Growing up in a single parent family money was very tight and new anythings
were few and far between. My mum became very savvy at shopping around and charity shops became a haven for a whole host of bargains. Unfortunately as a young teen I found it embarrassing and shameful and would quiet often refuse to go in,
waiting around the corner. In hindsight I now understand her frustration and exasperation at my attitude.
That however changed in a charity shop in Kensington where I found a fuchsia pink silk dress from Harrods for just £2; I was amazed that something I had never dreamt of owning was now so easily accessible and at a bargain price. I still, however
remained quiet about where my "new" finds had come from through fear of ridicule by my school friends and other pupils. This was in the days (the early 90s) where
Vintage was not cool. Even now when people think of Vintage clothing many think of specialist shops and sites selling designer goods, for me Vintage is just a fancy word for pre loved clothes regardless of where they come from.
Moving to Brighton for university I started experimenting with different looks including
1940s tea dresses, 70s halternecks and 80s power blazers. I then encountered stores like Rokit and Trade that encouraged me to start customising items from the bargain rails of the local charity shops.
While its fair to say that I love shopping and am always getting new things I also have
a huge love for all things Vintage and I would say about 40% of my wardrobe is Vintage. I love items that are unique and different with their own history and story and I will regularly check out Vintage sites, for me however as I have already alluded charity shops are the best untapped source. Here are my top 3 tips for getting the best out of charity shops.
1 Shop in affluent areas, especially if you are a label hound as theses stores tend to have lots of designer, well made and harder to find goodies. In Kensington I found a Louis V Epi clutch for just £25, in Wimbledon I got a Burberry jacket for £15 and in Winchester I got a custom made men's tuxedo jacket that I wear as a blazer over dresses for just £5.95 (see below).
2 Look closely at what you are buying. Look out for stains, especially in the armpits; this doesn't need explaining. Look out for stitching, especially in areas of the garment that are susceptible to pulling. Check that zips don't stick and that buttons are all present and correct.
3 Think outside of the box; don't like the colour? Dye it. Don't like the buttons? Change them. Dress too long or short? Cut it or wear a slip! Add studs, sequins, glitter: anything to add some pizzazz and make your find that bit more special and unique.
I don't just spout this ethos, I live it. My favourite things to hunt down are blazers, bags, dresses and skirts. Here are my favs
Vintage Navy dress
Red Peep Toes with bow detail (Schuh)
Leopard Print Skinny Belt (Warehouse)
Red Bag (Vintage)
Red Plastic Bow Ring (Accessorise)
Vintage Tuxedo Jacket
Floral Skater Dress (H&M)
Black Plastic Flower Ring (Store 21)
Black Plastic Necklace ( Primark)