Being in first year often means the sudden realisation that you have to wear normal and acceptable clothes, every single day. This usually leads to the panic of worrying about having enough clothes to not wear the same outfit three times a week. Don’t go and buy a whole new wardrobe, instead find some cheap fits.
Thrift shops are classic places to find cheap fits and have surged in popularity over recent years thanks to Macklemore and trendy YouTubers. A quick Google search for ‘charity/thrift shops near me’ will provide you with a list of shops in your area. A big part of finding wearable pieces in thrift shops is knowing where to look, and the answer is to look everywhere. You have to look through every single item of clothing in the both the men’s and women’s sections, this is the only way to find those perfect items of clothing. There are a few questions that you should ask yourself before you buy an item; are there any stains that you would not be able to get out, are the zips working, are there any holes that are not fixable and can you make more than one outfit with the item? A cool aspect about thrift shopping is that almost any item you find can look trendy because vintage inspired fits are in fashion right now. Thrift shopping also allows you to be a lot more creative with your outfits as you buy clothes you usually would not. Another great tip for thrift shopping is to not be afraid to ‘thrift-flip’ items. You could cut a t-shirt that is the wrong size, you could swap out old-fashioned buttons for trendy tortoise shell ones and you could do a bunch of other DIYs. The current campus favourite thrift shop is the Sungardens Hospice Charity Shop, but there are a lot of other thrift shops in Pretoria that are worth checking out as well.
The Vintage Square Thrift Fair
This thrift fair happens on the first Saturday of every month at Duncan Yard in Hatfield. The fair hosts a bunch of different vintage thrift stores with a wide variety of clothes. This thrifting option is for anyone who does not want to get their hands dirty in traditional thrift stores or for people who simply do not have the patience to sift through every item. This option is a little pricier but there are definitely bargains to be found. Most of the stall holders are young entrepreneurs so by shopping there, you are supporting young business owners, and who knows maybe you will gain some inspiration and start a shop of your own.
Car Boot Sales
There are a ton of car boot sales that happen nearly every weekend all over South Africa. Here people who are just trying to get rid of clutter sell a bunch of different items, including clothes. Because people are usually just trying to get rid of their excess stuff, the prices are usually dirt cheap. A popular car boot sale that happens in Pretoria is the Menlopark Car Boot Sale that happens on the first Saturday of every month, but sometimes more frequently. Follow them on Facebook to see when the next sale is happening as well as the location. Church fetes and other fundraising markets are also great places to get cheap clothes.
This one may seem like it does not quite fit on this list, but there is a little-known secret about H&M. If you bring a bag of your unwanted or second-hand clothes to H&M, they will give you a discount code on your slip to use on H&M clothing. The clothing you bring in does not have to be from H&M, they accept any unwanted clothing. H&M then recycles your old garments to create their line of recycled clothes. H&M started this initiative to prevent clothes from being put into a landfill once they are thrown out. Not only is this extremely sustainable but it also gives you a discount to buy some trendy clothes from H&M.
Instagram Shops/Facebook Marketplace
A trend that has recently gained popularity is young people starting their own Instagram shops to sell second-hand clothes. There are a lot of Instagram shops that sell cool vintage items for a reasonable price. It may take some Instagram digging to find shops you like, but when you find a good shop, you also end up finding some unique items. Make sure that the shop is reliable by checking comments on their posts to see if customers are happy, the more effort they put in to make their posts look professional the more likely it is that they are reliable, and if they ask you strange questions when you are trying to buy an item, it is best to just avoid them. Usually the Instagram shops have ‘retro’ or ‘vintage’ in the name. Another way to find cheap fits online is through Facebook Marketplace. Facebook Marketplace can often be an interesting experience with some of the items people choose to sell on the internet, but sometimes there is a perfect clothing item waiting for you. The more specific you are in your searches, the more likely you are to find something worthwhile. Again, be sure that the seller is trustworthy and reliable.
Shop Your Own Closet
It is a universal experience to look at all the clothes you own and still feel like you have nothing to wear. This is where shopping your own closet comes in handy. First you will need to find some inspiration, look for outfits that you like the look of on the internet. From your inspiration try to make similar outfits from the clothes you already own. For every item of clothing you own try to make at least ten different outfits, here things like layering (obviously not in the Pretoria summer) and swapping out different accessories and shoes, will help. What this exercise does is show you that you do not necessarily need to buy new items but rather look at your clothes from a different perspective.
There are so many ways to change up an item of clothing, whether it be an item you do not wear anymore or a basic item you just want to jazz up a bit. Here are some ways to DIY your clothes:
Cut – The easiest way to change up a t-shirt is by making it into a crop top, but make sure you hem the bottom with fabric glue or sew it so that the edge does not fray. If you do not like the crop top look you can also make change up the t-shirt by cutting off the sleeves or changing the neckline. For inspiration, YouTube thrift flip videos show many different ways to cut a t-shirt. Cutting an old pair of jeans is also a classic way of freshening up a jean’s look. Holes over the knees or just sporadically work for jeans.
Tie-Dye – Another classic way to DIY clothes is to tie-dye it, this look is also on trend at the moment. The easiest way to tie-dye would be to take darker coloured clothes and use the reverse tie-dye technique which uses bleach. But if you are willing to spend a little money on clothing dye then you can tie-dye lighter colours as well. A quick Google search will give you detailed steps on how to do it.
Embroider – This is a more time-consuming DIY, but it is also very trendy at the moment. Embroidering a word onto a t-shirt or simple pattern will immediately change up your shirt’s whole vibe. Embroidering jean pockets is also a trendy way to shake up your jeans’ look. Embroidering is a cheap DIY because all you need is a needle and some cotton. If you do not know what to embroider just think of a word you like or search for embroidery ideas on apps like Instagram or Pinterest
Patches – Adding patches to t-shirts, pants, jackets or just about any clothing item is one of the easiest ways to DIY clothes. Patches are a trend that keep coming and going over the years, when they go out of trend again you can easily remove them.
Paint – Spray painting and acrylic painting hard materials like denim has always been a way to customise your clothes, but recently it has surged in popularity thanks to TikTok. The video sharing platform has tons of videos of people painting their jean pockets or denim jackets, so pop on to the app for some inspiration.
A mixture of these DIYs will also work, the point is to be as creative as possible to give your clothes a new life.