A MUM-of-two has shared her savvy shopping secrets after snapping up designer dresses and shoes at bargain prices via eBay and Depop.
Her finds include a pair of blue Christian Louboutin heels worth £700 for just £75.
She has also bought two Victoria Beckham dresses worth around £2,000 for just £100 each using second-hand websites and apps.
“I’ve always been a real shopper,” explains the 35-year-old part-time accountant, who lives in Goring, Oxfordshire, with her two daughters Sophie 12, and Harriet, who is nine.
“I used to have an Asos delivery every day and was on first name terms with my delivery driver.
But in 2017, Andrea became a single mum and was trying to pay bills while working part-time and taking care of her children.
She adds: “I had to downsize and move to a smaller house and obviously, I had to make cutbacks.
“It was tough. Buying clothes was one of my joys, I love fashion, but I just couldn’t afford to keep splurging on myself any more.
“Like so many parents, everything I earned went on bills or the kids. It was hard especially being newly single. I lost all my self-confidence.”
But two years ago, in February 2019, Andrea began researching for her new business itwontcosttheearth.com – a sustainable gift and homewares website.
While doing so she learned about some second-hand shopping websites such as Depop, a fashion app where you can buy and sell second-hand clothes.
“While trying to set up my business I became aware of the impact fast-fashion has on the environment,” Andrea says.
In the UK, 300,000 tonnes of clothing is burned or buried every year and many cheap clothes are made from non-recycled plastics which are fuelling carbon emissions and climate change.
I felt guilty about buying clothes
“I began to feel a bit guilty about all the clothes I bought and the impact it was having,” Andrea says. “But when I started browsing. I also realised you could pick up some real bargains.
“One of my favourite purchases is a blue Victoria Beckham top which set me back £20 but it would originally have sold for around £200.
“I have two Victoria Beckham dresses which I love.
“They normally sell for between £1,500 and £2,000 but I bought them for around £100 each.
“The Louboutin heels I bought had only been worn once.
Andrea’s top tips
- Be specific. If you type in ‘dress’ you will be overwhelmed by choices. Set your sizes so it only shows items that fit and if you can, specific a length or colour.
- Select ‘newly-listed items’ so you’re trawling through tons of old stuff you have already seen.
- Search for specific brands or designers you like to help narrow down what you like and what will suit you.
- Leave reviews. The more reviews you get, the more you become a trusted buyer and seller and the more successful you’ll be.
- Make cheeky offers. You can see how long something has been listed for. If it’s been over a month, make an offer. I got a really nice pair of Claude Pierlot jeans that were on sale for £60. I offered the seller £30 and she was happy to get rid of them. They would have been worth around £150 new and she had never worn them.
“They are absolutely gorgeous and I have to keep them under lock and key as my daughter loves them too.
“I have found a few favourite designers such as Sandro and Alice & Olivia so I tend to search for them as I know I like their clothes and they are usually a good fit on me.
“I much prefer Depop to websites like Asos now.
“I also use Vestiaire Collective, eBay and Thrift Plus. I buy less but the pieces I buy are better quality.
“I really love them as opposed to thinking ‘oh that’s nice, I’ll wear it Friday night’, then it falls to the back of my wardrobe.
“The pieces last too. They are better quality.
“If you decide something is not right, you can re-sell them and they hold their value. If I decided to sell one of my Victoria Beckham dresses I’ll probably get back what I bought it for.
I can still get my fix of high street bargains
“There are lots of high street bargains to be had so I can still get my Zara fix. I feel better as I’m not adding to all the waste and I love what I wear.
“There is a lot of bargains on sale from last season right now. I don’t worry too much about what is in fashion and I think more about what suits me.”
Andrea now spends between £50 and £100 a month on clothes and fashion.
“My wardrobe is a lot smaller but I really love the things I wear now,” she says.
“It’s neater and not clogged up with stuff I never put on.
“I’m often complimented on my clothes.
“People will ask ‘Where did you buy that?’ and they are often disappointed when you say it is second-hand and they can’t go out and buy one for themselves.”
She says it has really boosted her confidence too.
“I lost a lot of self-confidence when my marriage broke down.
“I had less money and wasn’t able to spend anything much on myself.
“Now, I still feel like me and feel so much better about myself. I look better, I’ve saved cash and I’m helping the environment too. It’s a triple win.”
What you need to know about buying second hand
Before you start shopping online it pays to know what your rights are when buying second hard via apps like Depop or eBay.
If you buy from a registered trader then you do have the same rights as buying from a shop.
That means they must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described.
You can also get a refund within 14 days.
But this is only for registered sellers, if they are private sellers – like you or I and not running a business – then you have little legal comeback.
It’s essentially up to the seller, if they are private, whether they accept returns.
Each app has its own policy.
With Depop if your purchase is made via the BUY button then you are covered by its buyer protection.
That means it will help you get a refund if your item hasn’t arrived, doesn’t look as described or items are missing.
While eBay has a money back guarantee which covers you if you don’t get an item, it doesn’t match the listing or it arrives broken, damaged or faulty.
It will also refund you if the seller doesn’t fulfil their returns policy.
Avoid paying for an item outside of the apps as you won’t have any protection.
Also be on the lookout for fakes as you may find knock-off items for sale on such websites and it may be tricky to verify their authenticity.
It’s worth remembering that you can set up alerts for brands or specific items on websites like eBay or Vestiaire Collective.
Andrea’s not the only one who’s cracked the code to nabbing bargains as another shopper got £15k of designer togs for £900 at a charity shop, including a £600 Gucci for just pounds.
Other mums have taken thrifted shopping to extremes though, as some admit buying knickers, towels and even nappies second-hand.
Etsy bought Depop for £1.2bn earlier this year so we explain how it could affect users.