Share tip: How to master the art of shopping second-hand

Share tip: How to master the art of shopping second-hand

Got a penchant for pre-loved pieces? Creative director Olivia Spencer shares her top op-shopping tips off the back of a charitable campaign with Dove Hospice.

In a world where trends are as fleeting as the weather, and overconsumption is bearing heavily on the planet, second-hand shopping is steadily gaining ground as the preferred option for fashion enthusiasts committed to reducing their carbon footprint. From vintage boutiques to online resale platforms, there’s a multitude of ways to get your preloved fix.  

One individual who has mastered the art of finding hidden gems is FQ Friday Muse Olivia Spencer, who recently lent her styling skills to Dove Hospice in a campaign designed to alter perceptions of second-hand shopping. “I’ve always been an op-shopper, and I love the idea of giving new life to second-hand clothing, both for sustainability reasons, but also because there are so many treasures to be found,” says Spencer. 

“I wanted to show how second hand clothing can have the gloss and glamour found elsewhere in fashion, and bust that myth that secondhand is less stylish.” 

Over the course of a few days, Spencer sifted through styles at Dove Hospice stores throughout Tāmaki Makaurau, curating four looks to complement four different models and their unique personalities. Following the launch of the campaign, FQ sat down with Spencer to glean her insights on navigating the world of second-hand treasures. 

Below, she gives us her top five tips to ensure every pre-loved purchase is a perfect match. 

1. Take your time

Anyone who’s been in a consignment store or op shop before is well aware of the sheer volume to explore, and while it’s easy to get shopper’s fatigue trawling through endless racks, Spencer stresses the importance of taking your time. “Second-hand shopping never works if I’m in a rush,” she explains, “It’s about putting the time in with your searching.” 

2. Be in the right mood

Shopping is often celebrated for its therapeutic qualities, yet we all know the frustration of trying to assemble an outfit when you aren’t quite in the mood. When it comes to second-hand shopping, particularly, mood matters more than you might think, and for Spencer, being in a positive, creative head space is the best way to find those standout pieces.

3. Try the men’s section

The ‘borrowed from the boys’ aesthetic is one we’re seeing a lot on the runways and on social media as of late, and according to Spencer, it’s a great way to diversify your ensemble. “I always hit the men’s racks first,” she says, “That’s where you find the cool oversized shirts and jackets.”

4. Pay attention to fabrics

When you’re searching through the racks at a second hand store, don’t just rely on your eyes – your sense of touch can also be a valuable asset. To identify good quality garments, Spencer recommends looking at what they’re made of first. “I’m always first attracted to fabrics – if I see a fabric that catches my eye, I’ll pull it out and have a good look.” High-quality fabrics tend to feel soft, smooth, and substantial. Look out for natural fibres like silk, wool, and cotton, which age better than synthetics and offer unparalleled comfort.

5. Consider your mindset

If you’re new to the world of preloved fashion and have by default always purchased new, reconsidering your approach to second-hand shopping can offer a fresh perspective. “I try to think of second-hand stores as no different to any other boutique or fashion store,” says Spencer, “Just because the items are pre-loved doesn’t make them any less appealing to me.” If designer threads are what you’re after, consignment stores like Tatty’s are a great place to try. But if you’re more in the market for thrifty finds, you can’t go past a hospice shop or Salvation Army.

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