second hand shopping tips to guide you in the right direction

I am no stranger to articles and guides on how to shop secondhand more effectively. I’ve been in this game for a while now, and I have taken it upon myself to be a filter of sorts for you. Through great persistence, many ugly sweaters, and ill-fitting denim, I have arrived at a point where I have several golden nuggets of advice about secondhand shopping to bestow upon you. 

You see, I care, and therefore, I share. Turning away from traditional retail and toward shopping secondhand results in fewer items going to landfill, and a reduction in the demand for new items. What great harmony it is when we can partake in more environmentally-friendly shopping practices whilst improving the general quality of personal sartorial expeditions. 

So, let’s get cracking. Here are my top three secondhand shopping tips that will hopefully aid you whether you are a junior, intermediate, or seasoned professional op-shopper. 


I am a strong advocate for the ‘thirty wears’ approach to curating a closet that is sustainable, and comprised of pieces that make your heart sing. Applying the ‘thirty wears’ ideology is the ethical fashion practice equivalent of drinking more water; everyone should be doing it. 

Every time you think about whether or not you should buy an item, ask yourself, ‘would I wear this thirty times?’ If the answer is no, put it back — and if yes, go for it. Generally, if it’s a worthwhile purchase it should be an easy, resounding yes! 

Op-shop items can be very cheap, and therefore deceiving in how valuable a purchase they will be. Asking myself this question has revolutionised the way I buy. It sharpens my discernment, and means I buy less, and I buy better. 


We spend a lot of time in our clothes so it’s crucial that they not only look good but feel good. In both the physical and metaphorical sense. Down to their very composition, fabric, and feel — there are a few key rules I try to adhere to. First, natural fibres are your friend. Cotton, linen, wool, silk — plant/animal-based (when secondhand) fibres are generally easier on the planet when it comes to washing, and better for your body. The next time you wear an outfit you really like, think about why you love it so much and take note of the key features and details of the items. And when you’re next shopping, rifling through the mixed motley selection of op-shop rails, consider those details and fine tune your search process to honing in on items that fit your criteria. 

Bonus tip: look out for vintage clothing labels because this means it is most likely a genuine vintage piece that has already held up for several years, if not decades. These items will be the ones that last, even after many washes and wears. 


Be patient, and don’t settle. Only buy the things you truly love. Both with traditional retail and secondhand shopping, there is the all too familiar experience of opening an overflowing closet and finding that you have nothing to wear. 

The more critical you are with your purchases, the more likely you are to end up with a curated closet of items that look and feel great. It’ll be worth it, trust me!

And there you have it. While I do think everyone should shop secondhand — there can, admittedly, be a lot to learn in order for one to master the process. To the untrained eye, op-shops exist as a smorgasbord of dust mites and reject items that are just not quite right. But with the right guidance, experience, and attitude — these heterogeneous treasure troves are rife with sparkling gems that await you. Good luck! 

Photo by: Natalie Shehata

Photo by: Natalie Shehata

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Much love and gratitude, tommie xx

Photo by:  Carly Valentine  at  The End , Yucca Valley.

Photo by: Carly Valentine at The End, Yucca Valley.

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