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Feminspire | April 25, 2014

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Your Guide to Charity Shop Fashion

Your Guide to Charity Shop Fashion

The other day I decided to pay a visit to the doctors. Being a professional hypochondriac, I’m always in and out of my local clinic, but this time I was enquiring about something serious. “I’m being haunted by a persistent feeling of déjà vu,” I explained to my GP. “Whenever I leave the house, I’m struck with the idea that everyone looks the same. The other day I hugged someone that I thought was my friend from behind, and they turned out to be a total stranger. The whole situation culminated with me being whacked around the head with a handbag.”

If the doctor had been your run-of-the-mill old man in corduroys, he would have failed to diagnose me. Thankfully, my GP happens to be a woman that dons fierce outfits when she’s not forced to inhabit scrubs. Because of this, she was able to explain I was suffering from an acute case of bored-of-what-everyone-is-wearing-itus. “I’m also a sufferer,” she admitted. “I’ve been researching cures for the last five years, but I’m starting to lose hope of ever discovering one.”

Further internet research helped me to understand my condition. The ability of the high street to offer catwalk trends at affordable prices has led to a clone epidemic. Everyone buys the same mass produced stuff, resulting in the death of individuality.

But perhaps you think that I’m being over-dramatic. “After all, it’s not like my Topshop jersey is doing any harm,” you may say. Um, were you not listening to my story about the doctors? It’s not as if I made up my condition in order to make an elaborate journalistic point. My disorder is serious. And even if you don’t care about my own delicate health, what about the health of the world? Ever heard of sweatshops? Don’t you know that you enable their existence with every penny you hand over to major chain retailers?

Oh, don’t start crying. I’ve got a clever idea that will help you salvage your injured moral conscience whilst also enabling you to establish a sense of individuality. This clever idea is charity shop shopping. When shopping at charity shops, you succeed in making the world a better place whilst also increasing the size of your wardrobe. It’s like doing a charity marathon, only more sensible. Items are a one off, and they’re half the price of vintage. You may have to look for a bit longer than usual to find something you like, but it’s worth it in the end.

In order to convince the most hardened sceptics out there, I decided to indulge in a little charity shopping spree of my own. I set myself the challenge to find three fabulous outfits, all of which would cost less than fifteen pounds. Because my friends claimed they were too hungover/hairy to be models, I had to hold a dinner party to lure them into my lair. Still only two turned up in time to be photographed, so my hours spent defrosting potato waffles were essentially for nothing.

Anyhow, without further ado, let’s bring on the reluctant models!

This first look is titled 80s Fever, and it’s modelled by the gorgeous Namita Cariappa. The top looks like something out of an overpriced vintage boutique, but it actually was £7.50 from Age UK. The shoes were originally H&M, but some deluded individual decided that they were no longer her cup of tea and donated them to Cancer Research. The leggings were a modest pound from Oxfam, thus bringing the outfit total up to £13.50. Nam did her best to run off with the clothes, but I whacked her with my saucepan and reclaimed them as my own.

Next we have Rachel Moloney. A fine specimen of a human being, but still a terrible model. She wriggled around loads and described her outfit as “really weird”. The poor girl obviously has no taste, as she looks mighty fine in my cleverly concocted 70s-inspired outfit. The trousers were £6.00 from Save the Children and the top was £2.00 from Sue Ryder. I’m being a bit cheeky by including the shoes, as they were actually from a flea market. But since they only cost me a pound, I reckon it’s ok to feature them.

Finally we have the most attractive model of the lot, the wonderful Phoebe Eccles. That’s right; it’s me, the trusty writer of this article! At first I was reluctant to pose. Like Batman, I prefer to keep my true identity a secret. However, my buddy Claire was taking too long to arrive (possibly because she was busy purchasing cheesecake for my imaginary dinner party), so I had no choice but to step in. I bought the dress a while back at a charity shop, where it cost me a reasonable £7.50. I sparkly shoes were a fiver from Oxfam, and the hat was £2.00 from Save the Children.

Like fingerprints, the outfits in the photographs are unique. They cannot be replicated or copied. However, they can be a source of inspiration for you. Make yourself feel like a good person and hop off to the nearest charity shop. I’m excited to see what treasures you find.

Written by Phoebe Eccles