how to make the most out of shopping for pre-loved fashion

It’s 2022, and more of us fashionistas are gravitating towards incorporating vintage, thrifted, and secondhand items into our wardrobes. It’s cost-effective, and a sustainable way to enjoy fashion while also being more intentional with the things you choose to add to your closet.

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The hard part can be sifting through mish-moshes of styles either online or in a thrift shop and knowing A. what’s going to look good and B. what’s going to fit in with your existing wardrobe. Here’s what I’d recommend for making the most out of your pre-loved shopping experience so you end up with pieces you love for years to come…

Condition is Everything

The most important thing when shopping secondhand is that it has to be in great condition. A little minor wear is okay, but you want to forego anything that looks unintentionally hole-y or damaged to avoid that “unkempt” look.

This Louis Vuitton bag I found on The Real Real has some darkening on the vachetta leather trim, but since patina on this kind of trim can be cleaned and is ultimately part of the character of the bag, it was a must-buy! (Plus, I got it for $600, which is a great deal compared to others I’ve seen secondhand!)

That being said, with certain items like bags or shoes, you might be able to get away with a bit more wear on a few conditions. Here’s what to ask yourself:

  1. Can the item be cleaned or easily repaired to remove the areas in question? Some things like scuffs or stains may be able to be cleaned off at home, but if it’s something major, professional cleaning can be more expensive than the item is worth (see the last step). Also worth considering…

  1. Is the damage or wear in a noticeable spot? If it’s not, and you don’t mind the imperfections, it might be a good choice regardless of whether you can fix it, but…

  1. Is it a great deal? You might think that something that’s not in perfect condition wouldn’t fetch a high price, but unfortunately some items are just that sought after to where even trashed versions can be really expensive. One example? Chanel bags are so hot on the resale market right now that some ripped, peeling, unraveling ones are still selling used for close to $1,000 or more. If you know that the particular style could be a collector’s item if some minor things were done, go for it, but keep in mind that sometimes repairing items further than just surface cleaning can potentially lower their resale value. If you do choose to repair, go for a reputable or brand-endorsed specialist (like these shops that the Christian Louboutin site recommends to repair their shoes!). Either way, it’s best to do your research before you buy!

Look for Investment Pieces

Similar to what I mentioned above, shopping pre-loved is the perfect opportunity to snag some pieces that will last you for a long time, even if they’re a bit of an initial investment. Designer handbags, for example, are never a bad choice, especially if you choose styles that are timeless brand staples. Which brings me to the next tip…

Opt for Classics

Classics are never going to look like they’ve been thrifted if you choose wisely. A great coat, chic bag, or smart sunglasses are going to remain relevant for a lot longer than things like dresses or pants. Not to say you can’t find classic dresses or other styles, I’ve just found it tends to be a bit harder to find things that aren’t ultra era-specific in these cases. No matter what, though, picking pieces that aren’t tied to one specific trend or time period is ultimately the best choice for longevity in a modern wardrobe. A little vintage flair is always fun, but you never want what you wear to look like a caricature of a bygone time.

Okay, I know the word “trend” kind of contradicts “classic” but hear me out. Great style doesn’t have to ignore trends altogether, it just isn’t wholly defined by them. Take for example the whole Y2K fashion aesthetic trend going on right now. You could easily comb thrift stores for pieces actually from the 90s/early 2000s, so it’s actually kind of the perfect way to inexpensively hop on the band wagon with what’s current as opposed to spending a ton on things that might phase out in a year or two. To sum it up, IMO, a wardrobe of nothing but classics can be boring, and one full of trends isn’t everlasting, but a bit of both together makes style magic!

Get a Great Deal

I’ll just finish up by saying this: shopping pre-loved should get you a great deal on some one of a kind stuff! There’s things I’ve gotten on The Real Real (which if you’re not familiar is an online designer consignment store that I’m obsessed with) for 90% off their retail price. Peep below for a few of my favorite style steals I’ve found…

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If you’re looking for some pre-loved pretties to add to your wardrobe, shop what I’ve been loving lately below…

Xx Tabi

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