9 Myths About Second Hand Shopping That Need To Be Destroyed Right Now
Updated: Sep 29, 2020
For a long time, as a fashion enthusiast, I believed that being stylish meant being trendy. I didn’t know anything about second hand shopping, and I believed I needed to keep up with the trends and get all the new items of the season. Then I realised two things: I was a carbon copy of every other so-called fashionista, and I could not possibly keep up with fast fashion.
When I paused and realised everything that was wrong with my consumption habits, I made the switch. I mean, how could I not? Once you realise the impact you have, once you realise how we’ve lost the appreciation for beautiful, well-made clothes that were passed down, repaired and loved; the switch might not be natural, but it’s a happy switch!
Now, as a Sustainable Stylist, I work with clients, and share with them the joy of second hand shopping, the love of well-made clothes, and the endless possibilities they have with vintage. I obviously have to debunk a few myths about second hand shopping, and show them all the benefits that come along with it. But once they’re sold, it’s impossible for them to go back to their old ways.
Myth #1 - “I Can’t Find Anything Good when Shopping Second Hand”
Shopping second hand is an art; and I totally get that it can feel like nothing is “good”. The reality is, most second hand shops and platforms carefully curate their pieces, and only display the good quality items. Everything else is a matter of training your eye to spot the hidden treasures and being perseverant to find the pieces that’ll suit your style.
Myth #2 - “Second Hand Shopping is Difficult”
Second hand shopping is not as difficult as it seems. Once you get the idea and you have a clear plan, it’s actually quite easy. The first thing to do is to find a few good address, and stick to them for a while. Knowing the types of pieces and the quality of the clothes a stores receives is a good indicator.
Another tip is to get rid of the frustration when not finding something: second hand shopping is an art, and finding a piece is an actual reward. We are so used to constantly buying, then we get overly frustrated when we leave empty-handed. The reality is: it’s better to carefully curate our wardrobe, than it is to settle for “maybe” pieces.
Myth #3 - “I’ll Only Find Uninteresting Pieces”
Second hand shops, vintage sales and thrift stores are probably the best places to find truly unique pieces. Pieces of another era, of another country, of another story, that’ll come and add a little “je-ne-sais-quoi” to your current wardrobe. Not only will these unique pieces add soma spice in your wardrobe, but you might also find rare sought-after pieces that their previous owners simply didn’t want anymore. That’s probably one of the most rewarding part of second-hand shopping: finding a unique piece that’ll make a statement in our wardrobe, and feel the pride of having discovered such treasure.
Myth #4 - “Shopping Second Hand is Unhygienic”
Some people dislike the idea of second hand shopping simply because the clothes are pre-owned. The reality is, when buying new clothes, the pieces are coming from manufacturing units and then handled by many hands before reaching us. When shopping second hand, there is a good chance the clothes have been washed by their previous owner - even though we should always wash ourselves anyway.
So unless we think we eat in new plates every time we go to the restaurant, second hand shopping isn’t more unhygienic than any other activities we regularly engage in.
Myth #5 - “Second Hand Shopping Only Offers Limited Possibilities”
There is a belief around second hand shopping, that the choice is also second-hand, and somewhat limited. While the clothes themselves are second hand or vintage, I’ll argue that it makes for a larger choice in terms of styles, eras, and price ranges.
When high street stores only offer this season’s items, second hand shops will store items that will truly transform your style, and allow for more possibilities in mixing and matching styles. Many elements that’ll help enhance creativity. The price range can also vary from very affordable to more luxury prices, which is great to accommodate all budgets.
Myth #6 - “It’s Hard to Make Your Wardrobe Truly Yours”
Buying pre-owned clothes doesn’t mean you’re buying other people’s wardrobe. If anything, it actually helps you define your tastes better and make every single piece yours. Preowned clothes tell stories, and giving them another chance and a second life is amazing to make their story even more unique.
By incorporating them into your wardrobe, you’re offering your second-hand pieces a new environment, a new chance to be in harmony with your style, and your current pieces. You’ll learn to master the art of combining old and new, vintage and modern. You’ll learn to embrace a unique, personalised wardrobe.
Myth #7 - “You Might Save Money, But You Can’t Be Stylish”
I have yet to see somebody who mastered the art of second-hand shopping and wasn’t stylish. There is something about vintage pieces that will draw attention and make people ask “where did you get that”; to which you get the oh-so-stylish answer “sorry, it’s vintage”.
So you get the best of both worlds: the style, and the savings!
Pro #8 - “So I Can’t Get That Piece That I Really Want?”
A lot of my clients had a dream piece, either a Chanel 5.55 or a fur coat. And of course, when becoming more aware of their potential impact on the environment, they had started re-considering. I’ve found that buying second-hand is great way to still get your dream piece without compromising on your values.
When doing so, you’re offering the item a second-life, without feeling an industry you might not be willing to support. I can only imagine the thrill when finally finding this limited edition bag, in a “like-new” state, and not having to compromise on sustainability. I know! So cool, right!
Myth #9 - “You Have To Embrace Other People’e Sense of Style”
Last but not least, I’ve found that since buying second-hand regularly, I’ve had a better grasp of my personal style, and I’ve learnt to know myself much better. I am not being sold any new season’s collection or any “trendy” item; it’s all up to me. I need to decide the pieces that I truly love and that really defines my style.
And that’s a priceless process. Learning your style, discovering yourself, shifting your mindset and saving money! These are all the advantages of buying second-hand in my book.
Armelle Ferguson (https://armelleferguson.com) is a Sustainable Stylist, helping women build a killer wardrobe guilt-free. By taking away the overwhelm of sustainable fashion, and simplifying wardrobe building, Armelle has now been able to build a community of several thousands of people, and worked with women from all around the world.
She also shares her sustainable living tips in her Sustainability Column for Red Magazine UK, and helps women implement sustainability in their life, easily.