We all love those unassuming little shops that sell second hand wares at basement prices. Ukay-ukays are the best places to find fab vintage dresses and skirts for as low as P100, or even less if you’re lucky to find one that is on sale.
Designer bags like Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton are sold for a tenth or less of what they would cost if you were to buy them at their respective boutiques. And nice suede and leather jackets that look brand new will set you back a mere P150-200.
It may seem too good to be true, and at times it is. Not all cheap things can be considered bargains. Sometimes, buying an item for the sake of spending is just a waste of money.
Here are a few don’ts to keep in mind next time you visit an ukay:
1. Don’t buy it if you won’t wear it.
That’s plain and simple enough.
If you dig up an over-the-top gown that reminds you something your favorite artista wore, that is definitely NOT reason enough to buy it, even if it’s only P300.
If you can’t actually see yourself wearing it in the near future, and you don’t work as a stylist for a living, then that is still P300 wasted.
If you feel that you don’t have the confidence to wear a piece of clothing or you won’t wear it more than once, than don’t buy it.
It’s not a bargain if you’re only going to show it off in front of a mirror!
2. Don’t buy it if it is damaged.
Remember that you are bargain hunting.
If you are spending more for the repair of a particular garment than its actual worth, then that’s not a bargain at all. Better to buy it brand new, especially if the item is pretty easy to find.
On the other hand, if it is a designer item that is basically in good condition but needs touching up or a few stitches here and there, then go ahead and consider it. But first, ask yourself: how badly do I really want this piece?
3. Don’t buy it if it’s too high maintenance.
Dry clean only? Special washing instructions? Check all tags and see how hard or easy it is to care for the garment.
Most t-shirts and jeans are no-brainers. But if you’re going to buy silk, linen or anything delicate, think first whether or not you are willing to spend P100 to get it dry cleaned every time you wear it.
Some exceptions to the rule: jackets and coats that you will probably only need when you go abroad to places with cooler climates, or a really nice blouse or a pair of pants that you’ll wear on special occasions.
Decide how much time and money you want to put into maintaining a second-hand purchase.
4. Don’t buy undergarments or other items that are more prone to germs.
Although I don’t think I needed to tell you this, I thought I’d throw it in just in case.
Buy your underwear brand new. Don’t scrimp and decide to wear someone else’s old undies just because they’re only P5 each!
Likewise, spend the P800 on a new bra instead of buying the P10 one in the ukay bin—even if it looks decent!
Be wary of buying shoes as well. Understandably, there will be a pair or two that you will absolutely love. But even if they look okay, make sure you get them thoroughly cleaned before wearing them—meaning, disinfect and change the insole. You don’t want a nasty infection!
5. Don’t shop without a fixed budget.
Make a mental note of how much you are willing to spend on your whole shopping trip, as well as for each individual item.
For example, your ceiling price for a pair of pants can be P200 for a really good pair in perfect condition, or P100 max for tops. Don’t go beyond those prices.
Unless you find exceptionally good pieces, stick to your budget.
You can also tell yourself that you will only spend P500 for the entire ukay shopping trip, regardless of how much you spend for each item. This way, you won’t go home and realize you spent the same amount you would have if you went to the mall.
6. Don’t buy unique items if they’re not versatile.
Everyone wants to find the perfect piece of clothing that is so original and unique that you’re sure no one else has it.
When considering an item though, make sure you know your closet and you can come up with more than one way to wear it.
If you are eyeing a cute top, make sure you can wear it at least three different ways or you’ll be repeating the same outfit over and over every time you feel like strutting your stuff in it.
7. Don’t buy on impulse.
Before grabbing everything that strikes your fancy, look around a bit.
Don’t shell out cash for the first item you lay your eyes on that you think you like.
Make sure you try things on before buying them because it can’t be a bargain if it doesn’t even fit you, right?
Impulse buying is also a bad idea because usually, there are many ukay-ukays in one area and by the time you get to the next, you may not have enough money to buy something you really want.
Remember, you can always go back and pick up that nice top you hesitated buying. And, if it’s not there, it wasn’t meant to be.
Have a fashion or beauty question for Erica? Drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Erica Paredes has been working in the publishing industry for almost a decade as a fashion and beauty editor, newspaper columnist, stylist and make-up artist. Nowadays she juggles her time between food and fashion, beauty and travel plus mommy duties to her 8 year old daughter.
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