How To Buy Clothing At Resale Shops

About a year ago, I rediscovered my love of resale shopping. When I was in high school and college, I did a lot of resale shopping, because it was what I could afford at the time. After that, I began shopping at malls, and kind of forgot about resale shopping.

Anyway, when I went to Salvation Army for the first time last year, I was amazed at the options that the store held.

At this point, Nearly half of my most worn and most loved clothing items are from the Salvation Army or another resale shop.

Here are some things that I think make for a successful shopping trip. These are tailored towards people who are looking for quality and workmanship. If you are just looking for cute clothes (forever 21 or H&M) those are few and far between at these stores. 🙂

  1. Know your brands – Some people hate shopping, so if that’s the case for you, skip this one, however, I think that it’s honestly the biggest reason why I find such good things. After I got out of college and got a “real” job, I stopped shopping resale and began shopping at malls and boutiques.I love to window shop and browse at stores like Lord & Taylor and Nordstrom and went to many different stores and got to know a wide array of different brand names. I started to be able to notice differences in quality and the attention to detail between stores and brands. I remember thumbing through the racks of dresses at the Salvation Army the first time, and realizing that I could guess just based on the style detail, and material of dress what store somebody could’ve bought it in. Most of the time, my guess is correct.
  2. Understand what quality is – It is important to get a feel for quality workmanship as well. Many times, the brand name does determine whether or not a garment is high quality… Usually you will find very high quality in vintage items, or in designer dress garments – ex. Christian Dior. To check for quality, get to know different fabrics. Check buttons, and linings, etc. for attention to detail. Another idea on this note is that taking a sewing class and learning the basics of clothing construction can really help you view garments with a more technical perspective.
  3. Look at EVERYTHING – I know that this is a big no-no if you are trying to create a sleek streamlined wardrobe, but I usually find my best clothes by looking at every section in the store with an open mind… I go through every dress, every shirt, every pair of pants, etc. After I find something that I really like it is at that point that I decide if I have enough existing clothing items to be able to make at least 3 outfits with it. The good stuff is usually hidden.
  4. Don’t buy it unless you love it and would pay full price for it – Trust me. If you like shopping, and anticipate coming to resale shop on a regular basis, you need to be VERY selective. Don’t buy something unless it’s absolutely perfect, because if you buy everything that you kind of like, you will have a very crowded closet.
  5. Check for holes or imperfections – You should do this with any garment, but it’s especially important with pre-owned clothing. Make sure you check for holes, pilling, stains, discoloration, etc. before you buy it. Check for these things when you try it on and when you hold it in your hands. if it is damaged, determine whether or not it can be repaired, and if it is worth repairing.
  6. Check the racks by the dressing rooms – People generally try on the cute stuff, so keep track of what’s hanging there.
  7. Don’t overlook the lingerie department – This is kind of more on a personal-note, but lingerie and slips are just not made the same way anymore. I love silk lingerie, and have found a few pieces for $2 a piece in this section… I’m sure I’ll do another blog post exclusively on vintage lingerie, because it’s become a bit of an obsession of mine.
  8. Go to mid-to upscale locations to shop –  You’re much more likely to find nicer clothing in more upscale neighborhoods.

I think sometime in the near future I’ll post a video or a blog about some of my best finds… And I will definitely do one on the lingerie that I have found.

Anyway, these are some of my tips. I hope that they help you. If you have any to share, I’d be really happy to hear them!





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