I try and buy a lot of my clothes second hand.
Partly because I like that I can donate to charity, partly because I like the joy of the hunt. Partly because I am a poor student (we'll skip over that one shall we...)
I have learnt a few things in my time in charity shops.
1. Don't go in with a fixed agenda.
If I go looking for a second hand blue cardigan, chances are I will not find it. I have learnt you can't be specific when charity shop hunting. Part of the joy is going in with an open mind, which leads me to...
2. See the potential.
I am much more relaxed about sizing when I buy second hand. I figure if a dress is too long I could always hem it, if a shirt is too big I can tuck it into a pair of jeans. I also try to remember that these things have (on the whole) been worn before. My mum for instance bought a beautiful second hand cashmere cardigan several sizes too big. It had been shrunk in the wash so it fitted her perfectly despite what the label said!
3. Will I wear it?
I am often in danger of falling into this trap, particularly if the top/dress/shirt I want to buy is a nice brand. There is a perception with buying second hand that if it is a bargain it must be worth it. That isn't strictly true though. It will only be a bargain if you actually wear the item.
While you can't be as fussy as when you are going to a regular shop, I still try and look for things that fit with my wardrobe and fit with my 'style'.
4. Keep at it.
Charity shops change their stock reasonably frequently. I often find it goes in fazes. There will be weeks when I find nothing that takes my fancy and then suddenly a flurry of items will end up in my wardrobe. Persistence is key!
5. Be aware of location.
Nicer city/town, nicer charity shops. On the whole I have found this to be true. I went to a charity shop in oxford and found a lot of Boden and Jack Wills branded clothes. The downside of a nice location is that the prices are much higher. Work out what you are prepared to pay for something depending on where you are. In Durham the charity shops are a real mixed bag. I have found some gems in there but also found some horror stories! It pays to be a bit savvy.
Charity shops can't function unless clothes are donated. I try and keep the cycle going by having a clear out every now and again and sending some of my clothes to the shops.
So, are you a charity shop hunter? Do you have any tips or stories of incredible bargains?