baobob tree in Kenya (or oldest, or something). Our guide told us it was 700 years old. It was certainly very big.
We also learned rather a lot about snakes… there is a reptile sanctuary next door where they have some of the most dangerous snakes in the world, including the black mamba, whose bite can kill a person in 2 hours flat (total nervous system paralysis in 30 minutes). Luckily, the only one they let you handle is the relatively friendly rock python, which is thankfully not venomous. Handling snakes was definitely a new thing for me. In case you are wondering, the skin feels dry and they are pure muscle underneath that.
One hotel we stayed at had a butterfly house where you could go and look around and learn about butterflies. Obviously this demanded the return of the explorer outfit.
Imagine my delight to learn they really do use that funny shaped net to catch the butterflies.
We also learned all about their unique life cycle.
…to butterfly! Rather like some of the transformations on this blog, don’t you think?