Something you might not know about me is that I am in fact a charity shop bargain fanatic! Our American friends might call this 'thrifting', we don't quite have the scale of thrift shops the states have to offer: row upon row of treasures in warehouse-type buildings. The UK 'thrifts' on a slightly smaller a scale unfortunately, but this does not mean it isn't still fabulous!
I'd say twice a month I see myself sifting through rails in my local Salvation Army and Sue Ryder (two very strong contenders in my small town). Below I have curated a list of top tips I follow when entering these weirdly wonderful shopping destinations:
You must be in the right mind frame to commit to a thrift shop, and this is a must for me. I would never recommend floating towards an oxfam if you've spent a whole day ogling in high street stores. As a pre-warning: you're about to enter a mine-field of mix-match eras, sizes and prints. Imagine the end of season Topshop Sales rails but every other piece you see, you wish you hadn't touched! Go and get a coffee, sharpen up that brain and go in mentally ready to trail through piece after piece with an exceedingly open mind.
Okay, so we're in the store, I usually start with women's tops. Starting from size 8 upwards I will work my way round all top sizes (remember oversizing is and always will be a thing) all the while keeping an eye on branding. I'm usually looking out for vintage Jaegar pieces and higher end anomalies. I once found a vintage tweed YSL blazer, this was perhaps the greatest day! You are most likely to find nicer quality branding in the ladies coat sections, it's thanks to charity shops I have a wonderful collection of 100% wool heavy duty winter beauties, and sheep skins to die for, I would otherwise never fathom purchasing at the full price!
3. Have an idea in mind
I always like to go in with a few ideas in the back of my mind so I can sift quicker to get to things that might fulfil my needs. For example, I'm living for satin shirts (silk if I can get it) this fabric is one of my season favourites, so much like a magpie I am eyeing up silky looking pieces amongst the crowds. Terribly 90s handbags and shoes are also very much on my radar at the moment, this DKNY bag you can see pictured below has the signature print I associate with this era so much. If it isn't certain pieces in particular, there are certain fabrics that will always catch my eye: cords, suedes & leathers to name a few.
Don't be afraid to look at the lingerie isle. A few of you might be gasping a little at the thought of handling someone else's knickers! This is not the idea. I have found this section to be one I neglected for years, but one that I have successfully found some killer satin slip dresses and vintage night gowns perfect for day wearing! I am currently on the lookout for a satin kimono dressing gown and will continue to peruse this isle until I find it!
Some of my most coveted pieces have been found in the gentleman's section of charity shops. From oversized thick flannel shirts, to boyfriend style blazers, or even retro sportswear (sweatshirts, polo tops and oversized t shirts) this area should not be overlooked! For a period of time, this was the only part of a charity shop I would go to, in the desperate attempt to find vintage ski wear (think George Michael in his 'Last Christmas' music video).
Today I'm wearing an outfit entirely made up of thrifted pieces (apart from the shoes, which are in fact Zara). I could not leave the store without these trousers, not only are they cord, they are the most beautiful pastel colour, great to clash with pinks, oranges and mustards. This little top I couldn't resist with it's tortoise shell button detailing, it totally fulfils the button up trend this summer, but also has a 90s feel which I was aiming for massively in this look.