Friday, 24 June 2011

Hunting for vintage bargains is not what it used to be

When I was a teen, so called thrifting is what my friends and I did every time we met, like a 'place' to hang out. Endless days were spent at markets and charity shops in the same way other girls marched up and down Oxford Street in London. Things have changed and not all for the good. Vintage or pre-loved may be the new posh names for second-hand goods but developments in the practice of hunting out the odd fabulous find at a bargain price are lees than classy, especially when it comes to being charitable. .

First we have the bargain hunters whose sole aim seems to be to buy at a penny and sell for pound on an on-line auction. Triumphant stories abound, celebrating a win over some unfortunate volunteer by buying a possible 'Picasso' for 50 pence. Extra squeals of delight as the hunter recounts extra percentage off for lying to the octogenarian help that it came out of the bargain basket. It's good to know that these precious things have a second life and continue to be enjoyed after their original owner no longer can or wants to, but not just to make a quick buck on-line.

The other development in charity shops is the so called designer, vintage or boutique rail. Where once there was a mutual gratification of both the charity and often poor people doing well out of the trade of decent clobber, one has to be fairly rich or have a degree in fashion history to an find overlooked sartorial gem. Over priced and usually the worst examples of any era, the shop treats their precious stock as though it was Dame Shirley's own wardrobe when in reality their rail usually comprises of 90% of yesterday's high street designer rip-offs. Who needs a Karen Millen Dress from 1999 at double what it cost in the sale? Not everyone values a multiple-coloured maxi dress over last year's Gap effort, why should the vintage maxi cost so much more just because some idiot pop star is wearing her stylist's-own version?

And where have the desirable labels and kooky precious things gone that should be on the bloody boutique rail? They are lifted out by keen fashion student and car booter volunteers, who devote an hour a week of their expertise in the back room during the process of supposedly sorting the 'wheat from the chaff' as a 'reward' wardrobe or new stock for next Sunday morning's cash-in-hand 'hobby'.

The problem is balance and fair play seem to have lost their way. While charities become 'smart' businesses trying to maximise their profits with their boutique rail so only affluent trendies can buy something that looks like it comes from a charity shop or grandma's closet the seasoned hunter will of course fell gleefully victorious if they find an item that 'got away' from the self-proclaimed expert.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Why do women wear make-up to do sport?

I have just returned from my weekly fairly strenuous jujistsu class. After a warm-up that that includes the odd bit off speedy running, star jumps, sit-ups, press-ups and strange slapping of the floor things we call 'break falls' I am sweating. Not glowing or perspiring like ladies in the past but sweating real beads of sweat from the roots of my hair to the tippy-tips of my toes. Looking round the room I see my classmates of both sexes are in a similar state.

After our warm-up (more accurately heat-up) we move on to graded exercises throwing and flooring our opponents in friendly combat. My grade partner just happens to be twice the size and weight of me so by the end of the syllabus work I am leaving puddles of sweat on the floor, my face is red and I have to use my jacket sleeve to wipe my eyes to stop them stinging.

For a year I was a lone women among a class full of men until happily a year ago another feisty female joined in the fun. Recently I have the pleasure to report more women joining the class. The only fly in the beauty ointment is that the new ladies can not bare to be bare faced and turn up caked in make-up. We are not talking waterproof mascara or a hint of eyeliner, I am talking full-on party make-up. Every week I come home home with a newly stained suit from ground fighting, but never mind me and the new expense of buying bottles of Vanish whitener, what about them?

What can someone be thinking when faced with a steaming dojo that they present themselves in full warpaint only to have it trickling down their necks after 5 minutes and stinging their eyes after 10. Surely, there can be fewer more bitter tastes than make-up seeping into one's mouth or no feeling less desirable than looking like a bad drag act facing a handsome gladiator as one is about to wipe what is left of one's face on his gleaming White suit during a bout of ground fighting.

What can be so montrous, so unbecoming, so scary underneath the mask that a woman would rather risk looking like a melted oil portrait and ingest grams of chemicals?