isabelle.jpgIsabelle O'Carroll writes...


I should start carrying around a Dictaphone like the Mighty Boosh's Bob Fossil, so that when someone asks me where I got a certain item of clothing I can simply press play and the Dictaphone will answer "charity shop". But isn't all wondrous bargains and amazing vintage finds, no; just like normal shopping you can return frazzled and empty-handed thinking "why didn't I just go to the park/pub/bed". There's an even darker side to charity shopping that most seasoned shoppers will know very well.

Never take your friends charity shopping, firstly the chazzas will be inevitably packed full of dross just as you want to show your friends your secret new seam of charity shops. Secondly in the cut-throat world of chazza shozzas these people are not your friends, they will dwindle and peruse while your hawk-like vision has already finished scanning the shop for booty. They will pick up a long sought after bit of china that completes your collection and exclaim "ooh that's nice I might buy that". In short your friends will slow you down and steal your precious things. Cast them aside like the deadweights they are.

Charity shopping doesn't come with the glamourous image of its high street shopping counterpart. If you set off for a bout of charity shopping and have bad luck your desperation increases, and like a gambler on a bad streak you'll just keep coming back for more. Without the glimmer of promised treasures charity shops can be depressing places, not to mention stinky. Although I have to say I fondly inhale the peachy air freshener of my local Age Concern as it reminds me of bargains. Is that weird? Sometimes my love for charity shops is so strong that it almost develops into hatred when I can't find any precious things. The charity shops giveth and they taketh away, best not to let your obsession develop into some feverish desperation as desperation can cloud your mind and your hawk-like bargain vision. I have often been on the brink of insanity and picked up something hideous thinking, "that's quite nice" when it's a really bad pair of granny shoes, or some stacticy nylon print frock. Ladies, I've even thought of buying a housecoat or a tabard just for the hell of it.

Isabelle went charity shopping at the weekend with her friends and they didn't slow her down nor did they try to steal her precious things. They're good friends.

Read my first charity shop column: From the fringes of fashion: Isabelle's charity shop tips