Green Living: A Guide to Shopping Vintage and Second-Hand

The last few weeks has seen about 15 parcels arrive on my doorstep as I started buying second-hand and vintage pieces for Spring and Summer. I got lucky in that everything I’ve bought so far has fit really well, but from now on I don’t really want to leave it to luck.

I’ve put together a list of tips so you can get the most out of your second-hand and vintage shopping, both online and in person.

1. Have a list of what you need. Etsy and eBay have tens of thousands of items of clothing, that it really is overwhelming to just browse. You may end up with lots of great pieces, but if there are things you need (for example, I needed flat leather sandals, 3 or 4 dresses, some denim shorts and at least one maxi dress) you should keep that list next to the computer or in your purse.

2. Know your measurements! This post on FreckledNest sums up everything you need to know about taking measurements for buying vintage dresses – it’s incredibly helpful and well worth a look. Keep a note with your measurements beside the computer and another one in your purse.

3. Work with what you know. If you have favourite current labels that you know fit well, then it’s worth scouting for second-hand or even BNWT (Brand New With Tags) pieces on eBay. I picked up 4 Anthropologie dresses recently for between $20-$90 because I now know that their size 6US fits perfectly. Keep a note of these too and you can snap up a bargain if you see it.

4. Be patient. Set up searches for the things you’re really after (I use the eBay app on my iPhone, which keeps track of new listings for things I’m looking for) and don’t settle for anything you’re not 100% sure of.When shopping in person, understand that it may take a few visits to your local second-hand/vintage/op-shop to strike gold. Plus chatting with the staff will help you figure out when they restock the store, when they have discount days and if there’s anything exciting waiting out the back.

5. Read carefully! When shopping online, be sure to read the descriptions carefully, as well as the sales conditions, shipping estimates and other essentials. Nothing worse than just skimming the description, only to find there is a stain on the garment or a button missing.

I’m certainly no expert, but I’ve been amazed at how much further my dollar stretches when shopping this way, plus that buzz you get knowing you’re wearing something one-of-a-kind. I do also love the environmental benefits of buying vintage and second-hand, plus it’s kind of like a scavenger hunt, with really good prizes!

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