Monday, 9 July 2012
Monday, 2 April 2012
Buying Prada not Prado
As you know I am a seasoned and experienced Charity shopper. The best thing about this is the knowledge of getting something unique and special and as I like to say pre-loved. The second best is getting a bargain, make that the best thing; especially something couture and from a luxury house. Here is a simple guide to ensuring your Prada isn't a Prado.
The first thing is probably the scariest. Go and have a reconnoiter of the clothing in your favorite designer store. Try things on, the staff are friendly and helpful; the snooty ones are new and tend to be weeded out after a while. Feel the fabrics in your hand; check the cut and fit are right and flattering for your body. My tall hourglass shape fits amazingly into a lot of American Designers and not into French houses and surprisingly not into D & G the champions of sexy. Whilst there, look at the details; this is what you pay for.
Check the provenance of the materials and manufacture; "fabrique en France" or "moda in Italia" are your watchwords. Wool garments should have a high wool (laine, lana, wolle) content. Natural materials can include Rayon, as it is a natural fibre coming from plant cellulose but to make it into Rayon; you have to process it extensively. Hmm.
The labels inside and the language they are written in are a give away, Chinese or Asian is suspect. Strange spellings are also a give away on the inside of a garment or item as are incorrect copying of logos. For example Prada has a box banner saying Milano not Milan and the scrolling banner underneath should say DAL 1913 (it means since 1913). A Louis Vuitton logo without a TM next to the LV is a giveaway.
Look at the seams, are they fully sewn flat, or covered and bound? Also are the buttons correct and suitable for the item? Are metal buttons real and not plastic? Check the lining has also the same detailing as the outer fabric. Many houses have distinctive lining, if in doubt; (Burberry tends to change, size, the colour of its red and brown tone of its check) use other markers when considering your charity purchase. Check the inside the pockets, if its designer, the craft work will be everywhere; not just the obvious seams but little ones too.
With handbags the artisan who made it may leave a number or name on the inside stitched somewhere, limited edition pieces also have an edition number inside them too. Leather when in your hand will warm up if it feels cold, its raw edges have irregular flaking and fluff; pleather stays cold to touch, on closer inspection looks like fabric and the edges smooth.
Companies that have buckles or special logos, check these are genuine, made of solid metal pieces not plastic. For example the Gucci bridle on bags and shoes, every part of it is movable and not a molded one piece; Versace's Medusa head has clear features and her profile is 3D.
Armed with this knowledge gleamed from your store visit, you should be able to tell the Gucci from Guci when next you visit your charity shops.
Saturday, 25 February 2012
If you just happen to be a fan of a particular author, or on the lookout for a valuable book at bargain price, the Cornwall Hospice Care in Falmouth is well known for its first editions and signed books.
With the help of local book expert Nigel McLusky (thanks, Blogger, I've checked his surname spelling) who prices up signed and first editions donated to the shop, the Cornwall Hospice Care in Falmouth has featured rare book finds for 18 months. Manager Chris Harmer finally got through red tape to become the official manager of this store after starting in a similar capacity in March 2011.
|This is a first edition from 1955|
Nigel McLusky, book expert, is active on the local literary landscape. He organises a regular Pose and Poetry night at Mawnan Memorial Hall for people who would like to hear some live literature from local talent.
Anyway, why am I writing this? (No, I'm not putting questions into your mouth). (Yes, it's meant as tongue in cheek. No, I don't think you're thick. OK, I'll shut up). Last week I saw a picture of a rare, signed first edition of Laurie Lee's poems that I thought might be of interest to someone I knew. I photographed it and emailed it to him.
|It would retail online for £90|
Paul Murphy is a fan of the works and life of Laurie Lee and, to mark the centenary of Laurie Lee's walk across Spain, Paul is currently preparing to make the walk and write about it in time for the 100th year anniversary in 2014. Not surprisingly, he was interested in the book and went to investigate.
The book turned out to have a double significance for Paul Murphy: He was born in 1955.
|Paul searches for certification|
Poetry and Prose
It then transpires, through the local paper, The West Briton, that McLusky organises poetry and prose nights at Mawnan Memorial Hall.
|Shop manager Chris Harmer |
tells Paul about Cornwall Hospice
Care's reputation for rare books
The book contains newspaper cuttings left by its previous owner, all of which can help Murphy, who said he once attended an auction to buy a typewriter once owned by Laurie Lee which sold for £600, get to know the writer in whose footsteps he aims to follow.
If you or someone you know is looking for a rare, vintage or retro item, why not post about it on this blog? If you see something someone else is looking for, also why not post it up? You could do your 'good deed' for the month. This is the ultimate feel good factor.
Wednesday, 8 February 2012
|Front of dress|
However this is very much a lady's dress for a lady, to paraphrase Little Britain.
This charity shop are keen on the idea of a charity shop fashion show. Looks like I might have a use for my roller skates after all.
|Back of dress in Posh Pants|
Tuesday, 7 February 2012
Yesterday was an interesting day in Falmouth's Charity Shops. Not only were there two new wedding dresses in Pants and Cornwall Animal Hospital - each with an option for a peach coloured bridesmaid's dress - but there was a pair of rollerskates in my size. These were the type I had dreamed about in my childhood with white leather shoes attached. I never even saw those in my size in the 1970s or 80s. Very Noel Streatfield. Well...maybe not.
You Never Know
A lady was overheard talking about a book she wanted to read - Wolf Hall - and a friend had seen two copies, in Barnardo's and Cornwall Animal Hospital, so she went to buy a copy. It's worth the ask.
If you have been inspired to write in a superhero character by recent dramas exported from America, then maybe these types of pants might be of interest, found in Falmouth's Barnardo's charity shop.
Summer is Hurtling Towards Us
As Spring Flowers have already sprung up in Cornwall, while parts of England lie under snow, it seems timely to remind those over 40 with brothers of the type of swimming trunks boys wore in the 70s. These might be all the rage at a beach near you soonish.
You Had Me In Stitches!
There was also a children's nurses uniform for a mini me character for a hospital drama (yes, I'm kidding), or a good old fashioned game of doctors and nurses. Is that still allowed?
As mentioned, there are new wedding dresses on the wedding dress page, plus a very elegant dress, which is on sale in Posh Pants in Falmouth (where I bought my roller skates).
Roller Disco anyone?
Friday, 3 February 2012
One thing charity shops are good for is themes. If enough items come in at one time that follow one theme, they can make a display about it, which must be useful if you are looking for that particular theme.
The Cornwall Hospice Care shop in Penryn, South Cornwall, has a 60s or 70s theme going on right now. There is a Jaeger shirt (size 12) and a dress in the window, plus decorative object in that Paisley orange and brown swirly pattern that saw us out of the end of the 60s.
This shop would be useful for any production set in the late 60s or 70s (or maybe for a stage adaptation of a Pedro Almodova film, maybe).
Here are some pictures to get your creative juices flowing:
|Jaeger Shirt in retro psychedelic|
|Lace can always come in handy|
|Props and stuff|
|Settings of a 70s nature|
|Row of retro|
|A party dress of 60s/70s style|
|Retro row of tops and coats|
|A doctor's case|
|Hats and scarves. "Accessorize" as |
Trinny and Suzanna or Gok Wan might say
Monday, 30 January 2012
After a holistic look at this blog, and analysing it, I've realised that charity shops provide an unlimited supply of subject matter and this blog is getting too broad in its content.
Therefore, I have decided to make it fun and provide excuses to bring other people in, while finding a way to cater for an audience of some sort.
The audience I am going to focus on is one that seeks out costumes and props. This may be for a school play, an agency needing film extras, someone with a part in a play, a comedian, fancy dress or a theatre company who need some useful staples for their production wardrobe.
World War Z - Johnny Depp.
In 2011, a film with a huge cast of local extras was filmed in Falmouth. I aim to find anyone who took part in this film and find out if they bought any of their costume from a charity shop.
The Costume Challenge
If anyone can find an entire costume for a fictional person (say, Miss Haversham) or a character type (say, a pirate) in one charity shop, then please photograph yourself and post it up on this blog.
Tuesday, 24 January 2012
Why not give your used plastic bags to charity shops? Many people don't know that plastic bags are the most reused item of all. Yes, even 'single-use' plastic bags. What a pity they call them that. 80% of plastic bags are used more than once, even if they just end up as bin liners. If you accumulate them, why not give them to a charity shop.
My favourite shopping bags are Envirosax because:
- They are colourful
- They roll up small.
- They are held tight by an umbrella-style popper.
- You get green points on supermarket loyalty cards when you use your own bags. (I mean, wow! You can't beat that!)
- They are strong and last ages.
- They are large and fit much more in than most other bags.
- They have long enough straps to be carried on your shoulder.
Have you cleared out the boxes of excess items you keep in cupboards or your attic recently? You never know what you might find. Items that no modern person today could fit into, made from beautiful material that could be recycled. Fancy dress clothing that used to bring you delight to show your children?
Now it's 2012, how about a big clear out? You never know what you might find. Maybe, get some drinks in and invite your friends around a have a rumble through.
When you've had your fun with friends and seen how much stuff you had forgotten about, why not take it to the charity shop? If you have a particularly spectacular vintage item with a story, please post it up on this blog with a picture. If you have a memory or story associated with the item, why not post that up too and say where you have donated it?
Many charity shops use bags that you can fill and leave outside for collection.
Thursday, 12 January 2012
For those who enjoy making things, I saw a knitting machine in the Cornwall Hospice Care shop.
|Owl feather hat|
See the Wedding page for the latest on wedding dresses. The reason to report on these dresses is more to show how frequently they appear and what good condition they are in, as I have now seen 4 wedding dresses in 4 charity shops in Falmouth, in as many months.
Wednesday, 11 January 2012
|Picnic set for 4 Posh Pants|
Currently half price at £6
It's only the 11th January and, today, the sun is shining brightly all over Britain. If you aren't too worried about the future of the planet by this unseasonal warm weather - or, as this is England I should say 'mild' weather - you may already be thinking 'picnic'. In case of snow, there is probably plenty of unsold, reduced ski wear on sale in the shops.
Unless you are the kind of person who hibernates in the winter, you can find a picnic rucksack in two of Falmouth's charity shops. I have recently spotted 3 varieties of portable picnic set (pictured). If these were unwanted Christmas presents, they are bound to be snapped up well before the first signs of spring.
|Concept picnic set for 2|
I've tried and tested one of these ruck sack picnic sets - I wish I'd waited now and not bought mine from a London garden centre. They have a cool bag compartment that fits two decent sized, plastic food containers.
|Small picnic set - Posh Pants|
Mullion - A Picnic Idea
As spring approaches, why not visit Mullion, a small harbour on the west side of the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall. It has a hill to climb, a cave for the explorer type and two harbour walls. The area is still used by fisherman, if the evidence of nets lining the wall are to be believed. The history of Mullion I have yet to discover, but the National Trust present an information board about it. There are secluded beaches nearby for keen swimmers and summer sunbathing.
For anyone who has announced to themselves that they are going to get fit and healthy in 2012, the good news is that you can avoid the disillusionment that comes from bleeding your wallet dry buying expensive gear. How? By searching through charity shops, that's how.
Even though it goes quite quickly, sports equipment can be found in charity shops. The problem here is that things cannot be found on demand. Therefore, I've created a light-hearted guide to the Charity Shop Gym, starting with things I've seen in charity shops.
Gym and exercise class gear.
Depending on how 'Flashdance' you like to go, there's often a bargain bin containing knocked down fitness clothing. Given that you want to join a gym (to use the type of equipment that prisoners spent hours on everyday as their punishment, in Victorian times) in charity shops you could find:
Sports Bras - usually for women, or guys who've drunk too much over festive period.
Thin Cotton Tops - preferably find ones that have kept their shape (I refer to the top. We know the wearer won't have yet) so they don't fall over your face during yoga.
Leg Warmers - ideal for that Flashdance welding routine, Fame or Saturday Night Fever. To complete the look, don't forget to find a...
Leotard - I haven't seen one of these on a person since I went to Pineapple Dance Studios in the late 1990s. But then again, I've not been to a single exercise class. (Why am I writing this?)
Leggings - you could cut the feet off a thick pair of tights. Good way to recycle ones with holes in the toes.
Bicycle Shorts - not flattering, but probably essential for spinning. I don't know. I've never done it.
Ski Pants - not seen since the 1980s, so look in vintage section.
Other stuff that's good to get from charity shops:
Track Suit - if you're like me, remember to go for labels like Addidas. For the Jimmy Saville look add cigar and medallion.
Running shoes - Reboks etc. Just Do It.
Dumbbells - if you're looking for these, you might have to wait before pumping up those biceps as they go like hot cakes.
Tennis, Squash or Babmington Rackets - time to look for these is July, just after Wimbledon fever has died down.
Why not do Yoga at Home?
Yoga Mats - it might be possible to make do with a couple shower mats, as they are cheap and often in charity shops.
Yoga Blocks - perhaps sew some foam and soft material around a brick.
Yoga Straps - a cotton belt would do the trick.
Ski Trousers or Skis - Think: a modern remake of the Sound of Music with snow.
Walking Poles - ridiculously expensive new, so maybe improvise with a ski stick.
Of course charity shops are a constant and reliable source of t-shirts.
Wednesday, 4 January 2012
|Cornwall Hospice Care|
The new window display in Falmouth's Cornwall Hospice Care shop has a needlework theme. There is a hand loom, sewing machine or two (pictured) and other related items such as sewing patterns.
I've searched the Internet for designers who work with recycled clothing and have not found much. However, recently I met Liz who owns a shop called Bermondsey Fayre in London, where they sell clothes designed by Raggedy, a clothes designer based in Wales. Hey presto, I had found a designer who uses recycled clothes.
The recycled and reconstituted clothing designed by Raggedy look pretty cool. Click here to visit the Raggedy website
If you redesign clothing from charity shops, why not post them up on this blog and give yourself a plug.