If I think back to seventeen year old me, she would rather be seen dead than in a charity shop.
Come to think of it, probably twenty five year old me wouldn’t be too different. And even, if I’m brutally honest, thirty five year old me too.
Something switched though about three years ago when a passing compliment to a friends outfit revealed that she had picked up said skirt / jumper / top (I can’t remember the specifics) for two quid from a charity shop.
That sparked a little curiosity in me at what perhaps I’d been missing and the bargain hunter within made a pact that at the next opportunity I’d have a little mooch to see what I could find.
This coincided with some subtle messages I was seeing on social media. Women I looked up to styling their individuality with unusual finds that weren’t the same as every other woman on the school run – whether they branded it up as vintage, retro, or just plain second hand. All credit to women like Sunita (Lucky Things Blog), Olga (Big Fat Greek Mother) and Julie (Mother with style) who celebrate the preloved fashion circuit and encourage more women to do the same.
And then there was the Stacey Dooley documentary of 2018 ‘Fashions dirty secret. I got more than I bargained for when I exchanged two hours of my life for the realisation of exactly how harmful fast fashion is to the environment.
In the last couple of years I’ve found some of the most amazing buys – items of clothing that are a win win in every sense of the word. Bargain? Absolutely. Sustainable? Totally. Fabulous? Entirely!
The first of many buys was my vegan biker jacket. Topshop classic that brought my floaty maxi dresses and jeans and tees combos up to the minute, costing me just a tenner.
And then there was the green sparkly backless dress which took me right through the Christmas season of 2018 and even made a wedding reception appearance in the spring. Ten quid, I kid you not.
Charity shop find highlights came in the form of a pair of Massimo Dutti navy chinos, perfect when my booze-free lifestyle made me drop a dress size but I wasn’t ready to re-purchase my wardrobe.
And one of my favourites yet – a grey and neon pink pair of Nike Blazers which I have been lusting after FOREVER. They had been on my subconcious wish list and hours of scouring the net for a pair came to a blissful ending when I found this pair, in my size for two pounds.
I mean, yeah they’re a bit muddy on the sole. But THEY’RE TRAINERS.
Rolling into 2019 and the run up to Christmas I popped a new rose gold party dress in my Depop basket for just £7. Dresses like this however are not just for christmas and I cannot wait to get this little number out as soon as possible.
For my work formal event I had agonised over options, and bought this Virgos Lounge Wendy Dress for £20, a snip of the full price of £130.
It had a small mark on the skirt but the gamble paid off and a quick rub with vanish and I just got myself the bargain of the century. I didn’t get a picture of myself in the dress, but it received so many compliments on the night.
In January 2020 I committed to doing a no spend January. I lasted well, at least until the twenty something, but something cropped up on Depop that I just couldn’t resist. I’d been desperately in need of a formal outfit for work and had been online window shopping tailored suits. When a Navy Next suit cropped up in my size for just twenty quid, it seemed the universe was telling me to not let it go.
And so, with a few additional numbers from the seller, which made the postage even more worthwhile, I broke my pledge but gained the perfect work suit which will definitely not be saved for best.
There are no limits to the opportunities online when it comes to shopping second hand. I’ve gone right beyond my comfort zone and picked up bundles of designer bras for unbelievable prices, I’ve got the girls toys that I know full well will be a five minute wonder (happyland, Sylvanian families, Disney Infinity figures) and I’ve also found things like boxing gloves, running accessories and even my Garmin watch is reconditioned.
In a throwaway society, where fashion trends are available at the click of a button, often for a snip of the cost they impose on our planet, it’s definitely worth reframing your view on second hand shopping.
You can pass it on, sell it on, charity shop it, depop it, eBay it, sell it, buy it, wash it, disinfect it if you need to. Call it vintage, call it a charity shop gem. Re-love the pre-loved and save the pennies and the planet in the meantime.
This is one trend that needs to hit the high street, make the main stream and stay there.
I’d love to hear about your second hand bargains…