Tuesday, 10 April 2012

10 golden rules of pre-owned designer shopping

Ah, vintage. Easy to find these days but not always easy to get right. For every time I've found a pre-owned bargain on eBay, I've also been seriously swindled with absolute junk. 

So when the lovely Emma from stylesequel.com offered to share her top ten tips on finding pre-owned designer, I jumped at the chance! Let me know what you think of Emma's expert advice - and if you have any thrifty shopping suggestions, I'd love to hear them.
Versace A/W01 gown, current bid: £1,499.99; John Galliano draped grecian dress, current bid: £99.99; Marc by Marc Jacobs fancy animal shopper, current bid: £349.99; Chloe riding boots, current bid: £249.99; Pierre Hardy precious cage cuff, current bid: £349.99

I am not sure when pre-owned fashion shopping became such a way of life for me but I do know that I do find it almost impossible to buy brand new now. And my obsession is not driven solely by thriftiness (although of course we all love to save a few pounds!) but more by the fact that I have a genuine fascination for ‘out of season’ shopping. I have been searching out (and selling) past season fashion for years and I wanted to share some of secrets on how you can get the most out of second-hand fashion shopping.

1. Make a list of things you’d love to own as and when you spot them. My brain is like a Rolodex with catwalk pieces I love neatly stored for future reference. If you don’t have a weird filing system in your head then make notes, tear out pages from magazines, tattoo yourself – whatever it takes to keep yourself focused and on track.

2. Make your search area as broad as possible. Check eBay, dedicated re-selling sites such as ours and high street second-hand designer stores as often as you can.

3. Be pro-active. Contact people who may be able to help (like the sellers mentioned above) and ask them to keep an eye out for you. They may even be able to source directly for you from their own network. 

4. Sign up for style alerts and newsletters, otherwise you could miss out on the pieces your heart most desires.

5. Have an idea of what you are prepared to pay and be realistic. Yes second-hand is cheaper, but do remember that many top end labels sell for a premium even when they're pre-owned. 

6. Know you limits. If you don’t have a couple of grand then you won’t get a Tom Ford for Gucci cut-out dress but you may get a pair of heels from the same collection for much less.

7. Make sure you really take notice of condition. Minor issues such as pilling or a loose seam below the zip are very common and can be fixed easily. More substantial repairs can be done by an expert but do watch out as they can be expensive, especially on fabrics such as leather and fur.

8. If buying online, check measurements and sizing. Fashion labels can have widely different sizings, even within their own label. Balenciaga, Louboutin and Roland Mouret are renowned for their small fits whereas Marni, Yohji Yamamoto and Marc Jacobs tend to be more generous.

9. Take your time. You may not find what you want straight away but if you keep searching you almost certainly will. Good things do indeed come to those who wait.

10. Enjoy the chase. Once you do snag your first piece you’ll be hooked.

Emma Allen is the founder of stylesequel.com, the place to buy and sell beautiful, authentic pre-owned designer fashion.

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