#FiveThingsSaturday Visit Liberty

The heart of Liberty || #FiveThingsSaturday Visit Liberty || raeritchie.com
The heart of the store

For Emma

For a while I’ve been contemplating introducing another feature to my blog as I seem to have a whole bunch of ideas and recommendations that I can’t fit in anywhere else.  All these feel like the kind of suggestions that would make for a pleasant Saturday afternoon, so I’ve decided that’s what I’ll go with: at the start of each weekend, I’ll post five things that you could do later that day (or on any Saturday in the future!).

Sometimes they’ll be themed, as they are today; other times they’ll be more of a mix.  Let me know if you try out any of these ideas or if you have suggestions of your own – contact me directly or use the hashtag #FiveThingsSaturday.  Would love to see your responses!

An episode of The Apprentice 2016 was filmed in Liberty || #FiveThingsSaturday Visit Liberty || raeritchie.com
Don’t blink or you’ll miss me! The back of my head featuring in The Apprentice 2016

If you follow my Instagram account, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of Liberty, the London department store (the back of my head even briefly appeared in a recent episode of the BBC’s The Apprentice that was filmed in the ladies’ accessories hall).

Department stores have a special place in my history geek heart, being a new form of public space that emerged in the nineteenth century and one of the few urban places where women were not only welcome but were in fact central to their culture.  There were even moral panics about the heady effects that these palaces of dreams had on women’s nervous systems!

Not all of the original stores retain this magical aura but it is still palpable in Liberty.  Whether you’ve never visited or you’re a regular through its doors, the 1875 Arts and Crafts store is joyful place to spend a few hours on a leisurely afternoon.

Here are my top five things to do there:

Nikki Tibbles Wild at Heart Florist @ Liberty || #FiveThingsSaturday Visit Liberty || raeritchie.com
How could you not take a picture?


(1) Enter the shop via the front central doors on Great Marlborough Street where you can marvel at the always stunning floral concession, Nikki Tibbles Wild at Heart Florist.  There’s often some jostling to get a decent snap of the lush, flower filled stands as it’s the kind of display that could define ‘Instagrammable’.

Nikki Tibbles Wild at Heart Florist

(2) Absorb the craftsmanship and architecture.  From the front facade to the back staircase, it is beautiful.  Like gasp worthy beautiful.  Take the stairs on the right and let your hands run over the wooden banister and its carvings.  Head up to the top floor and just absorb the view looking down the central atrium to the floors below (see picture at the top of the post).  It’ll give you an insight into why department stores were the source of sensory overload back in the nineteenth century.

In the haberdashery room @ Liberty || #FiveThingsSaturday Visit Liberty || raeritchie.com
In a corner of the haberdashery room

(3) Visit the haberdashery section.  Wander around the outer edge and take in bolt after bolt of patterned fabric to which the store gave its name.  Even if you’ve never cared to pick up a needle in your life, it’s like a colourful sweetshop rammed with delicious choices. And if you do feel inspired to take up a new project, don’t worry about asking the staff for advice – they are super knowledgeable and helpful.




(4) Get a piercing!  The renowned New York jeweller Maria Tash has a corner of the ground floor where you can buy a range of gorgeous little glittery things that they’ll insert for you wherever you choose.  Anytime of the day you’ll find small groups of women of varying ages gathered around the glass counters giggling and cooing over the array of choices.

I got three new piercings in my right ear back in November and it was a far more fun experience than getting the original pair done in a hairdressers upstairs in Nuneaton bus station.

Maria Tash Piercing at Liberty (booking recommended)

After a Skin Laundry facial @ Liberty || #FiveThingsSaturday Visit Liberty || raeritchie.com
After the laser-and-light facial

(5) Have a facial: Californian skincare brand Skin Laundry has opened its first UK concession in the Liberty beauty hall.  They offer fifteen minute laser-and-light facials as well as a skincare line to support this treatment.  They are so convinced that you’ll love the effects that they offer every customer their first facial free!

I tested the treatment out last week.  I can report that my face looked brighter and felt tauter afterwards although I’m not sure I’d pay £50 to have it done again, especially as it was quite painful – the laser felt like a series of small electric shocks.  That said, it’s definitely worth trying out if you feel your skin could do with a boost!

Skin Laundry (again booking recommend)

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Ethical fashion in London: New names for the new year

Ethical fashion in London: New names for the new year || raeritchie.com
L to R: Sarah & Rhoda of P.I.C. Style, Sophie of Gung-Ho Designs, Nina of War & Drobe, Kenny of Poli & Jo – all designers at the Shoreditch Pop Up Shop || Ethical fashion in London: New names for the new year || raeritchie.com

I’ve realised that my own fashion philosophy is quickly beginning to emerge now that I’m spending more time immersed in thinking and writing about the subject.  The phrase that keeps coming to mind is that we need to take fashion both more and less seriously.

We need to take fashion both more and less seriously.

At first glance this is a paradox but less contradictory than it sounds.

We can take fashion more seriously by looking closely at what we are wearing, where it has come from and what practices (working and environmental) have been involved in the creation process.

We can use our consumer power to support businesses who are trying to create new models of manufacture and retailing.  

Yet this consideration of the business side of fashion doesn’t preclude a bit of fun.

It is still possible to be playful and creative in what we wear.

Too often we take the appearance side seriously while neglecting to consider the actually serious side at all, but we can reverse this mindset.

Last Wednesday, I encountered an opportunity to do just this when I attended the press night for a pop-up shop in Shoreditch.  The garments and accessories on display were beautiful but had quirky elements as well, from fun prints to big bows to unusual materials.

At the same time, all the goods for sale had an ethical twist one way or another, including using up discarded fabrics to stylish but slow fashion to supporting key environmental causes with each purchase.

It felt like a really exciting and growing movement to be part of, and the evening really resonated with my ‘take fashion both more and less seriously’ ethos.

Alas the pop up shop will be closed by the time this post goes live but you can still buy from the brands featured via their websites.  Here are my recommendations based on the makers that I met that night, giving you some new names to check out in the new year…

© Gung Ho Designs || Tuesday Reviews Day 20-12-2016 || raeritchie.com
© Gung Ho Designs || Ethical fashion in London: New names for the new year || raeritchie.com

Gung Ho Designs

Created by Sophie Dunster, Gung Ho Designs is comprised of organic cotton handmade garments all of which tell an important environmental tale.

Each features a different print, from bees to leopards to elephants, and when you purchase an item you receive a booklet explaining the challenges facing that particular animal.  Not only does this raise awareness, but with each sale a donation is made to a relevant good cause.


© Margot and Mila || Moon phase ring || Tuesday Reviews Day 20-12-2016 || raeritchie.com
© Margot and Mila || Moon phase ring || Ethical fashion in London: New names for the new year || raeritchie.com

Margot and Mila

Named after important women who’ve influenced her, Lucinda Burke’s gorgeous jewellery collection is handmade in London and uses ethically sourced precious stones.  Lucinda also does bespoke commissions if you’re after a special piece!





© P.I.C collection || Tuesday Reviews Day 20-12-2016 || raeritchie.com
© P.I.C collection || Ethical fashion in London: New names for the new year || raeritchie.com

P.I.C. Style

Rhoda and Sarah of P.I.C. Style may produce a versatile and interchangeable capsule collection but I wanted to buy every single item in it!  From a base of eight pieces they claim you can create over fifty outfits combinations, allowing you to make a great slow fashion statement.

These are definitely garments that you’ll want to wash and wear for a long time.  Even the partner of another designer in the pop-up was sporting their peg trousers!


© Poli and Jo || Tuesday Reviews Day 20-12-2016 || raeritchie.com
© Poli and Jo || Ethical fashion in London: New names for the new year || raeritchie.com


Poli & Jo

Kenny of Poli & Jo usually creates limited edition handbags and bags that he sells from his long-established stall on Shoreditch Market but when he realised that car firm Land Rover had leftover roof material, a new concept was born.  Alongside his usual range, Kenny now crafts tote bags made from this recycled material.

The result is beautifully styled bags with a hefty dose of British heritage alongside modern design and durability.  If a Land Rover roof can survive the African desert, you are not going to wear the material out on the 283 bus.

© War & Drobe || Tuesday Reviews Day 20-12-2016 || raeritchie.com
© War & Drobe || Ethical fashion in London: New names for the new year || raeritchie.com


War and Drobe

Designer Nina Kovacevic and her family came to Britain as refugees from the Balkans War and they settled in London.  This is where Nina’s War and Drobe company is now based, with her making all the items by hand.

There’s a clear vintage influence on the brand’s vibe, with bolero jackets and close fitting dresses alongside high waisted trousers and jackets.  If it’s a feminine silhouette that you’re after, get some War and Drobe in your wardrobe.

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Tiny Wardrobe on Tour in London

Super exciting event announcement!

Many of you will know Courtney Carver and her work on
simplicity over at Be More
With Less
.  Some of you may even be
familiar with Project 333,
her minimalist fashion challenge that invites you to dress with 33 items or
less for three months.  Since she began
dressing this way herself in 2010, thousands across the world have joined in,
and the initiative has featured on The Today programme in the US as well as in O, The Oprah Magazine and on the BBC.

Courtney recently decided to take her tiny wardrobe on tour
and so, for the first time ever, she is coming to speak in London.  She’ll be talking about what she’s learnt
from dressing with 33 items or less and her experiences of simplicity more

And guess what else?

I’m hosting the event with her!

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been working behind the
scenes to make this happen and I am beyond thrilled to announce the details at
last.  The event takes place at 18.30 on
Monday 25th April 2016 at Friends House, Euston Road, London.  Tickets cost just £20 and are available
.  Places are limited and they’ve
begun selling already so I’d encourage you to get in quick if you are

(For readers in the States, Courtney is also visiting a
number of US cities, so contact her if you are interested in knowing more about
other Tiny Wardrobe on Tour events).

I’ll be there to introduce Courtney and chair the
Q&A.  Even if I wasn’t involved, I’d
be buying a ticket as I genuinely think it’s an event not to be missed!  It would be great to see some of you there

details again: The Tiny Wardrobe on Tour exclusive UK event – 18.30 on Monday
25th April 2016 at Friends House, London – tickets £20

One of my favourite quotations – I always try to remember these words when things seems tough or my strength seems shaken. Right now, am charting my boat on new waters. Ahoy!

#quotes #quotation #louisamayalcott #alcott #inspiration #storms #storm #thames #riverthames #london #londoneye #bigben #housesofparliament #waterloobridge #sailing #ship #seaoflife

Carpe Weekend

Most of us are familiar with the phrase ‘Carpe Diem’, or ‘Seize the day’.  Yet rather than seizing every day, often it is only on the weekend that we feel we have time to stop, collect ourselves and breathe.  This feature is designed to help with that: a small suggestion, tip or hint for you to try (if you wish!) over the weekend.  Maybe it will make a difference to your life, maybe it won’t, maybe it will prompt some other thoughts.  Enjoy – and seize your weekend!

Right now in the UK, it’s hot. Very hot (well, hot by our standards!). Hot and sticky. Over the weekend it is forecast to be just as hot, only wet too. This weather can get to us, as can a mid-year lull. We’re over the halfway hump but unless you have a break booked then it can feel like a long slog from now until the next occasion that punctuates the year. So make like a schoolkid and declare this weekend your very own summer holiday! Do nothing, or as little as possible. Loll around. Re-read your favourite book from childhood. Maybe go swimming, or play a game in a local park. In short, remember whatever you loved from the summer holidays as a child and try to recreate that same feeling this weekend.

School’s out for summer!

Pictured: the Emirates Air Line across the Thames in east London, which I went on last weekend. A great way to see the city and it reminded me of the cable cars at theme parks, which I used to love. Admittedly this felt a lot sturdier and less dangerous!

Last night, I wrote a long and heartfelt blog post about Brene Brown and “I Thought It Was Just Me” and sex and shame and vulnerability. As my train pulled into the station, I saved it into crafts. Or at least I *thought* I had saved a draft. This morning I’ve come to edit the post, only to discover that it hadn’t saved. Nothing. No trace of the post anywhere. All those words, all that emotion, all that trying to share my story, all gone.

Is it a sign? Maybe it’s a timely reminder, should I begin to get smug, that I still have a look long way to go on my blogging journey. I certainly have a lot to learn on the technology side; as well as how to save draft posts, there is the frustrating matter of how to insert hyperlinks into text written in the Android app version of Tumblr (if anyone knows the answer, please tell me!). There are lessons about over sharing as well. How much is too much? Perhaps my lost post was too much.

So I will keep on. Keep on writing and learning and sharing (mindful of boundaries). Keep on, like the little tugs chugging up and down the Thames.