Saturday, 5 May 2007

Second helpings

Bargain hunt with flair with CharityShopChic's indispensible do’s and don’ts of scouring charity shops...

What do Kylie’s ‘Spinning Around’ gold hot pants and Bridget Jones’ singleton penguin pyjamas have in common? They were both picked up from charity shops for less than £1, that’s what. Thanks in no small part to A-listers including Kate Moss, Sienna Miller and even Victoria Beckham shifting some of their sensational spending sprees to their local Oxfam in recent years, vintage charity shop chic has never been more in vogue.

While they were once shirked for stocking second-hand polyester tat that you wouldn’t look twice at, never mind wear twice, charity shops have become twinkling treasure troves of potential that you just have to dig deep to discover. If your wardrobe could do with a seasonal overhaul, pop into your local charity shop for some retro inspiration and you might be surprised at what gems you unearth, by following our top tips to thrifting.


· Visit charity shops in different towns and villages – some areas of Gloucestershire with wealthier donators are more likely to have top quality items in stock, while charity shops in less financially well-off areas are likely to be cheaper and visited less often.
· Be patient – persist even if your first venture turns up nothing but bobbled Primark cardigans – you can’t expect to find vintage Chanel or a pair of Manolos on day one.
· Be imaginative – picture your finds in roles they were not necessarily designed for. If a fabric is remarkable, but the cut or size isn’t, you can customise your purchase with a bit of help from a sewing machine or friendly seamstress.
· Be daring – by their very nature charity shops are cheap – an impulse buy here won’t dent the overdraft and you can always donate the offending item back if you decide you really can’t stand it.
· Leave no stone unturned and buy something if it screams out at you – if you don’t buy it now, chances are you will never find the same item again.
· Let your instincts lead you – yes, things will grow on you, but if your blink reaction to the acid green spandex shorts was ‘hideous’ let it go.
· Look for quality – no matter how cheap your purchase is, if it falls apart the second you get it home, it isn’t a bargain. Particularly look at seams, hems and zips for signs of wear and tear.
· Look at labels – a Gucci jacket selling for a few quid is likely to make you a profit on an auction site, if you can’t wear the designer item yourself.
· Visit regularly, stock comes in to most charity shops every day. Just because your last visit was disappointing doesn’t mean some generous donator hasn’t just handed in bags full of items ripe for the picking minutes before you visit again.
· Ask for details of delivery days – most shops will receive regular collections on certain days of the week.
· Remember that your money will be going to a good cause when you buy from a charity shop and re-using clothes is good for the environment too – otherwise it may well have ended its life in as landfill.


· Think ‘someone may have died in this’ such negativity will blind you to bargains.
· Be snobby – sticking to Oxfam is all very well, but terrific items are just as likely to be donated to the Salvation Army, Red Cross, Marie Curie or PDSA shop next door – and they will probably be cheaper too.
· Buy moth-eaten, torn or falling apart clothes unless you have both the ability and inclination to fix or customise them.
· Become obsessed with labels – yes, we’d all like to find an authentic Fendi for 50p, but a well-crafted handbag that would look great swinging from your arm shouldn’t be rejected because of sheer designer bias.
· Be lured into buying items you neither like nor will be useful because you’re feeling sorry for the bored old lady behind the till – she doesn’t work on commission you know!


MsV said...

I saw some sparkly silver hotpants in a charity shop the other day - not sure they were quite Kylie - but wish I'd have bought them now. I might pop in on Monday to grab them - need to lose a few pounds first tho but hey gotta be done if you wan's the kylie-look huh...

Samira Allen said...

Thanks for the tips, I am gonna be hitting the charity shops tomorrow for sure, and if I don't find a Fendi I am going to sue you!

Alex K said...

Really??? I can't believe Kylie wore charity shop stuff in her vids, makes me like her even more :)

Anonymous said...

You can get some pretty nice stuff in charity shops nowadays, but I always do think that someone's died in it, negative I know, but I sometimes get the creeps thinking other people have worn the clothes! Keep up the good advice though! xx