Shops: £20 outfit

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£20 outfit

Anna Docherty discovers that cheap can be chic in her budget outfit challenge.

Edinburgh is a hot bed of little boutiques selling one-off items. They are also often referred to as charity shops and on the £20 outfit challenge they become my best friend, as we bond over woollen knits and dainty brooches. ‘We’ve just had a delivery from the old people’s home,’ says the lady in Cancer Research matter of factly. So, basically, the pearls I am now fingering have likely graced the neck of the recently deceased. But rather than freaking me out, I like the thought of wearing something that has had a life – as opposed to picking up some shiny new item from the high street that hasn’t seen the outside of four factory walls. In the end I plump for a rather grandma-ish looking cream blouse (£2.50) and a set of pretty purple beads (75p) and leave feeling as if I have just bought myself a tiny piece of timeless elegance.

Passing by another charity shop I am perplexed by the two ladies standing outside, one with a tomato red afro and the other with peroxide blonde bombshell curls. They are in fancy dress and are collecting money for ‘Store Wars’ – the battle waged with the local charity shops to see who can raise the most. I like the fact they can get away with this cheeky one upmanship. ‘It’s all in the name of charity,’ blondie tells me. Inside the shop I spot a concealed row of shoes along the back wall and I am not too proud to bend onto hands and knees to retrieve a pair of shiny navy and cream stilettos (£5); a size three and a half, only a fraction too big for my dinky size three feet.

My next stop is the vintage jumble sale of Armstrong’s Clothing, where I jazz up my outfit with a pair of 80’s pear-shaped stonewash Levi jeans (£12). And although I know it’s going to tip the budget, I can’t resist a little finishing touch, so I pop into a haberdashery store and get a long cut of stripy ribbon to fashion into a bow belt (80p). It’s an interesting day when 80p counts as blowing the budget, but it’s probably a monetary lesson we could all do with learning. And let us close on that morsel of morality and finish by taking one last admiring glance at my outfit of cheapness.

Cancer Research
11 South Clerk Street, Edinburgh,
0131 667 1284.

Barnardos
106 Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, 0131 668 2288.

Armstrongs
83 The Grassmarket, Edinburgh, 0131 220 5557.

The Finishing Touch
17 St. Patrick Square, Edinburgh, 0131 667 0194.

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