Vintage clothing is perfect for your new #ThriftyLiving lifestyle

Graham Denny is pictured at the Basic Life charity shop in Walton, Felixstowe.

Graham Denny is pictured at the Basic Life charity shop in Walton, Felixstowe. - Credit: Archant

Not so long ago anyone who browsed charity shop rails for clothes would probably have kept such behaviour quiet. It’s probably fair to say that back then many people would have sympathised with the views of a friend who accompanied me, under duress, into such an establishment a few years ago.

As we stepped out of the shop, back into the sunlit street, he inhaled deeply and remarked with feeling: “It smells of poverty in there.”

He was, still is, no stranger to such theatrical outbursts but, even so, he had a point. In those days charity shops were the sort of places you entered a little furtively, if at all. But then the word “secondhand” started to be replaced by something far more acceptable: vintage. Vintage is now all the rage. It carries completely different connotations to secondhand. It has a cachet, an allure, a middle class desirability. The downside of this is that it’s a harder to pick up a bargain than it used to be (vintage also carries a higher price tag than secondhand). But, on the flipside, charity shops seem to have upped their game to meet this new demand and, as I discovered recently, have some quality stock on their hangers.

I found this out after a conversation with an acquaintance who, quite voluntarily, perhaps even a little boastfully, told me she had bought an outfit for a party from a charity shop for the grand total of £15. If you’re into your brand names ? and she was ? she had found them in abundance.

“It looks new,” she informed me. “If I’d bought it on the high street, I’d have probably paid £100.”

So I followed her lead. I held my head up high as I entered the shop and, half an hour later, emerged with a pair of trousers, a skirt and a top for £13. And there wasn’t a whiff of poverty about the place. What’s more, I managed to bag a bargain and support a worthwhile charity at the same time. If you can smell anything, it’s probably smugness.

• Thank you to all the readers who responded to my plea for help in identifying and suggesting uses for fruit I found in my garden hedgerow. Many of you thought they were cherry plums, others bullace or golden bullace. See next week’s column for more on the resulting hedgerow fruity feast.

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