As traditions go, picking up a little sparkly number for the festive season is about as Christmassy as watching the Muppets Christmas Carol on Christmas eve or frosting the Christmas cake.
This year, I’ve been trying to make wiser consumer choices, for all sorts of reasons, and as such shopping second hand has become a bit of a passion – sniffing out the bargains on the charity shop rails and second hand sites.
Having partnered with my local hospice care charity, Ellenor, throughout 2020, I was delighted when they invited me to their Northfleet Charity shop with a challenge to grab a Christmas outfit for less than £20.
Lisa, the store manager assured me that the shop always has bargain designer brands and gems to be found, with the added bonus that by shopping through Ellenor you are supporting a wonderful local cause.
So Saturday morning, mask at the ready, I set off to see what I could find. Incidentally, this seemed the perfect opportunity to make some wardrobe space so I took along a couple of good quality coats that needed a new home; a Topshop biker jacket and a Zara duck down coat.
I was met with a warm welcome by Lisa and her team of volunteers, who after a quick chat let me peruse Aladdin’s cave whilst they got on with tending to the many deliveries and sorting that keeps the shop running like clockwork with a high turnover of quality goods. In current times all donations are quarantined prior to being placed ( which was a shame because I saw some of the stuff coming in – wow!).
With a vague idea of looking for something for either myself or the kids for Christmas, I started off in the kidswear section, which is small compared to the women’s collection. Of course, unlike a normal store you’re relying on fate to find the right gender and age, but I picked up a Mini-Boden flippy tee shirt (£2.50) and a Next flippy sweater (£3).
I soon realised that the real magic in the store lay in the women’s wear – with rows of shoes and boots, coats, dresses, jeans, tops and jumpers.
Lisa was dead right about the designer brands, and in no time at all I was spotting the likes of Next, Jack Wills, Ugg, Superdry and Zara… and even Gucci, Versace and Armani. All the tags but without the price tags.
I didn’t go in for shoes… (story of my life) but I totally fell in love with a pair of black kitten heel, velvet tie dolly shoes by Hush Puppies. Without a mark on them, these appeared brand new, in my size and just £6. First item bagged.
I was really on the hunt for a sparkly number for Christmas day, so found myself lingering around the dresses and tops eyes like a magpie. My Christmas wish came true when I found a blue sparkly Next pull over, brand new with tags, in my size for £4. Exactly what I was looking for and the kind of item I would think nothing of paying in the region of £30 for.
I should have stopped there, but the New look top just beside it with waterfall sleeves and a sparkly collar had me at hello. At just £4 also, this was coming home with me, because, well… Boxing Day.
Of course at this time of year layering up is always a good idea – and you never know when someone’s heating will be off or raging, so a Wallis black waterfall kimono jacket got popped in my basket. At £6, the tag stating £35 was just too hard to walk away from. This is a wardrobe classic that could be thrown over jeans and heels, worn to work or to the pub – I know I’ll be wearing this for years to come,
To complete the outfit I began the hunt for some trousers, or a sparkly skirt. Having found a few candidates which were incredible but not my size (sob) I found I just could not put down a size 6 pleather skirt – a Christmas capsule staple that would work well with a Christmas jumper or something a bit more bling for a night out on the tiles (you know, in another time and place…). Despite not being able to try it on, at £4.25 I was willing to risk it.
So that was me done. Well almost.
Because, what could be more Christmassy than a pair of tartan trousers? And Zara no less… as soft as a lamb and just £4. Think my budget just got blown.
Just as i was about to turn on my heels and make my way to the till, slightly ashamed at my £9 ish over spend, I remembered I hadn’t taken a peep at the coat rail.
Oh the coat rail.
Now, I don’t need any more coats -remember I brought with me two to try and clear room. But can we just take a moment to appreciate the perfect coat for a perfect outfit or situation, and the how wonderful the right coat can make you feel.
Especially when it is a grey oversized wool Zara coat of your dreams…. for £6.50.
So, sorry not sorry guys. It’s all for charity – and an AMAZING charity too. The coat came home with me, and I selflessly did it for Ellenor.
So, in summary, I can concur, that the Ellenor Charity Shop, in Perry Street, Northfleet IS a place where dreams come true. And, by making a positive choice to shop second hand this Christmas through Ellenor, you are making other dreams come true – those of people in need, people who champion the work of the Ellenor’s incredible team, families in desperate need, and others who donated their goods to earn hard cash to support the hospice through what has been a challenging year.
Thanks for having me, and I will definitely see you soon…
Recap on my total spend! £38.50
TWO CHRISTMAS OUTFITS for less than 10 each plus Coat and Shoes, and a little something each for the girls.
- Hush Puppy Leather shoes BNWOT – £6
- Wallis Waterfall Jacket BNWT – £6
- Zara Oversized wool coat – £6.50
- New Look waterfall sleeve top – £4
- Next sparkly sweater BNWT – £4
- New Look pleather skirt – £4 (It fitted by the way!)
- Zara tartan trousers – £4
- Kids Boden Tee – £2.50
- Kids Next sweater – £3