Monday, 31 March 2014

Surprised By A Charity Shop Fashion Show

 
Monday 2 March 2014
At the end of the week, I'm giving a talk at an evening called:  'Style On A Shoestring'.  There's going to be a fashion show and everyone who wants to take part has to wear clothes bought from charity shops - at least part of the outfit.

I won't be in the fashion show exactly but I do need to wear a charity shop find.  So no pressure!  I am the invited speaker.  I fear they will be disappointed if my outfit isn't a wow.

Apart from my favourite charity shop thing ever when in our dressing up days as children, we got to fill carrier bags for a few pounds with whatever we wanted from a shop that was having a clearance sale, I have to admit to not being a charity shop shopper.  I've looked for bits of vintage before but I'm afraid I like new clothes!

However, I start out quite excited by the challenge.  I do various shops in Hertfordshire and some in Kensington.  In Welwyn Garden City, the clothes look quite worn and are mostly more casual than I'd choose.  Ideally I'd like a top or jacket I could wear with trousers I've already got.  But I go home with a couple of tops from the YMCA for £2.50 each!

 
Pieces are definitely cheaper than London where although some of the brands are better, the clothes are no less worn or sad looking.  £39 for a cardigan that no longer hangs properly seems a lot just because it has a label hidden inside.  I do find a jacket at the FARA store on Gloucester Road.  But it's a bit too big and I'm not a good enough sewer to take it in.

It seems people are giving china, furniture, books and ornaments to charity shops but there are a lot less clothes than there were a quarter of a century ago in my dressing up days.

I don't know why.  Perhaps they sell less clothes - after all you can buy new things just as cheaply.  Or perhaps people don't give as much.  I've certainly put more on ebay than I've given to charity shops in recent years. And with success:  I even had people contacting me from around the world with interest in a shirt from Zara.

So the benefits of a bit of charity shop shopping?

I try sizes and makes and styles I wouldn't normally.  The reality?  They probably don't fit if they're not my size and things that aren't my taste don't become it just because I try them on!  But I don't know if it's the low prices, the mish mash of things or just the fact that I absolutely have to get something that somehow makes me feel more creative, or more daring, than I might in an ordinary shop.

I don't think I'm much of a rummager unless it's through lots of treasures.  Even TK Maxx and I don't get on although other people come away with clever bargains.  But you can feel it in the air in the charity shops, much more than factory outlets actually - that sense that you could find something wonderful hiding.

Friday 6 March 2014
When Judy of women@stnix told me that she was planning the event she'd invited me to speak at around a charity fashion show, I'll be honest, I was concerned.  It sounded really fun but knowing what us girls can be like with our insecurities about how we look and our style choices, I didn't feel completely confident that people would join in.

Thankfully, I couldn't be more wrong!  Tonight is the night and the majority of people have bought something at a charity shop and they're eager to strut their stuff on the red carpet.

And the things they've found and outfits they've put together leave me in awe.  Most haven't shopped in charity shops before but they've found such fantastic pieces and put them together with so much flair.

I suspect some of them have found a creativity and confidence they didn't know they had.  It's probably been helped by us asking them to choose a category so some have come dressed for a wedding: one as a bride, others as guests.  Some are ready for a weekend in the country, others for a formal dinner etc.

They're playing a part in a way and I'm sure that takes away inhibitions.  Just like dressing up as children, we felt such freedom.  There's something sad about that - that it's easier to go for it with our clothes when we're not exactly being ourselves.  But far more cheering than any sadness is this confidednce and creativity that's been unearthed and unleashed.

It's a really positive evening and definitely something I'd recommend thinking of if you're planning an event!

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