How to Shop for Secondhand Clothing

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap  —  August 6, 2014 — 6 Comments

how to shop for secondhand clothing

If you’ve spent much time in thrift stores (or sorting through donations for nonprofits or following a disaster), you know that our society is absolutely overrun with clothes. It’s a burden. It’s kind of jarring when you think about it that clothes are mass-produced, worn for a short time, then sent to languish on thrift store racks while they are still in good condition. It’s the definition of excess. Thanks to Macklemore, thrifting is becoming more popular but it’s still kind of stigmatized and there are still more clothes than we could ever need getting donated to thrift stores every day. At my favorite thrift store I regularly walk out with Banana Republic, J. Crew, Calvin Klein, and the less fancy but still adorable Loft, Target, Gap, and Old Navy items for $3 a pop. I even found a Diane von Furstenberg blouse once but sadly it wasn’t my size.

You can save a ton of money and also do your part to reduce waste by buying clothing secondhand. But if you’re new to thrifting it can be intimidating and overwhelming. You can read all my tips in my recent post for Red Stick Moms Blog!

You can see some of my recent acquisitions in this post from last week. I haven’t bought any “new” clothes in several months (besides a swimsuit and some scrubs for work, though I do always check out the scrubs at thrift stores as well). I don’t miss traditional shopping at all! I’m able to pick up a few new pieces every month without guilt over spending too much money. Once you get really comfortable with thrift shopping it can be totally addicting to find such cute clothes for so little money.

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap


6 responses to How to Shop for Secondhand Clothing

  1. Such great tips! I’ve definitely fallen off my thriving game. Now the few times I pop in, I’m looking for furniture or housewares, and usually leave empty handed. :( My mom on the other hand, is a thrifting queen. Fo-sho! I usually give a place a quick once over, get unimpressed, and leave. She can (make me) hang around a place and really find some gems.

  2. Awesome tips!! Embarrassing confession: sometimes when I am thrifting for clothes, I write a blog post in my head because I feel I have knowledge to pass on! But alas, I don’t have a blog, LOL.

    Here is one extra tip, which is sort of gross but I’ve gotten stuck a couple of times: sniff the armpits of shirts. Sometimes there is a B.O. smell that isn’t obvious until you wear the shirt on a warm day. I once had to run out of church in embarrassment because of a sweater I was wearing. It’s a little gross, but I have found other things like that that went RIGHT back on the rack!!

    And yes, you have to be ruthlessly picky or you will end up with a closet full of so-so clothes. My mantra is “my closet is not big enough for less than awesome.” If it’s less than awesome, it ain’t coming home with me!

    • Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap August 12, 2014 at 7:03 pm

      Those are great points! I have a tiny closet and should aspire to fill it only with awesome.

  3. I’ve been meaning to comment on this. Your posts are inspiring me to start thrift shopping for clothes. I have no problems thrift shopping for other things, but I don’t like clothes shopping in general, so it’s hard to get excited about it. That said, I’m sick of my cycle of buying cheap t-shirts and wearing them for a season or two until they become shapeless and unflattering. Maybe I can find better stuff if I just start looking?

  4. Bridget from Cali August 14, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    Terrific thrifting tips from you and your readers. There are endless possibilities at second hand shops. Fashion should really be about what makes you feel feminine and confident. It’s nice to watch for trends, but stick to what complements your own frame and personal tastes. The truth is I may love pretty patterns, florals and even geometrics. The reality is I have wasted far too much money on them when I wear solid colors more.

    I do frequent thrift stores, but I am also pretty ruthless about scouring end of season clearances to find bargain basement markdowns at boutiques and department stores. If my choice is to purchase used for the same price as a new garment, I tend to prefer something never worn before. Plus, not sure if it was Katharine or Audrey Hepburn who said they bought multiples whenever they discovered something that truly fit them, but that is fabulous advice that I have faithfully kept with over the years. While I am considerably more curvy than those fashion icons, that principle works for those of us with less tailored sensibilities too. I know it has helped build my wardrobe in the long run.

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