Last weekend I attended (with great excitement and anticipation) my absolute favourite annual event, one which my mother and I count down to for months prior, which requires military precision planning and which sets my heart aflutter. It has been running for 52 years and is now the single biggest fundraising event for the Australian Red Cross. Women from all over the country attend this event, which runs on a Saturday morning in autumn. You can find the biggest names in fashion at this event – Armani, Alexander McQueen, Chloe, Fendi, Isabel Marant, Prada, Yves Saint Laurent – and nary a designer piece costs more than that Witchery dress you’ve had your eye on. The event I’m talking about is the Bindaring Red Cross Annual Clothing Sale.
Four different shopping areas cater for every type of shopper: ‘Boutique’ for new and nearly new designer labels and top quality clothing; ‘Emporium’ for vintage treasures, jewellery and beautiful eclectic accessories; ‘Op Shop’ for good quality clothing for every member of the family, all at under $10 an item; and ‘$1 a bag’ for some serious bargains with plenty of life left in them. Within the Boutique section, there are: racks of designer clothing; ‘The Edit’ which features brand new, high end pieces; and an auction for the most special items.
The first year I frequented Bindaring (back in 2007) I wandered through the madness that was the jumble sale – here, it is not uncommon to see people dragging Chinese laundry bags filled to the brim or pushing trolleys laden with bargain buys. That was the first and last time I did that because to me, the real treasures await me in the Boutique section.
Lining up from 9am with my mother and mother-in-law, the excitement builds. Amongst the three of us, we plan which items to search for and vow to keep our phones on standby. When the doors open at 10am, the surge of women (and a handful of men) is actually a bit ridiculous but who cares when you could be nabbing the bargain of the century? My mums are always very restrained whereas I get stuck right in, scouring the racks with the speed and efficiency of the Energiser Bunny. I pluck clothing in the sizes, shapes, colours and styles that would suit the three of us and when we convene, I sort through, allocating my picks as I have envisaged for each of us.
We try things on over our clothes in quieter corners of the pavilion*, putting things back that aren’t quite right, perusing the racks for forgotten gems, making final decisions about what to purchase. We are picked up, tired but elated, by my husband (who is so very thankful he has avoided the pandemonium) just after 1pm.
Some years, I have done brilliantly (my best buy to date, possibly EVER, is a MaterialByProduct dress with tags attached, retailing at $4000 for $60 – yes, I did say $4000) and other years there have been slim pickings. I’m thrilled to say this was a great year. I bought 10 items for $255 (plus two scarves and four items of jewellery for $6). That’s right. The full retail price of that Witchery dress.
So of course, I have been dying to wear my buys all week and today, I wore this stunning Paule Ka skirt to work. I nabbed the skirt for $40 when it would retail for upwards of $500. I chose it because I wanted something that would transition to a dinner this evening with some dear old friends. The pleating and structured fold on the front elevate the skirt from a simple black skirt and the heavy cotton-blend fabric lend a slightly more formal weight and feel.
I originally envisaged a blouse tucked in but something just wasn’t working for me. When I was sifting through my jumpers, I remembered I had this beautiful cropped grey cashmere jumper by the Italian design house 6267 (a label which is now defunct, but whose designers started Aquilano.Rimondi, about which I am completely obsessed). As the skirt sits high on my waist, this cropped jumper sits perfectly over the waistband. I bought the jumper on eBay for approximately US$45 two years ago (it would have easily retailed for $1,000).
I paired the skirt with opaque stockings and stretch leather boots by Cole Haan (seen first here). Due to the more dramatically folded neckline of the jumper, I wore my beautiful new Jan Logan diamond studs for simplicity and a hint of sparkle.
Stay tuned: more Bindaring buys to come!
* Tip: To avoid the mania of the small change area, make sure to wear leggings and a fitted top under your outfit, over which you can pull your selected items.