If you regularly follow me on social media you will be familiar with my love of preloved, secondhand, charity shopping! I will confidently say that my wardrobe consists of 60%, perhaps more, preloved pieces now across clothing, footwear and accessories! Where did it all start though?
Skirt, ASOS via Hospice St Francis
As a fashion buyer it was part of my job to shop the UK, Europe and America for inspiration for the next range I put together alongside my designer. We shopped for colour palette inspiration, knit technique inspiration, style inspo and fabric inspo! It was great fun and the inspirational shopping began to form the basis of the range we were about to put into work for the season ahead.
We would shop with both our own passion and style but always with our customer profile in mind as we wanted to find things that would inspire the next best sellers! My favourite place to find inspiration was always the vintage shops, so much to scour through and it ensured the range we were designing into was authentic and as original as it could be. I would spend full days shopping and find amazing pieces and that's why I still love it today!
I thought I would share both my top tips for shopping preloved but also share some of my favourite places to find
great pieces too, both online and in store.
Shopping preloved is a great sustainable way to shop to help slow the production of fast fashion down and reduce the vast quantities reaching landfill every year. Many pieces you find preloved are in fact new with labels, usually referenced as BNWT (brand new with tags), so if you see that, the garment hasn't even been worn! Hopefully these tips will help encourage you to shop more preloved if you do it already or venture into as something new if you are yet to try it!
L-R: Dress, Zara via The Childrens Society, Skirt, Zara via Hospice St Francis, Dress, Vinatge via Scope Retail
Tips for shopping preloved
Wardrobe Edit - I always stress that before you do any shopping, preloved or new, it is really important to familiarise yourself with what you already have. That way you can create a focused shopping list of what you want, what you need and ensure you are making what you have more versatile and not impulse buying.
Brands - Focus on the brands you know and love and that way you are familiar with the fit, quality and style you like. This will allow you to do focused searches on the online preloved sites and if you are in a charity shop or preloved store you can quickly scout through back neck labels or footwear to find the brands you know and love! I am a huge fan of Essentiel Antwerp but the price tag doesn't allow me to really be brand loyal so I always hunt this out preloved, with sellers I know, online sites and charity shops!
Sizing - I refer to this very loosely as we all know the pain of store sizing but it is good to know the size you need. Even if you pop into a local store and try a few things to know you fit a size 12 in the tops and a size 14 in the bottoms for a particular brand then you can search those sizes online or instore too. Always check return policies as its good to know many charity shops and online preloved sites do operate a returns option as you are unable to try the items on so you can buy with confidence that your money will not be wasted if the garment doesn't fit.
Patience - The online sites and the stores that stock preloved will not look as well merchandised or perhaps as pretty as new stores with full ranges so you do need to allow yourself time to look and this is part of the fun! However, if you have covered the 3 points above it will make that browsing and shopping more focused anyway! I will add though that charity shops and preloved boutiques are looking fab these days, merchandising in colours and stories or by size, as they have such an abundance of stock.
Instinct - I always say forget the rules and go with instinct and react! As you scour the rails something may catch your eye for colour or style, something unique and unusual so be bold and give it a go. Preloved is kind on the purse so its a great way to play with new colours and styles without breaking the bank and you have been drawn to it for a reason. Preloved tends to be unique pieces so there is no extra stock out back so you have to act fast as the turn around of stock is fast! Have fun with it! I find great quirky bags, belts and necklaces preloved for silly money! Great additions to my wardrobe! My favourite accessories have been found in my local charity shops!
Tips for where to shop Preloved
There are of course all the usual suspects when it comes to shopping secondhand that you are likely to be familiar with, eBay, Depop and Vinted. Ebay has got a little overcrowded so you need to really know what you want to use this platform and do a focused search. Depop and Vinted is similar but the great thing is that they are regularly people selling second hand clothes, Vinted is great as there are no fees so this is quite popular.
I am also a huge fan of your local charity shops too! I am very lucky to have 3 fantastic local charity shops to me that I have built a relationship with as both a customer but as work colleagues too and we support each other as I love sharing their fabulous stock with my clients! Try and check out your local stores and you may be surprised by what you find.
Preloved has also become so popular it has created many amazing entrepreneurs who have set up businesses selling and buying preloved, genius! There are an abundance of places to buy these preloved now so I thought i would share some of my current faves with you. Here are some of my standouts, and they are all linked for website or insta page connections!
Lizzie and Gemma come from a retail and marketing background so are well experienced in both product and how to sell to you. They stock the most beautiful higher end product across clothing, accessories and shoes. You really do need to act fast though as so many things I have been tempted by have sold before I have been able to make a decision! You are getting great brands at affordable prices and these are great investment pieces. They make certain brands more attainable if they perhaps they are not full price. You can buy their gorgeous pieces via their website www.yourprelovedstories.com and they allow return of goods in original condition so its great to be able to try the pieces at home.
Mia has a fantastic mix of both high street, designer and my fave, Vintage within her preloved collection. Essentiel Antwerp is one of my favourite brands and I have been lucky enough to buy some preloved pieces from her page at a fraction of the full price cost! Mia does some great lives too for you to snap up pieces you immediately see and so get the chance to ask lots of questions along the way! If there is something you are particularly looking for too you can ask Mia and she will help source those specific things! Mia covers clothing, shoes and accessories and you can purely purchase via her instagram page so go and check her out!
I discovered The Second Row, run by Katie, via Instagram and have been lucky enough to snap some great pieces from the site! These preloved pieces tend to be past owned by celebrities or fashion influencers and work as one off flash sales! The particular influencer or celebrity's flash sale is advertised and then prior to launch the pieces are shared on the website for viewing to see if there is anything you like the look off. Once live it is on a first come first served basis! It's quite a fun way to shop preloved and you have to be super speedy to get what you are after. The pieces tend to be anything from high street to designer. Anything not immediately sold can still be found on the website and can easily be searched by previous owner, category or by size. I have found some great pieces once owned by Rachel Stevens of S Club 7, Fran Bacon of @thefashion_lift and Debbie of @thefashionablepan all ladies whose style I admire so their pieces always work well into my wardrobe.
Wear Not Want Not is run by another Katie who has also made a successful business out of buying and selling preloved pieces, covering clothes, accessories and beauty. Katie very much targets on sharing some key trends and then the preloved pieces she currently has in stock that works into those trends. I do particularly love this as it demonstrates that you can be up to date with current trends through preloved pieces too making it very affordable and the chance to try something new! Katie offers a refund policy too, so if you try and aren't sure you can return which is great as I know this can sometimes put people off trying preloved! I have got some great pieces from Katie in the past including my special sequinned Self Portrait dress I wore to The Ned recently! This is another brand that I could never afford full price so its great to enjoy it at a preloved price!
Dress, Self portrait via Wear Not Want Not
Re-Style Tribe is an Insta account run by Moi who I feel brings a whole lot of fun to the world of preloved! Moi's work is endless and pretty much every week (or sometimes it feels like twice a week) she brings a new drop of preloved pieces at super amazing prices for you to buy live on Instagram! It's first come first served and I must say that by the end of the live there usually isn't much left on her rail which shows her selection is great and clearly there is something there for everyone! Moi also wears very simple clothes throughout so she can just pop pieces on for you to see how some of the styles work when on the body which is great! Watch out for her next live which tends to be around 7pm on a Sunday! Oh I also love how she always looks to have a G&T on the go too! Shopping is absolutely fun and social!
I have to give Sara from Rebel Rags Vintage a shout out! Sara again is so much fun with her sales of preloved vintage and creates entire looks from the items she has to sell. If it is purely vintage you are after then Sara is your women and has the most gorgeous, unique items she has usually sourced from London. I have got some great graphic tees from Sara, always unique and they always receive lovely comments! I put them with skirts or under blazers and get so much wear from them. Sara also does some live sales too which meany of the preloved sellers do as they get so much engagement and its great to be able to ask questions there and then! Go and check out her page from some fabulous style inspo! If you haven't bought vintage before you are bound to after seeing her page!
If you follow my insta account you will know Eliza and her preloved page @twenty_outfits. Eliza isn't just a preloved seller I have used but also a local friend too! We have collaborated at a couple of events and I am a huge fan of her preloved sourcing, both core and vintage! Some of my most favourite preloved pieces I own and have bought have come from her sales! Eliza nails unique pieces, bright colours and constantly shares fab ways of styling them. Eliza sells her items not just on Insta but also Depop and pops up at various in person markets too both local to St Albans and in London too where she sources a lot of her pieces!
I first met and worked with Susan of Preloved Shop Insta in lockdown when I ran a week of lives with some amazing ladies that both sold and bought vintage! Susan is another preloved seller that has a great mix of high street but predominantly vintage so always some great unique pieces to be found. I love how Susan has created her own community of "preloved Ladies" where images are shared of her customers wearing their fabulous purchases. You can buy pieces from Susan's insta page, website or her live sales too and if you are lucky you will snap something up in the amazing flash sales she regularly runs! They are great if like me you love a bargain!
If I am honest I could go on and on as I have used so many sellers of insta, as well as the usual online suspects and as you are aware I am regularly in my local charity shops always finding something to re home! The world of preloved is endless and I just totally adore it and I can see more and more of you embracing it as a new way of shopping!
If you would like any help navigating preloved or would even like me to help style you in some preloved pieces then why not get in touch with me and see how i can help! Even if you just introduce a few pieces to your wardrobe! Its fun, it's affordable and its kind to the environment, whats not to love!