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4 Tips for Buying Second-Hand Clothing

Me wearing vintage jumper. 4 tips for buying second-hand clothes by a Hopeful Home.

Last week I discussed 5 benefits of shopping second-hand clothes. This week I wanted to give you my very own tips on how to shop for second-hand clothing. Because let’s be honest, it can get overwhelming at times!

If my post last week has convinced you to have a go at it, I’m thrilled! Once upon a time, I would have never considered buying second-hand clothing myself.

Do you remember the arguments that I mentioned against it at the beginning of my last post? Well, they were exactly what I used to think. But over time I’ve really come to buying second-hand clothing. I came to see the benefits of it. My Vintage Homeware Webshop might be a good clue as to how much I love second-hand items now!

Like my stepfather always says: you can only spend your money once. And by shopping second-hand, if you do it right, you can make sure to get so much more for your money.

But how to do it right? When you enter one of the many charity/thrift shops and look at the racks of clothing, it can get super overwhelming. There are a couple of guidelines I follow to make sure to get the most out of my shopping session. And today I’m sharing them with you! Read on to find my 4 tips for buying second-hand clothing.


1. THINK OUT OF SEASON

When you go shopping for second-hand clothes. One major thing you could do to get the most out of it is to think out of season.

This will be hard in the beginning, because logically you tend to think of what you need now. But if you can shift your thinking towards what you’ll need for the coming seasons. You might be able to get your hands on amazing items. Because no-one else is looking for them when you are.

To think out of season successfully, it’s very important to have a clear idea of what your wardrobe consists of and what it lacks.

What I usually like to do after a season has passed. Is to make a mental note of the clothing-items that I lacked during that season. Clothing-items that I could have done with. I remember those items when I go shopping and keep an eye out for them. Even if that means that I’m looking for a summer dress in mid-winter. By doing this, I ensure that I’ll have those items the next time that season comes around.

For the past summer, for example, I noticed that I could have used: trousers of airy fabric, a new bathing suit, and a midi summer dress.

By keeping an eye out, I managed to get a 100% linen pair of trousers from Monsoon in autumn for only 4 pounds. I bought a Monsoon bathing suit for one-fourth of the original price in Debenhams in winter. Yes, this isn’t second-hand, but it still shows that you can get more for your money when you think out of season! And I am still on the hunt for a summer dress, but I think I would have already had that if it weren’t for the lockdown.

2. REALLY LOVE AN ITEM

Which brings me to my next tip. Really love an item.

If you end up buying five items that you’re ‘ok’ about, just for the sake of them being cheap. Then you’re not really adding much value to your wardrobe. You want to make sure that each and every single item that you buy will be a valuable addition to your wardrobe for years to come. By thinking like that, you’ll be tapping into one of the benefits I mentioned last week. Namely, you’ll be encouraging slow fashion.

For this, it’s again really useful to have a clear idea of what you already have. And ask yourself the following questions: Do I already have a similar item? Will this item work in an outfit with any of the items that I already have?

If you’re not sure about an item, don’t buy it! Just leave it hanging there. If you’re still thinking about it a few days later. Then you could consider going back to still buy it.

When I mention being unsure about an item, I’m not just talking about the style of the item. Be critical and ask yourselves the following questions: Does this item really fit me? Is it a flattering fit?

Clothing rack. 4 Tips for Buying Second-Hand Clothing by a Hopeful Home.

3. BE CRITICAL

Remember how I told you last week that second-hand clothes are often cheaper? The beauty of second-hand clothing being a bit cheaper, is that you can be more critical. As I said, you want the items to be valuable additions to your wardrobe. And you want them to be able to serve you for many years to come.

One thing you can do to achieve this is to pay attention to the brand and the quality of the fabric. Usually, I am not snobby at all when it comes to brands. But when I shop second-hand, I allow myself to be a bit snobby. I didn’t always use to do this though.

When I just started buying second-hand clothes, I found it tricky to distinguish those brands that ‘are worth it’ from those that aren’t. That may have something to do with the fact that I at first didn’t even look at the brand or at the labels (except for the size of an item)! Many a time I’ve nearly bought an H&M or an Apricot top, just because I liked the look of it. While the quality of the item actually wasn’t that great at all. At those times my dear husband was wise enough to encourage me to think about it for a while. And usually, I would change my mind.

Items from brands that are usually a bit more expensive are often of a higher quality. They have a reputation to uphold. So they’ll be a bit more critical about the quality of fabrics they’ll use and pay more attention and money for a good finish of the item. Other brands specifically prize themselves for using good quality fabrics.

Next to that be very careful to look at the actual quality of the item itself. Are there any holes in the fabric? Does it have any spillages on it? Are any stitches on the item coming loose? Do the zips still work properly?

With this, I do feel I need to note that you shouldn’t be frightened away by fabric pills on jumpers. I purchased a Philips Fabric Shaver on Amazon a while ago and it works miracles! It will make your clothing-items look like new.

4. SET BOUNDARIES

This is my very last tip and it’s an important one. Set boundaries for which type of items you don’t want to buy second-hand.

Second-hand or thrift shops will offer anything. Shoes, napkins, underwear, bags, and so much more. It is very important to set boundaries as to what you think is worth buying second-hand, and what you’d rather buy new.

The more experience you have with buying second-hand clothing, the more comfortable you will get with the fact that someone else owned and wore it before you. But sometimes certain types of items will still and always feel uncomfortable to you. And that’s okay.

I personally don’t like to buy things such as bedding, towels, underwear, swimwear, nightwear, sportswear, and basics second-hand. Most of them don’t feel hygienic to me. And I wear basic tops and t-shirts so often that I’d rather buy them new. That’s just my preference.

By knowing that and by having set those boundaries in my mind. There are big areas of the shop that I can just skip to focus on those items that would really add emotional and material value to my wardrobe.


There you have it, my 4 tips for buying second-hand clothing. Ok, I can’t help myself and want to give you one more tip: don’t be too hard on yourself.

Any item you decide to buy second-hand is an item not going to landfill just yet. And that is a win in itself!

Much love,
Jenna

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