Hannah Elliman, aka blogger Paloma in Disguise, knows everything there is to know about second-hand shopping. Here, she shares her top tips – and some of her favourite #FoundInOxfam buys


I began second-hand shopping at a young age. I’d been to London for the day and somehow ended up in the vintage corner of a high street shop. From that moment on, I was obsessed.

I loved that not all the items were the same. The clothes seemed so much more sparkly, more unique and more exciting.

I just didn’t know what I was going to find. When I went home, I searched for my local second-hand shops – one of them was Oxfam.

On my first trip I bought a paisley ‘90s dress. Next it was an oversized shirt, then a black shoulder bag with cherries on. Before I knew it, I had a wardrobe full of Oxfam. Years on and not much has changed!

As well as being creative and fun, another thing I love about charity shopping is that it means you can be a bit more eco. 38 million new items of clothing are bought each week in the UK and 11 million items end up in landfill. By shopping second-hand we can reduce waste and stop incredible clothes, which took time, craftmanship and resources to make, going to landfill unnecessarily.

Another thing I love about charity shopping is that it means you can be a bit more eco

So, without further ado, I thought I’d share my best tips for making second-hand shopping a breeze. And here they are…

5 Top Tips For Charity Shopping By Second-Hand Style Expert Paloma In Disguise

Tip 1: Visit often

The nature of charity shops, you never know when someone your size, with a great wardrobe, has dropped off a whole load of loveliness. The more you visit, the more likely you are to find things. By going fairly often (read: a lot!)
I’ve found an embellished top for New Year’s Eve, a black midi dress convenient for every single day of my life, and a glitterball of a jumper that dresses up even the most casual outfits. The term ‘right place, right time’ was invented for charity shopping, I’m sure!

Tip 2: Don’t forget the accessories

I should listen to my own advice here. I’m first to the rail of dresses in all charity shops. It’s like I’m on a mission – and that mission is to rummage through Every Single Dress. Before I know it, it’s time to leave and I walk straight out past the basket FULL of bargain belts.
When I’ve had my eye on the ball I’ve found amazing belts, necklaces and bags over the years that are a fraction of their original price. Charity shop bargains at their absolute best.

Tip 3: Try a little DIY…

Sometimes, charity shopping can be daunting in that it’s unlikely you’re going to find exactly what you’re after.
However, that doesn’t stop you buying something similar and adapting it a little. Hems can be taken up and waistbands can be taken in.
One of my most-worn Oxfam dresses was a denim button front dress which was originally so long that I would have had a denim train had I left it. After cutting the hem off to suit me better, it’s still the dress I go to for a little effortless, comfortable dressing.

Tip 4: Be open-minded

Another thing I’m a repeat offender of. Someone will tell me they picked something up from Oxfam. Next time I’m in there, I will be scouting out for that particular item. Chances are, it won’t be there!
By looking for specific items, you can miss things that, with a little thought, can be slotted into your wardrobe perfectly.
By trying on a few pieces you wouldn’t normally go for, and thinking up a few outfits to incorporate them into, you can find new favourites you could’ve missed.

Trying on a few pieces you wouldn’t normally go for – you can find new favourites

Tip 5: Go with a friend

This tip goes with Tip 4. I find that by shopping with a friend, I am more open to trying things I wouldn’t have tried had I been mooching around by myself. By discussing items I’m unsure of, my friends can often provide outfit combinations I wouldn’t have thought of, or prompt me to try on clothes I may have dismissed. It’s usually these things I end up loving that little bit more.


And that’s it. Five charity shopping tricks I always use to ensure I don’t miss any second-hand bargains. I wish you good luck as you scour the shops for those hidden gems!


Enjoyed Hannah’s top tips? Put them into practice – head to your local Oxfam or shop online!


And to read more from Hannah, check out her Instagram

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