Thursday, 26 June 2008

Poor But Happy; dress for less

In my Mr Byrite days I hated shopping for clothes but since I’ve rediscovered charity shops it’s become such a pleasure I have to stop myself buying too much. They’re everywhere, but if you want help tracking one down, www.charityshops.org.uk lists 6477 shops, searchable by postcode or area. Aside from the savings involved, charity shopping makes sense politically. About 100,000 tons of clothes pass through UK charity shops each year - 30% of all textile recycling. Any extension of the life of clothes has to be good given the exploitation ofteninvolved in their manufacture; Walmart, the world’s biggest clothing retailer routinely use Chinese factories paying workers 13 cents an hour(2). The other bonus with charity shops is that if you make a duff purchase that doesn’t suit you, you can always re-donate it. It’s worth remembering seeing as 80% of people only wear 20% of the clothes they own.
Other options for clothes shopping are car boot sales (I bought a great pair of boots for £1.50 at one this year), and second-hand markets (my favourite coat was £12 on Deptford market).
New boots and panties? I used to be wary of buying shoes second-hand but since I’ve tried it I haven’t experienced the expected crop of verruccas (or is it verrucae?). Check the inside of shoes for signs of wear and have a good sniff. Many shoes get discarded in a nearly new state. Alternatively, search slightly trendier street markets for stalls selling new shoes that are seconds with minor cosmetic flaws. A stall on Camden market does Doctor Martens like this for about £20 per pair rather than the usual £45. I draw the line at wearing somebody’s cast off undies. Peacocks and Primark are cheapest for these.
Clothing budget.
On past experience the following outfit should last 3 years.
1 black Crombie coat, 2ndhand from Deptford market; £12 vs £40 new. Saves £28.
2 charity shop jean jackets; total £4 vs £40 new. Saves £36.
6 pairs charity shop jeans; total £12 vs £180 new. Saves £168.
4 tee-shirts (slight seconds from market); £4 total vs £20 chainstore price, saves £16.
10 charity shop shirts; total £15 vs £150 new, saves £135
2 pairs shoes; 1 seconds @ £20, 1 second-hand @ £1.50 vs £90 new, saves £68.50.
2 charity shop jumpers; total £4 vs £20 new, saves £16.
10 pairs Peacock’s socks; total £6 vs £10 M&S, saves £4.
9 pairs Peacock’s briefs; total £9 vs £18 M&S, saves £6.
Total savings £477.50 ÷ 156 weeks = £3.06 per week (23mins)
Haircuts. While I’m on about grooming issues, shop round for haircuts. I get mine cut for £5 locally, when most places charge £7. At four haircuts a year I save 15p per week (1 minute!). Hairdressing schools like Vidal Sassoon (0207 836 0606) in London or Toni and Guy (0207 491 0030 in London, but also branches across the UK) offer cheap or free haircuts by supervised students. If you only ever get a really short cut like a number 2 crop, buy a set of hair clippers. Prices start around £10 in Argos, which you’ll save back after two cuts.
Specs. This didn’t fit elsewhere. If you’ve do a day job involving work with VDUs or PCs you could be entitled to glasses paid for by your employer, although you might want to play down the fact you’d need specs regardless of your job, if that’s the case. Check out the regulations on your right to glasses here www.eyecarevouchers.co.uk . If you’ve got old specs to ditch, hand them in for recycling at Dollond and Aitchison or donate them to the charity Vision Aid Overseas (www.vao.org.uk) through branches of Vision Express.
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