I went shopping around charity shops in Wrexham to see how cheap I could buy an outfit for as bills are set to rise this winter.
During the cost-of-living crisis, it may be more difficult for some families to shop for new clothes as energy prices soar and they turn to donated clothes in charity shops, particularly as we get to the winter months.
There is a stigma surrounding shopping for clothes in charity shops, one that I think is unfair. I know that when I was in university the popularity of ‘vintage’ clothing was growing and I frequently shopped around charity shops in Liverpool, where I studied, with friends.
I never picked up anything significant, perhaps the odd shirt or once I bought a hat for the races, but typically there is the idea that the only things you can find in such shops is worn, threadbare and unstylish.
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To prove that stereotype wrong, I went with my colleague Calum Snell to see what we could get in charity shops around Wrexham city centre for men and women for as cheap as possible.
The first thing we noticed during our shopping trip was that women’s clothes were much easier to find and had more range of styles. The men’s sections were often small, but the clothes tended to be cheaper.
I went for a more professional look; having found a patterned shirt you could call ‘vintage’ for just £2 and built my outfit from that. In the same shop, I also picked up a simple black blazer that I knew I could wear over and over, also for £2.
Next, I got myself a pair of light brown trousers that I could tell had not been worn often and had probably been sitting in someone’s wardrobe for a long time. I was shocked to find that they were just £4, and if I was to take a guess, I’d say someone once paid at least £25 for them. They are really good quality and comfy.
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Last on my list was a pair of shoes, so I went for a simple pair of black flats. These were the most expensive part of the outfit but thinking practically I didn’t want anything too worn as shoes need to last.
The ones I decided on still have the original stickers on them saying that they are real leather, and I paid £7.99 for them, probably less than a third of their original price, and look like they have never been worn.
Calum’s total came to £9.50, and mine £15.99, minus the 30p we both paid for bags. Although I spent more than Calum on my outfit, I was able to find something appropriate for the office whereas he could find more casual clothing.
That might be something to think about, as it suggests that either men donate less clothing, or women spend more on clothes they don’t wear as often as they perhaps should. Perhaps both.
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What I will say is that looking at my outfit, you wouldn’t guess I had bought anything from a charity shop, and that’s the point. So, don’t be afraid to buy second-hand, and if you do have any clothing you don’t wear, absolutely donate them and let someone else enjoy them with the added bonus that you are supporting a charity in the process.
Calum’s outfit: The men’s outfit which cost less than £10