Home > Styling > Top tips on how to shop second-hand online

Top tips on how to shop second-hand online

Did you know that the number of items we purchase every year has doubled in the last 15 years? As we are binge-buying all this clothing, we’re also throwing away a lot. To be precise, as much as 84% of clothing ends up in landfills across the globe. Solutions? Buy less but more quality and sustainable clothing and learn to do more with what we have.
Quality sustainable clothing sounds great but it is also undoubtedly more expensive than an average fast fashion garment. This is where thrifting comes to play offering one of the most eco-friendly fashion options for a fraction of a cost. Since more and more people have been transitioning to sustainable lifestyles, the resale market has been blooming. Online thrift marketplaces like TheRealRealDepopVestiaire CollectivePoshmark are revolutionizing the way we think about second-hand.

Why is second-hand fashion sustainable?

The fast fashion industry is responsible for 8-10% of global carbon emissions and it is well-known for its enormous water and energy use, as well as negligent exploitation of workers and animals. When you buy a pre-loved garment, you are eliminating these factors from the equation and help slow down the fast fashion cycle. In addition, you are keeping this garment from landfills, where many of them emit methane as they decompose. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is far more potent than carbon dioxide.

Secondly, second-hand fashion is very affordable and accessible. You can easily find a high quality gently used leather jacket for $150-200 or a Prada skirt for $15 on TheRealReal, for example. You might find many local thrift stores popping up in your neighborhood, and there are plenty of great online marketplaces to choose from, where you will easily find what you need using user-friendly marketplace filters and sorting options.

Things to look out for when thrifting

Here are some top tips as you are thrifting online.

1. Avoid cheap fast fashion garments

The point of thrifting in the context of sustainable fashion is to find a high quality garment that you will wear for years. Will a used H&M sweater survive two seasons? Probably not. Focusing on quality designer pieces made from durable fabrics will serve you well.

2. Learn about platform quality standards and policies

When shopping online, take some time to read the “About” and “Help” sections on a thrifting platform website. What are their quality standards? What is the return policy? This simple research will set the correct expectations and save you from unpleasant feelings after. Knowledge is power, isn’t it?

3. Avoid impulsive purchases

We all know that when something is cheap and comes in a limited quantity, there is sometimes a little gremlin inside of us that whispers, “Buy it now, hon, before it’s gone”. Remember this as you thrift online and use a usual formula when it comes to fashion shopping – ask yourself:

Will I wear this at least 30 times?

Can I create at least 3 distinct looks with it?

Be honest with yourself and resist the temptation to buy all at once. If you end up with twenty garments in your shopping card, give it at least 24 hours to follow-up on purchasing. You might be surprised to discover that you really liked only one-two garments!

4. Pay attention to a product description

When thrifting online, you might come across product listings that don’t accurately mention important product details like sizing. For example, you see a shirt that mentions size M in the description but you can clearly see that a tag on the picture shows size S. A pair of shoes is described by a seller as size 8 US but in reality it is a European size 38, which maps to 7.5 US and won’t fit.

Pay attention to the size tags on photos provided by sellers and don’t be shy to ask for a picture with a size and fabric tag if it’s missing from the listing. You can also read customer reviews. You might find out, for example, that a seller frequently forgets to send packages on time or the other buyers are unhappy with the quality of the received item.

Sustainable brands that offer pre-loved clothing

Here are some cool initiatives from sustainable fashion brands that offer pre-loved fashion options:


Worn Wear Program






Top online second-hand marketplaces

Here are our favorite online thrift platforms.


A luxury marketplace to sell and buy authentic designer pieces.


The world’s largest fashion resale marketplace with more than 35k brands.


A peer-to-peer platform that allows you to buy and sell luxury fashion.


A luxury marketplace for authentic designer pieces, similar to TheRealReal.


A sustainable fashion retailer offering circular products – organic, recycled, and vegan.


A global fashion retailer with a selection of pre-owned luxury fashion.


Our top preloved picks

Disclaimer: Sparkpick has affiliate partnerships and may receive a share of the revenue from your purchase at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting our work and sustainable fashion.

  • Add to Wishlist
    Sparkpick features Kate Spade heart crossbody bag in sustainable fashion on Poshmark posted by SparkpickView
    Kate Spade | Poshmark
    Pre-loved heart crossbody
  • Add to Wishlist
    Sparkpick features Kate Spade pre-loved coat unique in sustainable fashion on Poshmark posted by SparkpickView
    Kate Spade | Poshmark
    Pre-loved jacquard coat (4)
  • Add to Wishlist
    Sparkpick features Dolce & Gabbana pre-loved black mini skirt in sustainable fashion on Poshmark posted by SparkpickView
    Dolce & Gabbana | Poshmark
    Pre-loved mini skirt (4)
  • Add to Wishlist
    Sparkpick features Nicholas Kirkwood pre-loved nude pumps in sustainable fashion on Poshmark posted by SparkpickView
    Nicholas Kirkwood | Poshmark
    Pre-loved nude pumps (38)

Like the curation? Share it.

Learn & shop

Shop sustainable clothing while learning about its positive impact on the planet.

Create the eco-friendly wardrobe you love.
Sparkpick earns fees through affiliate marketing programs by linking to affiliate sites. Thanks for your support in sustainable fashion.
We use cookies
This site uses cookies to simplify and improve your browsing experience. Cookies are small text files stored on the device you are using to access this website. If you ignore this message and continue without changing your browser settings, we will assume that you are consenting to our use of cookies. For further information on our use of cookies, please visit our Privacy Statement.