Charity shops put on the style

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WHEN it comes to fancy dress costumes, charity shops are typically a good place to start. But this week I found myself browsing the racks in the local Samaritans, not in search of attire of decades gone by or trousers to cut into pirate smithereens, but to see if I could find outfits for work, rest and play.

HIGH hopes were not in the air to start with on my challenge this week. I can have enough trouble finding clothes from new displays that the idea of coming up tops by looking through items other people have given away hardly seemed a fruitful venture.

So it was, on my way to the Samaritans in Hanover Road, I couldn’t shake visions of dressing up in oversized, musty clothes. But I’m happy to say I was proved wrong!

Yes there’s the usual bric-a-brac and a very varied selection of clothes for women as well as men and children, yet I was surprised just how many items are designer labels or from high street stores.

Shop manager and volunteer, Rosemary Forrest said it wasn’t unusual to see popular brands or new garments going up for sale.

She said: “We get a lot of designer wear which is brilliant for us. That’s in great demand because it’s so reasonable and often we get things with price tags still on. We get new stuff in every day, people bring in different things, it’s very popular. People are very keen on getting bargains and I think it’s a trendy thing to shop in charity shops for youngsters.”

While I picked out clothes from the shop floor, volunteers Veronica Thorpe and Joan Edeson also found a handful of items for me from the stock waiting to go out.

In the end it didn’t take much deliberating; I picked up most things aimed at younger people in my size then headed for the changing room.

Casual outfit: Firetrap jeans £4.50, Miss Selfridge chequered shirt £3.50. Total £8

Firetrap jeans for less than a fiver? From new this brand would cost over ten times the price. It may not be the latest style but then again skinny jeans aren’t to everyone’s taste.

The condition is good and unlike other fast fashions, with jeans you can generally get away with wearing past trends. I was surprised to find the Miss Selfridge shirt, with the days brightening up it’s a perfect spring/summer style top and something I could see actually see myself in.

Work outfit: Asos skirt £5, Dorothy Perkins blouse £3.75. Total £8.75

Admittedly this is not my usual office wear - and it’s probably a good thing I spend most of my day sitting behind a desk at my computer - but for the challenge it does the job.

Although purple is not my preferred colour and I can’t remember the last time I wore a frilly top, quality wise it’s almost as good as new.

Ideally I wouldn’t put the satin skirt and silk blouse together, but I could easily team it with my existing wardrobe; wear the blouse with trousers, the skirt with a higher necked top and some tights too, and that’s two outfits for less than £10.

Night-out outfit: Oasis top £3.75, bracelet £1. Total £4.75

For this I found a bracelet among the accessories and a pretty top which could be worn during the day, or with black jeans or leggings - pretty much a staple of every girl’s wardrobe - and that’s a new going-out outfit costing little more than one drink. Cheers!

Altogether my three outfits came to a not-so-grand total of £21.50, considering everything was a well-known label, that’s enough to rival Primark. If you’re on a budget or just looking for a bargain charity shops do have many hidden gems which you could simply pair with clothes you already own.

If you’re looking for a full outfit, you might be a bit limited style wise, but then it again it depends on the day as clothes recycling is more and more popular and charity shops have new stock coming in all the time.

It’s also a great way to support local charities. In this case the shop is run by non-paid volunteers and all profits go towards providing the Samaritans service in Scarborough and the surrounding area.

There are numerous charity shops in town and by donating your old clothes and going in search of items for yourself, you could be doing your bit for the environment, could help save money for yourself and someone else, and support a good cause at the same time. Bargain!