How to build a designer-look wardrobe from your local CHARITY shop

Revealed: How to build a designer-look wardrobe from your local CHARITY shop – and why the pre-Christmas period is the best time to bag a bargain

  • EXCLUSIVE: Sustainable fashion expert Emma Slade Edmondson reveals top tips
  • Advises looking out for blanket scarves to create Isabel Marant look
  • Mid-price labels such as Rixo offer quality and they may be sold out pieces
  • Making friends with charity shop workers can help give you inside track  

While devotees rave about finding amazing designer bargains and unique pieces in charity shops, how realistic is it to give up your high street habits in favour of second hand gear?

Sustainable fashion expert Emma Slade Edmondson wears a combination of vintage, rented and charity shop finds and insists that anyone can have an ultra-stylish wardrobe, provided they know the right tricks. 

The Londoner has been working with Love Not Landfill on a pop-up shop which opens this week, showcasing four collections featuring clothes from the Royal Trinity Hospice, Oxfam, TRAID and Barnardo’s stores.

Last week, the environmental audit select committee heard that ‘fast fashion’ retailers are fuelling a culture in which 400,000 tonnes of clothing ends up in UK landfill sites every year, so there’s never been a better time to break bad habits. 

And the good news is, according to Emma, pre-Christmas is peak time to find the best pieces in charity shops across the UK. 

From keeping an eye out for men’s blazers and blanket scarves to getting to know the staff, here’s how to build a designer-look wardrobe for a fraction of the price from your local charity shops.

Sustainable fashion expert Emma Slade Edmondson dresses in a mix of charity shop, rented and vintage clothing and insists anyone can build a designer-look wardrobe on  a budget. Pictured: Kimono, £20, Mabel Vintage; shirt, £9, Shelter Boutique, and skirt, £12, Trinity Hospice


The great thing about charity shops is that the staff and volunteers tend to be genuinely invested in creating a lovely environment for people to shop in.

Next time you head into your local charity shop, strike up a conversation with a volunteer or staff member, you’d be surprised how willing they are to give you a call if something you’re looking for comes in.

  • Would YOU pay £5,400 for a six-pack? High-flying business…

    ‘Waiting 48 hours to see my photos’: Nostalgic millennials…

Share this article


Try before Christmas when there is a spike in donations, as people are reminded to get rid of last years unwanted gifts when they head out to do their Christmas shopping. Awkward, but true.

September is another key month. As it’s the start of a new school year, people naturally get that ‘new year, new me’ feeling and feel compelled to do a wardrobe spring clean.

Keeping an eye out for statement shirts is a great way to build a capsule wardrobe. Pictured: Emma in a rented Jessica Russel flint shirt and Hannah Brabon culottes from Wear Thé Walk; 


Charity shopping can feel a little like sale shopping. I recommend hitting the shops with a clear idea of what you’re looking for in mind, to avoid feeling overwhelmed or unsure.


Trends always come back around, so finding pieces that are key for this season in a vintage store or in the charity shop, really isn’t as hard as you might think.

PRINTS: This season, keep an eye out for leopard print, zebra print, stripes and spots – team three prints together in a jungle frenzy for maximum impact Max Mara style.

BLANKET SCARVES: Emulate the oversized capes seen at Saint Laurent and Isabel Marant.

MEN’S BLAZERS: You’ll often find a checked or tweed men’s’ blazers in a charity shop. Throw over a feminine floral dress to achieve an on-trend look.

TRENCH COATS: A sleek belted trench coat in a neutral colour such as khaki or stone grey, is a season-less staple that is always chic!

SHIRTS: It is super easy to pick up an unusual silk shirt with interesting detailing in a charity shop. A unique shirt is the perfect piece to mix and match into your capsule wardrobe looks.

LEATHER JACKET: You’ll wear it forever, over everything and it’s the type of wardrobe staple that never gets old. 

So, decide on an occasion you’d like to shop for and look firstly for a key piece you can build around. 


Instead mix your eras – team a pair of ’70s cowboy boots with a more delicate ’90s slip dress, layered over a 60s turtle neck and you’ve nailed a look that channels Ganni’s Scandinavian bold, but simple feel.

Plus – you’re going to look much less like you stepped out of your nan’s closet and more like an accomplished style expert.


Keep an eye out for well-known designer brands, but it’s also worth looking out for independent brands that have limited volume production lines.

These independent brands really care about the detail of the material and the fit because they are making smaller volumes, for cult followings. 

I would recommend brands like Rixo London, whose sell out dresses are playful, wearable but also incredibly well fitting.


Look for pieces that could be altered or up-cycled for maximum impact and multiple wears.

Buying second hand pieces and adapting them into something even better, is a great way to extend the life of clothes! There are many ways to prolong the life of an old favourite by adding something unique.

Have an old leather jacket? Extend the life of your well loved-piece by seeking out brands like Phiney Pet or Laurie Lee, who offer incredible hand painted commissions. Personalisation is a trend that’s here to stay.

Want to give new life to old denim? If you’re handy with a sewing needle, add on your own patches and badges – this is still fashion’s secret weapon when it comes to a quick and easy customization trick that makes a statement.

Sustainable fashion expert Emma Slade Edmondson recommends looking out for classics such as trench coats, leather jackets and on-trend prints 


Charity shops are the perfect place to get more experimental with your style, as there are lots of different pieces. 

Style clever and try not to get stuck in a rut with the way you might ordinarily wear a piece. Get creative and check out the trends online for inspiration. Think:

Layer turtle necks, sweaters or even jeans under strappy slip dresses to get more wear out of them as we transition through the seasons.

Mix athleisure with the rest of your wardrobe. For example, wearing silk sweatpants with a crisp white shirt and heels, creating a chic office look.

Join the multiple jacket trend seen at Balenciaga. For a less dramatic look, layer just two of your jackets together, for example a utility jacket with a teddy coat over the top.

Emma wears a skirt by Mayamiko, £48, shirt from a Shelter Boutique, £9, and shoes by Brian Atwood found at a clothes swapping event


It’s inevitable that you’ll find items from fast fashion brands in charity shops that you’ll fall in love with, but it’s worth aiming to find good quality materials. 

Not only are they better for the environment, but pieces that made using good fabrics will always last longer!

Check the label and to keep things simple, go for natural fibres like wool, cotton, silk, linen and bamboo and avoid polyesters and nylons. 

The production of polyester for example uses harmful chemicals, which cause significant environmental damage. And when we wash synthetic fibres we contribute to the micro plastics being flushed into the water system and our seas.

For more information on Love Not Landfill’s pop-up shop visit 

Source: Read Full Article