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Mother and daughter clothes shopping

Survive January: How to look good for less

We spend an average of £70.94 per month on our appearance, according to BBC Woman’s Hour - although women clock up £5 or so more than men (£73.47 vs £68.30). 

This may sound like a surprising amount but if you add up everything you spend, including on things like hair appointments and make-up, you could be looking at the same.

With a grand total of around £850 a year, could you look at cutting back on your fashion and beauty spending?

Top three charity shopping tips

Charity shopping is a great way to stay in fashion without having to break the bank.

We asked fashion blogger Pauper to Princess to come up with her top three charity shopping tips for you. Pauper to Princess never spends more than £5 on her clothes – could you set yourself the challenge of doing the same? Even if it was just for a month, you could be surprised at the changes it could make.

Pauper to Princess’s tips:

1. Start looking early - second hand shopping is all about going little and often. If you go looking for the perfect little black dress that's bound to be the day you find the perfect cropped jeans - leave yourself open to fate and allow plenty of time before the big day.

2. Go to a dense charity shop area - most charity shops tend to gather together, so if you find a street with several on you've got much higher chances of hitting the jackpot. Either head to a wealthy area for little-worn designer cast offs, or a cheaper area for mega bargains and some hidden gems.

3. Try everything on - sizing has changed a lot over the years so I buy anything from a size 6-14. Be open minded and try things on to test the fit and cut. But most of all - have fun and be fabulous!

Save money on fashion and beauty

Still tempted to go sales shopping? Take a look at what is in your wardrobe first. Are there any old favourites you’d forgotten about? Fashion can be very cyclical, so it’s likely something you’ve thrown to the back of your wardrobe is sneaking back into vogue.

Instead of replacing something, consider whether you could repair it instead. Things like re-soling your shoes can be relatively cheap and give a new lease of life to something you’ve forgotten about.

Consider buying online as well. Always have a budget in mind before you start, but this can be a great way to get clothes on the cheap as long as you factor in delivery costs too. A car boot sale could also be worth a rummage too.

Look at the care labels of clothes before you spend as well. If something is dry-clean only, consider whether you really want it enough to pay for the extra care costs.

If you are looking to save money on hair products or make-up, consider the brands you are using. Much like food and drink, you could make real savings by downgrading or by using vouchers. Do you really need that salon-bought shampoo?

What do you think?

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  • vanessa / 10 February 2016

    very helpful, appreciated

  • Jason Bowden-King / 28 January 2016

    Men want to look good for less too you know!

  • Pat Higgins / 25 January 2016

    I've been shopping for clothes from charity shops for decades and have found some real bargains. I agree it's important to set a budget first otherwise it's easy to overspend. I recently found a great picture in a charity shop so it's not just clothing you can find, but ornaments and bric-a-brac too.

  • Sandie / 25 January 2016

    Having worked in a few different charity shops years ago, i can't say where all the profits go as I don't know...i do know it's mostly the low paid staff or the voluntary staff that have the dirty jobs to do and you rarely see the owners of the shops.
    I have had some lovely things donated and also some disgusting things too.

    i can say thou that the buzz of finding a item when shopping in charity shops makes me smile and hoping my money does make a difference to someone is worth it.
    i donate as well and hope you all feel as proud as me when you donate / purchase too, we are teaching the next generation that giving can be rewarding and charity should benefit.

  • JulieB / 24 January 2016

    I love charity shops because I know what suits me and can never find anything I like in the main shops. Getting a colour/style analysis done (for £65 20 years ago) has saved me a fortune in not buying things that don't suit me. I found out I have short arms and don't bother buying long sleeve blouses any more (or belts as I am a typical apple shape!). Charity shops are great these days and I too never spend more than £5 on an item including handbags, unless it's a coat which are usually around £8. It also means that when I have had enough of it I can give it back to charity! Win Win.

  • Elizabeth Tudor-Wiliams / 24 January 2016

    Being an older lady of leisure, I have a wealth of time to look for sartorial treasure in charity shops. Also rock bottom end of sales are useful eg: a stylish Italian dress, down from £150 to £20 + a further 10% off! Worthwhile popping in at the very end of a sale.
    In a charity shop a Phase 8 skirt:£1.99, a very pretty casual zip Joules jacket £4.00. Some Jacques Vert shoes obviously worn once for a wedding - £1. 99.

    Shopping like this certainly brings down the "Price per wearing" I wonder how many folk anticipate this calculation before making a purchase?

  • Mandy Holmes / 20 January 2016

    To all that think there is some sort of conspiracy within the Charity Retail Sector - Charity shops exist for one reason, to make money for that Charity. Incredibly hard work to raise much needed funds for incredibly good causes.
    Yes, the pricing increases slightly year on year, this happens across all sectors, always has, always will and Charity Retail is no different. You hear the same complaint over and over, ‘prices are too high, considering the charities have reduced Rates and get the stuff they are selling for free’! A very ignorant and closed minded comment indeed.
    Charity Shops have to pay costs for the shop to even exist beyond Rates. Shop Managers and Assistant Shop Managers Salaries (below national average pay). Most Managers in the Charity Sector get paid for a 35 hour week but work in excess of this, some by up to 20 hours, completely free fuelled purely by a passion for the great causes they are helping.
    Tea, coffee, even loo roll is the very least that each Charity Shop offers the wonderfully hard working Volunteers, which again costs. Not to mention - reasonable - travel costs.
    Not forgetting the upkeep of the shop, cleaning materials and tools, window cleaner, repairs, rubbish removal which can very often include larger items that have been ‘donated’ rather than tipped. Health and Safety and Fire Safety checks by independent companies to ensure standards are met, insurances, refits, office equipment, and the list goes on.
    And the greatly appreciated donations aka ‘free stuff’ all needs processing taking many hours of sorting, organising, quality checking, cleaning and making presentable, pricing before they are even put on display for sale. Costs to enable this are hangers, steamer, pricing tickets, pricing guns, pricing gun attachments, stickers, gloves, aprons, stationary, sorting tables and so on. It all costs the Charity!
    Let’s face it, the quality of items has greatly improved over the years and the pricing reflects this. With most Charity Shops, you will have the opportunity to purchase a quality item at a fraction of the RRP, yes the item is ‘second hand’ BUT the item is in brilliant knick and in most cases looks brand new.
    At the end of the day, try looking at it from a slightly different angle, that little bit extra you pay for each item is helping the charity continue with the fantastic work they do in helping others. NOT lining some fat-cat’s pocket as with ‘standard/High Street Retail’.
    A small price to pay in helping those less abled and vulnerable – which is a far cry from ‘greed!’
    Rant over…x

  • Dawn Smith / 20 January 2016

    I have been looking at eBay for makeup, before Christmas MaxFactor had two eyeshadow and brow sets at £11 each, in a High Street Chemist, I found them both on eBay for a few pounds, even with the postage it didn't come to as much as one of them would have in the shops, I also look for my blusher £8.99 in the same Chemist, £5.00 on eBay, and mascara, waterproof, £8.00 in the Chemist, £from £4.00 on eBay, it pays to look, even single eye shadows, in colours I can't get on the High Street, I have paid £2.00 for instead of £5.00, give it a go, be prepared to spend time looking, and you will find all sorts of things, from unwanted gifts to end of line or out of season colours, with the postage too its still worth it, some have free P&P, which is even better still.

    I also look at clothes and shoes, I have had £30.00 Clarks shoes for £5.00, £13.00 at the most, and new unworn blouses for a few pounds with the tags still on, better than shop price, I have also purchased well known branded leather handbags for a fraction of the cost, some unused, others possibly used once or twice, I would soon find an item I want for less than have to save up for a full priced item.
    Give it a go, you would be surprised what you can find if you are prepared to look.

    Happy Bargain Hunting.

  • alexander / 20 January 2016

    charity shops are now getting gready,i don't trust them now they get all the items free,and on top of that they get low rates on their shops,and most people who work there do it for free, so there is a bit of scamming money off its plain to see somebody is making a lot of money out of those shops, and it don't all go to charity,the con men are taking over those shops slowly buy surely, its human nature, they all start with good intentions for charity but the gread takes over,have a look round the back of the shop and see what cars the have that will make you think,

  • Wendy / 19 January 2016

    little and often is the key to finding charity shop bargains .In a well to do area some of the prices may seem a little steep BUT you can get some otherwise wildly out of reach pieces.....my £30 CASHMERE DRESSING GOWN still with labels attached that would otherwise have been an absolutely unthinkable £230 ......worn every day now its cost per wear is so worth it !

  • carol hobson / 19 January 2016

    such good advice for those of us wishing to save a bob or two. Have had loads of bargains but a word of warning watch the pricing as you can spend 3.50 second hand but up the road its only £4 brand new!!

  • Mrs S Harrison / 19 January 2016

    I use charity shops often, and have had some real bargains in the past , however just recently I am finding charity shops charging far more than some new retail garments, I think they are beginning to overprice themselves out of the market very soon, I was in one the other day and they were charging £29.99 for a jacket! ok it were a sheepskin but it was not a designer one and was very obviously worn, so sorry but i find this far too much for second hand goods which at the end of the day has been donated for nothing to the store.

  • Colin ROSS / 19 January 2016

    Sadly charity shops cannot be trusted with donations or peoples money, before I consider a donation I want to know what the CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER'S salary is, I think all charities should publish want percentage of donations are given to charity.

  • simon / 18 January 2016

    sadly most charity shops these days are highly overpriced or just jumble sale clothing , , £5 for a poor quality headscarf from marks and spencer , that was oxfam

  • Jen / 18 January 2016

    I love charity shopping and also donating things (both used and unwanted gifts). From books to crockery, I've found fab things in charities all over the UK. I particularly have a soft spot for bric-a-brac... nothing more delightful than finding some quirky thing that you can put on your desk!

  • maria willis / 18 January 2016

    my hubby has bought 3 leather coat/jackets and I have bought 3 smashing jackets this year from charity stores, we love browsing through them you never know what you'll find. I also got a fabulous maxi dress for our 'steampunk' dress up for £3.00

  • Stephanie Glennie / 18 January 2016

    Cut your own hair - make do and mend with your clothes. Fashion be hanged! I find it hard to believe that someone could spend so much on their appearance: there are so many other more important mattters to attend to.

  • Andy / 18 January 2016

    I help out at the local branch of one of the major charities. They are there to raise funds; as much as possible. We have raised over £1000 in a week by selling on line. Yet the same stuff would have sold for half the price, or less, in the shop. Charities exist to support good causes. Most do this by raising funds. Yet people complain that they are getting greedy. They just can't win.

  • margaret / 17 January 2016

    I shop in charity shops all year round and I have had great bargains on wool coats for example. fashion shoes are barely worn and wedding hats are a fraction of the price. also you can find bargains in unused face creams sometimes expensive brands . lots of jewelry
    can be unusual or even new. It is a case of keeping an eye out for bargains and what you are looking for.

  • tricia / 17 January 2016

    My late Mum used to buy all her clothes from local charity shops, and I have also bought many clothes from charity shops. If people ask me 'where did you buy that?', I always reply 'from a boutique', giving them the impression that I spent a lot of money!. I go to my local one once a week, go and have a look, you never know what you will find!.

  • Jo Edwards / 17 January 2016

    Iv worked as a paid employee in charity shops for the past 10/11 years now. I would strongly recommend charity shopping:). as you can get excellent value for money!! and great choices, that are so random!. As for sizes!..completely agree! i tell all of my customers, to ignore what is on the label of the garments!, so long as the garment.. fits..is comfortable and looks good on you?..thats all that matters! especially..if you get a good brand/make..for a fraction of the origninal price!! everyone wins!:) Charity Shopping is the BEST!!:)...You never know what you may come across?..and if our customers are happy..then our charities are happy too!:)

  • Mary McGee / 17 January 2016

    I've bought some great bargains at charity shops. Go to a 'posh' area most of the stuff's rarely worn. Brilliant!

  • Hannah / 17 January 2016

    I liked this article as I have always been a keen bargain hunter. I am lucky that my local high street has 3 charity shops were everything is just £1. I have had everything from vintage to several discontinued lines that you can no longer buy in the shops and even designer samples. Just keep your eyes open you never know what you might find x

  • GILLIAN EDWARDS / 17 January 2016

    ABOUT MARIE WILSON I KNOW HER AND HER 3 KIDS VERY WELL THE WAY THE D W P HAVE TREATED HER ITS SHAMEFUL I WAS WITH MARIE WHEN THE JOBCENTRE SANCTIONED BENEFITS FOR BEING 10 MINS LATE FOR A JOBCENTRE INTERVIEW I TOLD HER ADVISER THAT I GAVE MARIE A LIFT AND THE REASON MARIE WAS LATE THE TRAFFIC WAS VERY BUSY HER ADVISER THEN TURNED TO MARIE AND TOLD MARIE THAT HER BENEFITS WERE BEING SANCTIONED THIS ANNOYED ME I POINTED OUT TO HER ADVISER THAT I WAS THE TRAFFIC THAT MADE MARIE LATE BY ONLY 10 MINS HER ADVISER TOLD ME TO KEEP MY NOSE OUT OF IT AND SHUT UP I GAVE MARIE ADVISER A PIECE OF MY MIND THEN MARIE ADVISER GOT A SECURITY GUARD WHO GOT ME BY THE ARM AND THROW ME OUT OF THE BUILDING I WAITED FOR MARIE TO LEAVE THE JOBCENTRE SHE WAS CRYING AS THE D W P HAD SANCTIONED HER BENEFITS FOR 12 MONTHS THAT WAS OCTOBER 2015 AND WHAT MARIE SAID IN HER COMMENTS ARE ALL TRUE SHE HAS NOT HAD A PROPER MEAL IN MONTHS I HAVE HELPED HER BEST I CAN WITH HER ELECTRIC BILL I HAVE ALREADY TAKEN HER TO OUR LOCAL CAB OFFICE THEY HAVE TRIED HARD FOR MARIE TRYING TO GET THE BENEFIT SANCTION LIFTED BUT THE D W P WILL NOT MOVE ON THIS ONLY TODAY MARIE HAD A LETTER TELLING HER THAT HER HOUSING BENEFIT HAD BEEN STOPPED SHE ALSO GOT A LETTER FROM HER LANDLORD TELLING HER THAT HE WANTS HIS RENT PAID BY THIS MONDAY 18/01/16 THAT MEANS MARIE AND HER 3 KIDS COULD ME WALKING THE STREETS OF EAST LONDON NEXT WEEK I KNOW THAT MARIE HAS NO LIVING RELATIONS AND THE CHILDRENS FATHER WAS KILLED IN A CAR CRASH ABOUT A YEAR A GO I JUST HOPE THAT MARIES LUCK CHANGES FOR HER AND THE KIDS IF I HAD THE SPACE I WOULD TAKE THEM ALL IN BUT MY PLACE IS JUST TO SMALL TO DO THAT I JUST HOPE TOWER HAMLETS COUNCIL FIND THEM A PLACE TO STAY AS I KNOW HER LANDLORD VERY WELL AND HE WILL EVICT THEM IF MARIE CANT PAY THE RENT HOPE SOMEONE OUT THERE CAN HELP MARIE OR OFFER HER AND HER KIDS SAVE PLACE TO LIVE

    ADMIN: Hi Gill, We've emailed you with some information on where is best to go for local free debt advice, and Marie separately as well. I hope this helps.

  • ted shepherd / 16 January 2016

    my wife works in a charity shop and is amazed at what some women throw out. Never worn designer label clothes regularly get donated. Not forgetting shoes and hnadbags

  • JB JONES / 16 January 2016

    CHARITY SHOPS NOW ALL LOOK LIKE BOUTIQUES AND ARE OVER PRICED IN MOST CASES - NOTHING LIKE THE OLD RUMMAGE SHOPS WE USED TO HAVE ON THE HIGH STREETS. WE HAVE SEVEN CHARITY SHOPS IN TOWN AND THANKS TO MARY PORTAS NOT MUCH ELSE.

  • CAB Adviser / 16 January 2016

    Marie, if your circumstances are as described I'd urge you to get in touch with your local Citizens Advice Bureau or the Welfare Rights team at your local council as soon as possible. If you've been sanctioned you can challenge the DWP's decision (very few people do but the success rate is quite high) and apply for Hardship Payments via your local JobCentre, but there's likely to be other help available for you and your kids as well, whether via the DWP, HMRC, the local authority or even local / national charities. Child benefit for three children is £48.10 per week but if that's your only source of income and have no savings to fall back on then it doesn't matter who you are or how careful you are being with your money, you're going to struggle. Both CABx and Welfare Rights can offer you expert, free, impartial and confidential advice and assistance that will hopefully help to make things that little bit easier for your family. It's never too late to ask for help!

  • Daisy / 16 January 2016

    I was a volunteer in a local childrens hospice charity shop and know that after sorting that some shops are more selective than others - we were advised by our excellent manageress that anything with missing buttons broken zips or smelling a little unsavoury were instantly put in the 'rag bin' as money was made from 'rags'. Often there are wealthy patrons who bring in superb unworn or little worn items and they are the ones to look for- everything was steamed and presented well. I do Charity Shop but tend to prefer the ones that are clearly 'pressed' or 'steamed' but local usually but not always reflects the area, often the overstock is moved on to another branch of the shop so surprising finds are anywhere and everywhere, Happy hunting - its the most worthwhile afternoon browsing Charity Shops. And, don't forget to look at the Books.

  • Colin T / 16 January 2016

    To be blunt, some of the big name Charity shops are pricing themselves out of the market.
    Almost all of these have a professional,salaried, manager now. But just how professional they actually are is open to debate when it comes to pricing. £7.50 for a good pair of Levis jeans is fine. £7.50 for a pair of Tesco Jeans that actually cost less than that new is not. £2 for an unchecked jigsaw puzzle is ok, £3.50 - £4 for an unchecked puzzle that turns out to have 6 missing pieces is not. Often the best buys can be found in smaller [local charity] charity shops. Recently in a small local charity shop that raises funds for a local Hospice i found a brand new and boxed pair of mens 'ecco' brand shoes in my size. Asking price £5. Now all my shoes are this brand and i knew that the shoes they were selling cost over £100 so i told them that they were selling them far too cheaply and gave them £15 instead, which still made them a great bargain. for me. We actually have one small charity shop locally that does not price anything, they say give us what you think the item is worth to you. Apparently it works quite well in this particular area.

  • Pat Mason / 16 January 2016

    Yes you can get real bargains in Charity shops but please be nice and remember that all donations are given by people who have had experience of illness or want to help that charity raise funds. Donations are given for money to be raised and it's up to a manager, who will have her company guidelines, to put a price on them. So, next time you pick up a designer dress in a charity shop, remember, they aren't on the high street to give you something for nothing so don't ask for the price to be dropped, or, even worse, complain that it's much to expensive and 'I could buy it cheaper in Tesco!'
    I speak from experience!!! Good Luck.

  • jean barlow / 16 January 2016

    I agree about charity shops getting greedy. Also true about being dearer than Primark. Their usual excuse is "well its all for charity". I worked in a charity shop for 5 years and the prices we charged had to be based on the London branches,. here in Lancashire prices overall are much cheaper, the Manager would not be moved and we ended up with lots of unsold stock, which we had to sell off at much lower prices. I now look to e bay for bargains.

  • MARIE WILSON / 16 January 2016

    I GET ALL MY CLOTHES FROM MY LOCAL CHARITY SHOP AS MY BENEFITS HAVE BEEN CUT I USE MY CHARITY SHOP MORE OFTEN AS I NEED CLOTHES TO WEAR WHEN I GO FOR JOB INTERVIEWS AND SOME TIMES I HAVE TO STEAL CLOTHES FROM THE CHARITY SHOP AS I JUST CANT AFFORD TO PAY FOR THEM AS I ONLY GET £40 A WEEK FOR ME AND MY 3 KIDS I FEED MY KIDS AND I GO WITHOUT FOOD AND JUST EAT WHAT THEY LEAVE ITS BAD WHEN I HAVE TO GO DOWN THE BINS AT MY LOCAL CO OP LOOKING FOR FOOD TO FEED MY KIDS I FELT BAD THIS CHRISTMAS DAY JUST GONE WHEN MY KIDS ASKED ME IF THEY HAD BEEN BAD AS SANTA NEVER LEFT THEM ENEY PRESENTS HOW CAN YOU TELL A 2 4 AND 5 YEAR OLD CHILD THAT MUMMY CANT AFFORD PRESENTS I TOLD THEM THAT SANTA LOST THERE ADDRESS AND HE PROMISED TO COME NEXT YEAR

    ADMIN: Hi Marie, I'm sorry to hear things are tough at the moment. There are places you can go to get free, confidential debt advice if you're struggling. Our debt advice locator tool helps you find debt advice local to you - https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/tools/debt-advice-locator

  • Jax / 16 January 2016

    Last week saw a table and six chairs for sale on Gumtree £250, loved it so much but the seller said it had to go by Christmas and I was two weeks too late. Called at my local charity shop earlier this week and it was in there for £55, bought it, love it and so does the rest of my family and friends. The other year I bought my Father a Burberry raincoat for £3.50 which was as new.. Have bought Jaeger jackets and designer bags. Go at least once a week to charity shops near me and always find at least one thing I love. I find St. Lukes usually have the best things.

  • catherine brown / 15 January 2016

    Some of the things i do regularly and then when i have a windfall i tend to forget until im skint again, so this year im changing everything and not buying anything unless absolutely necessary then it will be a trip to charity shop. So you have helped me refocus on saving.

  • Eddie. / 10 January 2016

    I always have a look in my local charity shops when I am passing them, and I have found lots of good bargains from clothing, children's toys, and kitchen utensils to electrical items and a really nice coffee table.
    Not all charity shop staff are voluntary workers. I recently applied for the position of F & E (furniture & electrical) Warehouse Operative, at a local British Heart Foundation store. The wages are comparable with other Warehouse jobs advertised in the area. So it's not a surprize that the shop prices have gone up compared to a few years ago. Still lot's of bargains to be had. Do not just walk passed, pop in and have a look. You never know what you will find, and whatever charity it's for it's always good to make a donation.

  • Sunny / 10 January 2016

    Hi! I think it a good idea to 'op shop' and have done so for a number of years, but I find that recently the charity shops are becoming almost as expensive as the main shops. It is sad to think that they are now charging more than shops like Primark where you can buy brand new clothes cheaper than in the charity shops. The charity shops are there to help the charities they support. They get the items free of charge, therefore they should be charging less. The people that work there are voluntary, so they don't have to pay out for staff. Maybe it's the people at the top that are getting high salaries which is the cause of the higher prices???

  • Marie McIntosh / 10 January 2016

    visit a local townMy friend and I visit our Ayr stores as we find their prices a little more expensive, their quality and labels are worth it.

  • Teena Saroonzadeh / 10 January 2016

    I have been visiting Charity shops for about 3 years now, it started by needing to replace several kitchen items and I bought glasses, serving dishes etc and I was hooked. I now visit the shops regulary and am thrilled when I find a bargain,Irecently bought a lovely leather handbag for £2 and a brand new top for £3.50 !

  • Sallie Mealing / 7 January 2016

    Brilliant ideas. Not just for January.

  • GALE STAGG / 6 January 2016

    GOOD

  • lynn / 5 January 2016

    my sister always shops in the charity shops and gets some real bargains when she needs a change she gives them back to the charity shop. I was real surprized at the quality things she gets and will be shopping there myself in the future.

  • Gail / 2 January 2016

    Good quality sweaters get sent to charity shops and sales in January/February because Christmas gifts push them out! Although some may need dry cleaning, cashmere actually improves with careful washing and makes the warmest, softest garments. it is SO expensive new, that it is always worth buying.

  • Clare / 1 January 2016

    I am going to be more patient and look more in charity shops for January and if successful I will continue . I did buy a jumper once but never wore it , this put me off .