Woman ditches £250-a-month shopping habit to buy designer wear from charity shops

Heidi Ondrak vowed to shop only pre-worn for a year. (SWNS)
Heidi Ondrak vowed to shop only pre-worn for a year. (SWNS) (@duchessoftshrift / SWNS)

A woman has ditched the high street after previously splurging up to £250 a month on new clothes – and now buys designer outfits from charity shops.

Heidi Ondrak, 51, made a new year's resolution to shop pre-worn only for a year when she noticed her wardrobe was full of unused items bought in lockdown.

She used to think nothing of shelling out £50 for a dress or spending £150 on a pair of boots, and would regularly splurge £200 on a single internet binge.

But when her energy bills trebled and food bills doubled, she set her sights on charity shops, jumble sales and online auctions for all her wardrobe essentials.

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Heidi used to splurge on Internet shopping. (SWNS)
Heidi Ondrak used to splurge on internet shopping. (SWNS) (@duchessoftshrift / SWNS)

She's managed to bag a Peruvian Connection £198 cardigan for £4 and a Hobbs dress worth £200 dress for £10.

The savvy mum picked out an entire spring capsule wardrobe for her daughter for just £21 from a car-boot sale.

Her favourite outfit cost just £19 – including a 1980s Liz Claiborne jacket bought for £1.99 from a charity shop, leather shorts and boots from Vinted and a shirt from BHF.

She picked up a Zara full-length leopard maxi dress for £7, cream leather track-soled boots for £9, both from Vinted, and a little yellow jacket from a car-boot which cost £2.

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Heidi now buys at car boot sales, online auction sites and charity shops. (SWNS)
Heidi now buys at car boot sales, online auction sites and charity shops. (SWNS) (@duchessoftshrift / SWNS)

She estimates she now only spends £40 a month on clothes, but still has a new outfit to wear every single week.

Heidi, a local authority project manager from Plymouth, Devon, said: "I love shopping second-hand.

"It's so creative. It's not about what a garment is but what it can become. Slow fashion is great fun and affordable.

"I just love that you can pick up a whole wardrobe for fifty quid which is the cost of just one item new.

"You can really treat yourself without compromising all the other things you have to pay for - like bills. You don't have to wait for payday treats.

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Heidi loves mixing and matching her bargain finds. (SWNS)
She loves mixing and matching her bargain finds. (SWNS) (@duchessoftshrift / SWNS)

"People think shopping in charity shops makes you look a bit alternative but actually I can put together some amazing outfits for going out or for work and everyday wear.

"You can guarantee whatever clothing item you want already exists out there.

"I just realised after lockdown I'd spent money I didn't really have buying stuff I'd never wear, and I'd only done it to cheer myself up because I was sat on the sofa feeling bored.

"Plus the cost of everything has gone up so much, I just had no ready money left.

"I've formed this lovely community on Instagram of people sharing their second-hand shopping successes."

Thrifty Heidi said her savvy purchasing became necessary when her energy bills trebled and food costs doubled in January.

She unsubscribed from all shopping emails and deleted clothing-retail apps from her devices to begin her 'no new in 22' pledge on 1 January.

Heidi scrolls through online pre-loved clothes in the evening, dashes round charity shops on Saturday mornings, and pops to a car-boot sale whenever she can.

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Heidi began her
Heidi began her 'no new in 2022' pledge on 1 January and hasn't looked back. (SWNS) (@duchessoftshrift / SWNS)

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She shops for herself every week, as well as buying second-hand outfits for her partner Dave, 41, a factory worker, daughter, 13, and son, 15, too.

And, so far, Heidi has given away about six bin bags – including kids clothes – to charity.

A further three bin bags of stuff she bought in lockdown, mostly never worn with tags, she sold, mostly on Facebook Marketplace, for at least £3,000 in total.

Heidi said: "I feel manipulated by the fast-fashion industry. As soon as you click add to cart they ask you to subscribe then they keep making offers.

"We are bombarded with images via social media which create a want and persuade us to buy, but although it keeps people in jobs, manufacturing is one of the three most polluting industries.

"If a new dress is sold for a fiver then it hasn't been made to last. There's no need to produce anymore. It's wasteful and destroys our planet.

"Don't worry that you'll miss out on the latest fashion, you can guarantee to find it through a pre-loved app or a charity shop within six weeks."

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Heidi's top tips for second-hand shopping are:

  • Before you go to the shop, go through your wardrobe and decide what you need.

  • In the charity shop, grab everything that looks like it fits the bill then take it to a corner to weed out the duds.

  • Don't worry about sizing because you can belt anything or wear it oversized or as a layer, and always pick up a belt when you see one going second-hand.

  • Stand back from the rail to get a good perspective on length, and it makes it easier to spot good fabrics.

  • Touch everything and feel for quality and comfort.

  • Reject anything with stretched or damaged seams, and check under-arms for staining.

  • Spray every garment with an anti-bacterial spray before trying it on.

  • Wash new purchases with a good fabric softener at home.

Additional reporting by SWNS