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How to Find the Cheapest Second Hand Clothes Online

How to Find the Cheapest Second Hand Clothes Online

Shopping preloved fashion is not only a great way to save some money, but it is also great for people and planet in many ways. 

But how do you know when you're buying some quality preloved clothing, rather than something that is going to fall apart in an instant?

There's lots of things you can look for, from looking at the garment, feeling it, trying it on, as well as doing some digging online.

A Quick Guide To Finding the Cheapest Second Hand Clothes Online

Do Brands Matter When it Comes to the Cheapest Second Hand Clothes Online - Here's What Three Fashionistas Think

Brands can be a good starting place if you're new to shopping preloved and want to narrow down your search. 

We all have those favourite fashion labels that make a pair of jeans that fit us really well, so sticking to familiar territory can be helpful for sizing and fit. 

Be wary of how certain brands attract higher prices just because they're more sought-after, though.

We asked a few of our fashionista fans about whether brands really affected how they shopped second-hand fashion. 

Their responses varied but the overwhelming consensus was that the brand names themselves weren't enough to convince them to buy a garment. 

1. "Brand isn't important at all".

2. "If I like it, I don't care about the brand."

3. "I like quality clothing because I know I'll get lots of wear and when I'm finished I can pass it on, but it doesn't have to be a particular brand or designer."

Across those three kinds of responses there is a theme that the brand is not always an indicator of a preloved bargain!

Of course, when you're at your local charity shop or browsing online, there is still the chance that items may not be genuine. Check out this guide by Which on how to spot fake goods and what to do if you think you're been conned.

Great, You’ve Found Something: Now Check the Item Condition

Looks can be deceiving. So when you think you've found something you like the look of in a shop or online, it's time to give it a proper look over. 

With an online item, you may have already filtered out garments by their condition. Even then it is worth checking the photos carefully. Depending on where you're shopping sellers often upload extra photographs to display any faults or flaws. Another good place to look for this information is in the item description. Sometimes you might need to dig a bit deeper and scroll down the page before you see the small print of any faults on the item. 

In person it is a lot easier to judge if the item you're buying is worth the price. You can pick it up, feel the material in your hands, give it a gentle stretch here and there and even try it on. Sometimes it is not until you try something on that you spot a snag or a hole. Bringing a friend or loved one is helpful too!

Problem Areas to Check on Second Hand Clothes

On larger items like long-line coats or jackets, there can be a lot of material to check. Start by thinking about the high-stress areas of the garment. For a pair of jeans that might be in the seat, or on the thighs. For coats you might need to check the underarms. Check all the seams and make sure they're still intact. 

Other things like buttons or zips should also be tested. These might be more obvious to spot. 

Another thing you may not be able to account for online is the smell of a garment. But providing you order an item from a reputable seller or platform, you should still be able to return an item if it has not been listed accurately for a refund. 

How Far Should You Go To Rescue Damaged Preloved Garments?

It's so easy to fall in love with something beautiful, only to discover that the item needs a bit of work. Is it worth the effort?

Hang on, this isn't the end of the world! It all depends on your skills with needle and thread (and perhaps a sewing machine).

Some of our readers actively seek out damaged garments and repair them. They do this because an item has historical significance, or it may be an item with a lovely pattern that they wish to keep wearing.

Ideally, if you're looking for a bargain, you'll have the skills to try your hand at a bit of sashiko or not so visible mending. It could be too costly to find someone else to repair it.

Some repairs are easier than you think. For example, sewing a button back on. You can even cover up stains or small tears with some patching or a badge - it really depends on the look you're going for. 

Otherwise if an item is a bit 'over the hill', it may be one to leave for a keen sewer to take up. Maybe you could pass it on to a keen sewing friend?

Read More: Creativity Is The Number 1 Way to Solve Textile Waste

Weighing up the Price

Everything looking good so far? Make sure you check the materials of the item you're buying. This is also where you'll find the care information. Some items may be dry clean only. Which may be completely fine if its ocassionwear that you're looking for. Otherwise you'll have to factor into the price the convenience of washing your new-to-you found clothes. 

If you recognise the brand and the item has a particular style or name - this is quite common with pairs of jeans (to use our well-loved example), then you should give the item a quick search online. Check places like eBay, Vinted or Depop to see the going rate for what kind of item you're buying.

Equally, if you're a charity shop enthuasist then you'll have no issue of popping round a few more shops to see what they have to offer. Either way it's important to check if there's a better price out there.

But if the item is already £5 on a sale rack, then it's probably time to buy it before someone else does! This tip is slightly more handy for when you're looking at buying an 'investment piece'.

Time To Haggle (Politely!) & Spot Deals

It feels a bit cheeky to ask for a best price when you're shopping second-hand. But if an item is a bit more on the pricy side, the seller might be willing to give a small discount if you ask them nicely. You never know how long that item may have been languishing in their shop for! 

Equally, it is also worth asking about any discounts they have in-store or online for placing multiple orders, or ordering from a certain collection. Ebay in particular has something called "combined postage", where a seller can pass on the postage savings when you buy a few different items. 

Shop When No One Else is on eBay

Think about when you're logging on to do your online shopping. Most eBay sellers will try to list their items for auction during peak times, like on a Sunday evening. But if someone is having a clear out they may put up new items as and when. This gives you a great opportunity to swoop in during the week and snap up a bargain. So try shopping at different times of the day. 

Shopping off Season Second Hand

Why is it so hard to find the clothes we love when we want them? Usually because everyone else is buying them at the same time. This is similar to our tip on shopping at unusual times, but requires a bit more planning and investment.

Part of slow fashion is building a timeless wardrobe and not buying things on the fly. You can do this by buying your winter clothes in the summer as well as finding summer dresses just as autumn begins. Again, someone might just be clearing out of their wardrobe at just the right time for you to find something special. 

Try Different Sizes

One of the worst feelings when shopping fast fashion is that sizes vary so much between and within brands. With vintage or second hand fashion, size is still an issue which is why it is a great idea to shop in-store if you can. But you may find that sizing up or down means you have more choice when shopping online. It is as good idea to measure yourself and then check item listings or ask sellers for measurements. Also make sure that you can return the item if it doesn't fit for a refund. Again this means the whole process of shopping online for a pair of jeans may take a bit longer. But it'll be worth it. 

Research your Seller or Platform

There is such a wide range of choice for finding top quality preloved clothes online. Even on the most popular sites there are still a whole range of sellers. But it's worth checking their reviews before you buy. eBay has a handy system that shows you all the recent positive and negative reviews. Vinted and Depop also have user reviews for each account. It may be harder to check other websites, but you can see if anyone has talked about them on social media, for example. It's always worth shopping with confidence

Take Your Time

Unlike fast fashion, you might need to search for a bit longer to find your perfect item. This is the same for spotting bargains. Finding the best deal for a preloved item might take just a little bit longer. But when you finally take that item home, it feels so much more rewarding. 

Tell us about your favourite preloved bargains in the comments below!

Read More: Declutter Your Wardrobe & Take Your Unwanted Clothes Here!

Common Problems You Might Find When Searching for the Cheapest Second Hand Clothes Online and How To Deal With Them

1. Marks and stains. Often you can get marks and stains out of garments just by washing them, or use stain remover. For marks on white/light clothing, try hanging them out in the sun.

2. Rips and tears. A quality garment is still worth rescuing even if slightly damaged. Even if you don't have the skills to try a repair, it is often inexpensive to take it to your local tailor.

3. Finding your size. It can be a right chore to trawl through various shops, not being able to find your size. This is where shopping online can be your best bet. Start with eBay and expand your search to Depop and Vinted. Don't forget your independent businesses like us, or Beyond Retro. Ideally look for places that accept returns if items don't fit (again, like us!!).

4. Ending up with an item you don't like/ doesn't fit. Take a breath and imagine that moment; you've done all you can but a garment just isn't right. You've bought it online, and can't return it. The easiest thing is to think about donating or giving the item to a friend, charity or someone in need. Otherwise you could resell. A new, really easy way of dealing with a BAG of unwanted clothes (and getting rewards) is called - just order a bag, fill it and drop it off at a local inPost locker. That's it, job done.

5. Trends. You might already be trend-averse. Good on you! Shopping preloved is a more sustainable way of joining in with fashion trends. But equally it is a way to embrace your own personal style. So if you struggle with worrying if second hand clothing is trendy - just follow your gut. Try things on, style them out. Make your outfit your own.

6. You might not have the skills, time or equipment for repairs. Don't give up hope on that garment, though! See if you have a local repair cafe. They usually provide free drop in sessions where you could take a garment with a small fault and get it repaired. It could also be a great opportunity to offer up your own mending skills, or even improve your own to rescue more cheap clothes in the future. 
You can use the Repair Cafe website for an official list of repair cafe locations - although this may not be exhaustative. 
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