Why buying second hand should be second nature

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For a number of years, my wardrobe has comprised around 50% secondhand clothing and 50% items that I have intentionally bought in the sale of brands I trust. Rarely do I buy clothing that is full price.

Since I follow the Project 333 approach, that’s roughly 16 items ‘new’ and 16 or so ‘second hand’ altogether. It’s more than enough and buying second hand is such a good thing to do.

Here’s why:

Second hand offers great value for money

Buying second hand a great way to buy what you need at a fraction of the cost of what the item would have cost new.

One of my more recent second hand purchases was a gently-worn and perfect-fitting brown suede skirt from Monsoon. It cost just £8. To go with that, I picked up a Mint Velvet cowl neck knit for just £1.66.

My most recent acquisition, which inspired this post, is a little black dress by Coast. I’ll wear this for a work-related ‘do’ in early March. It cost just £9.99 from eBay and I’m currently watching a co-ordinating pair of shoes whose starting price is £3.99. My whole outfit is likely to cost less than £15 overall. I had recently sold a number of dresses myself, so the direct cost of this purchase was far less than the actual sale price. Plus, I’m sticking to my principles of one in, one out.

Pre-loved is better for the environment

My heart sinks whenever I enter a store selling ‘fast fashion’. Like me, my teenage daughter’s on the lookout for value for money, but she’s far less likely to buy second hand. Whenever I enter one of these high street stores (which, mercifully, is seldom), I’m struck by the vast quantity of merchandise which, on closer inspection, often seems flimsy and of poor quality. We all know that the world has reached ‘peak clothes’ so it’s especially important to be intentional when we buy. What better way to signal that we care about the environment by doing so via what we wear? 

Gently worn supports great causes

We often moan that today’s high street consists mainly of coffee shops, estate agents, hairdressers and charity shops. Yet, we often fail to recognise the important contribution charity shops make to the causes they serve.

Writer and friend, Rae Ritchie,  is fashion ambassador to Myton Hospices Charity Shops. Not only do these shops offer great value for money, they’re supporting a much valued local cause.

To give you a sense of their importance, Rae explains: “Myton Hospices require £8.8 million per year to fund their vital end of life care at three hospices in Coventry and Warwickshire. Their 22 stores play an important role in raising that money.”

In terms of fashion finds, Rae tells me that Myton’s Coundon store currently has some Vivienne Westwood shoes. Her own recent buys have included a vintage leather handbag, some barely used yoga pants and a denim tunic that is being continually washed and worn!

Second hand is not second best

For kids (who grow so quickly you can almost see them sprouting upwards), second hand clothes are absolutely fabulous and definitely not second best.

When our daughter was tiny, we used to buy all her clothes from the NCT Nearly New Sale. As her mummy, I loved putting all the cute little outfits together, but never had to be overly anxious about anything she wore; nothing cost more than a couple of pounds.

Once you’re fully grown (and assuming you maintain a stable weight and size), it’s wonderful to be able to buy second hand clothing online, as you know what’s going to fit. Most brands are fairly reliable in terms of sizing, so you can bid and buy with relative confidence.

Where to buy

Fargo Village in Coventry is the perfect place to meet up with friends, enjoy a coffee and a browse in the Big Comfy Bookshop. While there, nip into Myton Fargo Village, Myton Hospice’s very cool and carefully curated charity shop (and you can get a sense of their one-off bargains by checking out their Instagram account).

Dress agencies are another way to find beautiful gently-worn clothes at great prices. I used to love Corina Corina in Warwick, as well as the aptly-named Savoir Faire in Kenilworth. Anyone remember them? Sadly, they’re no longer trading, but there are lots of alternatives, notably in Leamington Spa and Solihull.

Top tip: dress agencies only keep stock for a certain period of time. Once an item remains unsold after a number of weeks, it is either returned to its owner or passed to a local charity shop.

Here in the UK, eBay sales of second hand clothes are booming. I’ve both bought and sold over the years. Here’s where your knowledge of what fits really comes into its own; I know that a Phase Eight Size 10 is a pretty good bet if I’m buying a dress, for example.

Local Facebook groups are often great sources of second hand clothes, especially kids’ bundles. For buyers, there’s the nuisance factor of having to go and collect, but it’s free for both buyers and sellers, so there’s often a good deal to be had.

Let buying second hand become second nature

So, let buying second hand become second nature. You’ll be glad you did.


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8 thoughts on “Why buying second hand should be second nature

  1. Totally agree Catherine! One of my best second hand buys was an LK Bennett black dress for £10 from one of our local charity shops! I was so pleased to have spotted it – double feel good factor: a bargain and a charity donation!! I try not to pay full retail price for anything; I am always on the lookout for deals in shops and restaurants.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed this post and strongly agree with your sentiments, mostly because I work in a Charity shop and can confirm the bargains there are to be had. Although I work in a central London shop and prices are higher than those you report, the quality of some of the items is far superior to some of the fast fashion brands on the high street. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately for me, I wear a size 16/18 and fewer of the clothes that are donated actually fit me, but I enjoy seeing customers happy with their purchases. If I were a size 10, the temptation to spend too much money would be far too great

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment, Ann! I agree, no matter what size you are, you still have to be intentional with your purchases. It’s only a bargain if you were going to buy one anyway and it’s actually going to be worn!

      Like

    2. Thanks, Lynne! Interesting that your bargain was also a little black dress! Black isn’t really a colour that suits me, but a lot of party dresses tend to be black. As you say, it’s good to avoid paying full price for anything; if you are savvy, there are discounts and good deals to be had.

      Like

  3. Love your blog and eagerly await each post. Here in the U.S. I sell outgrown kids clothes at Duck Duck Goose secondhand sales several times a year and pick up replacements for the outgrown clothes. The adult clothes get donated to The ARC, they sell your stuff in their store to benefit local disabled people and their families. I am currently attempting to implement Project 333.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. My 25 yr old daughter helped me clean out about 30 short and long sleeved t-shirts that didn’t fit my new streamlined color scheme. I gather inspiration from Denaye at Simple Families and Francine Jay at MissMinimalist. You three ladies are my go-to gurus.

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