For the Fashion Lovers with a Budget: Thrifting in London

Never Go Broke For a New Outfit Again!


We've all been there. You've finally gotten halfway through the week without blowing your budget on coffee, food and alcohol. At last you're a functioning adult who can control their spending.

But then you get that itch, that need for a new pair of jeans to go perfectly with your favourite shirt, or a cosy sweater for the oncoming Winter weather. And suddenly you've spent £20-£50, and are filled with guilt and the horrifying reality that you won't even be able to afford to go to Phineas on Monday. If the universe is feeling particularly cruel, the next day you'll see someone wearing the exact same 'unique' item of clothing you purchased yesterday.

At least that was the cycle I would go through when it came to buying new clothes. Then I somehow pulled together my prom outfit for the grand total of £36, and was forever converted to thrifting.

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Probably my proudest moment.

Then I arrived in London, and my confidence in thrifting wavered slightly after I attempted to find clothes in some of the most overpriced stores I'd ever visited in my life. So, after a month of trial and error, here are three pieces of advice for thrifting in London without breaking into that overdraft.

Try to avoid Camden Market and Brick Lane.

Sure they're classic thrifting locations. The vibe is great, the clothes are fabulous, the price, not so brilliant. Somehow in Camden Market sellers are able to sell 'retro' shirts you could buy for £1-£5 in a charity shop for £15-£30.

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Aesthetically Pleasing? Yes. Overpriced? Also Yes.

I'll admit, its easier to thrift in Camden and Brick Lane, most of the clothes are catered towards popular fashion trends anyway. But in the same areas you can find charity shops with equally amazing pieces, you just have to look a little bit harder.

Charity Shops, Charity Shops, Charity Shops.

Yesterday I walked into a Cancer Research in Islington and found a practically new Timberland Jacket for £18. Visit charity shops in typically upper-class areas, you'll find some absolute gems for incredible prices!

Two stand-out charity shops native to London are: Traid and All Aboard.

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Just look at all those shoes!

Kilo Sales.

Saving the best till last; the Kilo Sale. Here's the main selling point: when it comes to a kilo sale, Camden and Brick Lane are less likely to scam you with a £30 'vintage' shirt, since the majority of sales are £15 per kilo!

One important tip is to keep an eye on the weight of the items you're buying. A kilo sale is a dream come true if you pick out light shirts, skirts and trousers. However, if you end up buying jeans, jumpers and coats you'll spend a fair amount more.

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£10 for a Planet Hollywood Jacket? Don't mind if I do.

Upcoming kilo sales include: Brick Lane Kilo Sale (09/11) and Brixton Vintage Kilo Sale (30/11).

A Side Note; Fast Fashion

Thrifting doesn't just save money, it stops you contributing to fast fashion. As a society we often buy fast and cheap, feeling as if we need a new outfit for every club and event. Fast fashion is a major contributor to our current environmental crisis, producing large amounts of greenhouse gases, alongside creating problematic levels of waste. On top of this, our need for cheap/affordable clothing often comes with the price of poor working conditions, not only in other countries but also in UK based sweatshops.

Buying second hand solves two problems at once. First of all, you're preventing clothes going to landfill rather than contributing to fast fashion. And secondly, you're also significantly reducing the chance of wearing the same outfit as the person next to you in your lecture. Yes, this is an insignificant problem compared to climate change, but one of the main reasons we have the need to buy new outfits is to stand-out, to express ourselves. By owning an unique jacket, shirt or dress that you can't find in Zara, H&M or Urban Outfitters, you're fulfilling that need, while probably spending significantly less money than if you were shopping at a high-street store.