How to find second-hand treasures on a charity shop crawl

How to find second-hand treasures on a charity shop crawl
At the Thrift on the Fifth charity-shop crawl are Paula Burns with her €8 Cos dress, from Age Action, Camden St, Dublin; left, Kat Carrolland her pair of Levi’s flares; and right, Joanne McWey, Kildare, with her €10 vintage suitcase. Picture: Moya Nollan

Katrina Carroll is known for her Thrift on the Fifth charity-shop crawls, as she goes in search of second hand treasures. Paula Burns tags along to see how it all works

I have never been one to rummage through charity shops in the hope of finding fashion’s holy grail. A shop filled with sales rails is my version of fashion hell and I tend to view charity shops in the same light. However, since I began following Katrina Carroll of @vintageirishkat on Instagram over a year ago, my curiosity — and, I’ll admit, want — for a bargain has been aroused.

With sustainability and the growth of awareness in how fast fashion is not only detrimental to our individuality, but, more importantly, the environment, I got to thinking maybe it was time to change my shopping ways.

As if by faith, Katrina posted that she was doing another charity shop crawl, or, as she has so aptly named it, ‘Thrift on the Fifth’ — the catchy title has remained despite date changes. Its aim is to introduce people to the sartorial wonderland of shopping in charity shops. Katrina puts the call out to her 28.1k followers inviting them to join her in a day of shopping for pre-loved pieces.

“I started ‘Thrift on the Fifth’ because I think anybody can buy second hand,” explains Katrina, “I love seeing the excitement in people when they find something — and if it converts just one person from my followers, I’d be delighted.”

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Don’t you just LOVE a day to get all dressed up 😍 dress is old from @Asos but I do think it’s still on the site its from a brand called @nobodyschild , blazer is vintage from littlewoods found @ncbi_retail belt is from one of my fav charity shops @svpterenure , shoes are old from @Asos again and orange clutch is from @etsyuk I love mixing vintage with modern it always gives that extra special look! Looking forward to a busy weekend ahead ❤️ have a great one guys 😘 #sustainablefashion #sustainability #myfashionstyle #mystylediary #ootd #wiwt #fwis #myoutfit #vintagestyle #vintageclothing

A post shared by Katrina Carroll (@vintagestylebykat) on

This time round I joined Katrina, and around 15 other women, in the hope of being converted. The route began in Rathmines, finishing in George’s St in the centre of Dublin, giving us about 10 shops to hit. Before I set off, following one of Katrina’s top tips, I made a list of what I hoped to find.

“Write a list of what you are looking for. Today I’m looking for a pair of flares. I’ve also taken a screenshot of a few looks from Zara that I want to recreate and so I’ll be on the lookout for them,” explains Katrina.

Harking back to my teenage years, I, too, was on the hunt for flares and, more importantly, a dress for an upcoming event. Anything extra would be a bonus. My inner style snob had to be reminded to be open-minded and patient.

How to find second-hand treasures on a charity shop crawl

However, my tendency to covet what others have was put to the test when, three shops in, Kat found the perfect pair of Levi flares. They fit her like a glove and were only €6! While I smiled through my envy, I realised being quick is a necessity.

The jealousy was short-lived as I soon found what I was looking for in the form of a coral pink dress from Cos for just €8.50. I initially fell for the colour and funky skirt shape. I wasn’t too pushed on the fit of the top of the dress, but, with a little tweaking, I knew I could style it to suit the look I wanted. And for under a tenner, it would have been a crime against fashion to leave it behind.

Other purchases included a wool mini and a Coca-Cola 80s t-shirt for €6.50 each and a faux alligator skin bag from Zara for €8.50. I will admit I thought the bag was a little pricey but I soon came back to reality, realising not only was it a bargain but the money goes to charity. This is the definition of guilt-free shopping. For less then €30 I had bought an entire haul that would make any influencer swoon.

Over the course of the day, Katrina’s love for vintage shone through. She set up her Instagram account back in 2016 when she had first bought her house. Originally just interiors based, over the years Katrina began to show off her charity shop finds.

“I started bringing in the odd post on the second-hand clothes I’d buy. I wanted to show that with your home and your style you can be more individual and not always having to follow trends,” says Katrina.

I love to see people put their own spin on things. I think younger people are too influenced by the Kardashians and the easy access to swiping up to buy fast fashion.

Over the years Katrina, has found an array of pre-loved treasures, probably enough to set up her own vintage shop. There’s one item in particular that stands out. “The green leather jacket I’m wearing today is one of my favourite vintage pieces,” explains Katrina. “It’s from the ’70s, my mam’s friend gave it to me when I was 16 and I love that I’ve had it that long and that it has a story before I owned it.”

A day of shopping with Katrina has me converted. I’ll definitely be joining her on her next Thrift on Fifth.

To keep in the loop check out her Instagram @vintageirishkat.

Five helpful tips to charity shop purchases

    1: Take your time — Look thoroughly through all the rails to find the best pieces.

    2: Try things on — This is the only way you will know if things fit or suit you.

    3: Take pictures — If you see something online that you like, take a picture and try to recreate the look with charity shop finds.

    4: Shop with the seasons — The beginning of a new season is usually when people declutter and donate, so you will find the best stuff.

    5: Write a list — Know what you’re looking for, preparation is key

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