I am spying signs for summers fayres and fetes everywhere at the moment. They spell homemade cakes, fudge and jam – and jumble. I love jumble: rooting through other people’s cast-offs is great fun. I am not proud when it comes to second hand items. Perhaps I should say pre-owned, pre-loved or even vintage, because somewhere along the way, the act of buying someone else’s clobber received an image makeover and new price tags to match.
As teenagers, a friend and I would buy men’s jackets, jumpers, shirts and waistcoats from the second hand shop in the village. I was enthralled by the slightly musty smell, the knowledge I was wearing something that had a history and the fact it was different to the identikit clothes in the mainstream shops. I was also pleased with the prices: babysitting money didn’t go far when you had a pony to keep as well.
When I went to university, second hand student chic was everywhere. In those days, the word vintage wasn’t yet being bandied about and you could still buy 1950s and 60s clothing for affordable prices. There were clothes stalls every week at the students’ union and little niche shops in town selling old Levi’s 501s, waistcoats, suede jackets and other wonderful stuff. I bought a loud printed 50s skirt with a starched underskirt and a dinner jacket, which still had a first class London rail ticket in the pocket. They went well with my platinum bleached hair, scarlet lipstick and elbow length white gloves.
Over the years I have picked up some marvellous things: I have a 1960s butter-soft brown suede jacket that cost all of £3, a three-quarter length fake fur coat of around the same age and an astrakhan swing coat that makes me feel very Jackie O. I have found Jaeger jumpers for a couple of quid and I can’t remember the last time I bought a new pair of jeans. I can’t pass a charity shop without going in.
The T-shirt, cardigan and shoes I wore to work today were second hand; only my skirt and underwear were new. Even I draw the line at other people’s knickers.