March 31, 2020

Back in Fashion: Charity Shops

Did you know that charity shops helped boost retail last year? As customers’ appetites grew for pre-loved and upcycled second-hand goods, the climate-crisis, the slow-fashion movement and plastic pollution have all raised awareness on how a more sustainable and less wasteful lifestyle is the way forward.

Yet many people’s perception of charity shops is still of musty scented jumble sales with volunteers in tabards ie: not somewhere they actually want to shop in! 

Here’s where I try to ‘Celine-Dion’ you? (Think Twice? Oh, do keep up!) 

Firstly, what if I told you that on a recent charity shop haul in Epsom, I bought an original 1984 Guy Laroche dress and a Fortnum & Masons hamper?

And it isn’t just about the thrill of hunting down significantly reduced designer or luxury items either – it’s there for more practical purchases, too, like on another occasion, for the love of God, NOWHERE in Epsom seemed to stock a pair of wellies in my daughter’s size and I’d forgotten all about her Forest School session the NEXT DAY! Before I hit Defcon 1, I walked past Cancer Research and there in the window, not only a pair in her size but brand new and only FOUR. SWEET. POUNDS! 

Cinderwellies, indeed!

OK, I’ll admit, luck is a BIG player in this game! 

A bit like going into TK Maxx (Epsom has The Best One, btw) you’ve got to be in the mood and know what you’re looking for. You’ll not always be lucky. I’ve been looking for a second-hand chess set for YONKS but apparently, they’re the kind of thing that sell out fast! 

Saying that, I do quite like the chase. (Ooh Matron!) Think about it – we live in such a ‘Buy It NOW!’ culture, it’s actually quite refreshing, you know, having to wait for things – innit!

And when you DO find that treasure, there’s that smug-face-fuzziness-pig-in-poo JOY knowing you’re the only person to have it.

As a freelance stylist and former Fashion Editor, putting visually creative outfits together is of course, my thing. Whether it’s a timeless look or pushing the style boundaries, that’s my jam. I love to shop, snif out bargains and rummage around, however, I can totally see why for many it might not be the most simplest option.

So, here are my top three tips for first time buyer.

  • 1: Sizes vary every decade and newer synthetic fabrics nowadays tend to shrink, so always try things on and check defects can be mended before you buy. Oxfam does now have a 28 day refund policy but check in other places beforehand.
  • 2: Don’t be afraid to create new trends whether it’s repainting a 60s sideboard in Pikachu yellow or dressing down a suit with a vintage t-shirt. True style is about expressing your individuality, so have fun finding yours. 
  • 3: Charity shopping doesn’t mean looking like you’re going to a 40th fancy dress party. The usual high street suspects are all present, washed and ready to be re-loved. Epsom has loads of brilliant charity shops including Cancer Research, Oxfam and The British Heart Foundation all in a row. Go around the corner a little further and you’ll be at The Princess Alice Hospice which sells larger furniture, too. 

Words by Fatima Truscott @the_ft_times 

Once Upon A Town signature