Fancy dress hunting at the Princess May School car boot – and ideas for you

When browsing the wares on offer at the Princess May school car boot in Stoke Newington this weekend, we met East Londoner Alistair White, 25, who looked really pleased with his purchase.

“I’m off on a stag do next weekend and the theme is English gent, so I was looking for something just like this,” he told us. “I haggled it down to £11 from £15, but then saw a similar jacket at another stall for only a fiver – I was relieved when it turned out to be too small for me because I hadn’t missed out on a better deal!”

Alistair got himself a great bargain, and this got us thinking about car boot sales as a great source of fancy dress items. Here are four ideas for fancy dress for 2012 – do you have unwanted items that fit the criteria? Now’s the time to get a good price!

English gent

Have you got flat caps, pork pie hats, waistcoats, walking canes, pipes, gentlemen’s umbrellas and false moustaches? Get them to the car boot ahead of the annual Chap Olympiad on July 7 and 8 – there’ll be lots of fine men needing your attire!

Superheroes

Avengers Assemble, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises: that’s a potent trio of superhero blockbusters hitting the cinemas this year. All sorts of superhero paraphernalia is good here, from retro children’s toys bearing the superhero brand to capes and masks and appropriate accessories.

The Roaring Twenties

Baz Luhrman’s adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby isn’t out till Christmas, but we’re already swooning over pictures from the set of the film, starring Carey Mulligan and Leonardo Di Caprio (above). Pile up the beads and pearls and feathers – everything art deco. Gatsby’s a gift to themed parties and fancy dress.

A very British summer of Olympics and Jubilee celebrations

We’re expecting street parties and bunting for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in June, so now’s a great time to shift vintage crockery for those tea parties. Outfit wise, you’ll do well with jewels, hats and handbags for those wanting to pay homage to the monarch – even armed forces merchandise for those wanting to mimic Princes William and Harry.

For the Olympics, it’s time to sell your vintage trainers. For both major events, anything branded with the Union Flag is a surefire hit.

Helen Lawson


Car boot entertainment: swing dancing in Brixton

It was a soggy Saturday afternoon in Brixton when we came across the Swingland dancers on the site of the Brixton flea market and car boot. Instead of wandering off back towards the foody fun of Brixton Village (hello, Franco Manca pizza), we got sucked in by the skills and enthusiasm on show.

Handily, the dancers were doing their thing right next to the cake stalls who’d been partaking in the Brixton Bake Off that day. So, not only did we stand around gawping at the fleet of foot, we also ended up buying cake. Twice.

Now, you’re probably not going to be able to hire a dance troupe for every car boot you park in – though lucky you, if so! But you can easily bake a few cakes to lure in hungry customers, and they’ll hopefully end up admiring your wares as well as your baking skills. Check out carbooted’s guide to what you need to do before you sell food at car boot sales here.

If baking’s not your thing, then there’s another easy way to get the attention of passers-by: music. A battery-powered radio is your friend here, and you’ll be especially popular if you happen to be tuned into live commentary when there’s a big game on. This stylish Roberts model is only £17.30 from John Lewis.

Brixton car boot sales are held every Sunday from 7am.

Helen Lawson


Inspiration for car boot presentation – three great ideas from the Battersea Boot Sale

It’s all very well taking your stuff to the car boot to sell, but it might be difficult to attract buyers to your amazing selection of goods if they can’t see what’s on show.

At Sunday’s Battersea Car Boot saleas recommended to us by car booting expert Guy Roberts – we spotted three great ways of presenting your stall:

– Record boxes divided by genre and type of vinyl make it easy for music fans to flick through:

– Pictures on show as if they’re in a gallery let the buyer envisage how the frame will look in their own home:

– Crockery neatly displayed in matching sets shows off your great collection, and the buyer can do the mixing and matching themselves:

We also overheard a seller proudly telling a customer that the children’s clothes she had for sale were arranged by age group – a simple but effective way of making it easy for your buyers to browse.

Overall, the Battersea Boot Sale is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon, with friendly sellers. The organisers let you re-enter if you get your hand stamped, and there were lots of well-behaved dogs enjoying a saunter around the stalls, too. The midday opening means it’s fab for lovers of lazy Sunday mornings.  It was difficult to resist the old-fashioned cook books at many different stalls, from publishers such as Vogue and Good Housekeeping, because good cooking never goes out of fashion. My favourite buy of the day? We picked up these 1960s Brands Hatch programmes – complete with results written in pencil from the race itself – for 50p apiece.

Helen Lawson


Poll update: Boris v Ken, the results

Londoners and car booters have spoken: Boris Johnson has come out victorious.

With 55% of the vote, Boris was your ideal car boot mate but having been elected for another four year Mayoral term, chances are he probably won’t be available for a car boot any time soon.

Ken, anyone?

Sophie Tighe


Poll: Who would you rather car boot with, Boris or Ken?

As we await the results of the London Mayoral Election, the Mail on Sunday have conducted a unique poll of their own asking, among other things, ‘Who would get the best car boot sale bargain?’

Surprisingly, Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls came out on top with 26 per cent of the vote – no doubt his reputation as an ‘attack dog’ would help him hold his own out there in the tough world of car boot negotiations.

Unsurprisingly, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg came last with a mere seven per cent of the vote – but with today’s results across the country, this poll may be the least of the Lib Dem leader’s worries.

What do you think? Take part in our special London-based poll and let us know: who you would rather have on your car boot team?

Sophie Tighe


Car boot sales: the fashionista’s favourite for inspiration

We know that car boot sales are brilliant for a rummage and the thrill of a special find – it’s their universal appeal, after all!

In this interview on the Laura Ashley blog, Stylist magazine’s fashion director Alexandra Fullerton shares her love for a good car boot, saying: “Entertaining is one of my favourite activities, along with gardening, baking and rooting around car boot sales to buy other people’s junk (a hobby my husband despairs of!)”

Beautiful photos accompany the piece, showing off Fullerton’s North Essex home, complete with her thrifty car boot finds on display.

Fullerton’s beautiful home is great inspiration for good buys. We reckon you could easily recreate her look by keeping an eye out at your local car boot sale for items such as quirky coat hooks, patterned glassware and printed fabrics.

Helen Lawson


Boot sale banter: ‘truly priceless’ and worth £2.5 million

It’s the reason most of us wake up at the crack of dawn every weekend, load up the car with wares to sell and drive down to our local car boot sale: the banter. 

It’s a community feeling you can’t get buying and selling on eBay, as our experts have attested to. But, according to this article by The Scotsman, car boots are booming with Britons spending around £2.5 million a year at car boot sales.

Those figures aren’t to be sniffed at.

We want to know: what’s the best bargain you’ve picked up at a car boot this year?

Sophie Tighe