Saturday, May 04, 2013

Best Buys: Charity Shops

A friend of mine at work is always jealous of the things I find at charity shops. I don’t have any particular skills I don’t think, I just look. Here are some examples of the best things I’ve found whilst thrifting – both in terms of what I’ve worn the most and which brands/items I’ve felt lucky to find.

Most worn:
Stripe dress (April 2007)

This dress cost £4.99 and I don’t know what brand it is but it could have been made to measure for me, with the waist in exactly the right place for someone my height. I wear it in the summer with just a cardi or shrug over it, and in the winter with a polo neck layered under it. It is made of a heavy jersey so it hangs beautifully.

Teal dress (April 2007)

I don't know what made me buy this dress really, but I guess I was drawn to the print and the fact that the sleeves are super long. It was a funny length when I first got it, hitting just below the knee. I wore it a few times like that and then had the alterations lady take it up. It ended up being a bit shorter than I'd wanted but it has had far more wear shorter and is possibly my best bargain ever as it cost just 99p.

Brown cord jacket (May 2007)

You never find Tall items in charity shops so when I came across this blazer in one of the ones in my hometown back in 2007 I snapped it up immediately.

B&W spotty skirt (winter 2012)

Having lost weight the black and white spotty skirt I already owned had gone on the charity shop pile the previous autumn so when I found this skirt for just £2.99 I bought it. I put it away for warmer weather and last summer it was like I had a brand new skirt. I like it so much I even dug it out of my summer clothes storage to include in my 30 for 30 in February this year.

Brown denim skirt (summer 2011)

This skirt is by John Rocha for Debenhams and is a classic shape but unusual in the fact that it's brown denim. It gets worn all year round.

Firetrap long grey/blue cardi (2008?)

This cost £5 from a charity shop in my hometown that I don't often frequent as it's a little bit out of the town centre. I bought it because the sleeves were super long and because it was in really good condition. It gets worn almost every evening from September to March because it's really warm (it's 50% wool) and goes on over whatever else I'm wearing as an extra layer.

Luckiest finds (brands etc)
Ted Baker denim jacket

I'm not someone who often finds designer labels in charity shops so I couldn't believe it when I found genuine Ted Baker in my size.

Leather handbags – Jane Shilton small brown & tan

I always check out the handbag section in a charity shop because just occasionally you will find something in genuine leather. The tan bag was brand new (the protective plastic was still stuck on the hardware) and cost me £3.59. The little brown Jane Shilton bag is really useful in the evening when I don't want to lug my huge daytime bag around, but I still want something good quality to carry.

Do you try things on in charity shops? I used to, but now not so much. I don’t often don’t have the time, or there is only one changing room and it’s busy, or whatever. If it’s a jacket I will slip it on over whatever I am wearing, but most of the time I rely on guess work. If it’s a brand I am familiar with then I know what size I wear and whether a particular garment is likely to fit me. If not, I hold it in front of me, check the sleeve length (important if you’re tall and the item has long sleeves), where the waist will hit if it’s a dress, whether the waistband looks wide enough if it’s a skirt. And for £3 or £4 I will take a chance. What’s the worst that can happen? If it doesn’t fit the charity still has your money, you’ve done a good deed for the day and you can always re-donate or pass it on to someone you know it will fit.

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