Since I wrote about not needing any more clothes No new clothes – learning to love the clothes I have and realising I actually don’t need more., and successfully extended my challenge to not acquire any new or new to me clothing from an initial 4 month period to 10 months, I have really fallen off the wagon when it come to clothes shopping. Over the last 6 weeks I have acquired, I think, 3 new dresses, 3 new tops, a scarf and a necklace .
But do you know, I don’t feel guilty about it at all – all my recent acquisitions have been pre-owned and purchased in aid of charity, at a friend’s fantastic clothes swap party and the local Oxfam Shop. These are great ways of having a bit of a wardrobe makeover without breaking the bank, and in a more sustainable way than buying cheap new fast fashion. And this is pretty much all I have bought over the past year.
Buying pre-loved is an easy way to be part of a circular economy, prolonging the life of items and preventing (or at the very least delaying) them ending up in landfill. My new clothes were all acquired without a need for more resources going into clothes production, and in turn many of the items I no longer wanted were passed on to new owners.
Swishing Party (Clothes Swap)
This has to be my favourite way of looking for some new clothes. Even though I didn’t end up with quite what I wanted this time, it was a great social event.
A friend kindly opened her house to host a swishing party which was really well attended. I had a bit of a wardrobe rummage and managed to come up with 2 coats, 2 skirts, 4 pairs of trousers, 1 pair of shorts, 1 cardigan, 1 blouse, 2 hats, 2 necklaces, 2 belts and 1 handbag to take along. Wow, that’s 18 things I had in my wardrobe that I didn’t need or want! And that’s not counting the ones I couldn’t quite decide about, some of which went later. I hoped to come home with a dress, ideally a shirt dress.
Clothes swap parties work in a number of ways but for this one, there was a £5 entry fee with clothes sold at a flat rate of 50p per item. I also took along a bottle of Cava for the raffle and some Prosecco for the evening. All proceeds were donated to the Red Cross.
As you can see from the poorly focussed pictures above (and I was only on my first glass of prosecco at that point), everyone had managed to turn out a lot of things from their wardrobes, so there was plenty of rummaging to be done, with clothes and bags spread across several rooms in the house and bedrooms serving as shared changing rooms. Some people knew each other, others didn’t, but trying on clothes together is a great way of breaking down any barriers and we were soon trying things and passing them around between us to see who they suited and fitted best. A few glasses of Prosecco probably helped! At the first round of trying things on I decided on a T shirt and was persuaded about a pair of jeans. Remembering I’d been wishing I had a larger scarf to cover up with when I had caught the sun a week earlier I managed to find one of those too. Sadly, although there were lots of dresses, I didn’t find quite the one for me.
After much rummaging, chatting, drinking and trying on a few more things we congregated for the raffle – there were so many prizes this went on for a while and I eventually won a cute little manicure set.
At this point in the evening the clothes rails were still bulging so, as some people were starting to leave, I suggested a second round of rummaging. This turned up a couple of blouses, a T shirt and a necklace to add to my earlier buys.
A couple of the items did end up going straight off to the charity shop when I tried them on at home, where I am sure they got more for them than the £1 I had paid, along with a few extra items I cleared out subsequently. In total I had spent £8 (excluding the raffle and wine) on a whole load of new things to refresh my wardrobe. And I did achieve my goal of coming home with fewer things than I had donated!
At the end of the evening I helped with the clear up and took a bag of items to the nearly new shop in town where they earnt some additional money for the Red Cross Charity – the event raised around £350. I would guess about 10 bin bags full of good quality leftover clothings were also donated to a variety of charity shops around town from where they hopefully found a good new home as well as raising additional funds.
Still on the hunt for a dress I popped into my local Oxfam shop and over a few weeks managed to pick up not one, but 3 lovely dresses. My wardrobe has definitely become more dress orientated over the past few years , primarily pre-loved.
The first is a Per Una dress from Marks and Spencer which cost me £6.99. This is perfect for the office, and happens, by chance, to match perfectly the grey and green necklace I had picked up at the swishing party.
My next purchase was a bit of an impulse buy , which I am trying to avoid. We were off out for a walk on my birthday and I spotted a lovely green cardigan in the shop window. As I was still thinking about it when we walked back I popped in to have a look but sadly it had gone already. As it was my birthday I had a bit of a rummage through the rails anyway and came up with this casual cotton dress from Mistral which will be perfect for holidays. I think this one was £7.99.
I then received an invitation to a family wedding. I wasn’t going to buy something new but having tried on a few things from my wardrobe, nothing felt quite right, and I noticed I had put on a little weight round the thighs since a cycling injury last year which had forced a hopefully temporary reduction in exercise. In a spare 10 mins on the way to pick son up from his town centre school I nipped into Oxfam again and found this lovely Phase Eight dress which is perfect for the occasion and also fits perfectly. It even goes well with a grey cardigan I have already. A top quality dress for £12.99.
I admit to buying another unsuitable dress along the way from a local Facebook group for £4 which I donated to Oxfam along with a couple of old dresses replaced by my new items. and a gorgeous dress from Cancer Research UK’s ebay shop which didn’t fit so is on its way back to find a more suitable new home. You can also buy online from Oxfam
Together all these new items, including the clothes swap and the items I donated straight on again, set me back less than £40. This is all I have spent on clothes since last July.
And the quest for a shirt dress? Well I’m about to try dyeing one I have already to give it a new lease of life. Will see how that goes.
What is your favourite way of buying new clothes?