Look good for less by buying second hand clothes

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Today I have a guest post by Jennifer about how you can save a massive amount of money on fashion by buying second hand. Over to Jennifer…

I love buying clothes. I love it a lot more than my purse loves it, so to make thing easier on both of us, I save money by buying clothes second hand. After years of doing this the majority of my wardrobe is now second hand and it’s become quite a passion of mine – you can see some of my best finds on my blog where I record how my money saving and money making activities help me to lead the lifestyle I want.

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Even if you’re the kind of person who isn’t too bothered about clothes and you just want to keep yourself in essentials, I believe that buying second hand can give you good savings. Of course there are a few shops where you might be able to pick things up for a similar price, however by buying second hand you can get items of much higher quality for the same money which will last a lot longer so are much better value in the long run.

However it can be overwhelming if you’re used to buying clothes new from shops where everything is well-presented, orderly and available in a range of sizes. How best to go about it?

General tips for buying second hand clothes

  • Have a list of what you are looking for. This will help to focus your attention when faced with racks of clothes or tubs of bags which may be a bit of a jumble – or endless online listings!
  • Go for quality – there’s little point buying something that may only be a pound or two less than it originally sold for and might look too good after a few wash cycles. Seek out the best stuff in the shop to really get the most for your money.
  • Try things on where possible and check returns policies where it’s not. Some charity shops will often exchange only, and many sellers on eBay don’t offer returns at all. If this is the case and you’re not sure if will fit, consider whether you’ll be able to sell it on and make back your money.

So with these guiding principles in mind, where should you go hunting for these second hand bargains?

Charity shops – the richest pickings

The majority of my second hand buys are from charity shops, it’s such an advantage getting to properly see and handle and usually try on the clothes. I also  think these are where you get the best value as long as you’ve got time to look through a lot of items which may not be particularly well-organised (if time is short, one of the other options listed below may be better) and there are a few things to keep in mind when seeking the best bargains.

  • It’s worth thinking about exactly where you choose to hit the charity shops, depending on whether you’re more interested in the absolute cheapest prices, or getting nicer, higher-end items at a price that is still good. Charity shops will often distribute items according to where they can sell them for most profit so the really good stuff that’s still in great condition gets sent to wealthier areas.
  • You will often find better prices from the shops run by local charities that just have a few branches in one particular area compared to the well-known national ones.
  • Look out for sales! People often don’t realise that charity shops have end of season sales just like regular shops – but with much better discounts! Sales I have taken advantage this year have included 70% off ALL items and all items for £1. If you go somewhere regularly and get friendly with the staff you might be able to get a heads up on when these will start.

Dress agencies

These are shops where the owner will sell things on behalf of individuals, who will be paid a percentage of the sale price. They tend to be fairly high quality items and appearance wise are more like standard shops which means the prices are a lot higher than charity shops, but they can be a good option if you’re looking for a special occasion dress or other high quality item.

Car boot sales

Prices can be excellent at car boot sales but there is a lot less on offer compared to shops – however these can be a winner for children’s clothes as you can find very cheap items which have often had little wear before being outgrown.

Buying second hand online

Everyone knows about eBay and you can certainly still pick up a bargain here, especially if you are searching for a specific item. However, changes to fees over the years and increasing competition mean other sites are now often better places to buy from. If you want to try your luck with the auction format, eBay is still king but for fixed price items there are lots of options – a few examples I’ve found luck with include Vinted, Depop and Clothes Shack.

Facebook selling groups have ballooned in popularity, and the local selling groups offer a chance to cut out the delivery fees which can make other online purchases so costly as you can collect from the seller.

If you are a big fan of a particular brand, you will probably find a Facebook group dedicated to buying/selling/swapping items from that brand – for example I am a member of several Lindy Bop dress and Irregular Choice shoe groups, as if I have my eye on something in particular I will often be able to get them in these groups still in excellent condition but at a lot less than RRP.

My biggest tip for getting bargains online would be consider buying BUNDLES on eBay or Facebook. Often people list things in bundles because they don’t want to spend the time listing everything separately and just want to sell them as quickly as possible. This means they can be very good value, even if you don’t actually want everything yourself – by picking out the things you want to keep and selling on the rest individually, it’s possible to make back as much or even more than the bundle cost you in the first place!

I hope some of these tips are helpful, and if you’d like to see more of my second hand finds and tips you can also follow me on twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.

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