Woman who only buys second-hand shares her thrifting tips

·Contributor, Yahoo Life UK
·6-min read
Josie Barnes is using her flair for fashion to help save the planet by buying secondhand clothes.  (Collect/PA Real Life)
Josie Barnes is using her flair for fashion to help save the planet by buying secondhand clothes. (Collect/PA Real Life)

A woman who only buys second-hand in order to help save the planet has shared her thrifting tips to live a more frugal life.

Josie Barnes, 25, a photographer from East Sussex, started collecting pre-loved items, such as designer jewellery and handbags when she was 17.

At the time, bargain-hunting was the main driving force behind her love of scouring vintage shops, but now she encourages others to thrift to help save the environment, by recycling, upcycling and stopping clothes from ending up in landfill sites.

“When I started thrifting, I would look for fast fashion labels, but I don’t do that now because that stuff doesn’t last," she explains.

Watch: These thrifting trends are blowing up on social media

“Instead, I buy for necessity and quality and I always ask myself, ‘Do I need this?’ and ‘Will I wear it?’ I don’t buy something just because it is a bargain at £5.”

Read more: Woman saves thousands only buying second-hand clothes - including bras

Barnes in a vintage Ralph Lauren blazer. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Barnes in a vintage Ralph Lauren blazer. (Collect/PA Real Life)

Having realised she was already doing what many slow and sustainable fashion influencers she was following on Instagram were doing, in 2020 Barnes launched an Instagram platform for her own fantastic finds.

She now chronicles her bargain finds on her Instagram site, Josie Goes Thrifting, and hopes to encourage her followers to embrace a more eco-conscious way of shopping.

“It’s incredibly important for everyone to do their bit to stop unnecessary waste, and buying preloved items is a great way of doing that," she explains.

Barnes originally started thrifting as a way of finding more unusual items to fit her small 5ft 1, size 4-8 frame but quickly realised that people were asking for details about where she'd bought her clothes.

“My Instagram page was a lockdown project really. It sat there doing nothing for five months while I worked on my confidence, so I could launch it," she says.

“I don’t look like Kate Moss or a Hollywood model and that has always held me back until now.

“It’s hard not to compare yourself, but I’ve finally found my confidence and accepted this is me and this is how I look and the reactions to my pictures on social media have been great.”

Barnes in a second-hand Dickies boilersuit. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Barnes in a second-hand Dickies boilersuit. (Collect/PA Real Life)

Amongst her favourite thrifted bargains are a bright red retro 1980s ski suit she picked up for £10 and a stunning Gucci designer jumper she found for £5 in a charity shop.

“I love the jumper because the print pattern is a one-off," she says. "It’s red, green and black and I think it’s part of the Angry Dragon Collection.

“I’m an artist, so I love big, bold garish colours. I use colour to express myself.”

Watch: Prada sees second-hand fashion as opportunity

Despite being thrifty where possible, Barnes admits to owning some more expensive items she really treasures and justifies their cost by the amount of wear they get.

She is also passionate about protecting the rights of garment makers, so prefers to buy quality items second hand or sustainable brands where she knows workers have been paid a living wage.

One of her favourite finds is a Vivienne Westwood necklace she asked her mum to buy her for Christmas in 2020, which cost £80.

“I’d been eyeing it up for months, so eventually asked my mum if I could have it for Christmas," she explains.

“While £80 sounds like a lot of money, it is my ‘go to’ piece and something I wear all the time.”

Read more: ‘Why I buy all of my clothes second-hand’

One of Barnes' favourite finds is a Vivienne Westwood necklace, which cost £80. (Collect/PA Real Life).
One of Barnes' favourite finds is a Vivienne Westwood necklace, which cost £80. (Collect/PA Real Life).
Barnes purchased this vintage Gucci jumper for just £5. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Barnes purchased this vintage Gucci jumper for just £5. (Collect/PA Real Life)

Barnes has also used her skills at seeking out quality finds to develop several side hustles, including taking a stall at vintage markets and selling items on at a profit.

“I was in a charity shop and saw a pair of black Dickies trousers for sale for £2," she says. "I know they sell for £20 to £40 in a vintage shop, so I bought them and sold them at the market for £20.

“But I did first tell the woman in the charity shop they should have been priced higher.”

Read more: Woman previously 'drowning in debt' takes control of finances with budgeting strategy

The photographer now runs an Instagram with some of her frugal finds, pictured wearing a vintage Ed Hardy t-shirt. (Collect/PA Real Life)
The photographer now runs an Instagram with some of her frugal finds, pictured wearing a vintage Ed Hardy t-shirt. (Collect/PA Real Life)

The photographer, credits her dad, Geoffrey, 65, a retired support worker and councillor, with originally showing her the value of second hand or preloved finds.

“My dad loves antiques," she explains. "He really loves learning about the history of the things he buys and while I didn’t think that was cool when I was younger, I’m the exact same now, so I think it must have rubbed off on me.

“I think the older generation, like my parents, are naturally far more sustainable in their ways and maybe we should learn from them," she adds.

“They’ll buy something and keep it for life. And if something gets broken, they’ll fix it, or sew it up again.

“We should all be doing this, too.”

Barnes picked up this bright red retro 1980s ski suit for £10. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Barnes picked up this bright red retro 1980s ski suit for £10. (Collect/PA Real Life)

Barnes' top thrifting tips

  • Look out for labels that read 100% silk, wool or cashmere. You may have to pay a little more for these, but always buy them because the quality is excellent, which means they are durable and will last a lifetime.

  • If you stumble across a designer label but you’re not sure whether it is genuine or fake, take a look at the wash label inside the garment. Designer clothes will repeat the designer’s name on this label, but also have a serial number. You can google this number, which will take you to the catwalk collection the garment is part of, if that collection is still available.

  • Check the stitching and/or embroidery on all items, but especially on something claiming to be a designer handbag, where you should find hand stitching. If the stitching is wonky do not trust the label.

  • Anyone on a budget should try shopping in one of the kilo shops in cities where you pay by the weight and not according to the garment. Expect to pay £15 to £20 per kilo and take your time to hunt down quality items to add into the mix.

  • Visit charity and vintage shops outside London and the major cities, where you have more chance of snapping up an overlooked designer or quality bargain nobody else has spotted.

Follow Josie’s passion for thrifting on Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/josie_goes_thrifting/

Additional reporting PA Real Life.

Watch: Sustainable wardrobe essentials

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