I'm a second-hand shopping expert – three things to buy pre-loved online and key reason I always avoid shoes | The Sun

SHOPPING for second-hand outfits is a little different to popping into Primark on your lunch break and grabbing whatever catches your eye.

However, you can make big savings by getting better quality items for less.

As well as creating a more personalised wardrobe that will last you a lot longer.

Nicci de Vries, 40, was a high street fashion buyer for 20 years before turning her side hustle of selling vintage and pre-loved clothing into a full-time pursuit through online website secondstories.co.uk.

From scouring selling sites to using social media, she knows a thing or two about sourcing bargain second-hand clothing online.

Here the Edinburgh-based fashion guru shares the second items you should buy through the likes of Facebook Marketplace and Instagram, as well as the one thing to avoid.   

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What to buy online


One of the best things about buying older clothing is that the methods and materials are often superior to modern alternatives, according to Nicci.

She said: “Vintage coats are often much better quality – you can get wool and cashmere coats for £15-£20.

“Things are better made and can last longer.

“Whereas when you look at the material of high street coats it’s usually going to be recycled polyester – and still cost a lot more.”

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Trawling online second-hand selling sites for items you love can feel a little like searching for a needle in a haystack, Nicci admitted.

But there are a few tricks to make the process easier.

She said: “Start by making a wish list or mood board of clothing that you are looking for.

“You’ll be thinking about what you really want and how you’re spending your money – rather than going into a shop and coming out with something you weren’t looking for in the first place.”

Nicci said you then should try to find and follow sellers you like.

Many will use social media such as Instagram and TikTok as a platform to showcase what they have – search tags and follow accounts with a style that you like to find out who is selling.

Nicci added: “Reputable sellers will make sure items and in good condition and not damaged.

“Different people have different niches, but once you find sellers you like, it will become much easier to source items that take your fancy.

“It does require more patience – but once you find something you like, it feels more valuable.

“I love that buzz of finding it, that’s quite exciting.”


Accessories are some of the best second-hand items to buy online, according to Nicci.

She said: “Accessories are easy because you don’t have to worry about the size.

“Sizing can be a bit tricky when buying second-hand clothes online.

“You can’t try before you buy and different brands use a range of sizing.”

When it comes to things like hats, scarves and jewellery size isn’t such an issue.

However, knowing your measurements is one way of getting around sizing issues with clothes, Nicci added.

“Most sellers will be able to tell you the measurements of clothing they have to help you find suitable items,” she said.

Thinking “out of the box” with sizes can also work.

Nicci said: “Get something bigger and get it altered, for example.”

Brands that you love

You can save money on clothes from your favourite shops by simply buying them second-hand.

Nicci says: “If you buy a pair of jeans that always fits great, you just need to look for that brand online in your size.”

Using alerts on Facebook Marketplace, as well as sites such as eBay and Vinted can help.

She added: “All of them will allow you to save a search – it will notify you every time something gets listed.”

The vintage seller advises making use of filters on Facebook Marketplace and sites such as eBay as another way to whittle down items that you may be interested in.

You can search by brand, colour and size to name but a few.

And Nicci said: "Most of these sites have the option to make an offer so don't be afraid to make use of that.

"You can often get a lower price than the one see advertised."


Things for the home are one of the best to buy online through sites such as Facebook Marketplace, according to Nicci.

She said: “You can get some really good bargains on Facebook Marketplace.

“There’s stuff being given away for free just because it doesn’t fit into someone’s life.”

It’s also a good place to hunt for stuff for children and babies, she adds.

Her tip is, again, to make sure you have all measurements for spaces where you are looking for furniture to fit.

What to avoid

As Nicci previously mentioned, one of the biggest challenges with buying pre-loved items online can be the sizing.

This can make buying something like shoes especially difficult.

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Nicci says: “I’d be worried about buying shoes online if I hadn’t tried them on.”

However, to get around this problem you can try on something similar from the same brand in-store to make it a bit easier, especially with clothes, she added.

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