charity, Features, Opinion
By Andrea Petrou on October 13th, 2011
I used to be a second-hand clothes snob and judged the standard of garments found in charity shops by the kind I gave away (I’m so sorry Oxfam I now realised old laddered tights are not what you expect to find in donated piles of clothes).
Although I’ve always been a Primark Princess rather than a Designer Diva I just couldn’t get my head around the idea of wearing someone else’s cast offs.
However as I grew up and became poorer (a combination of the financial climate and moving away from home) I began to think that perhaps I was too quick to judge, and over the past few years I’ve become what I can only describe as a second hand shop addict.
My addiction first began with books. However, as the thrill of finding that perfect novel for under a £1 began to wear off, I started to wonder if I could get the same feeling with the many clothes these shops stock.
I admit I was a bit squeamish with the idea of wearing someone else’s cast offs but I reasoned that it’s not really that much different from borrowing a mates top or skirt. All you need to do is run them through the wash and they’re like new.
Yes, you have to search a little bit and sometimes excuse the smell, you know the one that sometimes hits you as you walk into these shops and reminds you of your great aunt Mabel, but once you’ve got past that the world of second hand clothing really does become a wonder.
I’ve found almost new Diesel jeans for a bargain £8 as well as a range of cute highstreet tops for a mere £2. And depending on where you are you can find a range of designer delights.
Rummaging around the Hampstead branch of Oxfam I found a pair of Earl Jeans for £20 and a Gucci bag for £90, not bad considering the prices charged for these items when they’re new, and let’s face it jeans always look that bit better when they’re worn in don’t they?
But although I lusted over some of the shoes donated to these shops, I couldn’t bring myself to buy any, no matter how cheap they were, until one day I spotted a gorgeous pair of vintage 50s courts. Like a second hand version of Becky Bloomwood I knew I had to have them.
I didn’t care if the previous owner, or the twenty before her had some kind of gruesome blisters or bunions, all I could think about were how good they would look with my original vintage dress (courtesy of a British Heart Foundation store). So I bit the bullet, bought some anti bacterial footspray and became a charity Cinderella.
I know many of you will have been shopping in these stores for a while, but for those who are still charity shop snobs I advise you to give it a go.
Yes I may be shooting myself in the foot here, afterall I don’t like to have second hand rivals, but I’ll make you a deal, if you donate your old clothes I’ll make an exception for that perfect jacket being swiped from under my nose.
And lets face it, you’ll also be helping a good cause, which is better than almost anything else, except maybe that unique designer coat that’s going for “just” a fiver.