Gently used clothing is nothing new to me. I am the youngest of 4 children, so wearing second-hand clothing, or hand-me-downs was just a way of life for me when I was growing up. This was especially true of clothing for special occasions. I think all of us girls wore the same dress for our first Communions. Obviously my only brother was super lucky and always got new clothes just for him.
When I became a teenager, my style differed greatly from my sisters. Their used clothing didn’t appeal to me and with limited resources, I began to shop thrift stores on my own. At that time, there was only one place to go shopping for second-hand clothes, the Salvation Army. I was into punk and new wave so shopping for new was out of the question anyway. Besides, who would want to cut up brand new items? My mother would have freaked!
Of course as soon as I got my first job, I wanted new new new. And that trend continued for me for many years as I turned my nose up at used clothing. I mean, used clothing is for those who can’t afford new right?
It wasn’t until I started embracing minimalism that I re-discovered my love of second hand stores. And I am obviously not the only one. Now, there are many second-hand and consignment stores to shop and people are much more accepting of the idea. This is awesome for us shoppers because it’s translated into more people donating, and more treasures to find.
If you are afraid or unsure of shopping for gently used clothes, here’s why you should give it a try:
7 Reasons You Should Shop Second Hand Clothing Stores
1. Great Selection
Did you ever notice that when you shop at a mall, every store has the exact same style of clothing? It’s great if you are young and size 0 because everything looks good on you. At used clothing stores, there is a wide selection of styles. If only A-line skirts look good on you and they are not the trend right now, guess where you will find a variety of them to choose from?
Thrift stores also tend to be organized in a way that makes it easy to find what you’re looking for. For example, all ladies’ long-sleeved, size-medium tops will probably be on one rack (and sometimes also sorted by color) – unlike at the mall stores, where all types of garments are mixed up and spread out across the entire store.
2. Unique, Vintage Pieces
Thank goodness that people have cleaned out their closets and not thrown their classic pieces in the garbage. At thrift stores, you can easily find styles as far back as the ‘50s. Plus, many vintage styles have become fashionable again. You can find original treasures at consignment shops, as opposed to paying top dollar for modern remakes. Some thrift stores specialize in vintage used clothing, so if that’s your favorite style, you could be in luck.
3. Quality Clothing
It’s tough to find anything brand new these days that doesn’t fall apart after one wash unless you pay top dollar. But at gently used stores, you will find:
- Lining in skirts
- Double seams
- Zippers and buttons made to last
- Sturdy fabrics
Many vintage items fall into this category. If they’ve survived this long in saleable condition, they are likely to keep on going. And well-made clothing can be tailored or mended if it’s in almost mint condition.
4. Brand New Clothing
I can’t tell you how many times I have bought items at consignment shops that still have the original price sticker on them. And what a thrill it is to see a price tag of $49 and snag it for $5! Even items that don’t have their original price tags can still be practically brand new. Maybe the original owner removed the tag, washed the garment once, and never ended up wearing it, or only wore it once.
5. Designer Label Clothes
You have to shop the racks thoroughly but designer labels can be found in thrift stores. They go fast, so you’ll probably have to shop regularly to find them. Many second-hand shops have a specific day of the week when they put out new merchandise, so be sure to check! Many experienced thrifters recommend shopping the consignment shops either in, or just outside of, more upscale areas, as people tend to donate items close to home. However, you can still strike gold at small-town thrift shops, particularly chains. To ensure each store has a decent amount of inventory, items from stores in larger areas are often shipped out to those in smaller ones.
6. Saving & Make Money
You just can’t beat the price. Become a regular, and you become privy to even deeper savings. Stores will regularly put discounts on overstock merchandise. You could find deals like “take an additional 50% off all dresses, today only!”
Where To Sell Used Clothes
You can also make money by selling your own old clothing. The items you’re bored with just might be exciting treasures to someone else, and you’ll end up with extra cash in your pocket. There are several ways to do this – without having to hold a yard sale.
There are consignment shops/used clothing stores that will either give you cash or store credit in exchange for your used clothing. If you ask Google “Where can I sell used clothing, near me?” or “Where can I get cash for used clothes, near me?” you’ll get a list of local consignment shops that buy used clothing and their contact information. Plus, their locations will pop up on a map so you can pick the most convenient spot. You may even discover a local shop or two that you never knew was there!
Used Clothing Online Stores
It’s sometimes possible to get more money for your old wardrobe if you sell online. Gone are the days of putting up a post on craigslist and hoping for the best. Many sites devoted to helping people sell used clothes have popped up in recent years – getting your items in front of people who are actively hunting for deals and treasures. ThreadUp and Poshmark are two of the most popular sites for this, and they each have a different approach.
Poshmark lets you upload pictures of your items, and when one sells, they email you a pre-paid shipping label to print out, and you can even elect to have the Postal Service come pick it up. ThreadUp will send you a “clean out” bag that you fill with your unwanted items and mail back to them. They then decide which items they want to buy from you. You have the option to either pay to have whatever they don’t buy shipped back to you, or to allow ThreadUp to donate those items to one of their partner charities.
For vintage or designer clothing, eBay is still alive and well, and is often the best place for those truly unique items.
Considering that the average American woman has 103 items in her wardrobe and, according to a survey by ClosetMaid, considers a large percentage of that clothing to be unwearable or ill-fitting – you probably have at least a few items that aren’t making you happy, too. Trade those in for cash, and put that money toward gently used items that you really do love!
Need help paring down your clothes? Check out this beginner’s guide to decluttering your closet.
7. Reduce Environmental Impact
In a disposable society where landfills are overflowing, it is nice to know that many pieces of clothing can be saved and loved again. With the average person throwing away an estimated 70 pounds of clothing and shoes each year, an estimated 5% of all landfill space is now taken up by clothing. While, of course, some items do end up worn out beyond usability, it’s so much better for the planet to breathe new life into used clothes whenever possible.
Second-hand stores can be a lot of fun to shop. It’s exciting to find clothing you actually like while you’re also saving money and contributing to saving the earth. So don’t be afraid to give thrift stores a try!