Top Blue Vanilla at New Look (similar) | Tapered Trousers St. Gemma’s Hospice Charity Shop | Shoes Primark (similar) | Watch Larsson & Jennings | Basket St. Gemma’s Hospice Charity Shop | Flowers Kate Mell | Photography Matt McCormick
Welcome to the 411 on how you should be charity shopping. There’s so many pre-conceptions about it that it’s time to dispel the myth. “Won’t they smell” (have you ever heard of a washing machine), “Someone probably died in that” (okay, a little grim but pretty sure they didn’t!) “They won’t have anything current” (you’ll be very surprised!) – these are just a few of the misjudged and scathing comments I’ve heard when I’ve told people who something I was wearing was from a charity shop. I think once people get over their repulsion of charity shopping with these handy tips, it might just make you think about your next purchase.
2. SHOP IN AFFLUENT AREAS
This is one of the golden rules of charity shopping, chances are, you will find some absolute designer gems by heading to more affluent areas with charity shops. It’s not always a given but if you are happy to shop a little further away from your doorstep or are lucky enough to live in said areas, you will almost certainly find something that will catch your attention. I’ve walked away with many pieces that were originally from Reiss, Hobbs and The White Company to name but a few.
3. MAKE REGULAR VISITS
Yep, it sounds crazy but I visit my local charity shops pretty much every day, or every other day. I find these places such treasure troves that I like to make sure I’m not missing anything. You’ll find some stores have changeover days too, so they’ll be a lot more stock hitting the shop floors so try get in the know about which day that is and fingers crossed, you will find something you love!
4. LOOK HARD
Things won’t just jump out at you, I mean that would be crazy if clothes could jump, am I right? But seriously, if you wanna do this, you gotta get a little serious. Be ready to rummage through every rail and every rack, because that spectacular piece will be hiding and it will be waiting to be found and if it isn’t you who gets their grubby mitts on it, it’s likely it will fall in to someone elses hands later on!
5. GET CREATIVE
Okay, this requires a little bit of imagination. Ever find something that’s not quite right? Well, why not buy it and make it right for you. That denim jacket that has some face, dimante applique on it? Pull it off and replace with some super cool patches – they are all the rage at the moment and you’d have a unique outfit that you made with your own fair hands? Paige is a great person to follow for inspiration in this department!
6. GET FRIENDLY
Getting your face known to the staff members and being friendly will only help you along the way. Strike up a conversation, let the team know what style and type of pieces you are looking for and sometimes, if they get something in they might hold it back for you to take a look at before it goes on the shop floor. Remember to be quick though as you don’t want them missing out on a sale, remember this is a charity shop after all and every little helps!
7. IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE CLOTHES
Yep, you heard me. Make sure you always check the housewares section too. I often find really cheap vases for my flowers. I’ve also picked up gorgeous artwork and prints that are still hanging on my living room wall, years later. I feel like they always have more of a story when they come from a charity shop! The cute little basket in these photos was only 99p and will look lovely on my window sill with fresh herbs and mint in it.
8. CHARITY VINTAGE FAIRS
A lot of charities are jumping on to the good ol’ vintage fair. Everyone loves the word “vintage” and chances are the items have been picked out because they fit the criteria and have that bit of extra je ne sais quoi about them. St Gemmas Hospice is holding a Vintage Fair in Leeds this weekend which should be worth a punt at – I think there will be some really cool pieces to find!
9. YOU’LL HAVE GOOD DAYS AND BAD DAYS
You have to take it with a pinch of salt. Some days I walk out of the shops with bags full of high-end, designer stuff and other days I come away with zilch which leaves me feeling less than inspired but by not expecting miracles you won’t let it get you down. Just head back another day with a fresh outlook and get rummaging again.
10. TRY THINGS ON
Okay, I even did this once and I still bought something even though it only just fit. And, I mean it just fit (read: I’ll need cutting out of them next time I put them on.) Don’t make the same mistake as I did, you
do don’t always need those Whistles, spotty cullottes (ahem.) just because they are £5. Be selective (see point 1) and only buy things that fit you or can be altered for a reasonable price.
11. REMEMBER ITS FOR CHARITY
If you’ve got the bargain of the century, why not slip an extra £1 in the charity jar on the till. Every single penny helps. And also, remember to make regular trips to the charity shops when you have a clear out too. Please tick the gift aid donation box too! That helps them not get taxed by the government which means they get more money from the sales of your donations.
So, have I changed your mind about charity shopping? What’s the best bargain you’ve ever found when you’ve had a rummage in your local charity shop?
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I'm Bee. 27 year old who is finally starting to understand herself. A Scorpio that's too nice to use that sting in her tail, regularly found searching for holidays or online shopping. Happiest when being fed, travelling & spending time with Mr C.