charity shop find, Next, Dorothy House shop

Charity Shop Haul: my Coat Collection



As I look through my wardrobe I realise that one item of clothing that is completely second-hand is my coat collection.

I didn’t intend to buy all my coats from charity shops. In fact, I think that buying a coat is one of the most expensive and well-thought purchases you can make. In times gone by, I would have saved up for a winter coat (or asked for it as a birthday present) and it would have lasted me a good three-five years.

However, my approach to buying coats changed a few years ago when I found this beauty:


This Sainsburys coat still had its price label and was on sale at the Shaw Trust charity shop in Bath. While I hadn’t intended to buy a second-hand coat, the colour and cut was irresistible to me. The fact that it had never been worn was also a bonus. Four years later I am still wearing it and still get lots of comments – and compliments – on the colour!


Another charity shop bargain was my SeaSalt coat, bought for just £10 from Oxfam in Totnes. A quick trip to the neighbouring Seasalt shop confirmed my suspicions: a brand new version would cost £100! This coat has served me very well: especially on wet school runs. However, the zip has now broken and, alas, it is now too tight for me 😦


I got this red M&S jacket for free from a Clothes Swap party I helped to organise a few years ago. It serves really well as a light summer jacket and I do love the colour!


This year I have, already, purchased two new (to me) coats. The black hooded coat is the only second-hand coat I have deliberately hunted for. After a bit of a search in Bath’s charity shops, I found it in Dorothy House for £15. It was warm enough for a cold and rainy weekend in Birmingham and is my new school run/wet weather coat.


Finally, I found this lighter Spring coat by accident a couple of weeks ago in another Dorothy House store. This time it was only £8! I love the colour and the cut, and have a feeling it will make me feel as good as the orange coat when I wear it 🙂


charity shop find, Next, Dorothy House shop


I can’t imagine going back to spending £80-£100 on a new winter coat, now that I have fallen for the charity shop ones …. The low price and originality of each item really appeals to me. And, if I do outgrow an item I can just donate it back.

Do you buy coats from second hand stores? Or do you think it’s worth the investment to buy a brand new one that will last for many years?

Where do you shop when you shop first-hand?

I have just spent a very enjoyable weekend catching up with some old friends in Stratford upon Avon. I wish I could say we had a very cultural time taking in all the Shakespeare sites but we spent most of the weekend talking, eating, drinking and …. shopping. Not all of my friends are converts to charity shops so I find it really interesting when trawling High Street stores with them.

Last weekend made me realise how infrequently I visit first-hand shops. In the past six months I have acquired one pair of trousers from Debenhams and received two items of clothing as a Christmas gift from Sainsburys. When I go clothes shopping my route is dominated by where the best second-hand shops are, which often takes me away from the ‘High Street end’.  I also realised that while my friends are shopping in those stores aimed at stylish forty plus women, with more expendable incomes, I’m still stuck in the student rut of paying lower prices for used clothing. When I do go into chain stores these tend to be either department stores (M&S or Debenhams) or those shops which I think I should have outgrown by now (Oasis, Top Shop, Gap).

For example last weekend was the first time I had stepped into a White Stuff shop. Funnily enough I do have a second-hand dress from the store. Likewise I have a Seasalt coat (but bought from Oxfam), cardigan from Boden (acquired at school jumble sale) and those jeans from Toast. But I would never normally wander into those shops and was pleasantly surprised by the clothes on sale.

Having just posted about Rana Plaza and #whomademyclothes? I also thought I should try to find out more about these stores. Whether I buy first-hand or second-hand these clothes have been manufactured by someone.

White Stuff is a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative and have a dedicated Ethical Sourcing team and an Ethical Code of Conduct which all suppliers have to sign up to. Likewise SeaSalt are also members of the Ethical Trading Initiative and are increasingly looking to use more manufacturers based in the South West of England and Guernsey. Boden, also an ETI member, has a lot of information on its ethical credentials on its website.

These clothing labels certainly aren’t cheap but, judging from the second-hand versions I have in my wardrobe, they certainly last. Yet…. there is something I don’t enjoy about chain store shopping. I find the clothing very samey and, as ever, am worried that if I bought something from them I would bump into someone else wearing the same thing (this actually happened with the Sainsbury’s dress I was given at Christmas – a neighbour has the same one and looks gorgeous in hers!). I also suspect I don’t shop in Fat Face or The White Stuff for the same reason I refuse to listen to Radio Two and instead listen to BBC Six Music: I don’t want to admit that being in my forties means I have to wear or listen to ‘age appropriate’ stuff and I don’t want to be a grown up just yet!