I think I first started shopping secondhand for my clothes during college. I used to just buy huge stacks of thrifted clothes, justifying pieces I didn’t love because they were cheap. But then, my thrifted pieces would sit in the bottom of my drawer or the back of my closet untouched for months because they either didn’t fit, I didn’t love them, or they didn’t work with the rest of my wardrobe.
I still thrift and shop secondhand for the majority of my clothes, but I have learned some helpful tips and tricks for thrifting items that I love and will actually wear. Keep reading to learn 12 thrifting tips for building an affordable, sustainable wardrobe you love and actually want to wear!
Know Where to Buy When Shopping Secondhand
Personally, I buy secondhand primarily from Not Perfect Linen’s Facebook BST (buy, sell, trade) group, The Slow Clothing Movement BST free weekend posts, ThredUp, Poshmark, and local thrift shops like Goodwill.
Certain local thrift shops in my city have more clothing options than others, and so I try to plan trips to the thrift store when I am running errands near the thrift stores that have more women’s clothing options.
I feel confident buying from Not Perfect Linen’s resale page because they offer measurements and I know what size I wear in their clothes. ThredUp and Poshmark have a lot of details on clothing items from brands I love and they are well established. The Slow Clothing Movement BST is a little riskier because the sizing can fluctuate depending on the brand and you don’t have the ability to return items that don’t fit right.
Research your local options, and find some online secondhand sites with a wide variety of options you love for shopping secondhand!
Shop from Familiar Brands Online When Shopping Secondhand
I know what size I wea≥r in brands like Madewell, Gap, and Sezane because I have purchased from them before. I’ll often shop on sites like ThredUp or Poshmark for pieces from brands I am familiar with… especially if the company doesn’t have a free return policy.
Know the Return Policy of Thrift Stores
ThredUp has a return policy, but most items have a restocking fee. Many thrift stores, whether local or online, do not allow for returns. You can always try to resell if what you buy doesn’t work out, but it isn’t a guarantee that you will get your money back.
Wait for Sales–Even When Purchasing Secondhand!
ThredUp will occasionally run really good sales on certain items! Keep an eye out for these sales or for discount codes. On Poshmark, you can make offers and try to get the items for less than a seller has them listed for. Goodwill and many local thrift stores often have sales on certain colors of tagged items. When I lived in Arkansas, one of the thrift stores would eventually mark everything down to 25 cents! It was a great way to get some items at a really affordable price.
Learn Your Measurements
If you are ordering secondhand from a place like Not Perfect Linen, it is really helpful to know your measurements.
Sometimes, you’ll see the acronym PTP. This stands for pit to pit measuring. “Pit to pit” refers to a measurement taken across the chest area of a garment, usually a shirt or a jacket. It is typically measured by laying the garment flat on a surface and measuring the distance between the armpit seams or armhole seams on the front side of the garment.
The pit to pit measurement is commonly used to determine the width or circumference of the chest area of a garment. It provides an indication of the overall size or fit of the garment in that region, and it is often used by clothing manufacturers and retailers to provide sizing information to customers.
Even if you haven’t ordered from a company before, knowing your measurements can help you have a better chance at ordering the right size! Use a soft measuring tape like THIS when measuring.
Shop with Intention When Shopping Secondhand
I used to just go shopping and buy whatever looked cute. The problem was, I often would buy a shirt that needed a certain type of undershirt that I didn’t have. I never got around to buying the shirt to go with the original; hence, it would sit in the back of my closet untouched.
Now, I whop with intention. I make note of what basic pieces are missing from my closet. Before buying them new, I try to shop for them secondhand!
Check Fabric Contents of Thrifted Items
Natural fibers like cotton, wool, silk, and linen will hold up much better than synthetics. Many synthetic fabrics, even synthetic/natural fiber blends, will start to pill and fall apart fairly quickly. Check the tags of items you love and take the fabric contents into consideration.
Know Your Best Colors
I haven’t done a formal color analysis, but from the research I have done—I believe I am a soft summer. This means I look best in muted colors with cool undertones.
I recommend looking into a seasonal color analysis to find colors what colors best suit you and then looking within that palette when shopping for clothing.
Consider Comfort Levels When Shopping Secondhand
I am personally not comfortable buying certain things like underwear and swimwear secondhand unless they are new and unworn. Some people have different levels of what they are comfortable purchasing secondhand. Just take this into consideration when finding things to wear.
Find a Local Tailor for Clothes Bought While Shopping Secondhand
Finding a local tailor is a great option if you find pants that are a little too long or a dress that needs to be taken in. Clothing used to be tailored to fit individual people, not the other way around. The influx of fast fashion created a world where we often feel the need to fit into clothing instead of tailoring clothing to fit our bodies.
When I take my bust, waist, and hip measurements, I often fall in between several sizes. This is normal! A tailor can help alter clothing to fit your exact measurements.
Learn to Alter Your Own Thrifted Clothes
If you want to save some money instead of hiring a tailor, learn how to hand sew or use a sewing machine to make some simple alterations. It’s an amazing gift to be able to adjust your clothes to fit your body!
Here are some of my favorite sewing supplies.
Don’t Love It, Don’t Buy It!
There have been so many times when I have bought something simply because it was on sale. But if I didn’t really love it, it will sit in my closet untouched for months on end.
Even if you think something is cute, if you don’t like It in the store, there’s a good chance you won’t want to wear it again.
So, if you don’t love it in the store and you don’t have a plan for altering it to your liking, it’s probably best to leave it on the rack.
Click HERE to get a FREE secondhand shopping wishlist chart to use when shopping for items you love and will actually want to wear!
The outfits pictured are a mix of secondhand, handmade, and new. I purchased many of these items on secondhand sites and Facebook groups, but I will link similar items below!
- GIGI PIP Seabreeze Seagrass Straw Hat
- Not Perfect Linen Small Checkered Linen Dress
- Nisolo Leather Backpack (Save 20% with code THEMILLERACRES)
- Black Silk Cami (similar)
- Madewell Mom Jeans
- Ballet Wrap Top (Sewing Pattern)
- Blue Linen Dress (Sewing Pattern)
- Kid’s Striped Pullover (Sewing Pattern)
- Kid’s Jumpsuit (Sewing Pattern)
- White Button Down (similar)
- Madewell Jean Shorts (similar)
- GIGI PIP Chandler Bucket Hat
- Nisolo Woven Clogs (Save 20% with code THEMILLERACRES)