Archives for posts with tag: Clothing

It’s been a while since I posted about a charity shop haul, and although I have been picking bits up here and there, I enjoyed a rare targeted trip today.

I’m planning my wardrobe for a trip to Cologne next week, sans kids and husband, to visit a beloved old friend. Said friend is very glam, so I’m always a bit more sartorially aware when I see her. I was hoping to lose a bit of weight for the trip (cliché much?) but of course this hasn’t happened, and as I find myself heavier than usual at the moment my wardrobe options are looking limited.

Browsing during my lunch hour yesterday (I work in the centre of Birmingham, a city which markets itself as a shopping capital of Europe: nightmare), I saw this dress in cheapie shop, Select. It fulfilled my requirements for a new dress at this particular time: stretchy (read, comfortable), cheap and short enough to go over leggings or wear alone. The British summer has not played ball so far so I wanted to cover all bases.

At £15 its cheap enough, but then I thought maybe it was TOO cheap? Would this wash and wear for a long time? Did the design LOOK cheap? As I approach 40, I’m more aware that I can’t rock the pound shop chic look like I used to, particularly in styles like this that nod to the 90s quite so much.

I reckoned I could do better and boost my wardrobe from the chazzas with the same £15. So I set off this morning to ‘do’ Cotteridge and Northfield, my most local of Birmingham ‘burbs, and host to a plethora of charity shops. My brief: short dresses/tunics to wear alone or over my leggings/skinnies, and tops that might go with these. I bought them on a whim last month as they were comfy but I have not a clue what to wear with them. The baggy style of them make my bum look as big as Bulgaria, but despite the desire to go longer, I think short tops would give a more balanced silhouette.

And this is how I did. WITH CHANGE.
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Not bad, eh? Here’s how they all came about

1) This Jasper Conran lovely came from a local CIC called Autism Birmingham. It’s owned by an old school pal, and raises money for a fantastic cause, helping local children with autism access much needed products and services. The shop is cheap and cheerful, with all clothes £1 or less, and is usually a selection of basics from the cheaper end of the high street. I popped in primarily to stock up on holiday reads, as their books are only 20p, but I couldn’t resist this. Jasper Conran! For £1! It matches the green trousers perfectly.

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2) This it today’s star buy. I love the surfy-style brands but the stuff rarely suits me. I took this ONeil dress to the fitting room not expecting much, but it’s great! Perfect length to wear alone or layer, the faded green colour is one of my most flattering. I also like the neckline. I’m quite busty and find high necks feel a bit strangling sometimes. Mine for £5.

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3) Whenever I go charity shopping, I often get some kind of ‘thing’ stuck in my head, and then I struggle to see anything else. It might be a certain type of garment, or an era. Or a colour. And today I was looking at ALL THE ORANGE. This little jumper isn’t for the trip, but it’s so soft I couldn’t leave it there. It fastens at the neck but has an open back which I found unusual. I’d never heard of the brand, Charlie and Robin, but a quick Google in the fitting room told me it was an Anthropologie, rare in the UK. Mine for £3.50.

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4) Finally, this little cream top nearly passed me by, as its not a style I normally go for or a brand I knew. But I thought it would match the trousers so tried it. Peplum tops have been tricky for me in the past, but this was flattering, and a bargain at £3.
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Anyone good at Maths may have worked out I’ve only spent £12.50 so far. Well, there were a couple of extra purchases.

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I spotted these sandals outside one shop, where the sun appears to have melted the lining. I didn’t realise until I got them home and tried them, the lining stuck to my feet, yuck! I’m hoping the effect will wear off, but any tips will be gratefully received. I’m still happy I bought them though. Whilst not the sexiest ever, they are Clarks. And red! They are barely worn and the heel is pretty interesting. And best of all they were £1!!

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My last purchase was this pretty beaded necklace, picked up for £1. Which left me with 50p for a Greggs doughnut.

Doesn’t look like I’ll be fitting into those old skinny clothes anytime soon………….

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The Christmas Jumper has seen something of a resurgence in recent years. Previously, it’s reputation had been so poor that only weather forecasters and Noel Edmonds dare go near it, but it’s now travelled through the seas of hipster irony into (dare I say it, passé?) Primark territory.

This winter just gone, you couldn’t glance at Facebook or trip down the high street without seeing multiple reindeer and snowflakes in vibrant red and green gracing people’s chests. Thankfully, there has also been increased interest in more tasteful Fairisle/Scandi styles too. The Christmas jumper was to 2013 what the onesie was to 2012.

The office I work in has taken part in Save The Children’s Christmas Jumper Day the last couple of years, a lovely gentle fundraising idea that everyone gets involved in. Incidentally, this website has a couple of free knitting patterns for tiny jumpers.

Awful photo of a photo; I am in the middle wearing the orange Gap affair.

Awful photo of a photo; I am in the middle wearing the orange Gap affair.

To my slight embarrassment, I have worn (gasp) a shop bought jumper both years. And though I do believe the trend to be on the wane, stylish hand knitting never goes out of fashion, right? Therefore, I have started knitting my Perfect Christmas Jumper!. I love this look of this design. I’m more vintage-inspired than true-vintage though; I’ll probably do a less flamboyant sleeve top. At just 5′ 1.5″ tall, padded/dramatic shoulders seem to wear me rather than the other way round. The 40’s style waist does suit me however, I’m quite short-waisted and most tops are too long.

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I was inspired to start this project thanks to a KAL suggested by Andi over at the Untangling Knots group on Ravelry. She proposed a breakdown of garment parts throughout the year. I’m currently on catch up having bought my yarn late, but hope to post some progress pics soon. She’s even produced a badge for those of us playing along.

The yarn I'm using is Cygnet wool-rich 4 ply. It seems fairly authentic for the period, and to be honest I couldn’t afford the kettle dyed type indie yarn I usually buy my fingering weight in. I’ve gone for Geranium, a very Christmassy red, although a little blue toned for my usual taste! It’s pair with a cream to soften it a little.

I’m hoping knitting throughout the year will provide inspiration for me to avoid the crazy November rush in other areas. I’ve had ropey Christmases the last couple of years. Like most women I take on the primary role of festive organiser, despite working more hours than my partner. Gift purchases I tend to have a handle on; internet shopping truly is a beautiful thing, plus I work in a city centre so can pick things up as and when.

Where I have disappointed myself has been the entertaining/decoration side. For two years in a row, late December has seen me in tears because I am working right up until the day and I haven’t saved enough annual leave to get things going (this is despite the fact my workplace is VERY quiet that time of year. Remember the Robot?). My holiday allowance is woefully low, and I often need to take days for childcare etc, so its often unavoidable.

I am in a constant quandary with my work/life balance thing. As a natural extrovert I struggle with the reduced social time my working and family responsibilities now afford me. In truth, I rarely entertain at home. When I do try to arrange visitors it feels like I can’t get arrested at times; I guess because its so infrequent that I extend an invitation. Consequently I don’t make a lot of effort to make the home as nice as I can; we’re so rarely there.

But this year, I have decided you will definitely know it is Christmas Chez Minx. My early ideas are, like the jumper, vintage inspired. Now that car boot season is underway I have started to keep an eye open for vintage baubles. My main idea is an Edward Scissorhands tree. No, not black and spiky, I mean the 80’s-does’50’s version Kim decorates in the rather excellent movie

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We already have a white tree, and the red bows look simple enough. I’m thinking a Pintrest wander might through up more ideas. Pretty soon it may even be time to crack open my Delia’s Christmas Collection book. As it happens, I’m not much of a cook, but man do I like reading cook books. I like Delia’s no nonsense style, and this tome is old enough to be edging towards retro (if not vintage) territory. I may not be at the menu planning stage, but its all about the ideas right now.

It might seem odd to be contemplating Christmas so soon after Easter, with the promise of summer round the corner, and I don’t want to wish them away. Maybe its a knitting thing to think of the long game? We are not into instant gratification after all. Plus, with a career background in retail, I’m used to thinking a season ahead. What do you reckon? Do you think about Christmas throughout the year? What are your plans?

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This is another project that’s been finished a while, but the writing up and photographing seem to take an age! In the end, I have opted for this very natural photo taken in the pub by my pal last night. We were there for the pub quiz, the England flag was flying to celebrate St George’s Day.

We lost the quiz. I think it was my fault. I don’t expect another invite.

I was distracted as I took some more knitting, the first cotton garment to grace the needles in a while; I have plans to make a few this year, in anticipation of a hot summer. A post for another day I think, back to the cardigan.

I chose this pattern, Marion by the ever so talented Andi Sutterland, for my Knitting Goddess Movie Stars KAL project for April, based on Anthony Hopkins.

The link? Well, he starred in a 2012 film called Hitchcock, playing the famous director. Hitchcock directed one of my favourite films of all time, Psycho, in which a character called Marion Crane is killed in the infamous shower scene.

The movie is one that has always been there, THAT shower scene iconic enough to be familiar even in childhood, when I had nightmares about Norman Bates hiding in my wardrobe. It was a student that I began to appreciate the true genius of the film. As part of my Theatre Studies degree at Liverpool Hope University, I took a film module and wrote an assignment on the evolution of the horror film; specifically slasher flicks. It was 1995 and Scream had just been released, which satirised the usual formula and piqued my interest. I wrote about that film, and traced the genre back through the heyday of Halloween to Psycho, considered by many to be the forerunner.

More recently, the TV series Bates Motel has reminded me how much I loved the original, as well as providing me with my new fashion icon. Unfortunately, the second season is proving a little lack-lustre, so I turn again to the original to be scared and entertained. Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates is just one of the best cinematic baddies ever.

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*shiver*

Onto the pattern itself. I love Andi’s designs, having previously knitted a Miette and a Stray. This was just as well done as the others; clear, simple and just my style! The rope-type cables put me more in mind of a medieval Maid Marion, perhaps the original inspiration for the design. I chose some Classy from stash, in a lovely russet brown which will match a lot of my cross-seasonal wardrobe. I fretted about finding five buttons to match from my eclectic tin, and opted for mis-matched vintage ones in the end. You can see from the photo that they ended very high on the button band, and I could’ve done with just three. I may remove the two erroneous buttons, but I will keep the remaining ones odd I think. It adds to the handmade look I like, plus I abhor all finishing and like to minimise it where possible!

Next month is Maggie Smith. I already have something up my sleeve (or on my head) for that……….

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Whether it’s the millions of daffodils everyhere, the re-emergence of the sun after a particularly dull and dreary winter, or the many bananas that how recently eschewed sausage sandwiches as my breakfast of choice (I’m on Weightwatchers), I’m finding it very hard to avoid yellow at the moment.

And avoid it I did, for years in fact. Like lots of other people, I thought it wouldn’t suit me, would make me look ill. Having read more about colour since, I realise that to a degree I was right. Shades of pastel yellow, primrose and lemon for example, do bring out my slightly sallow tones. But other, richer gold type yellows I can wear in abundance. Luckily, mustard and ochre shades have seen something of a resurgence over the last couple of seasons, and I have embraced it fully as fitting in with my Autumn palette.

However, sometimes I worry I take this colouring thing too far. When shopping (whether for clothes or yarn), my mind screams ‘AUTUMN’; to the point where I seem unable to buy anything NOT rusty or yellowy green. Its something I am noticing even more at the moment as the shops inevitably fill up with those ice cream pastel shades of lilac and pink that I can’t bear.

Which is why I am confusing myself over my latest yarn crush. Baa Ram Ewe’s delightful Titus 4ply is a yarn I’ve yet to knit with personally, although all I see are rave reviews and it’s definitely on the shopping list. One of the more recent colourways to have been added to the range is Filey, a buttery yellow that I simply have to have.

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I don’t know why. I haven’t felt this way about a yarn since The Knitting Goddess made Bella’s Truck. It’s a very weird compulsion thing. It may well make me look jaundiced, I’ve yet to see, so of course the sensible thing to do would be to make something that will not be worn near my face.

But, I want to make a hat. Despite, by my best calculations, having made six hats for myself over the last year alone, I couldn’t find one of them this week. Knitwear seems to fall into some sort of twilight zone in this house; or I leave them at friends, like some odd calling card. The weather is still chilly, and even as I hope to ditch my winter coat for jackets over the next few weeks, I expect I will still need hats and scarves for some time yet.

One of my favourite designers, Rachel Coopey, has recently released a fabulous book called ‘Toasty‘. Comprising 10 accessory patterns, it uses exclusively Titus yarn, and quite frankly I WANT TO KNIT THEM ALL. I was very pleased to see this book. I admire Rachel’s often poetic use of travelling stitches and less obvious pattern repeats, which in the main she uses on socks.

Now, I have knit socks. I like to have a few pairs knocking about to stuff inside my Docs or to wear with my PJs, but I favour plainer patterns. Some of the intricate designs on Ravelry look like little works of art, but they just don’t float my boat. Complicated sock patterns are just something I don’t GET, along with the offside rule, the French subjunctive, and Keira Knightley.

I enjoyed Coopknit‘s earlier release Winter One for it’s accessory patterns, and can’t wait to get stuck into this one. The patterns are all named after places in Yorkshire, a nice link with the yarn itself, which is spun in the county from 100% British wool with alpaca, making it perfect for accessories.

The patterns themselves are very hip and modern, modelled beautiful by the stylish girls in the book. At the same time, they manage to be wearable and not at all ‘mutton’, a concern for this frumpy mum who hasn’t been ‘bang on trend’ since 1998.

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I haven’t quite decided which one to go for. I adore Northallerton, but am not ready for more colour work just yet. Most likely, I will go for a Catterick (above) or Ripon (below). In that Filey yellow, of course. Although I might buy a skein of the Parkin colourway too. Just to be safe.

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redemption*whisper*

I am typing quietly just to introduce my latest favourite FO without fanfare or fuss. Sneaking it in through the back door. See, I don’t want to tempt fate. Last time I loved a cardigan as much as this, I shouted and celebrated. And then felted it.
Since that episode, I’ve been wary of entering into another long term project with ‘natural’ (ie not superwash) wool. But when I saw some Wool of the Andes on a Ravelry destash, I couldn’t help myself. And such sheepy yarn WANTS to be a cabled garment. It really does.

My Chimney Fire cardigan began life on a cold and boring pre-Christmas day. The same day a colleague and I built a stationery robot. Over the next few weeks, I beavered away. The pattern itself was a dream, SO well-written. I hurried the sleeves (because by then, the end’s in sight, right?) and forgot the shaping. It was a tough decision to rip back and re-knit, but I’m glad I did.

So here she is, my Redemption cardigan. Lovely, isn’t she?

Just, you know, keep it quiet.

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This month’s spree began with a pair of jeans.

I normally shop with the office in mind, since that’s where I spend the majority of my time (Sad, but true). Thankfully where I work isn’t too corporate, or at least I’m not, so a lot of my wardrobe multitasks for days off. Denim is weekend only though, and I like to have a couple of pairs of jeans in rotation. Christmas weight gain meant I was down to one tatty pair of jeggings; and since by some craziness I have a little bit of money left at the end of JANUARY (I know, I have no idea), I thought I’d treat myself to some new threads.

I happen to work directly on top of a New Look, and they do a lot of denim. I found a pair of OK looking ones for £25, but I wasn’t as excited as a clothes purchase ought to make me really. Where was the hunt? The thrill of the chase and a bargain well caught?

I think I have been spoiled by charity shops.

Instead, I decided to take my £25 into the wild, and see if I could get more for my cash. Charity shops are an excellent place to shop for jeans. Firstly, there are racks and racks of them. Everyone buys jeans on a whim that don’t really fit or flatter, and you can reap the rewards. Secondly, most of us aren’t affected by frequent trend changes in jeans making them always in fashion. Sure, high street shops try to tempt us with different versions of the boyfriend/skinny/drainpipe etc, but essentially they don’t change too much year to year. I have decided you can be too staid though. I discovered indigo bootlegs in the early 90’s, and it’s been hard to move away ever since. Consequently I was after a lighter wash for spring, in a straighter leg for a change.

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Thankfully, these lovely Moto (Topshop) Martha jeans jumped out at me fairly quickly. They are a straight cut, uncomplicated style, and have great reviews on the Topshop website. And they were mine for the princely sum of just £4.

So now I had my jeans, plus another £21 to spend.

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This teal handbag is lovely quality leather, and the wear it’s had only makes it more buttery soft. It has no brand label, but I’m guessing maybe Next, since the zip tab (always a great place to look for clues) says LKK, and I have similar zips on other Next handbags. I love the colour, it fits well into the Autumn palette I now shop almost exclusively from. There was a number handwritten on the lining. At first I thought it may be a product code, but on reflection I like to think it was the beginning of a phone number; maybe the owner found a scrap of paper after all. I love these little signs that make you wonder about the life an item had before you. I’m a sucker for leather bags, but can rarely afford them. This was a fiver.
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£16 to go…

You need an open mind when charity shopping; to go out with a very strict agenda is a recipe for disaster because you have no control over what stock will be there, but I did set two rules for today.

1) No black. It makes me look drained and doesn’t suit me, but black is still such a go-to colour that I have to stop myself. I mentioned the Autumn thing above. I’m really on board with colour analysis. Though pale, I am quiet yellowy and need those warmer shades.

2) No prints. I am inexorably drawn to patterned, usually floral fabrics. Thought not always a problem, I’m hoping to boost the plain fabric quota in my wardrobe for more versatility and to help me look more streamlined and grown-up. The frothy, flouncy, flowery thing doesn’t always look great when you’re fat and firty-seven.

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As you can see, rules are made to be broken. I loved the muted shades of this dress, and when I tried it on (on top of my clothes, the Salvation Army doesn’t have a fitting room*), I loved the style. Gypsy dresses hold a special place in my heart, having worn them a lot during my early 20s. I only hope this is sophisticated looking enough to get away with. It’s a Peacocks, a brand I generally avoid when shopping second hand. In fact, if I buy a ‘value’ brand at all, it really needs to impress me by being either brand new, very cheap or (ideally) both. Its true that even charity shopping is not as inexpensive as it used to be. My threshold for dresses was £5 for years, but you have to move with the times, and I was happy to take this unworn one home for £7.

The other dress was £7 too, but this is a Jigsaw. Yes, a JIGSAW. Something of a sought after brand by me. I’m happy with quality pieces from the high street giants like M+S or Next, but am extra chuffed to find an item by Hobbs, Laura Ashley or Whistles etc. I loved the pintuck bib on this, but it is a little ‘sackish’ in shape, probably not helped by the chocolate colour. However, this fulfills the grown-up brief, and I’m hoping with a belt, this will look good for the office. Its a cotton/modal mix and feels just lovely.

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So just £2 left. I wasn’t expecting to see anything else, but then I spotted a waterfall cardigan on the sale rail (see on Jigsaw dress, above). It’s a Primark, not something I’d usually buy, but these light layers are perfect for an office with changeable temperatures, and its in mustard which I can never resist. Best of all, it was only £1.50.

All in all, a successful trip. I could have bought one pair of ‘meh’ jeans, instead I came home with a veritable haul.

And 50p change.

*Despite this, The Salvation Army in Northfield is still one of my favourite charity shops. I’ve unearthed a few real quality gems, and they are the only shop forward thinking enough to have a loyalty card. I collect stamps, and can have a fiver off next time. They also offer discounts off purchases when you take in a bag of donations. Fab idea.

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Bargains lurk within

I rarely buy clothes new. I guess it started out of necessity when I was a student, but it’s evolved into a habit that prejudices me against the high street (£29.99 for a TOP?! Really?). Of course we know the plus points: it’s cheaper, greener to reuse fashion, benefits charities, etc, etc but although the planet-saving altruistic glow is nice and all that, the best part for me is the thrill of the hunt.

There are those that will tell you the golden age of charity shopping is over. That since the recession everyone’s plundering the stock and there’s no bargains left. Either that or they are selling on Ebay instead of donating.They will remind you of the Mary Portas effect, and insist their local shops are full of bobbly Primark rejects priced higher than they were new.  Whilst there is some truth in these claims, there are still real bargains to be had; it’s just that the hunt is a little harder these days.

There are other ways to source second-hand clothes of course. The afore-mentioned Ebay can still turn up a gem or two. You need to shop outside of popular times (mid-morning and mid-afternoon during the week are best) but when you factor in postage and the risk that you might not quite get what you are looking for, it becomes less tempting. Elsewhere online, local Facebook pages often have clothes sellers, but in my experience individuals can be unreliable/dodgy/downright crazy. Mind you, maybe that’s a reflection on my local area…

For bottom-dollar pricing, it’s hard to beat car boot sales, especially if you can overcome that peculiarly British squeamishness about haggling. Now I love car boot sales, and I’ll buy anything at them, but generally not clothes as I prefer to try things on. The other downside to such sales is that they are seasonal, whereas the chazzas trade all year round.

So here are my top tips and advice on maximising your chances of a successful haul as you hit the shops.

Forget what you already know

For many years the golden rule of charity shopping was that you should visit the most expensive areas to pick up the best quality donations. So well-known is this adage, that the charities are wise to it and price their stock accordingly and you will often pay more for the same item in a posh town than a rougher district. Which is completely different to new fashion, where a top costs the same in Dorothy Perkins no matter what branch you’re in. Remember, this kind of shopping is a bit like fishing; if everyone is casting their rod in the same pond, you won’t all find what you’re looking for. Charity shops are evolved, sophisticated businesses, assessing and transferring stock regularly, meaning donations don’t always stay at source. I prefer city suburb shops, and particularly scruffier independents, as they can be where you unearth the real treasures.

Another generally accepted piece of advice is that you shouldn’t buy shoes or basics (vests etc), presumably because the former will be moulded to another’s foot and the latter is cheap enough anyway. Regarding shoes, the days where people owned four pairs in strict rotation are long gone. Retailers like New Look pioneered the way in cheap fashion for feet, and now you’re highly likely to come across shoes that are unworn. If you can’t justify spending £50 on some brand new mustard ballet pumps to wear with one outfit, maybe you’ll get lucky in the chazzas! I regularly buy vests from charity shops. They may only be £2 from Peacocks, but this way I can source higher quality labels for a similar price. I have a fantastic little red Mexx vest that has been a staple for some five years or more.

Some things you should avoid though

Whilst it’s a fact many charities don’t habitually sell random bottles of toiletries, the true cannot be said of gift sets, which are often displayed with the bric a brac. As a former manager for The Body Shop, I can date a White Musk body lotion from a mile away, and its not unusual for me to spot things I sold in store up to ten years previously. These unwanted items often languish in people’s bottom drawers for years before they hit the donation box. Don’t be tempted by health and beauty products, you might get a nasty rash. At best, they will have lost their potency or fragrance, even if sealed.

Lots of people donate items that they have incorrectly washed so they no longer fit. Whilst you may not see that as barrier to purchase if you’re a smaller size and it fits you now, I would approach with caution. Shrunken or faded garments rarely look good on. Sizing is so complicated, that just because that size 16 skirt now fits your size 12 frame, it doesn’t mean it will hang correctly or have an even hem, particularly if designed on the bias. Always, always try things on and get another opinion if you can.

Be fearless

About trying things on. Not many charity shops welcome refunds, so be sure about what you are buying. If you’re lucky, you might shop in one of the swankier stores with fully functioning fittings rooms, but more often that not it will be a curtained off area on the sales floor. My local one has wonky saloon doors that don’t fasten properly. There’s no point worrying about them swinging open at an inopportune moment, since any passing perverts can peek through the louvred doors and have a good gawp. I still try things on though. A bargain £3.99 dress is not a bargain if you get it home and it doesn’t fit.

Charity shops have a unique ambience. All human life is there. Embrace the random conversations with octogenarians, have patience with the volunteer cashier who is clueless when operating the till, singlaong to the Everly Brothers classic on Smooth FM (every charity shop plays Smooth FM). It’s all part of the fun.

Hunt, hunt, hunt (but play it smart)

First of all, the best time to shop charity is early to mid-week. Most donations come in on a weekend, so allow a day or so for things to be processed and hit the shop floor. Some people complain that the staff glean off all the best bits. That’s probably true, it’s a perk of the job (wouldn’t you?), but there’s no guarantees they are the same size as you, or have the same taste.

Maybe it goes without saying that you need time for an effective charity shopping trip.  Time is money; and you can only save one or the other. The advantage of new (rather than newtoyou) shopping is that everything is laid out nicely and your size easy to locate. Chez chazza you will need a broader approach. Check the sizes either side of your own; sometimes things are mislabeled, Gap US sizing is a frequent casualty of this, and labels vary so much anyway.  Check the mens section too and consider all styling options, but don’t go crazy.

This is probably the most controversial thing I have to say on the subject, but please exercise some sartorial caution with your choices. I do quite a lot of mooching on the internet about this subject, and Youtube in particular is a joy. There’s lots of ‘ haul videos’ where invariably bright young things show off their finds. The 90’s are BACK, and although these hipsters look fantastic in their oversized men’s check shirts and cut-off denims,  I am writing this as a 37 yr old squishy mother of two, and believe me reader, I would not. I did the grunge trend before, but back then I was a size 8 and drunk on lemon Hooch; these days I have no excuse. Shopping second-hand does not exclusively mean fashion forward, eclectic looks, any more than it used to mean tired and sad. A strong sense of identity and what suits you will really help before you throw yourself into the melee. The advantages of my age and style is that a lot of my contemporaries have disposable income to buy (and subsequently donate) clothes I like. Having said all of that, I am on the hunt for a little green velvet skater dress as I reckon I could still rock the Lisa Loeb look.

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Lisa Loeb looking lovely.

One more note if you are looking to build yourself that eclectic wardrobe; be aware that old does not equal vintage. Many shops now keep special vintage rails. In my experience these are unequivocally disappointing, and are full of polyester smocks with ‘Edna Potts’ care home name labels and dinner medals down the front. The best true vintage pieces are almost always snaffled up to be sold by specialist boutiques. Stay clear of these rails and look for repro or sympathetic high street pieces in with the main stock.

My best piece of advice here is to shop with an agenda, but keep it loose. At the moment I am shopping for clothes in Autumnal shades, with a particular focus on printed skirts and knitwear. I stand a good chance of picking something up, rather than limiting myself to a particular colour, print or item.

Don’t be begrudging

Don’t become one of the ‘How Much!?’ brigade. Charity shops are there to make money, not to furnish your wardrobes for pennies. Whilst it’s true to say that prices have risen recently, that’s true across the board, and a couple of extra pounds on a second-hand jumper is still going to be a significant saving on new, where even a Tesco acrylic cheapie wouldn’t come in under a tenner. Griping about pricing seems petty and churlish, so even if you do keep a healthy awareness of where the best bargains are to be found or who maintains a higher pricing structure (I find British Heart Foundation markedly more expensive), keep quiet about it when instore.

Lots of charity shops cluster together in the same parts of town, so you can make an afternoon of it. Take a friend, have some lunch and a giggle.

Have fun and be sure to share your bargains, I’d love to see them!