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July 19, 2022

Shopping for Preloved Without Sacrificing Style

Recycled shopping/thrifting/Charity/flea markets. Buying something that someone else has already used is the simplest and most fun way to decrease your fashion carbon imprint. I have been doing it for very long time. Hunting for unique vintage pieces, for quality and designer clothing at bargain prices!

“The True Cost” is a movie about fashion… If you have not seen it I highly recommend it. Watching this movie made me rethink about how every individual can have an effect on this industry, which is now a major environmental problem. This movie was a huge influence and inspiration for my blog. In one of the opening shots glamorous models look like they are about to go down a runway, and it cuts to a shot of faceless hands working at a sewing machine. Fashion marketing is curated, sexy, aspirational. What goes on behind what we buy and wear is rarely considered. I’ve had my own fashion label. I tried to produce quality pieces that lasted, but we were pushed into a lower price point, faster fashion and when it became challenging, I walked away. The new product was no longer something that I was passionate about doing.

Time and energy is often a barrier to an eco conscious life. Curating a more sustainable wardrobe is a creative, fabulous and fun pastime! Below are some very simple tips on how to buy second-hand clothing without sacrificing style! My recommendation for beginners is to go to an area where you know there are a few Opp shops/options so if you don’t find anything in the first shop you probably wont go home disappointed or empty handed. If you live in Sydney some areas might be Rockdale, Marrickville or Rozelle/ Rozelle markets.

It will help to prepare a little before you go shopping. Worst case though you can return unwanted item back and you’ve donated money to a good cause! But the aim is to walk out with a couple of pieces that you love and will wear regularly.

Preparation- Work out what you need. They often try to categorize used clothing in styles and colours but the amount and variety of random items can still be overwhelming. You could start with say 2 items eg. jeans and a top; jacket and a dress. Have an idea of what you’re looking for before you arrive you can stick to specific racks and areas.  Also if you check your wardrobe you might find a few items you don’t want and can take to donate! If your wardrobe is in need of a organise as much as mine… You might also find some things you’ve purchased and forgotten about! Win Win!!

Consider the purpose? What is the gap in your wardrobe casual/dressy/work etc… This will help to decide which fabrics/styles are better suited. Make sure its practical. Do you want something stretchy you can move in, or dressier and tailored. Light for summer: Warm or layered for winter.

What styles suit you? What are your favourite items of clothing? Think about the cuts/the shapes. The clothes you grab for without having to think hard about how to wear them. What colours do you wear? What will work with your current wardrobe? Pieces that always make you feel good!

In The Shop- The quickest and easiest way to find your pieces is to flick through the racks. Look for the colours and fabrics that jump out and then the style. Check the labels, is it your size? Is it a good brand? Fabric content? Where is it made?

What are you looking for- Ideally quality natural materials, good labels. I’m always drawn to better quality/vintage/designer fashion, I know they will probably wash better and last longer. I avoid buying synthetic materials because they are non-biodegradable and the microfibres from washing them are released into our oceans, also I don’t like the feel. I steer clear of “fast fashion” brands. Its a big plus if I find something made in Australia, Italy, France. UK, Switzerland, US, Japan, Korea, usually better quality and better working conditions in these countries… If your not sure about a brand, you can google labels whilst your in the store! Stick to your areas, but keep an open mind and look for a mix of things, familiar styles you know work on you and different or unique pieces you might not usually wear! Get a bit creative with cuts and patterns/colours and take advantage of the random variety. I generally look for stuff in my own size but also wear things oversized and often get pieces re-tailored from beautiful linens/cottons when I find them.

Try everything on!- Now is the time to switch on your mental filter so you don’t buy a heap of clothing that won’t work when you get it home. Purchase only the stuff that you really love! Fabrics/colours you like and pieces that flatter your body shape! It’s a great opportunity to try a slightly new look. Make sure you feel comfortable in it and if your not sure try it on again. Is it too worn or the cut not quite right? Put it back. Think about where you can wear it and what it could work with in your existing wardrobe. If you fall in love with something that will need altering and your not a maker you can always find a good tailor. Walking out with 1-2 pieces from a shopping trip is a win!

There are a number of places to buy second hand- Opp shops, vintage shops, Used Designer shops, markets, Facebook pages (Used clothing and goods by Area, Used Designer by Brand Names, Facebook Marketplace), Instagram, and garage sales.

Donating clothes tip- Don’t use the opp shops/ charity shops as a rubbish bin! Your wasting resources if its unwearable, throw it away! Recycle your better quality pieces that someone else can enjoy!

Hope you start to enjoy buying second hand as much as I do! Thanks for visiting!

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Chrissy Hammond  |  Contribution: 2,035