People keep asking me where I get my clothes from, and when I say "charity shops mostly" they always say they never find what they are looking for. Here are a few tips to help you find those elusive items!
- Never go looking for really specific items. If you want a pair of size 10, navy, linen, cropped, drawstring trousers you will not find them. You might, however, find a pair of size 20, white, linen trousers that you can resize, crop and dye the colour you're after!
- Buy huge! There always seem to be more large sizes than small ones in my local charity shops and looking on all the racks gives you the biggest scope for finding that perfect item. Big clothes don't cost any more than small ones and a huge pleated skirt or linen top is a wealth of material that can be used as fabric for a pattern. If you like the cut, or the style, clothes can be simply taken in.
- Choose fabric over style. When I go charity shopping, I never care about the style, cut or size. I only care about the fabric. Good quality fabric (and the clothes made from it) can be very expensive new and some of the most exciting prints can only be found in existing clothing.
- Search through the bins. Ok, so I don't mean go round the back of the shop! I mean the rummage, everything for 20p, bins. My local Sally Army has a bin at the back for bargain items and it is always full of beautiful embroidered and crochet-edged doilies. Don't know about you, but I buy loads of these - they are easy to recycle into embellishments.
- Look at the detail. Sometimes a garment can be truly ugly but will have an amazing detail such as embroidery, sequins or pleats that can be recycled as embellishments.
- Ok, you can sometimes look at the style. Something could be an amazing style but an ugly fabric but if you cut it apart and used it as a pattern......
- Don't just buy things because they are cheap. If you are buying something, be sure you are going to wear, alter, use it.
- Don't go on Saturday. Ever.
- Out of town charity shops are usually much better than city ones.
- Charity shops in affluent areas can be gold mines because they donate well but don't often shop there.
- Do some brand research... because some charity shops never do. Do you know your New Look from your Monsoon? Often, to the staff, a top is a top, a dress is a dress, and they charge the same despite the obvious quality difference. There are bargains to be had, but be careful not to pay too much for cheap tat - I've seen Primark clothing priced as much as it cost new and French Connection for pennies!
- Leave a tip! After #11, I should say that my local Sally army often charges ridiculously low prices for good quality items, so I always leave a donation. Don't forget that the Charity is not really there to dress you, they are there to help folks with your money, so don't be too thrifty :)
I'm sure there are some I've forgotten which will hit me later, but for now this is all I've got for ya. Check out the Association of Charity Shops for shops on your area. Happy thrifting! :)