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  • Writer's pictureLauren

My Top 10 tips when Buying Second-hand

Did you know, the UK consumes more items of new clothing per person than any other European country? Whilst it seems that the trend for fast fashion is on the rise, the thredup 2019 Resale Report states that the second-hand fashion industry is actually growing twenty-one times faster than the retail market over the past 3 years. I know, at the start, second-hand shopping can be daunting, but the impact it can have on the planet makes this simple change crucial. So, I have come up with my top ten tips to help make thrifting easier.

1. Go in with the right frame of mind

It’s so important that you go to a charity shop, jumble sale, car-boot etc. in the right head space. If you’re feeling tired, or in a rush, you won’t be able to get into the swing of looking closely at items and finding those hidden gems. Make sure that you have eaten before (as being hangry when thrifting is just asking for trouble). Also, ensure you have a couple of hours to spare – 20 minutes just isn’t long enough to look.

2. Give yourself a budget

My mum has always said to me “just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean you need it,” and I hear her words in my head every single time that I make a decision when thrifting. It’s so easy to get carried away by the prices, but when you start picking up item after item, the price still stacks up. It’s easiest to budget when you’re at a car boot or jumble sale as they only take cash, so you can make sure to bring only what you want to spend. Charity shops on the other hand do accept card, which makes it slightly harder. Tell yourself you’re only willing to spend £X and you will find yourself being more frugal about your decisions.

3. Have a wish-list of things that you want to find

I have only started using a wish-list this year and it has been a life saver for me. When you know you’re only on the look-out for a few set items, it’s much easier to save your attention for them, rather than being distracted by every fluffy jumper or sequin dress you come across!

4. Don’t be afraid to rummage

Second-hand shopping is so different to your high-street shops; in high-street shops the clothes are laid out with items easy to find and ordered by size, the shoes are all in the same and clothes of all the same style are sorted together. This just isn’t the case when thrifting. I remember the overwhelming feeling when I first went to a jumble sale and saw all of the clothes piled so high that I couldn’t even see the ladies selling on the other side! To find the best gems at the best prices, you can’t be afraid to get down and rummage.

5. Don’t buy for the sake of it

When we buy things, our brain releases a chemical called dopamine (otherwise known as the happy hormone). Whilst this feels great, it’s not good for our purses, and incidentally, the planet. Yes, buying second-hand does reduce waste going to landfill, but charity shops are still fulfilling our incessant need to buy. An estimated 1.14 million tonnes of clothes are supplied to the UK clothing market each year, with 300,000 tonnes going to landfill. This just highlights the extent of our country’s over-consumption. Whilst charity shops give clothes another lease of life, it’s important to only buy what we need as otherwise we’ll contribute to this waste.

6. Befriend the seller

When you’re at a car-boot sale or shopping online on Vinted, eBay or Depop, remember that you’re dealing with an actual person. If you love one piece of clothing that they are selling, you’re likely to find that you have similar style, and they can offer you other pieces which you might be interested in too. You never know, they might even do you a deal for buying multiple items! In charity shops I’ve found that making good relationships with the staff means that I can ask them if I’m on the look-out for something specific. Often, they’ll let me know if they have something out in the back, or if not, will make a note to hold onto anything they find that matches my description.

7. Don’t just look for clothes

When I moved out, I managed to furnish our entire house second-hand, apart from our bed and sofas. We spent the past year travelling all around my local area picking up items from the Facebook Marketplace and other local selling sites. It was so much fun to do it this way, and we have ended up with items that we would never have been able to afford new, for a fraction of the price! My biggest win was probably our rattan garden furniture which someone was simply giving away as they wanted a new set – we just saved them a trip to the dump!

8. Try it on

The world of thrifting will open you up to so many different brands, lots that you will have heard of before, and also many others. Make sure to leave enough time to try on items, as whilst you may know that you’re a 12 in Topshop, that gorgeous vintage blouse may fit very differently! When shopping on Vinted, eBay, or Depop, make sure to ask sellers for measurements to avoid disappointment. At a car-boot or jumble sale, don’t be embarrassed to try on over your clothes, normally the sellers love to give you their opinion and can help you make the decision!

9. Consider which brands you want to support, even second hand

The phrase ‘fast-fashion’ was once coined to mean fashion that is always up to date, but it now has more negative connotations (e.g., cheaply made, unsustainable clothes with companies not paying factory workers a fair living wage). The app ‘Good on You’ allows you to see the sustainability rating of clothes that you’re considering buying, even second-hand. It has helped me make more conscious decisions regarding the clothes I own, showing which companies deserve my support.

10. Visit frequently + plan ahead

Whilst some thrifts are really successful, you’re likely to find that many won’t be. My best advice would be to not leave it until the week before an event to start looking for an outfit. Give yourself as long as possible to find the outfit that you’re looking for to avoid disappointment. Don’t despair if after a day’s dedication you don’t find any good thrifts, chances are when you drop in quickly next time, you’ll find lots of gems!

As we continue to live in an increasingly disposable world, it is so important that we all do our part to reduce the impact fast fashion is having on our planet. If you’re interested in learning more about how easy it is to be fashionable on a budget, go follow my Instagram @conscious_loz for more tips and tricks! Feel free to message me on there as well if you have any further questions.


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