#SecondHandSeptember – Top tips for buying second hand! 17/09/2020

6 Top tips for buying second hand clothing 

Sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start with buying second hand clothes, particularly if you’ve never done it before! First off, you need to be patient and committed to the cause, if you’re not in the mood to browse, then the chances of you leaving with a bargain are slim! 

It can also be pretty overwhelming when you first walk into a charity shop or second hand store, so we thought we’d share Emma Drew’s top tips for buying second hand clothing!


Sometimes clothing items are put back in the wrong places in charity shops, which means it’s always worth checking out every rail in the shop to ensure you are getting the best finds. Fabulous items can often be found on the ends of rails close to the changing rooms where customers have hurriedly hung things after trying them on. I’ve also seen everything from men’s clothes in the ladies section, ladies clothes in the kids section to silk designer camisole tops in the pyjama section. If you are looking for clothes for yourself, looking through all of the sizes on display is also a good idea as store assistants will sometimes put vintage items under modern-day size categories. For example, if a vintage dress is labelled as a size 16, the measurements will probably come up as more of a modern day 12-14, so you could easily miss out on something beautiful!

TIP TWO: Check for imperfections

It’s often easy to overlook imperfections in clothing if you have been drawn in by the brand or the style of a piece. Snags, tears and holes in the fabric are big things to look out for as these may not be immediately obvious and can be the be all and end all if the fabric is delicate. If you are buying things like suiting or coats, be sure to check whether the lining is still intact, lining can often tear down the back seams or at the underarms which can instantly make a piece look worse for wear. Broken or stiff zips, stains, lost buttons, and alterations are all other things to check over an item for– trousers, skirts and dresses can often be taken up at the hem and this can affect the resale value of these items


If you are buying clothing for yourself and you’re handy with a needle and thread, take into consideration that you could repair an item yourself if there is an imperfection. Small tears in fabrics such as cotton, linen and denim can easily be repaired with a few quick stitches and means that you don’t have to leave that item you fall in love with on the rail. If you are a reseller, you could also overlook imperfections such as bobbling on fabrics. Bobbling can be easily repaired using a razor to shave off the bobbles or using a bobble remover to get the item looking good as new- this will particularly work well on knitwear. Shoes are also really easy to clean up for reselling, usually charity shops won’t bother to buff out any marks- you can do this yourself with a bit of polish and turn a great profit. One thing that is worth leaving on a rail is anything stained– it’s risky to buy anything with a stain with the hope that you will be able to get it out at home. Sometimes it will work, but sometimes it won’t- best to leave it on the rail to avoid disappointment.

TIP FOUR: Pay a bit more for great brands

If you find a Ted Baker dress for £2, that is amazing, and if you are a reseller, you will be bound to make a large profit. However, don’t always be put off by an increase in price on designer items for reselling. If the style is great, and you know the brand will sell well for you, it is worth paying a little more for something that can still turn a good profit. For example, if you found a Ted Baker dress for £12 and loved the style, you could still probably make at least £20 profit on that item, so it’s worth picking up. If a designer item is in great condition, particularly if brand new with tags, it is definitely worth paying that little bit extra if you feel that the style is right.


Brands such as Reiss and Hobbs have often been worn by icons such as the Duchess of Cambridge- when you spot one of these labels, it’s worth doing a quick google search to see if the piece has been worn by her in the past. If it has been worn by the Duchess, this will increase its resale value immeasurably as these items will likely have sold out extremely quickly in store. There are also many other famous faces such as Holly Willoughby and Meghan Markle– the new Duchess of Sussex, who have a big influence over the public’s fashion choices. Most things worn by either Holly or Meghan will usually sell out that same day, so look out for what they are wearing and whether you can pick up anything similar in the charity shops. Bloggers also have a big influence on what sells out in stores, particularly on high street items. It’s worth following some of these influencers on Instagram to get inspiration for your own sourcing.


To really get the best of what your local charity shops have to offer, it is worth visiting them regularly as new clothes will always be coming into the store. Persistence is key to finding those brands which you could only dream of picking up! Popping into stores regularly will also mean that you will start to get a feel for when new stock is put out in the shops- sometimes this will be every Saturday morning, sometimes it will be every morning, it depends on the store. Once you become a regular in your local shops, sometimes the shop assistant will be happy to let you know whenever they have had some new bits in, or even give you a sneak preview of new stock which is yet to reach the shop floor!

As you get into it, you’ll find scowering the shops for a second hand bargain can get quite addictive! You never know what you might find! 

Share your charity shop bargains and unique finds with the hashtag #TeamKCSecondHandSeptember!

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