Last Friday I said that I fancied doing a few posts on the theme of saving money and budgeting. I’ve written fairly extensively about saving money in the past, and you can see all of my previous posts here. I’ll be getting well stuck into the food side of things soon, but today I thought it would be great to start with a bit of fashion!

I’ve been into vintage clothes, thrifting and charity shops for a while now, and I feel that I have picked up a few tips along the way. Second hand, or as I prefer to call it, pre loved, clothing can save you a fortune when you know how to shop for it well. I have bought so many things from eBay and charity shops over the years, and it’s only really been in the last couple, that I’ve actually started buying decent items that have managed to survive my bi annual clothing culls. So with years of experience of crap itchy knit ware and moth bitten dresses behind me, here are my tips:

Know your own style + see past the trends

Ding Dong Vintage in Durham (source)

It took me years to really get comfortable with my own style and actually knowing what that is. The changing point for me, was looking through my wardrobe and seeing which things I wore the most. For me, stripy t-shirts and tops and floral tea dresses are my absolute staples. I always feel good wearing them. Of course I do have a few other styles of clothes that I love, but they are the foundation of my wardrobe. I am not much of a follower of fashion and much prefer to adhere to my own style too. Knowing your style is really useful when it comes to buying pre loved clothes, it certainly helps avoid fashion mistakes, as cheap as they might be!

Don’t care about what other people might think

If you think you look good and most importantly, what you are wearing makes you feel good, sod what anyone else thinks. Having confidence in your style makes such a difference, and as some vintage and second hand styles can be on the quirky side, wear with attitude!

Disregard the label size…

IMG_3965Dress from Beyond Retro, Brighton

Never ever bother with what the label says on second hand, and most importantly vintage clothing. I have bought dresses labelled a small, which have fitted me and my size 12 – 14 figure perfectly. If buying online, always make sure the listing includes measurements and go on them, rather than the size they list. It may also be the case that you would prefer to wear an item styled more fitted or floaty depending on what it is. I’ve bought extra large blouses so that I could wear them more flowing over leggings, rather than fitted.

…but check out the manufacturer

This might just be me, but when I am in charity shops I just won’t buy old Primark stuff. I think it’s so cheap you might as well buy it brand bloody new! I do look out for some of the better quality high street names such as M&S, Topshop and Next, as even pre loved, their stuff seems to age better.

Fabric matters

150aba0bb69ef0ccc53f0e89ac097349Green dress from eBay – the fabric was a bit stiff so a wash with fabric softener really helped to make this more wearable

The kind of fabric used can make a pre loved piece of clothing something you’ll treasure forever or never take out of the wardrobe. This is more of a consideration when getting things online, but do check the fabric. I almost bid on an emerald green skirt which from the photos looked to be made of a light cotton, however it was wool and would have been to heavy to wear how I envisaged wearing it. A lot of older vintage clothing has fabric which can be quite stiff, but sometimes a wash with a good fabric conditioner can make it more comfortable to wear.

Don’t be afraid of re working it

Even if you aren’t that handy with a needle and thread, some clothing alteration places can be quite affordable, especially if the item you are getting is extra special. I always take out the shoulder pads in vintage dresses, and have added a couple of stitches at the waist of a boxy blouse to make it more fitted. Trouser hems can be shortened either by sewing them up or rolling up the hem, likewise with shorts. A lot of pre loved clothes get a new lease of life with a fresh set of buttons or fastenings.

Get inspired and know what you are looking for

This goes hand in hand with knowing your style, but I do think its useful to have a good idea of the kind of things you are looking for. Sometimes you can take some inspiration from current trends and high street / designer lines as more often than not a lot of vintage style is what has been inspiring them in the first place! Take this blouse from Topshop and one of my own vintage numbers:

PicMonkey Collage

Pretty similar eh! The Topshop blouse is £28 and mine cost me £8 three years ago. Not a bad saving! FYI, there are loads of these style of tops about on eBay and Etsy if you like the high street versions. I also love Pinterest for fashion inspiration, and even the way that som
e items are styled for the sale images of online vintage shops can give you ideas.

Mix it up

This kind of depends on your style, but I find a full pre loved / vintage outfit a bit too much on me so I like to mix it up with high street stuff and wardrobe staples like jeans and tailored trousers. I love wearing a vintage floral dress with a leather biker jacket or a vintage style skirt with an H&M basic t shirt or vest.



Whenever I’m looking at stuff in charity shops I try and think about how I would wear it, what I’d wear it with and how I’d accessorise it. Something that looks quite plain can have a whole different look with some good accessories. I think belts are probably the most transformative, a skinny belt can change the fit of a looser top or dress instantly, as can tucking it in and belting up the trouser, skirt or shorts.

Here are a few of my favourite recent pre loved purchases:

PicMonkey Collage1Dress from local charity shop – New Look and still had tags on (so not technically pre loved!) // Topshop Jacket, H&M necklace and Autograph at M&S chambray shirt – all from local charity shop

PicMonkey CollageM&S chambray shirt again, from charity shop // vintage floral dress from Beyond Retro Brighton

IMG_5104Shorts – I picked these up last week from a local charity shop, along with 2 other pairs of shorts and some amazing floaty trousers. These shorts were just £3!

Of course, charity shops are my favourite place to look for pre loved fashion. You will definitely find the most jems and bargains in them. After charity shops, specialist vintage stores are great, but they will be a lot more expensive. I think if you aren’t that confident about finding things in charity shops, vintage stores are a better place to start, just be aware you’ll be paying a bit more. My favourite vintage stores include Beyond Retro in Brighton and London, Attica and Eric in Newcastle and Ding Dong Vintage and Scarlett Ribbons in Durham. Online, eBay is great for general second hand stuff and Etsy is better for genuine vintage.

Take a look at my Etsy profile here and see some of the stores and items I’ve been hearting! Add me as a friend too!

Are you a fan of pre loved fashion? Where are your favourite places to find it? Any other tips you would share? Do you think this is a good way to save money?