With busy lives, continuing COVD-19 restrictions and anxiety about going outside, online shopping will continue to be the ‘go-to’ method to shop for our clothes. Shopping second-hand is increasing in popularity – whether that is for budget reasons, environmental reasons, style choice or all of the above! So, it makes sense that shopping preloved online is increasing too… but how to get it right?! 

Shopping online has the obvious drawback that you can’t “try before you buy” and it’s not always the case that you can send second-hand items back.  I’ve been there, excitedly waiting for the “Postie” to deliver my packages but then the crushing feeling when you open up the parcel to find what’s inside just isn’t what you expected or doesn’t fit… like, at all!!  

Here are my top 10 tips for shopping preloved items online: 

Make a list.

This is at the top of ALL of my shopping tips.  Whether it’s a specific item or a higher-price point brand that you aspire to own, if you know what you want, you save money and precious time scrolling- focusing your efforts.

I recommend having a check in your wardrobe to make sure, you don’t have anything similar to your list items.

Get to know your measurements!

I (now!) always ask for the “armpit to armpit” measurements for tops, the smallest part, usually the waist, and the widest part, usually the hips for dresses and trousers etc. If you particularly tall or short, you may want the length, neck to hem, as well.  Sellers usually provide the measurement when the garment is laid flat.  I recommend measuring your existing clothes in the same way to see how they compare.   If you don’t have anything similar, you will need to compare the garment measurements with your body’s.  To get the full measurement, simply double the “flat” one. Now the difference between the garment measurement and your body, is the “ease” i.e., how much extra fabric is need to be able to move in the garment.  Most clothes will be larger than your body however, if something is meant to hug the body and stretch over it – it may well be that the garment is smaller than the body.   

Photo by Ekaterina Grosheva on Unsplash

Choose items that aren’t a close fit.

An oversized top is easier to source successfully online than a bustier! 

Ask about the complete fibre content. 

If, for example, you have sensitive skin or only want to buy natural fabrics, always ask for the full % make-up of the fabric. It’s useful to know the care instructions… I avoid dry-clean only for everyday garments like the plague! 

Colour in photos can be really deceiving.

If the colours look particularly different in different photos, ask for a description of the colour, or in which photo is the colour truer to life. 

Buy brands you are familiar with. 

If you know your size in a particular shop, you’ve got a good starting point for online searches.  I would still always check the measurements as brand’s change their sizes over time. 

Set up alerts for that specific item or brand on resell items.

For example, eBay will send through alerts when new items are uploaded matching your description. 

Follow preloved fashion sellers on Instagram.

Resellers curate pieces for you and provide a of customer service that you can expect from a shop. They will have cleaned each piece and inspected it for faults. There are a lot of female-lead, small business owners in this field to support. Vintage sellers, in particular, are usually passionate about what they sell and very knowledgeable about their stock.  

I have listed a few at the bottom but if you have any to recommend, let me know!!

Thoroughly read the descriptions and note any wear and tear, faults.  

Look for a Satisfaction Guarantee that you can pay for on top of the purchase price. E.g. Vestiare Collective. If you are buying preloved designer, then having the item double checked give you piece of mind.

Where to look for preloved clothing online:  

Instagram – many small business sellers are using Instagram as their primary platform. To name a few: 

@the.preloved.edit  @prelovededit (knitwear enthusiast)  @SisterSister.preloved @preloved_shop_insta  @yourpreloved_stories @buywearswaprepeat

Facebook Marketplace – shopping locally again reduces your carbon footprint 

Resell apps – EBay, Depop, Vinted, Vestiare Collective  

Charity Shops that have online stores Crisis , Oxfam  and The British Heart Foundation on Depop

Also, Moral Fibres, a fantastic advocate for sustainable living, has a post on her blog on where she finds preloved clothing here.

I hope you found this useful. If you also decide to sell online – hopefully, these tips will get you satisfied customers!! 

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