I love buying second hand. Always have and
probably always will. It’s a great way to find older things, inexpensive kitchen gadgets, gently used clothes and just relatively inexpensive items in general.
I used to be really addicted to shopping – always wanting to have new clothes even if I didn’t wear them often nor did I need new clothes. Well, eventually I got into thrifting and it is now my go-to option for the majority of the things I own apart from a few things that I will only buy brand new, like underwear/socks, pillows, towels and blankets.
Over the years, I have found a working waffle maker for $10, name brand clothing at a fraction of the cost, cool artwork, an espresso maker, and so much more! A few times, I have left and wished I bought certain items.. but you learn as that certain things don’t last long on the shelves of the store.
So, here are some of my hacks for getting the best deal and finds at secondhand stores:
1. First off, I regularly CLEAN OUT my closet.
I know it can be a bit boring, but I always end up with atleast one item I don’t wear anymore either because I don’t like the way it fits, it isn’t my style anymore, or I just don’t wear it. Recently, I went through my closet and got rid of 15 things I no longer wear.. or only wear once in a blue moon. I try to go through my closet every 6 months or so.
2. Write a LIST:
Another thing that isn’t always fun, but I have an ongoing note in my phone with a list of clothing items I’m looking for. Currently, my list includes: overalls, long sleeve shirts, dress pants and 90’s style clothes in general.
3. Define your STYLE:
Do you like current fashion styles? Older styles like 80’s/90’s? Hippie? All black? Whatever you choose, make sure you’re buying things that fit that sort of theme. I’ve bought clothes that I thought I’d like and realized after a while that it just wasn’t ‘me’. Recently, I’m trying to get back into some 90’s type clothes, as well as cozy casual.
4. Only buy what you NEED:
Do you already own two pairs of the same style jean? I’m guilty of this.. but I am getting better. Do you need another grey cardigan just like your other one? Probably not. When you’re looking for clothes or writing your list, make sure to really think about if you NEED that item. I promise the will power gets easier over time.
5. Look in ALL the departments:
Some thrift stores aren’t organized in the most logical way. Some are arranged by colour, some by style, some are just a mixed bag.. Really varies! I always check the ladies and the mens section. Especially for sweaters and shirts.. Sometimes there are good sweaters in the active wear section not just the marked “sweaters” department, so make sure you look in those as well.
6. Grab LOTS of styles, sizes and prints:
I always go into the change room with 6 or 7 pairs of jeans and come out wit one or two – if I’m lucky.. Sizes vary widely by brand and cut of fabric. Some things look better on you than they do on the hanger. I have also had the opposite, where I really liked a shirt and then I tried it on and realized it didn’t suit my shape. It happens!
7. Check the FIT:
When trying on clothes, ask yourself if you really like the fit of it. Is the neckline too high? Do the arms sit funny? Is it too tight or baggy? 99% of the time, if I try something on and I’m “on the fence” about if I like it or not, it usually translates to “I might wear this once..”
8. Check for FAULTS:
I am really bad for buying clothes with a missing button.. telling my self I’ll fix it. Guess what?! I NEVER actually fix it! Broken zippers, holes, missing buttons, stains.. All of it. People donate lots and it’s easy to get missed when staff is stocking the shelves.
9. “PROJECT” clothes:
This is similar to #8, but it’s also important. I’m not talking about clothes for painting or yard work.. I’m talking clothes that need to be repaired or altered to fit you nicely.. I used to be guilty of this. Buying a dress that needs to be hemmed, most likely won’t get done. Just leave it on the rack, unless you will go home and do it right then!
10. HOUSEWARES are the Best:
I’m always on the hunt for more mugs to add to my random collection, some nice bowls, a vase, cute teapots, etc. You can find some really nice old PYREX baking dishes second hand for cheap. Kitchen appliances can also be found and are usually tested in store or are able to be brought back within 10-14 days to be returned.
11. WASH items when you get home:
This is probably obvious, but ya never know! I always wash my clothes on hot when I get home (unless the label says otherwise) and my dishes get a good hot water bath and soap down before using as well. Just to make sure.
12. LASTLY; shop Sustainably and often:
This isn’t necessary, but I am becoming more and more aware of it. I’m starting to try to buy fabrics that are sustainable or natural fibres. I’ve recently found out that synthetic fabrics create little tiny plastic fibres that get into our oceans and harm marine life.
Wool – not everyone likes to buy this for animal rights purposes
Cotton, Bamboo or Hemp – preferably organic if possible
Metal or Glass housewares