In recent months, i have become a huge fan of charity shops. As in, if i don’t go into a charity shop at least once a week, i begin to have withdrawal symptoms. Cold sweats, crying, the lot.
Okay, a tad dramatic, but my shopping habits have totally changed and it’s all down to charity shops. The buzz i get when i find something amazing in a charity shop is unlike any other.
I figured it was about time that i share my love of charity shops on my blog – i do plenty of it on instagram, but if you don’t follow me there, you’ll have no idea that it’s even a part of my life.
I’ve rounded up my favourite tips, tricks and also will be answering some of your questions from instagram that were sent in last week. If there’s anything else you want to know or anything you think i’ve missed, just drop me a message!
Why you should shop in charity shops
Let’s start from the top. Why should you start shopping in charity shops? It might be something you’ve never considered before and it might not even be something you’re interested in. Yet.
It’s better for the environment. It feels as though the world is slowly but surely becoming more and more conscious of the environment and what actually impacts it. Fast fashion is one of the big baddies for polluting the planet, so we need to try and stop.
In charity shops, everything is pre-owned and nothing, or very little, is new. Once every few weeks i’ll find something with the tags still on. It’s a very economical way to shop and you get your fill of fast fashion labels without adding to the never-ending landfill of clothes.
The money goes to charity. Bit of an obvious one as they are called charity shops, but when you buy your goodies, the money is going to a good cause instead of being funnelled back into these fast fashion brands that pollute the environment.
This will maybe sound bad, but it doesn’t even cross my mind that i’m giving to charity when i shop in these places. It does make me feel way less guilty about it, though.
It’s cheap. My favourite thing about charity shops is the bargains you can get. I think the most i’ve paid for something in a charity shop is £10 – a leather jacket from Topshop, perfect condition. It’s baffling.
You can pick up some really amazing bargains from the stores you usually shop in. You don’t have to compromise on labels just because you’re in a charity shop. I have a lot of things from Topshop that i’ve thrifted!
You find one of a kind pieces. The thing about charity shops is it’s all old stock from high street stores, which isn’t going to be everyones taste. People love trends, i know that, but a lot of things you pick up in a charity shop will be one-of-a-kind because of how old it is.
It makes it difficult to be a “fashion influencer” because you can’t link people to what you’re wearing, but it definitely makes you more of an individual. My style has really developed since shopping in charity shops because it’s more than just what’s trendy at the moment.
You might find exactly what you’re looking for, but much cheaper. Story time! I was desperate for a checked blazer. I felt i needed it to complete my wardrobe. I didn’t want to buy new, but i was willing to if i couldn’t find the right one on Depop or in a charity shop.
Low and behold, the perfect checked blazer popped up in a charity shop. From New Look originally. For £6. I was prepared to drop £30 on a brand new one. If you hold out for a little longer and search properly, your purse will thank you in the long run.
My tips and tricks for charity shopping
Since i’ve been charity shopping for quite a few months now, i would consider myself a bit of an expert. I thought i’d share my tips and tricks for anyone who wants to get started and feels a bit overwhelmed.
When you first go in, it can be a bit overwhelming. Things can feel messy and a few times, i would just walk straight back out. Once you get past that, though, it’s the most rewarding thing ever.
Get to know the stores. I started off going in and out of every single charity shop i came across. Eventually, you find your favourites and the ones that never let you down, no matter which town or city you’re in. Each charity shop has a different vibe and will stock different things.
My favourites are Cancer Research, Barnardos and CHAS. When i do those really good instagram charity hauls, the things i find are almost always from these three. I find them really well laid out and get the best labels and best bargains.
Take your time. Kind of following on from the previous point, really your time in charity shops. Things won’t be laid out as well as well as in your high street stores and you have to dig a little more for the bargains.
Most charity shops will be laid out by colour and size. So you’ll have a section of black clothes, starting at size 6 and going up. I find it really satisfying – they look well laid out and it’s easy to find your size in different sections. Normal shops stress me out now.
Try things on. This is my golden rule for charity shopping. Everything is secondhand and will most likely have been worn before, meaning it could be slightly misshapen or stretched larger than it says on the label.
Most charity shops will have a changing room. Some are limited to three items at a time and you might have to ask for access. The one time i didn’t try before i bought, the trousers were way too long and not my style when they were on. Loved them on the hanger, not so much on me.
Don’t overpay. It’s all stuff that is already worn. You might get lucky and come across something with the tags still on, but it’s extremely rare. Charity shops are supposed to be cheap, so don’t feel bad if you think something is too expensive!
I found a Zara top in a charity shop once. It was gorgeous and totally my style. It still had the tags on, and it was being sold for £16. In Zara? Fab, i’ll take it. In a charity shop? Not a chance. I got a leather jacket in perfect condition for a tenner.
The more you shop, the more you’ll realise which ones do the best bargains. My favourite three are also the cheapest ones and things are rarely over £10. That’s the kind of price point you’d expect from a charity shop, and it’s totally okay to stand by that.
Shop outside the trends. If you’re going into charity shops to find the latest trends and something that fits with what’s hot right now, you might struggle. I’m guilty of label shopping and get way too excited when i find something from Zara or Monki.
Trends do recycle so you might get lucky. The real bargains are the one of a kind pieces. I’ve really come into my own style since i started charity shopping and stopped paying attention to trends – it’s important to find timeless pieces that you’ll want to wear over and over again.
Answering your questions
I asked on instagram if anyone had any specific questions related to charity shopping, and i got a few so i thought i’d answer them here! I covered a few of these things up above but if you’re only interested in the quick answers, this part is for you.
How do you find decent shops? I kind of answered this one already but it’s trial and error. It’s taken me a few months to find out what my favourite ones are and where the best bargains are. Go into all of them over the course of a month or so and you’ll find out pretty quickly which ones you look forward to going into!
Where did you get that haul?! I post a lot of charity shop hauls over on my instagram, the most recent one consisting of a Monki dress and Nobody’s Child dress with the tags still on! That particular haul was from CHAS, one near my house. The best haul i’ve ever done, i think.
What are your favourite shops? I also answered this one up above but my favourite charity shops are CHAS, Barnardos and Cancer Research. I find them the most well laid out, tidiest and most reasonably priced. They all also carry a lot of good, recognisable labels!
Finding your size – luck or do you alter things? It’s totally luck. I go straight to my size on the railings and only check larger sizes for things like jumpers and jackets. I’m not great at DIY and i’d love to be able to sew and alter clothes – i think i’d find a lot more bargains if i was able to.
How do you avoid getting stressed at the sight of a proper jumble sometimes? If things are like folded on top of hangers and just draped all over the place, i normally won’t bother. Thankfully my local ones are kept really tidy and well organised, which i think most will be. The shop assistants are really, really good at keeping things presentable and making you want to shop there.
Do you look for specific items/looks or do you have an open mind? I definitely go in with an open mind. I’ll often have something specific i want to look out for and if i find it, then great! But i tend to go in and browse everything to find things i like or that fit my style. It’s hard to find specific things in charity shops, you never know what’s going to be in there. I love it.
So, i think that’s everything covered! If there’s anything you think i’ve missed or anything you want to know, just drop me a message and i’m happy to answer it.
I hope this has encouraged some people to go and check out their local charity shops. It’s a fun and rewarding way to renew your wardrobe without breaking the bank too badly. Let me know if you find any bargains!
Tag your bargains with the tag #ShoestringStyling and i’ll share it on my instagram stories!
To do something “on a shoestring” is to do it with a small amount of money. Cheap styling tips galore!