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Second-Hand Shopping: Where and What to Look For

It's time to get excited! Second Hand Shopping is in and it's the perfect time to dive into the world of pre-loved fashion with the cost of living crisis. Budget-friendly shopping options are now more welcome than ever, giving you the opportunity to give your wardrobe a unique style and find luxury fabrics like: mohair, silk, and leather at a fraction of the cost. It's giving...shal' we say, the perfect opportunity to explore the world of pre-loved, vintage, and unique fashion. Plus, there are so many other benefits to buying second-hand clothing: kinder for the environment, unique style, and no awkward (they're wearing the same thing as me, where can I hide) moments.

But how do you know where to look? Well, D|+ Sign KelCHer is here to lay out a 411 guide for you as you embark on your pre-loved style journey.

First, search for specific pieces online or hit the vintage markets, like Covent Garden or Brick Lane in London. If you're not in London, maybe you'll luck up and someone will consign a limited edition handbag from one of these, you just had to be there, shops - like this Gucci Garden Eye Wallet:

Then, get to sniffing (literally) - if something smells questionable in the shop, chances are, it always will. Smells linger and fakes don't last. So let's not get duped into spending hard earned money on things that come up short on the expectation side of things.

From knowing where to shop to spotting trends on the runways, here’s everything you need to know about shopping for second hand gems.

1. Know where to shop

Look for specific pieces online and crazy deals in second hand shops. Don’t forget to tag along your bestie to spend a Saturday or Sunday scouring vintage markets - who else are you going to trade bags with on vacation?!

Check out our guide to the best online and brick & mortar consignment shops in the Atlanta area here.

2. [In-Store] Give items the sniff test

Before buying, check the care label and fabric content. Synthetic materials are harder to remove odors from, but something like a cotton dress can be washed on a hot machine wash and a wool jumper can be refreshed with a good airing out.

3. Look for things you can dye

Cotton linen or viscose will dye to full shade. Nighties can make amazing dresses when dyed a darker hue, just be aware of the stitching material - if the thread is made from nylon or acrylic it won’t dye. The same can be said for leather, so don't pass up a cute bag either. Get it & re-dye it!

4. [Online] Filter for your favorite designers

Love high-end fashion but don’t have a bank account to match? You're not alone! Just look for your favorite runway brands in online second-hand stores. If you already own something by a specific designer and love the fit, you’ll have a less risky purchase arriving on your doorstep.

5. Resist defaulting to fast-fashion

If you are looking for something classic, like a pink sweater, try scouring second hand stores first. You’re likely to get a better quality material for less than the cost of a new synthetic piece. Cause honey, prices are going up but the quality isn't. Stick to vintage or even high-end pieces at a second hand shop.

Get something that will last, for half the price!

6. Be patient

Second-hand shopping isn't the easiest. There are just too many dupes but, when you find 'the one', you'll experience a thrill like no other. 100% Authentic, 100% satisfaction, for less than 1/2 the price. That's coffee in the morning refreshing. Plus, it'll last you for years to come, quality is always worth the time vetted.

7. Have a list of "the ones that got away"

Keep a list of items you’re searching for on eBay, D|+ Sign KelCHer, and even from your local Pawn Shops. Timing is often key in the consignment world, so if you already know what you’re after, you can swoop in quickly when you find it.

8. Hunt for denim bargains

Denim has a low resale value so, if you’ve always had your eye on some eye-wateringly expensive jeans, hunt them down second hand.

9. Shop by era

Look to the era that specialised in what you’re looking for. Think: '80s for jumpsuits and padded shoulders, '90s for minimalist slips and tailoring, and the 2000s for glitz and glam.

10. Find a local alteration shop

Have items nipped, tucked, & tailored to fit perfectly on your body type and, once you trust them, try getting creative with the tailoring - make a long skirt into a mini or a add a slit to a dress.You are your own master to this ship honey. Do as you please!

11. Know the sites

Some sites are better for certain things: Depop is great for sportswear and cheap designer gems, Etsy is my favorite for proper vintage and denim, The Real Real for their crazy deal selection, and eBay is superb with its unlimited options in regards to listings. And of course when you're looking for exclusives and savings all in one: D|+ Sign KelCHer, but don't just take our word for it. Check us out.

12. Ignore the size on the label

Vintage sizes don’t mean anything, so it’s best to go for measurements or, if they aren't available, buy bigger and visit your tailor. It's easier to take out some extra fabric, then it is to add to a garment.

13. Spot trends on the runways

Fashion weeks are great for noting new trends, but it can be a bit depressing when you find out that the boots you've fallen madly in love with cost $2,000. Here's a tip: Look for the OG vintage one that the new style was probably inspired by. All looks are recycled. Just take a look at your mom's throwback Thursday photo album.

14. Ask yourself: "would I wear this tomorrow?"

Sometimes we just love an item, but there is no rhyme or reason to why. Ask yourself "would you wear this tomorrow, out of the house?" and if the answer is "hell yes!" then it's a must. Grab and go!

15. Think of the rest of your wardrobe

We've all had that moment when we've fallen for a neon oversized tie-dye hoodie but it matches absolutely nothing you've ever owned. Ask yourself, 'does this make sense? Is this me?' Or do I want to spend more money on making it a fit??? The options are up to you. Leave it or burn a little whole in your wallet - at least you can patch up.

16. Don't be afraid to repair and restore

Have you found an amazing cashmere jumper that has been eaten by moths? Have pieces mended invisibly by restoration experts or make a feature of the mending with an incredible visible mending service.

17. Start at home

Ask your relatives if you can rummage through their unwanted clothes. If there's something going in the bin or to the charity shop, your relatives will likely be touched that you'd like to give it a second life.

Ready to start your pre-loved style journey? Get excited and get shopping! With these tips you’re bound to find a bargain and fall in love with second hand shopping in no time.

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