I’ve always been a fan of vintage clothing, but secondhand clothes are now becoming my go-to… there are SO many good reasons to buy preloved.
If you read my last post about my pandemic-related struggles and why I neglected the blog for so long – namely the part about my dramatic loss of income – you’ll understand that buying new clothes has not been possible the past few years. Due to all my health issues causing a massive change in shape and size, my current (and, I must say, rather wonderful and still-loved) wardrobe has been gathering dust.
I had to find a solution to my need for clothes that fit me without breaking the bank.
It had to be, of course, buying secondhand. Buying preloved. And still buying vintage (although wonderful, buying vintage can be as pricey as buying new so it was a little more out of my grasp this time). But either way: buying preloved FOR THE WIN.
[6 min read]
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And before I carry on, if you don’t follow me on Instagram you may not have seen the new hair colour… I’ve gone well and truly darker (for now? We’ll see…)!
Shop the look:
I’ve always been partial to a bit of charity shop shopping now and then, and I’ve trawled them for homewares since forever (I can’t resist mid-century anything). But when I saw this lightweight embroidered kimono jacket it was an “Oh, I LOVE that!” moment, and I made an immediate purchase. Straight in the washing machine back home (luckily I had some darks waiting to be washed, there’s nothing worse than wanting to wash a charity shop find to get rid of The Smell, but you’ve got no other items to wash with it) and I was able to wear it next day.
I then started thinking about all the reasons why shopping secondhand is so good.
My style has become a bit boho this summer, not least because of the looseness associated with that style. And although this outfit isn’t head-to-toe secondhand, everything except the trousers is old. I bought the trousers reduced a few months ago from Asos and have worn them to death, so YES they were a new purchase but NO they weren’t a one-wear item. It turned hot very suddenly at the end of May and I needed loose, natural-fabric trousers that I could actually get up past my knees.
Anyway… let’s get back to extolling the virtues of buying secondhand and preloved. I’m not sure there’s a better way of simplifying your life where your wardrobe is concerned, so here we have…
8 great reasons to buy secondhand and preloved clothes
1. It saves you money
For me, this was the no.1 reason. I needed new clothes, but we had no money. I could spare a few quid here and there (just about!) so I decided to go to my local charity shops every time I was in the high street. This summer I’ve picked up a pink cotton jumpsuit, the kimono you see here, two pairs of cord trousers and a padded gilet for autumn/winter, different colour T-shirts, orange sliders, a sleeveless sweater… and that’s just the items I can remember. If I’d bought the equivalent new they would have cost me hundreds.
Frugal is my middle name, but so is She Has a Stylish New Wardrobe (the latter isn’t quite as catchy, I know).
2. It promotes slow fashion and helps the environment
We all know that the fashion industry is responsible for eleventy-billion percent of the world’s carbon emissions, amirite? Maybe a slight exaggeration there, but it’s something like 10% so it’s one of the biggest polluters of the planet.
Do we need any more reasons?!
Slow fashion in all its forms helps the environment no end: buying preloved means you’re still buying but the production stage is bypassed, thereby reducing your carbon footprint (even better if you don’t have to drive and can shop local on foot like I can). So by choosing to shop secondhand, you’re saving water, energy and resources which has a positive environmental and social impact on the planet.
PLUS it stops sales of fast fashion. If you can get off that fast fashion roundabout and stop buying at Primark, Zara, H&M and all those other poor choices then so much the better. I’m no saint myself – I’ll still use Asos as my go-to when I need something specific – but I’m trying to refrain as much as possible and only buy things I truly need and will wear again and again (like the trousers in this outfit).
I think landfill is one of the most HEINOUS things on this planet and I do everything in my power to make sure my personal landfill contribution (i.e. what isn’t recycled and has to go in our bins at home) is kept to the absolute minimum. I’m shocked and appalled to hear that people put clothes… IN THE BIN?! Who does that??
If it can’t be sold, I’ll donate it to charity. If it’s not good enough for charity, I’ll use it as rags. If I can’t use it as rags, I’ll put it in the textiles recycling. I’ve gone off topic a bit where “It promotes slow fashion and helps the environment” is concerned, but it all ties in. Shopping secondhand means you’re buying something that may have ended up in the bin, god forbid that anyone does that, but apparently they do.
3. It helps you in a wardrobe crisis
If you’ve found your body has changed dramatically – bigger or smaller, maybe you’re pregnant, or you need a new wardrobe for a new job or a holiday or an event or a wedding to which you’ve got nothing to wear (the scenarios are endless) – then shopping secondhand can save you. It saved me, going into a new season (summer) and finding out I had nothing cool enough to wear that I could fit into.
Vintage gowns are PERFECT for events (see point 4, below). Worn-once occasion dresses are an excellent choice for a garden party or wedding. My 89-year-old mother has lost a lot of weight (and height!) over the past few years, and I’m always picking up things for her in the local charity shop to bulk up her wardrobe a bit… everything was starting to hang off her and look way too big. Preloved is the answer.
4. You end up with unique pieces
Back in the days when I used to attend blogger awards events (seems so long ago now…) I used to buy something new to wear each time, but nearly every time I bought vintage. I didn’t have to worry about turning up in the same dress/outfit as someone else. Shopping preloved means you not only end up with unique pieces but also a unique style. You’ll never look like a clone, and even better: secondhand clothes, unless very new, often don’t go out of fashion.
As I’ve always said about vintage: it can’t date, it’s dated already…!
5. Shopping in charity shops supports good causes
I’ll never regret any purchase I make from charity shops because the money goes to… er, charity. It means I’m shopping local AND donating money. You’re not contributing to any huge multinational conglomerate or company that has child labour or poor working practices. It’s guilt-free, feel-good shopping.
6. The thrill of the chase (or the find)
In a charity shop, I love not knowing what you’re going to find. Some of my favourite pieces have been charity shop treasures… see kimono, above. I’m always boasting about my preloved finds to friends and family (“Look at my pink jumpsuit! Cost me six quid at a charity shop!”) – there’s no shame in shopping secondhand anymore.
And there’s something about winning the bid for that extra special item on eBay that I CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF. (That’s the sort of cheap thrills I have going on in my life these days.) What I also do with eBay is save a search for a very particular item – good for preloved designer items or a limited edition something – and then I’ll get an email as soon as something matching my search is listed. You can never beat the thrill of the chase.
7. If it doesn’t work, you can just return it to the charity shop
This is a no-brainer, and what I always remind myself when buying items I’m maybe not sure about. If it doesn’t fit or I’m not 100% happy with it, I’ll return it to the charity shop and they’ll earn more money from it. My only loss is a few quid that went to a good cause, and I’m okay with that.
It’s a bit different when buying things from eBay or Vinted, etc. but I still think “Well I’m sure they’re selling the item as they need the cash, so that’s fine.” And when it goes to the charity shop they’ll make money out of it.
Everyone’s a winner.
✷ ✷ ✷ ✷ ✷
If you need some where-to-shop-secondhand inspo, I’d say the best places are your local charity shops (if you have a larger warehouse-style one near you like I do, even better), car boot sales, jumble sales, eBay, Etsy (be careful with Etsy, it can be a little pricier), Facebook Marketplace and all the apps/sites where people sell their preloved items like Depop and Vinted.
Above all, ENJOY THE PROCESS. Know that you can’t go wrong with any purchase you make. But don’t go pinching anything I’ve got my eye on 😉
Your turn – do YOU shop secondhand, preloved or vintage (or all three)? Got any preloved clothes shopping tips for us? Comment below…!
Thanks for reading,
Kimono: Charity shop (love this one, this one and this one) / T-shirt: Old / Trousers: Asos / Trainers: Old (shop preloved flatform trainers here) / Bag: Old (similar) / Sunglasses: Asos (shop preloved oversized sunglasses here) / Necklace: Old / Giraffe pin: London Zoo (similar)
Other preloved kimonos you might like:
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