Hello everyone

Not much to report this week apart from we’re now wearing masks outside at all times and not just for going into a shop. It’s interesting. We’re doing this because of the new variant that originated here and the fact that there are so many cases currently in the UK. Yes, there’s a slight decrease in numbers after nearly 3 weeks of this latest lockdown but even so, the virus is now much easier to catch so, no surprise here, I am not taking any risks. Anything not to get it. Mind you, doing this makes me understand just a little more where those nuts who are mask-haters are coming from, as it really isn’t quite as pleasant doing our daily walk. Despite the cold temperatures the face gets sweaty, and the mask becomes wet really quickly. Furthermore, my glasses constantly fall off my nose as the mask strap and the specs vie for space behind my ears! And you can’t see me smiling!

Still, needs must.

The walks continue to be spectacularly beautiful, especially when the sun shines on the sea.

The swimmers usually go in on days when the sea is as flat as a pancake – it would be rare to see people swimming with the waves like this.

As you know, I am usually a cup half full person and here are some things that are making me feel quite positive – note the quite! Not saying I am totally over the moon about this year so far but hey, congratulations America on the successful inauguration of Joe Biden as your 46th President. Hurrah for sanity!  Lady Gaga – wow – wasn’t she stupendous and wonderful!

Another reason to be cheerful is that most of the over-80s in the block (must be half the owners of apartments here) have now had their first vaccination. Hurrah for a more normal life to come!

And wowser!  I’ve been booked to be interviewed live on Zoom by Trisha Cusden, founder of Look Fabulous Forever, not on makeup but on my approach to buying clothes. Hurrah…. oh, wait a minute I’m quite an introvert made far more so by this pandemic, so my first thought on being contacted was, not sure, should I, could I? I’m a writer not a performer. But hey, of course I said yes, as I do have things to say.

Although this interview is not until April, it’s always good to gather ones thoughts, so here is a compilation of my views and reflections on buying clothes.

When and how did I become a frugal shopper?

I wasn’t always a frugal shopper. When I worked I earned enough to buy what I fancied, when I liked. For instance, when I was on a national project based in London, I bought my office suits in Jaegar – that’s an expensive brand.  I had numerous jackets to go with the skirts and had silk shirts galore. There are no photographs of me in this work gear as we were just not into the constant photography we do now with our phones.  And during that time, for the days I didn’t work it was jeans every time, jeans dressed down for the day and dressed up in the evening.

Then I retired and for about 3 years after that the office suits were slowly discarded and I wore jeans non-stop because after all, I was ‘off-duty’. And here’s a pic of me in the kind of gear I wore all the time (taken in 1993 during my working years) wearing black jeans with one of those big cardigans that were so popular then, and is rather similar to the one I have now.

My kids were teenagers then and are now in their 40s! That’s Pete with his red hair, and Susie who inherited her dad’s natural curls.

But back to how and when I became a frugal shopper!  I was beginning to get bored with the constant jeans-wearing, and then the turning point happened. Just over ten years ago I got ill and lost a lot of weight, as in two stone, that’s 28 pounds, and I wasn’t at all overweight. Anyway, I got over it (it being an unfortunate encounter with antibiotics) but the consequence of losing so much weight was that not a stitch of clothing fitted, I needed an entirely new wardrobe. But where from? Because, people, I was never particularly clever with money and my pensions were so not the best. I absolutely could not replace the clothes I needed from the High Street, not even the cheapest shops, and did I want cheap, as in cheap and nasty? No I did not.  So I started visiting the local charity shops and found that I had a knack for finding the really high quality items.  I never looked back.

So there you have it that’s the why and when. But I can hear some of you say, well I wouldn’t go into a charity shop anyway.  I usually reply by asking them whether they are remembering charity shops as they used to be – rather scruffy and indeed scuzzy, with ghastly clothes.  But charity shops in the UK have really upped their game. They now emulate small boutiques and are pleasant places to be in.

Then the cry is but how do you manage to find anything?  I never can. So, how do I find good quality clothes? Well, it’s like this:

  1. Get to know your area. If you keep seeing really awful clothes in all your local charity shops, then this is not the place to shop.  Go further and find a town or city with charity shops that have better quality clothes – those shops are there.
  2. Be prepared to look often, but, be prepared to walk out with nothing.  These shops are not like the High Street fashion shops, they don’t have a rack full of midi skirts or black jeans or party frocks, it’s serendipity.  You look and you pounce when you find something.  But you do not buy for the sake of it – walk out of that shop!
  3. Be aware of what is the current fashion, and yes, I am saying that, as what you want to do is find a cut-price version of the ‘in’ thing to buy.
  4. Learn to recognise a good charity shop. I can now walk into a charity shop and very quickly assess whether it’s worth my time even before beginning to look through the racks.
  5. And when looking through the racks of clothes, run your hands along the rack to feel the material – is it wool, is it cotton, is it linen, is it silk, is it leather? Stop when you find quality material, if it’s your size, even better.

More reasons to shop for second hand clothes

  1. You can experiment.  At the moment I am wearing mostly ‘comfortable’ clothes. Like the rest of the population, I’m not going places. But charity shop shopping allows you to experiment with your style.  Do you want to be a bit more risqué?  Do you want to be a bit more adventurous?  Do you want to be elegant and stylish, but cannot afford designer wear?  Truly you can find designer gear in charity shops – you just have to look. And you can experiment by buying clothes at rock bottom prices. This is one of the key reasons I buy in charity shops – the hunt for the style. I have an image of me being a little bit goth, a little bit steam-punk, most of the time I don’t achieve this, but it’s fun thing to aim for, being steam-punk(ish).
  2. Honestly it’s such fun to shop like this.  The thrill of the hunt – I love it! Pic taken 5 years ago but that skirt cost all of £3 and I wear it a lot.

And finally, this way of shopping is ethical.  It’s win-win, you have found an item that suits your budget, and given to a charity.  And you are keeping the item from landfill.

We all know that there is a huge problem with our way of life and our constant consumerism.  I’m also aware that there is a huge trade in second-hand items that are sent in bulk to Africa ruining local manufacturing. Btw, have you seen that an exhibition on African fashion is being planned for 2022? I shall be first in the queue for that, as I remember a similar smaller exhibition at Brighton museum a couple of years back which was excellent.

But at the very least, if you can give a second-hand item of clothing a home that has to be a positive. You are re-using, re-loving and re-affirming the life of a garment. I’d say that has to be a good thing.

My confession

I totally admit that I have a passion for fashion. With all the shops closed including charity shops I confess I am still on the hunt for clothes. I am not trawling the entire internet but I do look at M&S and Mango websites and I do buy items but only I hasten to add from the sales section – so I’m still being frugal!

That’s all for now, but do let me know if you have changed your mind about buying from charity shops. Is it a fun experience for you?

With love, Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper




47 thoughts on “My passion for fashion – of the charity shop variety

  • 26th January 2021 at 9:51 am

    Hi Penny For some weeks now, I too have been wearing a mask every time I’ve been out and oh the difficulty of combining hearing aids, specs and a mask behind the ears! I dib in and out of Tricia Cusden’s zooms and blogs but I shall certainly look out for yours in April. I’ve managed to buy some interesting pieces of jewellery from Charity shops but no luck with clothes. When we can travel again, I shall try further afield. I do enjoy your blogs, thank you.

    • 27th January 2021 at 9:00 am

      Hi Lindy, and thank you.

      Yes the mask thing, I seem to have cracked the problem of the glasses steaming up, but it’s the glasses slipping off my nose that I find so irritating – still, we have to so I’m persevering!

      Charity shops are great places for jewellery and you never know, you might find something, there’s always that possibility 🙂

  • 26th January 2021 at 10:13 am

    Congratulations on your request to be interviewed. That will break up the tedium a bit. I thought I was doing quite well but the post-Christmas? blues are beginning to strike. I love your take on clothes. My charity shop buying started much earlier after I moved to a city with interesting charity shops coinciding with a massive mortgage increase and two kids. Money was tight and I supplemented with what I could find of interest in charity shops. I also met a very well groomed lady at an open university course who confided her clothes were all charity shop clothes and she saved her money to spend on expensive perfume etc 😁. What a terrific idea, I thought! And never looked back. I love the green skirt. Unfortunately on me that would be down to my ankles. I think you are blessed though with the most interesting charity shops in Brighton. When my daughter lived there I often used to scoot off to the nearest ones on London Road and near big Sainsbury’s. They were much more fashionable than the ones where I live. Let’s hope we soon get back to charity shopping without fear. Take care. Trish S

    • 27th January 2021 at 9:08 am

      Thanks Trish, I’ll let you know the actual date nearer the time 🙂

      I see from many of the comments that in comparison I’m relatively new to the charity shop game, although I do remember that while I was working in London I bought a wonderful long wool coat in a Camden charity shop for just £3! It was just what I needed whilst commuting by train from Brighton and standing on those cold drafty platforms!

      Oh to return to living altogether without fear! I think we’ll lose some of that when vaccinated with the first dose but we will have to be careful for a long time after that, of course. Yes, it’s a very ground-hog day sort of month. But Spring is coming Trish. I look at daffodils as often as I can to cheer myself up. You take care too 🙂

  • 26th January 2021 at 10:21 am

    Hi Penny
    Thanks for all this. I got a tip from an American (male!) friend some years ago about how to find what you are looking for in the huddled masses which are on a charity rail. He said just look along until you see a fabric you like – then you can pull out the garment and check it out. If you don’t go for the fabric it doesn’t matter what the style is. Works for me!
    Keep up the good work.
    Best wishes and keep safe.

    • 27th January 2021 at 9:10 am

      Totally with you on that one, Nell, I’m always looking for wool and cotton or linen. Best wishes to you too 🙂

  • 26th January 2021 at 10:26 am

    Morning Penny
    Many thanks for another enjoyable post and for the heads up of the V & A’s Africa fashion show next year.
    Yes, I can relate to the thrill of a find and bargain. I like charity shopping for all the reasons you say. Unfortunately, there aren’t any good ones near me but I always take a peek when I’m in other areas. (I had several good accessories finds the last time I was in Brighton.)
    During the lockdowns, I’ve kept an eye for sales at a couple of my favourite shops and have found a few items greatly reduced, including a couple of pairs of shoes. Alas, all still unworn – for the moment.
    All the very best, Mary

    • 27th January 2021 at 9:14 am

      Hi Mary, yes, it will be great to do something normal like going to the V&A – that exhibition will be so good. Sorry to hear that the charity shops aren’t that brilliant where you are, there are sure to be some better ones in another town. Even, Brighton has its areas where charity shops are excellent and other areas are not so good.

      I’m looking at the sales now, as well!

      All the very best to you too, Mary, take care 🙂

  • 26th January 2021 at 10:33 am

    When my children started at secondary schools (around 11/12) I decided to go back to office work, to benefit financially and mentally. After so many years at home I had nothing appropriate to wear. I went to a charity shop and bought a beautiful lilac linen suit which I wore for my interviews. I got a job as a receptionist, so needed more smart gear. Back to the charity shops! I managed to acquire three more classic suits and several silk blouses for very little money. It was the 80’s, and they did me very well until styles became more ‘casual’, but I hung on to those suits for many years.

    • 27th January 2021 at 9:21 am

      I loved it when office gear was formal, I loved my suits. Your charity shop suits sound amazing – what great finds. Obviously the charity shops around you were really good. It’s so interesting to hear how people began shopping in these shops. Thanks so much for the comment 🙂

  • 26th January 2021 at 10:34 am

    Hi Penny, I follow both you and Tricia although I don’t do the live Zoom sessions for much the same reason as you – introverts, but I do catch up with them later and I certainly will be looking out for you in April. I can identify with your fashion history from corporate uniform to downtime jeans. I have lived in pretty much the same few things over lockdown. Living in the country there is nowhere worthy of dressing up to go so it’s walking, fitness and gardening clothes for me, I’ve never been a great fan of shopping at the best of times tbh (although I do love stylish clothes) and because I’m not wearing my normal clothes I’m not buying either. We never see another living soul on our walks so we don’t have the mask juggling malarkey to put up with but it is a bit of a shocker on the rare trips into town. Keep blogging. Keep smiling x 😃

    • 27th January 2021 at 9:38 am

      I loved the corporate look – suits suited me! That’s why, like you, I always wore jeans ‘off-duty’. Tbh, it’s only since I retired that I like shopping for clothes – never had the time before that!

      Although the walks I do are great, what with the sea and the sun that shines down on it changing every single day, which lifts my spirits every single time, I kind of envy your solitary walks and would like to find some walks that have absolutely no-one walking near as people do tend to get close, I prefer the grey rainy days when not so many want to walk. As for the joggers… don’t start me on those, they seem to want to run in a straight line and you always have to get out of their way. Sorry, end of rant!

      There will be much to smile about very soon – thanks x

  • 26th January 2021 at 10:34 am

    Dear Penny, I love your blog today it’s really interesting to hear how you discovered charity shopping. Pretty much the same as I did except I got so bored with dressing from M &S etc and looking like everyone else . I always try to find something a bit unusual or an odd colour and especially strange jewellery, which would probably cost a fortune new. You didn’t mention consignment shops. Yes, they are more expensive but super for special occasions like weddings . I am a bit biased because I owned one for several years in the 90’s . It was tremendous fun and of course I got the pick of the best stuff! By the way try a mask with glasses , earrings and a hearing aid ! Hard work . Best wishes Judy

    • 27th January 2021 at 9:44 am

      Oh wow, Judy, where was the consignment shop? I go to, or used to go to, a couple of those in Lewes and sold a few of my things there. Nice shops, but hadn’t/haven’t as yet bought anything from them – I always look though and can see that for a wedding they’d be great.

      Phew, yes, I get what you’re saying about the mask with everything else besides!

      Best wishes to you too Judy 🙂

  • 26th January 2021 at 10:36 am

    If I had to take a splash in that see to be there I would! Haha, love those photos! I only buy pre loved since a few years and I love it! It is so much more interesting and the quality is better as you can shop for the more expensive brands, or even designer clothing. As I often did in Lewes! Stay safe my friend!

    • 27th January 2021 at 11:23 am

      Ah yes Lewes has some fab charity shops – I shall go there as soon as I can but at the moment, everything is closed 🙁

      But things will change for the better and one day Nancy, you will get to Lewes again 🙂

      You stay safe too xxx

  • 26th January 2021 at 11:12 am

    You have hardly changed from when your children were teenagers. Here in France we have been wearing masks since last March in fact the first day I wore one was Paddy’s Day March 17. Now we are being told not to wear fancy masks only the ones approved by the medicos. I have always bought second hand. When I was in college,( late 60’s), I shopped from jumble sales in Edinburgh fabulous 30’s, 40’s and 50’s stuff. My flatmate and I sometimes caused quite a sensation a parties. I’ve been lucky never to have needed office clothes even when I worked. However, where I am living now charity clothes shopping is almost nil I have to rely on sales for bargains. I envy you your wonderful selection of shops on the other hand why do we need so many charities in such a wealthy country? When I have been back to the UK I have gone through town centres with almost nothing but Banks, Boots, the chemist, and charity shops. Have a great week.

    • 27th January 2021 at 11:53 am

      Thank you Flora! Honestly this government of ours has got everything wrong mostly doing stuff and/or putting in measures far too late, e.g. travellers from abroad only now being quarantined – one year too late!!!!! We should have been wearing masks at all times from day one. But no, it’s just shops and public transport where it is compulsory although there is vague message to ‘wear a mask’.

      Ah yes, jumble sales! Yes, although I say I only began serious charity shop shopping just ten years ago you’ve reminded me that years ago while I was not working but at home with the children, I bought a lot of stuff second-hand from jumble sales. I see my new grandson in the most beautiful babygrows, practically all my kids clothes came from jumble sales – but actually I got some really good things from those sales – I loved them!

      Yes, some High Streets are exactly like that. There’s a lot of hidden poverty in the UK and there’ll be more now what with this pandemic. Re: charity shops in France – I have a friend who works in one, haven’t been for a couple of years but think it’s this one. I always get a good haul of clothes there!


  • 26th January 2021 at 11:57 am

    Hello, Penny

    Along with you and all the other ladies, I too miss the charity shops. What little treasure troves they are! I always head for the books first, then the clothes and then the handbags. “Oh noooo, not another bag, pleeeze!” (Guess who?)

    American thrift shops are great too. My daughter and I drive miles to visit our favourites. My top summer dress came from one such place. I saw it in the window and dashed in, ready to climb over anyone in the way, I wanted it so badly. It’s not a lot to look at but I love it. It’s lightweight, loose, longish and airy, has arms (hooray!) and is in my colours. What’s not to like? And daft as it might sound, I always give a silent thank you to an item’s previous owner and I certainly did that day!

    Oh, love the Starsky and Hutch cardi – those were the days!

    Stay safe

    Z 🙋

    • 27th January 2021 at 12:01 pm

      Yes, of course, those cardigans were inspired, I’m sure, by the Starsky and Hutch series – I loved that series which we all watched, of course, in real time on the television.

      Yes, we all miss those shops – bring on the day that we can go back to them. It won’t be soon but it will happen – yay!

      You stay safe too 🙂

  • 26th January 2021 at 12:25 pm

    Hi Penny, I read both you and Tricia so am looking forward to your interview.

    I totally agree with you about charity shop shopping. I am 72 and always buy new shoes and underwear (but only in the sales) and I am very lucky to have a hospice charity shop just round the corner with a bargain £1 rail. I sometimes wonder if they know what they are doing with the pricing and give them an extra donation…

    If it’s washable I will buy it, I have no problem with pre-worn clothes. As you say, go for the feel of the fabric and the colour/pattern.

    • 27th January 2021 at 12:06 pm

      Great Hilary – it’s at the end of April, so there should be time to spruce my hair and have a couple of treatments at the beauticians when they open and when vaccinated of course.

      It’s so nice to know that others like charity shop shopping as much as I do. I have btw, found some good boots at charity shops. I’m careful with charity shop shoes but have also bought some evening ballet types shoes that were hardly worn.

      The quality of the item is everything isn’t it. Thanks 🙂

  • 26th January 2021 at 1:53 pm

    Looking forward to Tricia with Penny. One of the things lacking on Tricia’s site is an awareness of the implications to other people of ‘buying new’. Lake Baikal is now Pond Baikal as the water has been taken for cotton farms – was it all those cheap cotton fashion items? As for all the dyeing and spinning – where does all the waste go? Into communities water and land. I shop in charity shops because the quality of clothes CAN BE far better than shops like John Lewis. I also worked in waste disposal – that was on the practical side, and know the huge amounts of needless waste. People may feel entitled to ‘new’ everything – but it carries an environmental and social cost.

    • 27th January 2021 at 12:14 pm

      I am totally with you on this and have watched documentaries which were pretty devastating about that lake. The trade of second-hand clothes to Africa also is a serious impediment to their own industries which is why I loved the exhibition in Brighton (and will go to the V&A for the one next year) as it showed how lovely their clothes are and how vibrant their fashion industry actually is. Found some photos I took of that exhibition and will put them in my next post.

      Like you I’m very suspicious of buying cotton, it’s appalling how much water it needs. In fact as I’m sure you’re aware, artificial fibres can be more sustainable.

      We should all slow down with our purchases including me, but buying second-hand is the way to go.

      • 29th January 2021 at 12:36 am

        Just being alive has an environmental impact! All we can do is to reduce that impact – and not having a car is the best way, then not flying. Many syntethic fibres are oil based I beleive – so perhaps hemp is the way forward? Also ‘visible mending’ of clothes! I make felt, so make felt to complement the colours in what I am patching – and have been asked in the street where I get my garments from. When I say ‘i made them’…its a gasp of disbelief!

  • 26th January 2021 at 4:34 pm

    Such sensible and excellent advice, Penny. I just don’t understand people who turn their noses up at charity shops – their loss! I was very interested to read how you got into frugal fashion and what a lovely photo of you and your children.

    Good news about the interview; I’m sure you’ll make many converts!

    I also read about the African Fashion exhibition and am looking forward to it in 2022. It’s good to have things to look forward to; I’m even looking forward to getting vaccinated at some point!

    BTW I didn’t get your previous comments on my blog post. I’m sorry you comments don’t appear but I just don’t why…

    Take care

    • 27th January 2021 at 12:39 pm

      Thank you Veronica, yes, I think we both feel the same way about charity shop shopping, and both love it. I don’t know why but I seemed to have forgotten that while I was at home with the children I also used to buy masses of clothes at jumble sales. Charity shops barely existed then, but jumble sales were very much the thing to do – I loved them!

      Yes, I’m looking forward to the Africa fashion exhibition – it’s going to be so good.

      Honestly these blogs do have their IT quirks, and it’s so sad that some blogs are now impossible comment on. Blogger is one where it is difficult but WordPress is just as bad and my self-hosted WordPress blog has some big admin problems with regard to its capacity and it shuts down every now and then. We tear our hair out at that point, and even Mr F who is very techy is finding sorting this quite challenging. It has to be something to do with the constant upgrades. But I do see your blog which is so good – your charity shopped clothes are amazing.

      You take care too xxx

  • 26th January 2021 at 4:34 pm

    My love of thrift shopping came about 35 years ago with a love of clothes and not a budget to spend on them. I complimented a co worker on her gorgeous outfit at a work Christmas party and she quietly said it was from a local thrift store. Well, that was the start and it has been my passion ever since. I troll the rails for the colours first then the fabrics, mostly because if I find a cashmere sweater in a colour I can’t or don’t wear it is passed by, sad but maybe next time. I don’t usually check out the bra section, but one day on my way down that aisle to the book section, I happened to see a very colourful section and stopped to look at a whole row of brand new bras from the store I usually get mine from. They went out of business and I came home with 5!! brand new bras in my style and some gorgeous colours for fun. I so enjoy seeing and hearing about your shopping for such fun and unusual pieces. Thanks for the beautiful scenery pics as well. Major snow storm here today. p.s. on the news last night we were told that doubling up on our masks is the better way to go, and yet there are so many who will not wear one at all. Stay well.

    • 27th January 2021 at 4:04 pm

      It’s so interesting to hear how other people love their thrifting and how they started. Amazing that you found some good bras as that’s one item I have never bought from a charity shop.

      Funnily enough the UK has had quite a lot of snow but all up north and in the midlands – nothing in Brighton. It’s grey and foggy today but that meant very few out walking so I quite enjoyed my walk in the gloom!

      Yes, we are beginning to hear that medical masks are the ones you should really wear. I ordered 20 and they have just arrived. After I’ve had the first vaccine and waited the 3 weeks for the vaccine to work I shall use these for close encounters and appointments and travel on public transport.

  • 26th January 2021 at 6:40 pm

    Hi Penny
    That is exciting about your interview. I hope I can view it, will try to check out her blog. It has been very cold here lately and snow today, so probably no walk. and most do wear masks even outdoors. As to the vaccine, although I am a priority because of my age I have not even tried to get an appointment. The rollout here has not gone well, I know that some who had them were cancelled. my local pharmacy which does regular flu shots has no knowledge if and when they will be providing the shot. And so the Inauguration is over! I watched with a mixture of joy, often tears streaming down my face and some fear that there might be the threatened violence and that trump might try some last minute revenge. and I thought if you. Did you see the purple coat our beautiful new vice president wore? It was the same shade as the one you modeled in a recent post. Also, the outfit our new first lady wore was striking as well.
    I believe I have written here about a store I purchased clothing from years ago, it was not a charity shop, really a consignment shop but you could get really nice, quality clothing for a fraction of what it would cost in the stores. After I finished my degree and was going into the work force after years of being home with my kids, going back to school and then being a single parent it made it possible to assemble a professional wardrobe. I miss it to this day. there really does not seem to be many, if any, of these places left, charity or not. I also miss the local women’s clothing stores where you were known and could find help in finding things. So continue to enjoy your walks, your views are quite striking. Be well

    • 27th January 2021 at 4:20 pm

      Hi Darby. It’s interesting that you say most people are wearing a mask outside – I wonder if the example Biden is giving in always wearing one has helped or were people doing this before the Inauguration? I’ve just been for my walk with a mask and while there were fewer people out and about because it was grey and foggy, absolutely no-one was wearing a mask. That definitely comes from our useless leader who is now very sorry about our 100,000 deaths, ‘but they did everything they could’. No they didn’t. So many things have been just plain wrong, apart that is from the vaccine programme which is going at a cracking pace following very strict guidelines of age (no-one can buy a vaccine) and throughout the whole country we wait our turn. Mind you, my fingers are crossed as who knows whether the delay in the 2nd dose works and there are supply issues.

      I think the whole world was watching the Inauguration – very impressed. I thought the coats worn by the women were lovely, so nice to see President Bush there, and hmm, not sure about Pence with his strange ideas about women, but good for Pence and McConnell to be there. We all sighed with relief and are pleased that it is now President Biden – good luck to him. And rather than worry about what might happen, as there are so many challenges coming along including the belief systems of so many Republicans, but how lovely was that young poet? She is the future of America, I loved Lady Gaga but Amanda Gorman was just breath-taking and it was so right that she was there.

      Yes, consignment shops are also very good places to shop for clothes. You take care and stay well too 🙂

    • 27th January 2021 at 4:28 pm

      P.S. Actually the vaccination programme is working well because it is being organised by the NHS, and not these ghastly big corporations and ‘mates’ of Conservative MPs!

      • 27th January 2021 at 6:28 pm

        I had meant to mention Amanda Gorman in the post. I was interrupted a couple of times while writing it. She was truly Amazing! Darby

  • 26th January 2021 at 6:46 pm

    Hi Penny, your blog hit a favorite topic of mine. Thrift shopping! It started more than 30 years ago when a friend told me about a sale twice a year at one of our local hospitals. It runs for two weeks and run entirely by volunteers. They are so successful that they have outfitted entire wings of the hospital, among other things. They have been recognized as the top charitable event on the entire east coast (US). I have gotten so many thrilling and quality finds. Then, I couldn’t wait 6 months for the next sale, so I discovered thrift shops near me and beyond. I was totally hooked. I am 80 and still like to treasure shop and dress well. It is still “the thrill of the hunt” that is so fun.

    Another take on thrift shopping is repurposing. Even if it doesn’t fit, the fabric can be used for other things such as pillows, throws when combined with other fabrics, I am currently making hats and mittens from felted wool sweaters, scarves from cashmere sweaters, etc. The possibilities are endless!

    I, too, am a mask wearer even with the challenge of glasses and earrings (given up recently), sipping water, etc.

    Thanks so much, Penny, for your enjoyable and interesting blog and congrats on your upcoming interview. How exciting. Stay safe and stay well.

    • 27th January 2021 at 4:25 pm

      Wow, what an amazing story about the sales that take place in your local hospital – it’s so interesting hearing how people started to buy second-hand. Love the idea of re-purposing too. Felted wool is lovely – apparently Bernie’s mittens were made from felted wool. I do admire Bernie Sanders!

      The mask wearing with glasses (and I believe a hearing aid, as some commenters have mentioned) is quite tricky. But we have to stick with it – so important.

      And thank you Claire for reading my blog – you are much appreciated 🙂

  • 26th January 2021 at 10:46 pm

    Hello Penny, Congrats on your interview! Lately I have discovered good Hospice suburban thrift shops outside of Vancouver! Anything not of today’s world is interesting me. Vintage crocheted doilles (I have 25 pieces), 50’s white leather baby shoes (3 pairs hanging on a light fixture in the living room and several 60’s wool felted hats ALL fuel my imagination. Wool and cotton quality garments have become really scarce in the last few years. Luckily, I already have a thrifted remade substantial wardrobe. One more thing, my husband finds the most fascinating books for his reading pleasure in charity shops. It is so much fun!!! Judy

    • 27th January 2021 at 4:34 pm

      Hi Judy. So interesting to hear about your collections. I used to collect tablecloths – had so many, but on one of my many moves I returned them all to the local charity shop!

      Yes, like you, I have noticed that some things that were always available are nowhere to be seen. I also used to collect real wool blankets and throws – there are hardly any of these items these day.

      Yes, charity shops are a good source of books – sigh. It will be lovely when they are open again as indeed, shopping in them is such fun!

      Take care 🙂

  • 27th January 2021 at 9:22 am

    Congratulations on your upcoming Zoom with Tricia. I have her book and your contribution on thrift shopping was most informative , I know you will be fine . Living in a smaller city decent clothing in our thrift stores is usually of the cheaper poor quality variety so I find books and bangles instead. I do tend to find some treasures at our consignment stores , I know the prices are higher but worth it for the quality.
    I do really like your goth outfit Penny. Take care.xx

    • 27th January 2021 at 5:13 pm

      Thank Jill, it’s just not my thing to perform, although I did many a presentation in my working life. So yes, I’ll be fine! And yes, consignment stores are great too.

      Ah yes, the skirt, I hope to wear it up to London this year! Won’t that be great to do something normal like a visit to an art gallery or museum? I shall appreciate doing things like that with such intensity when…. as in I shall never take things like travel and culture for granted.

      You take care too, Jill x

  • 27th January 2021 at 7:57 pm

    The story of how you became a charity shopper is identical to mine. I too, have never looked back and love the thrill of the chase, finding all sorts of gems and trophy pieces whenever I go on the hunt. Currently I’m on a 12 month shopping ban and have loved shopping my closet as the Americans call it. I’m still finding new (to me) items that inspire yet another different outfit.

    I love you fashion style and particularly love the chunky boots with the feminine net skirt. You rock!

    Anna x

    • 29th January 2021 at 11:16 am

      Hi Anna, thanks so much for your comment, and well done you re: not buying anything for a year. I always aim to be frugal but love the hunt so much, I’d find it really difficult to stop buying altogether. Hats off to you.

      And that is my go-to style – chunky boots with everything 🙂 As soon as the shops are open I’ve decided I shall be trying on some Doc Martens.

      Cheers to you too, Anna 🙂

  • 28th January 2021 at 2:32 pm

    It was interesting to read about how you became a frugal shopper. I have found on consigment store here that I can always find something of quality. It is near my mom so we go together and I hope to make it a montly event. Your zoom meeting sounds exciting: hope it goes well!

    • 29th January 2021 at 11:17 am

      I know that consignment shops are great but we have amazing charity shops where I live so they are always my first choice.

      Thanks Mireille – take care 🙂

  • 28th January 2021 at 3:37 pm

    I remember those jumble sales too. As I can sew I could alter things or use garments as material for other items. I used to make most of my own and my children’s clothes in those days. You could pick up remnants for so little and I liked doing it. Clothes were significantly more expensive 40 years ago and there were ‘real’ sales twice a year, not the constant ones we have now. I dressed in a much more cautious way then than I do now. I remember someone asking my how I ‘kept my figure’ and I didn’t know what they meant as I never thought about what I ate or how much I weighed -ahh the innocence of youth! I used to like my suits and high heels when I was working, all bought in sales of course. I particularly liked wearing a matching dress and jacket from brads like Minuet and Precis
    If I could not buy second-hand now I don’t know what I’d wear as fashion is no longer for me. Long flouncy dresses and skirts? – no thanks I wore them in the 70’s. Skinny trousers? – on my short legs?? I aim for elegance & a bit of glamour ; I have my own style which suits my shape and if people think I look overdressed that’s fine. I think it’s a shame that jeans have become so ubiquitous and wonder why as so few women look good in them.
    I do like looking in charity shops but I don’t buy much although I send them good stuff which I’ve tired of. Mostly I buy on e-bay, mostly successfully. My biggest bargain was a Precis dress for 1p plus postage and I’ve just bought one in a wonderful shade of turquoise for 50p, looking forward to my next cruise. I must keep positive about coming out of this awful time and going away again or I’ll go mad!

    • 29th January 2021 at 11:26 am

      Oh yes, I think we’ve had the same experience of loving jumble sales and ‘make do and mend’. I too made some clothes, mostly from Clothkits, which was very popular around the time that my children were small. I remember a lovely little dress I made for Susie (now 40+).

      When I bought my office gear, although I occasionally went to Jaegar most of my clothes came from Next, and I was constantly looking at their absolutely enormous catalogue and sending away for clothes that were delivered to your door by a courier. Next was at the forefront of buying at home – gosh, I just didn’t have the time to shop. And yes, like you I dressed far more conservatively then.

      I do hope your cruise happens. Saga has been saying it will start them in May – we’ll see. But I also see that Saga is insisting that every passenger has to be vaccinated – good for them. Do you think you’ll get yours in time? I have 2 UK cottage holidays to look forward to and a cruise in 2022. I agree that we have to have things to look forward to.

  • 30th January 2021 at 10:12 am

    A great post Penny, a lot of people do associate charity shops with that musty smell and everything shoved on rails in a mess of colours and sizes. They really are like “proper” shops now. Most of the charity shops in my area are pretty poor so I need to do as you say and find shops further afield. I look forward to this as my main project when I retire. Loved seeing that photo of you with your two children. Re masks, I have to take my glasses off because they always get misted up. I’m thinking of getting a medical grade quality mask because if it’s good enough for the Germans, it’s probably something we should be doing – we always lag behind. Hope you’re enjoying the weekend, it’s very wet here so no walk today but I will be doing the bird watch this afternoon! x

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