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Secondhand Fashion For Beginners: A Guide To Sustainable Style

Are you new to secondhand fashion and eager to make more eco-friendly clothing choices? Or maybe you’d like to invest in some designer labels without breaking the bank. If so, secondhand fashion is for you! In this beginner's guide, we'll walk you through the essentials of secondhand fashion.

What is secondhand fashion?

Secondhand fashion refers to clothing and accessories that used to be owned by someone else and are now being resold rather than thrown away.

According to Oxfam, every week 13 million clothing items end up in a UK landfill. By embracing secondhand fashion, it not only rescues clothing from landfills but also reduces textile waste and contributes to a more environmentally conscious economy.

What are the benefits of secondhand fashion?

By giving preloved clothing a second chance, you're not only making a positive impact on our environment; you're also unlocking a treasure trove of benefits tailored just for you, including:

 Budget-friendly fashion: Buying secondhand means you can acquire high-quality items at a fraction of their original cost. Depop found that 18–35-year-olds in the UK could save an average of £535 per year by buying secondhand clothes.

Style experimentation: Explore various styles and looks without a hefty price tag, granting you the freedom to evolve your fashion preferences and experiment with confidence.

Supporting charities: According to BBC, over half of all secondhand clothes in the UK come from charity shops. Clothing is one of the biggest sources of funds for many charities, and it helps to fund a wide range of programs and services.

Historical and cultural connections: You will often come across one-of-a-kind vintage pieces, and you're unlikely to find anyone else wearing the same thing as you. Vintage pieces are often made from high-quality materials and construction methods. This means that they are more likely to last longer than cheaply made new clothes.

The thrill of the hunt: Shopping secondhand can be like going on a treasure hunt. You never know what you might find, and there's always the chance of stumbling upon a unique or valuable item.

How do I shop secondhand?

Shopping secondhand can be a rewarding and sustainable experience. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to get started:

  1. Start with a budget in mind.

    This will help you stay on track and avoid overspending.

  2. Decide what you are looking for.

    Are you looking for specific items or are you open to anything?

  3. Ask questions.

    Don't hesitate to ask sellers questions about the item you're interested in. Inquire about the item's history, care instructions or unique features.

  4. Do your research.

    There are many types of secondhand stores, from charity shops to online marketplaces. Each type of store has its selection of items so it's worth doing some research to find the best stores for what you're looking for. Keep brands in mind too!

  5. Inspect before you buy.

    Look for any signs of damage, stains or missing buttons. You should also try clothes on where possible to make sure they fit.

  6. Be patient.

    It may take some time to find the perfect secondhand item but don't be afraid to shop around and be patient.

  7. Don't be afraid to negotiate.

    Many secondhand sellers are willing to negotiate prices, especially if you are buying multiple items.

  8. Have fun!

    Secondhand shopping can be a lot of fun. It is a great way to find unique and stylish clothes for a fraction of the retail price.

Where can I buy secondhand?

There are many ways to buy secondhand clothes, including local charity shops, from friends and family, and at car boot sales. You can raise free donations from your online shopping when you shop via Give as you Live Online with these secondhand retailers:

Love the thrill of the auction? eBay will donate 0.50% of every purchase to the charity of your choice when you shop using Give as you Live Online.


Did you know Oxfam have an online shop? It's the go-to place for second-hand goods, with lots of designer items at incredible prices.

As well as supporting Oxfam's vital work with every purchase, for every sale, they'll donate 5% to your favourite charity when you shop via Give as you Live Online!


Open for Vintage is a marketplace selling luxury pre-loved fashion from around the world.

As well as finding a dream item at an incredible price, you'll earn up to 1.5 % as a donation to the charity of your choice when you shop using Give as you Live Online.


Preloved is an online community full of people selling nearly new and vintage bargains in over 500 categories.

When you sign up or shop via Give as you Live Online, they'll pay donations to the charity of your choice at no cost to you!


Luxe Collective buy and sell pre-loved luxury womenswear. Including top designer brands such as Louis Vuitton, Prada, Balenciaga, Chanel and many more.

When you shop via Give as you Live Online they'll pay 2% of your purchase as a donation to your charity!

How can I upcycle?

Using secondhand clothes is a great opportunity to get creative and express yourself! You can upcycle secondhand clothes into unique and stylish pieces with these projects:

  • Dye: Dye your clothes to give them a new lease of life. You can use fabric dye to change the colour completely or use tie-dye or other techniques to create unique patterns.
  • Iron-on patches: Personalise your clothes with iron-on patches. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and designs, so you can find the perfect one to match your style.
  • Fabric glue: Add embellishments to your clothes with fabric glue, such as patches, lace, or appliqués. You can also use it to repair holes and tears.
  • Cut and tie: This simple and versatile technique can be used to create a variety of new garments and accessories. For example, cut a T-shirt into a crop top, tie two shirts together to make a skirt, or cut up a sweater to make leg warmers.
  • Sewing: If you know how to sew, you can upcycle secondhand clothes into all sorts of new creations. For example, you could turn a pair of jeans into a skirt, a dress into a top, or a sweater into a scarf.

Here are some other great upcycling ideas:

Be open-minded and don't be afraid to experiment. There are no rules when it comes to upcycling!

In the world of secondhand fashion and upcycling, the possibilities are endless, and your choices can make a positive impact. Dive in, save money, save the planet, and have fun expressing your unique style! Don't forget you can raise free donations when you shop with secondhand retailers via Give as you Live Online!


What is Give as you Live Online?

Give as you Live Online is a FREE online fundraising platform that has raised over £30 million for UK charities just through online shopping. There are over 6,000 stores listed and over 200,000 charities available to support. Sign up, click through Give as you Live Online and raise free donations whenever you shop!


Offers, donation rates and participating stores are correct at the time of writing and are subject to change. Please visit the Give as you Live Online website for the most up to date information.

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