Beauty on a budget

2009-03-13 00:00

ALL you need is a bit of patience and an ounce of creativity to pull off an entire outfit that costs a fraction of the retail price but looks like you have just stepped off the cat-walk.

By doing a bit of research we found up-market stores have reported to “put a hold” on credit purchases, expecting their customers to fork out thousands on the day of their purchase.

“Our store has had some quiet days, but our product is very popular and though it is expensive, we have loyal customers,” said the manager of a store where no accessory, handbag or pair of shoes can be purchased for under R1 000.

Other stores that cater for more of a middle-class target market have been offering higher credit limits on account holders’ credit purchases, despite inflation increases, salary cuts or remuneration stagnation.

Their reason: “We only give people extra credit if we can see that they can maintain their accounts properly. We know that despite the extra credit, they will find a way to pay it,” said one credit control manager.

Some account holders have confessed that they were not confident about their job security, but continued to purchase goods on credit, because “it makes me feel good to buy when I can’t afford other things, like eating out, anymore.”

Weekend Witness decided to find alternate ways of looking glam in these financially grim times.

We embarked on a mission to see whether we could find second-hand clothing that costs a 10th of the retail price and still looks as glam.

It was surprising to find that Hospice and other thrift or vintage stores like the Rose of Rosehurst in Boom Street, Pietermaritzburg, sell good quality and fashionable articles for next to nothing.

It would be impossible to purchase an entire outfit from a shop in the mall for less than R100. If anything, the outfit would cost thousands.

But we managed to find six assorted outfits to suit various occasions from these stores and were amazed that an entire outfit could make you look like you have stepped off the catwalk for as little as R50.

Another interesting fact was that Hospice is a charity organisation that offers palliative care to patients and their families.

These patients are terminally ill, mostly suffering from cancer and HIV/Aids.

Any donations or support Hospice receives goes toward the care of these patients.

Imagine looking like a million bucks and doing it for a good cause?

There are plenty thrift shops in and around Pietermaritzburg. Howick is a great town to visit as many retired people donate their beautiful garments as a means of down-scaling.

Outfits in thrift shops may not look very appealing, because unlike regular retail outlets that have the fancy lighting, mannequins and glam accessories to make the regular items look attractive, second-hand shops hang bunches of one-of-a-kind clothing articles on the same rack.

But a little imagination and cheap, sparkly accessories that suit your personality could give you an original look at a fraction of the retail price.

Weekend Witness dressed regular women working regular jobs in donated “hand-me-downs” and after jazzing their looks up with a bit of sparkle, they all looked like celebrities.

We wanted variety in the looks and as a result have casual, corporate, weekend, glamorous, pretty and everyday looks to illustrate just how cool buying from these stores can make you look and more especially, how much money can be saved dressing this way.

“I don’t believe that this is only R35,” said Anele Mzozoyana holding up a vintage blouse that would normally sell for R500.

The women also noticed the quality of the clothing.

“This is far better quality than what is being sold in the normal stores,” said Carla Pitout.

So basically, if you are willing to chuck the credit cards and combat incurring debt during this trying financial period, with a little infused creativity and patience on finding items that work for you, these stores will not only provide you with unique items (there is only one size per item) they will also offer you entire outfits at an incredibly low price.

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