Images from my shop report at Urban Outfitters Bristol, 5/11/13.
I’ve been asked to write a charity shopping post for a while – I’m into my second hand shopping more than anyone and love the thrill of never knowing what you’re going to find! Charity shopping can be frustrating and overwhelming for those who don’t know how best to approach it, so I’ve put together a few of my tips for anyone looking to score a special find and get the best value for your ££ amongst the Primark and polyester blouses.
Know where to shop! Some shops constantly have good items in stock whilst others have nothing but rubbish. Choose your area or town carefully – more affluent neighbourhoods bring the wealthiest donators and are therefore more likely to stock designer labels and American/foreign brands (nothing better than finding unexpected Betsey Johnson, Tommy Hilfiger & good quality Abercrombie where you least expect it). Some charities are more popular than others for donations – I find cancer charities always have plenty of new stock in all the time as everyone is affected by it somehow, as well as Barnardos and Salvation Army. Visit charity shops all over town on a regular basis to find out where you tend to get the best deals in your area.
Know when to shop! Find out when donations are put out and what times & days you’re more likely to find new stock. I prefer to go late morning, as employees at local businesses tend to peruse the charity shops during their lunch breaks and donations seem to be put out earlier in the morning, so I’m more likely to get to the good items before anyone else. Mondays and Tuesdays are my favourite days to go since most people donate at the weekends, although I still stop by again during the week or on a Saturday if I have time.
Check out your item before buying. There’s nothing worse than getting a gorgeous dress for £10 then going home to find out it doesn’t fit, or there are nasty armpit stains you didn’t see in the shop. Is the damage something you could wash out or sew up? If it’s not labelled ‘as seen’, show the staff the damage and ask for a discount if the price is otherwise too steep – cheeky but sometimes necessary. Some charity shops offer returns, however it’s so important to check pieces before handing over your money. Check for stains, holes & other problems all over and try it on before buying if you can – I’ve bought too many supposed lovely items then notice an impossible stain or moth hole after I’ve left. If you’ve found what looks like a designer piece, check tips on sites such as The Purse Forum before overpaying for a fake.
Be skeptical of the ‘designer’ and ‘vintage’ rail. If employees are web-savvy enough, they may have checked prices of supposed designer pieces on Ebay before selling, making your supposed second-hand bargain not that much of a bargain at all. It does annoy me when pieces with high-end labels have their price jacked up so much that I might as well buy it new from the brand’s own store, but then again it does generate money for the charity as someone else will eventually buy it. Yesterday I found a cute Orla Kiely jacket; shame it was priced at £70! Similarly, don’t overpay for ‘vintage’ items that are poor quality or heavily worn, it’s crazy what passes for ‘vintage’ these days!
Make friends with staff. All charity shop employees I’ve met have been lovely, friendly and helpful. If you make the effort to say hi and chat with them every time you see the same faces, they might be nice enough to tip you off on any new items in stock that you might be interested in, or ones that haven’t been put out yet. And it’s nice to make new friends, of course.
Some days I return from charity shopping with a bag full of great pieces; other days I return empty handed. Half the fun is the mystery of not knowing what lovely piece you might find, as opposed to shopping at Topshop when everything they have in store and more is online anyway.
What’s the best thing you’ve found in a charity shop? I got a Betsey Johnson dress the other day, a gorgeous Abercrombie cardigan that looks brand new (and our new washing machine promptly shredded..!) and a Hermés scarf for £3 that turned out to be fake but is pure silk and still looks divine with my faux leather jacket!
As much as I do prefer to post regular updates, it isn’t always possible as Life Stuff happens; not always expected, completely throwing out the window any pre-acquired sense of organisation, productivity or healthy eating habits. I’m hoping all of the Life Stuff will gradually settle into place so I can be a bit more organised, especially since I have a biiig unit coming up at uni and I’m not entirely confident about it right now and therefore need to step my game up and work my face off yet again.
Anyway, onto street style goodness! For part of my last unit I took street style photos, 90% in London, which I thought would be terrifying but I loooved it. Last time I brought you the London Fashion Week edition; here are my ultimate favourites from last month for my March edit! Please comment & let me know what you think!
Got to love a big designer handbag contrasted with high street items. This girl keeps her on-trend beanie simple in black with a matching scarf plus girly pink studded shoes to stand out amongst masculine boots in the cold cold weather.
People wearing BRIGHT winter basics make me so happy; boring Londoners dressed in a uniform of ugly black raincoats and cheap black shoes make me sad. Extra points for co-ordinating your coat with your hair, of course.
It bothered me in a way that I couldn’t tell how old this stylish lady wash, but I loved her stand-out blue trousers teamed with her black jacket and white hair – classic!
Never quite getting over grunge style. Pastel hair and wear-everywhere khaki jackets are definitely my thing. Especially when I see others do it so well.
More stand-out brights in the crazy cold weather – this girl managed to pick up this awesome skirt for cheap in a charity shop, getting a big thumbs up from myself of course.
As nerve-wracking as it can be going up to fantastically stylish people in the streets and asking for their photo, especially in our culture, I really do enjoy it. Despite the ~10% of people who will say no, shoo you away or just plain ignore you, the other 90% are lovely, great to chat to about our shared appreciation for style & I’ve even kept in contact with a couple! I do feel a bit of an amateur going around with my (virtually antique and often uncooperative) iPhone 3G camera so maybe I shall invest in a nice fancy camera when I can afford it. Not to mention, most of the well-known bloggers who shoot street style on occasions have ‘blog cards’ to hand out to their subjects so they can check out the photographer’s blog, & also be reassured the photos aren’t being used for dodgy purposes! Something to think about, maybe?
Hope to be bringing more street style posts soon, in better weather of course!
I’m in the midst of my busy trend forecasting unit so life is crazy right now, but since most of my class is in Milan on a trip classes are cancelled for this week – so I got to go London during the Fashion Week events and take awesome street style photos!
Here’s a rundown of some of the lovely, insanely stylish fashionistas I met:
As you can tell, I had a busy & wonderful day talking to some of the most stylish ladies in the city, not to mention sampling London’s finest mexican foods & cupcakes – I could never pass up such an opportunity! Although London’s always fun, I’m very happy living in Bournemouth where it’s not quite so busy & populated.
I want to take even more street style shots soon for the street report part of our project, so stay tuned!
Playsuit – Primark, modified. Bought for £5, removed the collar and beltloops and tacky fake gold collar links, adjusted neckline. Bam, new favourite playsuit.
Top – Primark
Belt – Vintage
Tights – Hollister.
Wore with snowboots, black wool biker jacket and cosy faux sheepskin Primark gloves, it’s still below freezing outside. Managed to do a spectacular slide across the BU car park while walking to uni.
Finally I can wear my Sorel snow boots out without people thinking I’m crazy.
Today I wore:
– Aforementioned snow boots
– Primark thermal lined leggings
– Super-thick socks
– American Apparel thermal top layered with a t-shirt
– Pins & Needles leather jacket
– River Island leopard scarf (convincingly real to Alannah’s cat)
..& it’s still freezing.
However these keep my feet warm and dry in the heaps of snow we’ve had and I wear them pretty much all the time in the winter, even when it’s not snowing, because they are the warmest coziest things, being fleece lined and all. Like Ugg boots but actually practical and better looking. First heard about the things a few years ago over at the now defunct Daddy Likey, mentioned in practical but also cute winter boots for cold weather. Upon further research I immediately saw these online and imported them from the US at some crazy price, even though Treds are selling similar ones for a fraction of what I probably paid.
Even though the snow won’t be around for long, Sorels are still amazing, good-looking boots to have in the cold, cold weather, & even if you don’t love faux fur they do them in a ton of different styles all over the internet. You also get to watch students navigating slippery snowy pavements in Converse and ballet flats, then laugh at them. And even if classes get cancelled because of ‘adverse weather conditions’ you can still walk to the pub without falling on your bum.