Thrifting in style the London edition

January 1, 1970

by Serene Sea

When I made the leap and moved from Auckland to London City, everyone seemed to feel that I needed their 2 cents on how expensive living in London was. I agree that with the combination of rent, travel expenses and, of course, leisure, my wallet each month consists of more reciepts and bits of fluff than any savings. However, after living here for almost 2 years, working at a job I love moving homes over three times, I make ends meet each month – even after redecorating my room, adding to my wardrobe and trying a different restaurant.

Reminiscing about other holidays

Set up on the pavement along the boardwalk of Split, in Croatia, I had found local lavender soaps and prototypical postcards; like the mass souvenirs of Mannekin Pis in Brussels and intricate doilies beside Russian dolls in Budapest. Haggling for bargains on the streets at Seminyak, among selections of woven bracelets, Bintang beer singlets and funny impudent stickers.


Shopping is a hobby especially in company of travelling and I have relished in buying a part of the culture wherever I go. As well as finding marvellous pieces for myself, I find the utmost joy of also gifting treasures to friends and family when I see something perfect for them. It is also meaningful when the thought of spending money on buying things have a larger and positive reaction, I’m talking about movements along the lines of Trade Aid back in my home country in New Zealand as well as charity stores in the United Kingdom.

Recycle your lifestyle

If you search for a local charity store in London, you will more than likely find some of these nearby: Cancer Research, British Red Cross and Fara, just to name a few.

Every time I walk into a charity store I always find at least a piece of pre-loved clothing or accessory as well as a whole new outfit to add to my collection. I’ve found books – copies of novels I’ve had on my reading list, CD’s – a whole drum and bass set of 10 discs along with Fabriclive albums and all sorts of cute teapots and intricate vases, that would normally cost a fortune but at the price you could make up with loose change. The very thing about second-hand stores is that among the piles of one-off’s, you find treasures that you’d unlikely find in a general retail store. You will add to your wardrobe a collection of pieces which aren’t just “in-right-now” but pieces that you love that carry more value in character and sentiment!

There are fashion trends that can be dated but style is timeless and this is evident when you go into an antique store and see all the varied finds at high prices, that is why visiting a charity store is not only a beneficial way of helping others but also a great shopping experience as you never know what you may find. It is very gratifying being a part of a cycle where clothing and other bits & bobs are passed through household and individual, it is supporting a recyclable environment and also a bonus, profits go towards an important cause. I highly recommend that you conduct a spring clean and donate your unwanted clothing, accessories, household items etc. to whichever charity store is convenient for you. What belongings you have which are collecting dust could be a wonderful find for someone else.

One of my favourite hobbies is to visit charity stores in different cities, it is a real treat when I find something which is priceless to me for a price that goes towards aid and support. I had a great time scouring the streets in Edinburgh but found it a nightmare trying to squeeze everything in my luggage so ultimately my favourite charity stores are around London, where I now live.

While living in East Ham, I found a sexy red dress for Halloween and a cute pink hat (that scored me an equally cute cupcake one afternoon).


I found several different books by one of my favourite authors Paulo Coelho as well as timeless knee-length brown leather boots up in Edinburgh and I’ve also become a proud owner of a beautiful Karen Millen dress, which pulled me back only £2! Here are some photos of some of my favourite finds in England over the few months I’ve lived here…



Often I am enthusiastic to share with my colleagues the quirky bargains that I find and I often get asked how it is even possible to find a smart dress costing half the price of lunch! We discuss how sometimes when you walk into a charity store it is all luck dependent because there could be times when all the really lovely pieces have been snapped up. However, I don’t think it is all down to luck. Having the mindset of looking for something in particular when charity shop hunting will more than likely always fail – call it a jinx but the beauty of walking into a charity store entails you to find whatever you cross paths with in the store and how it makes you feel.

When I went hunting for something to wear, in my first year of Halloween in London, I was determined to find a little red riding hood costume. I went into three charity shops along the high street of East Ham and it wasn’t until I got to the third one and decided to just look for a nice dress in any colour, when a red lace one eventually caught my eye on one of the racks (and in my size!). The point is, I may have missed out on lots of things that could have helped with my outfit in the previous stores but as I was so fixated on finding one type of item I did not pay attention to any other aspect of my costume. Charity stores offer so much more opportunity in what you find and that is what shouldn’t be taken for granted!

My top charity stores around London

Lastly I will share with you some of my favourite charity stores/areas where you could potentially find you’re next best thing, good luck!


I love the stores which are situated in Angel and the one all the way down in Surbiton. The Surbiton branch has various cute novelty earrings like Tabasco sauce bottles and bowling pins. I purchased myself a beautiful peacock pair.


This charity store, in Kilburn, provides support for rehoming cats. After a week, they reduce many items even more so you can find the ultimate bargains. I have purchased amazing dresses from here, including my turquiose Karen Miller one, and all sorts of books and knick knacks.

Cancer Research

There is one on Putney High St and if you scope this area you will find a couple of more charity stores on the same street for you to find many goodies.

Isabel hospice

Just out of North London, find the quaint town of Hertfordshire and next door to Rosa’s cafe there is a big charity store. I have never seen so much variety at such bargains! Although not situated in London City, this one is worth the trip!

I hope you too discover the joys and magic of second hand shopping. I found so much confidence when I was able to buy smart clothes for my interview and new job when I first moved to London. Of course I was on a tight budget so by looking through charity stores, I didn’t have to worry about that side of things which put a huge relief in my life and I was able to enjoy so much more that life has to offer; in return I hope you find the same resourcefulness.

Serene Sea

By Serene Sea

I am a free-spirited, happy and energetic girl from New Zealand. Always on the look out for the next big adventure, I relish in nature, trying new cuisines and encouraging myself to dip my toes in the deep end. With years of experience in the events and wedding industry and embarking on project management studies, I strive to work towards a career of bringing together creative communities. My one year anniversary has come being a London-bound resident, I moved from Auckland for the Drum and Bass scene as well as the opportunity to travel Europe. I constantly reflect on my spiritual insights but also love being a carefree raver so I have met a spectrum of different encounters and people as I live, each day at a time!


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