Friday, 19 October 2012

Getting the Best Out of Your Charity Shop

Hints and Tips

Back in the day we wouldn't have been seen dead in an item that had been brought from a charity shop, however 'vintage' or 'retro' it may have been. It just wasn't the done thing then! I think the ground would have swallowed me up if my mum would have wandered in through the front door with a " You'll never guess what I found you at the Hospicare Shop" shriek ! 
Today it is a whole different story. It has been made more acceptable to be seen rummaging amongst the purple rinses looking for gems and bargains. Recycling vintage items of unique clothing or bringing old pieces of furniture back to life with a lick of paint. Being thrifty has become a necessity for many of us in the current climate and I know for me I hate to part with money unnecessarily that has been earned through hours of hard graft. I do think there is a bit of a knack to charity shopping and you do have to persevere to get a bargain or two. We don't have any charity shops in the village where I live so I travel to the nearest town or city and make an outing of it. I take a bag of clothes and items to donate too. One mans junk is another mans treasure you know! 

These are my tips and hints for a trip out Charity Shopping:

  • Have a rough plan. Know where the shops are and which ones you are going to visit.
  •  Have an idea in your mind of the sort of things you are after, although be prepared to look for other things if you've time.
  • Shop early in the week. People usually clear out at the weekend and drop off their goods then. They will be on the shop floor by Monday or Tuesday.
  • Take cash and set a budget. You can overspend in a charity shop! I have known some shops not accept cards under £10 on the rare occasion.
  • Check labels for brand names and fabrics. Check for genuine designer items. Take your phone so you can check and validate things online.
  • Check for rips, tears, stains, missing buttons etc.
  • Check the size, not just the size label. Be open to altering something or dyeing a white item another colour if it is a good buy. I am a size uk 8 - 10 , but I look for items up to a size 14 sometimes.
  • Think outfits when you buy, the same as you do when you buy from new. Don't buy random items you will never wear.
  • Look for items you may sell on E.Bay. Designer names. 
  • Good finds are usually - leather belts, scarves, unique jewellery, jackets .
  • Take a bag of your own unwanted items to donate. Recycing clothes in this way helps reduce textile landfill.
  • Take some antibacterial handgel , just in case you feel a bit grubby after rummaging!
It really is worth it and to encourage you further just look at these bargains I have picked up this week!

  • H and M  lined skirt. This looked new to me. £4.00

  • Michael Morpurgo Kensuke's Kingdom 70p ( usually £5 new)

  •  Toast fine cord lined skirt. Perfect condition. Beautiful detail. £4.00

  • Fat face girl's age 5 skirt £.2.50

  •  Topshop wool blend sleeveless wrap around top. £3.00

  • Kookai blouse size 40 , but they come up small so I risked this and it fits ! Looks new. £2.25

  • Topshop fine pinstripe blouse - lovely pink buttons. £3.50

  • Faith leather boots with buckle detail £4.50 

  • River Island leather belt with statement buckle £1.50

  • Necklace with the word love. £1.00

  •  Coral necklace - this was brought by a friend from a charity shop for me because she knows I love coral from reading my blog! Thank you Hayley! X

  • Human Nature wool mix cropped cardigan £4.00

I don't usually buy all this in one go, but needed some props for a competition entry that I had to submit a you tube video for. I decided to talk about how you can save money by shopping at charity shops for your clothes, but you don't have to forgo style. The benefit is I get to keep and wear all these lovely items! I will post some outfit photos as I wear and style them.

I saw these definitions online and found them helpful so thought I would share with you. People do bandy the word Vintage around fairly freely nowadays to describe anything from a second hand modern cardigan to a genuine 1950s tea dress. So, as I understand it these are the loose definitions and boundaries:

Vintage - this is roughly the period from 1920's to about the 1970's. Look for labels, zippers, tell tale signs that your item comes from this period. Here is a good link to explain how to date vintage clothing.

Retro - This is the 1960 - 1970's period.

Antique - This is really the period pre 1920's

Charity or Thrifted - Pre used clothes that may include any of the above!

Are you a Charity Shopper or do you avoid them at all costs?


  1. I've never been inside the door of a charity shop, although I always donate decent clothing that I no longer wear to Oxfam, as my MIL volunteers at one. Have to say, now that I've seen your finds, I'm tempted to have a look myself.

  2. It is amazing what you can find! I left a pair of Jaegar jeans in perfect condition behind as they were £8....someone will be happy with those! X

  3. I occasionally pop in to the one on the local village high street but it's more looking for cheap toys and things which don't cost the earth to keep the boys occupied. I used to rummage a lot in the charity shops in Leeds city centre when I was a teenager. I remember coming home with a Hardy Amies navy mens blazer and thinking I looked the bees knees in it. Thinking about it now, I proabably looked more like the dogs danglies. Oh what I was thinking of! I guess I do a lot of my shopping on Ebay for pre-loved goodies as it's easier to look for specifics. Which reminds me to get my next batch ready for ebaying - I have a lot to get rid of and a lot I want to buy!

    1. I have two huge bags to list - I keep putting it off ! Must. do .it. Xx

  4. I am all in favor of shopping from charity shops! The way things are right now in Greece we can't afford to be snobs!!! Unfortunately I don't know if we have them or if we do they're intended for the really poor, the homeless etc. I know there are on line charity shops but I haven't done any whatsover shopping on line. Maybe it's time I looked into it!!!

  5. We have had a lady do a series on them here ( Mary Portas - queen of the charity shops) and it has made it more acceptable nowadays! I am addicted to it - the thrill of the bargain! X

  6. You found some wonderful items, gorgeous!! I remember when I was younger, you wouldn't have gone in a charity shop, but now it seems the thing to do. I remember getting picked on for going to them, but I found some wonderful things. So, I'm glad I went into them and still do :) Thanks so much for your visit to my blog, I'm happy you enjoyed it. You have a beautiful blog, I hope you have a gorgeous Friday & weekend to come :) xx

  7. I buy most of my clothes from charity shops and every week I manage to find a decent item, accessory or whole outfit. I do really rummage though and I do think you have to have a good eye for putting outfits together. Love your finds, they are fab x

  8. I used to be like you were too. Until I went into a shop on a challenge from my husband and found a gorgeous Evan Picone dress with tags still on for $5.00. That's all it took to hook me. I was like a timid little mouse that first time I shopped at a thrift store...I barley touched things...picked them up very gingerly with my fingertips only. Now I just go for it..but I do take hand sanitizer.

    I'm so glad I got over it....I have the best wardrobe ever since I've gone thrift.

    Great tips...especially about checking for size (fit) rather than the number on the tag. We wear the same size ;)

    You found some lovely items! What a great post

  9. This is an excellent haul! Congrats and Happy Aloha Friday :)

    Sarah @ A Cat-Like Cusiosity

  10. Wow! You have some amazing finds and the tips are great too. Thanks for linking up to the Aloha Friday Hop. I'm following you now and hope you have an amazing weekend :D

  11. Great tips..I wish I had more time to do this sort of shopping...I do find some great things at a consignment shop I work with!
    I LOVE that cool belt...western feel but very on trend!

  12. great tips and great finds! I know there are bargains galore to be found in thrift shops..just takes a little effort!
    I am your newest follower from the hop..pls follow back if you can.
    happy shopping!

  13. You've got some really lovely items there - the Top Shop and Kookai blouses are lovely and the H & M skirt. I used to shop in charity shops frequently when I was younger but seem to have got out of the habit! I'll take you to Primark and you can take me on a charity shopping spree! xx

  14. Love the Topshop wrap blouse! Have a lovely weekend... delighted you were inspired by my front door post! I need to tackle mine over the next few days:)
    ~Anne xx

    1. I have scrubbed and cleaned it - no point painting yet as we are having building done after Christmas. I'm off to get a new door mat and a lovely glossy black pot Ive seen to set it all off this weekend! X

  15. Great finds! I volunteer for a local consignment shop and some fantastic finds come though. Following via bloglovin'.

  16. I feel honoured to get a mention! Love the Toast skirt, I've been trawling ebay in want of a mustard skirt, loving that look for A/W. I will be arranging a charity shop catch up with you soon! X

  17. Very impressed with your finds! :o).

  18. Ok, I tried!!! I really tried hard, went in with an open mind... I was looking for something to wear to the church do!
    It was a disaster!! 4 shops I looked in! ;) didn't find anything in the clothing line but could have spent a fortune on books! I clearly need to go with you & Hayley!!

    Ps.. Found a pretty dress in Sainsbury's, 25% off in there so was a bargain! Xxxx

  19. Def harder to get a posh frock though!! Sainsburys sounds a good deal! X