I love shopping in vintage and charity shops and regularly mix and match pieces I have picked up with clothes I’ve bought from high street stores.
The buying of ‘second hand’ clothes does tend to divide opinion! Some people wouldn’t be seen dead coming out of a British Heart Foundation or vintage shop whilst others have a more relaxed view of what and where they buy items.
I have picked up some amazing pieces over the years and thought I would share my thoughts, hints, tips and tricks with you!
- Having a sense of your own personal style helps. Shopping in charity or vintage shops ain’t like TopShop (although I do love and regularly frequent Toppers!). With vintage you are unlikely to be presented with ‘things that go with other things’. Instead you are likely to encounter lots of completely diverse items of clothing, accessories and shoes that you will be selecting based on how it will fit into your ‘world’ and your style. This is absolutely the fun of it and will avoid you looking like a clone!!
- Pick your places. There is a BIG difference between vintage and charity shops and jumble sales! Most good charity and vintage shops won’t try and sell items that are in bad condition, very old, excessively worn or dirty. Look out for shops that are well organised, smell clean, with clothes that are spaced out for browsing and are on sized hangers.
- Buying shoes?!. This is a difficult one! A lot of people wouldn’t ever consider buying a pair of shoes that someone else has worn. Feet are a hot topic of concern and conversation! Personally, I have bought some banging shoes from charity shops but there are some golden rules that I always apply. For starters, don’t buy shoes that have obviously had a lot of wear. Go for shoes that are or look new, you’ll be surprised how easy they are to find. Generally, shoes (especially leather ones, which is the only type I go for) do tend to eventually wear to the shape of the owner’s feet. You could potentially damage your feet if you shove them into a pair that have been significantly ‘altered’. If you are unsure about ’newness’ have a look at the bottom of the shoes, a good sign would be that the soles are relatively unscuffed and that the original heel looks like it’s not been replaced. Lastly, give the heels and the shoes a good squeeze, twist and a wiggle! to make sure that each shoe is sound, the heels aren’t loose and make sure you try them on to make sure they don’t squeak! With brand new shoes it always worth thinking what they have done to be so naughty as to end up in the shop!…
- Visit frequently and don’t expect a hit every time. The fun of vintage or charity shopping is that you never know what you are going to get. The trick is to visit shops frequently and not be too disheartened if you walk straight out again with nothing. The next time you could come away with some gems!
- Be prepared to buy unseasonal pieces. A lot of the bigger charity and vintage shops are pretty good at displaying items which are in season. However, this is not always the case. You might not want to think about buying a winter coat in July or a pair of denim shorts in October but keeping an open mind and an eye on things you might not wear that minute is a definite advantage.
- Check things out. Make sure you try clothes on and give items a really good look over before you buy them. Check that zips work, ensure there are no rips, frays or pulls in the material, look out for stains and marks. Check any buttons! You will often find that there will be one or two a little bit loose and make sure to secure these before you use the item.
- Don’t forget about accessories. You can find some really unique and interesting pieces of jewellery and bags in charity and vintage shops. Most of the time they are dirt cheap as well.
- It’s the planet, man!…and your wallet! Savvy shopping in charity and vintage shops won’t only help your finances (leaving you to spend your money on the much more important things in life like travelling the world and buying camera gear!) but, in the case of charity shops, doing your bit for some great causes and, for our great Mother Earth, ‘recycling’ clothes
The pictures here are just a small selection of some of outstanding pieces I have picked up over the years.