OP-ED | Thrifting : An Expert’s Guide

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Edited by: Asmah Mansur-Williams

In these uncertain post Brexit times, money isn’t something to be squandered away carelessly – shoppers need to learn to nap great pieces at cheaper prices, writes Silva Chege.

In this second part, Silva breaks down thrifting in a way that may get you addicted!  Click here to see the first part, a quiz made for your pocket.



Stop. Before you roll your eyes, the economy I’m talking about doesn’t involve maths or David Cameron (thank god), it involves a look at time and cost. Hidden amongst a sea of grandad jumpers, ill-fitting corduroy trousers and frumpy curtains masquerading as dresses; I liken thrifting to treasure hunting considering it involves sifting through all the unsightly dirt to get to the gold.

However, although such hunting can mean the entire process of shopping can be drawn out and made more taxing, it can also mean there is more of a memory and emotional connection to each purchase, seeing as it requires more of a time investment on your part. Whereas high street shops are all about efficiency and easy access. As soon as you walk through the polished sliding doors, raise your eye level up and you will see that every wall is plastered with the latest trends and every mannequin drenched in the latest looks. Their adage, cut out the middle man (your brain) and tell you exactly what to buy.

“It’s not about the money, money”, well actually Jesse J it is. In these uncertain post Brexit times, money isn’t something to be squandered away carelessly. I don’t know about you, but I’m a poor student and the thought of shelling out £40 for a pair of jeans and £90 for a jacket, is enough to send shivers down my spine and keep my bank balance up at nights. With such mind boggling figures (again, some over exaggeration), it’s at these times the stupidly low prices of thrift shops really entice me like a fat kid to cake.

Next to mum and dad, thrift shops are a student’s bank balances best friend. In my opinion this is a clear win for thrifting. Life is all about creating memories and if your clothes represent who you are as a person, then you want your outfit to be full of great memories – especially if all it cost you was £5.



Highstreets act like a revolving door of styles and trends; the world of fashion is constantly changing and highstreets have no problem keeping up with it. Regardless of the time of day or year, if you want to replicate the latest red carpet looks, celebrity styles or the next piece of rubbish with Kylie Jenner’s name on it, the highstreets have you covered.

However, it’s this very same ease of access that runs the risk of creating millions of River Island and Zara clones. If everyone could buy the same outfits and pieces instantly, then everyone is going to look identical and in an effect relegate individuality to a distant memory. On the flipside, individuality is thrifting’s middle name.

When you go thrifting you can’t guarantee what you’re going to find, but you can guarantee that what you do find will be a one of a kind. Following on from this, whilst highstreets give you the option of the now, thrift shops give you the whole of history to choose from, ensuring it’s impossible not to find something unique. Surely there is only one clear winner here? Come on highstreets, you’re falling behind!


The experience

Heaven. Paradise. Cloud Nine, is there anything more magical than stepping into a high street shop and being surrounded by clothes, glorious clothes? Intricate lighting fixtures, gorgeous staff and glossy photographs gracing every wall – the interiors of high street shops are certainly something very pretty to look at. Sure, thrift shops have a certain quaint charm to them, yet compared to highstreets they’re the beast to their beauty.

However, looks aren’t everything and moving past the aesthetics, thrift shops certainly provide a more intimate vibe. When I’m thrifting I feel closer to history; everything I touch belonged to someone who once loved and cherished the item even before I was born and now its feels like they’re bestowing on to me – a gift given across time. Need I say more?

I’m a firm believer in monogamy when it comes to shopping, so the time for me to play the field has come and gone, it’s time to make a final decision. My entire life has been leading up to this moment…which is better thrifting or highstreets?

After winning on all three categories, the winner without doubt has to be thrifting, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. There is something truly special about thrifting and I love how it can make me feel like Indiana Jones searching for treasure. Each time I step into a thrift shop it’s like starting a new and exciting adventure – I never know what I’m going to find!

So, if fashion is your vice, you like standing out from the crowd and you like owning a piece of history, then thrifting my friend is certainly the place for you.

*Warning to all annoyed Brits, the use of the American terminology (oh, the shame!) of thrifting instead of charity shopping, was because, as much as I hate to admit it, it sounded cooler. Please forgive me queen and country.