Buying clothing secondhand whenever possible is one of the cornerstones of a sustainable lifestyle, as it helps to alleviate the 15 million tons of clothing discarded by Americans each year. When you buy your new summer crop-top or floral mini-dress secondhand instead of new, no additional resources or energy are needed to produce it, so you’re making the most sustainable choice there is. Yeah girl!
I have been shopping for secondhand clothing long before I knew it was “eco”. My thrifting sensibility blossomed in New York City during college when I discovered trendy consignment stores like Beacon’s Closet and Buffalo Exchange that were filled to the brim with the designer labels I so coveted. Shopping secondhand helped me start to build a wardrobe of quality pieces (I could find a secondhand J.Crew coat for the same price as one at Forever21) and those truly stylish, unique vintage items that can withstand the test of time.
I know stepping into any thrift store can be quite daunting, which is why I was giddy with excitement when e-commerce consignment site ThredUp reached out to me to try their service. Instead of sifting through the usual racks upon racks, their mass collection of secondhand clothing and accessories can easily be filtered down with a click of a button – secondhand shopping made easy!
Keep scrolling for my top five tips to instantly navigate those dreamy i-can’t-believe-it pieces on secondhand e-commerce sites, and how I found the Stone Cold Fox top I’m wearing here.
1. Search for you favorite brands. This is the absolute best way to narrow down to the style, quality, and fit that you so desire. If you’re not sure what your favorite brands are, check your closet for your favorite items. For me, I prefer Joie, Tibi and Stone Cold Fox for tops, Flynn Skye, Reformation and For Love and Lemons for dresses, Hudson Jeans and Madewell for jeans, and J Crew and Club Monaco for business pants and jackets. Use the search bar to quickly scope out what the site carries from your favorite brands, and then filter down by size from there.
2. Have a general idea of what you need, but don’t be married to it. Pay attention to the items you wish you had while you’re getting dressed (“I wish I had a basic white blouse to wear with this printed skirt”) and start a list on your phone for closet-completing items. Keep that list front of mind, but remember that the beauty of shopping consignment is that you never know what you’re going to find. If they happen to have that silk white Tibi blouse you’ve been wanting then great, if not, also be open to other items that may catch your eye.
3. Filter by size before you browse. It can be extremely tempting to purchase an amazing find although it’s just a bit too big or too small, with the idea to get it altered or have it ready for when you drop a few pounds, but I find that items that don’t fit end up collecting dust in my closet more often than not. I don’t recommend buying anything that needs more work than shortening the hemline.
4. Check how worn it is. I will very rarely buy any fast fashion brands like Forever21 , H&M or Zara secondhand because the quality of their items is usually very poor by the time it reaches the secondhand rack. Pay attention to what condition Thredup has rated that item and use the zoom tool to check for any pilling or fading. I will only purchase items that are in excellent or like-new condition.
5. Don’t get disappointed. Remember, shopping secondhand is a marathon, not a race. The likeliness to leave the site with an empty cart is far higher than when you make out like a fashion bandit. Just like with anything else, a fine wardrobe takes time. I recommend checking the site often for new arrivals – you never know when will be your lucky day!