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Five Insider Tips for Becoming An Expert Secondhand Shopper

By , April 19, 2018

Five Insider Tips for Becoming An Expert Secondhand Shopper

My wardrobe is so extensive that I had to create a second closet in my tiny apartment just to store it all. It’s also constantly growing. When my friends notice my ever-evolving assortment of clothing, this usually leads to inquiries.

Where did you get that? How come it always seems like you’re wearing new clothes? How is it possible that you aren’t completely broke?

The truth is, about 90% of my wardrobe is secondhand. If it weren’t, I’d be living on the streets with the amount of time I spend shopping. Thrift stores are a great way to get more bang for your buck, but many people find them overwhelming or exhausting.

Since I spend so much time in them, I’ve become a expert of sorts. A thrift-store connoisseur*. I’ve have learned some great tricks and shortcuts that make shopping at thrift-stores quicker, easier, and more productive. With these tricks, you’ll be able to compose your own expansive and high-quality wardrobe without breaking your bank account.

*Full disclosure: I just had to ask Google how to spell this word. I’m not that fancy.

1. Shop often and buy seldom.

I know where all of the thrift stores are near me, and when I’m on the hunt for a specific wardrobe item I’ll hit them up at least once a week. I enjoy shopping (even window shopping) so this isn’t a chore for me. There are two huge thrift stores near my house, and they happen to be on my way to work and church respectively, so I stop in when I’m already passing by.

2. Try upscale thrift stores.

The price points at an upscale thrift store tend to be higher, but there are benefits. First, the selection is curated, so you won’t be digging through garbage to find the hidden gems. Second, in most cases the clothing you’re searching through is higher quality.

Maybe you’ll spend $30 on a dress instead of $8, but that dress is gently used and well-made. If you spent $30 on a new dress, the quality would be significantly reduced. It’s the same principle as buying a used car. The value of a new car depreciates the moment you drive it off the lot. You save money and gain utility when you buy a gently used car instead of a brand new one. It’s exactly the same with clothing.

3. Learn to eyeball your size.

I know exactly which cuts work on me and which don’t, plus I can eyeball my size for most types of clothing (except pants and fitted dresses or pencil skirts), so sometimes I don’t even have to try things on. This can really speed up the process. When something fits you right, pay attention to what it looks like on the hanger so you can learn to eyeball it.

4. Know which size you are in different brands.

I am a size 4 in Gap and Levi’s jeggings, a size 6 in H&M jeggings. If a dress from H&M is fitted, I’m a size 6 or 8, but I’m a size four if it’s fitted around the waist and has a flow-y skirt. Knowing this information can make shopping second hand much easier. When I buy jeans, I just scan the racks for the sizes and brands that I already know fit me, and I grab those. If a skirt or dress is from a brand where I’m already familiar with the sizes, I don’t bother to try it on.

5. Tailor your thrifted finds.

Clothes that fit always look more expensive. The money you save by buying secondhand often makes up for the cost of tailoring. It’s a win-win!

What are your favorite thrifting secrets? Share them in the comments below!

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About the Editor

As the founder and Editor-in-Chief of The You Are Project, I took a step back to study leadership and answer the burning question, “How can I create an actual change in the world around me?”

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