7 Charity Shopping Tips with Stylist Fatima Truscott.
If like me, you’re looking to be a bit more environmentally conscious and take less of a fast fashion approach these days, then one great way to practice what you preach is to revisit the world of good old charity shopping. I talked a bit about buying less and buying well in this post here, but that doesn’t mean you have to dash out and stock up on ridiculously overpriced designer gear. The charity shops of today have come a long way since our student days and are far less inclined to stock those granny smelling polyester garbs we remember. These days you’re more likely to find something from last season’s high-end high street or some designer bargains to boot. So we asked fabulous stylist and all around conscious shopping guru Fatima Truscott about her 7 charity shopping tips to employ in order to bag some bargains.
1. First things first, you need to consider where you’re going to find rich pickings. Charity shops in posh neighbourhoods tend to be a great place to start, where designer labels are often donated. Some charity shops have even elevated the shopping experience for you actively editing their donations before they get to the rails… think Mary’s Living & Giving Shops for Save the Children, and also Boutique by Shelter (which you can read about in our Coal Drops Yard shopping guide here). For our trip, we headed to Wimbledon village, which was definitely a target rich environment.
2. It’s also worth exploring which charity shops might tend to have more of the brands you love. A little research goes a long way, and once you’ve found which shop might be stocking your faves, you can discount others. But remember, a bit like shopping at Bicester or TK Maxx often your success on a shopping day is down to sheer luck and very dependent on the ebb and flow of their stock system.
3. Next up, Fatima recommends taking your time on your charity shopping trip. Allocate a decent amount of time to browse the rails and be prepared to go through a rail diligently, leaving no garment ignored – after all you never know when you may come across a designer gem. Most charity shops hang stuff in colour order, which makes it easier to navigate the whole store.
4. When browsing the rails, it’s a great idea to think outside the box. Although we often think of charity stores as somewhere you would only pick up something for a fancy dress party you’re heading to, it’s amazing how many treasures are hidden away in these places. On our trip, we happened upon some fantastic Manolo Blahnik, and Joseph pieces in Oxfam, while with a bit of digging Mary’s Living & Giving store revealed some Celine, Moschino and Grenson goodies.
5. It’s essential to check the garments for flaws and try for size. Look for tears, rips, loose hems and seams, sweat patches and also check what’s in the pockets – you don’t want to be introducing a whole new moth family to your closet.
6. If you do spot something and love it and it does fit, buy it there and then. If it’s too big and you love it, factor in an alteration cost. It’s also worth asking the shop assistants – they often know a lot more about sewing and altering the pieces than us mere mortals especially when it comes to how much you might need to change something to make it work for you. But remember to make sure it suits your style and isn’t just another quick fix which will get one wear and then lay dormant in the back of your closet. Fatima advocates shopping more slowly and making more considered choices via her My Style Triangle project.
7. Finally, it’s always worth asking if you can return an item. Oxfam in Wimbledon Village has a 28-day return policy as long as it still has its label on. Then if you have second thoughts on an item, you can pop it back and start your search again.
If all this talk of finding vintage bargains has whet your whistle – you can find some more vintage shopping tips with the amazing Suzi Grant right here.
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A little more on Fatima Truscott and My Style Triangle.
Fatima has been working the stylist gig for nigh on 20 years. More recently she has moved on from her beloved print press role and gone freelance, which has resulted in a flipping amazing (and award-winning) blog The FT Times and a brilliant new project with her lovely pal Sunita from Lucky Things Blog, called My Style Triangle. It’s all about empowering women in their style choices and working on the notion that style and confidence are inextricably linked. Together they run workshops which explore how you can take command of your style and learn how to shop well for you. Their next workshop is Saturday 13th July with tickets available here.
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