Second Hand Lovin' - Why Charity Shops Are My Life

Source: huffingtonpost.com
I was discussing the chaotic disorder that is my wardrobe with my best friend a few days ago, when something I hadn't thought about before occurred to me; everything I own was either given to me by a friend, or bought in a charity shop, a sale, or Primark. I know for many people that can be quite difficult to digest, and I can almost see you staring at this page thinking "Bloody Nora, was this girl raised in a squat?" Alas no, my dear friends, I am simply Polish. But that is not the reason for my love of cheap attire (although it could explain my fascination with smoked meats, World War II and communism). The truth? It's exciting.

Do you remember back in primary school when the biggest cuss in the world was "Errrr man, did you get dat jacket from Oxfam or sumfink?" Man, that hurt. Despite the fact that actually none of my clothes came from Oxfam, I'd drag my bag home, stomp into the living room and demand my father purchase the entire stock of Tammy Girl immediately. Nowadays, if my response to someone's "Where DID you get those leggings?!" is "Charity shop mate", their eyes are filled with awe. Charity shops used to be the place where everyone imagined their grandparents shopped. Musky smells, dodgy patterns, purple snow boots in a size 9 and a half...it was bleak. It was like walking into a time machine sponsored by Marks and Spencers. Today, with thrift stores in places such as Notting Hill and Kingston selling Ugg Boots and Louboutons, it's a wonder why only half the population are entering the likes of Scope and Save the Children. 
"So how do you manage to find such amazing things?" my friends ask. My answer, after flipping my hair back rather majestically, is time. And a lot of it at that.

Because it's true, charity shopping is time consuming. It's easy to stroll into a high street store and pick up the dress closest to the door, pay and walk out. It's something else when you actually explore and discover. Rarely have I found a exercise that it so utterly rewarding (for some, this may seem that my life has little meaning) - sifting through the masses of fabric, carefully analysing the garments for signs of excess wear or holes, and when you do end up finding something you adore that just so happens to be in your size, it gives you a sense of achievement. Some of my favourite items of clothing are from thrift shops purely because of their unique qualities; a wooly cream dress decorated with coral rocking horses, a 1980's floral jumper complete with shoulder pads and a knee length denim pencil skirt are just some of my favourites that made me jump for joy, and at a measly £3 a piece, thrift shopping can be cheaper than a bloody Frapuccino (but then again, everything's cheaper than a bloody Frapuccino).

However, the reality is that you have to be open-minded and patient. Sometimes you'll scan for hours and hours, eventually coming home empty handed. As much as charity shops have dramatically changed since my childhood, it's no secret that they still contain some pretty awful things - you just need to be aware that your shopping trip isn't always going to be a successful one. When you do eventually come across something truly unique, it'll be worth it and you'll want to share your accomplishment with others (aka run through the streets screaming "2 QUID FOR ARMANI MATE" to befuddled passers by).

Another reason why charity shopping is amazing that is both hard to ignore and valid is the price difference, and it's a significant one. Living in London, 90% of my limited funds end up in the bank balances of either Tesco or Sainsbury's, which leaves little to play with in terms of clothing or make up. With high street prices on the rise, I struggle to justify purchasing a £40 pair of jeans when I could get a similar pair for a fiver in Oxfam. Of course with that comes the problem that you're not always going to find your size, style or fit, but I'd much rather take a bit longer scouring the rails than picking up something for a ridiculous price just because it's there. If I do pop into H&M or River Island, I head straight for the sale section. Yes, I am a cheapskate.

I know I have banged on about Traid before, but it is genuinely one of my absolute favourite charity shops for so many reasons; not only do they sell great brands and unique items, but they have quarterly sales where everything is £4 or lower. Plus the work they do in Africa is incredible, from dealing with child labour in third world countries to improving the environment in textile factories. They also hold frequent events all around London, encouraging people to upcycle their clothes and teaching them various skills including repairing knitwear and DIY handbags. They have branches all over London, so if you do find yourself passing one by, do take a look inside - you won't be disappointed. 

As for me, I'm off to sift through old junk so I can justify the £60 I just spent in Primark. Mmhm.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Comment as much as you like - all are appreciated! :)

Contact Form for Cazzy Bean


Email *

Message *