A mini rant on charity shop pricing

So over in a little place I like to call “vintage land” on facebook we have been discussing our anger at the overpriced nature of charity shops. Now, don’t get me wrong I am no kind of charity scrooge who hates giving money to charity, No, no. Infact I really LIKE buying from charity shops because It makes me feel a little less guilty about the insane amount of money I spend on clothes ( I’m one of these crazy people who will often go without buying food to buy more clothes and live off a diet consisting of only food my parents have bought me when they feel sorry for me or biscuits cos I love a good biscuit).
My problem all stems from the fact that a charity shop by the nature of what it is should be about providing reasonably priced clothing for those who need it.
Madeline Ginsburg wrote a wonderful article for costume in 1980 when charity shops were still in their infancy which succinctly explains this. (The article is a very interesting piece about the second hand trade as a whole, but I’ve just picked out this section for your reading pleasure)
“The popularity and upgrading of the jumble sale has led to another new development the Nearly New or Charity Shop, now an important source of income for almost every welfare organization, though the form in which the accounts are published makes it impossible to isolate the profits of the clothing part of their stock. Usually housed in rent-free centrally placed but temporarily unlet properties, they have a pleasant atmosphere, encouraging to the needy and no deterrent to the merely curious. The stock is given, the staff voluntary and the overheads low. Choice is easy and the prices midway between jumble and the trade.”
I’ve picked out two key statements:
They have a pleasant atmosphere, encouraging to the needy
ENCOURAGING TO THE NEEDY. This is what charity shops should be about. It is not about creating another high street boutique, it is not about isolating people. It should be about availability. Allowing people the opportunities for good quality clothing at low prices!
Prices midway between jumble and the trade.
Can’t we go back to this???
Many charity shops are so much more expensive than trade prices it is ridiculous. £89 for an Aquascutum coat in Winchester. £55 for a Per una jacket in Cheam. £40 for a Next jacket in York. It really is getting out of hand.
One of the joys of going into charity shops used to be the opportunity to find a bargain. Now going into a charity shop often leaves me feeling distinctly sad. I feel like charity shops have changed so much in their meaning. The fuddy duddy nature of the charity shop was one of the things that made them great, and Mary Portas trying to make every charity shop hip and trendy has actually destroyed a lot of what made going to charity hops an altogether fun experience.
So that is my two cents worth on it all!


My info comes from Madeleine Ginsburg, “Rags to Riches: The Second-Hand Clothes Trade 1700-1978,” Costume 14 (1980

Welcome to my world: Adventure in my boudoir

Today I’ve made it back down to good old Romsey. Which is my sometimes hometown. I’ve come back to find my room completely transformed from what it looked like three months ago. My mum has been out of work for a while and clearly beautifying my bedroom is a way she has been spending her time!
I’ll take you on a quick tour (it’s only small!) and you can see some of my lovely vintage goodies : )
my mum likes making arty displays. The dress here is actually a new look dress that i’ve had for at least 7 years. Its such a sweet little piece. The handbag is a Mappin and Webb 1950s one.

Onto my wardrobe. The two dresses seen hanging are two personal favourites the black one is handpainted silk by London town and the blue number is one of my gorgeous Horrockses!

This is just a tiny selection of mine and my mums vintage jewellery collection. We have ALOT more

 My lovely art deco dressing table. Apologies for all of the parcels piled up on the chair. Ebay addict o’clock.

 A closer look at what is on my dressing table. The shoes were an absolute find and are amazing supple gold kid leather that date to around 1890. The vintage handbags are a mixture of mine and my mums. Handbags is how i started my vintage collecting habbits.

 Two pairs of Rayne mules. Oh how i wish my feet were narrow enough for these!!!

My amazing 1930s light fittings. Aren’t they stunning!

Oh and just a cheeky image of my Horrockses bedding with my original Horrockses dress. Just a little bit of a Horrockses super fan you could say.

And my lovely little illustrations on the wall that my mum and I picked up at a vintage fair in Halifax (P.s. I hate these curtains with a passion and they are the only part of my room that i dislike. I actually hope my mum reads this and gets the picture : ) : ) )

Matilda Etches: long forgotten couturier

I have a bit of a thing for long forgotten couturiers. Couture now is such a dying art and the couture system today is only a tiny proportion of what it once was. For example in France couture represented  a third of the countries G.D.P in the late 1940s. Yet today there are just 11 offical members of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture


Britain on the other hand has a very different couture legacy with couture houses often seeing their money made (unitl 1958 when presenting stopped) through debutante dresses. In Britian today  the couture industry has all but ceased to exest and those names who were once revered in a similar light to the French couturiers (for example Hardy Amies and Bianca Mosca) are often forgotten.
Today I would like to introduce you to a particular British couturier of note, Matilda Etches (sometimes seen as Matilda Ethces-Homan). Etches for reasons I will discuss later has a very important position in terms of the acceptance of fashion into the museum world.
Etches was famed throughout the 40s particularly for her fashionable yet innovative clothing that often featured careful sculptural detailing. I originally discovered her work when investigating garments using minimal seams. I then found this example of her work in the V and A collection. The jacket here can be worn either as seen in the image or worn the other way round to create a dramatic peplum. The jacket must have been created as a circle for this to be possible.
Etches though should be remembered for her pivotal position in terms of the Victoria and Albert museums acquisition  policy. Etches had two of her pieces (seen here) accepted into the V and A collection in 1969. The pieces “were shown to senior Museum officials as key acquisitions. They were the first modern fashion items to be accorded this honour” (V and A website)
From correspondence of Madeleine Ginsburg to Matilda Etches-Homan, letter written 9 June 1969, following acceptance of the Etches collection & dossier 

“The image of our 20th century costume collection has received a great boost through you! For the first time clothes from this century have been chosen to show the meeting of our advisory committee – a honour usually reserved only for medieval embroideries. They are to see the Butterfly cape and the West African cotton dress.”

So all in all a pretty important lady in terms of British couture no doubt! I was also rather lucky to find two pictures of her. These are from the Doris Langley Moores book “the Woman in fashion” and see Etches posing in a dress from 1900(above) and 1913(top of post)
Moore used key people in fashion of the day for this book, so Ethces must have clearly been considered important enough in 1949 to be included!
(additional images from the V and A collections website)