I’m a bargain hunter but love looking expensive – here’s how to find designer pieces for cheap & what to fork out on | The Sun

IF you want a designer to look for bargain prices then get your pen and paper ready.

You can look posh and expensive without forking out loads of cash if you have a keen eye.

We spoke to Charity shop expert Monica Marriott-Mills for her top tips on shopping secondhand and how to make sure your pre-loved wardrobe looks expensive.

Monica started second hand shopping because her grandma was a vintage and second hand seller. From a young age Monica was learning the benefits of secondhand shopping and how to spot good bargains. 

Now 90% of Monica’s wardrobe pieces are pre-loved & it's full of designer items that Monica has nabbed for less than 70% of their original value. 

Monica’s motto is ‘Anyone can look expensive for less’

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The savvy shopper shares her top tips for finding the best designer pieces in charity shops for bargain prices. 

Shop ahead of the seasons

“Now is the time to start looking for spring and summer clothes. To find the best stuff you have to be ahead of the curve and you want to avoid panic buying. Start thinking about the types of items you want to wear, looking in retail stores can give you a good idea of what to look for.”

“Charity shops will be displaying their spring holiday wear and warmer office wear. Midi and maxi dresses will be on display and straw hats are trending again.”

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“You’ll find items made of lighter fabrics like linen and light weight cotton that will keep you cooler in the heat. Look for lighter blazers and linen trousers and light culottes.”  

Stock up on occasionwear 

“Occasionwear is very common in charity shops. This is because people usually buy an item to wear to an important event, then only wear it a few times before donating it.”

“Charity shops are one of the best places to find designer pieces, like fascinators and statement jewellery.” 


“Go for brands which have history and heritage, they are timeless for a reason.”

The fashion fan says charity shops will charge a bit more for classic items but they are so worth it and usually work with anything. 

“I always like to throw a wild cars every now and then.”

Classic items Monica says to look for which will elevate your wardrobe: 

  • Timeless crisp white shirts
  • Cashmere cardigans and jumpers
  • Linen palazzo pants
  • Occasion wear dresses
  • Well fitting blazers
  • Leather boots, bags and jackets
  • Trench coats in beige
  • Gold plated or solid gold jewellery
  • Learn your markings for silver, so that you can spot high quality jewellery!

The £1 Rule 

Monica has a handy £1 rule when shopping for bargain pieces in Charity shops. 

She said: “Value items by comparing the price with the amount of times you intend to wear the item.”

If you pick up a pair of Levi jeans valued at £20 while browsing then you should expect to wear that item at least 20 times. If you intend to wear it more than its £1 value, you know you're getting a good deal. 

Avoid fast fashion

“Avoid fast fashion in charity shops so brands like Shein and Primark. Usually none of the clothes they sell are high quality and once they have been worn they’re overall value is brought down. You're not likely to get much wear out of them as they are not designed to be worn multiple times.”

“Fast fashion isn’t always easy to spot. My general rule is that I don't buy anything that starts with ‘poly’ as this usually indicates it’s made up of plastic.”

A helpful list of fabrics to avoid when looking for clothes in Charity shops: 

  1. Acetate
  2. Acrylic
  3. Nylon.
  4. Polyester.

Instead go for natural materials like:

  • Cotton
  • Linen
  • Wool
  • Silk
  • Leather

“These will last much longer and don’t contain harmful plastics.”

True Vetting 

Monia says make sure you take your time when selecting an item from a charity shop. 

She said: “Vet everything, check the armpits, look for pilling snags and stains. Check the back and the front of the item. Most charity shops have their own quality control vetting process but some things do get missed.

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“If an item is selling for a really low price it might be because of a tear or missing button, so make sure you know what the deal is before you buy the item.”

You can find more of Monica’s helpful bargain hunting tips online or on her Instagram page. 

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