6 October 2008

Charity shopping

I'm not sure how thrift stores operate in the US. Here in England each charity will take clothes and other items as donations and sell them in shops (known as charity shops) run chiefly by volunteers. The proceeds go to the charity.

I love charity shopping. It's environmentally responsible, it's frugal and it's fun! The thrill of the hunt PLUS a bargain - I'm sold.

If you've never been charity shopping / thrifting, you really should. Don't be put off by the fact that the clothes have already been worn - I don't know about you, but I actually expect my washing machine and detergent to produce clean clothes. A spin through the washer and the clothes come out exactly as your own would - no cooties in sight.

The fact that the clothes have been worn and washed already becomes a benefit when you realise you can see immediately how the clothes will hold up to wash and wear. And sometimes you can even find new, unworn items in the shop.

I love the fact that I have 8 charity shops within walking distance. Since losing weight I have dropped 3 sizes and have had to replace my entire wardrobe (underwear, clothes, pyjamas, even shoes as I dropped a shoe size, although I buy shoes new!) and charity shops really helped me flesh out my wardrobe on a tiny budget. Plus I get a sense of satisfaction at the recycling aspect.

Here are the items in my wardrobe that I bought at charity shops - about 40% of my clothes. I didn't spend over £7 ($14) for any item.

I absolutely adore this denim jacket. It has a great shape and is really flattering and goes with everything.

Another denim jacket.

This cardigan was like new. I love the beaded detailing along the hems and the slight sparkle to the yarn.

You've seen this little cotton cardigan before.

This sheer purple cardigan has three-quarter length sleeves. I love the velvet ribbon detailing and little ruffles on the sleeves.

Knitted vest, nice and warm.

Blue cotton cardigan.

I haven't actually worn this shirt yet - it still has the label in it (British Heart Foundation, £4.50) - it's perfect for this winter, though, especially with purple being all the rage.

Impulse buy I've never worn (British Heart Foundation label still attached, £4.50) - it's a semi-sheer crinkle fabric. Looks much better on than in this pic!

I love this shirt!

And this one!

I adore this blouse.

I wear this semi-sheer blouse over a little black top.

This is mini-dress length and I wear it over lightweight jeans.

This dress is a bit tight over the bum and I wear it with the bottom buttons undone, over tight bootcut jeans.

Very soft and cosy top, great for lounging around the house.

I like the lacing at the neckline and the bell sleeves.

(I just realised this skirt was actually from eBay!) I like the huge button and the A-line shape.

Classic denim skirt.

This navy denim skirt is so comfy as it's stretchy. It has a fantastic shape and makes my bum and hips look good. It's Laura Ashley but I sure didn't pay a Laura Ashley price!

How cute is this polka dot pleated skirt?

This long skirt is stretchy and comfy - perfect for winter with some boots.

I saw this skirt in the window of the charity shop and liked it. I found it on the rack after it had come out of the window. The hanger said it was size 8 (US size 4?) and I bought it because sometimes I can get into an 8 in skirts as they are more forgiving over the hips / bum. I brought it home and squeeeeeeeezed into it, only just managing to do up the zip. It's really tight over hips / bum. I took it off and looked at the label - it's actually size 6!! I was amazed I could even do the zip up. I still like it so I may move the waistband lower to a wider section of the skirt, trimming the top, and reset the zip. It will make it a couple of inches shorter and bring it to closer to my knee. I love the flirty sequined hem.

Plum peach-skin skirt.

You've seen this skirt before too.

Excuse this picture, this skirt had come out of the wash and I haven't ironed it yet. I love this! It's full length; the way the tiers are cut makes it so flattering and it goes with everything. It's corduroy.

How cute is this little tweed skirt?

I've not worn this yet as it's a bit tight in the waist (I didn't try it on before buying) so it still has the tag on - £2. It's a lovely floaty fabric with pintucks at the hem and a slight ruffle to the hem.

Bootcut jeans.

Excuse the state of the brown bootcut cords, I'd worn them and they were due for the wash.

Bootcut stretch denim jeans (unironed!).

These purple tweed trousers look better on, I promise. I like the flecks of colour in the tweed.

Wide-leg grey flannel trousers.

Ooh, now I'm in the mood for some more shopping! The fun of it is, every week or so there are new items in the shops. And when they have sale rails a bargain becomes a super-bargain and there is no resisting!

Some tips for charity shopping:
- go regularly
- be patient enough to look closely through each rail
- take your own reusable bags to continue the green effort
- take cash in smaller denominations (charity shops seldom accept £20 notes)
- inspect items closely for wear at the seams, stains, broken zips or missing buttons
- think about what you already have in your wardrobe; there's no point buying a bargain if you won't wear it
- lower your expectations - sure the item might last half of the time that a new one would, but if you've paid less than a third of the price of a new one it's still worth it
- don't expect to find exactly what you need, when you need it
- if you see something that you like and it fits, buy it; you may miss out if you come back later
- take a look at clothes one size smaller and one size bigger, some may fit as sizing varies from brand to brand
- charity shops in affluent areas will have better clothes on offer (better brands, less worn)
- don't forget to donate your own unwanted clothing and items

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