One of my favourite things to do when I feel like spending but can’t really afford it, is to hit the charity shops with my best buddy! It’s a completely under-rated way to shop which many people still turn their noses up at as if wearing someone’s old cast-offs (which you do wash before wear, obviously) is equal to using old second hand bath water!
The proof is in the pudding because every time someone says “ Wow , where did you get that skirt/ mirror/ belt/ authentic 1973 Twinkle annual?!” you can guarantee my answer (accompanied by a chuffed grin) to be “charity shop” .
These places don’t look much to the eye, I admit, but hidden amongst the trash is the treasure! You just have to have the patience to look through it. When me and said best mate leave a charity shop, no corner, rail, basket or shelf has been left undisturbed!
Half the fun is trying stuff on. A lot of things look better on you than they do on the hanger and it’s best to check that stuff fits before you get over excited. The sizing is usually just estimated by the old dears who run the place so if you’re a 12 check the 10 and 14 rails too so you don’t miss anything. Sometimes we try stuff on that we know we’d never wear in public but secretly love. It’s like when you play dressing up as a kid. We were once delighted to find a granny wig and had a very immature moment with that!
That’s the good thing about going with a mate - you can have a laugh. They can also suggest things you never would go for and convince you to try them on. It gives you a fresh fashion perspective which is great if you usually wear the same sort of thing all the time and they can tell you truthfully whether you look amazing or stupid when you emerge from the changing room.
It’s not all about clothes either. Charity shops are excellent for decorating your flat! They sell all sorts of quirky plates, mugs and general kitchen stuff, lampshades, pictures, clocks, curtains and so on. It helps if you’re a creative type because you get a lot more choice.
Remember most things can be transformed with a bit of imagination! Frames are a weakness of mine. I don’t care what colour they are or what picture is inside, as they never remain as they are for long. Once I’m home, it’s out with the craft supplies! I paint them with tester pots, sometimes stencil them, sometimes stick random stuff on (buttons, beads, magazine cut-outs, anything small), change the tatty old hanging string to ribbon, take out the picture of a horse and swap it for one of my sons creations, a postcard, pictures from magazines, photos, anything…et voila!
My other, BIGGER, weakness is fabric! Skirts, tops, scarves, table cloths, bed linen, curtains…if I love the material: Bag it, I’ll take it! To the creative mind one cute bed sheet can be a load of new cushions, a funky skirt can be a one-of-a-kind bag, a handful of little girls clothes can be the most gorgeous patchwork picnic blanket ever created! If you can sew a straight line you’re halfway there and you can find sewing tutorials for just about anything online or at the library if you get stuck.
Look in the books section too - great for fairly recent chick-lit , old annuals, books about sewing, gardening, cookery, and loads more. I also collect children’s “Things to make and do” books for quirky ways to spend a rainy day!
Finally, let’s not forget that by buying from charity shops you’re donating hard cash to worthwhile causes, recycling, reducing waste, saving energy, sticking your fingers up to consumerism, finding brilliant stuff that none of your mates will have and getting a lot more for your money! Other stuff to keep an eye out for:
- Kids clothes
- for the cute material
- motifs (plastic, embroidered, printed etc) which you can cut out and sew or glue onto bags, wallets etc.
- or for actual kids to actually wear.
- Very small things
- to make into brooches, key rings etc.
- stick onto frames
- embellish handbags, clothes, whatever.
- my “going out shoes” cost me £3.50 and have lasted years! How’s that for a bargain?
- if you find old wellies you can paint them all funky and wear them or grow plants in them.
- Men’s T-shirts
- can easily be reconstructed into smaller girly tops if you like the design and the price is right
- beaded necklaces just for the beads!
- Old board games
- I once saw a Scrabble notice board on the net. The letter pieces had been glued to tacks I think and were used to stick memos to the actual game board up on the wall. It looked brilliant.
- Or just buy them to actually play!