Charity shops are good for dressing up too…


This Saturday we are hosting an Eighties & Nineties party. It’s an annual thing that my husband and I have done for the past few years. It’s as cheap as chips as we book the function room at the local pub and compile a simple 80s/90s playlist. Because January is such a dull month with not much going on we find that lots of people come and have a good dance (we try to hold it on what is statistically the worst Saturday of the year).

Nearly everyone who attends makes a real effort to dress up and, as a result, I know the local charity shops are busy servicing our guests’ costume demands! Even if you never normally step foot inside your local Oxfam fancy dress parties are a great opportunity to rifle through their racks of clothing.

This week I took a trip to one of our nearby towns and in just two charity shops I found half a dozen ideas for outfits for re-creating an 80s/90s look:

– denim dungarees. I have been looking for a pair of these for years and even borrowed a friend’s to wear to the party last year. Saying that they were priced at a hefty £12.50 at the Dorothy House shop

– at the same shop I spotted a great gold/beige women’s trouser suit that would have made a brilliant mid-80s look (David Bowie/Miami Vice)

– in another charity shop I found three different blouses that could have been used for a New Romantic outfit (ruffled shirt, tartan top, white flouncy top)

– I also saw some baggy denim jeans that would have made a good early 90s look, especially if teamed with a hooded top

It is defintely harder, though, to find genuine 1980s – and 1990s – clothing. Many of the items I spotted were more recent adaptations of these past styles. For example I tried on a pair of tweed patterned straight leg trousers with zips and buckles that came from H&M but were loosely based on a tame Punk look.

When there is also a lot of dayglow and neon clothing on sale in shops like Primark it can be cheaper to buy these clothes first-hand rather than trawling through the charity shops.

However when you do find the right clothing combinations you can feel a real buzz. I have decided to create a New Romantic look for Saturday night (specifically in the style of  very early Duran Duran whom I’m currently having a middle-aged obsession with). I found these high waisted trousers for £4.99:


(the trousers are by Zara and I’m very tempted to wear them every day as well)

This shirt and some lace that will make a great scarf:


(I’ve attempted to sew some ruffles to the sleeves)

And these AMAZING Pixie boots that no self-respecting Duranie should be without. I picked these up on Monday from the Dorothy House shop for £4.50 and am mightily pleased with them:


While it’s not always possible to pick an outfit up straight off the peg a few second-hand things can also be adapted. I used an old dress to cut up and add ruffles to one of my husband’s shirt for his New Romantic look:

IMG_9543The ruffles were really easy to do: cut a strip of material about 10 inches wide. Using the longest stitch and lowest tension on the sewing machine (or by hand) create a running stitch along the length. Use the thread from this to gather the material and then loosely hand-sew onto the shirt.

Now all we need to do is perfect our blusher and eyeliner…..

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