Sunday, 23 April 2017

A 'Grand' day out: meeting Knickers Model's Own's Caroline Jones

Hello you, how were things this week? Been anywhere nice?

I've got some photos from a lovely afternoon I spent in York earlier this month if you fancy a look? Yeah? OK, here we go ... 

The 'Knickers Model's Own' Afternoon Tea at The Grand Hotel, York.

They say "Don't meet your heroes ... unless your hero is Caroline Jones, in which case you should definitely meet her." don't they? 

Well, OK, maybe that's not quite what 'they' say - but that's probably because they've yet to meet Caroline. But if they ever did, they would. 

I did, and I have because - after reading about, admiring her from afar and chatting with her online, she certainly didn't disappoint in the flesh.
Caroline Jones, Knickers Model's Own
Photographic evidence.
Caroline's 'Knickers Models Own' challenge (where she styled, wore, photographed, and shared a different pre-loved outfit every day during 2015) began as a way to raise money for the Cancer Research UK charity following the death of her mother to the disease.

I know a few of you will definitely remember because you told me you were planning to put it on your Christmas lists either as a gift to give ... or receive. For those unfamiliar it's a compilation of all 365 of Caroline's outfits, plus extra styling tips and advice on seeking out vintage clothes, bound together in a beautiful hardback, which continues to raise funds for cancer research. 

And the book single-handedly reignited my love of pre-loved fashion, so that once again, alongside rummaging around for the usual books and papery treasures in charity shops, I'm now searching the racks of clothes in charity shops in earnest.

So, when I saw the announcement that she was giving a talk at 'Fashion City York', an hour away from me, I seized the opportunity to hear directly from her.

I booked the tickets on a chilly, post-Christmas slump of a day way back in January, and by the time the day itself rolled around York was looking its Springtime best. Here we are, in the Yorkshire sunshine, Mam and me, two intrepid explorers (don't believe anything you read: we actually got dropped off and picked up right outside the hotel) in search of some pre-loved fashion inspiration:
In honour of the occasion I wore a vintage shirt (with those 70s collars ... you might have guessed) and charity shop beads. 
And this was our location for the afternoon, York's Grand Hotel, which certainly lived up to its name: 
I mean ... at the risk of sounding like I've never been anywhere nice before ... this place was  reeeeaaallly grand. Like - greeted at the door, £3.00 for a soda water, individual hand-towels in the bathroom - grand.
Not to mention 'chandeliers in the wood-panelled event space' grand:
The afternoon's festivities began with a talk from Caroline where she described:
  • how the idea of 'Knickers Model's Own' fundraising came to her;
  • how she branded the project, and the steps she took to promote it across social media;
  • how the project caught others imagination almost immediately;
  • and how she dealt with the overwhelming response she received, including inter/national press attention and having to write the book in 6 weeks!
Here's Caroline, mid-discussion in between the two ladies who took over her Instagram account for the afternoon sharing the event with anyone who wasn't lucky/near enough to be there on the day.
Later in the day Caroline introduced me to her faithful Instagrammers @susiesoso and  @myfashionable40s - a rarity for me to meet up with people I only know online, let alone meeting people who have tens of thousands of followers between them. But they were honestly the most friendly of friendly women, with no edge, no 'Influencer' airs and graces (so that taught me a lesson in expectations). And ... altogether I'm pretty sure that this now means that I'm one of the cool people. (Please don't feel the need to disabuse me of that delusion. I'm good thanks.)

In case al that listening to Caroline had tired us out we were then treated to a restorative Afternoon Tea (yes, there were cucumber sandwiches and scones. Natch.) while a lovely young lady sang and played guitar:
Then this tasty interlude was followed by a fashion show which featured full outfits that Caroline had styled from items found in Cancer Research charity shops.
Loud gasps bubbled up from the audience when she announced just how little each full outfit had cost. Clearly there were folks there not as used as I am to sniffing out (sorry, wrong choice of words there ...) - hunting down - charity shop treasure!

After this Caroline held a Q&A where she answered questions and gave advice on everything from:
  • what she plans to do in future - which, luckily for us includes a brand new website:
  • how to have fun with clothes and accessories despite your age or body-shape;
  • the relevance of 'slow' fashion in a fast world;
  • the power of a good bangle!
  • and, of course, the benefits of good foundation garments. Or ... knickers, basically! She has a brand to maintain after all!
After that we got to browse amongst some of the clothes from the fashion show, plus others, in what must be the poshest room I've ever rummaged for old clothes! Naturally I found something (I can't help it. The stuff finds me!) and I went home with a gorgeous, immaculate, see-through navy pinstriped St.Michael blouse (which, judging by the label, dates to the 1980s) for the princely sum of £4.50.
It was after all of that that I finally got to have a chat, a hug, and a few photos with Caroline and, it was just lovely. And - coming from an introvert who doesn't do the whole socialising thing very easily, that's saying something!

At one point she said some complimentary things about me to my Mam, and I felt a little bit like I was at a parent/teacher meeting at school ... and even that was lovely.

I don't think I've had such a nice day meeting someone whose work I admire since that time in the early 1990s when Little Angels (a British rock group) opened our local HMV and I got to meet - and kiss- all of the members of the band. (And yes non-believers, I do have photographic evidence to back up such boasting.)

In short (I know, I know, that ship's long sailed) ... don't meet your heroes ... unless they're Caroline Jones. 

(And maybe the Little Angels and you're a very cocky teenager with no shame).

See you soon. Online. I've filled my quota of real-life meetings for this month! ;-).

Julie x
Disclosure: this is not in any way a sponsored post. I paid for both the York event and Caroline's book myself. Therefore all opinions are my own, because if I paid for it all myself and then had someone else tell me what to say about it that would just be bizarre.


  1. How lovely that you got to meet Caroline! I bought her book after your last post and have been rummaging in charity shops ever since! It piqued my interest in Slow Fashion, and I have done some reading on the subject. So thanks Julie! XXX

  2. What a splendidly grand afternoon! It must have been lovely to actually meet Caroline in person. And I'm all for making do and mending. I even got my own sewing machine out last week... I might just have to follow your links :).

  3. I've been saving this post up to read when I had to enjoy it. Because I knew that I would. And I'm sitting here in the sunshine on a Bank Holiday dreaming, now, of charity shop rummaging with you and your clever eye. I'm glad you had such a great time!


Thanks for leaving me a comment, asking me a question, sharing your own story or just randomly saying hello.