I love shopping second hand. I think charity shops are complete treasure troves- as this post can attest to! I always get comments where people say they can never find anything good in charity shops and so in honour of #secondhandfirst week, I thought I’d put together a few of my tips.
1. Have a list of wants
Shopping for one thing in particular in charity shops pretty much always ends in disappointment- if you need it badly, you know that it will never be there. Sod’s law dictates! However, I tend to make myself a general list of things I want in my wardrobe, whether those be based on trends or on items I have that have worn out. At the moment, black jeans, chunky polo knits, ankle boots, and minimal silky tops are all on there and every time I pop into a charity shop I think about those things whilst browsing. It helps you stop feeling overwhelmed by the options and be a little more focused.
2. Ignore sizes
Charity shops are often dreadful at sizing things correctly, even ignoring the differences in sizing between different brands and eras. A too big jumper could be the perfect slouchy knit or that pair of jeans from the random brand might actually be more forgiving than you realise. If you like the look of something, try it on.
3. Style it up
Lots of things can look completely different with a few styling alterations, and could be just what you were looking for, so think creatively. A long shirt dress could be a light duster coat if you wear it open over your jeans. Cuffing trousers and sleeves can make them look a thousand times better. A too short dress might actually work as a great tunic. Chopping trousers off into shorts or maxi skirts into minis can let you have the perfect fit and length. The possibilities are endless! If you know what style you are after, have a play around with things- it might turn junk into gold for your wardrobe.
4. Be persistent
Charity shops often have a fairly high turnover of stock, so it is always worth popping back, Just because one trip was fruitless, doesn’t mean they won’t have something great in next week. Often, you’ll find that the staff are regular and you can make friends- they might put stock aside for you if you’re nice enough! Be prepared to browse and that it might take you more than one visit to find what you were hoping for.
5. Go upmarket
Choosing where you charity shop makes a big difference to what you can find. In low income areas, charity shops tend to have more customers buying up the best stock, and fewer people are able to donate, so often there isn’t much to be found. Head to the wealthy districts and you often can find true treasure! I will make an afternoon of it and trawl round some of the more upmarket districts around Manchester, like Didsbury, Altrincham and Chorlton. They offer a huge amount more than the busy city centre shops and if the locals have money, their seconds tend to be pretty nice. After a little bit of exploring you can usually find out which shops tend to get the best stock in.
Do you shop second hand? Have you got any fail-safe techniques for finding amazing second hand items? Where are your favourite charity shops and what is the best thing you’ve found? I am currently very pleased with a mohair and cashmere knit I got for £2.00- very Acne-esque and I want to live in it right now!