A guide to getting the most out of charity shopping

As an increased number of news stories surface about the negative impacts of fast fashion, more people are turning to sustainable options to purchase their clothes. One increasingly popular sustainable fashion option is charity shopping, with their sales increasing yearly.  

Here is a useful guide with some top tips about how to get the most out of charity shopping. 

Have an open mind 

One reason people are often inclined to buy from high street shops is due to the heightened availability of items. Second hand shopping does mean you have to be less fussy about what you’re looking for, but it is also important to consider just how much you need an item of clothing before purchasing from a high street brand. Understanding the difference between wanting and needing clothes can help you to be more conscious of what you’re buying. 

Be aware of the various brands sold in charity shops, especially in relation to sizing. Different brands, and different countries, have varying sizing guides, so check a size up or down to ensure you’re not missing out on items which may fit you fine. 

Sometimes you may fall in love with items which are not quite the right size and it can be easy to immediately rule them out. However, clothes can often be upcycled and modified to provide a better fitting, so consider your ability to make adjustments before writing off an item 

Make a list 

When you’re searching for a specific item of clothing, write it down on some paper or even in your phone notes. Add to this list every time there is a new item you want. When you venture on your shopping trips, you can refer to this list as you would a grocery list. This can help you remember what you’re looking for months after you first thought of it, which is very helpful if you’re regularly visiting charity shops for different items. 

However, be sure to not limit yourself to your list. Browse each section of the shop and try on clothes which aren’t your usual style or colour. You may find some hidden gems that you wouldn’t usually think to look for. 

Visit multiple shops  

In my local town, there are roughly five charity shops. If I am visiting in the hope of purchasing new clothes as opposed to simply browsing, I will visit each of these shops. Different charity shops have different clientele and therefore offer different types of clothing. Additionally, each shop will be supporting a different charity, meaning that by visiting a variety of shops you could be supporting various causes. 

If your local town doesn’t have many charity shops, plan a trip to a nearby town which does. You can plan a day out around your shopping by inviting friends and stopping for lunch during the visit. In doing this, you can focus on socialising and having a nice day as opposed to be solely focused on buying clothes. 

Visit regularly  

As charity shops have a regular stock rotation – often every couple of weeks – it is good to visit them regularly to make sure you don’t miss out on new items. Personally, weekly or fortnightly visits suit me best, as I can incorporate these in my weekly shop and they still feel leisurely. 

Visiting too often can have its downfalls, such as a lack of new stock or feeling like a chore. These problems can be limited by visiting several shops as there is a wider variety to choose from and you can alternate which ones you visit. 

Be conscious of your purchases 

It can be easy to be a little more mindless when purchasing clothes from charity shops than from high street brands. People will justify their purchases by their low price or their goodwill gesture of helping a charity. However, it is important still to be careful about what you’re buying. 

Make sure that you really love an item of clothing and will be able to get sufficient use out of it. If you do neglect it after purchase it won’t necessarily be a waste of money but there is a chance it could have gone to a more deserving home. Charity shops are great for low-income families to buy nice, and sometimes branded, clothes at a small cost. Mindlessly buying anything you semi-like can have a wider impact on others who may have to buy solely from charity shops for financial reasons. 

Also, be wary of the size of clothes you are purchasing. Despite the current oversized fashion trend, make conscious efforts to not buy XXL t-shirts for your own fashion agenda. Many plus sized individuals struggle to find clothes in their sizes in charity shops so it is important not to purchase the few options they have if you do not need them. Charity shops have a wide range of fashion choices to choose from without compromising the choices of others.  

Donate your own clothes 

As you begin to buy more clothes, you might need to have a clear out of some older items. If you can, donate these items to charity shops. Many charity shops feature brands which are typically popular with older women, meaning there is sometimes a lack of brands aimed at younger people. As more young people turn to sustainable fashion, donating your own clothes can help make stock more appealing to younger people, and may encourage them to boycott fast fashion. 

Sustainable fashion can still be trendy and fun if you do it right. Make the most out of your local charity shops to revamp your wardrobe with pre-loved clothing to reduce your fast fashion purchases and to help the planet. 

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