Tips for Buying Used Clothing

Michele Zipp
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My friend Melody and I in thrift store finds.

My dress was $30!

Thrifting, second-hand shopping, a trip to Sally's (Salvation Army) -- no matter what you call it, buying used clothing is not only economical, but you can often find one-of-a-kind items. I had previously written about how to shop vintage and thrift stores with advice on keeping an open mind while shopping and how you can often score great jewelry. Cafe Sheri, who shares my love of thrifting, stumbled across this great article on Embracing the Thrift-Store Ethic from GetRichSlowly.org. Here are 10 of their best tips!


  1. Discard your prejudices. Thrift stores and used clothing shops are not "nasty dirty places." Sure, some of them are, but most aren't. Explore!
  2. Set a budget. Say you are going to spend $20 today, then see what you can find once at the store. 
  3. Go with a friend. Another set of eyes is always good for an opinion. Or go together and while going through racks, pick up things you think would look good on each other, too.
  4. Try things on. Sizes vary especially if you are finding things from different decades. Also keep in mind that some places don't have fitting rooms, so wear clothes you can slip things over in case you have to try on in an aisle.
  5. Examine each item thoroughly. Check zippers, buttons, snaps, and pockets for wear and to make sure everything works.
  6. Check washing instructions. If you never go to the dry cleaners, don't buy the dry clean only silk shirt.
  7. Use the tags as a guide to find quality brands you like, but don't limit yourself.
  8. Diversify your wardrobe. You can use this "shopportunity" to buy colors and styles that you've been wanting to try out. Maybe it will yield a new look.
  9. Stock up on accessories. Belts, hats, scarves...thrift stores have a ton of them and at a fraction of the cost.
  10. Take your time. Be prepared to sift through every rack...that's how you'll find the good stuff.

For more tips on thrift store shopping, check out Embracing the Thrift-Store Ethic: 18 Top Tips for Buying Used Clothing

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