Tips for Buying Second Hand

February 22, 2020

As we navigate both a climate and soon to be economic crisis, I thought it would be a good time to talk about the circular economy and give you some tips for buying second hand. We are at a stage where we drastically need to shift our buying behaviour and collectively become more considerate and conscious about what we buy, how we use and care for what we own and how we give what we no longer need or want a new lease on life.

As consumers we can make a difference, buying something pre-loved or vintage is one way to shop in a more sustainable manner. It allows us to extend the lifecycle of an item, stops it going into landfill, which in turn reduces the environmental impact on our planet and the resources needed to dispose of it. Below I share my vintage journey, a few of my favourite pieces that I have collected over the last decade, tips for shopping second hand and my go-to vintage, pre-loved designer boutiques and opshops.

Outfit featuring a velvet blazer from the Salvos, 80s vintage trousers from my mother and vintage Chanel heels from New York
Wearing a velvet blazer from the Salvos, 80s vintage trousers from my mother and vintage Chanel heels from New York

My love affair with vintage began when I was very young. I am lucky enough to have a mother who has very good taste, has always cared for her clothing and kept the majority of her wardrobe from the late 70s, 80s and 90s – as you can imagine she has lots of treasures, which my sister and I are fortunate enough to now own. Her attitude towards fashion taught us to value each item we added to our closets and to take care of what we owned, this instilled my belief of buying responsibly.

I also loved the idea of having something completely unique and different to what everyone else had and was wearing – growing up in Mauritius, there were very few clothing stores so everyone pretty much wore the same thing. Adding my mom’s pieces into my existing wardrobe allowed me to express and create my personal style.

Outfit featuring a vintage white blouse from my mother, blue jeans, a basket bag and white sneakers.
Wearing a vintage blouse from my mother.

When I moved to Perth for university, I discovered the full spectrum of vintage and opshopping, something that I hadn’t had access to previously. For me the draw was to find unique or great quality classic pieces. Being a student, I had very little to no disposable income so this was a great way to shop on a very restrictive budget and in the process, I knew I was doing something good for the local community and the environment.

As I started working and had a bit more disposable income the world of luxury vintage opened up with the likes of Vestiaire Collective. Slowly that notion and stigma attached to buying someone’s unwanted belongings was becoming more mainstream, and suddenly people like me who previously couldn’t afford a designer item were slowly able to.

Outfit featuring a preloved black blazer, a stripe tshirt, white wide leg jeans and vintage Chanel heels.
Wearing a pre-loved Theory blazer and vintage Chanel heels from New York .

Whether it’s designer or from an opshop, it’s such a gratifying moment when you find something incredibly unexpected (like my vintage Christian Dior wedding dress, read about that here) or a piece that you’ve been looking for and truly love. A lot of things have to align for that to happen – timing, the correct size, the colour that you want and when it happens it makes that piece so much more special. Some of my most cherished items are second hand because of the stories and journeys they have been on to get to me.

Today the second hand economy is a $43 billion industry, not surprising given the rates at which brands produce, we consume and just as fast dispose – on all spectrums of the fashion scene. This means that there are so many more clothes, accessories and homewares in circulation and so many opportunities to buy second hand on varying budgets.

Outfit featuring a vintage Levis denim jacket, a star print dress and statement coin studded handbag.
Wearing a vintage Levis denim jacket from New York

While I highly advocate shopping second hand I do also very much support local and independent designers and brands and don’t believe they should be removed from the equation. It’s all a question of balance, as you can see from my outfits I love to mix and match vintage with new pieces from local designers and sustainable brands. If you are game to try your hand at shopping second hand, here are a few of my key tips…


  • Finding specific pieces online: If you’re looking for something specific and feel too overwhelmed to search for it in IRL, online is a great place to find what you’re looking for. Etsy and eBay are good for none brand-specific items but if you’re looking for luxury, Vestiaire Collective is my go-to. They have an alert system so that you can find your dream item more easily – I love it!
  • Finding specific pieces IRL: Most pre-loved designer boutiques are very accommodating if you are looking for a specific item. I’ve had great experiences leaving details of what I was after and them contacting me when they got something similar.
  • Shop at the right time: If you decide to go vintage or opshopping, make sure you’re in the right mindset and that you have time. As there are so many more items in circulation most places are not as curated as they used to be, so you might have to dig and rummage to find those special pieces and being in a bad mood or hungry will make the experience very frustrating.
  • Seek the ‘special rack’: We are seeing a rise in fast fashion and low-quality items in both vintage and opshops but most places will have a ‘special’ or designer rack where the best pieces are housed, seek those out!
  • Furniture and homewares: Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace are great platforms to find specific pieces, but if you’re looking for quality vintage pieces there is nothing better than going out and browsing the many specialised stores – Guildford is a treasure trove for that.


Outfit worn in lavender fields featuring a white ruffle backless dress and sneakers
Wearing a pre-loved Sir the Lable dress from Consignment Closet





Outfit featuring a vintage black boiler suit, a vintage scarf and pointed pumps.
Wearing a vintage boiler suit found at the Polka Dot Vintage Markets and vintage scarf from my grandmother


  • Banjo Style – if you’re looking for curated and pre-loved designer clothing, then you will not want to miss the Banjo sale events. These ladies have impeccable style and taste and have access to some of Perth’s most coveted wardrobes, so keep an eye on their Instagram for their next event.
  • Polka Dot Vintage Markets – this is the ultimate celebration of vintage, with over 300 stalls that sell everything from vinyl, collectables, crockery, jewellery, true vintage clothing. As each seller has their individual speciality and style, this makes it much easier to find what you’re looking for. I’ve found my dream boilersuit, crystal champagne coups, a vintage suitcase and so much more here.  
  • Bindaring Clothing Sale – an annual pre-loved clothing sale organised by volunteers to raise funds to support the work of the Australian Red Cross.
  • Garage Sale Trail – the nation’s biggest weekend of garage sales, it’s the perfect opportunity for you to give your unwanted items a second lease on life or find some treasures for yourself. You can see what garage sales are in your local suburb or check out one of their hit lists to see a curated list of the best sales by category. In the last few years, I have found my dream rattan bar cart, artwork by Anya Brock and some fabulous vintage jewellery.

I hope this has inspired you to incorporate second hand in your wardrobe and in your home and if you have any other recommendations of places or websites I should check out please do share in the comments.

Nadine Xx

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