Buy Second Hand

My Lifelong Love of Charity Shops

When I was a little girl, I used to sit and watch my grandmother, a gifted seamstress sew clothes. I was fascinated by the old singer sewing machine that she had and eventually bought one of my own when I was older.

She would pick up the largest dresses she could find from 2nd hand clothes shops, rip them apart and turn them into matching outfits for myself and my cousins. I have memories of the three of us looking like something out the scene where Maria makes outfits  from curtains in the movie The Sound of Music

Charity shops offer an alternative to the frenetic consumerisation of the modern age. They also raise huge sums of money and awareness for their charities.

We live in a consumer based society and marketing images constantly assault our subconscious to buy new stuff,  but if we slow down, and buy with intent and purpose, we can make our purchases serves us properly and not just as a quick retail fix.

About 60% of my wardrobe is from charity shops. I’m on a limited budget and actually find it more rewarding to buy good quality clothes for next to nothing. I have designer labels hanging in my wardrobe that I would never be able to afford new and like the challenge of putting an outfit together.

I love charity shops, the idea of finding something that has been preloved and I am able to give it a new lease of life. Buying clothes that are a fraction of high street prices offers you the opportunity to be a bit more adventurous in what you buy. If I am buying a blouse at full price in a high street outlet, then I will buy something that I will get maximum use out of. I am shocked at the cost of a single item and if you are on a limited budget, senses tell you to buy a colour and style that goes with everything. Buying an item of clothing that costs me £5.00, I can take a risk knowing that I can always recycle it back if I don’t wear it much.

A few tips for successful charity shopping:

Go with a mental list of what you are hoping to find –  Don’t buy random items and try and visualise what you have in your wardrobe that would make an outfit.

Visit regularly –  I don’t have a successful trip every time. Stock changes every day, so I pop into my local charity haunts when I am passing by, giving more of a chance to catch a bargain.

Be prepared to rummage and try stuff on – Check through everything, we all like to feel great by buying a size 10 but my clothes have ranged from 8 to 16. I understand the squeamishness of trying on second-hand clothes, but donated clothes have generally been washed numerous times and can have shrunk over time. Don’t buy clothes that smell of body odour as it may be ingrained in the fabric and washing may not remove it

Check the item thoroughly for damage, stains, working zips etc

Know your wardrobe – I love jackets and have ended up with 15 jackets that I don’t wear enough to justify buying them. It’s very tempting to buy more than you need when everything is so much cheaper. Try and focus on what is missing from your wardrobe. You are more likely to buy something you will actually wear.

It’s not all clothes either. DVD’s, household items, trinkets and children’s toys.  I love buying new scarves, bags and fair trade items.  

So give it a go. When I am complimented on my clothes, I always am very proud to say where they have come from. Being thrifty is a badge of honour in my book and you might encourage others to be a bit more adventurous. 


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