A fashionista who saved £5,000 buying from charity stores says her wardrobe is now 90 percent pre-loved and is sharing her tips for finding a bargain.
Monica Marriott-Mills, 27, started rifling through charity stores in college and was inspired by her grandmother, Jan, 77, who was a vintage reseller. After being inspired by her style, she invested time into finding vintage designer pieces–like her favorite Burberry trench which she bought for £120, a sixth of the retail price.
Realizing she had a knack for hunting out great garments, Marriott-Mills started sharing her tips with friends and with her online community. She can spend up to half a day on a weekend sifting through charity stores and using sites such as eBay and Vinted to source her second-hand wardrobe.
Her best bargains include a pair of Kurt Geiger brogue shoes which she got for £1 and a Gucci bag bought for £595, over 50 percent off the retail price. She recently purchased a gold Zara dress for £9, originally £50, and a Reiss dress for £12 which was £70 new.
Marriott-Mills spends up to £50 a month on second-hand clothes, saving £450, and saves up to buy a couple of luxury items a year–which she will still try to get pre-loved or discounted.
Marriott-Mills, a social media manager, from Huddersfield, a large market town located in the county of West Yorkshire, England, in the U.K., said: “I fell in love with charity shops and thrifting as soon as I started dressing myself for college and was out of uniform. I think my grandma had a big influence in my love for slow fashion.
“Now my friends are always asking how I find such good stuff in charity shops. It’s definitely about investing time searching for it, but also being specific in what you’re looking for online.
“I don’t think people look at me and realize that I’m wearing second-hand clothing. It shows what good things you can find without shopping new.”
Some of Marriott-Mills’ favorite finds include her Burberry coat which she bought for £120, rather than their starting retail price of £600, and a pair of Chanel earrings for £250, which normally cost over £500.
“I’ve got a North Face coat that I got for 50 percent less than retail from Depop. Some of my favorite jumpers and shirts I’ve bought for as little as £1,” she said.
Marriott-Mills says her wardrobe is now 90 percent pre-loved but she still saves up to buy special items from luxury brands. “I buy a select few things new but from a brand I know is sustainable if I can or pre-loved,” she said.
“I also buy tights, undergarments and socks new. But for everything I always go by my rule that it is £1 a wear, so it’s weighing up if it will then be worth it.
“You do have to spend time looking for good clothes from charity shops or second-hand sites, but it is worth it to find amazing stuff. It’s good to be specific in your search–for example typing in brands for a blazer and the type of fit so you can get better results.
“And if a seller has one thing you like it’s likely they might have some more items that fit your style. I love slow fashion and making my wardrobe as second-hand and sustainable as possible. Charity shopping is a lottery, you won’t always find great things every time but I hope by sharing tips it gives people the confidence to give it a go and shop most sustainably. I just don’t think there is so much of a need to buy new anymore.”
Marriott-Mills’ top tips for charity shopping:
1. Look out for basics–always good to have a staple black or white top.
2. Never miss out on the blazer section–there can be some great brands.
3. Look out for iconic prints and fabrics.
4. Browse through denim–great brands like Levi often end up in charity stores.
Produced in association with SWNS.