Charity Shop Tuesday: A Dress Inspired by a Top

When I was a teenager, I dreamed of being a Proper Goth. In actual fact I spent most of my time wearing jeans and a polo shirt - no exaggeration, I owned a bright blue polo shirt and a lime green polo shirt and the biggest dilemma of my weekend was deciding which of these awful items to wear first.

Every time I'd pass a goth on the street I'd try to sneak looks at them without making it obvious. For a while I had Matrix-style mirrored sunglasses, and that was great for this. Goths just looked so dramatic! I loved clothes that made a statement, that bordered on being a costume. I still do, I've just realised that it's the drama I like, and the clothes don't actually have to be black.

Anyway. I was way too shy to actually dress like a goth until sixth form, when, embolded by my sister, who was also going through a goth/rocker/emo phase, I finally started to buy some fancier clothes, thinking that I'd stopped growing. More fool me, I had a final growth spurt in Year 12, and outgrew those purple cords.

Of course, I didn't have a job so I was trying to stretch my pocket money and birthday money to as many purchases as possible. I hadn't yet discovered charity shopping (if only I had!) so this meant trawling the fast fashion shops and carefully examining every section with a 'SALE' sign above it. Mostly I repeat-wore my one pair of black jeans and a black button-down shirt with a vest top in blue or purple underneath. At least it was an improvement on those awful polo shirts.

And then one day, I fell in love with this top in H&M. It basically looked like underwear. Like a basque with no boning. Black lace and ribbon over a green mesh lining. They didn't have it in my size at my local store, but I managed to track it down in Croydon - here's the full story!

The quality was terrible. After one or two wears the elastic in the straps disintegrated, and my mum had to sew ribbon to the backs of them to hold them together. I was still really shy so I generally wore it under a black button-down shirt like the vest tops (WHY?). But oh, how I loved it. I even wore it occasionally as a student. Here is a photo of me, aged 20, wearing it at Studio Valbonne, a terrible but opulently decorated nightclub off Oxford Street.

What is that pose. I wasn't even drunk - this club was way too expensive to drink in. I drank tap water all night every time we went. Also, the skirt I was wearing looked crap with that top unless I tucked it into the top of my tights.

Alas this top, lovely and fun as it is, could not be described appropriate for everyday adult life. And thus it has languished, unworn, at the back of my wardrobe for many a year. And then a couple of years ago, the memories of that top and how cool it made me feel inspired me to buy this dress when I saw it in a charity shop.

This dress is impossible to photograph well! I had to crank up the brightness and contrast and mess with the saturation. Hopefully you get the idea. It's black. Over a teal lining - but unlike the top, it's not slightly rough mesh, it's soft, comfortable viscose. And although it's got all the drama of the the top, it's much more demure - falling to below my knee and rising quite high on my bust. I even wore it to work the other day.

Do you have a particular aesthetic in mind when you look at clothes? Is there an item from the past that haunts you?


Charity Shop Tuesday: Green Floral Dress

I have a lot of clothes. So many, in fact, that they're spread over two wardrobes in two homes. Currently, most of my summer clothes are in my flat and most of my winter clothes are at my parents' house. Over the next couple of months I'll be swapping them over again, rediscovering old gems, and hopefully keeping myself inspired and excited by my clothes so that I resist the temptation to buy any more.

I am trying to save money, and also live a slightly more streamlined life - I'll never be an minimalist, but I'd like to get rid of some of the excess, and most importantly, stop buying more.

With all this in mind, I decided to start this new weekly blog series in which I will show you something I bought from a charity shop in the past, and tell you why I bought it, and why I love it. I want to inspire more people to give charity shopping a try, and this should also serve to remind me that I don't need any more clothes!

First up is this green floral dress. The year I bought this dress I'd got the idea in my head that I wanted to look all ethereal and nature-loving. This notion wore off pretty fast, because it is difficult and kind of boring to try to look ethereal and nature-loving when you are assertive, witty, and wasp-fearing.

But I still love this dress. It is fun to pretend to be those things sometimes, even if you're only actually walking to the shops. I imagined going to lots of barbeques and for walks in the park in this dress, and wearing it with Doc Martens for the contrast. Plus, if you wear a blazer over the top of any dress you look 400% more assertive, so I often do that.

It is not the best quality. It doesn't have a brand label, only a fabric information one (100% cotton, apparently), and the fabric is very thin, translucent and delicate-feeling. It was also originally a little too low in the bust, but a few stitches at the top sorted that out.

It ties at the back, which is cool. Because the fabric is so thin, it's really comfortable on hot days, though I do need to be careful what bra I wear as it's not lined above the waist.

The only thing I don't like about it so much is the brown trim and the brown buttons. I abhor brown. As far as I am concerned, brown is the worst colour for clothes. My hair is brown. My eyes are brown. That is enough brown for me, ta very much. I may try removing the brown by stitching over the trim in embroidery thread and replacing the buttons. Maybe in purple, because this dress doesn't have any purple on it. I have to always wear purple accessories with this dress, so that my friends and family feel comfortable and don't start to worry that I'm feeling ill or the world is ending.

I don't know why they worry about the latter. If the world was ending I would definitely be wearing purple, like a security blanket. My most comfortable boots are purple. I mean, come on.

Have you ever blogged about your favourite charity shop purchases? Let me know!
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