It's mind-boggling to think that it's mid December already and that the silly season madness is in full swing. Gazing down at Antwerp's main shopping street from the lofty heights of my office window, the teeming crowds of frenzied people carrying armfuls of shopping bags make me count my lucky stars that I'm not one of them. Oh, but they do tend to exasperate me when I need to run an errand during my lunch break or when they find it necessary to clog up public transport with said shopping bags during rush hour!
But enough of that, what about some outfits?
For these, we have to backtrack slightly, to the last days of November.
Unintentionally, and for reasons totally unconnected with the season, I seem to be have been wearing a lot of red lately. Take this outfit, which was built around a new-to-me dress, for example.
The dress was a recent Think Twice find and the only item I bought from the shop's most recent collection, which seemed to be mainly consisting of ugly oversized jumpers and other assorted stuff I wouldn't have been seen dead wearing back in the decade that style forgot: the abominable 1990s.
Its pattern groovily combines several shades of grey with a delicious raspberry red, so adding even more red seemed the obvious thing to do.
Judging from the loops, once upon a time the dress must have come with a belt, which had done a disappearing act somewhere along the line. But never mind! As you know, I often prefer to use a belt from my stash, and this red leather, square buckled one turned out to be just perfect for the job.
A translucent red beaded necklace, red plastic ring and a brooch featuring a threesome of Scottie dogs - one of them red - were picked for further accessorizing.
It was a Friday afternoon, and I'd just arrived home from work, which is why I am still wearing my beret. Oh, and here's a naughty peek at my vintage slip, while I'm showing you my red opaques!
And then it was Saturday, and nothing could stop us from finally going on that charity shop trawl.
It was a sunny day, but with a tinge of crispness in the air, so I needed to dress accordingly, and as my craving for wearing red hadn't dissipated, I plucked this navy, red and white bouclé (boo-CLAY, as Sheila would say) skirt from my wardrobe.
I didn't want to do a boring plain jumper, so out came this lightweight one from Zara, which came to me by way of a charity shop. It's got such a classic, mid-century shape and print. And even if at first sight you'd be forgiven in thinking its colours would clash (it's got a different shade of red from the red dots in my skirt, as well as some purple) it turned out to be a surprisingly balanced outfit.
I tried to wear the jumper tucked into the skirt, but it didn't look right, so I wore it on top, cinching in my waist with a tan leather belt.
Some more red appeared in the skirt worn by the lady in my brooch as well as my ring, while the blue and white tones in my skirt were repeated in my necklace.
Right, let's go shopping!
We visited two of our favourite shops, which we always seem to combine. The problem with our charity shops (called kringloopwinkels) is that the vast majority of them are out of town, so that an average charity shop trawl involves some driving around.
These shops are generally much bigger than an average UK charity shop and the first one we visited, on an industrial estate in a town called Mechelen, is spread over two floors.
Browsing the new-in books I was delighted to find this heavy and heavily illustrated coffee table tome on the Pre-Raphaelite British painter, illustrator and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
There was nothing in the clothing aisles to even remotely tempt me, but then I found this amazing pair of boots by Anthology, combining leather with a knitted shaft. They are in pristine condition and were mine for € 6.
Our next stop was the shop in Duffel, which not only is our very favourite, but is only a stone's throw from our favourite park.
When the weather's fine, like it was on that Saturday, we always go for a short (or longer) stroll before or after our visit to the shop.
The light on this last day of the year's penultimate month was just perfect, illuminating the last of Autumn's splendour with pale yet brilliant sunlight, the yellow and amber leaves contrasting starkly with the hazy blue sky.
I was wearing my plaid wool jacket with its soft furry collar - a fairly recent find - to which I yet again added more red. Both my red beret and red and purple scarf were charity shop finds.
Even my handbag got the red-carpet treatment and and was given a long-overdue ourting. I picked up the handbag in question, a small red vintage one, at a flea market back in April.
In spite of the gorgeous weather and the strangely uplifting sights and scents of the park's dying foligage and fallen leaves, our walk was a short one.
Days of rain had left the ground quite soggy, and I wasn't wearing the most adequate of footwear. Comfortable these boots might be but they are no match for muddy patches.
Besides, that charity shop was calling us!
This one is on three floors, the ground floor being mostly dedicated to furniture. However, there's a jewellery display near the checkouts, which I always browse before tackling the other floors.
This time, these two funky necklaces caught my eye and came home with me.
While the second floor has everything from assorted household goods and crockery to books, records and toys, the basement is fully dedicated to textiles.
I love browsing the aisles there, my only bugbear being the colour-coding, which seems to be common in many charity shops these days.
This particular shop has recently introduced sizing, where before all sizes were being put willy-nilly (yet colour coded) on the rails. Still, it pays off looking at everything, as they don't always get the sizes right.
That day, for instance, I found a cute embroidered cardigan on an XL hanger, while it clearly was only an S.
It will make its debut in my next post.
My final find of the day was a handmade and lined orange tweed skirt with a flouncy hemline.
The photograph, which was taken on a dark day, does not really do the colour justice, but it will have to do until I'll take it on its first outing.
We had another rummaging fix on Sunday, when we went to a flea market, but I'm afraid you'll have to wait until my next post to find out whether we found anything exciting!