If you are about to embark on your first secondhand shopping expedition, you have a lot of excitement ahead of you. Nothing quite compares to finding an absolute gem in a packed clothing rack with the article of clothing having a rich history and an affordable price tag. You would be forgiven for thinking it is as easy as arriving at an op-shop and simply hunting for your size. No, success in secondhand shopping requires a little more strategy so here is your first-time guide.

Know where you’re going and understand the distinction
Vintage shopping is very different to secondhand shopping, and while some stores may overlap, it is still a distinction worth noting. Not all secondhand stores will have the same quality or volume of clothes entering the store. You will definitely benefit from doing some recon in your local pool of secondhand stores. There might be some that have shelves and shelves of quality secondhand books, whereas other stores specialise in furniture and electronics. You might even be searching for something specific on eBay online!

There are some savvy shoppers that will choose secondhand stores based in a suburb. Given that some suburbs are more affluent, you could assume that the clothes being donated are of high quality. Others may choose to secondhand shop when they are travelling abroad and in a place where the fashion they like is commonplace there. For example, if you are seeking some grungy jackets and coats and you live in a warm climate place, then you probably won’t find many of these items at your local secondhand store. If you are travelling interstate or even overseas to a cooler climate destination, then you will have more luck.

Don’t overlook online
Online shopping is not new to anyone, but many forget that this is a great channel to find secondhand clothes. You might have some success on eBay, although the quality variation and inventory can be pretty inconsistent if you are blindly searching – so don’t focus all your attention here or know what you are looking for.

You might also like to look on Facebook Marketplace and other platforms like it. There are online retailers who also sell secondhand clothes, so be sure to follow their social media accounts so you can see what new pieces they have and what is about to go online for sale. Secondhand clothing is very popular these days and so you’ll have to be quick online to secure that one-of-a-kind piece.

Look for potential
As a second-hand shopper, you have to look for the potential. Chances are the outfit you are destined to find will not be pressed, clean or paired with exactly what you would wear it with. In fact, it will probably be in the opposite condition! You have to look for the potential and see what you could pair these pieces with. It’s also a great idea to wear something shopping that you can easily try things on and see how they work in their best light. This means wearing footwear that is easy to try on, and other complimentary clothes that you are likely going to wear on an average day or night so you can get a sense of whether these clothes will work. This will save you front buying something you do not need!

Looking for potential also means understanding what secondhand item is valuable and what can be found anywhere and everywhere. For example, there are some clothes that look vintage but they have actually been remade and might be of poor quality. You can typically tell by the age of the label, the fit and the feel of the fabric what is authentic and what is not.

Upcycling and restoring
When you have found that item of clothing or a piece of furniture that is full of potential, you can then start by restoring it to its former glory or upcycling it. This means giving it a good clean, covering blemishes, and even finding a new purpose for that item. When you start to see what is possible with upcycling and restoring secondhand shopping, it is going to be so much sweeter with double the inventory of quality goods on offer.

There are some things that can’t be restored, however, so keep your eye out for anything that has mould, tears in places like the seams, burns and any other damage that will be a challenge to give these items a second life.


Here is all the information you need to get started on your second-hand shopping. Start slow and do not be afraid to try things on and test items that you wouldn’t normally like. Your second-hand taste might surprise you!

This is a sponsored article produced in partnership with Digital Next.

Image: Supplied

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