Explorer outfit (Kenya ft. Budapest and Middlesbrough)

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.

Budapest 2

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.

From caterpillar….


…to chrysalis…


…to butterfly! Rather like some of the transformations on this blog, don’t you think?




  1. Claire

    Great refashions, as usual! What a pretty blouse, and that skirt was just perfect for Africa! Have to admit, I like the Middlesborough prices best! Lovely photos too, what a tree!

  2. Amanda

    I have been to Budapest and Middlesbrough …. Not yet seen Kenya tho! Loved the outfit. The lace is beautiful. They had lots of beautiful lace stalls in the markets if I remember! So £9.50 sounds a good buy!

    • charityshopchic

      I did have a look in the markets as I wanted to buy something embroidered, but it all seemed to be £50 for a blouse which was a bit out of my price range. I would love to go back and have a proper hunt around for something not tourist-priced.

  3. jasperizer

    gorgeous as always! Love the outfit , It fits this voyage.
    as a neighbor to Hungary , I sometimes found myself wandering into stores and was rarely able to tell if they were second-hand or new merchandise. Most of them mix the products and if you are not careful you may end up paying the same amount for a sh item as you would for a new version.

  4. Carlee

    Freaking brilliant. Again, you always take clothing that I would never think could look that good in the end but end up looking quite honestly, perfect. Beautiful pictures!! Keep ’em comin’! So jealous as it will be reaching minus 30 Celsius tonight here.

    • charityshopchic

      Thank you Carlee, glad you liked the pictures. It’s flipping cold here in London too so it’s great looking back over all these sunny images. There are many (many) more to come so stay tuned!

  5. Kasia

    Dearest Sally, this is possibly the most amazing skirt I have ever seen. What an aching beauty. And how lovely you look in it :) And it shows both the good and bad sides of charity shop buying: sometimes you score the perfect item but sadly, no one else will get the same thing, no matter how hard they try.
    Aaaand, if you like the wild abundance of second hand stores, do come to Poland. We have them on every corner.

    • charityshopchic

      Hi Kasia and thank you for the comment! You’re right about charity shops and that’s what I love about them. No-one else will be wearing the same thing as me! I’ll definitely look out for second hand shops if I ever reach Poland on my travels!

  6. Andrea

    Love how the top turned out! That was definitely a good buy and well worth the investment. The lace is divine! And the skirt, too :). Great choices for Kenya, and it looks as though the trip was amazing (kinda jealous). Anyhow, excited to see more!

  7. jenny_o

    Beautiful job, as always! Thanks for bringing us along for a tour of your vacation spots. Even more pictures would be welcome :)

  8. Irene

    I love how you managed to turn an oversize blouse and a palm leaf printed skirt into such a beautiful ‘explorer’ outfit. It really suits you well! Also thanks for sharing the Hungarian for ‘second-hand clothes’. I loved Budapest when I went there last summer and now that I know what to look for I will definitely go back.

  9. Elaine

    I love your shopping for secondhand clothes in another country! It’s something I would do. I would love to see Kenya also so I look forward to seeing more photos. And I really like the print on the explorer skirt :-)

  10. fionaparker17

    Yup… still very jealous of every single picture of your holiday even though you’re back with us in the rain now! Absolutely love the print on the skirt. Almost as much as I love your face when you were touching that snake!

  11. erin

    such a wonderful transformation! Your new top turned out so pretty! Your outfit is perfect for travelling in warm weather!

  12. Marie

    Gah, I love your inspiration for this outfit…Dirty Dancing is one of my favourite films ever! Yours version is just beautiful and perfect for your epic holiday! Gorgeous pictures as always!

    • charityshopchic

      Mine too Marie, mine too! I wanted to do more Dirty Dancing inspired stuff for the trip but unfortunately there aren’t enough hours in the day. Maybe next trip!

  13. Mary Amateur

    Your outfit is classical but Your Africa (Kenya) is wonderful!Thank You for sharing and many greetings to Your photographer!

  14. Kriszta

    Hi, I had to smile when I saw the pics of használt ruha stores :) I’m hungarian, living in Bp. And yes we have lots of secondhand shops. But I have to tell you, that 3500 Ft is way too much for a sh piece… You can buy new for that price, moreover there are sh shops where you buy clothes for kg, and 1 kg is 3000. Anyway, great job :)

    • charityshopchic

      Hi Kriszta! I was delighted that hungarians love second hand shops as much as I do! 3500Ft seemed like a lot at the time but it was a vintage shop not a second hand shop really – I could afford it and loved the blouse anyway, so it’s not the end of the world. Also, I need to know where these places are where you can buy the clothes by weight?! Next time I go I’ll have to check them out!

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