By Josie Gudgeon
Thrifting is the term us Brits know as charity shopping. Most UK charity shops are smallish shops on the high street, whereas the US thrift stores are often large warehouses. Because of this many of us living in the UK are led to believe we are unable to thrift; finding unique one-of-piece and grabbing a bargain. However, I’m here to tell you that’s where you are wrong.
In the past few years, social attitudes have changed and we have become more open-minded to second-hand goods. But I remember when I was younger and thought that charity shops were only for poor people. Thrifting has now started to appeal to more middle-class people. As a result, charity shops have seen an increase in their pricing. However, this could just be due to the current rental market for the buildings.
In the UK unless our thrift stores are vintage shops, they are charity shops such as Oxfam or the British Heart Foundation that have a sole purpose to raise money.
As I mentioned in my previous article on sustainability, I love to keep up with trends but I do not believe in feeding the fast fashion industry. Living as a student I don’t have a dependable income to spend large amounts of money on sustainable garments. So, for me, thrifting is a unique way to find one-of-a-kind pieces. Buying second-hand clothing saves the items from ending up in landfill sites and intern is an eco-friendlier way to shop. Thrifting may seem a little intimating at first, but I promise it is a rewarding way to shop.
So, let’s get down to why you are all here. You want to know how you can get your hands on the best fashion, at the best prices. Here is my advice on what works for me.
One of the key aspects of thrifting is that you never really know what you are going to find. It is important to try and stay open-minded because if you have a very specific item which you want in mind, you will most likely be disappointed. Some days you might find everything you are looking for, whereas other days you might find nothing. If you have an open mind it will result in a more successful thrifting experience.
Look Through Every Section
With thrifting, no sections are off-limits and should be left unlooked at. Often in thrift shops items can be mislabelled or hung in the wrong place, so don’t always trust the size on the hanger. But besides this, I still feel that it is important to look in all size categories as sizing fluctuates so much between brands, and donated items can be from a variety of time periods which allows for more margin. Personally, I love a baggy jumper but sometimes knitted wear may have been shrunk in the wash by the previous owner, with the label stating ‘large’ but it fits like a ‘small’. A lot of thrift shops have changing rooms so don’t be ashamed to try items on. I have found many great items in children’s sections, men’s wear, lingerie etc. Another key is children’s wear. For example, little boy’s t-shirts can often be worn as crop tops or their jeans make perfect mom jeans if you are a petite girl.
Take Your Time
Thrift shopping can be very time-consuming. Especially as I have said it is best to look through every section and most likely you will go to several thrifts stores to find some good clothing items. So, to give yourself the best chance of looking through everything properly it’s a good idea to allow yourself a few hours so you are not rushed.
Look Out For Discounts
Often in charity shops, they have a one-pound rail or some red tagged items. This works just like high street stores where a product which is reaching the end of its shop floor life is reduced down. These prices are something that you don’t want to miss out on. Often you can find yourself some really nice items or even somethings which you can customize to transform in order to create something really unique.
Second-hand stores get new stock donated to them regularly; visiting them frequently will give you the best chance of finding unique pieces. Also, it is good to explore new areas as they will have different charity shops with their own unique stock. I always like visiting new shops especially when I have travelled away. I can guarantee that I always find good pieces whilst on holiday.
The best part about thrift shopping is that you can have as much fun as you want and be as creative as your imagination can possibly be. There are no limitations. Firstly, thrifting allows you to find unique pieces to style. Secondly, thrifting can open your imagination to loads of new styling ideas just by using basic sewing and creative techniques to transform garments into a one of piece.
Use Cash, Not Cards
Most charity shops accept card these days. However, our aim is moving towards second-hand fashion and away from overconsumption of unsustainable and unethical fashion. So, by setting yourself a budget and physically bringing the amount with you ensures you are mindful when shopping. This helps to reduce the fast fashion habits in a different form.
Know Your Measurements
In general, it is good to know your own measurements. As often you may not feel like trying the clothes on in the charity shop. To avoid having to do so, carrying a tape measure in your bag will allow you to check the measurements of clothes against your own measurement to gauge whether or not they will be a good fit. I believe that the key to a long-lasting wardrobe is having items that fit perfectly so it is good to be prepared.
Ask Yourself If You Need It
Because charity shopping can be so cheap it can be easy to get carried away and often have the urges of fast fashion. We really need to reduce the overindulgence in consumption, so we need to stop and question whether we can create outfits with this piece or whether we really need it. Often this is really hard with discounted rails found in the charity shops.
Check Washing Instructions
It is helpful to always check the washing instructions as I always put all of my purchases from the charity shops into the washing machine once I get them home. But if the product has complicated care instructions like dry clean only are you willing to invest in the work of cleaning it? If not, is it worth the purchase?
It is important to donate back to charity shops with your unwanted clothing. In order to allow you to find good products, you hope that people donate their unwanted clothing so you can continue its life. I believe we need to reciprocate so that others are able to find items they love, therefore creating a happy thrifting cycle.
I hope these handy tips and tricks might help you on your thrifting journey. Let’s enjoy this eco-friendlier way to shop, get creative, and find your unique style.