Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Something old

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.

16 comments:

Omega Mum said...

How gorgeous. And that smell! You are so right. Pre-owned, re-owned, re-homed - I'm right there with you.

Stay at home dad said...

You're saving the planet M&M!

I am a charity shop junkie too, but I have long since been banned from buying anything but books.

Gill said...

I love buying old art books to cut up and hideous bratz/ barbie dolls to mutilate. By weird coincidence- though synchronicity is working so fast lately that I shall have to stop putting the words weird and coincidence togther- I had written in my journal this morning that I NEED to go an an artist's date round charity shops soon. I particularly like the local ones that haven't gone upmarket and you can still get old national geographic magazines. There are great ones down Botchergate in Carlisle. I'll leave karen to tell the tale of her aquascutum coat...

Mopsa said...

I so miss my outrageous junk stall ankle length fake fur coat - OH complained it was like being out with the local tart...anyone looking would think I had nothing on underneath! It was a cosy as a duvet.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Yes, I think I'd feel rather uncomfortable in someone elses drawers. You're right about fetes of course! We have ours this coming weekend. All weekend!!

Crystal xx

Eden said...

ooh love this, have long been a vintage fan. Started the habit whilst in high school and have never quite been able to give it up.

do you ever take the Rachel Riley catalogue? new stuff but in vintage style mostly 50's. She has great sales. One on now.

Arthur Clewley said...

I started my promising but ultimately disappointing career in a suit from a charity shop M&M.

I went to a school fete recently. I hadn't been inside a school for some time, not a junior school, and it was so small it felt like that floor 13 and a half in 'being John Malkovitch' where everybody has to crouch down.

At least I should be able to recognise you now if I'm ever up your way, opera gloves and a riding helmet wasn't it...

rilly super said...

M&M, what time do you get home in the evening? I've hired a transit and I'm coming round with all my old stuff - oh, and make sure you go to the cashpoint on your way home now dear.

mountainear said...

I'm sure there's gold in them there charity shops - but the smell. Yuck. Can't quite identify it - any ideas?

The Grocer said...

Yup, I haven't bought any new clothes (other than underwear & shoes) for 18 months. Oxfam & Barnados are my favourite stores these days. Although I have always been na bit of a second hand vulture, my favourite trousers at fifteen were a pair of Black Velvet ones (think Pete Doherty) that I found at the beach.

ziggi said...

other people's knickers are alright on other people as long as the other people are alright and then sometimes they're alright off, so I've heard.

Brom said...

I used to do the jumble underwear thing untl the missus said that the lace didn't suit me.

Jane said...

Can't do second hand shoes generally, but the pair I have on were given to me by a friend and I felt that was different as I knew her. Goodness knows why I should think her feet were any different to anyone else's but there you go. Apart from that I love charity shops. My best find was a Swaine Adeney Brigg jacket which spent a whole week hanging outside the wardrobe so that I could look on it and gloat.

mutterings and meanderings said...

So glad I'm not alone.

Mountainear - a mixture of wee and mothballs ...

@themill said...

My Granny always had her garage fulll of jumble for the Lifeboat sale on the harbour.Even tho' she moved away in 1923 it remained her main charity until she died in 1997.

Karen said...

I love charity shopping. I can recommend Stirling as there are lots of students and also some quite well to do people so you get good quality stuff.

There are indeed some good ones in Carlisle on Botchergate. The ones in the town centre seem to know how to price things properly so you'll pay £2 for a milk jug instead of 75p or a whole dinner service will cost you £20 instead of £10.

I think I will make a post about this so please head over to my Curiosity Corner if you want to read the tale of my Aquascutum coat...