Fashion: 5 Steps to Thrifting

I love charity shops. One of my favourite things to do on a solo weekend is to take £10 and have a good browse. More than often it’s just books and nick-nacks I come away with (I bought a vintage shortbread dish a few months ago – it’s so cute!) but I’ve gotten some pretty fabulous fashion bargains too. I’m quite picky with the clothes I pick up from a charity shop, only ensuring I come away with real gems, so here’s the questions you should be asking yourself before parting with your cash…
 photo 2015-02-08 16.01.57_zps7y4ylsav.jpg

1. Do you really need it? Will you wear it?

If you’ve got a wardrobe rammed with clothes you don’t wear already, it’s probably wise not to add to it. There’s also the big question of whether it will actually get worn. You may love the statement skirt, but if you know you aren’t brave enough to wear it it’s best to leave it.

2. Is it actually a bargain?

I’ve noticed recently that you can pick up a lot of lower-priced brands in charity shops – I’m talking Primark, New Look, Peacocks etc. I have no problem with this, but I do take a bit of exception to the price being charged. Most charities have a set price for items, which is fair enough. But I’m not paying £2.50 for a second hand Primark t-shirt that’s seen better days when they are £3 new in-store. I try to go for high-end brand, or at least the more pricey end of the high-street!

3. Does it fit?

If it doesn’t fit, the likelihood is you won’t wear it. And then it’s not a bargain. Having said that…

4. Could you alter it?

Complete contradicting my last point! But there are occasions where you find something so exciting, so should-be-expensive that even if it doesn’t fit, it needs to be purchased. Most clothes can be taken in by up to two sizes, bottoms can be added if missing, hems can be taken up or let down. If the changes seem feasible, go for it! Just remember to factor in the cost of alteration when considering the price.

5. Is the condition good? 

Yes, most charities check items but things still filter through. Check there’s no damage that can’t be fixed, no dodgy stain and (most importantly for me) no odour. Gross but true.

Having said all of this, thrifting clothes is great for switching up your style and experiment – you can test out if you feel comfortable in something completely different without spending a fortune.

Image: The Lovecats Inc– one of my favourite blogs!

Other top tips;

  • Pick and choose your area – charity shops in a more affluent area tend to stock better quality brands, simply by default through donations.
  • Learn when stock rotates – pop in regularly and chat to staff, or even volunteer yourself.
  • Take cash – most have a card spending limit.
  • Try not to be too specific – don’t go in think ‘I want some Topshop Joni jeans’ but instead ‘I’d like some nice fitting jeans.’ You are more likely to find great bits if you aren’t searching for a particular item.

 photo 2015-02-08 16.01.36_zps5iimzawk.jpgI love having a sift through and seeing what I can find…I harbor a (rather unrealistic) dream that I’ll find my wedding dress in a charity shop too!

Do you buy from charity shops? What’s your best bargain?

  • Jennifer K

    I recently bought a pair of floral leggings from a charity shop that were a bargain for a fancy dress outfit… but that are so comfy I can see myself wearing them round the house a lot in the future! There are loads of good charity shops near me so I keep meaning to go and have a proper browse for every day wear rather than just fancy dress pieces 🙂
    Jennifer x
    Ginevrella | Lifestyle Blog

    • ninegrandstudent

      They sound great! I’ve just bought a dress for 90p, was in H&M at the weekend and they are still selling it full price! x

  • I love buying second-hand! I would say that about half of my wardrobe has come from thrift shops – and I’m lucky because there is a great one within 10 minutes walking of my house.

    I actually wrote a similar post to this a while ago: great minds think alike! I think that it’s important to be specific when you go (because if not, it’s easy to just end up wandering around and buying things that are not great) but not too specific, as you mentioned. I try not to get hung up on brands or buying vintage and just buy stuff that I like and is comfy.

    x Kathryn
    Through the Thicket

    • ninegrandstudent

      I think your post actually inspired this one, I remember reading it! x

  • I love having a look in charity shops, it’s great for finding unique things instead of ending up having the same piece of clothing as about 5 other people you know. Only problem is sizing, I always find it difficult to find things that fit somewhat alright. I’ve had things altered before, but I need to learn myself otherwise it can get expensive.


    • ninegrandstudent

      I find as I’m odd sizes I tend to find things that fit better than new – but I’ve never fitted easily into high-street clothes! x

  • emily

    One thing I always buy in charity shops is small kitchen appliances, like food processors or mixers. Here in North America you can find a 40, 50 year old food process or iron that was made in the USA in a charity shop for like $5, and its still in perfect condition and works great. Comparing that to the made-in-China iron or food processor you’d find in a department store, which would break after a year I’ll take the old appliance any day. I do make sure to clean anything I buy thoroughly though.

    • ninegrandstudent

      Wow, never thought about buying things like that. Will definitely be more thorough looking through the kitchen items next time! x

  • While charity shops in the more affluent areas tend to have the “better” brands, they also know they can charge more so you do have to be careful. There’s actually one store near me that sells things at full retail price, it’s crazy. We do most of our vintage hunting at estate sales or the Salvation Army.

    • ninegrandstudent

      Oh, I’m definitely careful as to how much I spend. I know of a few that just have set prices for brand and type of clothes, so you can usually get good deal in there! x

  • I love browsing charity shops, especially for books and nick nacks. I do occasionally get clothes but like you I get a bit put off by seeing primark items for the same price they’re originally sold at! You can definitely pick up some bargains though, I need to get a bit more thrifty I think!

    Emma x
    Writing Essays With Wine

    • ninegrandstudent

      I do find charity shops need a good rummage, but it’s usually worthwhile! x