Wee Scoops

Measure for Measure

…in which I buy a lot of dresses in charity shops…

If you know me in real life, you’ll know that I am generally wearing fitness kit and am covered in grass and mud, unless you know me from my other real life, where I still dress like a teenager with converses, jeans, a t-shirt and a hoodie. At work, though, I wear dresses, so as to appear like an adult. (I still can’t do the tights thing though, unless I am wearing my game-changer heels – and that’s only for special occasions when I need to look tall as well as old. Although I am old at work, which is weird, so maybe I don’t need to dress up as if I am in my mid-forties which is what I am.)

The Year of the Dress began in August 2008, when I thought I would wear dresses to work for a year. Ten years in, and I have never looked back. Why leave oneself open to the possibility of mis-matched separates, when you can simply put on a dress?

The charity shop thing was gradual at first. I sometimes had half an hour to kill before collecting my daughters from a thing, and would have a rummage in charity shops, picking up random things that would do for various events that I was only half-heartedly going to; I would head to the charity shops for dress up, when I was going to be Velma, or Where’s Wally?

Then the dress thing started to happen in earnest. My favourite full-price shops for work-dresses are Oasis and Wallis, with a hint of Next. Dresses there are usually about £45-£70. The trouble is, I am paid in actual peanuts, so one resents spending one’s hard earned peanuts on dresses to wear to earn the said peanuts in the first place.

It turns out that the charity shops are stuffed full of the dresses I would have paid £65 for, except they are all, pretty much, £7.99. They even do three-for-a-tenner deals sometimes. And they are all in great condition.

I know what you are thinking; you are thinking  – eh, are they not a bit fusty and come with an air of “someone else”? Well, I find that a run through the machine and an afternoon on the line brings them out as good as new. I also figure that the people that donate the dresses are just people like me who donate dresses; it’s just that the dress has served its purpose; it maybe doesn’t sit right on its original owner; it is now too small or too big depending on how their diet is going; they’ve worn it out with all their various groups of friends and they want to give it a new lease of life.

The unexpected thing that has happened is that shopping in full-price shops is something I now look at through spectacles of a different colour. I see people scouring the sale lines of random sizes and colours, looking for a bargain, and it looks no different to a charity shop rail – but the prices are daft. Honestly, they would be better off doing a lap of a charity-shop-rich area. It is now, I think, perhaps impossible for me to pay full price for a dress. That part of me is perhaps broken. Buying a new new dress is, in fact, throwing money away.

The quality of the stock that you see is generally excellent. If you can get over the fust question and the second-hand thing, I highly recommend it.

The other motivation that has sidled up to me while my charity shop habit was going exponential is my eco-niece @lesswastelaura. By buying things that have already had a life, and donating them back again, it keeps the thrift economy ticking over and reduces the demand for more new stuff, so that’s good too.

Happy shopping, everyone. I’ll race you to the bargains!

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