Second Hand Shopping Tips

February 20, 2017

Guide to second hand shoppingI’ve never really been a big second-hand shopper, preferring the relative luxury of buying new. Even when I was at uni I always chose to buy new on the high street over second-hand. I remember some of my friends would find amazing bargains in charity shops. However, I just couldn’t get past the messy layout and dare I say it the stuffy smell.

As I’ve learnt more about where our clothes come from and the social and environmental damage the fashion industry is doing I’ve come to realise that the best option for adding to your wardrobe is second-hand clothes. I’m not saying I’ll ever be one of those super confident dressers wearing head to toe charity shop bargains but I’d like to start exploring second-hand fashion. I want my wardrobe to be a mix of ethical fashion, second-hand and quality clothes from the high street.

With this in mind I’ve been reading In The Jumble: The joys of finding, buying and wearing second-hand clothes by Victoria Lochhead. This book is perfect for anyone like me who is a little wary of buying second-hand. Victoria takes you by the hand and guides you step by step through the world of second-hand clothes. And yes she even tells you how to handle that charity shop smell. From why you should shop second-hand, to creating a game plan, to where to shop and how to care for your clothes Victoria answers all your questions on charity shopping. This was such an easy book to read (I managed it in one sitting) it feels like your having a cuppa and a chat. Victoria is so relatable and her story is so familiar, I highly recommend giving this a read.

Guide to second hand shoppingSecond-hand Shopping Tips

After reading this book I’m feeling really inspired to get out there and check out my local charity shops. Over the next month or two, I will be starting to plan for my spring wardrobe so expect a few charity shop purchases in my next capsule wardrobe. But in the meantime, I wanted to share 10 of my favourite tips from In The Jumble which I will be using when I hit the second-hand shops for the first time.

  1. Know your lifestyle and the clothes which suit it before you shop. I’ve spoken about the importance of dressing for your real life a few times so was glad to see Victoria recommended it too. This basically means making sure the clothes you buy will work for your lifestyle. No point in buying a ball gown if you never attend any balls.
  2. Know your personal style. As well as your lifestyle your clothes should fit your own personal style. If you don’t already know your personal style, I recommend reading this post on how to find your personal style.
  3. Find inspiration before you shop. Check out fashion magazines, style blogs and Pinterest for inspiration and ideas before you start shopping. This will help focus your shopping.
  4. Have a game plan and don’t go overboard. Charity shops can be overwhelming especially as everything is so cheap. Work out what you want before you go and focus on finding that.
  5. Know your clothes. Victoria recommends that you visit a personal stylist to have your colours done as this makes shopping so much easier. You can then create your own colour palette and head straight to those colours in the charity shops.
  6. If you prefer the well-presented layouts of the high street try looking in dress agencies or shopping online (eBay or Oxfam)
  7. Choose charity shops with big windows. These will have more natural light enabling you to see clothes true colours.
  8. Stick to high-quality pieces. Don’t buy ‘cheap’ clothes from charity shops. By cheap I mean supermarket brands, Primark, H&M etc. If they were cheap, to begin with then they won’t last and you shouldn’t be taking them home.
  9. Don’t fall for the low prices. Just because something is 20p doesn’t mean you need to buy it. Remember a bargain isn’t a bargain if you don’t use it.
  10. Ignore fashion trends and buy what you love. The great thing about charity shops is they don’t focus on what’s on trend so you can focus on buying what you love.


Disclaimer: The book was sent to me for the purposes of review. As usual, all thoughts and opinions are my own

Are you wary of second hand shopping? Maybe you don't know where to begin. Click through to read my top tips for second hand shopping successfully and adding unique high quality pieces to your wardrobe

2 responses to “Second Hand Shopping Tips”

  1. Rachel says:

    I would add a few things from my years of charity shopping.

    Go frequently.
    Look at the fabric labels and go with natural fibres as they generally are higher quality and last better. Silk dresses or shirts, wool coats, cashmere or wool knitwear, leather bags and shoes.
    Donate stuff… charity shop karma is real!. I get my best finds just after I donate including an unworn Orla Keily silk shirt for £1.50, and a Jaegar cashmere jumper for £3.
    Take chances, charity shops are an ideal way to try out something you might not usually buy and develop and grow your style without it being too big a risk financially.

    • Bron says:

      I totally agree; thrift shop karma totally works.
      My tips are:
      * Go in knowing what you’re looking for (most of the time) especially if its a big store. It will stop you being overwhelmed and helps with going regularly but not wasting time. And you’ll still find random fun things along the way.
      * Use your eyes AND your hands. I find running my hands over the rack helps me find good fabrics, but also hidden gems you can’t see just looking
      * Never trust the size on the label. I find people often donate clothes they buy without trying, but find they’re sized wrongly. I have clothes that are XS-XXL and 4-12 and all fit. Plus, sizing in the US and UK/Australia differ: a US 8 is a UK 12. I have a good eye for what might fit just by looking at it but I always try it on as well.

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