Thrifty blogger ‘Cant Swing a Cat’ explains how to bag the most stylish charity shop bargains!

Having recently revamped my wardrobe with a number of charity shop bargains, I’ve noticed how surprised people tend to be when they learn that a brand new dress was just a fiver from a local Barnardo’s.

Many people are still wrongly under the impression that charity shops are full of scruffy clothes and that they stock the same old stock year in, year out, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.


If you fancy updating your wardrobe at a fraction of the price it would cost on the high street, here are a few of my top tips for getting your hands on the best charity shop bargains.

Location, Location, Location

While the posher parts of town are likely to receive a higher quantity of designer donations, don’t dismiss charity shops in other areas as you certainly can find quality items everywhere. Also consider looking for charity shops close to universities as these are likely to be filled with fantastic clothes that students have grown tired of. I find that May/June is a particularly great time for this, as many students have a clear out before heading home for the summer.

Take a list

It’s easy to get carried away in charity shops, particularly when faced with unique pieces that you’ll struggle to find anywhere else. But if you don’t have a plan of action in place and fail to exercise some self-control, you could find yourself overspending. I recommend making a note in your phone of all the things you need. This will help you to have a level of focus on each shopping trip. At the moment my list includes a pinstripe blazer and tops with ‘peter pan’ collars.

Befriend the volunteers

If you’re looking for something in particular, volunteers may be able to have a quick look in the back to see if they have it. With so many donations entering a charity shop each day, you’d be surprised how many amazing items are sat in the back room just waiting for space on the shelves to become available.

Have a good rummage

Don’t be afraid to really get stuck in and have a good rummage around. That big box of handbags might not seem like much at first, but you may unearth some hidden gems if you take the time to have a proper look.

Timeless treasures

Try to avoid only looking for things that comply with current fashion trends. Instead, look out for timeless classics that will stand the test of time and last for years. For example, a little black dress will be great for numerous occasions and some leather boots could last you several winters. Also keep an eye out for versatile items that will go with just about anything.

Don’t pay attention to sizes

If you spot something you love but it’s not in your size, try it on anyway. It’s amazing how sizes can vary between brands. Consider customising pieces that really catch your eye. You don’t necessarily need to be able to sew to alter a dress that’s too big for you. A waist belt might suffice.

This blog post was written by charity shop blogger and volunteer, Jenni Hill. Jenni regularly writes about her love for charity shop fashion, volunteering and saving money.

Why not try out Jenni’s thrifty tips and get down to your local Barnardo’s today, you can find details on your local store by clicking here.

You can read more about Can’t Swing a Cat via her blog or follow her on Twitter @CantSwingACat.

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