Thursday, 19 September 2013

Charity Shops VS High Street brands

"Aside working and college I spend a lot of my time shopping." Not an especially inspiring statement, I'm sure you'll agree. The main difference is that when I say shopping I mean charity shops, not Topshop and River Island. As much as I would love to devote my shopping habits to those shops, my bank balance and inability to spend money means I'm more restricted to the local charity shops.
Not that I have a problem with this - charity shops are so much more interesting than high street shops. Not only will you find things that no one else is wearing (although I did wear a vintage St Michael shirt at Reading and walked past a guy wearing the exact same one - this was a complete one off though) but you'll also pay a fraction of the price. There's a certain art to charity shopping - you can't go in specifically looking for something. It's okay to have a vague idea of what you're after but set your sights too high and you'll come out empty handed.
Last year I fell in love with vintage jumpers after buying a Topshop 'Vintage' jumper from their flagship store on Oxford Street. As nice as the jumper was, I'm not sure it was worth the £40 I handed over for it. The jumper itself was also a lot itchier and longer than anticipated and I ended up selling it on ebay, albeit for nearly the same as the RRP.
The great thing about where I live is that it's filled with old people. In my opinion, old people with great fashion sense but that's subjective. As a result of this, my chances of walking into a charity shop and finding fairisle, vintage jumpers was pretty high. I think the most I ever spent on a jumper was £6 and all the ones I bought were definitely worth the money. The good thing about charity shops too is that most of the time vintage stuff is what it says on the tin - vintage. This may mean that it's been around for years and years, but it also means the quality is high enough for it to withstand these years of wear - a crucial difference to that of the previously mentioned Topshop jumper.
This year I've been wearing mainly street style - oversized, patterned shirts with chunky gold necklaces and either disco pants or shorts and tights. As you've probably guessed, this was my target when charity shopping. I thought I'd share some of my favourite shirts I've collected over the past few months.
 I can't remember which charity shop this was bought from but it was £3.49. Funny how I remember the price but not the shop! My dad used to have loads of shirts like this and my sister and I always cringed/laughed at the patterns on them, yet now I'm sourcing my own ones! I usually wear this shirt tied up how it is in the photo, with a thick gold chain and either black high waisted shorts or disco pants. It would also be good in the Winter tucked in to high waisted black 7/8 jeans with high tops and a hoodie.
The other shirts shown below were all bought from various different charity shops around my local area. The burgundy one and blue/gold one are both St Michael which is vintage M&S, and I'm slightly ashamed to admit the bottom two are from Topman! The main difference there though is that in store they would have cost £28 each whereas I'm pretty certain I paid around £6/£7 for the two of them.

I think a lot of people have a problem with charity shopping because of the 'pre owned' stigma. In one sense though, the majority of things bought have been worn at some point. A dress in Topshop? There's a high chance someone will have a least tried it on before you bought it. With charity shop clothes most of the time the item has been washed/cleaned before it's sold on which means from that point of view, charity shop clothes are cleaner.
Being a student I don't have much time to deliberate over the quality of clothes but that's comparison aspect I previously touched on. As much as I love Topshop clothes, their quality is appalling. On the other hand, most of the charity shop things I've bought have lasted me ages without ripping/gaining holes/stretching like most high street brands. The reason for this is because most high street brands work by mass production so little care is taken with regards to actually processing the clothes. It is just as simple to buy Topshop/River Island from charity shops, but at this price, bad quality can be accepted. I for one won't settle for spending £22 on a t shirt and it ripping within a few wears!
Once you know where to look and what to look for, charity shops are fantastic for anyone looking for original outfits on a small budget. I would go as far as saying that my favourite outfits come from charity shops, purely because no one else wears the same thing. Often I've been complimented on clothes and asked where they're from, only to smugly reply "from a charity shop."

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