Outfits: Mint green and Zebra stripes

Today I want to tell you about several charity shop pieces which made the cut for my holiday wardrobe without any ‘modifications’.

This mint green 100% silk designer top is by far the most interesting and/or unusual item I think I’ve ever found in a charity shop. It’s from the David Szeto SS ’06 collection and the medium-weight mint green silk has gold abstract prints on it, that have a subtle sheen to them.

The label is marked ‘DAVID SZETO printemps-ete circa 2006’ which confused me a little. Surely they know what year it is when they make the labels?! I had a look at his website and the latest collection is called AW circa 2013, so I guess it’s a ‘thing’. His shop lists some current season silk tops for 4-500 Euros (currently on sale). He has some items on Avenue 32, and here are some of his items on Shopbop as well. He’s apparently a Canadian designer working out of Brussels. So how the heck this ended up in the PDSA shop in Bolton… I guess we’ll never know. I paid £4.49 and ran out of the shop before they realised what it is and tried to charge me more. It’s described as ‘Medium’ but the inside label says 40.




This zebra print skirt was screaming for some attention in the Trinity House Hospice Shop in Streatham.


It’s a very lightweight 100% silk, with zebra stripes printed on and shiny dots woven in to give it some texture. This photo doesn’t really do it justice, it’s beautiful.


The designer of this skirt is Flora Kung, and the label carries her brand name ‘Flora Kung New York‘. This Taiwanese-born designer does her own textile design as well as fashion design and combines the two for a rather distinctive look. The label was very active in the 1980s, and after an 18-year gap, was resurrected in 2008 (with even Kate Middleton spotted in a Flora Kung design in recent years). I have seen Flora Kung items with an identical label as this one described as ‘vintage 80s’ on Ebay and Etsy, but I am not entirely sure that this skirt is that old. If you can help me shed any light on how old this skirt might be, please get in touch.

I paid £15 for this, which you may think is a little much, but in response I would challenge you to go out and buy a designer silk anything for £15, especially when that £15 is going towards the good work that Trinity House does. The label says there are slight pulls in the fabric, but none are visible.


This gold knit rib maxi has sparkly thread throughout so it glitters like… well, glitter. It was £4.99 from the British Heart Foundation Shop in Streatham.



Here is the zebra print skirt in action. I wore this with a safari-green vest which has satin trim around the arm and neck. It’s racerback, actually. The skirt fits really well around the waist, even if it’s a bit loose around the hips. The pockets add to the casual summer vibe. Being breathable and so lightweight, it’s cool to wear.


YES, I have zebra shoes… they are actually black patent and cream faux-snakeskin with dark wood soles, but the colours look like zebra.


Here are some more details about the green top.

Both the back and the front are two symmetrical pieces cut on the bias, plus a side gusset. The back is the same as the front, except for the stitches at the front neckline (below is the back).


Here’s a close-up of the stitching which pulls down the V at the front neckline. There is a self-facing on the entire neckline, just folded under.


The shoulders have a wonderful detail – it’s a single row of lattice smocking which looks like a plait. The outer edges of the fabric are left in gentle folds. The edges are unhemmed to let it drape softly.

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Here’s a detail of the fabric. This is only ever so slightly glittery in real life.


The shoulder points have ties on them which cover the join between the front and back bodice. The ties are just some strips of material, unfinished, tied in a single knot.


Under the arms there is a gusset panel which is also cut on the bias, but it’s rectangular. The top edge of this panel is folded under to make a self facing.


Here’s a detail from the inside. The waistline has two rows of shirring elastic sewn into it, just either side of the seam. The inner seams are French seams.


The peplum is just a gathered rectangle the same width as the top. The bottom hem is unfinished.


Here’s the top on. The only thing I couldn’t fathom was how to make the right hand neck facing stay put as it keeps flipping out. The elastic waist is a little bit stretched – the gathers aren’t as pronounced as they should be because it’s a smidge too small for me – but I’m nitpicking. I really love it.


I French plaited my hair as a nod to the Lattice smocking! Wish I had a better picture of this.


I also wore the top with the gold skirt, but the skirt is rather a heavy synthetic so it wasn’t really cool enough for daytime wear. It was perfect for keeping the evening mosquitoes away.

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  1. katie

    The peplum top isn’t entirely my style, but I love that you delved into its design and construction, it’s quite fascinating to read about, and it sounds like you got a bargain. Inspires me to take a closer look at clothing when I go charity shopping!

    • charityshopchic

      Hi Katie, this is definitely one of my most fascinating finds. I love to study vintage and designer garments as the construction techniques are sometimes quite different. You’d never find anything like this on the high street! It’s one of the reasons I love charity shopping!

  2. Kasia

    I totally agree with the commenter above–I really adore how you deconstructed the construction of that top. Looking at how particular items are built helps a lot when you’re trying to sew yourself, especially when someone with far more experience (like you :)) lists the crucial points.
    Also, killer zebra shoes. Fell in love with them! :)))

  3. Kathryn

    Oh my god can I go charity shopping with you please?!! Seriously, you find the most amazing stuff. I just love that zebra print skirt!

      • charityshopchic

        Truthfully, I really wanted to buy some second hand clothes out there but didn’t feel 100% safe shopping at some of the markets… I’m a bit of a chicken though, I’m sure it would have been fine. From what I could tell, it seemed to be mostly high street style stuff shipped over from Europe/US anyway. Spoiler alert: I DID indeed buy some fabrics from a shop run by the Maasai that our guide deemed safe. I’m planning a post on those shortly.

  4. jenny_o

    Beautiful pieces! (Do you think a small tack at the shoulder would coax that facing into behaving? I’m sure you’ve already thought of that, but just in case … It is not obvious anyway; I was looking for it because you mentioned it)

    I’m with the other commenters who like the discussion on construction, maker, etc. Great post!

  5. Fadanista

    I’m with everyone else on the deconstruction of that top – immediately began thinking about whether I could do some of it for myself because it’s so lovely. Finding fabric like that could be an issue though. I adore the shoes, but have been wondering about the size of your luggage – not sure you are a light traveller!! Being totally inspired, I have been trawling op (charity) shops in my locale, but they clearly aren’t in the class of yours. I did find more than 100 LPs from the ’60s and ’70s for a $1 each (most op shops sell them for up to $20 each!) though, so not a total failure…

    • charityshopchic

      Hi Sue, so glad you found this top as interesting as I did. I hadn’t seen smocking used on a contemporary garment before, and I love it! You are right, I didn’t exactly travel light…
      Sounds like you’ve been getting some great op shop bargains. I think I might be making it look easy – what you see here on the blog represents hours and hours of diligent searching in many different cities across the country (and I only show you the best of what I buy!).
      As for making something similar – the thought had crossed my mind ;-)

  6. Claire

    What great buys, and even though I would normally baulk at anything over £1, I do think you paid good prices for those lovely pieces. Love the thought of you dashing out of the shop as if they are going to realise what they have sold you! I’ve done that a few times myself, deep breathing and staying calm when you get your mitts on an absolute bargain, even if you think the whole shop can hear your heartbeat!! The plaiting effect on the shoulders of that top is really something too, how clever! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Gjeometry

    The top is gorgeous, what a great find! It looks so lush I want to touch you in it. (yup, that sounded TOTALLY creepy). I’m surprised they left the hems unfinished like that, I always thought it was a ‘no-no’ with wovens, but it does seem to make for a lovely drape, doesn’t it?

  8. Suzy

    As soon as I saw the material in your Flora Kung skirt, I was back in 1987, having a New Year’s Eve dinner with about 10 people in NYC. Mine was a dress, also black and white, with the same tiny dots on it! I don’t remember what I did with the dress but I do remember that night as one of the most fun times of my life. I paid around $200 US for it and that was almost 30 years ago! So enjoy your 1980’s skirt!

    • charityshopchic

      Suzy, you have no idea how happy I was to read this comment! Thrilled to have found out some more about this piece and dated it to late 80s. If your dress cost US $200 in 1987 it must have been pretty special! I will continue to wear this with pride! Thanks so much for commenting, you made my day!

  9. mishqueen

    Would you be willing to show us a photo of that plaited smocking from the inside? I’m fascinated as to how that appearance is created.

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