It’s one of the most overused cliches in the world of cliches, but this week I stopped for a mere moment amongst the chaos of normal life and realised that time really does fly by. I’ve been blogging for exactly one year now, and what started as a way to appease my love for all things aesthetically pleasing has suddenly become something much more. This week was testament to that, when, on Friday, I found myself standing in the window of my local British Heart Foundation frantically stripping the mannequins of their dignity.
No, I hadn’t finally cracked and jumped on the train to crazy town, I was, in fact, taking part in the BHF’s fashion blogger challenge in aide of their BIG Donation scheme, and when the email inviting me to participate dropped into my inbox a couple of months ago I honestly think I stopped breathing for a while as I contemplated the thought of being allowed to style their window display HOWEVER I WANTED using stock from the shop.
This year’s third BIG Donation stock appeal is the BHF’s largest and coincides nicely with the chain’s 50th anniversary. The reason it’s such a big deal this year? Well, apparently even charity shops are suffering under the strain of the recession; the BHF alone has reported a 36% drop in household donations as commercial collectors swoop in and steal the good stuff before it even makes it to the stores. Charity is big business, so it seems.
So this year, the BHF called upon several local bloggers – myself included – to help give a new edge to the campaign and raise awareness of the continual need to donate unwanted items. I knew it was something I had to do without question when I realised the true worth of my wardrobe – just 22 dresses sold by the store can fund a BHF heart nurse for the day – that means my wardrobe alone could fund one nurse for the best part of a year.
I turned up on Friday morning armed with a selection of said dresses (I couldn’t part with them all. I tried. Fashion cold turkey is not a good place to be) and, strangely, a stomach full of nerves. I mean, what if I couldn’t find anything inspiring to work with – we’re talking charity shop here, not Topshop – what if everything was just old and musty and…brown (for some reason I envisioned everything to be brown. I don’t know why). I won’t even lie, I was up the best part of the night before wrestling with the idea of collecting leaves from the garden in order to make my display more interesting, you know, “just in case.”
Well, I needn’t have worried in the slightest. The charity shops of today are so far removed from that awful stereotype of what they used to be that they practically are Topshop these days. Okay, so there was some brown, but my socks were well and truly knocked off at how colourful and just generally nice everything was. After being given a tour of the back room (stock galore, I felt like a cheaper version of Carrie Bradshaw when she goes to the prop cupboard at Vogue. Except I wasn’t drunk on Martini – or anything else, for that matter), then the ladies plied me with tea (they know how to butter me up, clearly) and off I went a-rummaging.
And here’s how it went…
After I’d finished and was saying goodbye to Jan, the Assistant Manager, she turned and whispered slyly, “It’s so nice to have a young window display because, really, that’s what we want. We want the young people in here making it fashionable and fun.”
And so now you’ve heard it from the horses mouth, go forth, young people, and DONATE.