Last Updated on April 8, 2021 by Melissa S.
6 essential tips for buying secondhand clothing
Oxfam’s Secondhand September campaign is well underway, and where I’m not usually a fan of organised alliteration months, this was one campaign I wanted to be involved in.
Why Secondhand September?
First and foremost, when I began my debt free journey I pretty much kicked the habit of buying clothes. My wardrobe and drawers were overflowing as a result of my previous spendy ways, and even after several declutters I still feel like there is more to cull.
It turns out that 11 million items of clothing a week end up in landfill. That is a shocking amount, and needless to say is unsustainable. If you are having a clearout it is always better to resell, donate or recycle rather than dumping textiles in the bin.
However, it is clear that this is only half the issue. Fast, disposable and cheap fashion is the reason so much is disposed of in the first place. By buying secondhand clothing, not only can you save money against full price but help the planet as well. A total win win situation!
Buying secondhand clothing is relatively new to me too. Although I have been reselling on eBay for over a year now, clothing is not something I have tended to have much success with so often I will head for the toys, games and homewares and not really take much notice of the clothes, either for myself or for reselling. However in the past month I am really pleased with what I have found for myself, and what’s more I have saved a fortune on buying the items new!
I will be rounding up my charity shop finds in a separate monthly post (edit – Covid has scuppered this for now!), or you can head over to my Instagram where I share my finds more regularly. In the meantime here’s my top tips for buying secondhand clothing.
1. Get an idea of what you are looking for first
I find it useful to make a note on my phone for things I’m on the lookout for in general, whether secondhand clothing or new, e.g. a tea dress, trainers, straw bag. It can be overwhelming if you don’t have a focus as some shops can be quite muddled. Depending on the layout of the shop you may not have time to look through everything, so being able to scan quickly to find the colours and styles you are after will be useful. (However, I do love the shops where everything is organised into garment type and size which makes life so much easier.)
2. Check for rips or marks before you buy
Sometimes it can be exciting to find the perfect item in the right size, but before you get carried away, check to make sure there is no damage and any zips or fastenings are in working order. There’s nothing to stop you taking something back if it is wrong, however I know some people would feel uncomfortable doing this in a charity shop especially over a small amount – not that you should, but I get it!
3. Don’t be dazzled by the label alone
Sometimes it’s hard not to get excited over a total bargain such as a designer top for £2.99, but make sure you are happy with the item. One of my biggest mistakes in my younger days was buying clothes in sales just because they were cheap, regardless of if they fit properly or suited me. Just because something is cheap it doesn’t mean we have to have it!
Of course, if you fancy reselling on eBay then this could be one option if you get home and realise it’s not for you after all.
4. Find a good run of charity shops in one street / area
When you get into thrifting, you’ll be surprised at how excited you can get to see a charity shop that you may have previously walked past unnoticed for the past 10 years. Even more so if you are on a day out and spot them somewhere new! (or is it just me?)
Either way, if you have planned a trip with items to buy in mind and had to leave empty handed this can be quite deflating, but also the norm. Let’s face it, you aren’t going to strike secondhand clothing gold on every single visit, so it can be useful to go to an area where there are a few along one high street or precinct. This will obviously multiply your chances of finding some goodies!
5. Don’t be afraid to leave empty handed
This goes hand in hand with points 4 and 3 – there’s no point in buying stuff for the sake of it, just because it’s a bargain or you felt you had to come away with something. It can be disappointing not to find anything, but just like shopping on the high street, that’s no reason to part with your hard earned cash in exchange for what will ultimately become unused clutter!
6. Declutter and donate while you’re at it
If you know you’re making a trip to a charity shop, it can be the perfect time to have a bit of a declutter and drop off some unwanted items while you’re there. It doesn’t just have to be clothing – books, dvds, cds, toys and games are all welcome. You can clear a bit of space and help a good cause while making room for your new thrifty purchases at the same time!
Have you taken part in secondhand September? Leave me a comment below and let me know your best charity shop bargains.