How to Shop Online for Second Hand Clothes

This month it’s Secondhand September, a campaign started by the charity Oxfam last year.

Its designed to champion the secondhand clothing by encouraging people to buy nothing new for the whole of September. The idea being that is we can keep up buying nothing new for September, that we can then carry those habits on in the future!

Could you buy nothing new for a whole month?

This is something that I’ve been doing for a while. I’d say 90% of my wardrobe is second hand now.

I haven’t bought a new item of clothing for myself for about a year or so. I can’t actually remember what the last piece of new clothing I bought myself was… which I’m taking as a good sign that I no longer think about it!

Jeans £5, jumper £6, denim jacket £5 all charity shop purchases… Still regret not buying that cream jumper hanging up!

One of my favourite ways to shop second hand is to browse charity shops. I’ve got my favourite local charity shops that I visit frequently (where I swear I have a style twin who donates to one of them who is exactly my size – winner!) and always have a nose around charity shops if I’m in a new area too.

But since we’re all at home a lot more now (including me!) due to the global pandemic, more of us have been shopping second hand online. Either because we can’t or don’t want to venture out into our high streets. This is certainly the case for me.

A report from Thred-Up shows that online second hand clothing purchases are set so soar over the next few years and COVID has kick started that move.

With second hand shopping habits changing, I’ve been inundated with requests from you all to share how to shop secondhand online.
So, I’ll share with you in this post all of the great places that you can go to shop second hand. I’ll also cover specifically how I shop second hand on eBay and share all of my tips and tricks with you too!

So, where can you shop second hand online?

Now more than ever there are so many ways to shop second hand online! eBay is my go to, but more sites and apps are popping up all of the time, so here are the ones that I’m aware of and have heard good things about :

Bikini £5 from Facebook Marketplace
  • Ebay
  • Depop
  • Vinted
  • FB Market Place
  • Oxfam Online
  • Re-Fashion
  • Preloved
  • Gumtree

However, I’m a creature of habit and mainly shop second hand online with eBay. Here’s how I do it!

How I Shop Secondhand on eBay

Top 99p, jeans £6.99, trainers £45 all secondhand from eBay

When it comes to buying online, I am usually in one of two mindsets.

Mindset 1 = Browsing

I used to browse eBay with no need and zero purpose, apart from just wanting to buy something.
I know this is a hangover from when I used to browse fast fashion online stores, scrolling until I saw something I liked and wanted to buy. I used to be in this mindset all of the time when buying online a few years ago, but now I’ve pretty much stopped my mindless scrolling. Go me!

I now browse eBay with purpose. I could be looking for a new jumper or summer dress, just not with a specific item in mind. So I browse. It’s a great way of stumbling across those eBay gems and is how I find most of my clothes!

Mindset 2 = Searching

This is something that I do much more often now. I’m hunting for something that I really want. Be it a specific pair of trainers (hello my “new” Vejas) or a good pair of jeans. If I can’t find it straight away, I’ll set saved searches, bide my time and wait it out until what I want becomes available.

How I browse for clothing

Cotton maxi – £4 eBay. Such a gem I stumbled across – it’s actually age 15 M&S kids but fits perfectly!

When I’m browsing on eBay I always search for something quite vague to bring up the most items. This could be something like “Polo neck jumper”, “Frilly dress”, “Lilac dress” or “Chords”. I want my search to bring up as many items as possible, so I don’t miss out on anything.
Then I filter.

What to filter & how to find those hidden gems

Filtering always starts with selecting the condition as ‘Used’ to make sure it’s only second hand items I’m seeing (it also cuts out all the spammy eBay shops).

I then sort by ‘Ending Soonest’ so I don’t miss anything that’s ending right now.

Depending on what I’m looking for I will then filter down to my sizes. If it’s shoes its a very specific size (37 / 4 for me), but if its a jumper or a dress I will put in some options S, M, 12, 10, 8 and ‘Not Specified’ as I know that any of these options could work, depending on the style.

I use filters rather than using search terms like “size 10 White Company pink jumper ladies” as it narrows what items you can see. Most people fill these item details into the search filters when listing on eBay rather than including them in the title of the sale.

So if your search term is too specific, it means your likely to miss out.

However, a lot of the time I don’t filter at all sizes at all, I just browse. If there’s loads of stuff that comes up that’s not relevant to me and I don’t want to browse it all, then I pop the filters on.

How I use Watch Lists

I use my watch list all the time. It’s like the equivalent of folding down pages in a recipe book that you want to look at later.

I add everything I like the look of to my watch list, then go through and cull that list when I’ve finished searching.

When I’m adding to my list, I don’t worry about the brand or the fabric really, if it looks like something I like, then I add it in. I’m not fussy! Better to have it there and remove later, rather than miss it!

If there’s something that I really like the look of and know I don’t want to miss out on, I set an alert on my phone to remind me that I need to bid. I’ll cover how I bid in a moment.

How I use “Saved Searches” and Search for Specific Items

Whenever I’m looking for something really specific, I will set a saved search.

Jacket £9 & Jumper £3 both eBay from saved searches. Finisterre hat was a Christmas present and made with British wool in the UK!

This means I am notified when an item matching my saved search is listed.

I’ve use this method to buy some of my favourite second hand purchases like my Vejas recently. It’s also how I bought my old Ugg boots, pink boiler suit, converse high tops and paper bag jeans!

Using saved searches does take more time than just going online and buying those items new, but it’s so much sweeter when you finally find that perfect item you’ve been waiting for.

When I finally got notified about my pink boiler suit being listed, I actually did a little happy dance as I’d been waiting for months for one to be added.

Pink boiler suit of dreams, £30 eBay from saved searches.

What search terms do I use?

This summer I’ve been really enjoying lilacs and pinks so have been searching for things like “lilac dress”, “pink dress”, “cotton dress”, “puff sleeve dress”, “frilly dress”, “cotton pink dress” etc. These wide search terms pulled up so many different items I’d have otherwise had missed!

Now it’s starting to get cooler, I’ve been searching for things like “chunky knit jumper” and “flannel shirt” etc.

Just keep it vague, and you’ll find some gems!

How I (almost) Never Miss an Auction

I used to always miss out on items because I forgot about the auction ending.

Since I started using the mobile app version of eBay, I have only forgotten about them once or twice and mainly because I didn’t see the notification in time.

Using the notifications are key to not missing out. Make sure they are set within the apps settings to come through as push messages when an auction is ending or a saved search is listed.

Once the notification comes through (usually telling me I have 14 mins until it ends) I will set a timer on my phone for 12 minuets or so as a reminder to check just before it ends so I’ll have time to bid.

How I bid and don’t over pay for items

I never bid until the very last second and I always have a top price I’d be willing to pay in mind.

I’ll pop my highest bid in about 15 seconds or so before the end of the auction. That way I don’t start a bidding war with other people who are bidding.

What about returns?

Dress £2.50 from eBay

Check returns options on individual items. Some people accept returns!
If an item is damaged / faulty then you can return it to the sender. Even if they say they don’t accept returns. Dems da rules of eBay.

Also, if you need more info in terms of sizing / measurements, just message the seller and ask!

Alternatively, you can sell the item on again. I’ve done this several times, just by clicking the “sell an item like this” button on the original add. This duplicates the information so you don’t have to make the add from scratch!

Fave spring scarf £4 from eBay = happy Emilie

I hope you’ve found this post useful and will be more confident buying second hand online!

please leave any questions you have in the comments below!

Emilie x

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