A Designer Wardrobe on a Budget
I’ve read all those well-meaning fashion features in magazines about how to look good on a budget. You know the type of editorial that I’m talking about, the ones that say, “Take one well-tailored suit, like this one here for just £800 and mix and match it with different blouses, T-shirts and tops for a completely different look each day. And don’t forget to accessorise, accessorise, accessorise!”
What a load of garbage!
Great idea in theory, but I tried this once and discovered that my one, well-tailored suit, still looked like the same suit teamed with a variety of different accessories. When friends and colleagues began offering comments such as, “You’ve had good wear out of that suit, haven’t you?” (meaning, “You can’t fool us”), the implication was that I was unhygienic. In addition to developing the worn, latticed effect around the posterior after a few weeks, I eventually found that I had nothing to wear when said suit finally walks itself to the dry cleaners.
Give me £800 and I could kit myself out in enough designer-type outfits for the next ten years.
How? By rooting around charity shops. And generally, those whose budgets can accommodate full-price chic, can also afford to buy a new wardrobe each season, sending their barely worn designer labels to charity stores for bargain hunters such as myself to pick up.
The old impression of smelly, second hand stores full of musty, moth eaten clothes that have been donated by a dead person’s relatives has long since gone, if it ever really existed. Most shops will rigorously sort the wares that are donated and will discard anything that is not of merchandable quality. Some stores will even launder the clothes beforehand, although these shops will generally charge more for this privilege.
Also gone, is the image of the unkempt Mrs Bloggs, who has given birth to at least one child a year for the past twenty years and who spends her days rooting through the rails of fraying, dirndl cast-offs to provide for her oversized family. Today’s second-hand store clientele are well-groomed, successful and professional people who have wised up to the fashion rip-off industry and definitely have more sense than money.
And on the subject of snob value, remember that even when you buy an item that for all intents and purposes is new, you don’t know how many other customers have tried on that garment before you.
The great thing about charity shops is that I could, if I wanted, purchase an entire new wardrobe each season without having to take out a second mortgage.
I know what you’re thinking. You haven’t seen me and are therefore unable to assess whether what I am saying is true. I could, for all you know, be decked out in some old anorak with fur-lined hood, teamed with white stilettos and an alligator handbag to complete the ensemble.
Trust me, I’m not. In fact, one charity shop that I frequent will not even accept garments that are considered passť. This, I found, to my embarrassment when I’d brutally cleared out my wardrobe and offloaded a sack full of my winter clothes to the proprietor of this posh little shop.
I was tentatively scanning the rail of skirts whilst the owner rooted through the sack and plucked out each garment, systematically holding every item up and scanning it, with a recurring look of disdain on her face. As she crammed everything back into the black bin liner, she said, “I don’t think I can sell any of this. It’s a bit..er…out of date.” Out of date? These were the clothes I’d been wearing only a few weeks previously!
But naturally, now that I have made a number of purchases at this up to the minute shop, I would happily feature in Vogue sporting my nifty little shift dress with matching jacket and witty accessories.
Not only are you securing bargains, but the guilt about spending a fortune on clothes is eliminated and, most importantly, you are contributing towards worthy causes such as cancer research, societies for handicapped children and age concern, rather than lining the pockets of fat cat retailers with your hard-earned cash.
And I figure that the less money I spend on clothes, the more money I have to spend on my children.
What better excuse is there than that?