12 November 2014

Tips for buying clothes second hand

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.

6. Donate!
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?


Fiona@Staring at the Sea said...

I love a good charity shop rummage. That started during student/6th form days for me too. One of my best bargains was a large wooden bowl for 50p, which is still in use 25 years later. On the kitchen table full of fruit.

furrypig said...

I once bought a bag for £2 and it turned out to be Gucci (a friend with a 'real' one checked it over and said it looked like a real one whereas I had assumed it was a fake but liked the colour!)

scrappyjacky said...

I love charity shops [and jumble sales and boot fairs] and have found some real treasures over the years.
My favourite shirt came from a charity shop and my favourite jacket from a jumble sale [for 20p]
I recently found an unopened pack of 50 card blanks for 50p in a charity shop.

Lizzy Hill said...

Love Op Shopping, as we call it in Aussie! My current bag comes from one.....dunno what brand , but I've had a pile of comments on it....it's a bit worn, but will last a season, & for a couple of dollars, that suits me just fine. I'll be sick of it by then -which is why I love op shopping...quick, cheap fix!!!

Sian said...

I wish I had an incredible bargain story! I've never had much luck with clothes, but when my brother is home we love to go looking for books and old records together

Maggie said...

I am not a keen charity shopper although I do look from time to time. I do donate a lot of the girls old clothes to charity shops and what I would say is to make sure you Gift Aid if you pay tax. The charity gets so much MORE from your items that way.

Lizzie said...

I like to support charity shops, if I can. We've just had the annual clothing collection from the Salvation Army - I was saving some of J's outgrown things for that, as the stuff we put in the bags goes directly to their shops, for sale (whereas a lot of the "charity bags" are actually sold on and only a small %age of the money actually goes to the named charity).

As for finding bargains - I've had several over the years. A friend came back to the office after lunch, with a fabulous Laura Ashley party dress, which she'd found in Oxfam and thought I would like. It cost her a fiver (which, 20 years ago, was a bit... but the original would have been nearer to £100!). She was a brilliant bargain-hunter - she just had "a nose for it" I think.
But I've found a few gems of my own - such as a wonderful summer dress (looked brand new), by an expensive brand, plus a very nice floral skirt, in a rayon lawn, both from a charity shop in Pangbourne-on-Thames (we lived just up the road, in Tilehurst, Reading). They had a wedding dress in their window that day, which was a stunner and probably cost hundreds new... they were asking about £50 for it - I was trying to think of a reason why I could need it!! (See Point #3 above!)
A couple of lovely blouses, jackets for work... a great pair of jeans with embroidered hems - lots of things.
And, leather bags... Now those I love to find - I can up-cycle them into fabulous leather books!

Cosmic said...

Love charity shops for surprise, ethically-sourced pre-worn gems!

Mel said...

I'm a big fan and agree about nice town nice stuff and find that Ilkley (a posh town near me) has some real gems but is a lot pricier. There is a £1 one in my old market town of Otley and I found some great skirts from Oasis and M&S there for a quid!

Mel said...

I'm a big fan and agree about nice town nice stuff and find that Ilkley (a posh town near me) has some real gems but is a lot pricier. There is a £1 one in my old market town of Otley and I found some great skirts from Oasis and M&S there for a quid!

Karen said...

I don't have much luck at consignment shops, though I do go to look with one of my friends, who always seems to find something great! My daughter has made out very well for her, and for my grandson.

Miriam said...

definitely nice town = nice stuff. I mostly buy props for photographing, books to alter, t shirts to make yarn. My latest find is a fabulous Chinese jacket with mandarin collar & toggles, it's black, red & gold. I bought it for the fabric. I have a friend who loves visiting the charity shops, its great to have someone to go with.

alexa said...

It's always a good feeling to recycle :). My tip would be not to limit oneself to the clothes section normally associated with one's gender or age (if you're small) - I've found some great shirts in the men's section and some lovely jumpers in the children's one!

Anonymous said...

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