Tips to help you bag a charity shop bargain

Charity shops have plenty to offer the thrifty. Picture: THINKSTOCKPHOTOS

Charity shops have plenty to offer the thrifty. Picture: THINKSTOCKPHOTOS - Credit: PA

I’ve long been a fan of charity shops - they’re a great place to root around for bargains that might be out of your price range if you were to buy them new.

They’re also a great alternative to so-called fast fashion; the pitfalls of which include dubious quality, environmental credentials and questions about the treatment of workers who made it. Charity shops don’t have these problems. And long gone is their fusty reputation; you can nab some very desirable items for a fraction of what it would cost on the high street.

If you’re new to charity store shopping, try these tips to help you get started.

1. Chat to the volunteers: they’ll know how best to navigate a layout that might seem confusing. Don’t be afraid to ask if you’re looking for something specific - it may be at the back.

2 Try it on: in some ways, the size on the label is only a guide with pre-worn clothing, which may have shrunk or perhaps even slightly stretched. As with any kind of clothes shopping, things often look different on the hanger.

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3. Look at the label: the brand and where they clothing originates from can influence your buying decisions. Always look out for a good-quality label and if you’re not sure of the designer, look for where the item was made. Often, France and Italy denote a quality designer.

4. Look at washing instructions: if it’s dry clean only, is it really worth the cost involved?

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5. Scan the whole outfit: I once bought a skirt and found two ink stains at the bottom when I got it home. Check items for damage before parting with your cash.

Of course, charity shops are also a great hunting ground for things to upcycle too.

Reader Val Woods says that when her lower kitchen cupboard doors became tatty she took them off and hung curtains made from a duvet cover, which exactly matched the colours of her kitchen floor.

The cover cost about £3 from a charity shop. “I live in an old cottage so the curtains look far better than cupboards,” says Val. Beryl Penny also does a lot of upcycling with charity shop buys - her first project came about after she and her husband bought their first home and money was tight.

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