High Street Clothes in Charity Shops

When is it okay to buy high street in charity shops/thrift stores?

In my rules of charity shop rummaging, I wrote that in general, you want to go for vintage/designer and avoid high street clothes. But there are plenty of exceptions.

You can change colour, size, even decoration, but the one thing you can't change about clothes is the material. Clothes from the high street are often made as quickly as possible so that they reach the high street while the 'microtrend' is still in. To achieve fast turnaround, materials need to be easy to sew/print/size, so tend to be made from thinner, cheaper material, like thin cotton, polycotton and polyesters. By the time they reach charity shops/thrift stores, cheap material will be well worn, so if it doesn't look tired and worn yet, it may not be far away from it.

But sometimes, there are some real gems. High-end high street shops like Whistles, Hobbs, Jaeger, Cos, Banana Republic and LK Bennett produce high quality clothes, and charity shops in affluent areas frequently receive these types of donations.

Hence my love of the charity shops in Stockbridge, one of the most affluent areas in Edinburgh. Recently, I found this gorgeous Whistles top, featuring a crochet Peter-Pan collar, in Barnardo's. Whistles is a great, high quality company, so I didn't mind the £10 price tag, more than I usually think to spend on a top.
I'm currently job hunting, and I think this would be perfect for office-wear with a smart pencil skirt and cute Mary-Janes. Very Emma Pillsbury from Glee.

Franca at Oranges and Apples recently wrote an excellent guide to Edinburgh Vintage and Charity Shops, outlining the best places to find good quality pieces. One shop I'd additionally recommend is the Shelter shop on Teviot Place (Bristo Sq). Its vicinity to the university means there's a great mixture of clothes. I picked up this Banana Republic wrap cardigan for a bargain £5 (the buttons on the sleeves, ohmyIlovethem):
And that's the plaid skirt I got in the Lands End sale a couple of months ago - I LOVE burgundy :)

But I don't want you to think I don't appreciate low and mid high street brands! They regularly make good quality clothes, but finding them in the jumble of charity shops might just require an extra bit of rummaging.. Charity shops have become more savvy in recent years to only stock good quality clothes, and send worn, overused clothes to fabric recycling companies. These can be made into blankets for the homeless and for the Red Cross. This is why you shouldn't bin clothes, even if they're ripped or stained - still donate them!

C x


  1. You look great love you legs!!

  2. That Whistles top is gorgeous - I need to get myself down to Stockbridge! Loving your blog x