This Christmas – visit a Charity Shop.

An Oxfam charity shop in Covent Garden, London...

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It seems to be getting harder to find a Christmas gift to suit a fashionista. Despite the ‘credit crunch‘ we still seem to live in a society where we buy what we want, whether that means saving for the ‘real thing’, or buying the Primark copy. For many of us, asking someone what they want for Christmas is met with a shrug of the shoulders, or worse still, that fatal statement ‘just get me anything’.

Christmas is also called the ‘party season’. Lots of excuses for wearing your best frocks and glitter and drinking, eating and dancing to excess. The main questions this raises are ‘WHAT SHALL I WEAR?’ We worry that we will be under-dressed, overdressed, or, worse case scenario, wearing the same dress as someone else!  All this leads me to believe that this is the year we should visit a Charity shop.

Forget any notions that charity shops are dirty, dusty or full of clothes belonging to dead people, charity shops are, on the contrary, filled with designer goods just waiting to be discovered, and vintage bargains crying out for new owners to love them. Just this month I have found a Marni tunic for £5.99, a pair of Charles Jourdan lace up shoes for £7, an original beaded 1980’s top that’s a dead ringer for designs from Kate Moss Topshop, that I bought for £3.50 and will wear on my girls night pressie swap, a 1950’s Kelly style bag, and best of all, an original 1970’s brown fake fur coat with rose buttons that I haven’t taken off since the weather became so cold. Clearly charity shops have a lot to offer for any diva looking to extend their designer or vintage wardrobe.

Just like all the main high street stores, charity shops all full of glittery, glitzy party wear and accessories, but, unlike the High Street, you have more chance of finding something unusual and original. You may find High end high street clothing for just a few pounds, or an absolute vintage gem.


bags, shoes and scarves neatly coordinated by Acorns, Wednesbury

Fab 60's style dress I saw on the window of a Scope shop.

But Charity shops are not just about fabulous clothing. One of my favourite finds of recent times has been a signed copy of the Gordon Selfridge biography ‘Shopping, Seduction and Mr Selfridge’ by Lindy Woodhead. You can also find cute teacups, vintage paste brooches which you could put into a little voile bags to give as quirky gifts for your friends or sisters. Most charity shops these days also have a range of new goods, from Fair trade chocolate and jewellery at Oxfam, to knitted scarves at BHF. All stores sell eco bags, which you could use to put your presents in as a nice alternative to Santa Sacks.


cute tea cups found in a charity shop

So, when you do your last-minute Christmas shopping this year, give charity shops a go – after all – it is Christmas, so why not share the love!