How To Shop Pre Loved: Tips For Thrifting, Charity Shopping & Buying Second Hand.

There definitely seems to be a generation shift in attitude towards buying second hand which I think is fantastic. I’ve seen many savvy blogs and Instagram accounts I follow run by people who embrace buying preloved saying its something their parents or grandparents would never consider. My parents are much the same, however my Nan whom I sadly lost recently, was the biggest charity shop lover I knew and she got me hooked at a young age. I can safely say that if it weren’t for her I probably would never have set foot in a charity shop let alone consider buying preloved online leading to my wardrobe being 1/3rd second hand since I made to decision to turn my back on fast fashion as much as possible.

If you can embrace second hand shopping there are some incredible savings to be made. Being unable to always find what I wanted in charity shops or thrift stores led me to buying preloved clothes on eBay enabling me to own £85 dresses for £9. Buying second hand is now my go-to way to shop and it has been for nearly 2 years. It isn’t dirty or scruffy at all as some people think. I’ve thrifted Ted Baker, Emma Bridgewater and Cath Kidston items all in great condition for absolute fractions of their RRPs. I still get compliments on my wardrobe and frankly, people will never know your item was worn by someone before you unless you tell them. Buying second hand has the bonus that it’s better for the planet, your wallet and charity shops are obviously raising money for good causes. Preloved purchases mean I now own brands previously out of my price range.

Advice For Charity Shopping

Embrace The Random. Charity shops are a like TK Maxx but of the preloved variety meaning you never know what you might find. Don’t go in expecting to see certain things, just have a browse and prepare to be surprised.

Check Every Section. I always skim round the clothing, homeware and book sections just to see if anything grabs my attention as when you succeed in grabbing a brilliant thrifty find it is so rewarding. One of my best charity shop finds was an Emma Bridgewater cup and saucer set which looked new. I paid £1.75 for it and they retail new around £25.

£1.75 Emma Bridgewater cup and saucer from a charity shop

Look Out For Gifts. In the last week in my local charity shop I’ve seen a brand new boxed Yankee Candle set so don’t always assume everything is second hand, I’ve picked up some great “new” gifts for people in the past in charity shops very cheaply.

Browse Beyond Your Typical Size Range for example if you’re typically a 10-12 I’d say browse from an 8-14 as you’ll find a wide range of brands all with varying sizes as well as vintage pieces whose sizing doesn’t quite correlate to sizing nowadays. As changing rooms are now out I often take a tape measure with me to quick check the waist of a skirt etc to see if it matches ones I have at home that fit so my buys are less of a gamble.

Basic Homeware always features in charity shops. They’re a great way to kit out a kitchen on a budget. You can often find entire full crockery sets really well priced. If you’re a new student leaving home for the first time looking to get kitchenware or a budget I’d definitely recommend trying local charity shops before trekking to IKEA or Wilko.

Check For High End Fashion Labels. Don’t shop just for the label but it is worth baring in mind. For example you’re getting better quality for less if you spot a Hobbs, Zara or Ted Baker label as opposed to Primark or BooHoo. One of my favourite dresses is a classic little black shift in great condition from Ted Baker and it set me back £16 in a charity shop in London. An LBD is such a great wardrobe staple that I was happy to pay that price, especially as I’d never be able to justify buying a dress from this brand new. A quick Google helped me find a brand new Ted dress similar to mine with an RRP of £169. Another long term favourite is a vintage M&S, St Michael, red tailored shift dress that set me back £9 and is the perfect dress for any “I don’t know what to wear” occasion. I don’t mind paying a bit more for quality labels but am less fussed about paying charity shop prices for high street items that are almost as cheap new.

My £16 Ted Baker LBD

Visit Charity Shops In Posh Areas. In the past I’ve found Karen Millen, Massimo Dutti, Seasalt and Ralph Lauren all under one roof for between £10-20. Whilst the prices tend to be higher than your average thrift shop you’re scoring a designer item so it’s to be expected and still a bargain compared to the RRP.

Give Clothes A Thorough Once Over. Its always worth checking if items have all their buttons, zips work, lining fabric is ok, there are no marks or holes etc.

Books. I’m a huge reader and estimate that of all the books I own only 3 were bought new and the rest were picked up preloved. I’ve found some charity shops which sell paperbacks as cheap as 50p or 3 for £1. If you’re keen to read series like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Fifty Shades, Me Before You or others that have been hugely popular in recent years don’t bother buying them new as a good 50% + of charity shops seem to have copies!

I tend to give any preloved items a wash once home which seems sensible given the current climate.

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