One unexpected delight of narcissistically posting photos of myself on an inordinately regular basis is the connection it has opened with amazing charities, charity retailers and impassioned thrifters all turfing throwaway fast fashion in favour of seriously cool sustainable style. I still can't believe that when I find a fabulous frock for a bargain price it pays twice: once in draping my ample body in rainbows and awesomeness, and again in funding some pretty incredible work in the community. I'm an avid reader of The Thrift, the blog of UK's leading children's charity, Barnardo's, so when they invited me for a natter to grace their hallowed pages (err... screens?) I was pretty bloody chuffed. You can see the original article here.
2) What defines your look?
Me? I’m a glass-is-full girl in life and ¾ full in style – ¾ sleeves + ¾ midi dress length... with a headscarf and a dash of all-woman-cleavage thrown in for good measure. Haha!
3) What do you look out for when you go charity shopping?
Firstly, I never look at sizes. This has got to be my charity store golden rule. Clothes from across the decades (and across the world) are cut to all sorts of styles, trends and sizing scales, so focusing on the tags (unless it is a brand/era you know well) will see you missing out on true style gold. Forget the number and look at the garment instead. If there’s something that catches your eye and there’s a chance it will fit you, get it in that changing room! My mantra is: “just try it on, you have nothing to lose and a killer look to gain!”.
4) What do you enjoy about Charity Shopping?
Ummm… the price?! Seriously, find me another hobby that adds stunning, unique pieces to your wardrobe, contributes much-needed funds to support the extraordinary work of organisations like Barnardo’s AND generally costs less than a tenner…
5) What inspired you to shop in Barnardo’s?
While I loved charity shopping as a teenager (what grunge-aspiring, 90s girl wouldn’t?), by my mid-20s I figured I was “a bit old” and stopped going entirely. I thought that to be taken seriously I had to take myself (too) seriously and got caught up in the pressures of brands. Shopping at Barnardo’s helped me find the real me in my own style – stumbling across the vintage-loving store here in Glasgow’s Merchant City was a revelation.
6) How much did you spend on your latest Barnardo’s shopping trip and what did you buy?
My most recent trip nabbed this summer-loving tie front dress (£8.99), a navy vintage hat with birdcage veil (£6.99) and a fab pair of unworn, low wedges (£3.99). A cocktail-hour haul for under £20!
7) What is your favourite Barnardo’s purchase and why?
This vintage navy evening gown, it was £9.99. I love everything about it – the floaty sleeves, the aching-to-be-spun-in skirt, the flattering softly-pointed belt, the starry-night design – just give me a glass of Champagne and invite me to the Oscars! Like many items you’ll find in Barnardo’s, it was made right here in the UK – in Milton Keynes, in fact.
8) How much do you approximately spend on an outfit from a Charity shop?
Over on my blog I set myself little vintage style challenges – top-to-toe looks for (well) under £30 within three hours, mixing both charity and vintage stores for inspiration. At a charity store I’ll generally pay £4-£5 for a cute day dress and £8-£10 for something a bit more special. A fab handbag or shoes will be around £5 and belts/scarves/accessories £1-£2. Honestly, I doubt I’ll ever shop High Street again.
9) How often do you visit Charity shops?
I pop my head in once or twice per week [please don’t tell my wife!]
10) What advice would you give to Charity shop virgins?
Be bold and live in the moment. Charity shopping is full of one-off surprises… there’s no option to trawl look-books online or to order the piece in every size, style or colour. Really look at each item as you flip through the rack. If a garment catches your eye for any reason – whether the colour, cut, shape or pattern – don’t fuss. If there’s a chance it will fit, throw it over your arm and try it on. If you love it, but worry about what you could wear it with – dedicate the rest of your charity shopping trip to finding the perfect trousers/skirt/top and accessories to make it work as a complete outfit. You’ll get a fabulous top-to-toe look for less than a single item purchased new in-store. Once your friends/family/colleagues start complimenting you, you’ll be hooked!
A big dollop of love from my finger tips to your screen (I promise that's not as creepy as it sounds). xx