In my experience, used clothing is one of the best ways to cut down on the amount of things you buy new. It’s easy to find, and cheap because the fashion industry operates off seasons and trends, so most past-season clothes have little resale value. I’ve always loved thrifting–there’s nothing more thrilling to a shopper on a budget than the perfect $2 pair of Levi’s!–because it fits my budget. Whatever your motivator, there’s such an abundance of donated clothing that you can find most things you need new, except a few special pieces you buy new (hopefully from) from ethical brands.
But where to start? Here are 5 things I come across most frequently in thrift stores and consignment shops, that I think you could avoid buying new. As a side note, if these don’t strike you as something that would fit right off the bat, remember that if you find a great deal, you can probably add the cost of alterations to your budget and still have it be far less than new. (If you’re handy with a sewing machine, even better!) And I’ve actually had great luck on jeans that fit me at consignment shops, where in stores they’re always too long!
1. Denim vests + jackets. There’s no shortage of denim at thrift stores. Jean jackets are pretty in right now, not to mention overalls (which I am all for! though I hope not denim mini skirts? don’t know the verdict on that one.), and these are all pretty easy scores at secondhand shops. It’s a trend that cycles frequently so people buy them and get rid of them (and buy them again).
2. Other 90s trends. While we’re on the subject, thrift stores are also overflowing with velvet anything, floral mini dresses, long button-front skirts, and frilly sweaters. If you are on board with the 90s revival (I am, I am!), you don’t have to go far to find it.
3. Shorts (and most summer clothes). There’s a lot to shop for in anticipation for summer. It’s the only season you layer down rather than up, and when it gets hot most of your wardrobe becomes useless. Plus, it’s vacation season, and everyone wants something fresh. This leaves thrift stores with an influx of warm weather donations, and I find that they’ve got them on the shelves pretty much all year afterward. Don’t buy those cutoffs new!
4. Camis. You know how silk-inspired and lace trim camis normally reserved for lingerie are back in these days? It looks super cute peeking out of a slouchy sweater or simply worn with jeans. The “intimates” section of many thrift stores is an entire row of these very tops. Or, if you’re looking for something more curated, you can always browse Etsy’s vintage section.
5. Sweaters. I don’t buy many sweaters new anymore for one big reason: I cannot take care of them. I’ll follow the directions on the tag and still end up with a tiny or misshapen sweater post-first wash (despite air drying!). Pre-owned clothes have usually already gone through many washes, so it’s kind of like buying pre-shrunk to me (ha). Beyond that, I love vintage sweaters and this is an easy score at thrift stores, consignment shop, Etsy, eBay, and other secondhand outlets.
Sweaters: consignment shop finds / Bracelet: Tuli