Like all of the best charity shop purchases, there’s a huge amount of luck and serendipity that goes along with the item that makes NUMBER 1. Lets also be clear, I had no idea what they were when I first spotted them.
I had popped in to Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland in Cults a couple of days before pay day, around November a couple of years ago, looking for a bargain pick me up. I always head straight for the shoe shelves, then the dress section, then coats/jackets and then I look at skirts/trousers/tops/jumpers and always in that order. I remember not having a lot of time and having resigned myself in advance to only having time to peruse the shoe selection which is helpfully dotted around this particular charity shop.
A practiced eye for a good quality fabric or a noticeably good build quality, I have become able to pick out certain items from what feels like an overwhelming sartorial assault on the senses when you step in to a charity shop. Obviously, unlike high street stores, there are not ‘capsule collections’ single rails of colour played off other complimentary single rails of colour. Instead the only matching items along the rail is the line of ‘size 14’ size cubes and that’s if your lucky. Old oversized polo shirts nestle with ambitious crop tops in a confusing melange of options.
The shoe shelf is the same: black pavers loafers next to a pair of lurid platform heels originally from New Look make odd bedfellows, and yet they reside here together, waiting for a new home.
As I made whirlwind progress from shoe display to shoe display, I was suddenly stopped in my tracks by a pair of wedge ankle boots.
I’m very particular about my wedges. I don’t like a chunky wedge and, for me, a platform is a no-no. Overall, I’d not put myself in the ‘Wedge Fan’ category but I know a good pair when I see them.
I picked them up noticing an exquisite shape to the wedge overall. The I noticed the leather lining… “Hmm, expensive” I thought to myself. I turned them upside down to notice a leather sole… “Hmmm, very expensive” I mused.
I checked the price. At £25 they were not expensive, clearly having cost a lot more than that to begin with but… it was just before pay day and they weren’t the bargain I had originally sought. I exercised unusual self restraint and put them back, even after trying them on. The main issue seemed to be a restrictiveness across the front of the ankle, like the neck off the boot had been designed too small, or made specifically for small boned french ballerina’s. Now, ballerina I am not (Just ask my dad who, despite my 7 years of ‘ballet training’ as a child, still referred to me as ‘The Fairy Elephant’ whenever I was forced to don my leotard, which was most Saturdays until the age of 11. Thereafter my mum gave up that my heavy gait was not something that could be trained out of me and let me go horse riding instead) but I do have tiny ankles. Even my tiny ankles were not tiny enough, and at £25 I thought I simply couldn’t justify them.
Skip forward 3 months.
My mind had occasionally mulled over the gorgeous wedge boots I had spotted that fateful day, and each time, the memory of the restriction over the ankle had lessened. I had cast them to the ‘shoulda, woulda, coulda’ pile in my mind, a mountainous heap of all of things I probably should have bought but didn’t have the foresight and now have a tinge of regret over.
I had a small carrier bag of items to drop off at a charity shop, and I typically pick one convenient to my existing route if I’m not heading in to town shopping. The particular charity shop on my route to work was the Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland Cults store, one of my faves. I abandoned the car outside to quickly drop in the bag, before giving to temptation and thinking ‘I’ll just have a little look’.
There they were, 3 months on, the wedge boots. I couldn’t believe it! I picked them up and studied them again. Then tried them on. Yep, still a bit tight across the ankle, probably the reason for them still being here, but the charity shopping universe was calling my name and I wasn’t about to let it go to voicemail. I decided that the reason they were still here was probably because most people couldn’t do them up, let alone simply moan that they were ‘a touch tight’. This was also probably the reason that they had barely been worn, something I hadn’t previously noticed.
As I was walking up and down the shop in them, the volunteer came over and said “They’re gorgeous aren’t they?”
“Mmmm” I mumbled, still giving consideration to the heel height and my recently reconstructed knee and therefore the frivolousness of spending £25 on heels I wasn’t convinced I would ever get the chance to wear.
The volunteer continued in my absence of conversation “We were going to put them back to the warehouse last week, because we only keep boots for winter really, but they’re so gorgeous and such good quality, I thought we’d keep them a wee while longer to see if they go. I’m surprised they’re still here to be honest!”
“Me too!” I replied, considering the universes clear signal that I should buy them immediately given that only a week ago their fate hung in the balance. “I actually looked at them months ago before pay day but couldn’t justify the £25 at the time and have regretted it ever since”. This wasn’t a ploy, you understand, it was the simple truth.
“I tell you what, I’ll do them for £20 because I’m going to have to send them back next month if they don’t sell” she volunteered (pun intended).
I looked at her wide eyed. Deal.
Delighted, I bounded up to the till, paid my £20 and headed off to the car.
A few days later, I retrieved them from the back seat and was once again intrigued by the build quality, the leather lining and the leather interior. I googled the brand that was emblazoned in gold inside: Rupert Sanderson
“Never heard of him” I thought out loud, keying his name in to google on my phone. Google shopping results came up first, a huge swathe of glorious looking shoes starting at around £400! I was shocked. I decided to dig deeper in to specifically Rupert Sanderson ankle boots – I found a ‘SOLD OUT’ listing for the exact same version in grey at £580…
“Well I never did” I thought to myself, to quote my mother.
1. Rupert Sanderson ankle boots
- Manufacturer: Rupert Sanderson
- Estimated Retail Price: £580
- Link to similar: Rupert Sanderson boots start at £575 , Second hand similar boots £84 – £139
- Purchased: February 2016
- Charity Shop: Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland, Cults
Tan leather wedge ankle boots
Price Paid: £20
I’ve given them a polish this morning, as I’ve not worn them much but they had picked up the odd scuff. I’ll be honest, I’ve been terrified to touch them to fear of ruining them, but this morning I overcame my fear and got out some standard clear polish, a duster and a brush and they came up up lovely.
These are very much an autumn/winter shoe for me and this year will be the first year that my knee has truly been strong enough to withstand them.
Looking forward to styling them with skinny jeans and my wanky hat, equally that ‘touch too tight’ ankle line works great with skirts. I fancy deploying these with the pink sequin skirt.