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A Novice's Guide to Charity Shop Shopping

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

guide to successful charity shop shopping

I’m going to start this by saying that I’m certainly not an expert on pre-loved or charity shop shopping however, like most of us I’m eager to reduce my carbon footprint and very aware of the impact the clothing industry has on the environment. If the truth be known I am a charity shop virgin, and that’s why I wanted to write this to give you the perspective on charity shop shopping from a complete novice! 

I was invited along to ‘Boutique by Shelter’ in Coal Drops Yard behind Kings Cross with the challenge of styling three outfits out their pre-loved clothes for a photo shoot. Now they are not your average charity shop, first of all they are in the uber-cool Coal Drops Yard with a bespoke interior by HemingwayDesign. They specialise in offering pre-loved designer, vintage and high quality high street clothing at a fraction of the original price. All proceeds from the boutique go towards fighting homelessness in the UK. 

I was apprehensive before I went, as a stylist and perfectionist I am very fussy about my clothes and I have a very strong sense of my own style. I know what I like and I know what does and doesn’t suit me. However I was very pleasantly surprised. I managed to find and put together very easily three outfits that were very me. I did add my own accessories to some of the looks but the clothes were all from the boutique. My outfits were a mixture of high street brands including Mango, Urban Outfitters and French Connection all clothes that I would genuinely wear and some very similar to what I already have in my own wardrobe. There are honestly some real gems in there and I didn’t even need to really rummage which is something I’m not very good at.

So here’s what I learnt along the way and some tips that might help you or inspire you to try out your local charity shop or take a visit to ‘Boutique by Shelter’ if you do you will receive a warm welcome, I can assure the staff are as fabulous as the clothes.

Go with a Completely Open Mind.

If you go looking for something specific it’s not going work. Charity shops are directed by the donations they receive not by trends or seasonal events. Be completely open to what you might find.

Stay True to You.

Try to select items that you know flatter you in terms of your body shape and colour and you can’t go wrong. Although, if you feel like experimenting a little and going outside of your normal style the charity shop is the place to do it, it can help you avoid expensive mistakes and doesn’t have such an impact on the environment. 

Have Fun With It.

Get creative, mix up prints, textures, vintage with new and high street with designer. You will be amazed at what you find.

You Need Patience and Time.

Be prepared to really look for clothes. You can’t shop by glancing around like you often can with high street stores, you need to really get into the rails. Take things out and really look at them. You may not find something on your first visit but keep going and eventually you will. 

Now like I say this is a novice's point of view, there are a lot of ladies that are experts at this but it’s definitely opened my eyes to pre-loved shopping. However, if after reading this and you still don’t think charity shop shopping is for you go and have a rummage in your own wardrobe and see what you could donate to a charity shop, at least you will be helping out a worthy cause and the environment. As the saying goes ‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure’.

Special thanks to Queenie and Hattie at 'Boutique by Shelter' for having me and my friend @adelaknox for being my partner in crime.

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