A guide to dressing well secondhand

Kiwi embrace sustainable fashion with 87% opting for thrifting. Discover eco-friendly style choices in our guide!

The surge in popularity of secondhand shopping, or thrifting, is not just a passing trend; it’s a sustainable fashion movement that is gaining momentum as more people begin to recognise the benefits for both people and the environment. Our circular economy report shows that in the past 6 months, 87% of Kiwi have bought something secondhand with the number growing year on year. Buying pre-loved clothes helps you to contribute to the circular economy and keep things in use for as long as possible. 

Scrolling through social media displays a large amount of videos showcasing secondhand finds, with some enthusiasts proudly flaunting vintage designer pieces. While the desire of snagging a stylish bargain is undeniable, making the shift of buying from new fashion retailers to the world of thrifted fashion can be a bit overwhelming. But fear not, in this guide we’ll explore the best ways to dress well and sustainably.

Buy quality treasures

It's a universal truth that one person's cast-offs can become another's prized possessions. Often items in thrift stores or online platforms like Trade Me are in impeccable condition; it's simply that the previous owner fell out of love with the style. While many sellers on these platforms present their items well, it's important to stick to some guidelines when looking to buy online. For those listings lacking detail, don't hesitate to request additional photos or use the Questions & Answers section on the site. Examining the seller's ratings and reviews can also offer valuable insights into the quality of the listing.

Filter for your favourite brands

If the prospect of spending hours sifting through thrift shops discourages you, leverage the advanced search functions and filters available on platforms like Trade Me. These tools can significantly streamline your shopping experience, helping you discover your perfect match more efficiently.

Resist the allure of fast fashion

Trends are so quick to come and even quicker to go. Fast fashion, which began gaining momentum in the 2000s, can keep you in the trap of thinking you’re behind the trends.  Resist the allure of fast fashion trends designed to encourage excessive buying. Instead, focus on acquiring pieces that transcend trends and boast longevity. For example, items that are made from quality fabrics, made locally and are easy to care for. Plus fast fashion items tend to not last as long as timeless classics.

Pick timeless classics

Stylish neutrals: A collection that never goes out of fashion

Pre-loved clothing has evolved far beyond being mere hand-me-downs or items reminiscent of your grandparents' wardrobes. Dive into the pre-loved space to uncover vintage designer bags, timeless Levi jeans, classic leather jackets, and more – all at a fraction of the price. Opting for these one-of-a-kind pieces not only showcases your individuality but also reduces the risk of unintentionally twinning at social events.

Mix & Match with flair

For those hesitant to fully commit to secondhand items, start small by seamlessly blending old and new pieces. Trade out that tired acrylic jumper for a high-quality secondhand pure wool alternative, or replace your worn-out plastic leather jacket with a pre-loved genuine leather counterpart. But also don’t feel the need to buy an alternative if your current item is working for you.


Elevate your outfits with carefully chosen accessories, as they play a pivotal role in creating a polished and put-together look. Consider incorporating belts, necklaces, rings, scarves, and bags to infuse personality into your outfit.  Go for an intentional colour-clash if that’s your thing,, or  maintain cohesion by adhering to a consistent colour scheme, avoiding the mishmash of contrasting elements. Dress thoughtfully and your unique style identity will shine through. 

By embracing these strategies on your secondhand shopping journey, you not only elevate your style but also actively contribute to a more sustainable and eco-friendly fashion culture. As you explore the world of thrifted fashion, you'll discover that dressing well can align harmoniously with both your personal style preferences and a commitment to preserving our planet for future generations.


Sophie Graham
Sophie Graham
Meet Sophie Graham, a seasoned Digital Content Producer with over 7 years of experience in content production and marketing. Armed with a BA degree in TV and Radio, Sophie brings a unique blend of creativity and expertise to her work. Passionate about storytelling and leveraging digital platforms, she crafts engaging content that resonates with audiences. With a knack for staying ahead of trends and a commitment to quality, Sophie is dedicated to delivering impactful narratives that captivate and inspire.