Sunday, 5 September 2010

Charity Shop Challenge

As I explained here, while I was on holiday in Edinburgh recently I took part in a challenge from the British Heart Foundation as part f their 'Big Donation' campaign.  From the stock in one of their branches, could I style a great, swelegant look?

Could I?  It was surprisingly easy.  In fact I was so spoiled for choice I styled two big looks for Autumn / Winter.  The first is a very big trend this autumn - the New Luxe.  Neutral colours and luxury fabrics: it's a return to a tasteful, elegant, grown-up aesthetic.  Not very me (I prefer things a little rougher around the edges), but a great look.  The key piece is the camel coat.  Look for beautiful, soft natural fibres and broad lapels - think dressing gown and kimono shapes.

To be right 'on trend' (sorry) belt with slim brown leather: the fancy knot here is very catwalk.  Elsewhere in the outfit, seek draped necklines, pencil skirts or high waisted trousers with wide legs or cigarette slim, in tones from caramel to cream. Knitwear, as here, should be lightweight.  The boots had quite a high heel, which you can't see - but ideally I'd want something with a little more detailing and a slightly slimmer profile.

The second outfit is much more me. Velvet coats and blazers are huge this winter - I know Boden and Monsoon both have them in their collections, but this classic vintage jacket also works. With rich colours, getting a match can be hard - so combining different tones in the same opulent palette is a good solution. 

The corsage and the pearls in this look, and the gold knotted necklace in the first one are part of the BHF's collection of accessories that they sell in their branches - not donated, but new.  The berry tones in the corsage marry the purple of the dress to the wine red jacket. Layering pearls is a slightly irreverent way  to wear a more traditional style of jewellery - they look great looped around the wrist, too.

I had a really fun time styling these outfits: it made me realise how easy fashion stylists have it, though - it's easy to dress a slim mannequin (or model).  It's size, though that makes charity shops a little tricky - of course, each item is a one-off, it doesn't come in a range of sizes.  But that said, it's well worth persevering.  Shopping is a speculative activity: you don't always come away with anything... but in a charity shop you can find vintage gems that are the ancestors of today's couture looks. It's sustainable because you're saving clothes from landfill, and not creating a demand for more new garments whose production will use resources and pollute the environment, and it helps a good cause.  But more than that, it's cheaper than buying new.  Especially when we're talking about new winter coats and jackets in good quality fabrics, a reduced price can make all the difference.


  1. Really nice article. I've just been thinking about getting myself some new clothes and I think I might go to a few charity shops off the back of this article. Lovely outfits you've put together.

  2. You write so well about fashion and have given me new hope for the stuffed-with-charity-shops wastelands of east Kent ;)

  3. Great article! Here in NZ we have SaveMart, which consists of an ENORMOUS warehouse with stacks and stacks of second hand and recycled clothes. Lots of dross but it makes shopping for cheap second hand stuff a lot more accessible.

  4. Two fab looks!!
    I don't always have much success with charity shops being big - I've often struggled to find anything good over size 16.

  5. Fab! Love the looks I volunteer in the BHF charity shopt in Havant Hampshire and I love dressing the window thank you so much for your support x

    Paulinw Davey

  6. I just stumbled across your blog! I love it! I especially love this post and the second outfit. So pretty! I never manage to put such gorgeous outfits together in vintage stores. Tres jealous! Defly more posts like this one please! xxx


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