We've teamed up with Mel of Styled by Mel, she's been having a great time mooching around her local Charity Shops including Oxfam, Cancer Research UK, The Children's Society and Hospice of St Francis. She's managed to create 12 new looks with 8 pre-loved items. Check out the video for Mel's thrifty tips while charity shopping.
This Old Thing…
When was the last time you had a little mooch around a charity shop? For some of you it will no doubt be a regular thing and for others less so - or perhaps you never have!
Reasons for frequenting charity shops will vary. Maybe a limited clothing budget dictates that you shop ‘preloved’ because it’s significantly cheaper, or maybe you’re a treasure hunter who likes to find unusual or vintage clothes to complement the existing basics in your wardrobe.
Perhaps you’re saving up for something special, like a holiday or Christmas - apologies for throwing in the ‘C’ word there without prior warning but it is less than 6 weeks away (sorry, you probably didn’t want to hear that either).
Anyway, regardless of your reasons to charity shop, or not as the case may be, here are some thrifty tips that could up your shopping game.
It’s so disorganized, I don’t know where to start
Yes, that may well have been the case once upon a time but the majority of charity shops nowadays sort their rails into colour, size and sometimes by occasion too – like ball gowns and wedding outfits. Some shops may also have a separate rail for premium clothing which consists of designer and high end high street brands.
Brand new clothes, in a charity shop? Really?
Yes. Well, there will always be people that donate clothes which they’ve never worn that still have all the tags on – so keep an eye out for them. But some charity shops, i.e. Scope, have a deal with Boden whereby they regularly donate sample items and end of line clothes and shoes at a fraction of the cost.
Location, location, location
It’s worth visiting the charity shops in affluent areas as you’re more likely to find high end and designer clothes that you otherwise couldn’t afford. I’ve also found that the charity shops which are close to good parking facilities tend to have a much wider selection of clothes, shoes and bric-a-bac because it’s much easier for people to donate. They also tend to have a good turnaround of stock as they get more frequent donations. Which reminds me, because the stock is ever-changing, keep popping back as you never know what’s just been dropped off!
If you’re looking for something in particular, it can be hard to stay focussed in any shop, much less a charity shop where there is so much going on, but it’s not impossible. If you’re looking for a certain colour top, then hone in only on that colour – and you can do this whether the rails are in colour order or not. Same goes for a skirt or jacket – just focus on the task in hand. And if you spot something on a mannequin that you like the look of, don’t be afraid to ask if you can try it on – it’s there to be sold!
(If you’re only there for a browse, then let your mind wander and have a good mooch – no need for any focus whatsoever!)
Look in the men’s section – you might find your dream jumper or shirt.
Don’t dismiss a brilliant dress because it’s too long – get it taken up, or wear a belt with it so you can hoik some of the extra length over it. As you can see this dress drowns me, even though it’s a size 6, but with a belt, it’s fantastic and way more flattering.
Size doesn’t matter
Well, sometimes it does, but often it doesn’t! As you know, sizes vary massively from retailer to retailer, so it’s always worth trying a garment on regardless of the number on the label. Case in point, the coat I’m wearing here is a size 14 (I’m a 10) but I like the oversized, more casual look.
Dedicated follower of fashion
You can still be fashionable even when you’re charity shop shopping. Have a good look around the high street shops first and make a mental note of the trends – e.g. floral, red, burgundy, mustard, metallics, frills, prince of wales check – and then look out for them in the charity shops. They’ll be there, don’t worry about that.
Back to basics
When it comes to basics like vest tops and t-shirts, keep a check on the price. A charity shop might price up a basic garment at somewhere between £2.50 and £5 and it’s very likely that you can get a brand new basic t-shirt for a similar price on the high street.
The items that are always worth seeking out in charity shops are;
- Designer labels and high end fashion
- Homemade items – you can’t beat unique
- Faux fur coats – new ones are usually in the region of £75 upwards but you can snaffle one from a charity shop for around £25
- Leather belts – you can get a fabulous, real leather belt for about £3
- Costume jewellery and accessories which can turn an ordinary outfit into something unique.
- Curtains – you may not want curtains, but is the fabric so amazing that you could have it made into a show stopping, swirling skirt for the Christmas party (sorry, I said it again!)?
- In fact, just finding something you love that you couldn’t find, or afford, on the high street is treasure in itself!
What’s in the box
Have you got old stuff squirrelled away in storage or hidden under the bed?
Maybe it’s time to look through that too as you could unearth some hidden gems that could wow your wardrobe! That old 70’s jumpsuit of mum’s, dad’s old Rolling Stones t-shirt and those block heel boots that you kept just in case they came back into fashion again – dig ‘em out!
Do you have any charity shopping tips that you would like to share? Please do leave in the comments.