Thrifty Fashion | Five Top Tips for Successful Charity Shopping

When it comes to shopping, 99% of the time I pride myself on hunting down bargains like a boss, charging through charity shops gathering old tat really lovely and useful stuff as I go. OK, so admittedly not everything I bring home is a huge triumph, but after several proud years of shopping second-hand, I’ve pretty much got it down to a fine art. Charity shops are an absolutely goldmine, whether you’re looking for vintage or just searching for a bargain, and there’s the added bonus that they help the environment AND people who might need it *punches air* If you’re new to the whole pre-loved thing though, it can be a bit daunting, so I’ve put together my five tops tips on getting the most out of the charity shops. Carrier bags at the ready!

1. Go Often

Charity shops aren’t like bog standard high street stores – they get new stuff in every day. Every. Single. Day. That’s like, a whole world of new stuff just waiting to be explored every twenty-four hours. Obviously everything has to be checked first, so sometimes you’ll have to wait for a bit before you can get your sticky little fingers on those Arcopal teacups, but on the whole, stock turnover is pretty quick. Going twice a week is a good idea if you can manage it – and Tuesday is always a great day for bargain hunting, as most people get rid of stuff at the weekend.

2. Make Friends with the Staff

OK, so you don’t have to be BFFs, but it’s always a good idea to become familiar with the staff and volunteers – they’re the ones who get to rummage through the deliveries first, so they’re your ticket to success. Be friendly and polite, take the time to ask how they are and eventually you’ll find them remembering your name, putting stuff by and getting the kettle on when you go in. Or something….

3. Learn some Basic Needlework Skills

I’m not a great seamstress, and I’m incredibly impatient, but I know enough to get by; I can take in a waist, shorten a hem and add elastic to a waistband (and really, who needs silly old darts or tucks anyway?). You don’t need to be a contestant on the Great British Sewing Bee, but knowing the basics will help you turn a frumpy, tatty dress into a frock fit for a Queen – oh, and learning to darn might sound out of date, but it’s a great skill to have when battling those moth holes….

4. Be Fearless

The best thing about buying from charity shops is that everything is significantly cheaper than (most of) the shops, so it’s a good time to experiment and try things you wouldn’t usually look twice at. Go for a colour you don’t normally wear, if you’re a jeans-lover, road test a skirt and if you’re a fan of everything plain, go wild with the prints. This tip is pretty much how I ended up with the shocking eighties jacket pictured above, which makes my Husband start lunging around the room shouting, ‘Mr Motivator!’ whenever I get it out of the cupboard. Humph.

5. Think Outside the Box

When it comes to charity shopping, it’s always a good idea to go with an open mind; something old and unloved pretty much ALWAYS has the power to become something fabulous; an XXL mens shirt makes a great shirtdress once you remove the sleeves and cinch the waist, a retro patterned duvet cover makes great fabric for simple tops and tunics, and there’s not much you can’t do with a pair of jeans!

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