Top Ten Tips for Scoring in Charity Shops

There is many reasons why more young people should scour the streets for bargains in charity shops. It’s cheap, cheerful and my most wacky wonderful garments have come from the rails. Of course, you shouldn’t just shop for selfish reasons; Fast fashion is on the rise and what better way to reduce material and poor labour conditions than donating money to charity? Understandably, people like the idea of finding a badass Levis’ denim jacket or a vintage 50s skirt but have no idea where to start. For that very reason, I have compiled this list of top tips that will hopefully be of use to you newbies out there.

  1. Do try things on. Even though most items are only a couple of quid it’s always best to grin and bear any peculiar smells and try things on in the changing rooms. For this reason if you know you are going on a thrifting mission wear clothes that are easy to change out of or put clothes over to make trying on things a bit less of a faff.
  2. Don’t just look for brands. It’s can be great knowing that you love clothing by a specific brand or designer but often it can end up being hell on earth rooting through racks for hours looking for that one handbag by Gucci. It’s unrealistic to expect to go into a second hand shop and find designer brands so it’s best to accept the fact that you probably won’t come away with anything very high end. Instead ignore labels and just judge the clothing on whether you think it suits your personal style. I have now got several skirts from M&S that I would never have bought new but I love to bits just because I wasn’t too snobby about brands. That being said you may stumble across that handbag one day who knows!
  3. Ignore sizes. Often sizes depend on the brand and how much the item has been worn so it’s best to disregard labels, as they can be misleading. Try anything that you like and that looks like it will fit nicely. If you have no time to try it on or just really can’t be bothered, don’t panic if it is a bit of a loose fit once you get home – just follow tip 8 or donate it back to another charity shop.
  4. Look through accessories, books, music and décor. Charity shops are definitely not just for clothing so don’t forgot about the arts and accessories. These shops are usually a godsend for cheesy 80s 7 inch singles as well as alternative noughties CDs and very inexpensive books. As for décor, don’t be put off by the millions of ceramic cats as they’re could be a work of art among them (or maybe just more bloody cats).
  5. Take a leap out of your comfort zone. My friends and I sometimes challenge each other to try on the ugliest thing in the shop and on several occasions it looked so uniquely gross we have just had to buy it. These purchases are the most fun for both fancy dress parties and everyday wear. Hawaiian shirts, faux fur coats and fedoras are thoroughly recommended.
  6. Do look through both the men’s and the women’s section. It’s 2018 the year of throwing away gender norms including within fashion so take a rummage through all sections of the store – hell even the children’s. Sometimes items are meant to be unisex or have been put into the wrong section so it won’t hurt to look. Also typically all the best baggy jumpers and band tees are hiding away in the men’s section.
  7. Do donate. The only way these shops get more stock is if people donate and it’s a great way to help a charity if you don’t have much money to give. Simply have a spring clean and take anything you don’t want down to your nearest shop (which you can search online if you’re not sure whereabouts it is). An added bonus is that you’ll have more wardrobe room for clothes!
  8. If it doesn’t fit- alter it. If you’re really committed to being a cheapskate it maybe handy to invest in a diddy sewing machine off of Ebay to alter any loose fitting clothes you buy or just up cycle any out of date pieces. Or if, like me, you’re too lazy and inept to do lots of sewing, safety pins, hair bands and hand stitches may be your new best friends.
  9. Have a cheeky look at trends. Want to try the newest trend but not sure if you’ll look deranged in a kimono dressing gown out in public? That’s where charity shopping can come in handy. Buying trendy items that will go out of fashion in a few months won’t damage your wallet too much if they’re from a charity shop and you can always re-donate them if you are certain the trend isn’t for you.
  10. Always look for vintage and retro clothing. Forgot vintage shops, charity shops are definitely the best place to find vintage and retro clothing at a reasonable price. Some charity shops even have a special vintage section, which will be half the price of other places. Can’t tell what’s vintage or retro and what’s not? If the label is sewed in and a material like cotton it will probably be older than a garment with a plastic or papery label.

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