6 Tips For Buying Second-Hand Clothing.

I LOVE SHOPPING. It’s therapeutic for me! Some of my earliest memories are of me and my mom shopping. She took me everywhere with her for the first 5 years of my life until I went to school.

I did not wear second-hand clothing growing up unless it was my sister’s things. It took me 2 years to grow into her clothing because she was much taller than me. We received new clothing each school year. We didn’t have lots of extra money but this was something my parents saved for. Thank you, Mom and Dad!

When I moved here to Canada the wardrobe that I brought with me was very impractical. I had been living in Southern California for 10 years. The only practical thing I purchased for this climate were my winter boots. I wasn’t very prepared, to say the least.

Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way when it comes to buying clothing second-hand:

  • You can find great quality clothing when you buy secondhand but it takes a lot of time searching the racks. You have to be  willing to invest your time to build a great secondhand wardrobe. If you don’t want to sift through racks and racks of clothing then it might not be for you.
  • If you find a GREAT piece that you love, buy it. This might seem to contradictory to my first point. If it’s functional and practical for your wardrobe, then buy it. In most secondhand stores there is usually only one of each thing so if you wait to buy it, someone else may scoop it up.
  • Know your brands. It’s so important to know what is quality and what is not. There are some popular brands out there that aren’t great quality. Don’t buy something because it’s brand name. Know what is worth it and what is not.
  • Go for quality-not quantity. I had to get rid of most of my summery clothing. I still own some key summer pieces but I would say the bulk of my wardrobe is sweaters, warm leggings and jeans. This is because our longest seasons are cool to freezing. Even our summers can be cool and damp. I do not like being COLD. One winter we lived in a place with electric heat ($$$$ to run) so I lived in 5 layers of clothing. Also, I’m currently a stay at home mom and plan to be for a while so my wardrobe reflects this relaxed style.
  • Have a good laundry routine. I do 95% of our laundry because I am particular. I still cringe when I consider how I used to wash things in college. I would throw everything in together and hope for the best. Then I would dry everything on high. Used or brand new-these are quick ways to wear down and ruin your clothing. Now I have a very specific laundry routine. I actually read the tags on clothing now and follow instructions.
  • Not everything is worth buying second-hand. I am learning the truth of quality over quantity. Some things are worth saving up for considering the quality and how long they will last you.

I will admit that clothing is the area in which I have always struggled with overspending. You need a plan going in or you will end up with things you don’t need. I’m still working on a minimalist/capsule type of wardrobe. I haven’t achieved this yet but it’s on my to do list. I also wanted to share something that changed the way I buy clothing now. While I still buy new clothing it is rarely and it isn’t without some guilt. Fast fashion (think Forever 21, H&M, Zara’s etc.) has a deadly impact on our environment and people.

There is an excellent documentary called The True Cost .

It exposes the consequences fast fashion is having on our world today. The fact that people are actually dying while producing the clothing that we wear is horrifying. I highly recommend this film. It’s sobering and thought-provoking. It has pushed me to consider the ethics behind the brands I buy from.


So there are my best tips for buying second hand clothing! Do you buy second hand? What are some things you’ve learned along the way?

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11 thoughts on “6 Tips For Buying Second-Hand Clothing.

  1. Good info. The Plato’s Closet near here is pretty gross–lots of stained or holey items. I have fallen in love with thredUP, an online resale shop. I sell (mine, my husband’s, and my kids’ things) through thredUP and purchase things for the whole family from them. Have you tried them? If not, you can get a $10 credit if you use my referral link http://www.thredup.com/r/NCOFER

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    • That is such a bummer that your Plato’s is no good! They need to step up their game! I think it definitely varies by city. There is one about 45 minutes from where I live in a very affluent town and everything is very high end. I’ve heard great things about thredUP but haven’t personally tried it yet. I don’t even know if it works for Canada? I’ll check it out. Thanks for taking the time to comment =)

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      • Im not sure if it works for Canada, but definitely worth exploring! I just outfitted myself for vacation (shoes, swimsuit, dresses, etc) on thredUP! It helps to stick to brands you know will fit you. I just search via brand name and size and go from there!

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  2. Great article! I’m glad dad and I made you feel special each school year 😉 And I have many great shopping memories with you and Laura. But YOU are the one who taught me how to be thrifty. As I leave this comment I’m actually dressed head to toe in second hand clothes. Great brands. My shirt is Lucky Brand and my denim capris are Ann Taylor Loft. My shoes are Aerosoles. I’m not sure what brings me more joy. Knowing I did not pay full price, knowing that these are really cute clothes, or knowing that I am making a small difference for someone who is enslaved to this whole fast fashion industry! We can all choose to make a difference. Thanks for inspiring me and hopefully others who read your blogs. Good job sweetie!

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  3. […] Shop Secondhand (especially for kids): I switched over to purchasing second clothing around the time I was getting married. I watched a documentary about the negative impact fast fashion is having on our world, today. It changed the way I went about purchasing most things. 90% of the clothing we wear as a family is second hand. I’m not a name brand person to begin with but surprisingly you can find some great brands when shopping second hand. So my 7 month old is a few pounds behind his 21 month old brother. Buying new clothing for him would be like lighting my money on fire. I have this mentality with all baby gear and things in our home as well. If I can find it second hand and repurpose it (if it needs it) then I’m going to do it. My mother in law recently made these amazing reusable produce bags and she sewed them all from repurposed material. How cool is that?! Not everything is always worth buying second hand, though. I learned this the hard way with strollers. 4 strollers later and I finally purchased my first brand new double (On sale!) hallelujah, praise the Lord. You can read more about my tips on buying second hand here. […]

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