3 hacks for finding treasures in charity shops


I used to never quite "get" second hand clothing. On the rare occasion I went to a charity shop, I would just see a whole load of musty, miss-matched stuff that left me cold. The only time I shopped here was when I needed a weird but wonderful fancy dress costume.

Then, something changed. I decided to give charity shops a second chance - after all, I knew so many people who found real gems there that were not only bargainous, but also beautiful and truly unique. And then, I figured out what I had been doing wrong all along! I used to march in there with the attitude of a high street shopper: "This is gonna be really easy, one little browse and I'll find what I need". I would scan all items quickly, half-heartedly touch a few fabrics here and there, turn my nose up at the worn out shoes, and have my prophecy self-fulfilled in no time.

By now, I know what I was doing wrong, and I would like to share it with you. I have realised that charity shops are an absolute treasure chest if you have the right shopping technique. There are three things that are absolutely crucial if you want to be successful at treasure hunting:

1) You can't just have a browse. You must look at absolutely each and every item - closely

I know, what a bore, right? (Although not for me, since I happen to love sifting through potentially amazing clothes). But really, this is the most important rule for charity shop buying. In a high street shop, they make it easy for you - each garment is in pristine condition, and everything is placed in prime position to be discovered. However, in a charity shop, you might have to comb through 99 rather dull items before you find the one gorgeous dress, jumper or coat. Also, many items are slightly soiled, not ironed or just generally looking a bit sad, so if you don't properly inspect each item, you might very well miss a good find.

2) You have to leave your shopping list at home

When I go to a charity shop, I never know what I am looking for - but I know when I found it. Confusing much? Basically, if you have very precise needs - a new winter coat or a pair of black ankle boots for example - your trusted high street or designer shop might be the best choice. But if you visit a charity shop, you have to come with an open mind - don't go in looking for something in particular, as you most certainly won't find it. Just see what the randomness brings and enjoy the adventure!

3) You have to imagine it out of context

If you have ever been lingerie shopping at Ann Summers, you must know this trick! In their stores, everything looks rather tacky and sad. BUT! Take one of their bras or knickers out of the shop, wear it in your pretty bedroom, and suddenly, boom, it looks precious and beautiful. The same goes for charity shops. You have to mentally take each item out of the cluttered, un-glamourous shop to really see its beauty. Just look at the cape I am wearing in the pictures. In the charity shop, it was surrounded by stained shirts, faded 70s leather jackets and shapeless T-shirts. It was half sliding of the unsightful plastic hanger and had an ugly price tag attached to it. Taken out of the shop and thrown over a ruby velvet dress, Little Red Riding Hood style, it suddenly looks pretty nice, don't you think?

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