Tag Archives: vintage clothing

Come into Oxfam (re-hashed)

Don't diss me sister; I'm a cool fashionista,
running with the times, an Eco A lister.
Dressed by Oxfam from my head to my toes,
elegant in every stitch of pre-cherished clothes
and feeling pretty nifty in my vintage hat --- 
fifty years more stylish than this season's tat.

I never understood; it's always been a mystery
why people steer clear of raiment with a history,
but the world is changing and the wise understand
it's grand to to be strutting in second-hand.
Our over-production will suck the planet dry ---
we cannot halt the damage unless we all try.
If you buy less new, it'll slow production down,
saving precious energy the world around,
so come on into Oxfam and rummage with me,
you never can tell what treasures you'll see.
It's better than the High Street shops in town ---
come with me to Oxfam and look around.

Labels lack soul and the prices are steep,
those showy little tags make folks look like sheep
or mannequins standing in a window display
trailing the fashion victims rags of the day.
Change your look, show your personality ---
come into the Oxfam shop with me.

When you learn about the projects that Oxfam holds dear
I hope that you will sign up to volunteer,
giving up a portion of your time for free,
learning new skills while you work with me
or any of the members of our friendly crew
who'd surely be delighted to get to know you.

If you ain't got the confidence I'll hold your hand,
and when you walk out the door you will understand
the reasons I spend my time like I do,
and buy pre-used instead of brand new:
I'm runnin' with the times, I'm a cool fashionista,
don't diss me sister, I'm an Eco A lister.  

©Jane Paterson Basil

Seems I’m all out of poetry. so I’ve been messing about with this one, which I wrote a few years ago... still not entirely happy with it.

That dress


I was just nineteen
and the term “vintage” was applied only to cars.
Used dresses, coats and jeans were merely second-hand
or old, though if they were older still, they may be called antique.

It was 1974 and junk-shop clothing was a hippy thing.
Audaciously we flounced into charity shops and jumble sales
declaring in voices designed to carry:
I love these places, they’re such fun,
but let’s go to Dorothy Perkins when we leave.
We didn’t want to be labelled penny-pinching
even though our grants rarely stretched to the end of term,
and soon we would be surviving on a diet of spaghetti and tomato ketchup –
until the ketchup dried up, and we had to make do with margarine.

Like sheep that want to be something more interesting
but hope that the flock won’t notice,
we giggled to cover up our middle-class shame
tussling with aging customers, yanking blouses from their hands
as if we didn’t know they were holding them.
It seemed fair, because sometimes they did the same to us,
and anyway, we were young. We were beautiful
and would do justice to the shimmering red satin
or the cool blue chambray.

We pretended it was fancy-dress,
but in truth we adored the look.

Beaded and sequined flapper dresses in swish silk and chiffon
could be easily purchased
for less than a factory worker’s wages, but
that was too great an investment for me,
so I plumped for forty’s austerity
with it’s hardwearing fabric,
its prim sexiness sewn as if by chance into the seams.

I stroked my hips to feel the fine weave
practiced poses before the mirror,
admired the unusual detail.

In the High Street I slowed my pace beside glazed windows,
slant-eyed, subversively scrutinising my reflection.
The shop girls gazed down their noses, sneering at my vanity
while I saw only admiration in their eyes.

I told myself I was an original.
I still think that the dress may have been.
It was beautiful in its conception and its finish.
I wish the moths hadn’t eaten it.
It was treasure. It was Art.

©Jane Paterson Basil