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Sustainable Sundays: Thrifting & Slow Fashion In-store

Long time no see Sustainable Sundays! It's been a hot minute since my last post so I thought I better inject some newness into this little section of the blog and talk about thrifting and second-shopping (particularly when it comes to fashion) some more today.

Back in January, I talked about why I think thrifting and second-hand shopping is so important and enjoyable and of course, my attitude hasn't changed one bit since then. So today that led me to think about what pointers and tips I can give to make the whole experience more smooth sailing if shopping slow fashion or sustainably is becoming a thing you're interested in. For me, shopping both in-store and online works and means I sometimes get the best of both world's as both have their strengths and weaknesses, but this post will focus on what good things you can get out of shopping physically in-store and the positives of doing so. But keep your eyes peeled in future weeks for my tips on doing the whole thing virtually online instead. So let's get to it!

Make a list of what you need/what you're lacking
Shopping second hand can sometimes be hit or miss as they're not as reliable as many high street stores as they don't have a constant stock etc., but having a list to refer back to can be really helpful. It can help you go in to stores with "tunnel vision" so you focus on finding what you need rather than getting sidetracked by all of the other goodies that might be on offer. Keeping a list that also includes rough prices can really help you shop effectively too. As shopping second-hand and particularly vintage fashion is growing ever-popular, prices can sometimes reflect this popularity rather than the item's true value. Having a rough maximum price can help you put items back that you just don't think are worth it or make you really assess how much you wanted/needed *that* item if you find it and it's above your price limit.

Search everywhere - not just the women's sections!
Charity shops are not always the most ordered stores and they also can have many items of varying old vintage sizing so it's always worth checking out the whole store each and every time. Whenever I've went vintage shopping in Brick Lane for example, every single item I've purchased has been from the "men's" section, so just have fun with your shopping experience and make sure you're really playing detective for those items you're lusting after!

Visit regularly for two major reasons
Visiting your local second-hand stores not only helps you keep an eye out for any new stock that has made it's way onto the shop floor, but it also helps you to create a rapport with staff. Having a friendly face working in your local stores can be really handy as they might let you have first peek and dibs on new stock that hasn't yet made it to the shop floor, or they might be more likely to keep an eye out for you and keep items aside for you to check out on your next visit. Creating a solid friendly relationship with second-hand store staff can pay off for you in the long run plus, they're usually extremely helpful, lovely people, so it makes the shopping experience more enjoyable too!

Don't be shy to try things on
I am 100% *that guy* who used to buy most of their clothing online and just pray for the best in terms of whether or not each item was going to fit me. The lucky thing about fast fashion is that it can always be returned, but when shopping second-hand, that's not always a possibility. Therefore I believe it is paramount that you try things on. Of course if you purchase something and it doesn't quite fit, it's not the end of the world as you can always donate it again, but if you're spending quite a bit of money on an item, it adds up quick if you keep making the same mistake. Most charity or vintage shops have changing rooms that you can use but if you're going somewhere like a flea market or car boot sale, taking a maxi skirt with you or wearing one can be a life saver. A maxi skirt can make trying any trousers etc. on *so* easy without flashing everyone walking past and it can also just be be pulled over the top half of the body to try tops on too - amazing. People sometimes worry about the cleanliness of items when it comes to charity or vintage shops but honestly? Most places steam clean items and if you're that worried, try things on over the top of your own clothing to get a rough idea or wear socks with all shoes you try etc. Once you get home, simply make sure you clean anything you purchased before wearing - it's as simple as that.

Don't be put off by sizing
Adding on to the advice to try things on, don't be put off by sizing, especially if it's a vintage item. Often vintage sizes run smaller than contemporary fashion sizing so for example a dress labelled a UK size 12 might fit a modern size 8 very nicely. As you're in store and can physically see, touch, and try on the item, use this to your advantage! You can make a judgement call on whether or not you think something is going to fit you and can just roll with it. Most vintage items are also very well made which is why they've lasted as long as they have already and thus can be altered for a small fee at a tailors or by a family member if you're lucky enough to have someone who can sew in your clan. If it's a one off item or if you want something to fit you like a glove - make it so.

Know your limits
So I've already mentioned expectations with pricing, but another thing to be comfortable with is your personal limits with which items you buy second-hand. I personally will buy anything and everything as long as it's not underwear or hosiery. I know many people feel uncomfortable buying shoes second-hand or earrings and that's absolutely fine - just because others might buy those items doesn't mean you should feel pressured to. Buying second-hand is so beneficial to the environment, to charities, to your wallet, but if you have limits and have some items you just know you need to buy brand new, that's fine and you don't need to feel guilty for bypassing a section in stores.

Make a note of your favourite stores
Everyone has certain shops they like for certain items (I was a massive H&M fan girl but loved Topshop for "occasion wear") and the same can be true for thrifting! I know my local British Heart Foundation always have a great selection of women's dresses and if I want knitwear or more "trend" pieces, I have The Sailor Society to rely on. By visiting regularly, you will become familiar with which spots are good for which items and which stores tend to be hidden gems because the cohort of customers are a different age range, style, or size to you. Keeping note of this can help you narrow down searches for particular items and can help you avoid any stores that you just never have any luck with.

There's no hard and fast rules to shopping second-hand fashion but hopefully this might have proved that it's not a daunting task and is just as - if not more - enjoyable as shopping the high street! Keep your eyes peeled for my tips on shopping second-hand online which will be landing on NB very soon.

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