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November 22, 2017

A Shopping Confession: How to Shop for Used Clothing

Why I Buy Used Clothing & My Best Tips for Shopping Used

This is a post I’ve been toying with creating for a very long time. I don’t know why the idea of sharing the fact that I buy used clothing feels embarrassing, because it’s 100% not.

When you read a ton of blogs that continuously feature designer items, it can be hard to remember that that’s not exactly normal. Bloggers – the ones who make real money from blogging – can afford to purchase more expensive items, because technically it’s an investment in their business. I don’t make money from blogging, although I hope that someday I will!

I create content on this blog because I love doing it. I love when my friends message me about things I’ve shared that they enjoyed, and I hope to build a larger community of readers that do the same. Bottom line: I’m not a “blogger” that can afford to drop thousands on clothes all the time.

So, I buy used.

Why I Buy Used

My number one reason for purchasing pre-owned items is to get quality pieces at a lower price point. For example, I won’t buy a polyester sweater – I want wool, and when I buy used, I can get more luxurious fabrics and materials for a lower price. Same goes for nice leather shoes, higher quality brand names, etc.

Additionally, purchasing used is a type of recycling. I purchase a lot of clothes, because dressing well and playing with style makes me feel confident and happy. Yes, that often makes me seem materialistic – and honestly, I won’t deny the fact that I do love material items. When I buy pre-owned items, I like knowing that I am keeping the item from staying at the back of someone’s closet not being worn.

It’s like discovering treasure! I can find items that I loved but didn’t purchase when they were carried in-store, or that I always wanted and got discontinued. Case in point: the J. Crew Kiki ballet flats. They’re gorgeous, but they don’t make them anymore…so I searched for a pair on Poshmark, and here they are!

The most astounding part is that they’re in almost-new condition, and I spent $25 on them.

Is your mind blown yet?

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How to Shop for Used Clothing

The thing about shopping for used items is that you need to have a process, or you’ll end up with a ton of crap that’s not very good. You can’t just start buying things willy-nilly without knowing what they are, or you’ll likely find yourself disappointed. A good deal is only a good deal if you actually love and wear the item.

I typically buy all of my used items at a consignment store that I trust, or through the Poshmark app. I love Poshmark because there’s literally thousands of items to look through, which means it’s usually pretty easy to find what you’re looking for. The downside is that you can’t make returns, even if something doesn’t fit, so you have to be very selective about your purchases.

These tips mostly pertain to shopping for used items on Poshmark or similar sites like DePop or ThredUp. It’s a little less important to be so strict when you’re shopping at a consignment store in person, because you can touch and try on the items for yourself. But shopping in stores is limiting, because if you’re looking for something specific – like the J. Crew Kiki flats, for example – you’re likely not going to find it. So, here’s my tips for buying used clothes online.

ONE // Buy Brands You Know

When you’re purchasing used items online, you want to make sure that you’re buying from brands that you know. Mainly, this is because you’ll know your size in the brand, so you’re much more likely to fit into the item. For example, I know that I’m a size 8 in J. Crew shoes, so I feel comfortable buying them without trying them on.

You’ll also know what level of quality to expect from the item. If I purchase from a brand name that I know and like, I can usually guarantee that I’ll be happy with the quality of the item.

TWO // Know What You Want

I almost never just casually browse when I’m shopping for used clothes online. I always have a certain item in mind, and I search for only that particular item. Usually I’ll search for a general term like “sweater” and then filter by brand to find exactly what I want. Sometimes I’ll also filter by color if I’m getting even more specific, and I’ll typically filter by price as well – low to high, always!

THREE // Compare Prices

Compare the price of the item to the price of a similar item being sold new from the same brand or retailer. I see items listed for really high prices all the time, when it would be the same price to buy the item brand-new. Be sure that you’re getting a good deal before you buy. A tiny flaw or sign of wear might not bother you if you’re paying a great low price, but if you’re paying just as much as you would for a new item, just get the new item.

FOUR // Remember Repairs

See the pair of Tory Burch boots below? They were $75. That’s not a typo. One of the boots was missing the bottom of the heel, and honestly, it looked it pretty bad.

Never underestimate the power of a cobbler. I knew that if I got the boots at such an insanely low price, I’d be able to get them repaired and looking new again for just a little bit more money. I took them to a cobbler, got the heels resoled and the boots shined up, and for $25 they look brand-new. That means that I got a $500 boot for $100.

Pilling on sweaters and leggings can be fixed with a fabric razor (I have this one and love it), leather can be polished, and buttons can be replaced. Obviously, avoid things that might not be fixable, like stains and holes. A little faith and creativity can go a long way if you find an item that you truly adore.

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My Best Pre-Owned Finds

You’ve seen a ton of pre-owned items on this blog, and I bet you didn’t even realize it! Here’s some of the best items I’ve found while shopping used.

Every single one of those items was marked down an insane amount, and each was in fantastic condition. You guys know I would never wear something that looked old, dirty, or worn-out!

Have I purchase duds while shopping used? Yes, absolutely, but only when I didn’t follow my own rules. Any item that hasn’t worked for me has been from a brand that I didn’t already know and wear.

So, what do you think? Do you buy used clothes? Would you give it a try if you don’t?

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