Supermarket sweep! (Well, sort of) plus the perils of ethical clothes buying

I had a meeting in Chelmsford today, and as work paid my train fares I thought I would take advantage of being there to do a quick sweep of Primark.

I generally buy most of my clothes secondhand, but DD3 was desperate for some new things for sixth form (they are a grammar and insist on smart casual) and my office clothes are looking generally a bit tatty. I only had 20 minutes, which did focus my attention somewhat, but I managed to whizz round and get her 3 tops, 2 skirts and 2 packs of tights, as well as some work clothes for myself – 2 tops, a skirt and a cardi, all for £70! Some people would spend that much on a single outfit.

I know there are some ethical issues with Primark, but to be honest in recent years these have also been raised with many much more expensive brands too. It is hard to know where it is safe to shop!!

I cannot afford to buy only items that are marked as fair trade and organic, and since I usually buy very little and when I do it is second hand, I have to just go with it sometimes.

Niggling worries about the ethical issues aside, I am pretty happy with my purchases. They will have to last a while as that is my clothing budget spent out!

Do you have qualms about buying from large chain stores, especially the budget ones? How do you get round these whilst being frugal?

4 thoughts on “Supermarket sweep! (Well, sort of) plus the perils of ethical clothes buying

  1. To be honest, I don’t worry about “ethical” clothing, and in fact don’t quite get the whole trend/fad. When I shop for myself or others (as gifts for example) my main focus is on price. My budget has to lead. Besides, how am I to know about every factory for every clothing manufacturer on the globe? On another blog from the UK, I commented that I’d bought a few really nice sweaters at a good price from Wool Overs in England; the company advertises that the clothes are made with British wool. I was then told Wool Overs ships its wool to China for manufacture, and that it would be more “ethical” for me to buy clothing made from U.S. wool and manufactured in America. Honestly? If I had to worry about that for every purchase I made? I’d have ulcers and my brain would explode. 😉 Hope no one takes offense. You got great deals on your shopping trip!!!

  2. Here’s another way to look at it… everything to be found in a thrift store or at a yard sale or boot sale was new at one time. Manufactured by some company somewhere. It was used (or not) and passed along. You were able to get thrift store prices for new clothes that will be enjoyed and (eventually) passed along to someone else either at a boot sale or via charity thrift stores. It’s both frugal and responsible. As an FYI, the Wool Over’s sweater was a special treat. I’ll enjoy it for years to come.

  3. Like you, all my clothes come second hand. The last time I bought something new – other than knickers, socks and bras, you have to draw the line somewhere – was eight years ago when I bought an outfit for my daughter’s wedding.

    This doesn’t bother me at all. I go for plain, simple garments that fit and do not date. Also in colours that suit me best so things will mix and match. Little scarfs ring the changes and cost pennies in charity shops, as do belts and woolly hats! The best shops are little local charities, or Lions, and always ones that do 50p or £1 rails outside. The prices in some of the big charity shops are ridiculous, and often more expensive than Primark.

    I also buy old and out of date embroidery for converting/upcycling into gifts. Chair backs and arm caps for example, Cut into heart shapes and stuffed with lavender this make unique gifts everyone loves and demands no more skill than basic running stitch. Table runners cut in half and make a pair of shabby chic pillowcases, which also make great, personal, unique gifts.

    Hope this helps!


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