Secondhand clothing secrets – your opinion

May 29, 2024 | News

We asked our readers where they shop for second-hand clothing and what they love about it. Here’s what readers said

Positive News magazine’s new issue reports that secondhand fashion is on the rise. What makes people choose pre-loved clothing? Where do you find your secondhand bargains? Does it make you more inventive?

We asked our readers these questions and were as always overwhelmed by the responses. Here are your second-hand sartorial tips.

Your secrets for buying second-hand clothes

“I first discovered secondhand clothes in the early 1980s when I was 16 years old. I bought fabulous 1930s-1960s clothing for pennies at what were then called ‘junk stores’. Secondhand clothes like Chanel-look ’60s suits, New Look dresses, genuine WWII silk stockings with a seam, and stunning winklepicker footwear sparked a lifelong love of secondhand clothes. I rarely buy new today. I’m now 61 and still buy most of my clothes from charity shops and vintage outlets. It’s been a lifelong obsession and I don’t need to spend a lot to look different. – Kate, Devon.

“I spent my 20s shopping in malls for cheap fast fashion. When I was around 30, I had an ‘ah ha’ moment. I was thrilled to be able to wear these pieces. A friend in her 70s was cleaning out her closet and gave me and another friend some well-preserved, unique pieces. I thought, “If I accept clothes worn by someone that I know, is it really important if I have clothes from someone else?” I discovered thredUp. It’s amazing. They have tried to make online shopping for pre-loved clothes as close as possible to the traditional way of shopping. I have found some amazing clothes. In traditional shopping I would not have seen them and if I had, they would have cost a lot of money.” – Tracey from New York, US

“I use Vinted a lot. I love the fact that you can filter by sizes, price (low to high), and colors. I’ve stopped buying from high street shops because you can often find the items you want secondhand, which are more original and cheaper. This was not a conscious decision, but I have stopped shopping with the usual retailers. Vinted recently sent me a PS1 coverup that I am absolutely in love with.” – Taya from Nottingham, UK

“As a shy high school student in France, wearing vintage clothes from my mother was my favorite way to express myself. This was way before it became cool. I bought or made most of my clothing as a costume design student. This was mainly due to budget but also because I wanted to find unique pieces. After working as tailor at Selfridges, I became obsessed with mending and altering clothes. I still enjoy browsing charity and vintage shops in brick and mortar stores, but I’ve also been using apps such as By Rotation and Vestiaire Collective. I rarely shop on the high street, and when I do I research the brand before buying. The Good on You is a great resource. I recently picked up a jacket from my grandpa’s shop during a clear-out. I found out that he had repaired it himself. I started adding visible mends using old family photos printed on fabric. I hope to wear soon!” – Johanne from London, UK

I wore my mother’s vintage clothes long before it became cool.

“I was a fashion designer, and I still made and altered my own clothes. Then I moved from England to England, where the charity shops were amazing. I’ve been buying from them for 27 years. I have never had much money but this has allowed me to experiment, find my own style and help charities and the planet. I like to alter clothes or embellish them. After all these years, I have a closet full of individualistic clothing that fits me perfectly. Jill, London

“I go to the’shop’ of me first because I have forgotten items in a wardrobe or drawer. Vinted is my favourite. I recently gave a talk on stage wearing a PS4 gown I bought there. Vinted is where my sons also buy their designer clothes. We occasionally treasure hunt in charity shops and choose an upmarket area such as Chiswick, Richmond, or Chelsea [in London] with more quality brands.” Mandy, London

According to you, pre-owned items are a great way to save money, reduce waste and stand out. Megan Lee

“I am in my mid-20s, and I have been buying most of my clothes secondhand since over a decade. My dad used to take me to the thrift stores in rural areas of the US, where I grew up. Somewhere along the line, I began to see the incredible deals that we could get there. $1 for the leather jacket I proudly worn to high school. It took a while to get over the stigma that was attached, which has lessened in recent years but still exists among certain socioeconomic groups and cultural groups. I’ve always been price-conscious, so this aspect appealed to my natural nature. But I’ve had a long-standing ‘waste no, want no’ ethos which has evolved into a desire for sustainability, as I have grown and learned more. I now only shop secondhand. There are very few exceptions, such as pieces that can be difficult to find at charity shops or vintage stores.

“I used to be a part of a fast fashion company, and I felt that it was against my core values to support them. Since I left I have bought my clothes secondhand. I also wear anything I buy new as often as I can to give it a longer life.

“I have been a charity shop shopper for over 45 years. I donate anything that could be useful to someone else. It’s funny that when I go to a wedding or meet friends, I will wear a PS500 down jacket that I bought for PS12 or a branded product for a fractional price and people always comment how well dressed I am! I only buy the things I need, and my policy is one thing in, one thing out’.” – Libby, Dumfries.

Libby from Dumfries reportss success with her one in one out wardrobe policy. Image: girl in red hat

“I make dresses out of loudly printed aprons and long A-line gowns from doona covers [duvet covers] and other large pieces of furnishing fabrics. The doona covers I use are usually those of kids, with beautiful graphics that I applique to create a new look (e.g. Batman’s lips are made up of Bratz dolls. I always get compliments on them!” – Iris from Perth, Australia

“My mum took my to my first jumble in 1972 when I was a baby, and I never looked behind. At 16, I made our Prince concert costumes from vintage clothing. Now, at 52, I have my own small business, transforming old jackets and sea glass into wearable art and new jewellery.

“As a woman of plus-size, it is difficult to find clothes that fit me from mainstream retailers, let alone at a reasonable price. Vinted has helped me find some great finds and give other people’s clothing a second chance. I’ve reduced my online shopping and return by around 80%.”

Main Image: SolStock

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