A Love Letter to Charity Shops

Jan 28, 2020

Beauty & Fashion | Rhiannon Wardle

Do you love to shop? Do you feel a sense of excitement when you buy a new item of clothing that you love? Do you believe that fashion is one of the best expressions of identity? If so, then you share the same sentiments as I do.

However, we are all becoming increasingly aware of the problems surrounding fast fashion, whether that means the amount of clothes that end up in landfills, the exploitation of factory workers, or pollution in developing countries caused by the manufacturing process. It may seem like your monthly Asos haul isn’t harming anyone or anything, but multiply your haul by thousands across the country, and we have a problem. Not to mention the amount of items that are returned, which may end up in a landfill despite never being worn. What a waste. Don’t fear though, you can still buy clothes without buying into fast fashion.

Luckily for me, the transition to shopping predominantly at charity shops had already taken place by the time all of the issues with fast fashion came under scrutiny. This is because charity shops are not just an eco-conscious person’s last resort, they are fabulous in their own right! All of my favourite items are from charity shops because they were super affordable and unique. You are much more likely to come across items you won’t find in high street stores, either because they’re vintage, by an unknown brand, or just so last season. This is a blessing, because it’s much more exciting to wear something a bit unique, knowing that you’re not going to look the same as everyone else.

This isn’t to say that you can’t find basics in charity shops - plain t-shirts, jumpers and jeans are a-plenty in store!

The prices are a huge bonus as well. While in London, charity shops can be a bit more pricey, in other towns and cities you will find a wide array of items for a fiver or less. Perfect for students, or those of us not willing to spend a fortune on material goods. Some of my best finds include a pink trench coat for £6, a pair of burberry checked trousers (maybe fake but who cares?) for £1.50 and a pair of black cotton dungarees for £4. Sure, it takes some patience to find good items, and there will be plenty of shops that ONLY contain frumpy, floral patterned tops, but persistence has great rewards.

It is worth noting that charity shops are not crazily accessible for everyone. If your body does not fit certain norms, it may be more difficult to find a good range of clothes - for example, if you’re very tall. However, there are normally a decent range of shapes and sizes, it might just take a little bit more time rifling through. Another thing to express is that charity shops are not necessarily an excuse to buy mountains of clothes that you don’t need. It is still important to try and buy things that you will get good wear out of, otherwise you’ll end up giving them back, or even throwing them away. Nevertheless, if you do go overboard with the bargain hunting, you can always arrange a clothes swap with friends. My friends and I often give each other clothes we’re fed up with, and it works out very nicely for both parties!

So here’s a thank you to charity shops - for the many items of clothing that I love, for the many lovely days I’ve spent charity shopping with friends, and for helping to save the planet. Still not convinced? Give Depop a go! Depop is an app where you can search for specific items that you want, or follow shops that you like the look of. I have a deep love for Depop too, but charity shops still hold that special place in my heart.

Happy budget-friendly, eco-friendly shopping!