Shopping Guilt Free

How to Get the Most out of Thrift Shopping

(finding charity shop bargains!)

how to shop in a charity shop

I love shopping. I think that is a given. I love new, pretty things hanging in my wardrobe, omens of a good clothes day rising high on the horizon. It's all so idyllic.

However, I have in recent time started a journey towards green living; cutting down on my meat intake almost completely, only using responsibly produced cosmetics and buying ass ugly fruit when available.

So, this obsession for the latest thing had to somehow come to an end. But I couldn't face it. So, instead, I got better at it.

Gone be the H&M and Primark days, spending hundreds on millions of things under £3. Hello happy era of quality vs quantity!

So, what's the story?

Charity shops, of course.

I hear ya, it takes some getting used to and yes, you do feel like an absolute pauper every time you walk through that door BUT you have to realise that you are not just in there to get a better quality item for half the price, you are giving back to the community by supplying funds to worthy charities, you are bringing down the whole fashion establishment that tries to convince you that you need a new pair of jeans every three months and you are effortlessly reducing your environmental footprint. The list could go on.

And now that you feel good about yourself for taking on these mothball-scented stores, let's get down to business. This is how do you get the most from charity shops.

Tips to Nailing Thrift Shopping

1. Locate your favourites:

Like any shop, there are some better than others or simply more to our taste. Visit as many as you find but make a mental list of your favourite ones. If you're really serious about this art form, don't stay local, either. I recommend Richmond and Bath as prime gold label goldmines. There's a hells-lot of Ralph Lauren lurking around the rails.

2. Little & Often:

Now your list of top destinations has been created, make sure you pay them frequent visits in your spare time. Why? Because people are habitual creatures. If you have found some good names in a particular branch, chances are your success will be repeatable - whoever dropped off that Versace will probably be back to donate come next spring clean.

3. Make friends with the shop assistants:

This is just good manners, these people are VOLUNTEERING. Be nice, say hello, don't make a mess and put your unwanted items back when you're done with them. They are not being paid, so do your bit.

4. REALLY make friends with the shop assistants:

Apart from good manners, this is also good sense. They see all the items as they come in and can quickly point you to the jackpot. I'm getting really chummy with the lady who manages the shop next to my house. She always has something really fun to show me.

5. Go WITH friends:

Plan an outing with the sole intention of going charity shopping. It's much more fun to have company and you're upping your chances of finding something good as you can all look for each other as well as for yourselves. There's only one size per item so you're guaranteed no style duplication.

how to shop in a charity shop It's not just for clothes - I got this sweet little copper tray for £2!

6. Be strict:

Don't settle for crap. Bubbly jumpers, scuffed shoes, broken parts, etc. DROP IT! Perhaps you're a sewing super hero and you can do wonders with that slightly ripped skirt but chances are you aren't and you won't so just leave it hanging right there. The idea is to get quality for less, not looking like a right old mess. Be strict!

7. Shop for you and others:

Create a network of friends who love to shop charity and be on the lookout for each other. My friends have great taste and I completely trust them to find me some bargains. As a success story, I got my bestie a beautiful lace French Connection dress for a wedding she has coming up. The price? £12. Impressive, I know.

8. Stick to what you know & love:

If you're going to spend some dosh, do it on something that's worth it. Stick to well known brands you love and materials that will stand a second life in your closet. If you're debating that Primark tee, maybe just go to Primark and get it brand new. Always buy Zara and up.

9. Wash everything:

Obviously. Cos' really gross.

10. More than clothes:

I only buy books from charity shops now. You can get some real classic pieces for £1. Also dig deep into the vinyls. Real music-gasms within.

11. Bring your own bag:

Because if you're on your way to a clear conscience, do it properly. Save the plastic.

12. Give back:

Haven't worn that Gap jumper since you were 17? Take it down to your local charity shop. It's nice to be nice like that.

And there you have it. Twelve little hacks that will hopefully transform your wardrobe without impacting your wallet.

Now, I'm off to pop some tags...