Tag Archives: charity shops

second-hand living is officially ‘cool’

Friday night was fun.  Despite not wanting to actually go out due to having a stinking cold, I still took the time to adjust my dress and make and extra petticoat to go underneath it.  Hopefully I’ll get a good photo of how I looked on Friday night, but as I entered the doors of the club I was asked to pose for a photo as I was officially ‘cool’ 🙂 I’ve never been ‘cool’ and at 36 I never expected to ever be cool. But apparently my outfit was and I’m pleased to say the intrinsic parts that made it up were ALL second-hand.  My dress was from the Salvation Army shop in Catford and cost me £3.49.  My jacket was handed down to me via a friend of a friend – as it didn’t fit them, my bag was a box purse from a charity shop (quite a while ago so I can’t remember where it was from) for £3 and my shoes were my darling Pradas – £9.95!  The only new aspects to my outfit were my pink tights and some more netting to go under my dress.

Whoo hoo – I AM cool! lol – although judging by this photo I definitely don’t look cool:

I'm the one in the middle

I'm the one in the middle

Apparently they want to put the photo of me on the website for This Feeling – I’ll let you know if they do so you can see the outfit in full.  I was kind of shocked but pleasantly surprised 🙂

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my best thrifty purchase

Prada Kitten Heels.  £9.95 from the British Red Cross charity shop in Lewisham.

Pradas

Pradas

I bought these firstly because they were SO comfortable – they fit like a glove.  I spoke to the assistant and said ‘did you realise these were Pradas?’ – apparently they did and that’s why they were in there for the princely sum of £9.95. Then I wasn’t sure if they were real, however they apparently are as my friend who used to work for Jimmy Choo’s has testified.

Definitely my best find so far 🙂

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What to do with books #2

Back again – thought I’d continue the blog (curtailed this morning because I really felt awful – was awake at 3:30am with my cold playing up).

So far, we have bags and art.  Of COURSE there is way more that you can do with books.

Turn books into jewellery

I LOVE jewellery – as a girlie – I really don’t think one can have too many accessories.  Especially if they aren’t from Primarni (!) or Claire’s Accessories – but are made from sustainable sources – and if possible – using your own fair hands.  However, if you don’t feel that you have the ability to create your own beautiful jewellery – I’m sure that these wonderful women would be willing to sell you some of their work:

Effemeral Life

Effemeral Life

Liz Hamman is a mixed media artist from Manchester – and I am in total awe of her work. She doesn’t appear to have a store although you can contact her here

Her work is a mixture of origami and a vivid imagination.  Obviously with paper – it has ephemeral nature – is it really meant to last? It’s fragile and so delicate.

I find it hard to actually pick a piece of her work to choose as my favourite – so I’m going to link to her slideshow here. Goggle her innovation and let your imagination FLY!

Betty Pepper

Betty Pepper

Betty Pepper’s designs are stunning – I would love to be able to buy just one piece of this beautiful work.  I think what makes her jewellery even more special is the way that she presents it.  Showing the necklaces simply falling from the books they were made from.

“Betty calls the books orphans and she finds them in charity shops already carrying their own secret stories, looking for new homes. The jewellery finds solace in the books as it too has a story attached to it, who it belonged to, when it was given, why… Betty likes to use second hand textile in her work as she says it has a tactile, human quality and, like the books, it carries scents and stories, wears and fades like memories.”

Ann Martin is a quilling expert – and she creates some beautiful pieces.  She essentially uses quilling paper – however I wonder to myself whether it’s possible to use paper from books.  The results may not be as delicate or as uniform as hers but it could be worth trying. You can find the tutorial here.

And finally Frucci Designs.  I can’t post the images here but I urge you to visit her blog and LOVE her designs.  They are truly truly beautiful.

Hopefully this has been interesting.  There are more ideas coming up but I don’t want to overload you!

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Filed under books, jewellery, Upcycling

M’s Birthday Weekend

Yesterday was ENTIRELY unsuccessful in the second-hand tour of East London. We walked from Monument to Mile End Road to look through the East End Thrift Store. Don’t believe the flyer when it says that ‘almost all’ are £10 or less. I didn’t see one dress under £15. I’m not going to criticise the store for not having anything that didn’t suit my personal style – because I think that actually the store is really good. If you like 80s clothing, a lot of flowery dresses, plaid shirts (for men) etc. We didn’t really see anything that we liked which was unfortunate as we’d walked so far to get there – however I can see why it’s popular. It’s off the beaten track, it’s well organised and friendly. So if you like your fashion flowery or plaid – go there. It’s reasonably cheap and well stocked.

After failing there we wandered towards Brick Lane and went into my favourite shop – Junky Styling. I can’t afford anything there but I love to look at their new designs – they had a beautiful OAK dress styled from a man’s suit. At £250 it was a real steal – just not a real steal for my pocket! They didn’t really have a lot in stock though – which was really disappointing – I was hoping to introduce M to my favourite store!

Then we wandered to my favourite vintage store – Beyond Retro. I remember finding it with a friend of mine a couple of years back when we went on one of our wanders around East London. It’s a treasure trove of retro clothing that’s simply fun to trawl through. Unfortunately M’s not into trying on jump suits and wedding dresses – so it wasn’t such an enjoyable experience.

We then wandered, and wandered and wandered. The world of vintage and upcycling is becoming EXTREMELY trendy and unfortunately, when something becomes trendy in London it become expensive. I think I’m going to stick to my charity shops, car boot sales and jumble sales.

Sorry that this post is so dull – I’m very very tired from going out for a wonderful meal last night – and I want to sleep.

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Recession hits charity shops

Yesterday I went on my usual lunch time wander – and was shocked at how few clothes there are in the charity shops.  The stress of the recession on thrifting – there are so many of us now going to charity shops – many of whom didn’t go before – and less clothing donations – which means less clothes.  Also you have the swappers, the ‘vintage’ clothing stores and car boot sales (where people can earn money from their own discarded clothes) – this means that there are less and less clothes going into these shops.

Saturday I’m taking a bag of clothes to the two shops I regularly plunder – Cancer Research and British Red Cross.  I owe it to them!  I was saving clothes for a swap but I’ve realised what effect I’m having.  Arghhhhhhhh by trying to be ‘green’ I’m having and adverse effect on charity shops – can a woman never win???? ha ha

Here are a few more links about this ‘crisis’ in charity shops:

Third Sector Report

KnowHow, NonProfit

Also – there have been complaints (can you believe this?) about Oxfam’s book shops.  Oxfam have been accused of almost ‘Tesco’ and (for the States) ‘Walmart’ style targeting of areas.  They open up their stores near other second hand bookshops and the owners of these have seen their profits plummet. This is so sad – yes I support the independent booksellers – however I support a charity over personal profit.  There’s always a problem, someone is always going to suffer when someone else (in this case a charity) profits.  However it can be said that Oxfam are behaving like a large corporation – plunging their shops onto high streets and ‘taking business away’ from the smaller shops.

New York Times article – “Oxfam killed my bookshop”

Inprint – plans to open more stores

I think what is sad is that you’re not going to get ‘gems’ in Oxfam stores.  The send them off to sell on the internet – which means browsing the store isn’t going to turn up anything of wonder.  They’re generally clean and tidy stores – unlike the ‘typical’ British second-hand bookstores – which are generally a health and safety issue to enter (and more the interesting for it). I think Oxfam should be thinking about the overall effect they are having.  They are more than capable of going into areas where there is a lack of second hand book stores and they will be successful.

I personally don’t go into the stores – not out of any principle – just that they’re completely over-priced!  I don’t like Oxfam stores – there’s something too ‘clean and tidy’ about them.  When I go thrifting I want to smell the dust, I want to have to take a hit of my asthma inhaler, I want to HUNT for the bargain.  Too many charity shops are becoming sanitised and pretty – I know that this attracts NEW clients but I miss the ramshackle charity shops of my childhood.

So in my second hand life I’m going to support everyone I can.  The smaller shops, the independent traders and as many charities as I can!

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Billy Bargains #2

Yesterday I went on my usual lunchtime wander.  I’m starting to tire of the shops we have in Lewisham – the only thing that seems to change are the books.  And there are only so many books one can own!

So I bought two more:

books books and more books

books books and more books

I’ve wanted to read Mr Toppit for a while and I’m sure that M will love it.  He’s always looking for new books to read.  He’s trying to get through The Host at the moment and hates it.

The other book, Blek Le Rat is a book about stencil art.  Literally it looks like it’s never been opened.  So it’s going to form part of M’s birthday present.  I’m taking him out for the rest of it so don’t think I’m being uber tight with my husband.  It’s just that although we always buy each other trips or holidays for our birthdays, it IS always nice to have a little something to open.

These books were bought from the Cancer Research shop in Lewisham – 75p a book 🙂  So I think these are bargains 😉

To be upcycled

To be upcycled

I found this t-shirt in the British Red Cross shop – I think I’m going to upcycle it into a halter shirt – it’s so cute – however I might dye it first.  Yellow really isn’t my colour.

Finally the records I bought on Monday:

To be upcycled

To be upcycled

Dontcha just LOVE Engelbert? I can’t believe he actually chose to be called that.  Anyway – these are to be some bags.  However my first attempt at making a vinyl record bag fell flat on its face:

First attempt at a vinyl record bag

First attempt at a vinyl record bag

I didn’t actually make the ‘bag’ big enough for the album – and too big for a single.  So I’ve had to kind of ‘shove’ the single into the middle of the bag – and sew around it.  It really doesn’t look very good does it?  I started sewing around it to try and make it look better but I really think it looks a bit poo.  Any ideas so that my couple of hours of work isn’t completely wasted?

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Filed under Bags, Billy Bargains, books, Upcycling

The Rules …

Well – this is an experiment at first – for the rest of the year.

1) I am not to buy anything NEW unless essential e.g. underwear, food, drinks etc.

2) If I DO buy something new (ie: if I lose my nose-stud for example) then I have to donate at least 2 items to a charity shop

3) I can buy a new item as a present IF it’s handmade

4) I must post photos and details about all my second hand goodness

5) I can buy second hand goods from charity shops, vintage shops, car boot sales, jumble sales, ebay and from friends

Simple enough? I think so.  I mostly buy second hand anyway – it’s just getting into the habit of doing it.

I’m not doing this as some sort of ‘this is my green life’ or anything like that.  It’s just a way for me to document my second hand buys – I absolutely love thrift shopping.  There is something intrinsically joyous about finding a bargain at a car boot sale, or in a charity shop and KNOWING that other people can’t just go out and buy the same thing straight away.

Or, I love knowing that I’m looking for something (generally a book) and searching everywhere for that elusive second hand bargain.  I remember when I was at the book market on the South Bank with a friend of mine, and I said to her ‘I could really do with finding a great book about cemeteries’ (I photograph cemeteries – http://www.londonnecropolis.com) and straight away I found one 🙂  Currently I’m looking for a used copy of “The Forgotten Garden” by Kate Morton.  I really enjoyed “The House at Riverton”, but I refuse to pay ridiculous prices for new books.  I know that the authors must be paid but I just can’t afford it at the moment and I’ve always bought second hand books.

So there you go … the start of my quest to live the second-hand life.

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