Sunday, 11 March 2007

Clothes snobbery

My current two favourite t-shirts are both charity shop finds – one cost £5, the other £2.50. They’re the same beautiful shade of blue; I can’t choose between them. My favourite dressy top is another £5 charity shop bargain; it came complete with a tag showing that it had originally been marked down to £35 in whichever store the previous owner had purchased it. The denim dress that always gets compliments came from a charity shop, so did the sheepskin coat that I wear to the football, my Levi 501s, and my green fleece. Around here, charity shops are a good source of casual clothes; work clothes are more difficult to find.

Most of my work clothes come from joining the 5am queue for the opening of the NEXT sale on December 27th each year. This year’s haul included 4 suits, a velvet jacket, 3 pairs of jeans and two pairs of shoes, all for less than £200. I went a bit shoe mad this year – I picked up three more pairs in Marks & Spencer’s sale for £30.

Amongst my girlfriends, there are very few who know about my charity shop finds and only one who has ever been on a trawl through the shops with me. I have the impression that most wouldn’t understand, so I don’t talk about it. Maybe I’m second guessing them. Why is it my “guilty secret”? It’s the echo of the shame that is attached to charity shop shopping: feeling ashamed because you’re so poor that all you can afford is second-hand clothing.

And yet, as long as it fits me properly, suits my style and is in good condition, I don’t care whether my clothing is pre-loved or brand new. I do care about how much it cost me but only because I don’t have a bottomless money-pit. I’ve never been a label slave; finding something that suits me is far more important. I’m short waisted, big busted and carry most of my excess weight on my abdomen – if I was addicted to, say, Donna Karan, I’d never find anything to wear!

- Pam (currently wearing £3 jeans from Tesco, a £5 charity shop t-shirt, AUD$15 outlet-shop trainers, and her favourite US$30 Old Navy-outlet cardigan)

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