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26 Sept 2022

Thrifty drag queen reveals how she buys her fabulous fashion second-hand to save money – including pink PVC thigh-high boots for under £40

Thrifty drag queen reveals how she buys her fabulous fashion second-hand to save money – including pink PVC thigh-high boots for under £40

A glamorous drag queen is leading the way for affordable and sustainable – but still fabulous – fashion by purchasing pre-loved clothes to wear for her performances.

Cherry Allen, 19, hopes more people will swap high street fashion for second-hand items and believes thrifty shopping is becoming trendy.

Cherry, a transgender woman who lives in Nottingham, East Midlands, said: “With the current cost of living crisis, everyone is struggling financially, drag queens included, so buying vintage and second-hand is such a great way to save money.”

But that doesn’t mean compromising on her style.

Cherry said: “You’ll also be surprised by the pieces you find – there are so many unique things available on places like Gumtree and in charity shops that you’d never find from fast fashion brands.

“I always look to buy second-hand or search through charity shops to get vintage fashion that I can make into my own. It’s important to be authentic to you and your story.”

Cherry, who is due to begin studying Fashion Branding and Promotion at  Nottingham Trent University in September, first became aware of drag aged 13.

She said: “I was scrolling through Netflix one day and found RuPaul’s Drag Race.

“I didn’t know what it was and I’d never heard of drag but the show looked so pretty with such bright colours so I decided to start watching it and immediately fell in love with drag.”

She added: “I practised a lot in my bedroom with my makeup and listening to music to practise dance routines.”

Three years on, she was ready to make her public debut.

She said: “At 16, I performed in my first drag show in a day bar with an audience of about 20 people and I was so nervous.”

She added: “My mum and my gran came to support me during my 15 minute performance and it was really nice to know they were in the audience.

“I wore a pink Barbie bodysuit, which I bought second-hand, while lip-syncing Dangerous Woman by Ariana Grande on stage.”

From the very beginning, Cherry adored performing and she remembered: “It was crazy and so much fun.”

She added: “The good thing about drag is that you can just have fun, have a dance, sing a song and enjoy the experience.

“Some friends were there too, and they had a fun time and were really proud of me.”

And Cherry’s outfit for that first show was put together on a tight budget.

She said: “At the time, I had a paper round which I made £20 a week from so I had very little money to put an outfit together.

“I had two outfits for the night – and each of them cost under £20. One was the Barbie bodysuit with boots and the other was a red slip dress, which were both from Gumtree.

“I had to be thrifty with my money as I really didn’t have much, so shopping second-hand became a way for me to get more value for my money.”

Now there’s no stopping Cherry. So far this year, she has done four performances, with more lined up, and she also shares her drag looks on social media.

She said: “I’m always creating new outfits for Instagram.

“A recent creation of mine was a wedding dress made from pre-loved fake floral bouquets and mosquito nets that cost me just £20 in total. ”

And she loves vintage looks too, with clothes from 2000 back in vogue.

She said: “I’m also very into trends and right now Y2K is back in fashion – the slogan T-Shirts and low-rise jeans and juicy couture tracksuits.

“There are  a lot of replicas that you find online but if you want to find genuine clothes, vintage and second-hand shops are the best places to look.”

Pre-loved websites have provided some of Cherry’s favourite wardrobe pieces.

She said: “I think my favourite item that I’ve found were my pink PVC thigh-high boots which I bought from Gumtree.

“They were one of my first purchases and I can’t remember how much they cost, but they were definitely under £40.”

She added: “I’ve had them so long that I’ve had to get them re-heeled a couple of times because I just can’t part with them.

“I also got a pair of pink platform heels from Gumtree for £15 which I love too.”

And Cherry says that second-hand shopping is important to her for eco reasons too.

She said: “Fast fashion is very bad for the environment so shopping second-hand is very important for sustainability.

“It’s also a lot cheaper than buying new clothes and, with the cost of living rising, we all have less in our pockets to spend.”

She also thinks it is becoming more fashionable to be sustainable, saying: “My friends all shop second-hand and we go to vintage stores together.”

She added: “It’s definitely something more people are becoming conscious of and choosing to do.

“Shopping for pre-loved clothes doesn’t mean you can’t find some great pieces – there are really unique items out there to discover.

“It’s all about reducing waste. As they say, ‘one person’s trash is another person’s treasure’.”

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