Cheap and chic

TERMED “recession-chic”, the trend for low-cost dressing is very much in vogue.

TERMED “recession-chic”, the trend for low-cost dressing is very much in vogue. Fashion icon Kylie Minogue was recently spotted on a charity shop shopping spree, while retail guru Mary Portas is seeking to transform the way charity stores do business in her new show, Mary Queen of Charity Shops.

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Fashion designers such as Julien McDonald, Matthew Williamson and Biba designer Barbara Hulanicki are also taking advantage of the current economic situation, collaborating with high street chains such as Topshop, Debenhams and H&M to offer designer collections at affordable prices.

With two of the North East’s most glamorous racing events fast-approaching, The John Smith’s Northumberland Plate and Ladies’ Day, why not ditch the designer boutiques and opt for a low cost alternative?

Charity shops stock some great bargains, and if you dig deep enough, you’ll find some real gems.

Helen Hutchinson, manager of the British Heart Foundation charity shop in Eldon Square, Newcastle, said: “We have a fabulous range of hats and fascinators and some lovely summer dresses. We even get bridal and bridesmaids dresses from time to time.”

The key to successful charity shop shopping, according to Helen, is to visit the shops on a regular basis.

“We have some people visit the shop up to five times a day. We have fresh stock every day and the rails are constantly replenished.

“We’ve had some real finds this week including a 1940s vintage velvet coat with silk lining and a Monsoon dress which would have probably cost around £300,” she said.

Helen has noticed a change in public attitude towards charity shops in recent years.

She said “Celebrities like Gok Wan and the popularity of vintage fashion has changed people’s perception of charity shops.”

“Nearly new” shops are also enjoying healthy sales thanks to the recession.

Designer dress agency The Dressing Room specialises in almost new designer clothing and accessories Run by Sheila Walker, the shop on Ashburton Road in Gosforth stocks a great selection of pre-owned hats, shoes, and handbags from designer names such as Paul Vasseur, Coterie, Paddy Campbell, Christian Louboutin, Fendi, Prada, Burberry, Jimmy Choo. There are also evening dresses and hats available to hire, as well as dresses from Coast and Karen Millen, available to buy. All pieces are dry cleaned.

For those who can’t pay designer prices, there’s the high street. The Designers at Debenhams range includes occasionwear from Jasper Conran, John Rocha, Mathew Williamson, and Julian McDonald.

Model: Amy Elliott of AM Models, tel: (0191) 233-1420.

Pictures: Simon Greener.

Hair by Natasha Beattie of Halo.

Hair & Beauty, Pudding Chare, Newcastle, tel: (0191) 221-0339.

Location: Thanks to Newcastle Racecourse, tel: (0191) 236-2020.

How to book your plate day place

HORSE racing fans were advised to book Premier tickets as soon as possible for the two most popular fixtures of the year at Newcastle Racecourse.

Tickets for the top enclosure at Gosforth Park are 95% sold out for Ladies’ Day on Saturday, 25 July, and will all be gone in the next few days, while those for John Smith’s Northumberland Plate day on Saturday, 27 June, are expected to be gone by the end of next week. Grandstand and paddock tickets for both events can also be bought in advance at www.newcastle-racecourse. Some will be available at the gate on the two days, but booking is advisable to avoid disappointment. The racecourse anticipates reaching its 25,000 capacity on both the day when the race historically known as the Pitmen’s Derby is run, and a month later for the annual Ladies’ Day.

Up to 50,000 people in total are expected to attend the three-day John Smith’s Northumberland Plate Festival on the afternoon of Thursday, 25 June, the evening of Friday, 26 June, and the afternoon of Saturday, 27 June.

The festival opens with Seaton Delaval Trophy day, continues the following evening with Gosforth Park Cup night, with the biggest day of all on the Saturday afternoon when the £180,000 John Smith’s Northumberland Plate - the richest two-mile handicap race in Europe - is run. To make the day more comfortable for visitors, the numbers of bars and food outlets are being increased.

There will also be three large screens so that no one needs to miss any of the racing action. New this year on Plate Day and Ladies Day’ is Premier Plus admission, aimed at individuals and companies whose budgets may not stretch to full hospitality during the economic downturn.

For details, go to or call (0191) 236-2020. Bookings are being taken online and by telephone.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer