Now don’t get me wrong, I love the high street as much as the next girl and there is so much out there – but I’m no stranger to a charity shop or two.
The term ‘second-hand’ may strike horror in some people, wearing people’s castaways… But believe me, the clothes you can come across rummaging through thrift and charity shops is amazing – I’ll admit you may have to sort through some rather undesirable things to find them (90s tracksuit, no thanks) – but trust me, they are there!
Not only could you find some – dare I say it – classic pieces, you can also bring together a truly unique outfit that no one else out there is wearing. That, for me, beats the high street hands down. Too many times, I’ve been confronted with a girl wearing the same, beautiful, high street-bought dress as me. Needless to say, it can be a little embarrassing.
Not exactly a trend-follower myself, I prefer to take elements that I like or add hints to my outfits. With styles from years past coming back round – sixties mod and seventies hippy for instance – thrift stores can give you the originals from these eras and not some high street replica. Around a year ago, I came across a beautiful black bouclé jacket dating from the 1980s for just £7! I’ve yet to find a high street equivalent that comes close.
A common misconception is that all thrift stores charge a fortune for their stock – which, for some (particularly those labelled largely as “vintage”) may be true – but not in allcases. Your local charity shops – my favourites being British Heart Foundation and Oxfam – can have some hidden treasures amongst their rails. It’s just a case of shaking the stigma of charity shops – if you only step through the door you could see the dresses, coats, shoes, accessories and even books that are on offer. Shopping in charity stores is becoming ever popular, with plenty of celebs including Marina Diamandis frequenting them (as mentioned in my previous article). Also, keep an eye out for vintage fairs – many regularly travel around cities/universities.
Another one of my favourite ways of avoiding a high street clone-outfit situation is customizing. I’m aware that some people aren’t nifty with a sewing machine or even a needle and thread – on the other hand, I managed a not too shabby A in Fashion Textiles GCSE, but I’m not here to boast – my point is, anyone can customize!
I’m not ashamed to admit being a Gok-addict. The fabulous stylist Mr.Wan is a lover of customizing – championing high street buys along with haberdashery finds on his programme Gok Wan’s Clothes Roadshow. My mother, on hearing his claims, questioned whether there were even any haberdasheries around nowadays – the answer is yes! Keep a keen eye out especially on market stalls for one. Many big department stores – John Lewis in particular – have a haberdashery section, offering endless choices of ribbons, fabrics, threads, velcros, sequins, buttons, beads, brooches and other bits and bobs to jazz up your outfits all for a small price. I’m partial to altering the buttons on shirts to something a bit more quirky and even pinning a simple badge to your jacket can add a bit of personality.
Alternatively, not only can you embellish your outfit, you could chop things off, alter sleeves, add collars or even wear a dress as a skirt if you wanted! Experiment and have fun with it!
So before you moan about not being able to find that top or shirt you’re after – get creative! You can create a completely different and new outfit from something you already own, follow that certain trend you love and avoid spending money finding a mass produced look on the high street.
Make like Gok and avoid that same-dress-on-a-night-out nightmare by getting thrifty!
Images courtesy of: newgeneration.co.im; blogto.com