How To: shop for clothes at a car boot

When I challenged myself to buy no ‘shop new’ clothes until next August, I didn’t realise how good the pickings of second-hand clobber at car boots could be!

Car boot sales and selling your stuff quickly is actually quite attractive to a lot of people ranging in size and styles, and there is a lot of great stuff to be had. For me it beats eBay every time as you can touch and feel what you are buying (I’m a  feely toucher ok?!) and you can also avoid paying postage and gauge if it would fit you by eye, also it’s generally cheaper than charity shops.

Mums of Britain…there is a PLETHORA of fancy baby and children’s clothes and goodies being sold for 50p an item (and sometimes much less!!!) so get down there and have a rummage and save yourself a fortune! I cannot stress enough that any children I have in the future are going to barely have ANYTHING shop new, as the secondhand children’s market is blooming marvellous. I mean do people actually buy Moses baskets in the shops? I saw 8 last weekend….8 gorgeous Moses baskets for sale…. all for under £15 and in beautiful condition.

But what about adult clothing?….. I can already feel a few of you wincing at the thought of rummaging on a clothes rail in the middle of a field at 7am on a Sunday morning… but it really is painless…. and actually finding that bargain is one of my most favouritest feelings in the world…parrelled to eating something I have grown myself.

So here are my top five tips to shopping for clothing at car boot sales.

1 – Eye up the seller

The lady that looks like Wurzel Gummidge is very unlikely to by selling a sequin dress from Topshop, so cast your eye across the seller before you get on your knees and rummage to the bottom of the box of old dishcloths. This is also a good way to gauge the sizing of the clothing that the seller are trying to shift. This isn’t the be all and end all I might add, as there are a lot of bargains and lovely vintage to be had by people who are clearing out their wardrobes after 20 or so years. If you are after trendy stuff though, you want to aim for the 20 somethings who are doing the fairs with a friend or with their mums to make a bit of cash for the night out the following weekend.

2- Have a rummage

I once saw a girl literally dump a boot load of clothing onto a sheet on the ground and let people rummage through. £1 a piece she said, and oh lordy did I rummage. I came out with 5 gorgeous pieces, all from Topshop and River Island, all from the very bottom of the pile, threw my money at her and ran before I ended up buying too much (I was there selling at the time!). Rummaging is the fun of a boot fair. Rummaging doesn’t have to be hands on, I do a pretty good eye rummage now, but if something catches your gaze, be it a pattern or a fabric, pull it out and have a look, you can always fold it back up or hang it back up if it isn’t your sort of thing, people won’t be offended….honest!

Car boot finds floral

3 – What do you already own?

Now before you buy that black jacket…how many do you already own? Or will those zany neon hotpants go with anything else you already have? (Yeah… I know…they’ll go great with that rainbow sequinned boob tube you bought at the last table!)

There is no point wasting your money and clogging up your wardrobe with things you aren’t going to wear or that you have 4 of already (cough cough…grey cardigans…I have 3).

Car boot finds leopard print

I’m not saying go with a list, that’s the opposite of what you should do, but go with an open mind and a rough idea of what you DON’T need.

4- Know what it is worth

A Balmain inspired cropped Per Una lined jacket at £4 is an utter bargain. Yes…I know…to some of you I just put loads of words together and threw them in a sentence… but if you are really looking for the bargains, you need to know what you are looking at.

I have a basic working knowledge of fashion and clothing design, no more than the next girl who has watched Devil wears Prada. I do have the benefit of knowing about stitching from my time at my sewing machine and I have a good idea about fabric quality from my love of vintage fabrics and clothing, but most of it is about common sense and looking at labels.

Before you ask how much, think of the number that you would sell it for and think about what you’d be willing to pay for it.

When you ask how much, consider the answer and then have another look at what is in your hand. Before you hand over your money, is it worth what they are asking for it. Has it got any holes in the lining? Has it got any stains? Is the fabric all bobbley? My friends have seen me throw money and run as the item is well under what I feel its worth, and they have also seen me put it down and walk away to think about it as I walk around.

5 – Feel the fear and buy it anyway

I never never try ANYTHING on at the boot fair. I put things up against myself. I have even been known to take a tape measure with me. I have also just bought things because I think the fabric is beautiful despite it being several sizes too small….those things get made into home decor so I can look at the beautiful fabric forever!

Not sure a massive faux fur leopard print coat would suit you? They are selling it for £3…..feel the fear and buy that sucker…because you would look fabulous in faux fur…I mean who doesn’t!

I felt the fear and bought this frock anyway.

mint green lace dress £1 car boot sale

It cost me a £1 (from the bottom of the heap from the £1 an item lady) and it is like NOTHING I normally wear or I own. I wore it out last Saturday night and got so many compliments (in real life and via instagram!) and I felt great in it…. after an initial freak out before I left the house (“I look like an ice cream at a wedding!!”)…. and added more eyeliner and bracelets to rock it up a bit.

I would never have bought a dress like this from River Island at full price (£30 +), I wouldn’t have risked the colour (I like black…a lot) and I wouldn’t have risked the length (it’s a little on the short side…but as long as I don’t bend over I’m decent), but for £1 I had nothing to lose…expect maybe my dignity if it had been gusty out!

It’s the perfect opportunity to play with colours and styles that noramlly you’d be a bit frightened of.

Happy hunting!

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4 responses to “How To: shop for clothes at a car boot

  1. Excellent tips! The kids clothes at boot sales are always brilliant. That dress is beautiful on you- it’s definitely worth taking a risk on something different once in a while. Especially for a quid! xxx

  2. Fab post! Made me giggle too. I have just posted about my finds at a car boot today, maybe have a nosy if you like? http://www.yasprice@wordpress.com

  3. Check out my “How-To” Page. I’d love to add your blog! 👍❤

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