This has been a tough year for retailers, but there’s one sector enjoying a boom amid the economic gloom – charity shops. Perhaps that’s not surprising when it’s possible to get an entire ‘new’ winter wardrobe for less than £100, as HILARIE STELFOX discovered
THE latest fashion is ... recycling, in all its many forms. Which means that when it comes to looking for new winter clothes the first port of call for an increasing number of people is their local charity shop.
At the West Yorkshire Forget Me Not Trust shop in Lindley, which has just celebrated its second anniversary, takings have seen a sharp rise since July.
“We’re getting busier, definitely,’’ says manager Diane Radcliffe. And there’s no sign of donations slowing down, either.
“We are very well supported by the local community, we don’t have to go around putting bags through people’s letter boxes,” added Diane.
But is it really possible to dress from top to toe in stylish garments bought entirely from a charity shop?
I set myself the challenge of finding three outfits for reader Anne Jennings, 70, who is a volunteer at the Lindley shop.
Anne, from Birchencliffe, works two mornings a week as a sorter so is familiar with the type of donations that the shop receives.
“The quality is very good but Diane is very choosy and so am I. We put out only the best,’’ said Anne, who enjoys fashion and has, by her own admission, wardrobes bursting with clothes.
We decided to see if we could find a winter coat, three outfits, three pairs of shoes and a range of accessories, all for less than £100.
Our first find was a full length fake fur in excellent condition for just £12. “I think,’’ said Anne, “that I might have to buy this.’’
We teamed it with some plain black trousers and a lurex, beaded sweater. Even with shoes and a bag the outfit only came to £31.
Our next discovery was a Per Una blouse and stylish denim skirt, which we teamed with court shoes and a tapestry bag - for a total of £17.
Because she spends quite of lot of time during the winter living in Spain, Anne needs lightweight jackets and plenty of casual clothes - she’s also a keen bowler and enjoys being out of doors. Our third outfit was perfect for warm winter days and cool evenings. The casual jacket, combat trousers, striped jumper, small bag and shoes added up to just £26.
For a total of only £74 we’d found everything we needed and had money to spare. With boots in the shop ranging from £8 to £10 and accessories such as hats and scarves only £1.50 to £3 we reckoned that we could easily get an entire winter wardrobe within our budget.
A former geriatric nurse, Anne delights in being fashionable and says she mixes and matches items in her wardrobe with garments bought in Spain, at home and in the Forget Me Not charity shop.
The key to charity shop shopping is to call in regularly. “We put things out every day, we’ve got to for our regular customers,’’ explained Diane.
“Some items are only out for a short time before they are snapped up, you’ve got to be quick,’’ she added.
The Lindley shop was the first in the trust’s chain. Last year a second shop opened in Brighouse and a third will be opening in Holmfirth in mid November.
Trust supporters are holding a fundraising fashion show on Sunday, November 1, at the Holiday Inn, Brighouse.
Tickets are £10, including a glass of bubbly, and available from participating shops, including the trust’s own outlets, Kevan Jon, Pure of Lindley, Dawson & Hall, House of Elliot, the Staite bridal room, Brief Encounter of Brighouse, House of Fraser and Bar 1535 in Queen Street South, Huddersfield.
Outfit One - Per Una blouse, £4.40; denim skirt, £4.50; court shoes, £5; tapestry bag, £3:
Outfit Two - Fake fur coat, £12; black trousers, £5; lurex top, £3.50; flat shoes, £5; woven raffia and leather bag, £4.50;
Outfit Three - Pink casual jacket, £10; combat trousers, £2.50; Next stripy jumper, £4.50; shoes, £6; bag, £3.
Grand total: £73.90.