style & beauty

How to Secondhand Shop like a Pro

Secondhand shopping is great for saving money, finding one-of-a-kind pieces, and purchasing items that are already well into the material life cycle, avoiding the creation of new materials we don’t need. Although it can be a fun experience, shopping in a thrift store can be difficult and time-consuming. Here are a few tips to make your next secondhand shop a success!

  1. The first thing to do before going secondhand shopping is to assess your wardrobe and note the gaps (I keep a small list in my phone I’m constantly adding to). This way, you save time (and money!) by narrowing down what you’re looking for. It’s also a good idea to know what colours work with the rest of your closet, making it easier to scan through the racks.
  2. Bring water or snacks. Thrift shopping requires lots of searching and effort, so make sure you’re prepped!
  3. Wear comfy clothes that are easy to get in and out of, and minimize layers. This one is so necessary especially when you’ll be changing into lots of different things. Changing in and out of tight jeans is not the best way to spend your day!
  4. Try to go when it’s quiet – an early weekend morning for example. If the store is quiet, it’s much easier and faster to find what you’re looking for.
  5. Explore all size sections. Especially in thrift stores, things can get jumbled, and there are also so many brands in one place that something that isn’t in your typical size might fit you perfectly, or can be easily altered or adjusted. Always take a look at the sections one size up and one size down from your usual.
  6. Take a quick look at other parts of the store. Especially for vintage Ts, belts or jackets, you might find the best item in a totally different section. I found a perfectly cropped Levi’s jacket in the children’s section once!
  7. Move a little in the clothing, and pay attention to quality. When secondhand shopping, the whole point is to find clothing you will hold on to and love, delaying the journey to the landfill as much as possible. So make sure you slightly pull on seams to test if they’re strong, inform yourself about which fabrics have great durability (hint: organic cotton, linen, silk are great ones), and move around in the change room to make sure you’re comfortable. (ie. do a squat in those yoga leggings to double check they’re not see-through!) By doing these things, you’ll be sure you have pieces you won’t regret purchasing.
  8. Try out new thrift stores you’ve never visited. New secondhand shops are great to visit for diversity, and different stores usually contribute to different local causes as well!
  9. At the end, if you can, pick the longest line to the cashier. This is a good tip for anyone shopping anywhere – it helps you have an extra couple of minutes to really assess each piece and confirm what you actually need to bring home.
This tank top for 1.99 made it into the change room, it fit well, but I have enough tanks. So I left it, despite the great price.

What can I add to the list? Where’s your favourite secondhand place to shop?

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