I know what you're thinking. Second hand clothes = rubbish quality. You envisage clothes that will fall apart after the first couple of wears, shrink in the wash and hide all manner of sins e.g. stains and rips.
Well yes, this can happen. But its certainly not a given. If properly sourced, second hand clothes can be excellent quality and last for years. Besides, new clothes are hardly guaranteed to be good quality. Ahem multiple shrunken Primark tops...
Follow these 4 steps and ace second hand shopping -
1. Shop around
I love a charity shop. This comes from a childhood of growing up in small towns with these being the only source of clothes I could actually afford. We rarely visited the 'big city' shops, like New Look and H&M. Charity shops can be an excellent source of second hand clothes, but you have to be prepared to dig. Its also worth visiting often as there is certainly no guarantee that you will grab a bargain every time. You can be clever about timing your visits when there will be a lot of donations. January is a classic, as people are clearing out the old to replace with new items and disposing of any unwanted gifts.
These days, there is also a wealth of online options for second-hand shopping. You still have the traditional Ebay, but there is also Facebook Marketplace, Depop, Thrift+, One Scoop Store and Re-Fashion, to name just a few. I quick internet search will throw up plenty of options.
2. Be selective
One of the biggest change I made with second-hand shopping was to search by brand. Since becoming more minimal and embracing slow fashion, I have curated a list of brands that produce sustainable and well-made clothing. There is no point buying something that was bad quality to start with. Sadly, oftentimes, due to questionable manufacturing process, these items would be a similar price when buying new anyway! You'd be effectively throwing your money out the window.
Shopping online has made it even easier to find the right brands, as many sites allow you to filter by brand anyway. This makes shopping sustainably far more accessible, as some sustainable brands can be outside people's budget when buying new. So, do your research and have your list of brands ready so you can grab a real bargain! Some of my favourite brands include Thought, Seasalt, Everlane, Lucy and Yak, Organic Basics and Will's Vegan Store.
3. Check materials and fit
Understanding the quality of materials that are in clothing can be invaluable. This will really give you an idea of how good quality an item is, and, therefore, how long it is likely to last. As a general rule of thumb, go with those items that are made up predominantly from natural materials (like cotton and linen) rather than synthetic materials (like polyester and acrylic). These are also far better for the environment as can biodegrade quicker, without leaching harmful substances (e.g. micro-plastics) after disposal.
It is also a really good idea to try on pieces where possible, as you would do when purchasing new items. I know these days this can be tricky, but many online second hand shops do have a returns policy, so make sure you clock this before hitting buy.
4. Make sure you'll actually wear it!
We've all been there. Filling your arms with mountains of items, that you sort of like, just because they are cheap. I always advice that you should be just as selective when buying second hand as when buying new. You should ask the same questions like, does it fit with your style, your lifestyle and complement your existing wardrobe? If you wouldn't buy it full price, perhaps its worth thinking again. There is no point filling your wardrobe with unworn clothing, even if its been acquired sustainably and cheaply. Love your second hand items like they deserve.
That's it. I wish you the best of luck with your second-hand missions!
If you have any more top tips to share, then do comment below. I'd love to read them...