Why buying second hand clothes is good for your wallet and the planet

I love buying second hand clothes. In fact, I rarely buy anything new.

Once you realise just how cheaply good quality second hand clothes can be purchased, you resent paying the full price!

Here’s why I buy second hand clothes and how to find them.

It’s cheaper

second hand clothes

Well, obviously buying second hand will be cheaper than buying brand new. Unless, that is, you buy something labelled vintage! I tend to avoid so called vintage items as I remember many of them from the first time round and they were ugly then.

I was a child in the seventies and mustard yellow and muddy orange polyester monstrosities have left their scars.

You can create quirky looks

second hand clothes

A 99p dress, modelled by DD1

Having said that, buying second hand does give you the opportunity to create unique looks. Whilst the hoards buy identikit looks from the chain stores, true fashionistas love to root round the Oxfam Shop!

Charities benefit when you buy second hand clothes

I buy a fair few items from charity shops. Although many charge a lot now, there are still some bargains to be had. I have mentioned previously that we have a Barnado’s warehouse nearby where they sort and sell for their other stores.

I pop in regularly and find loads of bargains, many for as little as 99p and also donate many of my unwanted things.

second hand clothes

Buying and selling at the boot sale

You can afford better quality

Whereas our grandparents and the generations before them bought clothes to last, cheap, throwaway fashion is the new normal.

Poor quality fashion items can be bought for a few pounds and discarded after being worn a couple of times.

For me, a better option on a tight budget is to buy better quality brands in a used condition. I find Monsoon, Coast, Per Una, Gap, etc all the time.

Reusing is eco-friendly

Reusing rather than buying new reduces waste. As I said above, we live in a throwaway society. Buying second hand clothes extends their life and stops them being thrown away.

Reusing clothing means that less has to be produced in the first place. This in turn means fewer materials and less in the way of transportation.

You can sell yours to make money

When there is a market for second hand clothes this also creates an opportunity for you to sell your old ones and make a bit of extra cash.

You could even source good quality second hand clothes specifically for this purpose. There is a whole army of resellers prepared to get up early and scour the boot sales, or to spend lots of time in charity shops and nearly new sales in order to stock their reselling businesses. See my articles on selling on eBay here and here for more information.

Where to find them?

Boot sales

If you are prepared to make the effort, boot sales are by far the best and cheapest places to find good second hand clothes.

We were lucky enough in the summer to find a very well heeled family getting rid of a van load of designer and top branded stuff for 50p an item!

I have found so many amazing bargains at boot sales – I love them!

Online auction sites

Depop, Mercari, Gumtree, eBay, even Facebook Marketplace – there are many online auction sites these days. I use eBay personally but I am also experimenting with Mercari. They both have a huge selection of used clothing.

Yesterday  on eBay I found a seller my size clearing out her Per Una items and bought 2 skirts, a pair of pumps and a jumper! All used but in excellent condition for the princely sum of £28 including postage.

Charity shops

I am all for supporting charities via their shops. However, some of them charge far too much! I have seen cheap second hand Primark items for the same price as they cost new. Charity shops should make money but they also need to realise that people don’t expect to pay a lot for second hand clothes.

Having said that, the smaller ones tend to provide better value. If you can find the larger out of town branches, where they sort and dispose of items, they are even cheaper.

Jumble sales

Jumble sales hardly happen at all these days. When I was a teenager there used to be one on in a church hall somewhere pretty much every Saturday. However, once in a while you will find one, and it is also worth looking out for any fundraising community event where they might have a second hand clothes stall.

If you don’t usually buy second hand clothes, maybe now is the time to try. Are you a frugal fashionista and, if so, where do you find your bargains?

How boot sales can help you reach your savings goals

boot salesBoot sales! You got to love them on a beautiful sunny morning. My usual one, at Ardleigh in Colchester, was absolutely packed with bargain hunters today. I queued for 45 minutes to get in. That’s a first. My daughter was selling and had arrived at 6.30,  but she queued just the same.


The early birds at the boot sales

If you are on a budget, boot sales  are worth getting up early for. I know people who never go to them. Maybe they imagine them as one huge jumble sale. It’s true, they can be a bit like that but, amongst the junk, there are new and nearly new bargains to help every family stretch their money. Here’s how.

1) New parents:

Babies don’t care if their clothes and equipment aren’t new. They grow too quickly for their clothes to get worn out. Today I saw an almost new travel cot for £20, a baby bath for £1 and a steriliser for £3 and I wasn’t even looking at baby stuff!

2) Kids:

Although I would say they will be generally more heavily used, it is possible to pick up some great children’s clothes and shoes for pennies. Toys, books and bikes were all available in quantity this morning.

3) First homers:

If you already have the cost of rent or a mortgage to worry about, you possibly don’t have the means to kit your abode out from new. You can get kitchen equipment, bedding, furniture, cushions, pictures, curtains and lots more. Of course, you don’t have to be a first home buyer or new tenant to benefit from the cheap purchase of other folks’ cast offs!

4) Students

Going to university: you can easily kit out a student from a boot sale. Pots, pans, cookery books, bedding, etc. can all be had at a fraction of the price of new items.

5) DIYers:

There are always plenty of decent tools on offer from some of the traders, as well as new pots of paint and items such as paintbrushes.

6) Foodies:

In recent years boot sales have started to attract more traditional market stalls, selling great value fruit and veg, sweets, cakes and drinks just out of their best before dates, as well as fresh meat. You can also pick up household items such as loo roll and household cleaners.

7) Gardeners:

I have bought some excellent plants at boot sales over the years – much cheaper than garden centre prices. The professional sellers offer good quality products. The sales are also good for garden tools.

Boot sales

Boot sale haul

8) eBayers: If, like me, you try to make a little extra cash on eBay, then boot sales offer the best place for cheap stock. You will get sellers who are wildly optimistic when pricing their items but many who under charge. I watch out for those who look as if they have had a proper clear out and just want rid. I hit gold today; a lady selling brand new clothes with the tags still on. I asked how much she wanted for a new Phase Eight dress priced at £120 and she said £3!!!! When I had picked myself up off the floor I bought that along with a gorgeous Dorothy Perkins dress and two Tops for £10 – all new with their labels intact. Almost £200 worth! There are also antiques and collectibles for those who have a good eye – it is worth doing some research.

9) Fashionistas:

As above. If you need clothes for home or work you can get a lot for your money. You can also find decent costume jewellery, makeup and toiletries.

10) Family fun:

DVDs, computer games, board games, bikes, garden swings and trampolines – I have seen them all. If you give the kids a strict budget it can be a fun morning out as well as teaching them the value of money and how to get the most from their cash. Avoid the bouncy castles if you can or they will spend their cash in five minutes flat…

11) Sellers:

Finally, if you need to make some money whilst clearing your junk, boot sales are perfect!

So… Easter is coming up and there will be boot sales aplenty. If you have never been this is the time to try!

How to save money on clothes

I wasn’t surprised to read in Good Housekeeping that the average UK woman spends around £600 a year on clothes. I know quite a few who spend a lot more than that! I was quite shocked to find in the same article that women’s wardrobes also contain around £300 of clothes that never get worn. I addressed this in my Great Wardrobe Challenge post a few months back. If you spend too much, how can you save money on clothes?save money on clothes

Save money on clothes by not buying them…

I don’t spend anything like this amount. Last year the items  I purchased new were as follows:

One pair of leather boots, reduced from £60 to £14.40.

Several vests in assorted colours from Primark, about £15.

3 long sleeved black tops, also from Primark, about £12.

A Wallis top, my one extravagance, bought with a 20% discount for £25.

One pair of black suede loafers, £20.

Some socks and underwear, around £25.

Mr S also bought me a pair of Next jeans as part of my Christmas present, but I won’t count those towards my total.

A blue lace blouse from eBay, £6.

Buying second hand

I honestly can’t remember buying anything else new. I did make several second hand purchases, including some tops, skirts, a cardigan, shoes and more jeans from charity shops and boot sales. I would estimate I spent about £40 on these, so a grand total of £111.40. I never look like a tramp – I’m sure my friends would tell me if I did 😀.

If you need to save money you can easily do so by hitting the boot sales – the time to do this in the UK  is right now! Boot sale season is underway.

The article also said that families are spending more than ever before on their children’s clothes: an average annual figure of almost £800 per child! I was fortunate in that mine were more than happy to wear used clothes and hand me downs. They never demanded expensive designer brands. Now that they are all independent they all buy far too many clothes in my view, but are still savvy bargain hunters!

We also all sell items we no longer use on eBay if they are in good condition.

Save money on clothes by wearing what you have

If you are trying to budget and save money, first take a long look at what you have. If you don’t wear it, sell or donate it. Then consider what you actually need. Don’t buy stuff just for the sake of it, even if it is second hand. Consider quality used items of clothing rather than new. If you have to buy new, take advantage of the sales.

It is also worth checking eBay for new items. I wanted a Zara coat a few years ago. It was £120 in the shop but I found  exactly the same one for £70 brand new. The same with some leather Hotter boots. £135 in the catalogue: I got mine for £50 online!

Finally, look after your clothes and footwear. I keep mine for years. I don’t launder them every time I wear them unless they are actually dirty as they diminish with each wash, and I keep my shoes and boots clean and polished.

How much do you spend? How do you save money on clothes?

Making do

making doSaving money isn’t about being mean. However, it is about doing all you can to avoid unnecessary purchases. Sometimes that does mean making do and making the best of what you have.

We are so spoilt as a society we barely consider this. When some gizmo or gadget  breaks we buy a new one. We rarely stop to think about whether we could fix whatever the broken object is as our grandparents and many of our parents would have done, or whether, if it is truly past it and completely unfixable, we have something that will do instead (or even if we could manage without said gizmo altogether).

Making do on my no spend month

Because I am having a second no spend month I need to think through every single potential purchase to work out whether I can avoid it. I am making do with what I have. My preference is for pale tights over black ones but I have laddered all the pale ones. I don’t want to buy more, so I am wearing the black ones. Actually the thick black Lycra ones last so much longer I think I will give the pale ones up altogether!

I have completely run out of my usual foundation. However, I remembered I had one I bought several months ago that was a bit too pale for me. I am wearing that now and chucking on a bit more blusher!  It will do.

I have been brave and cut my own hair rather than pay for a hairdresser. It isn’t as good as a salon cut but it is fine.

The handle of my favourite old bread knife finally cracked and started to come off. I didn’t throw it away and buy another one, I got Mr S to fix it. I don’t know what he did exactly – it disappeared to his workshop for a while and came back as good as new 😄.

A friend recommended a yoga book as essential reading. I could have bought a copy but instead it is on order with the library.

A frugal lifestyle

At Shoestring Cottage we do a lot of this stuff anyway as part of a generally frugal lifestyle. We wanted a bench for the garden last year but we weren’t prepared to spend mega bucks buying one. Fortuitously, a neighbour threw one out which we transformed – you can see the story here. We also upcycled an old dresser as part of our cheap DIY kitchen make over.

I have a cupboard full of clothes. Some are quite old but I make them last with gentle cleaning and repairs where necessary. Most were secondhand but there is nothing wrong with them. I have enough of everything so I can make do for now.

It’s easy to make do and not shopping and just buying stuff for the sake of it gives me time to do other fun stuff like writing this blog. Are you a make do and mender?


Shopping for a hobby?

I had to pop to town to pick up my new glasses yesterday. It was really busy. Lots of people apparently shopping for a hobby, it seemed.

I do not shop for fun. I used to! I remember I would tell myself I was ‘just window shopping’ and before I knew it I had spent £50 on clothes I didn’t need, books I might not get round to reading or expensive glossy magazines. These are a killer for the money saver. They give you a vision of a impossibly perfect lifestyle. Your life will be complete if you spend money on the right home decor, clothes, beauty products, right? Actually no. They are one of the first things I knocked on the head when I decided to get my financial act together.

Shopping for a hobby is an expensive pastime

Anyway, I digress…these days many people shop for a hobby. They park, they shop, they coffee, they lunch – it can be a very expensive pastime. I sometimes fancy a spree but I rarely indulge as I don’t enjoy the shopping hangover: the dent in my bank balance, the strain on the credit cards and the worry about how to pay it all back.

My idea of shopping heaven is a £10 note and a couple of hours at a boot sale on a sunny morning. I get more of a thrill from spending a pound buying a top second-hand than I would have if I had bought it new for £20 😄. I can get a couple of books I fancy, a DVD and some CDs for the car for the price of a fancy coffee in town.

Use your library

Instead of buying lots of books to clog up my house I can borrow them from the library. If there is a book I would like to keep I can get it used – the internet makes it possible to locate practically anything second hand.

If I want furniture you won’t find me hanging round a fancy showroom; I will be in the local charity shop or looking on Gumtree or eBay.

Shopping isn’t a hobby if you are trying to save money. How about hiking? Walking is free! If you don’t fancy that you can download exercise classes of any description online for nothing. How about yoga? All you need is a good book (from the library) on the subject and a non-slip mat. You can learn almost anything on You Tube so the possibilities for finding a new hobby (knitting, crochet, painting, woodwork?) are endless. Just don’t take up something that involves you buying lots of fancy equipment before you begin!

Are you into shopping for a hobby?

The great wardrobe challenge

wardrobe challengeTake the wardrobe challenge

‘I have nothing to wear!’ We have all said it whilst standing in front of a wardrobe full of clothes. I am guilty of this. I tend to wear the same few outfits much of the time: two or three favourite skirts, jeans at the weekend and an assortment of tops.

Most of my clothes are well worn and some have definitely seen better days. Still, they are wearable. A lot were second-hand when I bought them and still going strong. But I have quite a few that just sit there, unworn yet too good to put in the charity bag. I think I will wear them at some point so I hang onto them, but I have some I swear I haven’t touched in three years.

Wear or donate

Time for the great wardrobe challenge! This week, because I am on a no spend month and will not be buying new clothes, I challenged myself to wearing at least one of my ignored garments every day. Of course, there are lots that aren’t suitable for the current cold weather but plenty that are.

I tried a cardigan on that I had actually forgotten I owned. Perfect. Wore that yesterday with my jeans. There was a grey long sleeved top. It is lovely but it is too low cut and I will never feel comfortable wearing it so that went in the charity bag. I have a nice pair of smart trousers – they are too tight round the middle and have been for about three years. It is possible that I might get into them again but I suspect they will just take up wardrobe space, so they are in a pile of things I will list on eBay.

Getting organised

I have organised my wardrobe by item type mostly. Skirts, dresses, shirts and tops, with a section for coats and another for summer wear. That’s better. Now I can see what I have!

I don’t intend to be buying anything new in the next few months apart from underwear. Last year I can think of about 5 items I purchased that weren’t second-hand!  Most of those were in the sale, I am pretty sure.

I would love to go out and spend lots of money on a whole new wardrobe of fabulous clothes,  but I am a realist. I can’t afford it and I don’t really need it!

How about you – nothing to wear? How about trying the wardrobe challenge?