Good morning ladies and gents. I am hereby introducing to you the ‘7 days of Ayoka’ project. Designed to coincide with London Fashion Week, it is a challenge for me to wear only clothes from one small charity shop for a week, and hopefully simultaneously, look fabulous. Ayoka is the name of a charity shop in Bethnal Green, East London. It is run by a really small team, in aid of St Margaret’s House Settlement.
The Plan: To spend seven days over London Fashion Week, from 16th to 22nd September, wearing only clothes from the lovely little Ayoka charity shop.
1) I must wear a different outfit everyday. This is not a challenge to see how long you can make one outfit look clean and wearable, despite wearing it solidly for seven days, or even an emanation of the fantastic Uniform Project, accessorising one dress repeatedly. I can repeat some garments, but not more than one per outfit.
2) I will give details of pricing of all clothes for each outfit, so you can gasp with wonder at the true money-saving glory of charity shop shopping.
3) I say I will wear ‘only clothes from Ayoka’, but this is not necessarily true. I can wear my own underwear. I can wear my own shoes when necessary – although those of you that know me will understand that my shoe collection is likely to be in a much worse state than the selection you can find in a charity shop. I can wear shoes from Ayoka for more than one outfit. I can, if desperate, check other charity shops for an item I really need, or use items previously bought from charity shops. Only if desperate.
4) I must try to do lots of different things, requiring different outfits. Anyone can dress for the sofa or their desk, but can I find more formal, more outdoor, more indoor occasion outfits?
1) Well, me! I am only the size I am, and that’s not model proportions. I am a size 12 – 14, and therefore cannot use some of the clothes that will be in Ayoka. I have a chest and very English upper arms. I am not one of those people who look perfect in anything I put on. But therein lies the challenge.
2) The weather. This is London in September. Dressing for the weather the day might throw at you is a challenge in itself, let alone with a limited wardrobe.
3) At the moment, I don’t have a full-length mirror. Yes, this might be the most excitingpart. Recently moved in with Mr Moll, and we have many homely things – special bags to store our onions and garlic, a portable record player, a proper oven that works, but as yet, no full-length mirror. At the moment I try to use the reflection in the telly to see how I look. Not sure this will cut the mustard.
1) Being serious for one wee moment, I am hardly a fashion saint. I have frequented the Primarni Empire, and other high street clothes purveyors with dodgy reputations for their production methods and suspiciously quick trend turn over. I have succumbed to the cheap thrills of a Saturday afternoon in a three storey clothing heaven/hell, piling up brightly coloured new clothes on the counter. But I have also spent many a long hour in the lovely dusky treasure trove and eavesdropping haven of the charity shop, and found some real gems.
Charity shops can offer better value for money, better quality, more unusual and individual pieces and a more environmentally friendly way of shopping, and, oh yes, your money goes to charity. How exciting would it be to discover that I could buy all my clothes there? Rather than using charity shops to top up High Street buys, if I can buy seven different successful outfits in one small charity shop over a short period of time, wouldn’t I prove that I don’t need Oxford Street in my life? I can stay High Street free and feel excellently smug in the process, as well as saving money.
2) ‘7 Days of Ayoka’ will hopefully also force me from my rut. There are only so many times I can wear a stripy top and denim shorts, or a floral dress, in one lifetime, surely? I will be making a special effort to avoid these types of ‘plain’ outfits. They are easy. They are practical. They are also easily found in charity shops. But the real challenge is to find something different or unusual, or an outfit, all from one charity shop, that makes me walk down the street a little different or a little more confident because of how much I like what I’m wearing. You know that feeling, right? That’s the aim.