Second hand, preloved, preowned, hand-me-down, borrowed… whatever you prefer to call it, we are down for it! Shopping secondhand is an easy and accessible way to get a diverse, long-lasting wardrobe you will love whilst minimising the impact that the production of fashion has on our planet's resources.
This month, Oxfam's Second Hand September campaign has encouraged us all to think twice before we buy new. Up for the challenge of getting a better balance? We explore how to change your mindset when it comes to refreshing your wardrobe. Here are our top tips on how to get the best out of shopping secondhand.
A personal favourite of ours here at treen and long-standing obsession. A platform you can search for any brand, style or item and it will show matching results for a lower price? Erm, yeah, count us in!
Learn the lingo. Not as scary as it sounds but there is definitely a seperate language when it comes to shopping secondhand. The good thing is that it doesn’t change. These terms have been used for years and are a great way to help you shop smart. See a few must-know terms below that will help you say ‘hell yes’, or ‘hell no’.
Ask questions. Make sure to use the tools eBay provide to get the best out of your experience. If you are flicking through an item and find you are asking, ‘I wonder what the back looks like’, or ‘I wonder if it is true to size’, then just ask! Ask for info if possible, or for more pictures. Remember most of the people at the other end of the message are just like you, so be kind. They once loved this item and have, for whatever reason, decided to sell.
‘Check out my other items’ searching. If you find an item you are head over heels in love with, it’s your style, your size and you want more, select ‘seller’s other items’ and you just might have hit the jackpot. Sellers often are happy to combine postage. Again, just ask.
Browse, budget and keep your cool. Typing in ‘Stella McCartney Boots’ and seeing a ton of results under £50 will, of course, be jaw dropping. However, depending on the condition of the item and when it was listed (often sellers start low to attract attention which is fine) this likely will not be the final sale price. Set yourself a budget, always check out other options (you can save everything to a watch list so no worries about not finding them again) then make your decision. Once you have found the one, play it cool when bidding. Jumping in on day one of the items listing with a large bid will only see it go even higher. Wait as late as you can to bid, the last minute if you can stomach it. And if you ‘lose’ the item, then it wasn’t meant to be. It’s all part of shopping secondhand.
Charity shops have exploded in the last few years! We love overhearing managers and sales associates in charity shops talking about window displays and sales targets, treating it as you would with any retail space. Charity shops are doing everything they can to make your experience the best. They have high standards and want to wow you and find an item you will fall in love with. So drop any feeling of dusty, smelly, worn before thoughts. These shops mean business.
Keep an open mind and ask the right questions. Shop with an open mind. Just as with eBay, check out the item of interest in detail. Ask yourself: is it in good condition, is it by a brand you trust, can you think of ways you will outfit the item?
Be prepared to rummage. We don't mind doing this in regular stores when items are marked down, and charity shopping is no different. Start at the beginning and work your way through a rail. If a print catches your eye, go with your gut and check it out. As each item is unique, it's worth digging to see what treasures you will find.
Visit regularly. With charity shops’ stock being somewhat out of their control, keep in mind that if you go once and you see nothing, this might not be the case the second or third time. Give the shops a chance and visit regularly to get the best chance of getting some great finds! Top tip? Visit when you are thinking about something new - in between seasons, after the summer holidays, after sale season, and be prepared to shop off season. This can seriously pay off.
Remember when we were younger and asking a friend to borrow their top for an event was no big deal? Why should it be any different now?! It can't hurt to ask, and you can return the favour. Say you have a few pieces you just don’t wear anymore, you can’t explain it but it just doesn't work for you anymore. What better place to see them go than to a friend? Maybe they have complimented you on it before and the thought will make their day!
Find your tribe. Get involved with a community of people who love fashion as much as you. Start right here and get to know other treen shoppers over on the 'gram.
You've got this. For September, and every other month, let's try to keep a balance. Want to know more about Oxfam's campaign? Check it out here.