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Here’s What I Learnt From a Year of Shopping Second Hand

Here’s What I Learnt From a Year of Shopping Second Hand

Doesn't time go by so quickly? It's already been a year since I joined Green Heart Collective. I thought it would be interesting to look back and figure out what I've learnt from shopping mainly second hand fashion. 

Here’s What I Learnt From a Year of Shopping Second Hand

What Inspires me to Shop Preloved?

To give a bit of background, I never used to enjoy any kind of shopping. I still don't *love* it, really. But after going away to university in Coventry and then in Sunderland, shopping second hand became a cheaper way of buying clothes, especially for my favourite brands. It wasn't the only motivation though. I spent a large part of my English degree reading and writing ecopoetry, ecocriticism and listening to lectures on how our capitalist world was destroying the planet. While some of that was spent making friends with trees in a Tesco car park (a creative writing exercise), it also inspired me to get more involved with the whole environmental movement. 

And so I discovered shopping second hand. Normal shopping still bores me, but having a look round charity shops is way more interesting. Anyway, enough about my life story before this reads too much like one of those fancy cooking websites where you have to scroll down for five minutes to get to the actual recipe.

Patience is Key 

I've always been curious about owning a pair of Doc Martens but I could never justify splashing out on a new pair. So I kept an eye on second hand pairs on eBay. As it turns out, there were loads to bid on. There were also loads of other people bidding for those Docs. Were they resellers? Or genuinely after a pair? 

Either way I stuck to my guns and didn't go above £55. Long story short, I snapped up a pair for £50 plus postage. They were sold as having a small scuff on them. But when they arrived I could barely see the scuff and the shoes were otherwise nearly new. 

So the takeaways here would be:

  1. Embrace the imperfect
  2. Set up search alerts
  3. Browse at off peak times
  4. Be prepared to bid and lose many times.

Second Hand Shopping can be a Nice Surprise

Winning those Docs was a nice surprise. It's even better when you go into a shop and find something cool. I did just that a couple of weekends ago on a trip out to Hexham. It was the first thing I found on the rack, a blue suit jacket that would be ideal for scrubbing up. Brand new with tags. Guess the price. Nope, guess again. It was just £8!  

Keep your Clothes Moving

By buying fairly low priced second hand shirts and trousers, I never feel like I have to be stuck wearing them for years to come. I recently picked up two pretty decent shirts (River Island and Dockers branded) for less than £5 each. Great quality and looks like they'll last. Now I deliberately chose these because my wardrobe was lacking a bit of variety. If I fall out of love with them I can either resell them or donate them and find a cheap new-to-me replacement. 

But you can also Get Things Wrong

Ah, that pair of jeans really didn't fit. And to be honest, when they arrived, they weren't quite what I had expected. Sadly the seller I got them from didn't do returns. So I relisted them myself on eBay. In the end I managed to sell them for about half of the price I bought them for, which was fine since I wanted to just move them on. 

I got it wrong! But unlike fast fashion where you order 20 sizes and keep one garment, it's back to the drawing board. In this case I managed to find a great pair of Wrangler's that fit much better. 

Don't be Afraid to Get Alterations Done 

Sometimes things don't just quite fit. I've been lucky that most of my second hand finds have fit just about ok. Two pairs of trousers needed a belt, both being just a half size too big. But admittedly I could take them down the street to Launder and Press to get them altered. 

I've never been tempted to buy something that was really too big for me though. There's plenty of clothes for my size or thereabouts. It's important to think about who else might need those clothes on the rack. 

You Might Need to Do a Bit of Work

Oops! Sometimes you take something home that needs a bit of TLC. One of the shirts I got did somehow have a stain that wasn't in the photos. Again you'd be in your rights to send it back. That said, I treated it and stuck it in the wash and it came out good as new. 

So rewarding! All my other clothes seem to be holding up ok so far. You can save money and get an in-demand item that other people may have passed up.

Your Money Goes Further and Means More to People

I don't find spending money therapeutic in any way. But when I shop in charity shops or when I buy from small businesses online, I know that it means a lot more than throwing my money to a huge brand. 

 Did you find this vaguely useful? Read More about finding amazing preloved clothes online



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