So, my resolution not to buy clothes this year was not buying clothes anywhere apart from in charity shops. This means I have now become an avid charity shopper, popping into the shops in Kendal most weeks and whenever I visit a different town, I look out for the charity shops. This website http://www.charityretail.org.uk/find-a-charity-shop/ is a wonderful tool for finding charity shops and I discovered three new ones in Penrith that I hadn’t come across before as they are in a back street.
These are two of my first three buys this year a Laura Ashley shrug and a purple sweater from M+S. The third is a 100% cashmere jumper which is not at all smart but very warm so is great for slobbing out at home. All of these three came from the Salvation Army shop in Kendal.
Kendal has an Oxfam, British Heart Foundation, Scope, Salvation Army, Barnardos, a tiny Age Concern, RSPCA shop and a tiny Age Concern. I have had the most success in Oxfam, Scope and Salvation Army and have yet to ever buy clothing in Barnardos as the choice there is truly awful (although they do have a good range of books and DVDs).
This coat is fab. It’s a little small for me, but as I’m wanting to wear it in the spring, I won’t necessarily need to do it up and it fits well everywhere else. I altered the button position and also took the top button off and sewed up the button hole as it just wouldn’t fit across my bust. Also took up the sleeves, but I have to do this on every single coat I ever buy.
So far, Penrith has afforded the most spoils at the lowest prices, the charity shops in Kendal do seem to be more expensive – they are happy to charge £10 for a dress which I do think is a bit over the top to be honest. I went to a number of charity shops in Islington when I was in London a couple of weeks ago and was horrified at the prices, and even more horrified that the largest item of clothing was a size 16 (and that there was only one of them). Obviously charity shopping is not for the poor or fat in the capital.
Some of my Penrith charity shop finds
I paid too much for these too dresses (£10 for the Monsoon dress and £8 for the Tu dress), although I do like them both
This cardigan isn’t necessarily my style, but it’s lambswool and has the most amazing decorative cuffs!
One of the things I have made sure I do is actually wear the clothes I purchase from the charity shops as I have in the past been known to buy items and then not wear them, so I have really been trying hard to get them all worn.
One of the things I love the most about charity shop shopping is the thrill of the chase, will I find something amazing that someone else has discarded that I can take and make my own, and love and give a new lease of life to. I really have had some successes this year, and I’m hugely enjoying the challenge as it’s making shopping exciting for me, and it also means that I’m not buying new, I’m helping to reuse clothes that are still very wearable, and that I’m donating to charity at the same time. There is nothing not to like about this!
So my top tips for charity shopping are:
- Try on things that aren’t in your size. My finds above include a size 14 dress and a size 20 dress, both of which fit really well
- Look for good quality fabrics – I’ve had real luck finding woolly jumpers and cardigans. I rarely buy acrylic/polyester jumpers though unless they look brand new as they are generally bobbly
- Be prepared to take things up or take them in. I will need to take in the Monsoon dress as it’s a bit too big on me, but should be able to do this with no problem
- There are almost always fantastic coats available
- Dresses are hit and miss, you really have to look carefully to find anything nice and often there isn’t anything appealing
- Go into your local charity shops every week or so as new things come in all the time
- I’ve had no luck finding shoes, but I do hear of people who have scored pretty much brand new pairs for not much money
- Take stuff to donate to charity shops if you’re not wearing it