DRESSING up for Royal Ascot or Henley Royal Regatta might sound like an expensive prospect but one charity shop is
DRESSING up for Royal Ascot or Henley Royal Regatta might sound like an expensive prospect but one charity shop is out to prove it needn’t break the bank.
The Helen & Douglas House store in Duke Street, Henley, sells a range of formal outfits for men and women from as little as £35.
Throughout the year, volunteers set aside donations of clothing that are likely to prove popular in the run-up to the big summer events.
They check the garments for defects and repair them before professionally cleaning and hanging them in readiness.
From mid-June the shop sells second-hand hats, fascinators, jackets, dresses, blazers, trousers and shoes in a range of colours and styles.
Headwear and clothing generally costs from £10 to £20 per item while some pairs of shoes cost just £5.
There is a mix of high street brands and designer and boutique apparel, most of which cost £100 or more when new. The shop has held a regatta sale every year since it opened five years ago. Manager Jean Hugill said: “If people bring something in and we think it’s suitable for the regatta then we’ll keep it back until then.
“It usually proves very popular. We see a big increase in the number of visitors around the time of the regatta and Royal Ascot.
“Sometimes people come in to buy a full outfit and other times they just need a hat to complete it.
“No one would ever know that you paid less for your outfit — everything is clean and in excellent condition.
“There’s a good mix of items and they’re often hardly worn or sometimes haven’t been worn at all.
“People donate for all sorts of reasons. It might be that they don’t fit into them any more or they might only have bought it to wear once. We get people from all sort of backgrounds coming in to buy and it’s equally popular with men and women.We’ve done really well on men’s jackets this year and sold a lot of children’s clothes too.
“Customers love to try things on and we get a lot of comments about how nice everything looks.”
Volunteer Erica Smith, 65, who attended the Queen’s birthday parade at Horse Guards Parade this month, bought her ensemble from the shop for £35.
She went to the event with her husband Nigel in a three-piece pale lilac lace outfit with a camisole, jacket and long skirt, a matching fascinator and silver shoes.
She said: “It goes to show you don’t have to spend a fortune to look the part.
“If you’re going to the regatta, you can have a different outfit every day for the price some people pay for a single outfit.”
The shop raises money for the Helen and Douglas House hospices in Oxford, which provide palliative care to children and young adults.
The shop is open from 9.30am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday, and 11am to 4pm on Sundays.