For most the words 'charity shop' probably sends images running around in your head of a group of older women spending their pension-pennies on a second-hand Marks & Spencer jumper.
However for vintage virgins out there who have not got much cash to splash around, the charity shop is the perfect place to start.
You might not exactly find a Chanel jacket for £12.00 (though there has been reports of stranger things happening) but the charity shop is the place to find out exactly what are your fashion likes and dislikes as there are no quibbles over prices.
I would recommend starting with the well known charity shops first such as Oxfam or Cancer Research as I realise entering a second-hand clothes shop can be daunting for the first time especially if you have 'wrongly' been told in the past that they are somehow uncool (whatever that word means). Here you will find everything organised similar to a 'normal' shopping environment with everything clearly labelled and organised by size not taking you far away from your usual shopping habits.
After you have gotten used to this I would strongly recommend trailing the lesser known and independent charity shops because this is usually where you find the real hidden gems. However you must be prepared to spend a reasonable length of time hunting through the rails and shelves to find those real bargains.
Then if you have developed a love of finding the unique (which I am sure you will have) your next stop should be your local vintage and craft fairs which are not hard to find as you usually find them advertised in your local paper, and flyer's about town. Plus many have their own websites so if you have yet to see anything you should google 'vintage' and your nearest town or city and I guarantee there is something happening near-by to you.
If this is all still a bit much to take in why not do some online research first and check out the following websites to give you more of an idea:
Frock Me Vintage Fairs: http://www.frockmevintagefashion.com/
Frock Around The Clock Vintage Fairs: http://www.decadencevintageclothing.co.uk/
Oxfam online store: http://www.oxfam.org.uk/shop/content/secondhandstore/sale/default.html?ito=1482&gclid=CIOa2fCptKMCFSU_lAodQ34B5w
Stardust Online's Vintage Accessorises: http://stardustonline.co.uk/
Rokit - London based Vintage store: http://www.rokit.co.uk/
Photo: Recent charity shop find for a reasonable £6.50