High street staple 99p Stores is being bought out for £60m. Before their new owners jack up the prices, we decided to take advantage of the fashion bargains available.
It was a challenge. There was going to be a photoshoot. We wouldn't be allowed to wear any of our own clothes, only things we'd purchased from the nearest 99p Store (which turned out to be in Balham, if you're interested). People were going to see us. We didn't want to look silly. Well, not sex offenders register silly.
Where fashion goes to die
Have you ever seen the clothing section in a 99p Store? It's a grim affair. It feels like scarf purgatory. Whilst the website promises such wonders as ladies' coats with hoods, flip-flops, and maybe even shorts, the shop itself failed to deliver and we found ourselves amidst a sea of discount winter gear. Still, we've done worse things for money1, so we quickly fashioned ourselves an outfit using only grotty cold weather accessories.
The ensemble went as follows:
Neon orange arm warmers, neon orange gloves, neon orange and black leg warmers
(99p x 3 = £2.97)
"That heel thing makes it look classier than it really is" one colleague remarked
Leg warmers are fashionable, right? Sure. They must be. We chose wisely, and rather than going for clashing colours which might make us look stupid, we co-ordinated and chose neon orange as a bold, in-your-face statement. Other available colours included neon green, neon pink, neon yellow, and neon white (somehow a thing), giving us the impression that the 80's had been sick all over them.
Two scarves: one black, one white
(99p x 2 = £1.98)
Not sure what the fireball on the tags indicates, aside from "Beware: this scarf is a fire hazard"
In an attempt to calm down the vibrancy of our limb-coverings, we plumped for a more restrained choice of scarves. Not to keep our necks warm, you understand – we had a plan for that, as you'll see later – but instead to cover ourselves up. It was becoming rapidly clear that the shop didn't sell tops, and the only trousers they had on sale were designed for 8-year-old girls. Trying to squeeze into a pair of those, and then posting the pictures on the internet, was an entirely different kettle of fish.
The scarves could be made into a sarong-type affair, or re-purposed into Braveheart-style chest wraps. Anything to hide as much of our alabaster flesh from the masses as possible, really. We bought two, and moved on.
Dappy-style hat, skull motif, white and blue, only mild staining
See? It's not bad. Shame about the... 'stuff' on it, though
This actually didn't look awful, which made a change. It came with a 'no extra charge' slightly unsettling blood-like stain on the side, indicating that it's either been ripped off the head of a man beaten unconscious, or someone got jam on it at some point in the past. Neither explanation excited us.
This is what teddy bear guts must look like
What is this? A dreamcatcher? A cat toy? A cat caught in a dreamcatcher? We don't know. It was labelled as a 'scarf', and it shares a lot of functions with a scarf (it goes round your neck, it generates a feeling of warmth), but it's not. It's just not. Look at it. What is that? Who would look at that and think 'Hey, that's what I need to spend my money on!' Lunatics, that's who.2
Red leather-esque belt
It wasn't just fake leather – it was as though the makers brought someone in to describe leather to them second-hand, and then made the belt solely off that evidence. It came with a lot of superfluous holes in it, which we liked, and in an snazzy red shade that complimented our hair. We went for a Large belt which had “36 inches” written on it, although that was the actual length of the belt and not the waist size it was intended for. Even resident skinny bloke Rob McGarr couldn't get it round his waist, so we had no chance of doing so. We went for an over-the-shoulder-look to compliment our scarf-heavy outfit.
Fireman's 'outfit', plastic
"Hello, ladies. Aroused yet?"
99p Stores have, believe it or not, a Valentine's Day section. That's a grim February the 14th if ever there was one, no? It comes with “sexy” costumes for girls, inflatable boob pillows, misspelt messages of love scrawled on plastic hearts, and... this. According to the packet, this is an outfit for a fireman, but that's clearly a lie.
Indeed, the packaging actually states that you should keep it away from naked flame, and that it's just for fun. Glad to hear they've got their priorities sorted out. But they're right – this isn't intended for use in fighting fires. It's not really intended for use in erotica, either, as all the items within – red hot pants, black braces, reflective velcro cuffs and a hat, of sorts - are fashioned from cheap, uncomfortable plastic. Like fetish gear that's not actually anyone's fetish.
Still, the hot pants basically qualified as trousers, so we gamely popped the outfit it in our basket. All told, wearing them looked better than just standing there with our balls hanging out, so you should be thankful.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Watcher's Guide, 1998 (First Edition), slight damage
Oh David Boreanaz, we'll always love you. And Sarah Michelle Gellar, she's alright too
We had a quid spare, so we had a look over the literature section to find something worth spending our hard-earned cash on. In addition to some truly awful-looking PC games and a tome in which Carol Vorderman instructs you on how to lose cellulite, we found this almost entirely undamaged copy of the companion to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It's sort of charming, in a 'shopping after the apocalypse' sort of way.
Inexplicably this was printed in 1998, which means that this book has spent the last 14 years unsold. Just, you know, sitting there. Waiting to be bought. We picked it up and leafed through on the tube on the way to our photoshoot –
Put it all together and...
Did you know Alyson Hannigan is, in fact, “very outgoing, unlike her character Willow” and has a Japanese Kanji tattooed on her lower back? Well, you do now
Yeah. We're fairly impressed with ourselves, considering what we had to work with. The scarves are held in place by a bulldog clip, and everything else is just sort of... hanging off. One other thing – boxer shorts, barely visible, are model's own. We didn't want to have to wear those plastic hot pants without some protection. We're not sorry about that.
So, can you dress yourself for a tenner using only a 99p Store? Yes. Technically. Legally, we are “dressed” in that we wouldn't be arrested for breaking indecent exposure laws. In every other sense of the word: no. Maybe if we tried some other shops, perhaps, but not like this. Not like this.
May God have mercy on our souls.
1 We haven't! We really haven't. This is it. This is the worst thing we've ever done
2 Lunatics and, to be fair, us