You head out to the charity shops, excited. You arrive and quickly find yourself stifled, confused and frustrated. May I suggest you ponder the Huntress Shopping Prompts before you begin your next search? Scrutinize your style. Ask questions, make lists, consider and re-consider your clothes. Once you pin down the gaps in your wardrobe, you'll know exactly how a charity shop can fill them.
1 Which basics in your wardrobe need replacing or beefing up?
For me this is usually trousers, in particular black. But black doesn't have to mean boring. For example, I recently found a pair of black/cream tartan 7/8 length crops from Reiss at a local charity shop. They check the basics box with added flare. Which style basics need special attention in your wardrobe?
2 What fashion fave do you buy over and over? Is this because you want multiples or have yet to find a really good example?
Nothing makes me happier than a shirt dress styled with a big chunky belt. I'm always on the look out for quality shirt dresses - I've at least a dozen and counting, but which looked best on me was a learning curve. Not all of them hit the mark. When trying on a potential find, I now ask "Is this at least as good as other shirt dresses in my wardrobe?" Are you buying the best of your favourite fashion item? Or settling for something that's nearly-but-not-quite? Keep looking.
3 If you found them cheap, what wild style pieces would you take a risk on?
Charity shops are perfect for out-of-the-ordinary pieces - funky things someone loved in a shop but then got home and thought otherwise. I continually find mad print blouses that I pair with black, on the cheap. Another wild (west) buy? I picked up a pair of red leather cowboy boots for US$10. I love them but wouldn't have risked it had they not been rock-bottom reduced. Set your wild-buy boundaries, allowing for something a little off the rails.
4 Do you have the right topper for every occasion?
Coats are the cherry on your style sundae but can be a budget buster. I suggest trying on any number of outfits you love and wear often. Then ask, "am I topping my treasures with a sour cherry?" Consider your vast coat needs; mac, short military, hacking jacket, long black, hot-coloured, fitted, sporty, super warm, tails (really, my men's 2nd-hand tail coat, £20, is a lifesaver), leather, denim, utilitarian, blanket wrap, cardigans, etc. Since you need a variety of toppers, buying a few quality 2nd-hand versions makes style sense.
5 You're offered an invite at 5pm to attend a cocktail/red carpet/black tie do at 7pm. Do you have something to wear?
Luckily the modern-day definition of evening wear is much broader than it once was. But a day dress with heals won't cut it. However, cigarette trousers with a sequin top will. A short 80s cocktail dress with a sculpted wedge is perfect. And a vintage fringe shift teamed with a man's tailcoat (see!) is spot on. If you're like me, you aren't traipsing the red carpet regularly but nonetheless every woman should be able to throw together a fabulous evening look at short notice. Charity shops are awash in mint after-eight gear, hardly worn and waiting for you. Buy it when you see it, not when you need it.
Now get out there and charity shop with confidence and creativity!