My guide to second hand shopping

00:16 Kathy Berk 2 Comments

Roughly about 75% of my wardrobe is second hand. Most pieces are hand-me-downs from friends and family, a lot comes from second hand shops and charity shops and a few special pieces come from vintage fairs.* The main reason that almost everything is second hand is just because I enjoy second hand shopping a lot, it is like a treasure hunt. But it is not just that, second hand shopping is probably the most sustainable way to shop. By discussing this with my friends I realised that to some shopping at other places than the main big retailers can be a little bit daunting, so I decided to share my top tips for you all.

First things first, I like to avoid the “cool vintage” places. These second hand chain retailers and hyped-up thrift shops can be very useful, they are great for good belts, denim shorts, vintage looking tees and cool flannels. They are easy, often very clean and a great way to get familiar with second hand shopping. The reason I avoid them is because they often bump up the prices and specialize in solely the thrifty gal look. I find that by going to lesser known, local retailers you are more likely to get a good deal and find pieces that suit a range of different styles. If local shops are non-existent in your area or just do not suit your personal preferences I would recommend scouting the posh areas in your city, second hand stores in nicer neighbourhoods often have pieces of better quality and condition, which means you are more likely to score a good deal.

Here are a few simple rules I try to follow:

- Don't buy items just because they fit or are very cheap, you have to love it and the way it fits.

- Check the item thoroughly, especially for stains, pulls in the fabric, pills and yes… even for weird smells. Since working in retail I would recommend this at any shop, ever high street ones, don’t forget to check the inside of the garment aswell.

- If you are not sure what size you need for trousers or shorts the image above shows a little trick. Zip them up and close the button, hold them by the sides of the waistband and wrap the waistband around your neck as if putting on a choker. If the sides of the waistband just about touch, and you are still able to breath, you have found the right size! This saves time trying on loads of trousers before figuring out your size but once you have found a pair that pass the test I would still recommend trying them on.

- Keep it fun, if a store is too crowded, messy or for some other reason does not suit you, move on you will find treasures elsewhere.

- If you are shopping at a market or a shop just does not have a mirror available, get someone to take a picture of you wearing the item. This method is not perfect but it helps in times of need.

- Unless you have fallen in love with something try to avoid low quality fast-fashion pieces. Inferior fabrics or stitching is likely to not last very long and as these pieces have had a life before you got your hands on them it might be worth double checking if they are going to last for as long as you would like them too. Despite the amazing prices, I tend to stay on the save side and go for something a little pricier that I know will last. My favourite finds have included a Burberry coat, Fillipa K trousers, a Sticky Fingers cardigan and a La Perla corset, all of which were bought at a fraction of the original price.

I really hope this is helpful to some of you and motivates you to give second hand shopping a try. I am considering writing another post on shopping at independent retailers, would that interest some of you?

*For those wondering I found this amazing post on the exact definitions for second hand and vintage.