Although I do love to treat myself once in a while to more expensive items, like my Ray Bans and Kurt Geiger heels, and would kill (not literally) for one of the gorgeous vintage designer bags in my previous post, my bank balance is rarely healthy enough to buy them. Hence why, as you all know, I love a good rummage in my local charity shops, and spending hours on eBay scouring for uber cheap vintage.

I get asked a lot of questions about how I search in eBay, what I look for in charity shops and how I have the patience to do it, so I thought I would compile a list of hints, tips and links to show you what I do and where I find all my bargains. Not all of this is about looking for vintage or second hand, but more about shopping on a budget for individual items.

Before I start, here’s an outfit that is really relevant to this post. The top and skirt together fist £3.50 from eBay and a charity shop, and the wedges, granted, are Primark, but at £3.00 I think they fit in well.

Blouse – vintage via eBay

Skirt – Charity Shop

Wedges – Primark

Rings – Ruby Rae Love, JWLRY

Now onto my hints and tips…

Charity Shops: Don’t go in with your heart set on something in particular, because odds on they won’t have it and you’ll spend the whole time looking for something in particular that you will ignore everything else! Be open minded and prepared to root. I always start off looking at my size, then work my way up. Larger sizes can sometimes look better, or if they’re no good for you but really nice pieces, you could always eBay them for a profit!

Try to steer clear of high street labels. They’re usually priced too high for what they are, especially Primark ones. Instead look for something more individual. I usually find that the pieces without branding are better quality and nicer in general, but one brand I would look out for is St Michael by M&S. Really good quality vintage that sells well if you chose to eBay it!

Finally, look at the area the charity shop is in and you’ll get an idea of what they’re stock is like. My favourite local charity shop is in quite a well off area where the population is mainly elderly people. I always find good quality vintage in there that has been well looked after! Think about the kind of people that are donating.

Best buys: Ralph Lauren denim shirt for £3.00, above skirt for £2.00, vintage tapestry holdall for 50p

Flea Markets and Car Boots: The flea markets I go to aren’t particularly amazing for clothes, so I tend to go more for accessories. Some of my favourite pieces of jewellery were found on Market stalls. In Preston we have some great stalls selling 50p jewellery that is much nicer than the high street! Also keep an eye out for stalls run by older ladies. They usually have gorgeous vintage pieces that are really cheap. Keep away from things that look just like Topshop, or exactly the same as Primark. It defeats the point, and I always have a funny feeling they could be stolen if they are selling masses of them.

Best Buys: Cameo brooch for 20p, Chunky winter cardigan for £3.00.

eBay: This will be different for everyone because this depends on what you are looking for! On eBay I generally search for vintage, but I also look for high street pieces too as they will be much cheaper, even if they’ve only been worn once. My most frequent searches are things such as ‘vintage’, ‘topshop’, ‘urban outfitters’, ‘floral’ etc. Don’t be too distinct with your search terms. If you are broader then odds on you will find a lot more than you thought. I always search twice. First I will change the settings to time ending soonest, and see what last minute bargains there are to be had. Then I search for buy it now listings choosing ‘price + p&p lowest first’ to see what people are selling off at cheap set prices. One thing I would say is be sure you read the listing really carefully, and hold off bidding until the last couple of minutes. That is when the bidding wars start, and if you start too early, the price will just continue to rise.

Best Buys: Debenhams Trench Coat for 99p, Topshop skinny jeans for £3.50, Vintage Peg Leg Trousers for £2.00.

Blog Sales: These are great for finding fab second hand pieces, whether it be high street or vintage. Bloggers often host sales on their sites to raise money or simply have a clear out, avoiding those nasty eBay fees. Its something I do quite a bit of myself, and if you keep an eye out for them you can snap up some great bargains, not only with clothing, but beauty products too! A great blog sale site that has just launched is The Tee Shop which is run by the lovely Rosalie. She scours the rails of charity shops for us and finds some amazing second hand t shirts, and sells them via the blog for great prices!

Best Buys: Lots of make up!

Vintage Fairs: These are great for finding really good quality, original Vintage items. IT isn’t necessarily the cheapest way of sourcing Vintage, but you’ll definitely come across a lot more than you would elsewhere, plus they’re a great day out. I love going to the ‘Not Just Vintage UK‘ fairs held in Preston. There are loads of great sellers with a massive range of stock. The next one is this Sunday at The Continental pub in Preston. Check the event details out here for more info! All I would say with Vintage fairs, is have a good root before you commit to buy something. You could buy an item on one stall, and then find something even better on the next! A lot don’t offer returns on their stock, so once you buy something, you’re stuck with it. Make sure you really want it before you buy. Oh, and make sure you take cash, as few stalls take card!

Best Buys: Laura Ashley Vintage Dress for £10.00, Silk Scarves 3 for £5.00.

Independent Online Shops: I’m a huge fan of independent online shops, as they’re great for everything from clothing to accessories. They offer great alternatives to what is on the high street, for a lot less. I’m loving a few at the moment, mainly jewellery sellers. Some of my favourites are JWLRY, Love Suzie, Maria Allen and Ruby Rae Love.

Best Buys: Rings, rings and more rings!

So there you have it. My guide to thrifty shopping and how to find the best pieces possible.

Also, check out Lizzie’s Blog feature, ‘Magpie Monday‘ where she and her readers share their second hand finds and show off their thriftiness!

Do you have any tips for thrifty shopping?



  1. Oh great tips!

    I completely agree about going into charity shops with an open mind – you never know what they'll have, but you can be sure if you're looking for something in particular you won't find it!

    Thanks for the mention lovely x

  2. this is such a helpful post! i actually popped into a charity shop today on a whim, and while i didn't find anything it made me think that maybe i should give thrifting a go. x

  3. Love this 🙂
    the outfit is gorgeous, and thank you so much for the tips. I have got into chairty shopping a lot of the last year or so, I haven't got it down to a tee though. Thinking I MUST have something, and really not, or missing out on an amazing buy.
    I used to love vintage shopping, two of my fav shops are in Bristol, but since putting on the weight- its hard to find things in there that fit me x

  4. there's a photo of you wearing a studded petal top with a lovely burgandi/wine knit cardi and beautiful black leggings and converse, where are the cardi and leggings from, if they're from a charity shop could you tell me the name of the brand please? please reply I'm eager to know! 😀 I love your blog

    1. Hi Melissa!

      I think I know which outfit you mean.

      The cardigan is from a brand called Voulez Vous which is stocked in concessions called Fuse. Fuse is found I'm some BHS, Debenhams and Outfit stores. It was last years, but they may do something similar this time round!
      The leggings are disco pants from Glamorous. If you google it you,ll find the online shop 🙂

      Claire x

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