The Guide To Buying Pre-Loved Designer Clothing Online

Time to up your secondhand game…

This post contains ad affiliate links (denoted by a ‘*’) & gifted items (denoted by ‘ad - gifted). You can read my full disclaimer here.

Disclaimer: I still have a long way to go when it comes to purchasing pre-loved pieces. I could always look to increase my ratio of second-hand goods to newly made ones. There are new places I can source from, more recommendations I can make and more tips to find out for myself, BUT I’m learning and I’m getting there and recently I bought two of the best things I’ve ever purchased and I just want to write a blog post where I can shine a light on my new babies.

The first one is a Celine Hobo Bag* which was fully inspired by Shot From The Street who showed it in a vlog and planted a seed in my brain that continued to grow and would not die no matter what a bad plant mum I am. I thankfully found one pretty quickly on Vestiaire Collective* and not too long after I had it tucked under my shoulder and wondering how I ever lived without it. The second one is a purchase that has been three years in the making – the Toteme Annecy Coat* again from Vestiaire*. I’ve lusted after it for years thanks to my favourite Instagram peeps, but the price tag was enough to make me weep. So I sat tight and waited for one to come up second-hand, which it did (!!), and it came with a 50% discount on the original price. I couldn’t believe my luck and have been wearing it ever since.

I am so, so happy with both my bits, so I thought I’d share how I magicked them into my life; both pre-loved and with discounts so good I want to scream it from the rooftops. Here’s how I shop for second-hand items…


Know what you’re looking for. I found that I’ve had much better success with second-hand hauling since I’ve started a list that details exactly the pieces that I’m looking to find. So take a look at what you currently own and what you feel would feel would fill in the gaps and take a note of those pieces. It could be as general as a ‘cream fluffy cardigan’, or maybe it’s specific like mine, which includes those darn The Row Ginza Sandals* (I’m hoping I can grab myself a second-hand bargain, although it’s been six months and still nothing). So whether you want to keep it more open-ended or search for designer pieces, it’s worth having them physically noted down to refer back to. It keeps you focused and steers you clear from impulse purchases.

Set up alerts. If you’re shopping in person then go ahead, but if it’s online that you’re trawling then depending on what website you’re searching on, you may be able to set up an alert. My site of choice is Vestiaire Collective* and they allow this exact function and it’s so, so handy. For every single item that’s on my list I have alert set up, so that each time a piece that’s on my list is added to their website, I get an email with a link to purchase it directly. It’s how I found my Toteme Annecy Coat* which might just be the best bargain I’ve found and because the notification came straight into my inbox I was able to pounce immediately.

Condition, size & fit. When you’re buying a pre-loved piece you want to have some realistic expectations around the conditions of it. Vintage sellers will often give a detailed description of any marks or wear to the garment – sometimes including photos which is so helpful – and the same goes for pre-loved websites. Just make sure you read these sections thoroughly so you don’t end up with a shock when it arrives. Also research the fit. If measurements are given then double-check them, or if it’s a designer piece that you’re after then you can often search ‘*Insert the name of the designer piece here* fit?’ and forums will answer the question for you as to whether a piece comes up big or small or is true to size.

Check the returns policy. A lot of the vintage sellers that I use allow returns and refunds, but that isn’t always the case, so make sure you read the small print. The same goes for online sites. Although Vestiaire* is brill, they don’t allow refunds and instead allow you to sell the piece on their site without a listing fee – so you probably won’t end up missing out money-wise, but it’s just a bit of an extra faff. So it’s best to be 100% sure of your purchase when you make it. For this reason I find it’s great for buying coats, accessories and oversized pieces, but I’d find it too hard to source trousers from there for example.


Vestiaire Collective* – Ah my fave. Once you get your head around the alerts process, nothing quite compares when it comes to designer pre-loved stuff. The fact that everything is authenticated by their team in Paris just gives me a sense of security when I purchase. Plus I love that you can make an offer to the seller, which is definitely worth doing if a piece has been listed for a while. You might be able to grab yourself an even better bargain.

Farfetch* – This is a new branch of business for them and I don’t feel like their range is there just yet – the brands that I buy from the most aren’t currently featured – but it’s great to see them offer a pre-loved selection and if it’s more accessories that you’re after then it’s worth a peruse.

eBay* – The range available is so vast here that I prefer to head to it when I know exactly what I’m looking for. The search is great so if you want to find the Kate Moss x Topshop Poppy Wrap Dress in a size 10* from like 10 years ago, then you can. I’d prefer to buy from my previous two picks to guarantee quality, but if I don’t come up trumps there, then this is where I head.

WearNotNew – Right, onto the online vintage gems. I’ve picked up a few things from here and always love the edits they release (and the imagery too – swoon!). My MaxMara Vintage Jacket that is by far the item that I get complimented on the most when I’m out and about – it’s from here! For something completely unique and brilliant quality, this is where I head.

Retold Vintage – I luuuuurve the seasonal collections they drop and I’m an avid follower. You have to be quick because stuff goes quickly (make sure you sign up to the newsletter to get first dibs!), but it’s beautifully picked vintage goods that are packaged up sustainably and sourced so well. I’ve always been so chuffed with everything I’ve bought from here.

One Scoop Store – My Editor Susannah, got me onto this shop and this is a great place to head to if you fancy yourself a second-hand high-street/mid-level buy. They also do menswear and kids stuff too which is brilliant. A good option if you don’t fancy a rummage on a charity shop rail because they’ve already done the curation for you.


Photos by Mark Newton