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Buying clothes and accessories from high street stores isn’t cheap. If you’re willing to think outside the box, there are alternatives that will save you money and stop great textiles going to landfill. Shopping for hidden gems in charity shops and upcycling your old garments are easy if you know how, so we’ve put together some quick tips to get you started.
Just about every town in the UK has a charity shop or two. Why not head over to nab yourself a bargain?
Head into the shop with the right expectations. If you’re looking for this season’s designer fashion your best bet is the high street. Charity shops are perfect for clothes with charm and charisma. By all means, search for clothes that look on trend, but think creatively. Imagine how a piece would look on a high street mannequin rather than a charity shop rack to see its potential and don’t be afraid to customise or alter what you find to make it suit you better.
Most charity shops aren’t organised like high street stores - it takes time to look through their stock. Don’t see charity shopping as a quick necessity, but as a fun activity. Visit more than one shop and allow yourself the time to browse each one fully. You could miss out on a great find by cutting your time short!
If you let yourself enjoy the experience, you’ll find potential in clothes that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Go with your family, partner or a friend and get their opinions. Try clothes on, even if you’re not sure if they suit you. If you have fun with it you’ll be more willing to take the time to find the real bargains and more likely to spot that perfect, quirky vintage item.
Upcycling simply means recycling something old into something ‘new’ by adding to it, changing it or improving it. Whether you’ve got old clothes from a charity shop or the back of your wardrobe, upcycling them could help you create something new and unique for very little money.
Holes in your jeans? Denim jacket looking a little worse for wear? Sew a patch over it! The trick to upcycling your denim, is to go for a patch that’s bold and fashionable in its own right. If you simply try and match the colour, it can look like, well, a bad patch job. By owning the patch and going for something creative, you can keep your denim clothes looking fresh and stylish.
Flannel shirts have never gone out of fashion. Popular with both men and women, these pieces can go for eye-watering prices in high street shops. When your flannel shirt comes to the end of its life, it can look perfect reused as a garment like a scarf, or turned into a variety of home accessories. Flannel seat cushions look fantastic and table runners, draft excluders or even Christmas stockings are all great options. There’s loads of inspiration on Pinterest and other online craft sites if you need it.
Leather is another long-lasting, durable material that’s perfect for upcycling. Have you got a leather coat in your wardrobe that hasn’t seen the light of day for a decade or two? Maybe now’s the time to turn it into something new.
Leather bags are incredibly popular reincarnations for old coats and there’s a lot of guidance online for how to go about making one. Just make sure that you clean and condition the leather before you start and remove all the lining, pockets and accessories. This makes it much easier to use the plain leather in your upcycling.