I’m a charity shopping expert – here are five fashion items to always snap up and three to avoid | The Sun

WITH household finances stretched to their limits, you may feel guilty about treating yourself to a new top, belt, jacket, or pair of jeans.

But if you head to your local charity shop, you may be able to update your wardrobe for next to nothing.

When it comes to buying clothing or accessories, second-hand shopping is all the rage these days.

And you don’t always have to buy new to get quality.

Plus, if you shop carefully, and in the right places, you may even be able to get your hands on fabulous designer items for a fraction of the price.

Abigail Rebecca is a charity shopping aficionado who regularly visits the second-hand shops in Brighton, London, as well as her home town of Derby when she goes back to visit.

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The 48-year-old trained as a stylist at the London College of Fashion, and now works as a visibility coach, helping women become more visible through personal style.

She told The Sun: “Charity shops are an incredible resource you can use when looking to source an inexpensive, vintage and often high-fashion wardrobe.

"The trick is to be savvy about the areas in which you shop. I aim to buy items in stores based in affluent areas.”

Another of Abigail’s top tips is to speak to the staff about the best time to shop there.

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“Ask whether there’s a certain day when they tend to receive their best hauls,” she said.

“Also find out when they put stuff out on the shop floor.”

One of the keys to successful fashion shopping, she added, is getting to know the volunteers.

“It’s all about relationship building,” she said.

“Get friendly with the people who work in the store. That way, if you are looking for a particular item, you can ask them to look out for it for you.

"And don’t forget to look online. A lot of charity shops now have an online operation, too.”

Remember, though, when searching for a deal, not all you see is worth your money.

We spoke to Abigail to get the lowdown on the top things you should buy at a charity shop, and the ones you should leave firmly on the rails.

Must-buy fashion items


According to Abigail, a charity shop can be a great place to bag a bargain on a belt.

She said: “A good quality belt instantly upgrades an outfit. If you’re prepared to spend a bit of time browsing, you may be able to find some fantastic belts for just a few pounds.

"This can mean big savings compared to buying new. You could, for example, find yourself a Dolce & Gabbana belt for just £50, as opposed to £315.”

Sunglasses and scarves

It’s easy to focus all your attention on the clothes and accessories displayed on the rails, but Abigail recommends checking out items that are in cabinets, too.

“These are usually the higher-value items, such as sunglasses and scarves,” she said.

“Also check behind the counter, with permission of course, as higher-end bits and pieces may be kept there, too. If you look in the right place, you could find yourself a gem of a bargain.

"I once sourced a beautiful vintage beaded scarf for £20 which might otherwise have cost me upwards of £150.”


Be sure to check out the jewellery in charity stores.

“You can often find beautiful vintage pieces at prices that are well within your budget,” said Abigail.

“A fantastic piece of jewellery is well worth the investment, as it will instantly level up your outfit.”

You could, for example, find a statement necklace or ring for under a tenner.

Abigail added: “I now own a beautiful aquamarine statement ring which I found in a shop in York.

"People always admire it and ask where I bought it. I love to tell them it only cost me £5.”

Designer label items

Keep your eyes peeled for jackets, dresses and jeans from high-end names.

“You may be able to pick up a branded item for less than £30, and could even get your hands on designer jeans for just a few quid,” said Abigail.

“I recently picked up a Rixo dress worth £350 for just £55. That’s a big saving.”

If you don’t know the brand when you're browsing, look it up online.

“You can do this on your phone while you’re in the shop,” said Abigail.

“Better still, write a list of your most sought-after brands in advance so you know what you’re looking for.”

Top quality

If you’re short on time or don’t have the energy to do a lot of rummaging, Abigail suggests simply running your hands along the clothes on the rail.

“This is a great way to find items of clothing that might be worth buying,” she said.

“You can normally tell when you find a high quality valuable item simply by touch. I recently did this and found fabulous vintage Joseph coat that was in great condition for just £30.”

Items to avoid


When buying second-hand, give pants and bras and other items of lingerie a wide berth.

“It’s probably a bad idea to pick these up in a charity shop,” said Abigail.

“Underwear is a big no-no.”

Shoes (in most cases)

Abigail also advises against buying footwear.

“I personally would never share shoes with a stranger,” she said.

“The only exception to this is if the shoes are immaculate.”

White things

While you’re at it, steer clear of second-hand white tops, skirts, shorts or dresses, too.

“These could be purchases you come to regret,” said the charity shopping whizz.

“You risk items looking old and faded. If you want white stuff, you’re best off buying brand new.”

When buying any items new, as opposed to second-hand, don’t forget to make use of tools, such as Google Shopping.

You can use these to check you’re getting a good deal on your purchases.

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Elsewhere, we’ve chatted to a shopping expert about the items on eBay you should be adding to your basket, and the ones that aren’t worth your cash.

And if all this has piqued your interest for bargain-hunting, here are five items to always pick up and four to avoid at a car boot sale, plus another car boot seller reveals her tips for finding rare items.

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