A great way to avoid a higher upfront cost to obtain quality clothes is to buy previously owned, second-hand clothing.
It’s also a great way to find unique clothes that you might not be able to find in stores today.
Tips for buying second-hand
- Come prepared. Shop with purpose. If you’re a first time second-hand shopper, start with a specific outfit in mind. Do you need something for an upcoming party? Or more outfits for work? Shop with your wardrobe in mind, and think about things that you already own that might match with your new purchases.
- Keep your eyes open. Thrift stores can be great places to find second-hand gems, but they’re not the only game in town. Second-hand consignment stores, vintage clothing shops, garage sales, online community networks and clothing swaps are all great places to find quality second-hand clothes. Lots of second-hand stores will have a "golden rail", or separate area for vintage or designer clothes – keep an eye out for those or ask the staff if they have gotten anything special in store recently, as they may even have something hidden in the back that isn’t on display yet.
- ALWAYS try it on. We’ve all made this mistake before, as things can look quite different once you pull them off the hanger and try them on. The main issue is that sizes vary between eras and manufacturers, so make sure it fits before you take it home. Remember to inspect the garment for quality too (see tips for identifying quality – the same rules apply for second-hand clothing).
- Take your time. Enjoy the process. Sometimes you need to have a really good look around to find the hidden gems at a second-hand store. So take your time and see if there’s anything hiding where it shouldn’t be. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, try looking for specific colours, styles, or patterns that you like, regardless of where in the shop you find it, as items can get mixed around on the racks fairly easily.
- Drop one, pick one. Before you head out to the thrift shop, double check that you don’t have anything to donate. Bring along anything you don’t want and drop it off while you’re searching for your newest second-hand treasure. (Note that many consignment stores will require a minimum number of items to create an account. Call ahead to make sure you know their policy.)