Earlier this month, I set myself a charity shop style challenge. I would spend five days wearing fabulous looks created by other people’s cast offs. Why?
1. I love a good bargain and have been shopping in charity shops, boot sales, thrift stores, flea markets and vintage shops since I was a teenager
2. One woman’s rubbish is another woman’s treasure
3. I’m aware of how much we consume and throw away, this is a very ethical way to shop
4. I know what it’s like to count pennies on maternity leave or as a stay at home mum. Second-hand shopping is how you can make your budget stretch!
So, armed with £50 I hit the streets of Crystal Palace, my local charity shop hub and purchased a capsule wardrobe from the Shelter, Cancer Research and Mind stores. Rifling through the rails filled me with a nostalgic retail adrenaline rush. You see, let’s be honest, there’s a lot of toot in charity shops. As you pass through each hanger, your shopping brain goes into overdrive. Who’s the brand? What’s the size? The fabric ok? Any damage? What about the print, the fabric, the colour? Then time slows down as “Hurrah” you find something magical and “hurrah” it’s your size.
I don’t bother to try things on in charity shop fitting rooms. The cubicles tend to be a tiny corner somewhere with a curtain far to small to hide this goodness behind and certainly too small for a buggy. Now tops you can easily try out in the mirror, but for the bottoms, I have a clever trick. Wrap the waistband around your neck and if it goes all the way around without squeezing, it’s the perfect fit.
It’s not as easy shopping in charity shops now I’m bigger. There’s definitely a smaller pool to choose from and it was so much easier when I could start with the smallest sizes at the beginning of the rack. The saddest part of the shop, was putting the stunning Helmut Lang blazer back on the rack because it was too tight across the back.
However, I’m so impressed with the final selection of pieces I found to fit my UK 12 top and 14 bottom. Now that Crystal Palace is gentrified, it’s much easier to find great pieces then when I was younger, although they go quickly. There are regular shoppers.
For my style challenge, I needed clothes I could breast feed in, worked with my mummy lifestyle and one special outfit for a night out at the luxurious Mondrian Hotel.
Here’s what I bought and rocked:
- Day 1 – Cotton button up dress £6.49 (Shelter)
- Day 1 (night) – Gyspy Top £2 and tailored trousers £2.49 (Shelter)
- Day 2 – T-shirt £3 (Shelter) Silky Midi Skirt £2.50 (Mind)
- Day 3 – Warehouse Printed Dress £15 (Cancer Research)
- Day 4 – Biba Chiffon Blouse – £6.50 (Shelter) Tailored Trousers (as before) Striped belt £2 (Cancer Research)
- Day 4 – Baby Lolo rocks a £2 Flamenco costume (a little something extra I couldn’t resist) (Cancer Research)
- Day 5 – Chiffon applique blouse £4 (Cancer Research) H&M patterned trousers £5 (Shelter) Striped belt (as before)
I loved doing this challenge, it helped me to really enjoy statement clothes again. In fact my least favourite outfit was the super casual tee and midi skirt combo. The patterned dresses have since become my summer favourites, I just love wearing them, easy statement style, while I felt so glamorous in the cheapest outfit for my Mondrian night out with the girls.
(Now I must apologise for the typos on the pics, let’s just say Windows 10 doesn’t agree with my laptop, so I’ve hijacked my husbands and currently work on a timer!!)
Anyway, what do you think of my challenge? What’s your favourite outfit? Do you shop second hand?
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