Charity shop thrifting tips

Decided to give charity shops a try but not sure where to start?

Ok everyone’s had the experience of walking into a charity shop and being hit with a wall of stale, pungent air that conjures up an image of the recently deceased.

Pushing past this, and breathing as little as possible, you may have reached the clothes rails only to find racks of what looks like plastic fast fashion castaways not even worth the pittance they are sold for.

Well this is a pretty accurate picture but what’s lost, if you give up at that point, is the hidden diamonds. My diamonds include a Burberry trench coat, Bally shoes, a silk Ralph Lauren shirt and countless cashmere sweaters. For me, these diamonds make the mustiest, tat filled hoard worth rummaging through.

So how do you find those diamonds in the dump? Here are some tips on finding quality items.

  1. Go to a nice area

Not all charity shops are created equal. Look for clusters of shops in nice, residential areas where people will donate quality items.

2. Look at what things are made of

When an item catches your eye, first look at the label and check what the garment is made from. Avoid plastic (polyester and arcrylic) and look for natural fibres (wool, cashmere, silk, leather) and if you’re vegan (cotton and viscose).

3. Find your colours

We’ve all worn colours that have washed us out or just not looked right. Figure out which colours complement your skin, eye and hair tones, and then when you look at the mass of items, you can easily hone in on ‘your colours’. I’m always looking out for warm browns.

4. Avoid high street brands

Let’s face it there’s a lot of tat in charity shops because a lot of people buy and discard items made by fast fashion brands. While you can sometimes find some naturally made items from high street brands, look out for higher end and designer labels for better cut, fabric and quality.

5. Ignore sizes – just try it on

It’s natural to just look at items in your size but try to ignore sizes and instead try on any item you like the look of. Clothes sizes are not standardized and can vary massively between brands. Vintage items tend to be smaller. Also, some things just look better oversized or tightly fitted. You never know until you try it on.

6. Look out for old lady vintage

You can find some unusual vintage pieces clearly donated by old ladies who haven’t been able to part with their special item for decades. I love trying these on to see what I can pull off and the interesting feel the items give to my wardrobe.

7. Don’t ignore the men’s section

Ok so this tip might not work for everyone but if you’re tall like me there are men’s trousers, jackets, bags and even shoes that can look great.

8. Be brave

Unlike buying new where I try to stick to quality basics, in the charity shops you can go wild and buy some creative choices. The best bit is that when you’re done with something, you can donate it back!

Happy rummaging!


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