I’ve often asked myself why I own so many items of similar clothing and honestly, the only thing I can tell you to try to excuse my behaviour is to say, because they’re so versatile! As someone who owns a lot of clothing, I was recently intrigued by Hazel‘s plan to build a winter capsule wardrobe based on 37 items. It wasn’t the surreal element of wearing just 37 items during each season, it was how ethical and sustainable this sounded.
As you know, I buy a lot of clothes in charity shops. Not all, but as much as I can and I’d like to think this makes me sustainable, even if it’s in only in a small way. With so much of my wardrobe consisting of prints and bright colours, plainer clothes are sometimes very much needed!
So, when Bellfield Clothing asked if I’d like to try something from their range, I jumped at the chance to try their Yarrow dress.
Since the first snowdrops of the year have started to spring up, I’ve started to think about transitional dressing. Winter has lasted too long this year and I’m ready for change! As soon as I laid eyes on this dress, I knew that I wanted to team it with clogs and florals. I’ve layered a collared top underneath, for added kitsch of course!
Fussy, picky, choosy. Whatever you call it, it pays to be picky when shopping second hand. Knowing how to spot clothes that will become part of your everyday wardrobe and will last the test of time can save you a fortune in the long run. If you caught my previous charity shop tips post, I spoke about how to find clothes when time is limited. In my second post, I intend to share the lessons I learnt the hard way and hopefully, help you to find great quality clothes that will last.
1. Find the light
As I’m shopping, I like to take anything that catches my eye off the rail. Whether it’s a great collar, vintage pattern or great label, I never make a decision there and then. Instead, I take my time, continue to browse and ponder what my wardrobe needs. Once I’m satisfied that it’s a wise purchase, I head over to the window to look at what I’m buying in natural light. So often, charity shops are dark (especially in winter light) or lit by fluorescent lighting and it can be hard to see faults. In the past, I’ve unknowingly purchased damaged, faded and stained dresses. Some people may argue that for a pound or two, this is to be expected. However, I would disagree. You can find clothes in immaculate condition for less than a fiver if you’re prepared to be patient.
2. Check trouser hems
When I spot a branded pair of trousers in my size, 12 petite (polite for short), they’re off the rail quicker than lightning. Being short, trouser length is rarely an issue for me but for most, trouser hems need to be checked to make sure that they haven’t been hemmed. In the past, I’ve bought trousers from the tall range and hemmed them to fit my short legs. Make sure you try them on and if there’s not fitting room, put them aside your waist in front of a mirror. You’ll soon see! On the other hand, it’s important to check that the hems aren’t damaged but rips or stains where someone’s hem has trailed in mud. Most marks will come out in the wash, ground in dirt doesn’t tend to.
3. Always try on flimsy material
I recently found a beautiful, red lace Topshop dress in a local charity shop. It had a Peter Pan collar, an undeniable sixties feel and was my size, I bought it without thinking. I always need Peter Pan collars (slight lie, but I’ll always wear them). On my return, I washed the dress, hung it up and planned to wear it. It was only when I popped it on that I realised big patches of my skin bursting through it, the dress was ripped! Even though I’d checked it, it was impossible to see due to the nature of the fabric. Moral of the tale, try things on.
4. Don’t be afraid of a bit of bobbling
Whilst bobbled knitwear can look unsightly, with a little attention you can make knitwear look as good as new. Bobbling, or pilling, occurs when washing or wearing causes loose fabric to develop into small, spherical bundles. Some knitwear bobbles after the first wear so bobbling shouldn’t be seen as the marker of quality. It’s easy to remove with a bobble removing gadget: check out Erica’s post ‘Caring for Knitwear‘ to see the before and after results, or try A Thrifty Mrs for a lower-cost version and useful way to reuse your Velcro rollers.
5. Check the armpits
Without doubt, stained armpits are grim, but unfortunately stains are a part of charity shopping. As the pits are the closest point of contact to the skin, they’re likely to show the most wear and give away the age and wear of the garment. While most minor marks will come out in the wash, I steer clear of any items with stains on the armpits.
6. Zip it up, zip it down
Check the zip. It doesn’t take a minute, check it’ll zip up and down then pull it sideways to ensure it’s sturdy. If it buckles, or splits, or sticks, it’s probably going to need a new zip. Obviously, replacing a zip won’t cost a fortune, especially if you can sew but it’s always wise to find out before you take it home.
No gifts, no flowers and certainly no romantic meals- and that’s fine with her. You see, in Japan on Valentine’s Day, it’s the women who are gift givers. Whilst gifting homemade chocolates is the traditional way to confess your true love, male friends and colleagues also expect different types of chocolates on the day. (Don’t worry, men get their chance to return the favour a month later on White Day.)
I’m a sucker for anything related to Japanese culture – Tokyo has been on John and I’s travel bucket list for the longest time- so when UncommonGoods, a company with sustainability at the heart of everything they do, got in touch they gave me the chance to join in with this tradition and choose a Valentine’s gift for my fiancé, John.
Long time readers of Polkadot Pink will know that John is the reason I became interested in experimenting with photography and it won’t surprise you to find out that he has a serious love of film and cameras. So much so, a couple of years ago he bought me my first lomography camera, a DianaF+. Now, we’re not the type to get smushy in public or buy Valentine’s gifts (I don’t think we’ve ever bought each other Valentine’s gifts, but if you are seeking inspiration check this section out) However, this year, I felt different.
You see, John has been my rock this year. Since leaving full-time teaching, my income took a severe nose-dive which meant no more trips to our beloved Berlin, or even cities in the UK. Every penny was pinched and our idea of date night turned into watching Netflix with a chippy tea. I felt like a right bore but he always reassured me that time together was worth more than money.
So, what did I choose for a photography enthusiast? A Lomo’ Instant camera, of course. As soon as the parcel arrived, John couldn’t wait to start experimenting with it. Luckily, I had some Instax film handy (earmarked for my Diana F+ but, whatever) and off we were, conducting our own instant photo shoot in the garden. Glamorous.
So what did John think of the camera?
“Like all lomography cameras, to get the best results you’re going to need light and lots of it. Compact and easy to carry with you, it’s fun and the Instax film will set you back less than rival brands. Fun and affordable!”
If you’ve never heard of UncommonGoods, they’re a company who believe sustainability is more than ‘being green’, they believe in integrity and paying a living wage. Based in Brooklyn, New York, their shipping fees include duties and tax, because no one likes to be hit with a customs bill.
We’re looking forward to taking this camera on our next city break, whenever that may be!
CHARITY SHOP LOYALTY CARD