A while back, when I had just started my blog, I wrote a post about my wonderful friend Gaby and her knack for charity shopping and bargain hunting. Since then, I have always ummed-and-ahhed over the idea of writing a post about my own love affair with bargain shopping, but I'd never really got round to planning it fully. Well, I finally have.
People who know me well know that I can never pass on an opportunity to bargain hunt, whether that be in vintage or thrift shops, charity shops, car boot sales, or just the regular high-street sales in the New Year or Summer. London is obviously a very expensive city to live in or visit as a tourist, and shopping is often no exception to that rule... unless you know the best places to visit for that great bargain. So I thought I'd share with you all some of my top places to visit for that authentic, thrifted charity-shop experience in the places you probably wouldn't suspect in the big city.
my favourite charity shop pieces & where I found them
I grew up in West London, which is an amazing hub for versatile charity shops, particularly in places like Ealing, Chiswick and Hammersmith. There's pretty much something for everyone, whether you're looking for a discounted designer purchase, or for that cheap-as-chips statement piece, I'd say West London has some of the best to offer. The East End is amazing too, but I prefer to go there for proper vintage and thrift shopping rather than to charity shops, so I'll get to that later. Below are some of my personal favourite items that I have found in some of my favourite charity shops across the West side of the city.
My cow print ankle boots. Bought for £15 in Octavia foundation in Ealing. This is one of my favourite charity shops as prices are always reasonable, and their selection of clothing always makes me feel as though I am in a vintage shop. Everything is very colourful and unique - it's a shop I highly recommend if you find yourself in Ealing (which you should because Ealing is the best).
My yellow men's Gant jeans from Fara in Chiswick. I found this unworn pair of jeans for a tenner on a whim one rainy afternoon in Spring when I was meant to be helping my friend find some clothes for herself. I love the pastel, buttercup colour of the denim, the extremely oversized fit, and the embroidery on the pocket. Fara Chiswick is another one of my favourite charity shops in West London as they always stock loads of great denim at very low prices, and all the clothing in store is colour co-ordinated, which makes shopping for something specific that much easier.
My vintage style black shoulder bag from Mary's Living & Giving in Kew. This was a brilliant purchase, as the bag is 100% real leather from Topshop and had never been worn before. This was, however, one of my pricier purchases from a charity shop, coming in at a grand total of £20 (which is still a bargain, but when you're used to most things being £15 (at a push) and under, then you have to ask yourself whether £20 is really asking too much). Mary's Living & Giving is probably the most up-market chain of charity shops I have ever been to. The Kew branch is by far the most beautiful, having been designed by someone from Kew Gardens. It feels more like an independent boutique than a charity shop! A lot of the clothing is donated by designers themselves (I drooled over a pair of Victoria Beckham limited edition jeans for £60 for a good ten minutes...), and people of a high "calibre", so the clothing you will find in the chain, specifically this branch, is going to be unlike most charity shops. Most stores donate to Save the Children, which is a brilliant charity too, so if you're really looking for something a bit more luxurious, but at a fraction of the original cost, then this is the place to go. The branch in Ealing is also brilliant.
This blush pink silk shirt from RSPCA, Ealing. Found it on a whim for a grand total of £3.50. Was a total bargain, and an item I didn't expect to stumble upon. All the labels have been cut out so I have no idea where the shirt is from, but it has fast become one of my favourite pieces in my wardrobe. It is so relaxed, flattering, and versatile - it's the perfect shirt to take you from day to night seamlessly. I love it! RSPCA in Ealing is one of my favourite charity shops, it's like walking back in time. The prices are always extremely low, and it is so easy to find vintage gems like this on a regular basis. I love charity shops that feel like they have a history, and RSPCA feels as though it hasn't changed in twenty years!
And finally, my newest wardrobe steal, this unworn pair of white Adidas classics. Found in Oxfam on Chiswick High Street for an absolute bargain - ten quid! For an unworn pair of extremely popular trainers that probably would've originally cost up to seventy quid, this was an unbelievable find. They have fast become my staple trainers, as well, as their comfort certainly matches their versatility and effortless style. Oxfam is usually a great place to look in any location, but the one in Chiswick is by far one of the best I have ever been to. The stock is always well curated and the staff are always extremely helpful and kind. The prices are also really reasonable, especially with shoes, which is where I think they always have the best variety. I also happened to find my Matisse print in this Oxfam for a decent £15, so it's definitely a great place to check regularly for random, and wonderful, bits and bobs.
Other good places to check out...
1. Cancer Research, 392 Chiswick High Road. This is one of my favourite places to shop for proper vintage at reasonably good prices. They always have an extensive collection of beautiful and bespoke coats!
2. Octavia Foundation, Brompton Road, Knightsbridge. This must be one of the best charity shops I have ever walked into for designer clothing! Barely worn All Saints leather jackets for £100, YSL heels for £60... the list is endless. This is certainly the place to go if you like labels as well as vintage, and don't want to pay any particularly eye-watering prices.
3. Traid, Shepherds Bush. A really eclectic mix of vintage and pre-loved clothing and accessories. Great place for finding some really unique hidden gems, although prices are slightly steeper than in other stores.