About a year ago I decided to follow Judith Levine's example, join in with Tif's challenge and try my hand at buying only thrifted or hand-made made clothes for a year.
A whole year. It was daunting. I had visions of carrying home bags and bags of musty-smelling purple cardigans from charity shops by mistake and looking as though I'd dressed from the rag bag every morning.
I decided to approach it strategically. I made lists of things I needed. When I ran the charity shop/carboot gauntlet I had a specific mission each time. I tried hard not to be flummoxed by all the cardigans.
I didn't need any very smart outfits this year - fancy frocks aren't usually called for when supervising playdoh sessions or making jewels. I managed to find basic casual items that fitted fairly well and make up several outfits that I feel pretty good in. I was pleasantly surprised.
All of the clothing items shown were thrifted from charity shops or ebay and cost £4 or under, except the dark blue White Stuff dress, which was £15. The boots were bought before the thrifting experiment - they're Fly London. New tights are classed as essentials so are permitted.
On a crack commando mission to find trousers one day my eye strayed round the local Cancer Research shop and I spotted this skirt - vintage-style floral linen, edged with lace, twirly dirndl, £4. It's a good skirt. I was thrilled.
So, so far so good, but I'm afraid I did not stick entirely to the virtuous thrifty path. Here's my confession:
I fell off the thrifty wagon three times and I bought:
Avoca cardigan coat: £60 (sale)
Fat Face dress £31 (sale)
A purple cardigan, TKMaxx. £19
Ha! I bought one after all (It is made of angora and has quite lovely leg o' mutton sleeves and MOP buttons so I think it'll be alright).
What about hand-made clothes? I had very good intentions but the reality of a five year old, a two year old, some jewellery customers, a conveyer belt of viruses and hardly any skill meant that I didn't hold out much hope. I went to Val's house last week armed with a copy of Weekend Sewing, a vintage brushed cotton candy stripe sheet and a total lack of confidence. I came home one pair of pyjama bottoms richer.
I MADE these! I'm gobsmacked. Val, you are a sewing sorceress of some kind. Massive, massive thanks for your tuition, patience and encouragement.
So, what did I learn?
- Thrifted outfits do not have to look scruffy or odd
- Friends could not spot that I was wearing second-hand
- Charity shops are upping their game because of the financial climate: the quality of stock is improving all the time
- A budget stretches a lot further with thrifted clothes (obviously)
- It felt good to be greenish
I will certainly be buying more thrifted clothes in the next year although I think I'm sorted for purple cardigans at the moment.