Thrifting Tips from a Thrifting Queen

I love thrift shopping. I hate buying new clothes. It’s expensive, stressful and environmentally unfriendly. I live in the UK where thrift shopping comes in many forms. My prefered place to thrift is charity shops because they tend to be pretty cheap, easily accessible, varied and of course it’s a great way to donate to charity. There’s also plenty of vintage shops for when you want something a little more specific, although often more expensive but worth it for the curated selection. I also love pop up things like flea markets, car boot sales, clothes swapping events and local bizarres.

People often comment on my magical ability to always find awesome second hand goodies because apparently this is something a lot of people struggle with. So today I’m going to share my thrifting tips with you in the hopes it will lead you onto a magical life of thrifting glory. A few little side notes first- I’m 5ft 5, a UK size 14-16 with UK size 7 feet so fairly average making thrifting for me a little easier than it may be for some people. However don’t let that deter you! There’s tips here to help everyone and I promise there are treasures out there to suit everyone.

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1- Keep a thrifting wish list. Thrift shops can sometimes be a little overwhelming with so many different items all jumbled together and I know that can be off putting. Having a wish list gives you a goal and takes out some of the overwhelm. This can be a list of specific items you want to find or something more general like a cut, style or colour. Sometimes I will just have a vision of something I want (right now it’s mid length lilac shorts) and I will go on a mission to find the perfect item. Write this list down or add it to your notes on your phone so whenever you find the opportunity to pop into a second hand shop you have a good starting point.

2- Set a price limit or item limit. This can be a limit for your whole shopping trip- “I won’t spend more than £20 or get more than five things” or a limit for the spend on an individual item. I have a general rule that unless it’s shoes, a coat/jacket or designer I won’t spend more than £5 on an item in a charity shop. I allow more if I’m in a speciality shop like a vintage shop. Having rules like this in place stop you from getting carried away and coming home with way more than you set out to find. Obviously these rules are your own and you can break them if the thrifting gods are being particularly nice to you that day, but I find self imposed guidelines can be helpful.

3- Be persistent. This is a biggie. People often get discouraged if they go into a charity shop and come away with nothing, and I totally get that. But that’s just the nature of second hand shopping. The stock rotates super frequently so sometimes you won’t find anything at all, other times you might be attacked by fabulous finds. Keep going back, stick to it. I have a favourite charity shop that I go to every week and I try to nip into most of my local ones on a monthly basis because you never know what’s going to show up.

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4- Always try things on. I know this one seems kinda obvious but it’s super important when thrift shopping. With so many different brands all under one roof sizing can be a little tricky. Sure, sometimes if it’s something simple like a T-shirt you can probably tell straight off the bat whether it’s going to fit your body but with other things, especially dresses and trousers I would recommend always trying stuff on. Another point to mention is lots of second hand shops don’t accept returns so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

5- Learn some basic sewing techniques. Sewing is a great skill to have on hand anyway but particularly helpful if you thrift a lot. This way you can fix on new buttons, mend small tears, take things in, shorten hems etc. Being able to sew opens up a world of possibilities. Like that top but wish it was cropped? No problem! Chop the bottom off and re-hem it! There are plenty of books and youtube tutorials to help you learn how to sew and supplies can be super cheap so it’s worth giving a go. You could of course rope a friend or family member into helping you if they already have the skills. I recently got a really cool pair of orange corduroy trousers in a charity shop and they were only £2 because they had a small rip by one of the belt loops. As the material was quite thick I asked my friend if she could fix it up using her sewing machine and she kindly did just that and now my trousers are good as new. Make do and mend my friends.

6- Look in all the sections. Check outside your usual size range, check in the “men’s” section, check in with the kids clothes and always have a peek at the bric-a-brac. Because of the wide variety of stuff in these kinds of shops it’s always worth looking around as thoroughly as possible. There could be gems hiding anywhere, especially in less curated shops like charity shops. Wonderful pieces can sometimes be overlooked and end up at the back of the rack, just waiting to be discovered and cherished.

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7- Think about your existing wardrobe/home decor. Whenever you are unsure about a piece think about items you already own that would look good with it. You may love that multicoloured pom-pom sweater but what would you wear it with? This is a good tip for shopping in general but particularly helpful in the minefield of thrifting. It can also be good to buy things that are similar (but not identical) to things you already own. Maybe there’s a colour or shape that you love, getting more things with that same factor should be a sure fire bet.

8- Keep an eye out for good brands. I always check the labels of anything I’m considering buying. Okay, you might not find any Alexander McQueen in your local Cancer Research shop (although I’m sure that could happen) but you can find some pretty good brands. Looking out for these good brands is a good way to make your money stretch- you could buy a second hand Primark top for the same price as a second hand top from Topshop. I’ve purchased stuff from Henry Holland and Karen Millen for example and they were pretty much the same price as any other similar items of lesser quality. Quality is especially important when buying second hand clothes that have had a bit of wear. So always employ those detective skills. You can even find lots of clothes that are brand new, still with tags on if you keep your eyes peeled.

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So that’s my tips for thrifting successfully. Most of these tips are more focused towards UK charity shops because that’s what I know best but I’m sure lots of these are transferable to all types of thrift shopping. There are also lots of online thrift shops and good old Ebay if you can’t easily get out. I have no real experience with thrifting online but it might be a fun option to explore.  I hope you found these tips useful and interesting, happy thrifting!

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My Veganniversary and My Top 5 Tips For New Vegans

Yesterday, the 10th of July 2016, marked one year of me being vegan. I can’t believe how quickly the time has flown. Eating vegan and buying cruelty free products has become second nature to me. It’s just so much easier than I ever thought it could be. It’s also honestly one of the best decisions I have ever made. I feel so much better physically and spiritually since cutting all of that crap out of my life. Not to mention the fact that I am helping save the animals and protect the environment in the process. Don’t ever think that one person can’t make a difference because that is far from the truth. So many of my friends have approached me and asked for tips on how to go vegan or simply how to eat a more plant based diet, a few of those people have now taken the leap into full veganism. So if that doesn’t prove that one person can make a difference then I don’t know what does.

I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share my tips and advice for going and staying vegan. This is by no means an exhaustive list but hey, it’s a start!

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1- The Internet is your best friend

This seems like a pretty obvious point to make but the internet has helped me so much with ideas and support. Joining Facebook groups has been a big help. What Fat Vegans Eat is great for foodie inspiration and Glo Vegan Hangout is such a friendly group to ask questions and share things. Youtube is another great source of foodie inspiration and support. Some of my favourite vegan channels are Cheap Lazy Vegan, The Vegan Corner and Supreme Banana. Blogs of course are also a great place to go for recipe ideas Oh She Glows is always a great go to, I also love The Vegan Stoner and a new favourite of mine is Jenny Mustard, a blog with yummy recipes and minimalist living if your into that sort of thing. The Vegan Womble is a great site to find out what products are vegan in various shops and Barnivore is an amazing search tool to find out what alcoholic beverages are vegan. And finally I will mention Happy Cow which is a website and app that tells you where the nearest vegan and vegetarian cafes are, super helpful especially if you are travelling.

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2- Adapt your favourite recipes and meals

You don’t have to give up all the things you love. Pretty much anything can be veganised. pizza, spaghetti bolognaise, cottage pie, cheesecake, macaroni cheese and even meringues! Either invest in a good vegan cookbook or search the internet, it’s literally all possible! Pro tip- if you want a nice simple recipe always remember to search “simple” or “easy” along with what you are searching for.

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3- Find ready made alternatives

If you are super worried about giving up things like chicken nuggets, beef burgers, sausages, fish fingers etc then don’t worry! Fake meat products have come a long way in recent years and taste pretty damn close to the real thing just without the cruelty! These sorts or products are pretty widely available with lots of supermarkets even having their own brand versions, just make sure to check the ingredients for any sneaky egg or milk, yuck! Holland and Barrett is also a godsend for fake meat products. The same applies to cheese but I’ve written a whole post about that so I will link that for you here. These products can work out a little pricey and aren’t always the healthiest but they are great for when you are transitioning or for an occasional treat.

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4- Make use of your freezer 

You know I said the internet was your best friend? Well make way for another bestie in the form of your freezer! Making sure you always have some frozen mixed veg on hand is so helpful. It’s cheap, healthy and just as fresh as the… well… fresh stuff! Just chuck it into chillies, stews, pies or just boil or steam some up as a side dish. It’s a great stand by for when you don’t have anything fresh in the house. The same applies to frozen fruit, it’s perfect in smoothies, with cereals or over porridge and rice pudding. Freezing your own fruit and veggies is also something I do alot. Sometimes you just don’t use something up before it’s about to go off so just chop it up, stick it in a freezer bag and throw it in to freeze. This is also the ideal thing to do when your favourite fruits and veggies are on offer or if you get stuff when it’s reduced at the end of the day. Saving you money and time. Making big batches of things and freezing them is a well know time saver for busy people and of course this extends to busy vegan people. Make a big chilli or sauce or whatever and freeze it for later. Quick, simple, healthy, cheap and vegan what more could you want?

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5- Transition products over slowly

Cosmetics, lotions, clothes, toothpaste, washing up liquid- these things amongst others can sadly not be vegan. A quick google search on a product or brand should tell you if it’s vegan and cruelty free. If you own products that are not vegan then don’t panic! You don’t need to up and throw away everything you own. Transition slowly and in a way that works for you. Use up any cosmetics and household products that you have that may not be vegan then just replace them with vegan versions when they are finished. If you can afford to donate your leather shoes to a charity shop and buy yourself some new faux leather shoes then do so but if you can’t afford to then continue wearing them until they wear out or you an afford to replace them. The same applies to any wool or silk items you may own.

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Always remember that veganism isn’t about perfection- it’s about trying your best. The Vegan Society defines veganism as being “a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.” 

I’m working on a sort of vegan master post full of my favourite vegan brands, products, food, places etc. I’m not sure whether that’s going to be one massive post or a series or what yet so please let me know what you think in the comments. Also let me know if this list was helpful to you and feel free to share any of your own tips.

Toodles.

Pink Hair Don’t Care- Colourful Dyed Hair FAQ

People ask me about my hair alot. I mean I do kinda look like a My Little Pony so I can understand why. Maintaining colourful hair can be a tricky thing so I thought it would be a nice idea to write a post dedicated to my personal hair tips and tricks. All of these questions are ones I have been asked in the past but if there’s any you have that I don’t answer then leave them in the comments and I will get back to you.

What is your natural hair colour?

Naturally I have incredibly dark brown hair with the slightest tinge of auburn. I have to bleach my hair first in order to attain the colour I want.

What bleach do you use and how often do you bleach your hair?

I used to get my roots bleached at the hair dressers when I could afford it and would 100% recommend you do this if you can afford it, especially if this is your first experience with bleach. However now I am a student and don’t have a job any more I can’t afford to do this so I use Live Colour XXL Max Blonde 00B (which is for dark hair, 00A is for lighter hair). I find this easy to apply, it’s pretty cheap and it does the job. I also love the conditioner they provide in the box, it leaves my hair feeling soften than it was before I bleached it! I tend to wait until my roots are pretty long before I bleach them because it takes a while to do. I have been known to wait 6 months between bleaches because I don’t mind rocking my roots however every 2 months would avoid that. The key is to not bleach bits that have already been bleached because that damages the hair. Another tip to keep bleached hair in good condition is to avoid heat as much as possible. Keep straightening and blow-drying to a minimum and use good conditioner.

What colour/brand of hair dye do you use?

I’ve only ever used Directions because it is available locally (and on Amazon if you don’t have a local retailer). Through the years I’ve used most of their colours however my favourite pink shade is Cerise. I’ve also mixed Rose Red with Carnation Pink to create a similar shade and have been know to dabble in Flamingo Pink. Cerise starts of really rich, almost purpley then fades to a lovely bright pink before going to a soft candyfloss shade. I like dyes that fade nicely because I actually hate dying my hair so like to leave as long as possibly (usually 2 months) between applications. I also love that you can combine the colours with conditioner to lighten the shade, I’ve experimented with this in the past when mixing colours and it works really well.

How do you maintain the colour?

Honestly my main tip is to not wash your hair that often. I know this isn’t feasible for everybody, I am lucky enough to have the sort of hair that only really needs washing once a week. However this tip can apply to anyone- if you wash your hair daily maybe try every other day or even once ever three days. It all helps. Trying to wash your hair with cooler water also helps maintain colour for longer. The care products you use will also effect the longevity of your colour but I will talk about that more in my next question. One tip I have tried in the past is to mix a tiny bit of the dye in with your conditioner so that every time you wash your hair you are slightly topping up the colour. This is effective but can be a little messy so I don’t bother any more.

What products do you use on your hair? 

I use Superdrug’s Revitalising Raspberry & Macadamia Nut Shampoo and Conditioner when washing my hair. My hair really likes it so I’ve been using the same stuff regularly for about a year now. It’s formulated especially for coloured hair so that’s always a good sign. It makes my hair super soft, smells amazing and is only £1.99 a bottle! Amazing products for the price. After washing my hair I always use Alterna Bamboo Colour Care UV Fade-Proof Fluide whilst it is still damp. This adds loads of shine and super smoothness to my hair. It may be a little pricey but trust me- a little goes a long way. I have had the same tube for at least a year. Occasionally I will give my hair a little treat and use Alterna Bamboo Colour Protection Deep Hydration Mask on my hair. I tend to use this if it’s been partially sunny and my hairs feeling a little dry, it perks it up perfectly. I keep meaning to try some on Lush’s hair treatments and masks too, I will let you know how that goes. Dry shampoo is your friend to help perk hair up between washes without fading the colour. I usually use the Batiste Dry Shampoo in Blush because it’s easy to get hold of and smells lovely. I am planning on trying the new Colab range as well after I smelt one my sister had and was blown away.

I hope this has answered some questions for you. Feel free to leave any more questions or any of your own tips in the comments section. Oh, if you hadn’t already guessed all of the hair accessories worn in the selfies are from Crown and Glory.

Toodles.