How to successfully shop secondhand online

As it’s secondhand September, I’ve been thinking about how buying pre-owned clothes can become the preferred option for more and more people.  The over-production of new clothes is such a huge problem environmentally and socially.  Shopping secondhand is such a good solution since it allows you to look just as good – wait, better! – than you would buying brand new clothing, while saving money and keeping clothing out of landfill. 

I recently shared a post that addressed common barriers to buying preloved clothing and you can find it here.  One genuine obstacle to secondhand success is that it can be tough to score the right clothes for you on platforms such as eBay, Depop or Vinted: The choice can feel overwhelming, you don’t get to try clothes on and sometimes when your purchase arrives it’s a disappointment. Here’s what I’ve learnt the hard way:

Look out for photos of the item being worn

Seeing what a piece of clothing looks like on can really help.  I bought this cardigan assuming it was waist-length.   It turned out to be really long and hence much less flattering than I’d anticipated.  So sad!  Now I rarely purchase anything that’s not pictured on a person.   That gives you an accurate impression of how it’s likely to look.   

Ask sellers questions – and make offers!

Sellers online are almost always happy to provide actual measurements, details of fabric type and care instructions, or questions such as, ‘Is it true to size?’.  I usually offer -10% versus the asking price and have rarely been refused. 

Use platforms that authenticate labels

If you’re considering buying a designer or luxury item, I recommend using a platform with stringent authentication processes in place such as Recycled by Grace or Vestiaire Collective to avoid any chance of receiving a fake. 

Know your personal style

It sounds so obvious, but having a really clear idea of your personal style is indispensable.  My guide to defining your look in three words can be found here.  Knowing this can guide you to the pieces that were meant for you.  My style definition is ‘detail, colour, contemporary’; knowing that, I only choose pieces that are true to me. 

I hope these tips help. Happy shopping!


#thanksitsthrifted #secondhandfirst #sustainablefashion #thriftedfashion #secondhandseptember

Published by jengreggs

I'm a London-based writer and blogger focused on sustainability in fashion. My purpose is to help everyone discover the joy of living more sustainably.

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