Charity Shops, a Love Story

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Why did it seem like I had more money when I was a student? Oh right, because I was drunk! I was so drunk.

Anyway – now that the reality of seeking work with an Arts degree has truly hit home (i.e, three part-time jobs which have nothing to do with an Arts degree) I have become a charity shop afficionado. I mean, I dabbled, half-heartedly, in the past, but now its serious.

I really, really love clothes. I love them if they’re mad. I love them even more if they cost less than a pound. The Hall of Fame includes:

The Denis the Menace jumper (red and black stripes, sparkly, huge) which cost 50p.

Faith leather heels in a 1940s style: 50p

A Liberty print scarf: £4. Tragically lost at sea. (No, in a bar).

Most recently, my mum found a silk Karen Millen tea-dress for me in a charity shop in France. Its floral! Yeah, fashion. All the handbags in the photo (leather! suede!) cost about £5 each, and as far as handbags are concerned, those three really are the tip of the iceberg.

Side note: despite all the old lady clothes and possible dead person’s tea sets, charity shops are confoundingly heart-warming. They’re full of treasure. Urban Outfitters, on the other hand, makes me lose the will to live.

Anyway – here are my tips for getting the most out of your charity shops:

1. Guilt-free shopping: because a) it’s really cheap, and b) it’s for charity yo!

2. Search from XS to XXL because it really doesn’t matter – all the makes are different, and giant jumpers look fantastic on everybody. (Or, well, I love them anyway).

3. If, like me, you have a Good Housekeeping approach to clothes and want everything you own to last forever, here is the holy grail of cheap merino wool, cashmere, tweed and leather. Usually in brand names you’ve never heard of like Chinzano Designer Wear (actual brand that I purchased).

4. Search through absolutely every part of the shop. (This may require serious magpie tendencies). There is ALWAYS treasure. Today I spotted some unworn Kurt Geiger high heels for £6. They were, heartbreakingly, a size 3, and I’m a size 8. Reader, I dithered.

5. It may help if you enjoy wearing eccentric outfits. It will probably help a lot, actually. I usually contain my weirder fashion outbursts to the house, but I sometimes venture out and about looking a bit… cat lady? I’m very envious of people who manage to wear really unusual stuff and just look chic. Its an art.

6. Last but not least… if you buy too much, too often, it ceases to be a money saving exercise. This is a hard lesson to learn, and sadly, I really haven’t learnt it.

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2 comments

  1. Hi Amy (….think you were about 8 the last time I saw you!)
    Take it to another level and try dumpster-diving behind the big name stores at end of season. We now have a garage full of totally unused (many still in wrappers) skis, skates, snowboards, snowshoes (Yes it’s Canada) and a full set of new golf clubs – all thrown out after sales or because of returns for trivial reasons, scratch, frayed stitch, etc.
    Nothing cost a penny (cent).
    You of course could seek out the designer gear stores.

    • Hi Ken, how amazing to hear from you – the wonder of the internet!
      That sounds like my dream hobby – although I’d love hunting for all this stuff I don’t know if I’d have the motivation to then go out and use it on sporty activities. Maybe it would be more enticing once I had some great equipment for free though!
      I was saying to mum the other day that the downside of all of this is that you are relying on other people being incredibly wasteful and throwing perfectly good stuff away – however until everybody is ethically minded with regards to waste, I figure its ok to benefit (and we are, after all, recycling).

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