2017: My best second-hand picks

I wrote a similar post this time last year and thought it would be fun to trawl through my second-hand finds from 2017.

This year I started a new job which, while giving me more spending power, meant I also had to invest in a work wardrobe. While I have definitely bought more first-hand clothing this year, I’m still a sucker for charity shops and some of my best finds of the year have come from them.

  1. Clothing-wise, while I have bought some first-hand items (my favourite being a pair of denim dungarees which I have lived in for the past six months), I’ve still found some great items second-hand. I was very pleased with these Boden ankle-length trousers picked up in Wales in November for just £4.50. These are ideal work-home crossover trousers, something I’m trying to buy more of.

2. These two tops were bought from my favourite Bath charity shop: Save the Children. They originally came from LaRedoute and French Connection and were £9.50 in total, I’ve worn them on their own and, when the weather’s cooler, with a polo neck underneath.

secondhand blouses. charity shop find. Thrifty Find. Thrift store. Workwear.

3. I picked up this former H&M top from Dorothy House Hospice shop for £7  and it has been my ‘going – out’ staple all over the festive period. I had been wanting a dressy green top for ages and picked this up purely by chance on the very day I needed to wear something new (to me)! My mum has also started volunteering at this local hospice, so it is a cause that has become close to our hearts.

4. I bought a couple of Summer staples as well which I was very pleased with. This white cheesecloth shirt proved invaluable when on holiday in the South of France. I originally bought it from Save the Children for a pricey £10, but I wore it a lot in the summer so I think it was worth it.

5. I instantly fell in love with this Henry Holland/Debenhams dress found in the Julian House Shop in Chippenham for £8.50. I loved the style and the unusual horse-themed print! I wore it to a friend’s wedding in the summer and layered it with leggings and jumpers into the Autumn.

6. My final clothing find of the year was this red seventies/early eighties? style homemade dress. I picked it up in a vintage store in London for £9. The material is quite thin but, so far, I’ve been adding jumpers and tights to make it winter-proof. (Incidentally, if you ever want to learn more about wearing layers in the winter read this post here from the Freelancers Fashion Blog. Ulrika has the most beautiful vintage style and lives in Finland so is an expert on how to layer up for the winter – while still wearing gorgeous outfits!)

vintage red dress Rokit London

7. I’m also very pleased with a few second-hand items I bought this year, which weren’t clothing. I had been looking for a new handbag for ages and was delighted to find not only this bag, but also the cute purse for £6  in total, from the Dorothy House shop in Malmesbury. I also made use of my old bag by cutting out the inner pocket and turning it into a small purse I can store my reusable shopping bags in it.

 

8. Vinyl-wise I picked up a  couple of second-hand LPs that I had wanted for ages – and my lovely husband bought me Rumours on vinyl for my birthday (40 years old and still in good condition – the album, not me!)

9. Finally, after many years of avoiding a smartphone I decided that, with my new job, I needed to bite the bullet and buy one. Staying true to my second-hand principles, I decided to purchase a second-hand iphone from CEX, using the money my husband had received for trading in his old phone.

When I read about the incessant need for new gadgets and the speed in which items become obsolescent it makes me really angry. I refuse to buy into the idea that businesses like Apple sell to us that we must always need the next and the best iphone on sale. (I guess it also helps that I’m in my mid-forties and don’t need to worry about my street cred if I buy a pre-loved, older version too!)

Looking back I realise that I have got a lot of wear and use out of the things I bought second-hand. There were a few items that I did buy by mistake and which have since been re-donated – so I don’t always get it right (!). And, although I did buy more items first hand, partly out of necessity and a lack of time to trawl the charity shops, my second-hand finds are definitely my favourite.

How were your second-hand finds this year? Do you plan to buy more pre-loved items next year?

Thrifty Finds

This fortnight’s Thrifty Finds (27 November – 11 December 2017)

 

This Week's Thrifty Finds via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

Well the past couple of weeks have been really busy. My dad had a (planned for) hospital operation and it was my birthday last week so it’s been quite hectic and our routine was a little up in the air with hospital visits, childcare etc.

But I’m pleased to say I received a couple of second-hand gems for my birthday:

  1. My gorgeous husband tracked down an original vinyl version of the Fleetwood Mac album, Rumours. This is one of my all-time favourite albums and one I have wanted for absolutely ages. I was amazed he found it for a fraction of the new retail price and in great condition.

2. I also received a pile of books, one of which was a rare second hand edition of ‘Greenery Street’ by Dennis Mackail.

3. Following my birthday we brought down from the loft all of our Christmas decorations (minus the tree). A lot of our decorations are second-hand and this post here explains a little more about them.

4. We have received a few party invitations this December and I have tried really hard not to buy anything new. However having gone up a dress size 😦 means I’m going to have to invest in something new, or try to be more inventive. We went to a ceilidh last Saturday and I ended up wearing my comfy jeans but did invest in a new (to me) charity shop top from Dorothy House. At £7 it was slightly pricey but I know I will get a lot of wear out of it. The green colour is perfect for Christmas and the sheer sleeves makes it feel quite dressy. I also wore it with an old brooch of my nan’s that I have recently found.

5. I had another pre-Christmas clear out and donated some children’s clothing and old dvds to the Shaw Trust charity shop. In return for gift aiding, they gave me a loyalty card and a discount voucher – something I’ve not come across before!

 

I’d love to hear about your Thrifty Finds too! Please  share your Thrifty Finds on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (8-14 October) – and a first year anniversary!

 

This Week's Thrifty Finds via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

Last week marked one year of Thrifty Finds! I’m not sure where the time has gone but am so pleased that, despite a new job and less time, this series has kept me blogging.

I have plans for further series and have been drafting lots more posts, but thank you for sticking with the blog while I adjusted to a new schedule.

If you follow me on instagram you’ll see that is where I tend to post most often.

But I like the feeling of community that blogging offers and especially welcome comments and thoughts from readers. (or ideas for any posts??)

And, please share your Thrifty Finds too!

This past week I ended up making quite a few charity shop purchases (which wasn’t the intention!)

  1. I finally bought a new handbag! This is a big achievement for me as my current one had been broken for about three months 😦 But I’m really fussy about bags: it’s got to be the right size, have the right handle and not be too boring (!). I had almost resigned myself to buying something firsthand (at about £40 – ouch!) then came across this one for just £4 in the Dorothy House shop in Malmesbury at the weekend.                         I also snapped up the £2 purse which had such a fun pattern (now I shall smile every time I open it up).  
  2. And I made use of the old bag by cutting out the internal purse. I now use this to store a fabric shopping bag and keep in my handbag at all times.

3. I also bought a few children’s books from the Oxfam shop in Malmesbury:

l-r: The Woolpack by Cynthia Harnett; Party Shoes by Noel Streatfeild; Children in History: The Nineteenth Century (pub 1961).

The latter I bought out of interest as I imagine it is really quite dated. I’ve started to have a ‘read aloud’ book with my younger girls as a way of spending time together, sharing stories and taking turns in reading. At the moment we are reading A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley, who is one of my favourite children’s authors.    When I was younger I loved the Ballet Shoes series by Noel Streatfield, but have never read The Woolpack. I’m hoping one of these will be our next read-aloud book.

4. Carrying on with the reading theme, I was luck enough to receive the latest Barnardos Retail leaflet in the post. I love how they use actual donated clothes to show how these can be styled as up to the minute outfits. I’d recommend picking up a copy  next time you pop into Barnardos.

And, although not free, I did treat myself to ordering the first edition of this beautiful magazine, Creative Countryside. Filled with gorgeous images, inspirational writing and seasonally themed, this is something I am taking time to savour and read, bit by bit. The article on ‘Bookish Hygge’ really resonated with me and made me wonder if all the book buying I have been doing recently is in preparation for the darker nights ahead…

5. On Saturday we spent the day at a Sustainability fair in Malmesbury, Wiltshire (hence the charity shop purchases!). It was a really interesting day with lots of speakers, including Green Party MEP Molly Scott Cato. The brilliant Wiltshire Scrapstore was also on hand providing free kids’ activities. My younger two got involved with making masks:

 

I’d love to hear about your Thrifty Finds too! Please  share your Thrifty Finds on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

charity shop clothes shopping haul second hand

Charity Shop Haul: September 2017

charity shop clothes shopping haul second hand

Welcome to my new, occasional, series on Charity Shop Hauls. Having teenage – and preteen – daughters I am all too familiar with the Youtube shopping hauls, where vloggers talk about their trips to Primark et al.

Although I don’t intend to vlog my finds I thought an occasional blog post may show that it is possible to make some great second hand purchases too, and we don’t have to rely on Fast Fashion to provide us with low cost outfits.

I decided that I needed a few more outfits for work, especially as the weather has got a lot colder and warmer. Last Friday I headed into Bath with a shopping list:

  • Boots/laceups/shoes for work
  • Work trousers
  • Jeans
  • Warm tops/thin jumpers
  • White shirt
  • Tights (first hand)

It can be tricky sticking to such lists when browsing charity shops. It will depend on what styles, sizes and colours have been donated to the particular stores. When shopping I also have to allow for that ‘WOW!’ moment when something stands out and I just have to buy it (see here for the ‘orange coat moment’ or here for a more recent Henry Holland dress)

So when I came across this Marks and Spencer Collection skirt I had to have it!

M&S S/S17 second hand charity shop haul Dorothy House

I am pretty certain these skirts were on sale in M&S earlier this summer. At the time I was tempted to buy one, although I never normally wear long skirts. However seeing this in the Dorothy House vintage store on sale for just £6.50 I just knew I had to add this to my wardrobe!

In fact Dorothy House came up trumps as I was able to create an entire outfit for just £20!

I picked up this Sainsburys Tu top (which is definitely from this summer’s collection) for £5.

Sainsburys Tu S/S17 blue and red knitwear charity shop haul Dorothy House

Interestingly, this was a size 18 (I’m normally a size 12) but it’s often worth looking at larger sizes when charity shopping as they can shrink slightly. I also preferred the baggier fit as I plan to put another jumper underneath when it gets colder.

To finish the outfit I made my first ever purchase of second hand shoes. This is something I don’t normally consider but these £8.50 shoes from Next were a perfect colour to match the top and skirt and I just sort of fell for them….

Next blue patent office shoes charity shop haul

Feeling very pleased with myself, I browsed a few more shops and finally picked up some tops from Oxfam on Argyle Street.

These two jumpers will be perfect for layering this winter. They came to £10.99 in total:

I also bought this gorgeous boatneck top for £6.99. I really like the 1950s style of it.

I’d not come across the Betty Barclay label before but a quick google search shows their tops sell first hand for about £50-£60!

In total I spent £37.98 on four tops, one skirt and one pair of shoes. The majority of the clothes were from good quality labels and I was particularly pleased to pick up two items that were from this year. It did make me wonder, though, why the owners had donated them so quickly. But then one person’s cast off is another woman’s treasure….

What are your thoughts on charity shopping? Do you buy most of your clothes second-hand, or would you never consider wearing charity shop outfits for work? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts, or even persuade you that there is nothing wrong with second hand shopping 🙂

Second-hand vinyl: bagging a bargain with The Police

bagging a vinyl bargain at Dorothy House shop, Bath via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

Last Monday I found myself with a little spare time in Bath. For me, this means time to browse the charity shops, searching for second-hand goodies. Even if I’m not in the mood to search for clothes, there are always books and records to flick through.

As vinyl has become more popular, many of the second-hand shops in Bath have started to dedicate some of their space to used records. As well as the Oxfam Book and Record shop there is the Dorothy House book, furniture and vinyl store on Broad Street. I’m a great fan of the Dorothy House shops which support this local hospice charity. They have really upped their game in the charity shopping stakes, opening their vintage store and coffee house, ’76’, in Bath last year (see my post here). If you’re on instagram check them out dorothyhouseshops : they post lots of pictures of their second-hand goodies.

What I love about their book and record shop is the retro listening booth:

retro listening booth: Dorothy House Shop, Bath via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

And they have some bargain price records on sale too. As it was a Monday I picked up this classic The Police album for just £2!

The Police: Synchronicity album (second-hand)

Released in 1983, ‘Synchronicity’ won three Grammys and was named Rolling Stone’s ‘album of the year’. It features ‘Every Breath You Take’ (the creepy stalking song that people think is really romantic), ‘King of Pain’ and ‘Wrapped Around Your Finger’.

In 1983 I was obsessed with Duran Duran and thought that The Police was an old band. I didn’t pay much attention to them and have to admit that, in my eyes, Sting’s later solo stuff has rather tarnished their reputation. But listening to this album I realise just how good they were. A while ago I was given a second-hand copy of their 1981 album, ‘Ghost in the Machine’, which, unfortunately, was too scratched to listen to. Having picked up ‘Synchronicity’, though, I think I’m going to add this earlier album to my wish list too.

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Welcome to National Secondhand Day: my top five picks

 

secondhand

Today is the fourth national Secondhand Day, as organised by the Preloved website. It is a way to celebrate and promote all things secondhand.

Now I don’t need any encouragement to buy secondhand as most of my wardrobe is sourced from charity shops, jumble sales, vintage boutiques and clothes swaps.  But there are other items that I love to source secondhand. Buying secondhand is cheap, recycled, unique and (often) a way of giving to good causes.

Here are my top five non-clothing secondhand picks:

  1.  Books

secondhand Persephone books

One of my favourite things to do is to spend time in a secondhand bookshop: surely one of the greatest joys in life is to browse their shelves. I love the Persephone books but they are expensive firsthand and a rarity to find secondhand. The two editions above, though, were picked up from charity shops.

2) Games

board games at Christmas

As a family we have picked up many boardgames secondhand. Some will stay with us for a long time while others are re-donated, as the children grow out of them.

3) Vinyl

NOW That's What I Call Music

While we have quite a few albums from our teenage years, the purchase of a new record player a couple of years ago, has led to my husband and I searching for secondhand vinyl. We’re quite pleased with our growing collection of Now That’s What I call Music albums, bought for a few pounds each from charity shops.

3) Furniture

second-hand furnishings in cottage sitting room

We practically furnished our lounge with second-hand furniture last winter. The chair was picked up for free from the street. The lamp and keyboard came from the local Dorothy House Furniture and Electrical Appliance store and the shelves were upcycled from old floorboards (also not shown is our secondhand sofa, picked up for £35)

4) Appliances

secondhand breadmaker

We have picked up breadmakers, hoover, toaster, kettle and now an ice cream maker from specialist charity shops that sell furniture and electrical appliances. All the appliances are PAT tested and are so well priced I would never buy firsthand again.

5) Jewellery

secondhand necklace

Not strictly clothing so I’m going to include this. I have picked up rings and necklaces secondhand and have never regretted any purchase. I seem to wear this necklace nearly every day as it goes with everything: not bad for a couple of quid from a charity shop.

If you’ve never tried second-hand before I would really urge you to give it a go. If preloved clothing isn’t for you then skip the garments and go straight for the bric-a-brac or books section. I can assure you that rummaging through charity shops and bagging yourself a bargain is sheer joy!

If you are interested in secondhand clothing I recently wrote about why I’m still charity shopping in my 40s for The Thrift blog here.

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Charity Shops or Vintage Boutiques?

I wrote here about whether vintage has become an overused word. I believe there has been an increase in the use of this word over the past few years. It now seems to mean something old, precious and – ironically – fashionable. I still don’t know whether to refer to the clothes I wear as Charity Shop Bargains or Vintage Finds!

What I do find interesting is that when applying the word ‘vintage’ to an item the price tag can really rise.

Last month I went shopping for a 1970s inspired outfit for our annual party. I attempted to try on a couple of dresses that were seventies originals (I got the sizing wrong: old style size 12 means modern size 8/10).

vintage shopping for 1970s dress

Once upon a time these dresses would have been piled high on a jumble sale table, or hanging on a rail in a musty charity shop. Now they were on sale for £15 each and positioned in the dedicated vintage section of the local Julian House charity shop in Bath.

I don’t begrudge charity shops making money from older, vintage pieces. I find it sad that I can buy a dress from H&M, Primark and others for less than this price. But as I have written before these clothes are badly made (by garment workers earning a small wage), and will not have the history or care invested in them that older pieces possess.

Over the past few years I’ve noticed a rise in the number of charity shops that have been turned into vintage style stores. As I mentioned the Julian House shop in Bath has a dedicated vintage area, filled with crockery, magazines, suitcases, accessories and clothing.

Vintage Charity Shops: Julian House, Bath

Vintage Charity Shops: Julian House, Bath

We’ve also visited this brilliant ‘Vintage and Retro’ Thames Hospice charity shop in Windsor on a couple of occasions:

The latest addition to these style of shops in Bath is the Dorothy House vintage boutique and cafe, called ’76’ on Bridge Street. The shop is called ’76’ after the year that the hospice charity was founded and, I imagine, is also a nod to the date of some of the period pieces on sale in store.

 

The shop and cafe was opened last year by local resident, Midge Ure. The fact that a celebrated, and much respected, musician is happy to open a charity shop shows how far this sector has risen in popular esteem. The forerunner of this vintage shop was the Dorothy House shop on Broad Street (which has now become the charity’s record and book store). However with the addition of a coffee house ’76’ has taken charity retail therapy to a new level. I personally enjoyed browsing this shop and, as mentioned in this post, picked up a great 1970s style flared jumpsuit for our party. At £12 the price tag was slightly cheaper as well.

Sadly not all these charity to vintage shop transformations have a happy ending. The   Mercy in Action chain of charity shops opened a dedicated vintage store in the Widcombe area of Bath.  But sadly it stopped trading earlier this year (thankfully this charity still has other shops in the city). Perhaps there are so only so many Vintage Charity Boutiques that a city can take.