I’ve made a conscious decision lately to start dressing more like a grown up. That might sound a bit odd, but too often I find myself throwing on a t-shirt and a pair of leggings for comfort and looking like I’ve fallen out of the basics section in a High Street store. I’m not suggesting of course that we should all set light to our lazy day outfits, but I think it’s important to make sure that they stay just for the odd lazy day and don’t creep in to the every day wardrobe. Taking the time to choose a nice outfit, do our hair, do our make up and look good goes a long way towards making us feel good as well.
A wardrobe overall is all well and good, but without a spending a fortune is really difficult to achieve. I’m managing to slowly but surely expand my new collection of outfits with each one never costing more than £5 and I want to let you in on the secret.
Swap old clothes for cash
Clothes Banks give you money for every kilo of clothes you donate. I made around £15 when I had my pre-Christmas clear out which is nothing compared to how much had been spent buying them, but a lot more than was being made by them sitting in a cupboard (TIP: If you take a dressing gown, which are good for increasing your weight, make sure you take the belt too because they won’t accept them without one).
Anything that you think is potentially worth a bit as a standalone item keep out of your donation bags. I sold a lot of my more expensive items via Facebook and most areas have a local selling group if you search (Bargain Bay (Liverpool only) and Quick Sell Stoke on Trent are the ones I’m familiar with). These groups are also really good for finding bargain bundles of clothes from other people to add to your new wardrobe.
An obvious one I know, but these days Charity Shopping isn’t as easy an option as it used to be. The prices in some charity shops can be high for second hand clothes and big city shops often have a ‘vintage’ section which just seems to be an excuse to ramp up prices (Oxfam and Cancer Research seem to be the biggest culprits). Be wary and always question whether or not you’re actually getting a bargain, just because it’s in a charity shop doesn’t necessarily mean it’s cheap. Some charity shops like The Salvation army now run a scheme where you get in-store credit every time you donate a bag of goods, I got a gorgeous dress last week for nothing after taking in two bags of unwanted stuff. My favourite places for charity shopping are Leek and Buxton but my biggest recommendation for a single store is The Donna Louise Children’s Hospice shop on Stafford Street, Hanley, Stoke on Trent. Everyone who works here seems to be the happiest person alive and everything in store is just £1.
eBay can either be your best ever friend for getting bargain clothes or your worst enemy if you don’t use it in the right way. Getting caught up in a bidding war over something you really want can go from you spending £0.99 to £19.99 if you don’t have control over yourself. My biggest tip is to set a price limit, I normally only search between £0.01 and £3.00 these days because my budget isn’t large enough for any higher. Also, displaying your search results by ‘Time Ending Soonest’ means you’re more likely to get items for smaller amounts because they don’t have days to increase in price. Another good tip is to turn on the ‘Local Pickup’ option, only people in your area are likely to bid on items which have to be collected so you have less competition and you save on postage prices. Finally, make deliberate spelling errors! It’s funny how many bargains you find when Yves Saint Laurent becomes Yves Saint Lauren or Yves St Laurent.
Car Boots & Flea Markets
If you don’t mind getting up early these are great places to grab amazing outfits for next to nothing, especially jewellery and accessories. The 4th Sunday of every month sees an amazing Flea Market hit the Old Police Station on Lark Lane in Aigburth, if you can get to it I really recommend a visit. The thing to remember with Car Boot Sales and their likes is not to be afraid to haggle, as long as you aren’t being too cheeky you can nearly always get prices down.
Clothes swapping websites and parties are a great way to get additions to outfits for free. There’s normally a few to be found by searching for clothes swaps in your area and a lot of universities seem to host a couple of them a year. The only thing you need to do is take a few items of clothing you no longer want and offer someone a swap for something you do. Most places also try to enforce a ‘no snobbery’ rule so you could literally swap tat for treasure if you can find someone willing.