Second hand September - Your guide to shopping sustainably for the Autumn/Winter seasons

As the leaves begin to change and the air turns crisper, September brings with it the perfect opportunity to embrace a more sustainable approach to shopping. One of the best ways to do this is by exploring the world of second-hand shopping. Not only does it help reduce your costs and your carbon footprint, but it also allows you to find unique and stylish pieces that tell a story. When I think of Autumn/Winter pieces such as boots, wool blazers and coats I think of a high price tag, but really these items are basics!  Basics are the best pieces to shop second hand as they never go out of fashion and will be seen year after year in the second hand market for a much cheaper price than what was purchased.  Follow my top tips below for shopping second hand successfully:

1. Set Your Intentions:

Before you embark on your second-hand shopping journey, take a moment to define your intentions. Are you looking for a specific item, refreshing your wardrobe, or simply browsing? This will help you stay focused and avoid unnecessary purchases.  I am going to be focusing on jumpers, blazers and coats in my second hand purchasing this Autumn.  But I am also going to be pulling pieces from my wardrobe that I love but hardly wear and asking myself, why?  Is it because I am missing a key piece that will make this outfit pop? like do none of my shoes go with it? If that is the case I will be adding this piece to my list and looking for it second hand.  Keep a list on your phone to help you keep on track of the items you need.  I also use Pinterest a lot and have loads of boards of outfit inspiration to keep me focused on the looks I am after.  I would pull out pieces I have for the looks and note down the items that I don't to search for.  Here is an example of one of my Pinterest boards.

2) Research Local Stores and Markets and know where to shop:

Start by researching second-hand stores, thrift shops, and flea markets in your area.  I live in Cardiff and I know that the best charity shops are in Penarth, so I will be heading there to start my journey on finding my key pieces.  Vinted and Ebay often have incredible pieces, but it is a risk to buy without trying on.  What I recommend is going to the store if you can and trying on similar pieces to get a feel for the fit of the brand in order to make a better guess if the item will fit you or not.  I really struggle with coats and blazers, so I have done this a lot!  Sizes can vary widely between brands and eras, so this step can save you from purchasing something that won't ultimately work for you.  Utilising the ask the seller section will also really help you if you are shopping on sites like this.

3) Quality Over Quantity:

When shopping second-hand, prioritize quality over quantity. Inspect each item for wear and tear, stains, or any damage. Check zippers, buttons, and seams to ensure they're in good condition. A few well-made pieces are better than a closet full of items that won't last.   If shopping on Vinted use the ask the seller section and get as many extra pictures as you like.  Don't buy items from primark or cheaper items on here, if you're going to take the time you might as well shop from brands that you love, for example I will be looking for Cos, Massimo Dutti, Arket and brands like that for my second hand buying.  These sell well made and classic pieces year after year, so the items will be well made and last longer.

4) Be Patient:

Second-hand shopping requires patience. You might not find exactly what you're looking for on your first outing. Enjoy the process of searching and be open to unexpected finds.  You will never manage to buy your dream wardrobe in one season either.  The key to the perfect wardrobe is slow and steady.  If you're doing your second hand shopping online it may be a little bit easier as you can search for specific brands and items that you are wanting.  If you loved an item in Zara last year but missed out, chances are it will be on Vinted but for much less.  But when shopping second hand, be careful and don't rush.  Read the item description carefully and pay attention to the condition, measurements and signs of wear.  Look at the sellers ratings and reviews and engage in clear communication  when asking questions about the item.  If you don't feel as if they answered you properly, ask again in a different way.  Vinted also allows for negotiations, so don't be afraid to use it.

5) Focus on the basics:

Second-hand pieces can seamlessly blend with your existing wardrobe. Look for versatile items that can be easily integrated into your day-to-day outfits. A vintage blazer, a classic pair of jeans, or a unique accessory can add a touch of character to your style.  I will be focusing on classic jumpers, blazers and coats this season that can be styled for years to come.  I love the idea of matching a tonal jumper with your coat and a pair of jeans, really simple but chic.  Please refer back to my capsule wardrobe blogpost for the full idea, but looking for these capsule wardrobe pieces second hand as well, will guarantee the pieces longevity in your wardrobe.

6) Keep an Open Mind:

Part of the fun of second-hand shopping is stumbling upon unexpected treasures. Keep an open mind and explore sections of the store you might not usually visit. You might find something truly special that you didn't even know you were looking for.  Don't deviate too much from your list and buy all out there bits, you have set an intention, but do keep an open mind if you find something really unique.  Consider the potential of altering and repurposing items if you have a vision and think the item could be transformed.

In Conclusion:

If you love shopping, then the hunt of shopping second hand and the thrill of finding amazing pieces is going to be great for you. September is the perfect time to embark on a second-hand shopping adventure. Embrace the sustainable mindset, relish the thrill of the hunt, and celebrate your unique finds. By adopting a more conscious approach to fashion, you not only reduce waste but also contribute to a more environmentally friendly future.  Everyone always wants new outfits and it's a rush to buy something before it sells out, and it's almost a drug and can be unhealthy.  By stopping this obsession and shopping second hand for a month or so, it will force you to look at what you already have and force you you to only look at the pieces you need to go with what you already have.  Happy second-hand shopping!


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