Thursday 22 August 2013

The art of THRIFTY shopping!

I LOVE thrifty shopping and I simply can't pass a charity shop, antique shop or flea market without being tempted inside (much to hubby's objection). Thankfully thrift shopping is well on the rise and 'vintage' has never been so popular. People are now charity shopping with pride (as opposed to being dragged in by your mum under protest - oh the shame!) Ok so these shops occasionally have a musty old 'wee and biscuits' smell but don't let that stop you discovering Aladdin's cave of wonder! I save a HUGE amount of money on furniture, clothes and buying gifts at X'mas (most are brand new) and as it all goes to charity I don't feel guilty! However I know it can be daunting so I'm happy to share my top tips, providing you don't grab ALL the bargains. Read on ... you'll be a nippy little magpie in no time.

A FEW OF MY FINDS (all under £20)

My lovely 'Le Creuset' finds (posh pans basically) 
Photograph by A Platts
* Brand new Le Creuset saucepans
* Farmhouse dining table and chairs 
* Antique dresser and corner display cabinet 
* 90 vintage cups and saucers (for my wedding) 
* Chesterfield armchair (found in skip actually)
* Monsoon evening dresses (still with tags on!)
* Almost everything in my wardrobe minus underwear (one must draw a line)
* Lots of lovely crockery and ceramics (including pieces by Denby) 
* Antique lace and bedspread 
... and the list goes on and on and on.


My antique display cabinet 
Photograph by A Platts

Please note - this is from my own experience and works for me and my mismatched style.

1 - Know your shop - I have 7 charity shops in my town and I've got to know their layouts well. Find a couple you can start visiting regularly. Generally if they're located in a busy town they'll have new stuff in all the time so pop in each time you pass.

2 - Browse section by section - I always go straight to 'Household' then 'fabrics, books and clothes' etc unless I'm after something specific.

3 - Honing - The crucial bit. Our aim is to get you good at 'Honing in.' Searching though every rack in the shop can take an age and will be no fun. You want to be able to pop in and out in a few minutes so you need to train your eye so try the following ...

4 - Cast your eye over the whole section, then do it again slowly and just wait for something to jump out at you ... whether it's a colour / pattern / fabric whatever. If it doesn't don't be disheartened Just move on to next section 
(some days I walk out with armfuls, some days nothing). BUT if your eye is drawn to something then ...

5 - Pick it up quickly! If you don't this will happen:  'Mmn that's nice, oooh I'm not sure, I'll have wander round and think about it! dum de dum dum Nooooo!'  .... As soon as you've turned your back, old Mrs Miggins from 93 has gone in for the kill and snapped it up. This has happened SO many times to me. It's you versus Mrs Miggins cowboy style and Miggins always wins.

6 - If you like it, buy it.  Don't wonder where it's going to go in your house, just buy it. If you want you and your house to reflect who you are (rather than who Laura Ashley is) then you need to be more spontaneous with your buying so remember that ...

7 -
 Things don't always need to match. I love things to be mismatched and quirky, and because its all mismatched it all works together. Buy what you're drawn to and the rest will fall into place.


Photograph by A Platts
90% of my clothes are also from charity / vintage shops. I find LOVELY clothes all the time. Some by unknown designers, some from well known designer labels. Personally I don't care where it's from ... if it's floral and pretty it's mine! I can no longer justify spending £50 on one top when I know I can get 8 lovely one-off pieces in a second-hand store.

1 - Before you start browsing locate your size saves a lot of time.

2 -  Don't just go for designer names - keep the same rule as before ... cast your eye over and see what you're drawn to ... it's always the colours / florals for me.

3 -  Check the quality of the fabric and watch out for too much bobbling. If it's just a little bit you can remove it with a lint remover: this is a truly magical gadget that brings wool back to life as good as new. Every wool wearer should own one.
Try it on and don't be put off if it smells musty.  
A good wash and it'll be good as new.
Whatever you take home, be it ornament / curtains / furniture etc always give it a GOOD wash. Even wooden furniture can smell musty and if you start filling your home with musty items ... well, your house will smell too!

Conclusion: the more you visit these shops the easier it becomes and the quicker you'll 
find the good stuff.  So go forth and shop good people and please come back and share with me your amazing finds!!! 

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  1. Very good tips! I look forward to our next charity shop expidition! :) maybe this weekend! Xx

  2. I'm glad you like : ) That would be splendid Mrs Massie! xx

  3. thankyou jodie ive taken your comments on board and look forward to my next charity shop visit with gusto xx

  4. If you are after specific items, ask the Managers of the shops to contact you when the right things come in (this works especially well with charity furnoture shops). We furnished my daughters new home this way :)

    1. Ooh very good point ... thanks for the tip! : )