Charity chic: St Elizabeth's Stortford shop gets designer rebrand
St Elizabeth's has given its shop in Florence Walk in Bishop's Stortford town centre a makeover, as Madeleine Sanders discovered...
My fondness for charity shops stretches way back to my early teens. Back then, it was totally expected that as soon as you hit your 14th birthday, you’d get a Saturday job. This was inevitably in a dismal shoe shop or, worse, Woolworths, but wherever it was, you were pretty much guaranteed a heinous uniform and a 35-year-old manager who took sadistic pleasure from intimidating schoolgirls in order to deflect from his own personality shortcomings.
It would only be a few years later that Primark finally appeared and suddenly the £12 you earned for eight hours of polyester tunic-clad humiliation was enough to purchase boots, a knitted tube skirt, two paisley shirts and a Heather Shimmer lipstick. But until that momentous fashion revolution, clothes were EXPENSIVE.
Hence my teenage joy at the emergence of a brilliant charity shop on my local high street, wherein I kitted myself out on a tiny budget for my first actual non-polyester tunic job.
I had a beautiful Jane Norman grey tweed suit – cropped, military-style jacket with a voluminous skirt (I looked like I was angling to join the Russian army) – and a burnt orange Wallis number involving an ankle-length, non-stretch skirt so tight you had to hobble (it was the late ’80s, don’t judge).
In those cynical times, people didn’t admit they shopped ‘preloved’, but then along came eBay and suddenly it wasn’t ‘second hand’, it was ‘vintage’, and we all lost any residual squeamishness about wearing someone else’s shoes if it meant we could snap up a pair of Gucci flipflops for £200 under their original price.
No longer full of unloved petrol station glasses or outdated wedding dresses, modern charity shops are a treasure chest of gems, as me (hats, shoes, bags, it’s all about the accessories) and my intrepid model Panida (“anything short, anything sparkly please”) discovered when we had a sneak preview of St Elizabeth’s fabulous new rebranded shop in Florence Walk, which opened on Monday (Nov 20).
It’s stuffed with specially selected pre-loved premium brands like Karen Millen, Phase Eight, Zara, Mint Velvet, Reiss, Burberry, Gant, Ralp Laurem Carvela and All Saints, as well as accessories from jewellery to hats and bags.
It also sells vintage clothing, antiques and collectables, and there are even more top items in the charity’s eBay store ‘stelizabethsshop’.