So often when I wear my latest charity shop bargains, I am met with remarks such as “Wow! How do you find such bargains?” and “You have the best luck in charity shops!” Luck, however, doesn’t necessarily come into it. From volunteering at my local Age UK between the ages of 15 and 17, as well as being someone who fulfils the Yorkshire stereotype of being stingy, I have developed what could be called a knack for finding charity shop fashion.
Here are some of my tips so that you can save pennies, look fabulous, support good causes and promote sustainability...
Yes, it may take you time to trawl through charity shop after charity shop. But patience here really is key. The chances of you finding something both that you like and that fits you are slim, so you may have to go through a few shops before you find “the one”. But don’t worry, it’s out there somewhere. Thus it is best to head to a part of town where there are multiple charity shops in close proximity to enable you to do maximum browsing with minimum effort. Sometimes you even need to accept that it’s time to call it a day, but most charity shops rotate their stock every two to four weeks, meaning that visiting a month later could be rewarding. If you happen to be passing a charity shop, pop in for a few minutes – it is usually very quick to sort through the clothes on offer as they are often displayed by type (dresses, blouses, shorts) and size, meaning that you can very quickly assess whether they have anything on offer that takes your fancy. A brief pop into the “everything £3 or less” Cancer Research on Grainger Street on the way back from the Centre for Life Christmas market rewarded me with a stunning New Look lace black dress for just £3. Best still, the dress was completely unworn and still bore the original New Look label which priced it at £20; from my time as a volunteer this is something I encountered many times. Whether the wrong size, an unwanted gift, or simply forgotten about, many people donate brand-new clothes still with their original labels on, so don’t be put off by the stereotype of charity shops simply stocking tatty, torn and stained second-hand clothes.
Shop in posh areas (even if you’re not posh yourself)
It follows that posh people who own posh clothes live in posh areas – and when these posh people are finished with their posh clothes, they donate them to charity shops in these posh areas. If you happen to be in the “posh” side of town, pop into a charity shop there. True, the postcode is often reflected in the price tag even at charity shops, but this means that you can find barely-worn designer-label clothes costing a fraction of the initial price. Even at charity shops in more run-of-the-mill areas, expensive labels crop up from time to time.
Due to the slim chance of finding an item of clothing both that is in your size and that matches your fashion taste, it is essential to be flexible when it comes to buying clothes in charity shops. Is there any chance that you could expand your size range? Even if you can’t sew yourself, the cost of buying a pair of good-quality but too long jeans from a charity shop and then taking them to a seamstress to have their hem taken up is dwarfed by the cost of buying a new pair of jeans from Topshop.