My husband and I recently returned from the trip of a lifetime.  My friends would say that it was yet another box checked off of my bucket list to “shop the world”.  Perhaps that is true, but it’s not so much for the sake of simply purchasing material things as it is my fascination of experiencing something different and completely new to me.  As a fashionista, I’m sure it isn’t a stretch for me to say that it inevitably means that it will be something that I can incorporate into my wardrobe – let’s call it “wearable art”.



Handbag: Michael Kors (Similar here & here) /Hat: Linen Fedora, Japanese Find (Similar here & here)/Glasses: NC Artist (similar here & here) /Watch: Citizen Eco-Drive (Exact here) /Top, Forever 21 (Similar here & here)/Necklace: Ross-Simons (similar here & here)

Eco-fashion, recycled, and repurposed items are all the rage right now, but is the concept really new?  It occurred to me that some of the things that I cherish most, aren’t necessarily expensive, but I love them because they have a story.  They are the handiwork of someone who knows how to turn what, by all appearances, is trash into treasure.


On some level, I think I’ve always known that, but it really struck me as I was walking through the Night Market in Siem Reap.  I happened across huge and beautiful displays of handbags, clutches, wallets and the like that were made from recycled rice, cement, and fertilizer bags.  (Don’t worry, they’re definitely sanitized)

It’s a brilliant concept because of the durable materials that these bags are made of – they’ve got to hold up if they’re going to make it from the warehouse to the field in their first life.  The art is unique and for me, beautiful.


 clutch made from a recycled cement bag


 roomy & sturdy messenger bag made from a recycled fertilizer bag (Similar here)

A few days later, over my morning coffee and, completely intoxicated by the deep introspection that one has while on vacation, I got tickled with myself.  I realized that while these goodies were new to me, I’ve always been attracted to repurposed items.  Of course, the Vietnamese Iced Coffee might have had something to do with my giddy.  Seriously…you’ve GOT to try it!


When I got home, I began to take inventory of some of the goodies that I’ve gathered over the years.  It was like finding old friends in my closet with whom I’ve made new special and  memories.  While I couldn’t possibly show them all, I’ve picked some of my favorites to share with you.


 handbag made from antique Japanese Obi, the sash worn on a kimono


tote made from straw & recycled magazines – perfect for a day on the sandy beach  (Similar here)


colorful necklace made from donated magazines for a fundraiser by the women at a local retirement home

Finally, my latest obsession is with bangles from The Glitsea Gypsy here in Okinawa.  They are made with sea glass, pottery shards or shells wrapped with recycled sari.  Not only are they on trend – the more the merrier, but they are about as unique as they come.  They serve as a touchstone for my time here.  In addition to all of their beauty, I love that I can help to support another military spouse who has put in the hard work of turning a little trash into one of my new favorite treasures.



The Glitsea Gypsy Bangles 

I’d love to know what your favorite repurposed finds are and what they mean to you.  What story do they tell for you?

Written by E'beth Goad