Lifestyle Style

The Charity Shop Guide

August 5, 2016


the year or place in which wine, especially wine of high quality, was produced.
the time that something of quality was produced.
relating to or denoting wine of high quality.
    denoting something from the past of high quality, especially something representing the best of its kind.


Vintage & Me

I’ve been thinking of putting together this post for a while now and I’ve thought long and hard about what it is I want to convey. Talking about vintage fashion or pieces from a local charity shop is pretty difficult – I can’t show you items to buy now, nor can I provide you with lots of links to my favourite pieces; but that’s the point really isn’t it? Vintage shopping is so wonderfully therapeutic because it’s so individual and unique. You find one off pieces that you won’t find Jane, who lives down the road, wearing. This is certainly one of the reasons that I love it, together with the excitement of what it is you might find. If you fall in love with a pretty top in Topshop, as great as that feels, you know that you can go back again tomorrow and it will still be there, it will still be online and chances are, you will see at least two or three people wearing it that month; but with vintage clothing, it’s so wonderfully different.

To give you a little background, I’m not really sure where my love of vintage shopping and dressing began. I’ve always been a fan of finding old pieces on eBay and I guess, charity shops soon followed. To be honest, my sense of style is so incredibly varied I’m not sure I’m in a position to write a how-to post such as this, because my wardrobe is so mixed and there are many, I’m sure, who will only shop in charity shops. I guess this is more of a fashionista’s guide – ugh, I bloody hate that word – but it’s true. I love fashion and so finding one off and unique pieces which I feel great wearing and which receive the odd compliment, only serves to ignite that love further.

I think the key is to mix high street, high end and vintage – that’s the perfect blend really. I rarely dress head-to-toe in vintage clothing, but wearing a pair of Primark ripped denim shorts with a pretty silk blouse from a charity shop is my go-to outfit at the moment (the summer has arrived in the UK, don’t get too excited though, I’m sure it won’t last!) Over the years, I’ve built up quite a collection of vintage and charity shop pieces which work so well with my high street wardrobe too. Often though, my favourite pieces, or those that receive the most compliments from others are pieces that I’ve been lucky enough to find tucked away in a charity shop.

How to Shop Vintage

I think there are two problems (problems may be a strong word to use here, let’s say ‘issues’) when it comes to vintage/charity shop shopping in my opinion. 1) Many assume that vintage is very expensive and 2) Charity shop prices can be extremely low, leading many buyers just to grab anything that fits because it’s ‘only a few pounds’. So, to answer the first ‘issue’ – yes, vintage shopping can be very expensive but I think a lot is to do with common sense too. Address your budget and the item of clothing: if you can afford to buy a second hand Celine bag for £500 then that’s great but if you’re used to high street prices then that’s probably a bit too much to spend. ‘Vintage’ is quite a loose term these days and is often thrown around – I’ve got quite a few vintage pieces and quite a few charity shop pieces in my wardrobe. So, what’s the difference? Well, personally, picking up an old dress from Topshop in a charity shop for a fifth of the original price is not vintage. It’s a great find, yes, but it’s still pretty current in the vintage world. However, finding an old M&S top from the 1980s, I would class as a vintage piece. Some might disagree because M&S is still on our high-street today but I see it as something that I certainly wouldn’t find if I were to pop in there tomorrow. It’s evidently a few decades old and the label has worn off – plus, the M&S logo has changed a fair bit! I’m no expert though, but if you’re thinking of shopping for true vintage pieces, do a little homework and find out what to look for and which labels are the best finds.

I would also say that it depends on where you shop and what you want to buy. If Topshop is a little out of your price range, finding old pieces in good condition in a local charity shop is a great way to shop. If you’re after a few unique pieces that have been worn for the last three decades, then charity shops can still provide a fantastic range – but what you find is more to do with luck and frequent visits!

I’ve noticed that many charity shops now have a ‘vintage section’ – the pieces are a little more pricey but because the popularity of vintage shopping has grown, this inflation was inevitable. Often in these sections is where you’ll find your floral Laura Ashley dresses and shoulder-padded tops in abundance. If nothing more, it’s a great section to browse for inspiration and ideas.

Vintage Inspiration

I realised that I didn’t have a dedicated vintage/charity shop board on Pinterest, perhaps because I just pin whatever takes my fancy or inspires me or perhaps because I have quite a few fashion boards now. Either way, I’ve created one and pinned or re-pinned those images which, to me, exude that wonderful vintage, secondhand feel. Now, just to clarify, not all of these images will be showcasing true vintage pieces – in fact, I’m pretty sure a few of the items are Gucci, Isabel Marrant or even Topshop. I just wanted to share my favourite images that capture global street style with a wonderful vintage edge and give you an idea of how vintage-looking pieces can be styled.

And, finally – I could go on and on – what is it that I look for when I pop to the charity shops and my favourite vintage haunts? Well, although I have a few lists with items that I’d love to find, I never go out with the intention of finding a cream coat or red cardigan. I really just look out for items that catch my eye and are a little bit different – I very rarely pick up basic items, such as tees, jeans or shoes. My favourite pieces to rummage for are definitely blouses, jewellery and silk items. Looking in the nightwear section is a good tip too if you’re looking for silk camisoles and I would always say keep an eye on the jewellery counter too – I’ve found a great selection of gold necklaces and pretty earrings here.

I’ve included a few photos above of pieces that I’ve been lucky enough to find over the years – traipsing through french markets, local charity shops and early morning car boot sales.

If you have any questions or would like to see more on this topic, please just let me know! It’s definitely one of my favourite things to talk about..


Love, Harriet






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  • Reply Annette August 8, 2016 at 02:00

    Loved this post! I absolutely love vintage clothing shopping, and this was so helpful! Thanks for the tips!! xx Annette

    • Reply harriep August 8, 2016 at 13:20

      Thank you so much lovely! X

  • Reply Kasey August 8, 2016 at 01:12

    I wish I knew how to do this better! Thanks for this post it’s really helpful!

    • Reply harriep August 8, 2016 at 13:29

      Aw, thanks Kasey! You’re spoilt for choice in the US, I’m sure you’d find some lovely bits! X

  • Reply Katie August 8, 2016 at 01:00

    What a fabulous post – super well thought out. I certainly share your love for vintage shopping 🙂

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