I admit it. I am addicted to the rummage and devoted to the thrill. My name is Fran and I am a dedicated follower of charity chic.
There’s just something about the rows and rows of different clothes in a thrift store, that present a unique fashion challenge. It’s the promise of finding that hidden gem, that has me hooked. Age Concern, Sue Ryder, Oxfam or British Heart Foundation, to me they are treasure troves of unloved items looking for a new lease of life. Could this shop be the one where I find that well- made vintage one off?
Aside from this, there’s something rather satisfying about wearing said item and replying smugly to a colleague where they ask you where they got it. *Oh this? Yes it only cost me £3 isn’t it great!”
Over the years found some exceptional examples. This is not about finding a Primark top and buying it because its £1. This is about finding that tailored vintage velvet jacket, a sweater made from cashmere of the silkiest weave, or that delicately embroidered linen dress.
Gone are the days when stores are like jumble sales. Now many have whole floors dedicated to vintage, they are becoming better merchandised, with some taking on a distinct boutique-like interior.
I regularly go vintage shopping with a friend of mine, Laura from Grandma Eileen’s online vintage and we always find charity shops to be a huge source of good stock, as well as additions for our own wardrobes. Here we are in Sue Ryder York.
Here’s 7 tips for being a better bargain hunter
- Don’t just buy it because it’s cheap. Sorry to start with the obvious but this golden rule of thrifting is worth reiterating. Remember it’s about quality. Before you get carried away with the low cost and start piling the jersey tops in your arms. STOP. Take some time to hunt and enjoy it.
- Double check the quality. Buying a worn or tatty item isn’t being savvy. Check for stains and look for materials like wool, leather, or original denim Levis and well structured blazers that fit you like a glove prise du viagra.
- Don’t forget online. Can’t find what you are looking for? Did you know Oxfam has an online store? Why yes they do and it’s a peach.
- Get over the mothball smell. We all love new clothes. The un-faded pristine cut of 100% silk top but when it comes to charity stores you have to adjust your attitude. If it’s quality then invest in dry cleaning it. It will still be cheaper than if you had brought it brand new.
- Check out the homewares– Your up-cycled home would look lovely with some blue and white patterned china vase, or pretty wooden side table just waiting to be painted in aqua green. Tempted? Then don’t forget the bric-a- brac section.
- Check the labels. If you look hard enough you could stumble upon something that a few weeks ago was hanging on the rails in Harrods. I come across both Vivienne Westwood and Amanda Wakeley on my travels.
- Location, location, location- Typically the thrift stores in a “well to do” area will have more designer items or real vintage than than somewhere else . It is known that Victoria Beckham donated many an item to her local charity store. Imagine the stampede on that day.
Let’s not forget that the fundamental benefit of charity shopping is of course charity. Statistics show that every year charity shops raise £110 million and thankfully the number of stores opening is on the increase. But they always need stock so instead of binning your unwanted clobber and it sitting in landfills, please drop it off at your local store. This simple, small gesture, helps these organisations do big things. Charity shops and all your volunteers I take my (second hand) hat off to you!