17 ingenious tips from an eco-friendly fashion blogger who rarely spends more than £2 a go on her clothes

by Adrian J. Elliott | Tuesday, Oct 2, 2018 | 878 views

But one fashion blogger is proof that love for new trends doesn’t have to come at a cost to the environment.

Louise Croft has been ‘thrifting’ since the age of 19 and knows a thing or two about how to stay on top of fast fashion. In fact, Croft only ever shops at charity stores and has a strict spending limit of £5 every time she goes clothes shopping.

“Most items I buy are either £1 or £2,” says the 26-year-old who now works as a charity shop consultant. Here are her secrets on how to snap up a bargain without racking up a huge carbon footprint.

1. Start slow and small
Fashion blogger Louise Croft.
(Pauper to Princess)
The question is where do you start? How do you go about buying clothes that have been worn by other people and don’t look drab by the time they reach your hands?

“If you are a beginner, I would say start off in more posh areas,” says Croft. “Stick to the ‘high end’ national charities where everything in there will be clean and in great condition.

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“And go as a group – it can be a really fun day out with girls as you’ll find a mixture of hilarious vintage and gorgeous current season outfits.

“Once you start getting the hang of it, you can be a bit more bold and try car boot sales or jumble sale shops.”

2. Learn to spot the things you want

Believe it or not, charity shops often stock items from the current season – you just need to learn to look. And while it might be a bit daunting at first, you soon learn to scan your eyes quickly and spot the things you want.

“You do get good at browsing the rails quite quickly,” says Croft. “And the things you like will jump out at you.”

But the hard part isn’t deciding whether you want to buy the outfit you are holding in your hand – it’s finding that hidden gem tucked away amongst a sea of other second-hand clothing.

“The real imagination comes from what to pick out from the mash,” says Croft. But don’t worry though, Croft says people usually get a hang of it quite quickly.

3. Visit thrift stores regularly
Fashion blogger Louise Croft.
(Pauper to Princess)
If staying on top of the latest trends mean a lot to you, visit thrift stores as often as you can. Believe it or not, you can still be trendy, even if you buy from charity shops.

“Fast fashion is actually slower than you think,” says Croft. “Although most stores have eight collections a year, the trends seem to overlap a lot.

“People are shopping at a rapid pace and as a result, the charity shops are keeping up quite well.

“I often find things at charity shops that are current season or season just gone.”

4. Keep an eye out for investment pieces

Trends may come and go, but certain things will stand the test of time.

“There are items that never go out of style… like blazers or jeans,” says Croft.

So if you’ve spotted a good-quality tailored jacket or an amazing fur coat, snap it up asap!

5. Make a wish list of all the things you want
Fashion blogger Louise Croft.
(Pauper to Princess)
Not all charity shops are super-organised with their items. And that means you might end up browsing items that you don’t want. But this is where planning comes in handy.

“I have a mental wish list of the perfect shirt, or something I have seen in a magazine, that I always keep an eye out for,” says Croft.

“Sometimes I end up buying something that’s on my list or not buy anything at all. But the list is always at the back of my mind. It helps me stay focused.”

6. Figure out which brands work for you
Fashion blogger Louise Croft.
(Pauper to Princess)
Although not label-conscious herself, Croft believes sticking to your favourite brands at thrift stores often helps you buy something you will actually wear.

“I am not a hugely label-conscious person, but I do keep an eye on things,” says Croft. “I don’t have too many designer items because even if they are cheaper than the original retail price, they are still expensive.

“Although having said that, my favourite item in my wardrobe is my Moschino belt that I got in America. I was convinced it was fake when I bought it, but I when I looked at all the markings on it, it turned out to be real!”

Croft says she only paid a fiver for the belt. Keeping an open mind certainly helps!

7. Set yourself a shopping limit
Fashion blogger Louise Croft.
(Pauper to Princess)
Like most uncontrollable shopping sprees, thrift shopping can often get out of hand. Which is why Croft suggests setting a strict budget and following it.

“My official limit is £5,” says Croft who shops almost every week.

8. Experiment and get creative

Fast fashion isn’t sustainable. But if you buy something you like from a thrift store, wear it a few times and take it back to the charity shop, you are doing your environment a good turn.

“I love playing with fashion and being creative,” says Croft. “I like wearing things a couple of times and experimenting with the clothing.

“But I buy everything from charity shops or thrift stores so it doesn’t have all the unethical bounce-back.

“It’s also a great opportunity to try and experiment with something that’s out of your comfort zone at a very low cost.”

Fashion blogger Louise Croft.

9. Donate what you don’t wear
Fashion blogger Louise Croft.
(Pauper to Princess)
One man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure.

“I typically buy things from a charity shop for a couple of pounds and donate it back again,” says Croft. “I don’t often sell things on, I see it as a way to support the charity.”

It’s also a great way to reduce your carbon footprint!

10. Learn a bit of DIY

Adding embellishments to a drab top or taking the sleeves out of a dress can give them a new lease of life.

“I used to do a lot more DIY stuff and alterations at uni when I had the time,” says Croft who admits her busy worklife means she now only buys clothes that fit her.

“Altering things is actually easier than people think and there are great tutorials online.

“And of course, it is especially great if you love the piece a lot and you are willing to spend time on it to bring it up-to-date.”

11. Check everything you buy
Fashion blogger Louise Croft.
(Pauper to Princess)
This is one thing Croft says you should NEVER ignore. Go through every inch of the clothing before you decide you want to buy it.

“Check the seams, the collar and armpits because that’s where the damage will be,” Croft says.

“Most charities – like Oxfam – will try and do that anyway but if you are at a car boot sale, you need to be more careful about checking for stains or damage.”

12. Don’t bother with the sizes

“Ignore size completely because sizes have changed so much over the time,” says Croft.

“I can just about fit into a vintage 12, but I would wear a high-street eight. Sizes have definitely changed a lot over time.”

Charity shops stock clothing of all ages, shapes, sizes and brands, and that means you have to judge the fit by looking at the item.

“My wardrobe ranges from six to 16 – depending on how I want to wear it. So definitely try your outfit on before buying it.”

13. Go thrifting while travelling
Fashion blogger Louise Croft.
(Pauper to Princess)
“Charity shopping is a big part of my travel,” says Croft. “Everywhere I go, I visit local charity shops.

“Also, I really love thrifting when I travel because it takes you to areas where you wouldn’t normally find yourself in that are not so touristy.”

You also get to pick up unique items no one else will have in their wardrobes back at home.

14. Touch the clothes to get a feel for the quality
Fashion blogger Louise Croft.
(Pauper to Princess)
“One of my favourite tips is actually to touch all the fabric,” says Croft.

“You will be able to spot a designer or an expensive item quite quickly because it feels so much nicer.”

15. Avoid buying whites
Fashion blogger Louise Croft.
(Pauper to Princess)
“I generally avoid white because they lose their magic after a few washes,” says Croft. “If I want a T-shirt or a crisp white shirt, I will buy them new.”

Croft also suggests to steer clear of swimwear, underwear and shoes.

“I also avoid buying shoes because they wear in to the owner’s gait. It can bad for your knees if you are wearing shoes with someone else’s stance.”

16. Carry a tape measure

Not all charity shops will have fitting rooms so it’s worth having a tape measure on you.

“Lots of charity shops have a tape measure behind the counter if you ask them for one,” says Croft.

“Even if they don’t have a fitting room, I would recommend trying over what you are wearing or holding it up to try and get a sense of the fit.”

17. Master the “neck trick”
Fashion blogger Louise Croft.
(Pauper to Princess)
Jeans are probably the hardest to buy, but if you’ve found a gorgeous pair you desperately want but don’t have any means to try it on, Croft suggests doing “the neck test“.

“Hold the jeans buttoned up as if you are looking at them,” says Croft. “Then place the jeans around your neck so that the legs are coming down in front of you.

“If the waist band touches at the back of your neck and doesn’t feel tight, the jeans will fit on your waist perfectly. It sounds like an odd cheat but it has worked really well for me.

“I often use the trick with skirts or trousers and you can even try it with the waistline of dresses.”

To know more about ethical fashion, check out Croft’s blog Pauper to Princess and her YouTube channel.

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