I have been charity shopping for years now, and for a long time I would avoid the clothing rails altogether. It seems ludicrous now, but I never had much luck finding anything I liked, or perhaps I wasn’t as open minded back then. These days, I make sure I check every part of the shop and consequently I’ve come away with some great finds!
My first rule of thumb is to skim past all of the ex-Primark, supermarket brands – my reasoning being that these pieces were cheap to begin with, so why pay the same price for secondhand? Secondly, check all areas – that’s right, men’s and women’s clothing. All items can be altered relatively cheaply, buttons can be replaced, holes darned and zips fixed. What you’re looking for is well made pieces (you can’t go wrong with 100% cotton, wool or leather if you wear it…) in prints that you love with no dodgy stains or marks that you’ll never be able to
Finally, bonus points if you have items in mind that you’d love to find so that you have some focus when you go shopping. Pinterest is perfect for saving images of different looks and items of clothing you like, and I keep a fantasy shopping list in the notes on my phone. Of course, with charity shopping you never know what you’ll find, but persevere and go in every charity shop you come across. I have a thing for coats and jackets so I always look for those. My collection is growing a little out of hand, but I have now ticked-off all of the styles I was looking for.
Unfortunately, while most women my age are taking their styling inspiration from Kate Moss and Alexa Chung, it occurred to me that I look like I’ve been watching one too many episodes of Only Fools and Horses and have every coat and jacket as seen on Del-Boy and Rodney Trotter.
It began with the flannel shirt. Plaid shirts are another growing collection of mine, and I love this particular shirt as it’s thick enough to wear as a lightweight jacket and I love the bison logo on the label! A steal for £3. What I thought was a nineties grunge staple á la Judd Nelson punching the air at the end of The Breakfast Club, turned out to be reminiscent of Rodney’s lumberjack coat.
Then along came the £10 shearling wool coat. I had been hunting for one for years but every one I came across previously was far too big or far too expensive. What I thought was the perfect seventies winter coat, is actually perfect for channelling your inner Del Boy selling wind-up barking dogs out of a suitcase on the high-streets of Peckham.
Finally, the £7 camo jacket. I thought a camo jacket would be a great “Oh, this old thing?!” jacket to throw on over a t-shirt, and would look great with a pop of colour worn underneath (think Mickey with her bright red swimsuit and camo combo in Netflix’s Love) but it turns out it’s another Rodney Trotter go-to.
I may have left the south-east to live in Manchester, but sartorially I’ll always be a Trotter. But please remember, my name’s not Rodney, it’s Sarah.
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