How To Win at Charity Shopping

Mondaine Classic Ladies Watch

I have a real love/hate relationship with charity shopping. Throughout college and university I relied on it as a way to buy nice things on a next-to-nothing budget. Now I have a slightly more conflicted attitude - not least because I don’t have the same amount of time and willpower to commit to searching rails of second-hand clothing.

That said, I do still think charity shopping is, on the whole, a great way to shop. I’ve had little success when hunting for a specific piece in particular, but if you’re shopping without much aim it can be a great way to find one-off pieces that don’t cost the earth. With that in mind, here are just a few charity shopping tips that I’ve picked up over the years.

Charity Shop Tips
Charity Shopping Tips

Don’t limit yourself by size or gender

I have an undying love for oversized shirts and sweaters (often the uglier the better), so this tip naturally suits me down to the ground. Some of my most worn pieces have been from the men's section; especially as many tops and jackets don't have an implied gender anyway. It’s also worth nothing that some of the older pieces - especially those labelled as ‘vintage’ - will often differ in size from what’s printed on the tag. The vast majority of charity shops have changing rooms available, so it's worth taking the time to try things if you can.

Keep an open mind

The ability to keep an open mind and take things out of context is key for successful second-hand shopping. It’s not something that I’m naturally great at, but having a good imagination can really help as garments are unlikely to be shown on mannequins or stocked next to pieces that complement them. Picturing pieces together with items from your own wardrobe can help you to see them in a completely different way.

Charity Shopping Tips
Vintage Shopping Tips

Shop small

My favourite charity shops are the smaller, more local ones as I find that they're more inclined to put out older stock that isn't necessarily perfect, but is different and quirky enough to spark my interest. Smaller stores tend to pay less attention to the label on an item and put it out regardless of where it came from originally, which is ideal if you're hoping to find something a little different. 

Don't be afraid to experiment

You're unlikely to be paying a huge amount in a charity shop (and if you do, the garment is probably more than worth it), so it's the perfect opportunity to experiment and step outside your comfort zone. You're doing something brilliant for charity and getting something from it for yourself, so go for it and explore. Getting stuck in and rummaging to the bottom of the pile is often the only way to source the real treasures. 

Norwich blogger
The Only Ones blog


All other items worn are from charity/vintage shops

FashionNatalie Stubbs