Although I love unashamedly being spoon-fed vintage by COW and Retro Rehab, I still believe that the best place to find the most thrilling pieces is in charity shops. There is an excitement in rummaging through rails, racks and piles of crap until you unearth the hidden vintage treasure. Plus you don’t have to pay for someone else to do the honours.


Charity shops have for many years been central to my shopping ritual and I started frequenting them in high school, without really understanding what vintage was. Back then, charity shops just meant you were poor. The sheer cheapness of everything means that it is very tempting to feel like you have to buy at least one thing. Because of this, I’ve made many mistakes and the resulting regrets have led me to now try and stick to a few rules to avoid mishaps:

Something that’s not worth buying can look amazing when nestled amongst pink, corduroy, appliqued flares. I try to have a shopping companion with me to ask the inevitable question “is this nice or is it totally disgusting?”. It’s often harder to tell than you might think. As soon as you step out into the sobering natural light, the dust and smell of old grannies lifts and you realise that you’ve made a slight error of judge

Will you really alter the skirt length, chop the arm off and change the buttons? Will you? Really?

I know that you can kind of squeeze your foot into a size 3 especially when it is for a dribble-worthy pair of Gina heels, but it is much less upsetting to never have them in your room accusing you of having hobbit feet. Walk away or, depending on how nice you are, you could buy them for a small-footed friend. Finally, battle with your magpie instincts and stay away from anything shiny, synthetic or that possesses any qualities of the legendry shell suit.


This last rule admittedly is a bad reaction to my dirty childhood longing for such a shell suit. A two-piece of glossy loveliness that would have gone so well with my fluorescent curly laces and Cica lights trainers. My shell suit dream was not realised until a hand me down came hurtling my way. Alas this effort was in vain, as by this time it was all about the Adidas poppers. Scarred from this experience, my brain rejects anything that seems as if it comes from the shell suit family.


This has been a rule that I never thought I would break. It was to my shock and surprise then, when on a night out, I found myself enchanted by a group of super trendy, impossibly cool girls with high top shaved heads and each wearing at least three items of man made materials. They were, in essence, all dressed as the Fresh Prince.

My usual reaction would be to mock, and I honestly tried, but for some reason I couldn’t quite manage it. These girls were living my younger self’s late 80s fashion dream and although they did look a bit silly, especially all in a herd. A part of me couldn’t help but think that they did, in fact, look very cool.

Now, I have no intention of breaking these tried and tested charity shopping rules, they have served me well. But I couldn’t help notice, winking at me through the window of Oxfam, the most beautiful two-tone, fluorescent nylon bum bag. I had to have it. Word.


Article By Molly Harvey-Love