Magazine topic: 

Second-hand fashion in Britain

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Buying clothes second-hand comes with lots of benefits, but also some downsides. However, among the student population of Britain, it is one of the most popular ways of staying stylish. This is partly due to the huge discounts that can be had, but also because vintage and retro clothes can provide a more ‘genuine’ version of current trends that are inspired by the past. What’s more, buying clothes second-hand is an environmentally friendly, sustainable way of staying fashionable.
In Britain, there are lots of ways of getting hold of second-hand fashion, with the result being first-class style.

Charity shops
These are shops which are run by a certain charity (Oxfam has over 700 shops, Cancer Research has 567). People donate clothes (among other things) to the shop, which are then sold at low prices, and the proceeds go to the charity. 
Positives: Very cheap clothing (for example, a top would normally cost between £2-£6), and you can shop with a clean conscience, knowing that your money will be going to charity! 
Negatives: You can spend a long time sifting through hoards of clothes that you have no interest in, and come away with nothing, but then again, that’s arguably the same for shopping in any kind of shop.

Vintage/Retro shops
Technically, ‘vintage’ refers to clothing that comes from the 1940s-60s, and ‘retro’ means from the 1960s-80s, however most vintage or retro shops sell clothes from many different eras. They are different from charity shops in that the clothes will generally be more expensive than a charity shop, sometimes only a little more, sometimes a great deal more, and the money goes to the shop owners, rather than a charity.
Positives: Prices are still generally cheaper than in high-street shops (though this is not the case if the shop sells vintage designer clothing). Also, vintage shops are stocked full of quirky, original versions of trends that are currently in fashion, so you can follow trends but still look different. As well as that, they also stock second-hand clothing that is not currently on trend, so you don’t have to dress like everyone else!
Negatives: Can be very expensive! Also, not all towns have vintage shops, whereas there are charity shops everywhere.

Car boot sales
These are my favourite method of getting hold of second-hand clothes, because there is a whole ritual that comes with car boot sales: they normally take place on a Saturday or Sunday morning in a large car park somewhere, and you have to get there early (normally from 7 a.m.) to get the best bargains. I get a weird kind of excitement from setting my alarm clock for 6 a.m. the night before a car boot sale, and when I come away from them at 10 a.m. with armfuls of goodies, I still have the whole day ahead of me! Also, they sell much more than just clothes (e.g. furniture, household goods, books) – the first time I went to a car boot sale, I returned with an antique trunk that I’ve taken to university with me.
Positives: Prices are probably the cheapest out of the three (e.g. a top for 50p), as the sellers want to get rid of what they’re selling, so are open to a bit of haggling. Also, the fact that they’re outdoors is quite good fun (unless it’s raining …)
Negatives: The location means that there is no opportunity to try on clothes before you buy them, which has meant that I’ve purchased items that I’ve never used since.


Do you ever buy second-hand clothes? 


empty's picture
empty 10 August, 2019 - 07:26

I don't ever buy second-hand clothes , But I'm not against it , either . there is nothing wrong with that kind of shopping and we shouldn't be embarrassed to do it . : )

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iva10's picture
iva10 9 September, 2015 - 21:55

Yes I buy second hand clothes why is that bad? Just because someone else weard it that doesn't mean that are bad or in a horrible condition and it doesn't matter what are we wearing

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DennisaDenn's picture
DennisaDenn 20 August, 2015 - 12:27

I also think like you. That is not important what we are wearing. I like to go at SecondHand Shops and buy clothes, at a low prices. No because i don't have money, i go in this shops because is an art and an ingenious think to assort and match clothes from this shops.
+DIY with this clothes

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fashionlover's picture
fashionlover 9 April, 2015 - 10:51

no and i never will, cause I think that dress is belonged to another person and that isn't mine.

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patchyplum's picture
patchyplum 7 January, 2015 - 13:52

Well,i don't.But it's quite alright depending on your situation and financial side.There are some bail cloth outlets here in srilanka too but I think the condition of them are much better in england and such.Any english person,can you tell me something about them,plz?I like to know about your clothes shops whether it's secondhand or not.I would like to know more about the other..anyway it's really ok buying secondhand if the're nice and decent of course.

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kenzo's picture
kenzo 5 March, 2015 - 03:03

I also think like you. That is not important what we are wearing. The important thing is how we support to buy it.

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famz97's picture
famz97 20 December, 2014 - 07:13

Yes, when I have junior high school. I think I can save money with it. I am sorry with my terrible terrible English.

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JoEditor's picture
JoEditor 20 December, 2014 - 14:27

Hi famz97,
Don't worry about your English - it's not terrible. I can understand all your comments. The best way to improve is to practise so you're doing exactly the right thing by writing comments here. Well done! 
Best wishes, Jo (LearnEnglish Teens Team) 

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ivana55's picture
ivana55 25 November, 2014 - 15:54

I don't ever buy second-hand clothes,but I don't have anything against it.
If you don't have enough money to buy a new clothes ofc. it's OK to go in that kind of shops. :)
There is nothing wrong with that and people should not be ashamed of that.If you can find something you like,I am all FOR IT! :) (y)

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