Mrs Green goes on a clothing shopping spree

Filed in Blog by on May 5, 2010 15 Comments
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Mrs Green snapped in public wearing her new coat

Mrs Green snapped in public wearing her new coat

What a week! For all my ‘save the world’ credentials, I’m still very girly when it comes to clothes. I don’t buy much and I don’t buy often and I rarely buy new, but I do love a browse around our local charity and second hand shops.

I don’t want to come across as a hair shirt gal or an anti consumerist who looks down on people who love to shop so I’m going to be honest and reveal my moment of weakness.

This week the Gods of clothing fortune shone upon me and I couldn’t resist.

So I treated myself to a bit of a clothes shopping spree.

In fact I bought, eeek, I’m almost too embarassed to write it.

Ok, deep breath….

I bought £1000 worth of clothes.

Madness isn’t it?

My annexe roof needs fixing, the dining room needs decorating and it’s coming up to holiday time, but I was picked up and swung around the room by the lure of fantastic clothes. It’s utter madness; I know how foolish it is.

Well, it is, until I tell you that my £1000 of clothes actually cost me £58.50!

You see I hit the jackpot in the charity shops. Oh my was it ever my day. I should have bought a lottery ticket really as lady luck was definately on my side. I didn’t even browse; I just walked in to 2 shops and there the clothes beckoned me like the sirens from the sea:

Now my real prize and the one I’m eager to brag about is the coat in the photo. It’s whacky, eccentric, totally weird and so me.

I got it home and had a snuffle around the internet and realised I had bagged £600 of silk designer wear by Beatrice Von Tresckow for £18.

Not only that, but my softer-than-soft alpaca cardigan would have been £80 new!

The skirt, with sequins ahoy would have been £70

by the time you added a pair of unworn shoes, the real suede jacket, a blouse, 2 belts and a couple of hats I was laughing all the way to the bank and my wardrobe. I had snapped up over £1000 of loveliness to adorn my body with for less than I spend on food for a week.

I was feeling so good about it all, lost control of my senses, so I treated Little Miss Green to a plastic horse from the charity shop for £1.

Well she did promise me she would take the utmost care of it so it would never end up in landfill.


Tell me about the most spectacular second hand bargain you have found in a charity shop, freecycle or ‘other’.

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (15)

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  1. Sian Lawton says:

    WOW! I think I need to come charity shopping with you!

  2. thegreengal says:

    Now that is what I call a charity shopping spree, amazing! You must be so chuffed at your finds – not only are they quality clothing that would have cost silly money new but they’re also individual, stylish and not something that you’ll see everyone else on the high street wearing too.

  3. Sandie says:

    Some Levi 501 jeans that I bought, in New Zealand, for $4 (about 2 British pounds) about six years ago!

    They are the perfect fit and I love them some much that I’ve had to patch and mend, to keep on wearing them.

    Your purchases sound amazing!

  4. greenlady42 says:

    That’s an amazing bunch of bargains ! especially the designer coat. I am quite surprised it was that cheap – as nowadays most charity shop volunteers are quite savvy as to labels and I wouldn’t have been surprised to find it tagged at £180 !

    Its a long time since I seriously clothes hunted in charity shops or car boot sales, but I do remember picking up a few nice things when I was a young’un, mainly 60’s suede or leather coats. I do still have a a nice floaty Berketex top that I bought at a car boot sale 12 years ago for 20p – nothing spectacular, but I am quite pleased its lasted that long ! ( with the occasional sewing up of holes in the armpit )

    Now Mrs G, I hope you don’t mind me asking a personal question, in that picture where you are sporting that splendid coat, are you also carrying a freebie tupperware thingy from Sainsburys ? there is a zero-waste related reason for my query ! 😛

  5. Ben says:

    Charity stores are great for saving resources and money, plus you can avoid most packaging in them too. Most things are lose, and breakables can be wrapped in newspaper or old carrier bags that you can reuse/recycle.

  6. Sarah says:

    I must go on a charity shop spree soon…

  7. Attila says:

    I got a couple of Boden summer skirts for £3.50 each (£40-ish new?) a few weeks ago; beautifully made. I’m a cold body, though so I am waiting for warmer weather to wear them.
    About a year ago, we gave away our old desktop computer along with it’s pine cupboard and wanted a table for the sewing machine to go in its place; some friends got rid of the absolutely perfect table and gave it to us.
    The third thing I can think of was £95, which I think is a lot of money: a gorgeous 2 piece cupboard and china cabinet in a charity shop, but it would have cost us £600 at least to buy it new.

  8. Alex says:

    Having moved to Australia over two years ago I have to say one of the most amazing things they do here is have council clean ups every 6 months – this means twice a year you can collect all your rubbish you have been hoarding and no longer use and pile it all up outside your house for the council to come and remove.

    As people tend to start decluttering at least a week early it means up and down the roads outside practically every house there is always piles and piles of free stuff for you to peruse at leisure. We always make sure we take the ute out for a special drive and normally come back with a full load, sometimes having to go home to empty it before going out again.

    Everyone does it – some people go round with huge trucks collecting all the spare metal. I can’t even begin to list all the amazing things we have acquired this way. Having moved here with nothing my partner and I have kitted out our entire 2 bedroom house full of furniture for practically nothing. The stuff we did pay for either came from charity shops or garage sales (another wonderful Aussie alternative to car boot sales). Although I think when the stuff is finally collected it just goes to landfill (something that could definitely be improved on by sorting for recyclables) at least it gives everyone a chance to find riches in other people’s rubbish 🙂

  9. sandy says:

    why can I never find bargains like that, well done

  10. Magdalena says:

    My best thrift buys were two top designer jackets for about $5 US each They were both Paris label, would have cost me a week’s pay packet new. One was a classic red – went with all the black skirts and dresses – and the other was a hot pink boucle, and was always an attention getter. I wore them for years, and they still had wear in them when I beame Plain, so off to the church rummage sale for someone else to enjoy.

  11. Shirnaan says:

    I wish I had a charity shop like you have near me.
    I am size 16/18 and nothing decent ever jumps out at me.
    Plenty of small sizes but nothing to ever fit me!!

  12. Mrs Green says:

    @Sian Lawton: Hehehe, I do tend to have the midas touch where charity shopping is concerned 😉

    @thegreengal: Thanks! I was VERY chuffed and full of gratitude – I would NEVER spend that sort of money on new items…

    @Sandie: Oh Sandie, there is nothing like a favourite pair of jeans. I was so upset when my CKs could no longer be fixed – the material literally wore away to nothing 🙁

    @greenlady42: I think it depends on where you live. Being in a small rural town I don’t think we’re very labels savvy!
    You’ve spotted the backdrop for my photo – yes, I’m in Sainsburys getting my free containers in support of their ‘love your leftovers’ campaign 🙂
    Now I’m all ears !

    @Ben: Great point! I love doing some Christmas shopping in there for stocking fillers for the lack of packaging 😉

    @Sarah: Yay! Good luck!

    @Attila: Hi Attila; some great finds there – let’s hope you get some warmer weather to wear your skirts soon; you could always wear them now with long boots if you can’t wait! I love that your friends had exactly what you needed 🙂

    @Alex: Alex, your community clean up sounds amazing – like a real feel good thing to do. And what a great excuse for a declutter. I want one here!!

    @sandy: I think the key is to check regularly. Don’t just go once every few months; try and pop in when you’re on another errand on a more frequent basis.

    @Magdalena: Wow, that pink jacket sounds amazing; glad you had some much fun and attention wearing it!

    @Shirnaan: Hey Shirnaan; isn’t that funny; I have the opposite issue; I’m a tiny size 8 or sometimes even teenage size and I find most of the really nice things in your size! We need to get together 🙂

  13. Karen says:

    Go hunting with an open mind. Is is not easy to find a specific item but be prepared to buy if you find something that catches your eye. It won’t be there again. Some charity shops are better than others. Once you have found a good one go as often as possible until the perfect item turns up. I have noticed that there are more good quality unworn shoes. Why do spend so much on shoes then never wear them!!
    I have visited charity shops all over the country. The best for designer gear were in Wimbledon and Morningside ( Edinburgh ). My nearest town Tavistock has a great choice.
    Look out also for Nearly New shops where you can taken clothes in for them to sell for you. Some fabulous clothes are handed in.
    I think it is Oxfam who have bridal shops which is great if you have the expense of a wedding.
    My mother ran a Charity shop in the west of Scotland for over 30 years. That is a commitment !!! I started helping her when I was still at school.

  14. heather says:

    my latest bargain buy was 40 cross stich mags with 21 of them still having the free kits in them these kits contain material, threads, needle, pattern and picture surround. I do lots of craft makes for selling to raise money for a charity called Mary’s meals All 40 mags and 21 kits cost me only £4 what a bargain!!!!!

  15. Mrs Green says:

    @Karen: Hi Karen, you’re right – it’s not about setting your heart on a specific item, but being able to think creatively on your feet – that’s part of the fun for me! I agree about the second hand shops; we have a fabulous one near us where you get 50% of the sales price.

    @heather: Hi Heather, thanks for telling us about your lovely charity shop find – you must have been delighted!

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