Hmm, just read an article on going beyond Black Friday and caring for your clothes to prevent waste and the excessive buying that is the pattern for the next few weeks.  And for those over the pond, did you realise Black Friday wasn’t a thing for us in the UK until quite recently?  Not sure whether I want to start analysing this too closely as I could be accused of being a Mrs Grump!  Anyway, at first, the article struck a chord.  I mean I’m always up for any ideas on being more frugal.  Because, dear reader, actually, I’m not a frugal shopper all of the time, just some of the time!

But should I aim to be even more frugal than I am?  I keep saying how, if one item comes in another must come out, but should I not even be doing that?  The article emphasises how we need to break free from our fashion addiction and reverse this throwaway culture.  And then it gives tips on how to care for your clothes and make more of what you already have.

Seriously, some of the tips are so basic I’m sure you’re doing them already. Learn to sew a button, it said, repair and mend. And darn.  Gosh, do people not do that?  I must be naïve. I mean, do you do that?  I mend and darn.  But, hey, I want to show you a charity shop wool cardi that I bought with darning already in it!

Isn’t that a great darn!

This cardi is so warm.  We’ve got a cold snap in the UK, and I’m wearing it right now. Also, it was cheap.  Can’t remember how much because I’ve had it for years, but it wouldn’t have been more than £3-£5.

One of the tips is buy second-hand and keep an open mind on that.  Interesting turn of phrase.  I still have friends who say, ‘no, I wouldn’t buy in charity shops’.  Some because they truly have enough money to buy new every time.  Others feel that it’s a bit yucky buying something that’s been worn before.  But the most common comment is, that I can’t find anything to suit me in a charity shop.

Here’s what I think.  Do buy second-hand whenever possible.  It is an ethical choice.  It’s a win-win for the charity, for you and your pocket, and for the world.  Because what you’re doing is re-using something that might have gone into land-fill, and we don’t want that do we!  Of course, it helps if you know what you want to buy, and most of you do.  But if not, that will come if you look, not just at fashion articles, but at what people are wearing in your town.  Is there a look you like? Do you need another coat for winter, a new skirt and top or even some shoes?  Don’t dismiss the charity shops – go search

But how to successfully shop in a charity shop, that’s the question. Here’s what I think:

  1. Always look, but learn to walk out and not waste your time. There are good charity shops that display their goods well – in all sizes. Ask yourself, does this charity shop make you feel good as you walk around?  Then stay there.  But if it’s a bit scruffy, move on.
  2. Keep to your usual standards. Run your hand down a rail and look for wool, silk and cotton and good labels.  I like to find unworn clothes still with their label on.
  3. Nothing there for you, or in the next charity shop? Then maybe this town will never have what you want – go search out charity shops in other towns and other areas.
  4. Above all, have fun. It’s so enjoyable searching for and finding that bargain!

That’s all for now

Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper

P.S. I’ve been told that the photo of my French beret didn’t show the sequins at their best. So here’s the beret with sequins on display.

And another pic.









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31 thoughts on “Shopping in a charity shop – here’s how!

  • 29th November 2017 at 9:45 am

    I hate this Black Friday hype, and worse still Cyber Monday! and will not be drawn in, deleting each and every ‘event’ that pops up in my Inbox. I can certainly find many lovely items in a charity shop, i actually help out at one and am constantly amazed at the lovely pieces people donate, both brand new and previously worn. This frugality allows me to continue buying lovely make-up, and of course the occasional new piece.

    Love reading your articles Penny, keep them coming !


    • 30th November 2017 at 8:25 am

      I so agree with you – Black Friday is a total turn-off. I don’t go out on that day to buy cheaper things. And yes, every now and then (about once a year or even less) I buy a good piece of jewellery or a designer item of clothing. Thanks so much for your feedback – much appreciated!

  • 29th November 2017 at 9:48 am

    My top tip for shopping in charity shops is…do not look for anything in particular.
    Jut go with an open mind and see what gems are in the shop.
    Designer clothes, handmade pottery – I have had some fantastic finds.

    • 30th November 2017 at 8:26 am

      There are such amazing bargains to be found – the thing is not to get disheartened. I’ve learnt to walk out and move on. Thanks so much for your comment.

  • 29th November 2017 at 11:41 am

    Yes I do darn!! It was one of the useful things I learnt in Brownies. I have several lovely woollen cardigans, some of them over 15 years old, so it has been a useful skill. I learnt basic sewing at school, although my sewing teacher didn’t like me. I saw friends making clothes and getting 3 items for the price of 1 shop one, so I took to my mother’s old hand Singer [which I still have and which is still working] and make quite a few things. I remember looking through patterns, also going to Laura Ashley for material – as well as the local market. My older brother used to bring home clothes in his Uni holidays – I got very adept at replacing zips, sewing on patches, even taught myself turning collars and cuffs. If you have a favourite item of clothing it helps keep them going longer.

    And shopping in charity shops – I am not against it but as with any shopping for me it is time and to be honest I am not interested. Too many trips as a teenager and never getting anything that fitted me – so I do not associate shopping for clothes with anything positive. I stick to Long Tall Sally for trousers and a couple of other shops. I do go into charity shops from time to time, usually looking for my Nasturtium crockery; I don’t find they have a huge range of sizes. Alot of size 12. And yes some of them do display very well indeed and am sure there are bargains to be had.
    ps I haven’t bought any clothes for 6 months – last week I bought a new pair of slippers 🙂

    • 29th November 2017 at 1:59 pm

      I have for the most part, have stopes looking in charity shops for clothing for the same reason as you. I have a longer torso (I am somewhere between 5’8″-5’9″ and have always been slim) and ill fitting clothing, in my opinion, just makes me look awkward! I will check out Long Tall Sally,mwhich you mentioned. I appreciate the heads up on that!

    • 30th November 2017 at 8:32 am

      Oh, wow, that’s where I learnt to darn – I think there was a badge? I still do the weaving in and out of the thread. And sigh, I got rid of my Singer some time ago and kind of regret that as the electric one was so big its gone, I think, to my daughter’s loft??? Turning collars – double wow!

      To be honest, whilst working I never had the time to shop in charity shops. It’s only since I retired. But more and more there are the bigger sizes – we’ll have to have another shopping trip one day x

  • 29th November 2017 at 12:18 pm

    I am lucky enough to spend part of winter in Florida. Although I love coming here and have a lot of American friends I find the consumer driven society horrendous. Black Friday (which is the day after Thanksgiving) is a bunfight like no other, and I am sorry that it has been imported into the UK. Originally invented to drive the Christmas trade and get people to support US production, now most goods are produced in China or elsewhere so the US worker does not benefit and has been brainwashed into buy! buy! buy! But, every cloud has a silver lining and US thrift shops are therefore full of goodies. I search for cashmere, good cotton, and top brand clothes. It’s such fun and satisfying to dress in bargains found in charity shops both in US and UK – my husband doesn’t shop, but loves the things I find for him too. Thank you for your blog, we are kindred spirits.

    • 30th November 2017 at 8:38 am

      Great to meet a kindred spirit! Yes, seriously we never had Black Friday until, I think, abut five years ago. I find it a real turn-off. Interesting you say it was also to support US goods production, now like all our production, gone to China! But re: charity shop shopping, I find it’s more difficult to find clothes for men. Is this because they wear their clothes until they’re worn out???? Thanks so much for your comment.

      • 30th November 2017 at 12:28 pm

        As my husband is slim (32″ waist) I have discovered that in the right charity shop I can find young men’s clothes of high end makes. This might be because younger men buy more clothes and change them often. Then there seems to be a leap to XL men’s clothes. The sizes in between are a bit more scarce and worn out. It could be that we live in a commuter town and the young city lads have more money for clothes. However I am careful my 73 yr old husband isn’t dressed like a teenager!
        If it’s not too cruel I have to say I find it a little harder to find smaller men’s clothes in the USA! BTW I have a long wool cardigan that I wear indoors only, that has been my winter favourite for about 12 years. It will wear to cobwebs, well past darning, before I get rid of it.

  • 29th November 2017 at 1:19 pm

    All right, I think the sweater is a great buy and you have obviously gotten your value from it over the years but, I think I would have to pick out the dark brown yarn and redo with something closer in color. Then again, if it’s something I wear only around home, I think I might learn to ignore it.
    I am a 67 years young from over the pond and I enjoy reading your articles and thoughts on frugal fashion as I try to assemble a workable, yet minimal wardrobe of my own.
    My “death cleaning” has been seriously going on now for 6-7 years. Always new areas in life with room for improvement seeking a minimalist lifestyle while living in a materialistic world.
    Thank you for being a voice of reason in leading the way!

    • 30th November 2017 at 8:45 am

      We’re definitely aiming to have a more minimalist approach to our life-style and especially with our decor. We’re not putting out ornaments and putting up art just because we’ve got it – it’s all about what suits our small, neat little flat/apartment.

      Re: the wool sweater, it’s mainly for wear at-home and I don’t wear it out to meet people. But when it’s cold I have worn it under my coat as it is made from wonderfully warm wool. And actually I love that dark brown darn! Don’t know why but I just do!

      • 30th November 2017 at 1:40 pm

        Lol! As I rethink the dark brown yarn, I can see the appeal, it is like ourselves! We gain a few spots and wrinkles through the years but we aim to continue to serve through a life of service, well lived and hopefully, bringing comfort to someone in each season of our lives.

  • 29th November 2017 at 3:59 pm

    I regularly visit charity shops but often can’t find anything I like in my size. I’m visiting my daughter in Australia at the moment and have been in all the charity shops in Fremantle, most of them are excellent. I bought a gorgeous dress in the RSPCA shop.

    • 30th November 2017 at 8:48 am

      Where I live there are some towns that are great for charity shops and others, quite unexpectedly, are just no good. So glad to hear you found that dress!

  • 29th November 2017 at 6:09 pm

    I buy most of my clothes from e-bay, looking for brands I know will fit me. We’re going on a cruise over Christmas and New Year so some new(second-hand) evening dresses bought at a fraction of the full cost. Got some fab brand-new gold and silver leather evening sandals for just 99p plus postage!
    However the cheapness of it does mean I buy more & I think I’m addicted to having something new, as in new to me . I’m good at dressmaking -made my first dress aged 11-so can always mend and alter things. I always sew up holes in my tights and in the lace of underwear etc . A lot of good stuff that they will be able to sell goes to the charity shop although I don’t often find clothes to buy there myself as some can be very well worn and old-fashioned. Where my sister lives (New Milton) the charity shops are a lot better than here, which is surprising as Winchester is on the whole an affluent place.

    • 30th November 2017 at 8:59 am

      Enjoy your cruise! I’m going on one in late March and absolutely all my cruise frocks are from charity shops, yes, at a fraction of the cost! And I so enjoy looking for them.
      But am I addicted to looking? Possibly! However, it is good to wear second-hand as we are re-using clothes that have been discarded that might end up who knows where. Interesting what you say about towns that are unexpectedly better for charity shops than others – it’s the same here.

  • 29th November 2017 at 7:01 pm

    Hi Penny,
    I foolishly went to our nearest retail park on what I hadn’t realised was the Monday of Black Friday week – big mistake! I bought 2 packs of Christmas cards and then came home in disgust, it was absolute chaos.
    Your post this week reminded me of how it used to be when we bought clothes “for best” which after a good while were worn for work and then relegated to for housework. At that time I bought most things from M&S and they lasted for ever, as I became a little better off I used to buy their office dresses for work, they were excellent, I always felt very smart. Sadly materials don’t seem to be such good quality now and I find myself hankering for items with some substance to them. I always change as soon as I come home, it’s ingrained in me, my mother always made sure that we changed out of school uniform or work clothes as soon as we got home – made good clothes last longer!
    I keep looking in our local charity shops but haven’t been successful yet, I don’t think I have my eye in yet, but I’ll keep trying, maybe I need to go to a more affluent area.
    I could do with a woolly card like yours, freezing here at the moment!
    Keep warm

    • 30th November 2017 at 9:04 am

      I hate that rush to buy around Black Friday – puts me off rathe than encourages me! And like you for years I wore good quality office clothes and then for me it was jeans for leisure. When I retired I wore those jeans for about two years until I said, this is a bit boring, and then started my hunt for more interesting clothes. But M&S was a great place to shop – now…… it’s too expensive for a start and just not what I want to wear.

      The thing about charity shops is that there are definitely towns that have good charity shops and towns that don’t. You just maybe haven’t found the good ones yet – they are there!! Thanks so much for your comment.

      • 30th November 2017 at 4:35 pm

        I think I need to concentrate on the clothes! I usually look at the pictures first and have found several really nice oil paintings, all less than £20, one of them was painted by a member of the Royal Society of Marine Artists. Also table lamps mostly less than £10 and various other items for hardly any money. I think this proves that I’m more interested in interiors than fashion but I’ll keep trying.
        Lots of snow here today

  • 29th November 2017 at 7:44 pm

    Well, you know you are preaching to the choir on this one with me. We are always with family on that Black Friday thing and I refuse to go anywhere on that day. It is utter chaos, especially in Joplin where my daughter lives.

    I knit and find your sweater full of possibilities with its holes strategically placed at the elbows. I would find myself wanting to knit elbow patches or finding a pair of old suede patches to put on. The sequin beret has inspired me to do something crafty-not say what yet because I have the beret and am not sure what I really want to do but I want it to be bright so we will see. Great post as usual.

    • 30th November 2017 at 9:09 am

      Thank you, Terri! It’s great seeing the neat stitching inside the beret. You are so clever with your hands. I used to sew but not anymore because I suppose most of my energies go on finding the bargains and wearing pre-loved clothes. And re: the darn, actually I really love that darn. I find it meaningful that someone darned it and loved the sweater enough to preserve it. More than any garment I feel I honour the previous owner by loving her work. Gosh, sounds a bit deep, but it’s a great garment to wear in our current cold snap. See you over at your blog soonest!

  • 30th November 2017 at 1:56 am

    I enjoyed your tips for shopping in thrift stores. It is surprising what you can find sometimes, especially if, as others said, you keep an open mind to finding the unexpected. In those cases, it’s not that I looked for it and found it, but that it just popped into view. Last week, I was looking for warm, cozy sweaters, when a dark green corduroy sleeve popped up. I love corduroy (important to know what you love), and it fits, is a great color, and has tucks and buttoned cuffs. For me, a great find.

    Here in the US, not all of us, probably not many of us, take part in the Black Friday and Cyber Monday frenzy. It is crazy, sometimes, what the shoppers get caught up in. And, these shopping events come right after a holiday that is meant to bring families and friends together with grateful hearts. Like so many things in the media, we can just say “no thanks” to it!

    • 30th November 2017 at 9:13 am

      It’s been really interesting to hear from American readers of this blog that you also don’t really like that crazy rush to buy on that one day. It’s been good to hear this.

      Like you, it’s finding the unexpected that I love about thrifting. That corduroy find sounds great!

      • 30th November 2017 at 1:32 pm

        I would say that it is an extremely small percentage of Americans who actually take part in that frenzied mad holiday shopping crush. Unfortunately, we seem to have a liberal news media that delights in rooting out, exposing, and sensationalizing a distorted representation of our society. Then there are the grass roots of this nation, the people who quietly go about the business of keeping this nation on a stable and forward path. GOD bless America, and stay out of the shops during the holiday!

        • 30th November 2017 at 4:26 pm

          I guess that applies in the UK too. It IS the good nature of the grass roots people in both countries that keep the wheels turning in this chaotic world.

  • 30th November 2017 at 6:29 pm

    Although I rarely shop in charity shops ( my local ones aren’t up to much) I do make and mend clothes and alter things to fit as well. I had a bad moth attack recently, which meant I had to do quite a bit of darning to cover up the small holes created. A very useful website for information about caring for clothes, including mending, washing and so on is

    • 30th November 2017 at 7:22 pm

      I have made note of the clothes care website you shared.
      Thank you!

  • 1st December 2017 at 5:03 pm

    I am definitely a Mrs Grump as I think Black Friday is an appalling concept, however I would have bought that cardi. I am all for re-using something that is still perfectly serviceable and reducing our landfill. I have recently patched a couple of moth damaged cardies and elbow patches would look good on yours…although they are a tad ‘geography teacher’, I still like them.
    Great tips for charity shopping, have yet to check out Seaford.

  • 1st December 2017 at 11:13 pm

    Completely agree about Black Friday and I’m glad to hear it isn’t very successful here. It is a dated concept and I wish everyone would boycott it! Yes I mend clothes, etc. Doesn’t everyone?

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