Looking fantastic doesn’t have to cost a fortune. You can look like a million bucks on a shoestring budget if you shop right and learn the tricks of how to mix and match items to create your own unique look.
Shopping at second hand or vintage shops has become rather trendy in recent years. These shops give older clothing a new lease on life and are the perfect way to find cool items that no one else has. There is a treasure trove of pre-loved garments available, and you can have a stunning wardrobe at the fraction of the cost you would expect.
Buying pre-loved clothing also helps the environment – less wastage and fewer resources going into producing new garments.
Kinder to the planet
There are many reasons why people throw out old clothing – it may no longer fit them, or perhaps it’s become ‘unfashionable’. These items are either donated or literally thrown away, taking up valuable space in landfills. According to the World Resources Institute, every second, one garbage truck of garments are discarded at landfills or burnt. Also, it takes 2,700 liters of water to make one cotton shirt; enough water for one person to drink for 2 ½ years, and making a pair of jeans produces as many greenhouse gasses as driving a car for more than 128 kilometers!
We have become such a throwaway society and by stopping this, one garment at a time, we can all play a part in saving the planet, never mind helping our personal budgets as well.
There are many choices when it comes to second-hand shops – some may specialize as being ‘vintage’ shops, some others sell a variety of second-hand items, there are charity shops and many people sell second-hand clothing online. Google is your friend in finding shops that suit your taste and needs.
Getting the best out of your second-hand shopping:
- Know your wardrobe
Before you hit the road, make sure you know what’s in your wardrobe. Are there items that you seldom wear that you could donate or sell to make space for new garments? It’s great to arrive to shop and donate at the same time – pay it forward.
Also know what would compliment your wardrobe by knowing what you actually have, so that you won’t end up buying more of the same item again (such as another pair of jeans if you already have six pairs) even if it is the bargain of the century.
- Select your shop according to your style
If you’re into a particular style, try to find stores that specialize in this as it makes shopping a lot less frustrating. There is a difference between rummaging through a charity shop that stocks all sorts and a shop that specializes in certain types or styles of garments.
- Consider where the shop is located
Donors are likely to donate to their closest charity shop so if you’re looking for designer brands, you’re more likely to find them in more affluent suburbs, or charity shops bordering affluent suburbs. More middle-class areas will have donors donating more middle of the road garments. Choose your store location according to what you are looking for.
- Have a plan
So many times when we shop, we buy on impulse – we buy something because at that moment it looks great and feels right. If you know up front that you are looking for some smart tops, for example, you can cut out a lot of unnecessary spending and stick to what you need. It’s also useful to take some pictures on your phone of styles that you like – take pics from magazines – and then you show this to shop assistants and they can tell you if they have anything in that style in their store.
- Dress comfortably
It can be quite a workout shopping at second-hand stores – everything may not be neatly organized so you may need to rummage, bend, and dig to find those treasures. Some second-hand shops may also not have a changing room or have limited changing facilities, and it’s important to try on items before purchasing. In all likelihood, you will not be able to return items bought, so you need to be sure that they are a good fit. Wear comfortable clothes (leggings or yoga pants) that you can easily slip a garment over, even if you need to change in the middle of the shop and flat shoes. Good comfort will ensure a good shopping experience, and don’t be rushed – take your time and have fun.
- Know your budget
Have a budget before you venture out and consider taking cash so that you stick to your budget. If you tend to buy on impulse, this is the best way to make sure that you don’t overspend.
- Close inspection
Do a thorough check in the shop before purchasing an item. Carefully examine the whole garment for signs of tears, stains, perspiration marks, or any other signs of over wear. If there’s a lining, look inside to see if this is intact or if there is any other damage. Examine all buttons, zips, and straps to see if they’re in a good condition or need replacing. Also, check cleanliness – is the garment clean or does it smell? If it seems musty or old, rather leave it as it may be impossible to get rid of that old smell.
- Wash and tailor it’s once bought
Whether or not the garment looks clean, you will still need to wash it before wearing it. You may also need to fix small things such as any loose seams to hems. You can tailor it to fit you perfectly, and you might even want to customize it to suit your style, such as adding buttons or removing some trim. Be creative and add your personal stamp.
- Knowing what not to buy
While shopping second hand can be great fun, rather give these items a miss:
- Hats – you never know where they have been and it may be impossible to get it completely clean and hygienic
- Make up – again the hygiene issue is important and also you don’t know what sell-by date the product may have had
- Underwear – need we say more!
- Running shoes – shoes need to be fitted properly and they mold to the feet of the wearer so could do your feet more harm than good.
Looking good has never been this easy or affordable – turn heads knowing that you have done it at a fraction of the cost, with the bonus of having played a small role in helping save the planet. It’s a win-win all round!
This article was written by Sylvia Walker, a financial planner, speaker, and author of smartwoman. www.sylviawalker.co.za