Style Tips / Mademoiselle Robot’s guide to thrifting-charity shopping

It has to be said, I live in a bubble. A pretty bubble where reality is very rarely invited. I don’t like to read the news (I still do it from time to time, just to see what’s happening outside the bubble), I tend to forget how much money I have left in my bank account and I speak to puppies in the street. So when people talk about the Credit Crunch (everywhere I turn, it seems), I like to think it is a new chocolate bar. I am not affected by the Credit Cruch. At least I don’t think so. Or maybe the reality is that I have always shopped as if there was a Credit Crunch. I don’t have a Credit Card, I don’t have an Overdraft, I don’t have a loan. The money I have is all mine. So when I spend it, I have to be careful, because zero means zero. Fortunately for the shopping addict I am, London has an array of wonderful Charity shops (thrift shops if you prefer, my American readers). It is a total hit or miss, but it is so rewarding to find something in a Charity Shop.

Here are my tips to become a Charity shop queen.

❤ Before leaving the house, assess your wardrobe and figure out the general styles that suit you best, this will make your life easier…

❤ … But don’t bother going in a charity shop if you are after something particular. The best thing about thrifting is the surprise!

❤ Arm yourself with patience, an extra bag as often Charity shops don’t have plastic bags (I opt for a canvas tote folded in my handbag), a lot of change and if you have OCD like me, some wipes for your hands – going through old clothes for hours can get pretty messy.

❤ Wear something that allows you to try things on without a fitting room. I like to wear leggings and a skirt with a vest. This way I can just take the skirt off and try on stuff without ending up in the nude in the middle of a shop. It is important to try things on. They can’t be returned, and even though they are cheap, it is no reason to let them pile up in your house once you realised they don’t suit you.

❤ Try to plan your trip ahead by doing some internet research. For example, decide to go charity shopping in Chelsea and find the addresses of all the shops in this area.

❤ Generally it is better to go in wealthy areas, as people tend to give away more stuff to charity… and not shop there. In London, it is a good idea to try Marylebone, Chelsea, Kensington or Belgravia for example.

❤ Always look at the labels. I often find amazing vintage couture items in Charity shops. Even if it doesn’t suit you, buy it, it will make one of your friends happy. Or you could sell it later in a little shop like Liebemarlene.

❤ Try and look mostly for great basics, like a blazer, a great denim jacket, a high waisted skirt or a pair of man’s chinos.

❤ Last but not least: plan your dry cleaning budget!

So next time you go out thrifting, don’t forget to print this out!

If you are in the UK, locate charity shops using the association of Charity Shops website.
And for my American friends, check out The Thrift Shopper for addresses and tips.

What was your best thrifting find?

Mine was undoubtedly my black blazer, I wear it all the time and it cost me £3!