Sunday, 13 December 2009

Grit's guide to Christmas for mean parents (7): Clothing

We arrive at Grit's top tip 7! Clothing.

As I launch into my mean arts I should confess shortcomings. I am not talking naughty nighties. Nor home-made sex toys. For those, go elsewhere. Also, I mostly assume ladies here. I am ignorant of men's departments like which leg you get dressed on. But if it pleases you young man, then attend. Eddie Izzard has brought us all much good.

Anyway, ahem. Let's raise our glasses to Christmas couture on the cheap.

Charity shops are a very good idea, don't you think?

I want to thank every single one of you if you give your pre-loved clothing to charity shops. You make my day, and stop me and mine from going naked.

Most of those shops, I love. The cheaper the better. The Salvation Army on Bedford High Street I particularly recommend. On their upper sales floor, every item of clothing is priced at £1! This is excellent hunting ground. Oxfam, and the charity shops of Hitchin and St Albans, on the other hand, are priced well out of the purse of a poor gentlewoman like myself. Like, £15 for an Equation jacket! £15 Planet Earth pounds? You Hitchin people, have you money to burn? I bet you are the sort of people who pay to have your toilet flush pine.

But whatever your budget, there are clear advantages to clothing yourself and your offspring from charity shops. Particularly at party time when no-one notices what you wear, or functions where everyone wears black, or where you will end up off your face on Bolly and with someone else's sick dribbling down your back on New Year's Eve.

The first advantage to the charity shop shopper is obvious. You are doing good. And that makes you feel good about yourself, doesn't it? Now get down the charity shop, select another item of black, and feel good! Not too much black, mind. You will look like you are in a burqa, or a shroud, or you are trying to dress like a teenage goth. Add a glittery brooch or something, for goodness sake. It'll still cost less than a fiver, so you can now also feel good about your bank balance. If you go to the high street you will spend £150, see everyone else dressed in identical kit, exploit a 7-year old in a Special Economic Zone, and feel bad about your bank balance.

Another fantastic advantage to charity shops are the old women. They will iron a clean skirt and top for you and stick them on the pound rail. Selecting those items has to be more fun and cost-effective than thrashing around with an ironing board at 7am doing the job yourself. Either ironing, or lamenting how you are going to remove Nigella's chocolate puke off your bodice. And with those old ladies, you feel like you have your mother back, but without the endless complaining about your bedroom floor.

What's more, the old ladies don't mind how you earn your money when you shop. I could lie, and say I am a high class prostitute on account of my fantastic legs and 38-26-36 body. Sadly, I am 38-38-38, and earn my money doing an infrequent job that a reasonably literate monkey could perform for a minimum wage and a cup of tea. I wish it were otherwise, and I wish it were professional and had status. Truly, typesetting has no glamour. I wipe the spit of authors from my face as I sit here. Try offering my meagre wage in Harvey Nicks and see what treatment I might receive from the shop assistants there!

Anyway, the old ladies working the cash till at the RSPCA don't mind what I do. They are grateful for my pound coin on the per una jumper. Their happy response means I do not have to expose my worn face and rectangle figure to be cruelly mocked by twelve year olds in posh frock shops. Those old ladies make my shopping experience less hazardous, less scary, and less depressing. Gawd bless 'em.

I could go on, but I'm not writing a book here in praise of charity shops, jumble sales, and making your own outfit with a range of resources that include a glue gun and a pair of scissors. I'm sure by now you have lots of budget ideas. I must hope you are converted, like me, to the joy of living cheaply at one of the most expensive times of year.

If not, and you see me as I head towards you in a crowd, please wave. I will be the one who looks slightly worn, patched, and dated, because most of my wardrobe now is sourced from charity shops. I am unlikely to change. My bank balance - and my conscience - make me think that the faded look is a worthwhile and righteous appearance. Not often fashionable, but I am edging 50. At that age, I expect to grow the style that whispers mad old bag wearing purple, and wear it with the panache that I could never get muster in the 1970s with legwarmers.

(Although if I find some in a charity shop near me, I could still try.)


Rachel M. said...

From the back view photo you posted earlier this year I can see you're not square Grit! Although that's really an ironic statement - Square Grit. Ha!

Heather said...

I LOVE charity and thrift shops, its where I do most of my shopping. In fact since the first kids was born 3.5 years ago I have bought exactly 4 things for her from normal expensive shops - and probably less for myself.

Coding Mamma (Tasha) said...

We love charity shops, here. We have a brilliant RSPCA shop here, which is very cheap. Rosemary gets her prizes and treats from there - for no more than 50p. Then they can go back when she's bored of them. Many of our Christmas presents come from there. They have a decent book section, too. Not to mention some lovely crockery and pottery. And there are fancy charity shops down the road in Nailsworth, full of designer clothes at knock down prices. I can't afford them, but my sister has got some stunning stuff from there.

Pete Darby said...

Wait, you're a typesetter? Okay, as a book lover and wannabe writer, I have to say, that has only intensified my blogcrush on you.

DO you hang out at making light at all? Serious book-nerding.

katyboo1 said...

We have a good Loros shop in Glenfield where I have been known to pick up the odd bargain or three. I have always been a jumble sale/fete/charity shop kinda girl. There is nothing that cheers my heart as much as a bargain. Then I ruin it by spending everything I've saved on ridiculously expensive things. But at least I do both.
Thanks for the salt dough recipe btw. Have already bought colours and glittery things to embed thanks to your suggestions. Am now quite excited in a horrified kind of way.

Frog in the Field said...

Mad old bag wearing purple? That's been me since I was 16!!
Hereford used to have fantastic charity shops when I was an Art Student there, sadly in Wales, charity shops are rather grim.

Fioleta said...

:-) I'm so much looking to the time when I'm really old, like Ms Marple old, so I can wear all the stuff I really like. I love some of the unique items of cloths that can be found in charity shops.

Michelle said...
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Michelle said...
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Grit said...

hi rachel! i lost the battle for control of my waistline some years ago. this is of great sadness. but i have fond memories.

i agree heather; i simply cannot face the idea of spending £40 on an item to see it painted yellow on Monday, dragged through the mud on Tuesday, and meet an industrial accident with a bucket of pva on Wednesday. thank goodness for charity shops.

tasha, i am quite impressed how charity shops manage to coordinate themselves to offer a parallel high street experience. once we are on that second hand track, it seems there is nothing we cannot source.

hi pete. i am blushing. i set very tedious academic texts which will be read by the author, me, and the author's mum. i can tell when the editor hasn't bothered reading the stuff. and if you find the entire page balanced on a widow, like the word 'it', know that the typesetter has done it deliberately because the author is a pain in the arse. i will pop into making light, and hang out.

katyboo, i used to do that £500 on a coat, £2 on a skirt sort of mix. then i needed to spend £500 on a triplet buggy, and that simply doesn't look good draped around the shoulders.

frog, you are totally right there. i have charity shopped my way round this land and you can indeed tell what type of town you are in by the state of the rspca shop.

hi, fioleta, but everyone is saying why wait until we are old! let us enjoy ourselves now, while we are young!

michelle, i know it is you, deleting comments. i will just record for you that it was a frozen wasteland today in the wood shed and i may have left my toes behind.