27th January 2017: Day 8 - Second-hand Rose
I remember one of my favourite coats came from a second-hand shop in Guildford where I was at drama school. My friend Ann introduced me to the idea of buying clothes second-hand; prior to that I thought it was only very poor people that did that. But we discovered the shops in Guildford, particularly Sue Ryder had some very nice things in them including this coat. It must have belonged to someone quite old because not only was it second-hand (or used as they say nowadays) but I think it was vintage maybe the fifties. I sometimes felt that I should be sporting a hat and gloves to match. I stopped buying second-hand clothes once shops like Oxfam started to over-price their clothes, making it more cost effective to hit the high street – well most of the time - but continued to buy books until 2 for 3, buy one get one half price became popular and now I’m more likely to give things to charity shops that buy. So when this suggestion for Everyday for 50 Days came up, to buy an item of clothing I wouldn’t normally wear from a charity shop I saw it as an opportunity to have a rummage.
I went into a little charity shop in south east London – all the space seemed to be taken up with clothes racks. There didn’t appear to be any order to things either, my worst kind of shopping experience, but I dived in anyway. First, I saw a green jacket, grass green, made out of what looked like faux mohair so I immediately gravitated towards thinking how easy the task had been. But on closer inspection I saw it was actually quite nice. It was my size and I considered buying it. But then I acknowledged that I don’t really need it and the reality was I would never wear it so I was back to square one. After another five or so minutes of foraging I came across the perfect item. A onesie.
I consider myself as someone who knows what suits her. I don’t know what to call my style, someone once described it as quirky and sometimes it is. It has changed a little in the last couple of years with the arrival of a belly so not too fitted and slinky but still stylish nonetheless. That wasn’t always the case though. For some reason in my late teens/very early twenties my style guru was my mum. So much so that I was happy to take the things she no longer wanted thinking they made me look good. They didn’t. My mum was about 50 at the time and in those days 50 was old and the clothes women in their 50s wore were clothes for old women, definitely not for an 18 or 19 year old.
My personal sense of style started to develop when I was in drama school in Guildford and it was Ann (of the charity shops) who steered me away from old women clothes, not by making fun of me or putting me down but by saying something like:
‘I’ve seen this dress that I think will look amazing on you.’ It wasn’t until years later that I realised what she was doing. Would I have got there myself eventually? Who knows?
Now, of course, the distinction between how you dress at 18 and how you dress at 50 isn’t so marked – within reason. I wouldn’t dream of wearing short shorts, or cropped tops if instance. And if I wear a short skirt then I will be sporting at least 40 denier tights rather than going bare legged – just my thing. At my age I generally know what I like myself in and I know what suits me and while I think I can carry off a jumpsuit I don’t think a onesie is a particularly good look on me so I’ve never bought one, nor have the desire to own one. So that’s what I bought, a onesie. The one I found isn’t particularly attractive to look at nor does it feel very nice. The pattern at the top at has the feel of a transfer that has been ironed on and the crotch seems to be at my knees, but if I try to pull it up the legs feel snug. The only thing that could have made it worse was if it was a Disney character or Tigger or a teddy bear. So my something new today is to try a onesie. I’ve tried it and I think I’ll give it a miss. It’ll be going back to a second-hand shop. Actually I’ll re-donate it to the shop I bought it from – there’s another first!