Things to do when funds run low

The job hunt has thus far been unsuccessful. After a week of doing nothing (television and video games eventually becomes rather depressing), I decided to get myself into gear and find things to keep myself occupied. Unfortunately, many activities to keep oneself occupied with cost money. So I'm getting creative with my solutions:

  • Volunteer - I just started volunteering in a brilliant charity shop. Not only does it take up some free time, I am surrounded by gorgeous clothes, get to meet interesting new people, and gain some all important work experience (because apparently 2 years isn't enough...).
  • Read - it's free entertainment, as long as you already have some books that need read (if not, borrow from relatives/friends/neighbours). Going to the cinema costs ~£15 and the experience lasts 2 hours. Picking up a book at a charity shop costs as little as £1, and you're reading too quickly if you finish in under 8 hours. 
  • Write - a blog, stubborn e-mails you never got around to, handwritten letters to distant friends (okay, you have to pay postage), inspiring lists of activities you can do for free (depending on what you already own, e.g. camping equipment, bicycle, musical instrument, sewing machine etc)
  • Walk - takes up time, is free exercise, and a walk in bad weather will toughen you up a bit, weakling.
  • Edit surroundings - wardrobe clearout, kitchen cupboard clearout, book clearout, music clearout, filing clearout, and any other cupboards or drawers that need a good clearout. 
  • Organise your life - having done bullet point #5, seek to sort contents of cupboard/shelf/wardrobe in a way that maximises tidiness and space while minimising the need to hunt for things. Everyone has their own way, but I find putting things into containers and labelling them works for me. If you don't have containers, you don't necessarily need to buy them. I raided my recycling box for some nice free containers to sort my makeup out:

I haven't had to think beyond this list yet, part of me hopes I don't have to but it's a fun challenge to find things to do! 

If, on the other hand, you do have funds, then you should check out Capability Scotland in Stockbridge, currently having an incredible 'George Street In Charity Shop' rail, with the likes of Day Birger et Mikkelsen, Hugo Boss, Christian Louboutin , Alexander McQueen and other jaw-droppers, some with tags still on, going for between £10-100 quid (McQueen shoes, size 4, £75!). I managed to resist, but my boyfriend was almost tempted by a Hugo Boss Merino wool pullover, going for a thrifty £10. No word on whether this is a one-off or is going to be a regular thing (I believe Harvey Nichols may have had some involvement), I'll try to give some notice the next time a special event is scheduled.

C x


Summer Sales

I hope you're enjoying the start of Summer and have got a good holiday or few days off booked soon. I'm still job hunting, probably because I'm far too fussy with jobs, so I'm avoiding the shops as much as possible. Which makes the fact that the Summer sales are almost here quite unbearable.

Since January I've managed to replace many of the clothes which were now too big for me (I lost a tonne of weight in the last year :]) and I'm nearing completing my wardrobe switchover, so I wouldn't have been looking for anything in particular either. I can safely stick to internet window shopping, and post up here the best of the bargains and the cheapest of the chips.
Artigiano jersey dress, £25 - It's a good day when one is in the position to be in the realm of spending money at Artigiano, it's seriously expensive. This dress has lovely detailing in the back, there's something a little bit 1930s about it that I rather like.

Artigiano pleated georgette skirt, £9 - Ignore the frumpy styling: these midi-skirts are quite trendy at the moment, and £9 for an expensive Italian version is rather good. Dry clean only though, but these types of skirts should all be.

Gap contrast collar shirt, £19.99 - maybe a touch more than you want to spend in a sale, but I love this fifties-style blouse, it reminds me of Frenchie in Grease.

Gap dot sweater, £9.99 - and this reminds me of something Grace Kelly would wear, thanks to that elegant drape neckline. 

Pepperberry wrap dress, £27.00 - What a pretty colour! I'm really into wrapover styles at the moment, I'm not sure they're strictly 'on trend' but they're classic and suit just about every shape. 

C x


High Street Clothes in Charity Shops

When is it okay to buy high street in charity shops/thrift stores?

In my rules of charity shop rummaging, I wrote that in general, you want to go for vintage/designer and avoid high street clothes. But there are plenty of exceptions.

You can change colour, size, even decoration, but the one thing you can't change about clothes is the material. Clothes from the high street are often made as quickly as possible so that they reach the high street while the 'microtrend' is still in. To achieve fast turnaround, materials need to be easy to sew/print/size, so tend to be made from thinner, cheaper material, like thin cotton, polycotton and polyesters. By the time they reach charity shops/thrift stores, cheap material will be well worn, so if it doesn't look tired and worn yet, it may not be far away from it.

But sometimes, there are some real gems. High-end high street shops like Whistles, Hobbs, Jaeger, Cos, Banana Republic and LK Bennett produce high quality clothes, and charity shops in affluent areas frequently receive these types of donations.

Hence my love of the charity shops in Stockbridge, one of the most affluent areas in Edinburgh. Recently, I found this gorgeous Whistles top, featuring a crochet Peter-Pan collar, in Barnardo's. Whistles is a great, high quality company, so I didn't mind the £10 price tag, more than I usually think to spend on a top.
I'm currently job hunting, and I think this would be perfect for office-wear with a smart pencil skirt and cute Mary-Janes. Very Emma Pillsbury from Glee.

Franca at Oranges and Apples recently wrote an excellent guide to Edinburgh Vintage and Charity Shops, outlining the best places to find good quality pieces. One shop I'd additionally recommend is the Shelter shop on Teviot Place (Bristo Sq). Its vicinity to the university means there's a great mixture of clothes. I picked up this Banana Republic wrap cardigan for a bargain £5 (the buttons on the sleeves, ohmyIlovethem):
And that's the plaid skirt I got in the Lands End sale a couple of months ago - I LOVE burgundy :)

But I don't want you to think I don't appreciate low and mid high street brands! They regularly make good quality clothes, but finding them in the jumble of charity shops might just require an extra bit of rummaging.. Charity shops have become more savvy in recent years to only stock good quality clothes, and send worn, overused clothes to fabric recycling companies. These can be made into blankets for the homeless and for the Red Cross. This is why you shouldn't bin clothes, even if they're ripped or stained - still donate them!

C x