Wonderful wedding fashion for less than £30 at Sheffield Age UK charity shops

Summer is the season of love, and if you’ve been invited to a wedding you’re going to want to look your best and buy a new outfit.

By Rochelle Barrand
Friday, 12 July, 2019, 06:00
Creating a wedding outfit with Rochelle at Age UK's Ecclesall Road shop for this week's City Buzz Shopping. Picture: Chris Etchells

What you won’t want to do is spend a lot of money. If you are looking for a wonderful wedding outfit that won’t break the bank, visit one a local Age UK charity shops.

I was invited along to the Ecclesall Road branch of Age UK earlier this week to see the items they have for sale and choose some outfits fit to celebrate the nuptials of your friends and family.

Creating a wedding outfit with Rochelle at Age UK's Ecclesall Road shop for this week's City Buzz Shopping. Picture: Chris Etchells

The store is big, offering a wide range of clothing for women, men and children, along with shoes, bags, jewellery and accessories.

I met shop manager Sarah Bridges, who told me she receives about 200 bags of donations a week – many of which contain fabulous clothing that would be suitable for big occasions.

“Buying from us for a wedding is great because a lot of people only end up wearing such a fancy outfit once, so this is a way to get something new without spending a lot of money.

“You’re doing good for the environment too, there's last waste if people buy in charity shops like mine.

“There’s also less chance that you will turn up at a wedding in the same outfit as somebody else if you buy your outfit from a charity shop rather than going to the same high street shop as other people might have done the same thing.”

Buying from a charity shop doesn’t have to mean you are not getting something which isn’t from the current season or new either.

While I was browsing the rails, I found a golden yellow dress covered in pretty white flowers – florals and bold colours are two are both on-trend now. Quite a few of the items are also marked as new and have their original tags on, meaning that they have not previously been used.

One such item was a pale pink floaty long-sleeve dress – aptly made by a brand called Love – that I chose as one of my two outfits and put on a mannequin. It cost just £9.99. I paired it with some fluffy pink heels.

One thing I really enjoyed about looking through the rails of clothes was that I was introduced to brands that I hadn’t heard of - like Love.

Another brand I hadn’t heard of was behind the second outfit I chose, a sequin jumpsuit from BlinQ, priced at just £7.99. I thought this would be an elegant alternative to a dress - especially given the unpredictable weather we seem to be having. I teamed this with classic black straps sandals.

Then, I went on the hunt for accessories. Some of the higher priced items are kept on the counter, though most items are priced at no more than £15.

Sarah said: “All of our items are very reasonably priced. We do have some lovely things, and some designer things, but I won’t put a higher price on something just because of that.”

One such designer item was a Lulu Guinness bag, still in its box and in perfect condition - priced at just £14.99. I decided this was the perfect statement piece to finish off the jumpsuit look.

Sarah added: “I think the days of charity shops having a funny smell to them have gone anyway, but of course nobody knows if you’ve managed to pick up something designer that you’ve actually got it from a charity shop.”

I added an iridescent beaded necklace to my pink Love dress outfit, and a pearl bracelet.

It was when I was putting the bracelet on display with my outfit that I noticed the star charm on it was engraved with an ‘R’. That’s when I decided it was meant for me, and I took it home for just £1.49. 

It will be my reminder that you never quite know what you’re going to find in charity shops, and there’s something lovely about that.

Sarah and her team ensure that only items of good quality go out for sale, but for every item that is brought in to the shop because one person has fallen out of love with it, there will be another who will adore it and take it home to treasure it.

Both of my full outfits cost less than £30; an absolute bargain.

New stock is being brought in all the time too, so if you go in and don’t quite find what you are looking for you can always pop back and try again in a few days. You never know, your perfect outfit might have just been dropped off, but you won’t know unless you go look.

Age UK is open on Ecclesall Road Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and Sunday from 10am to 4pm. All donations are welcome. Please take your goods in to the shop during opening hours.

Volunteers are also needed. 

Sarah said: “We would welcome anybody who would like to come in and volunteer their time with us. Our youngest volunteer is 17 and our eldest is 90, we have people with physical difficulties and learning difficulties; everyone is welcome.

“If you would like to become a volunteer, please come in to the shop and speak to us.”

Please visit the shop or call 0114 2680641 to discuss becoming a volunteer.

If you would like to see more of the stock that is available in the shop, please www.instagram.com/ageukecclesallroad, where you will also see photos of Sarah and some of her customers modelling some of the fantastic outfits they have bought from the shop.