On any given day, I'm probably wearing more secondhand pieces than not. Most of the pieces I own come from charity shops like Oxfam, but also a lot of vintage from Etsy, Vestiaire and eBay. I love old clothes! And really, as an international student in London, I can't afford a lot of the designer pieces I lust after, and I try to avoid fast fashion almost entirely. If I do buy new, I save up to buy from local independent brands. I found that it has always been the unique secondhand pieces that I hold onto after wardrobe clear outs, so I made a conscious decision to dedicate my time to finding the exact right ones for me and caring for them.
Photo:Isabel Mundigo-Moore On Isabel: Vintage Burberry trench coat from Vestiaire Collective; Vintage Cole Haan loafers.
I love imagining the story of the secondhand and vintage pieces I buy, plus I love giving clothes a second life rather than sending them to waste. Of course, I understand that I am lucky in my position (I am conscious that I am fortunate to be able to wait to buy something and take the time to hunt down pieces I really love). And, as a size 10, I can often fit into secondhand pieces easily.
But as we consumers continue to push for better secondhand options, better solutions are becoming available. Oxfam is now available online and there are new platforms like Tern, which connects vintage lovers to different forms thrift shopping, making it easier and more accessible to everyone.
Living in London, I love popping into the many vintage shops dotted around the city—SK Vintage and William Vintage are two absolute gems I've found recently. Online, I love Instagram vintage spots like Retold, Lucia Zolea, Na Nin Vintage, Human Sea Vintage and Subrina Heyink. Sometimes, though, because they are so popular, I miss a drop or can't afford to buy the pieces I love. So one trick I've learned is to use the descriptions on the pieces I love most in the search engines on Vestiaire, Etsy and eBay, and I can usually track down something similar.
Over time, I've become quite savvy at hunting down the pieces that take your money furthest and really are worth the investment of time and money. As always, I am increasingly aware of my consumption, and try not to replace my old shopping habit of new pieces with vintage. With every purchase, I really question if I need it, as there are still waste costs with vintage shopping—especially when shopping online (like carbon emissions with shipping, and packaging).
But what connects you and me, dear reader, is our love of fashion. If you do buy something—remember, not buying anything is the most sustainable option—let's do our best to shop well. With that in mind, come dive down the Internet hole I'm currently deep inside and keep scrolling to see if there are any forever pieces waiting for you in my vintage edit from Etsy, Vestiaire Collective and eBay.
Of course, this edit is subjective to my style. With the world at your fingertips when it comes to vintage pieces online, you can use my tips to discover your own love of secondhand shopping. There's so much to explore. Also, the product imagery might not be as sharp as you're used to, but that's just part of the magic of vintage.
Photo:Isabel Mundigo-Moore On Isabel: Vintage dress; vintage beaded bag from Lucia Zolea
Etsy really is my first port-of-call when it comes to secondhand shopping online. I use broad search terms, like "pink mohair cardigan," and narrow it down to "vintage" and "United Kingdom" in the filter bar. I'd suggest being really inventive with your search terms, and then if you find a shop that offers nice price points and aesthetic taste that aligns with you, search what else they have. Get wacky, too! Try searching for decades and fabrics. Exploration is key for shopping on Etsy. Just be sure to limit your search location so you don't accidentally import something from the U.S. and have to pay extra customs fees.
I love looking through what feels like an endless stream of vintage and antique costume jewellery. Etsy is a great place to take jewellery trends for a spin at an affordable price. The number of compliments I get from the unique pieces I've found over the years are also nice.
Photo:Isabel Mundigo-Moore On Isabel: Hawke and Dove vintage top; Vintage Celine bag from Vestiaire Collective.
Vestiaire is where I come for really special pieces. I spend time combing through its vintage section and adding pieces to my wish list. After some consideration and saving, this is the place I'll invest in something I know I will keep forever. It's where I bought a Burberry trench for £100 and 1980s Celine bag for £200. Pieces are at a higher price point than other resell sites, but the pieces are entirely unique and are still much more affordable and special than buying contemporary designer pieces new.
Photo:Isabel Mundigo-Moore On Isabel: Vintage Laura Ashley dress; secondhand satin bag.
I find eBay the most hit-and-miss of all three, but it's worth mentioning because it's become rather a classic at this point and you can really find just about anything you can dream of, including a 1920's opera scarf I didn't realise I needed until now. Even some of the descriptions on the site have their own following. When I first moved to the UK, I found a vintage Jaeger coat made from cashmere and wool for £20. Again, try out different search terms from broad, like "black cashmere coat" or something more specific like "Laura Ashley dress." Don't forget that you can search using sizes.
I always explore related searches as well and just let the internet take me where I need to go. I recently stumbled across—and subsequently bought—a Jacquemus jacket for £150 from his Provence collection that I'd been eyeing since it came on the runway. This also works for older high street items (Kate Moss for Topshop anyone?) you might have missed—I've been looking for an American Apparel fisherman jumper for ages. You just never know with eBay.
Oh, and don't forget you can sell things here too. I think it's important to understand that we might all not, in fact, love our pieces forever. Let's just do our best to keep our clothes in the system by giving to friends or reselling online.
I hope this helped you love secondhand shopping online a bit more and just generally encouraged you to love your clothes. Don't forget to pop into your local charity shops as well! I'm always on the hunt for better secondhand options, so please DM me on Instagram so we can keep the conversation going or if you have any recommendations.