Charlotte’s second-hand year

She doesn’t even have hipster pretentions, she just wants to do something for charity: student Charlotte Crossley is dressing in second clothes for a full year! She spoke to Poppy Ovenden about her love of Topshop, her views on the Durham fashion scene and where to buy second hand.

The Tab: So, Charlotte, tell us exactly what you are doing?

Charlotte Crossley: I am giving up buying new clothes for 12 months and only shopping second hand [disclaimer: Charlotte continues to buy her underwear from the high street].

The Tab: So, why are you doing it?

CC: I shop second hand quite a lot anyway and I really, really enjoy it. It’s kind of nice that it’s become a lot more acceptable – I used to hate telling someone when they asked where my jumper was from and I was like ‘it comes from a charity shop’ and I’d be a bit… cagey about it all. But now it’s really cool and everyone loves it and there are whole blogs about going second hand – so I set myself a challenge. I’m doing something with this clothing charity that helps families from lower income backgrounds with their children’s school uniform – some families are going without three meals a day to buy them.

The Tab: So you’re doing it for charity?

CC: Yes – and I thought it would be something different. You sponsor people to do marathons and I’m not a great runner, you can sponsor people to do 24 hour drum sessions or whatever – I can’t drum.  I can shop though!

The Tab: so you’re a charity shop veteran then?

CC: Definitely. I love them. Apart from the smell…there’s definitely a caravan-esque odour

The Tab: So have you been tempted to waiver so far from your challenge?

CC: Oh yes. When Topshop had 20% off in freshers’ week it was awful…I kept walking past thinking to myself ‘just don’t look!’ I love Topshop! I know that’s really mainstream and awful but they have really good T-shirts and jeans! I still love the thrill of picking up an item of clothing that has a Topshop label in a charity shop – it’s like Christmas – I get so excited!

Trousers from Red Cross in Newcastle, originally Topshop

The Tab: So what would you say you’re missing from the high street most? Just Topshop or…

CC: I miss it when there’s something I really want and I can’t  just go and buy it…it’s kind of harder to make outfits because you have to work with what you’ve got. And I miss the new outfit feeling!

The Tab: So how often would you normally buy new clothes if you were still doing things the old way?

CC: Hmmm…fairly often.  I’d probably buy a new pair of jeans every three months…and then when it’s my birthday I just annihilate the metro centre – I used to love it! It was my birthday in October and it was so strange not doing the whole post-birthday spending thing but I went charity shopping and got some nice things instead, so – it was different!

The Tab: What’s your best buy so far?

CC: Ooh…I got a really strange cape…I’m not sure how much I like it –

The Tab: A cape?

CC: Yep, it’s a French connection woollen cape, like a poncho…it’s good because it was like £5 and it’s French Connection!

The Cape…

The Tab: And is there anything really, really weird you’ve found?

CC: I think everything’s been pretty tame …oh actually I found some Levi-short shorts – people are clearly disowning them now! Just how short are they?! They just look like underwear.

The Tab: Is there a very small part of you where this is just an excuse to be a massive hipster?

CC: Errr…I don’t really think so…

The Tab: Do you feel quite indie though?

CC: Not really…there’s a certain pleasure when someone comes up to you and they’re like ‘that dress is really cool where’s it from?’ and then you’re like ‘oh it’s from a charity shop’. But I don’t think the pain is worth the status.

The Tab: So on a scale on 1 to 10, how indie do you feel?

CC: Like a 5? Is that normal?

The Tab: Only a 5?

CC: Yeah…like, averagely indie. The thing in Durham though is that I don’t understand what indie is here. People here think that Urban Outfitters is edgy. Everyone looks like they work in Urban Outfitters in Durham – there’s not a lot of diversity.  I’m from near Sheffield and the fashion there is incredible, I love it! I think over here you’re probably indie if you don’t look like you work at Urban Outfitters or wear Jack Wills or Hollister all the time…I think if Durham defined me then probably yes, but not so much from my point of view – car boot-chique perhaps…

The Tab: If we were going to take on your challenge, where would you advise us to look for clothes?

CC: Samaritans in Durham is good [on North Road] but it has a very pungent smell. But It’s a lovely charity shop and their prices are really, really cheap! I got a pair of Topshop blue jeans for £3.99.

The Tab: Anywhere else?

CC: I haven’t really sampled the vintage stuff yet – that’s my next project! Also, the charity vintage fair they have at the DSU sometimes…and there’s no remorse afterwards because you’re like ‘at least the money’s going to charity!’

The Tab: What’s the response you’ve been receiving from your friends?

CC: That they think it’s cool, but they don’t envy me

The Tab: How much money do you think you’ve saved doing this so far?

CC: I’m not sure because I spend quite a lot in charity shops! I think I’ve probably spent the same amount but bought more things.

The Tab: So would you recommend this to anybody else? I’m guessing not…

CC: I would definitely recommend charity shop shopping. And car boots – car boots are incredible! There’s so much excitement in finding somebody who’s wearing similar clothes to what you’re wearing! I love that! One girl I bought something from told me ‘I’m really glad my clothes are going to a nice person’, so it’s quite nice that feeling of passing something on.

The Tab: But you wouldn’t recommend doing it with only used clothes?

CC: Yes! If you can! You have to have the know, though. I think you need to know where to shop – it would be quite hard to just throw yourself into it!

The Tab: And do you think you’ll keep it up after a year?

CC: Err…I think I will shop more at charity shops…but I don’t think I’ll be able to stay away for more than 12 months!

You can read’s Charlotte’s blog about going second hand here: