The older I get, the more I’ve been thinking about the impact fast fashion has on the planet. The carbon footprint from making and shipping clothes can be enormous. Growing the cotton for one t-shirt can use 715 gallons of water, and that’s even before taking into the account shipping, and the effect of all the pesticides on the planet and on the people growing the cotton.
Before I get into this, I’m going to put a disclaimer out that I’m not perfect. I have habits like using a lot of plastic that I’m trying to get out of the cycle of, and I know there are things I do that are bad for the planet, but I’m of the impression that every little helps.
These days, about 60% of what I buy is second hand. Most of this is done through Depop. Every now and then I venture towards eBay, but for things that fall into my personal style I have a lot more luck on Depop. As and when I can, I’ll take a look in local charity shops, but the ones where I live aren’t that great. They’re always worth a look though as you never know what you might find.
I love shopping second hand. You honestly never know what you’re going to find. These days, with more and more people caring about the effect they’re having, a lot more people are selling second hand too, which means the options are much better than they used to be.
For example, take the outfit I’m wearing in these photos. Aside from the black t-shirt and fishnets (and my pants of course), the entire outfit was thrifted. That means I managed to find both tartan and leopard print items, which are really on-trend, a chakra crystal necklace, and velvet. All of these things are right up my street and apart from the velvet jacket which I’ve had years (and actually featured in my first-ever fashion blog post), the outfit cost me less than £15.
So with all that in mind, here are my top tips for thrifting clothing.
How to shop second-hand clothing:
- Go in with an open mind.
It’s good to have some sort of idea what type of garment you’re looking for. However, if you go in with an open mind you can come away with some awesome items. Be open to trying on prints or styles you wouldn’t normally go for. You might fall in love, and you won’t lose anything by just simply trying it on.
- If you’re looking for designer items, know how to not get ripped off.
A lot of people who go second-hand shopping do it with the intention of finding a designer piece at a bargain. This can be so much fun if you find something great! When looking for designer clothing, you’ve got to have a savvy head. Know the quirks of the designer, know when you’ve found a bargain and know how not to get ripped off. If you’re somewhere where you can haggle, try that.
- Learn some simple sewing techniques.
Quite often when buying second-hand clothing, it might have some small impairments which means the price is really marked down. As well as being really handy in day-to-day life anyway, knowing how to sew a button is crucial. Nab that bargain that’s missing a couple of buttons and sew on your own! While a little more tricky, being able to sew up a rip down a seam, hem a skirt or add in a new zip to replace a broken one are all fairly basic skills that might also mean you can find the garment of your dreams and fix it up to be like-new again.
- When shopping second-hand online, screenshot everything.
Shopping second-hand in person is easier because you can fully inspect the clothing before you commit to buying it. Online is harder. Yes, you can search for exactly what you want, but you have to put your trust in the description and photos uploaded by the seller. Screenshot the listing and the photos when you buy it. That way, if it arrives and it’s damaged, or the wrong size, or not like what was listed, you have the evidence to build a case around should a dispute arise about a refund or return.
- Be wary of vintage sizing.
If you’re buying vintage clothing, as sizing has changed over the years, the size you are might not actually be the size you buy. If you see something that looks like it’ll fit but it’s a different size to what you’re used to wearing, try it! It might just fit you well.
- Think of how you can customise something.
Seen an item you mostly like, but something isn’t quite doing it for you? Think of how you can customise it. Maybe it needs a belt round the middle? Could you rip the sleeves off? A white dress you love the style of could be dyed to be a colour that’s more you? All of these are easy fixes that make the outfit your own.
For more on customising clothing, see what I got up to at the Wavey Garms x Samsung customisation event.
What are your tips for buying second hand clothing? Comment below and let me know!
Photo credit: In Sophie’s Mind
Outfit details: Red velvet shirt: vintage charity shop find (£25) | T-shirt: H&M | Sunglasses: Dolce & Gabbana | Necklace: Depop (£1.50) | Shorts: Depop (Boohoo brand, £4) | Fishnets: Primark | Handbag: Depop (£2) | Shoes: Depop (Office brand, £5.50)