Once inside a charity shop, I’ll look at the rack marked ‘Vintage’. But what I see there makes me wonder what people mean by ‘Vintage’, as often there’s a lot of Next and Monsoon from the 90s or if you’re lucky (!) some C&A Clockhouse items.

If you Google the word there’s no end of online outlets including, ASOS, where there are some good examples of 80s and 90s fashion buys worn, I have to say, by some very young models.  Or should a Vintage piece be something older?  Personally, I think of Vintage as being a 50s frock or a 40s jacket.

What’s more, Vintage seems to me to be expensive in comparison to an ordinary charity shop buy. My philosophy is that I want to look as up-to-date and fashionable as possible, for as little outlay as possible, and that’s not likely if you buy Vintage.

I also wonder whether Vintage is right for me, particularly after I had this experience.

One of my favourite shops is Urban Outfitters Europe.   There’s a large store in Brighton and I love the buzz and ambiance of the shop.  To me, it doesn’t feel like a store for the young like H&M does and it stocks Vivienne Westwood – oh yum.  I often try her frocks on and they’re frequently ‘to die for’, but at £300 a pop, they’re not for me!  The store has a Vintage section and one day I bought, what I thought was, a beautiful retro jacquard-weave cardigan in browns and blacks.  I brought it home and there, away from the razzmatazz of the shop, the cardigan looked, pretty much, as though it had been in the back of my wardrobe for the last 30 years.  Moreover, it seemed boring, probably because I wasn’t wearing it with torn jeans or tiny shorts.  I learnt my lesson that day as that cardi cost me £40.

red top & dress reduced

But I have found the occasional, wonderful, Vintage buy.  Here is a Horrockses plum jacket bought from the Vintage rack in a Brighton charity shop for just £19.99 which I managed to match up (in the same shop, no less) with a Florence & Fred faux shot-silk skirt for £5.99.

Horrockses was a famous fashion label that was at its peak of popularity in the 40s and 50s.  I think the jacket looks reasonably up-to-date on me, yet, every time I put it on, I look at the label and can picture my mother, in the 50s, in her shirt-waister frocks, permed hair and Betty Davis eyes.

That’s all for now. With love, Penny

The frugal fashion shopper