7 Tips for Shopping Secondhand

I love secondhand shopping. You can find so many items in perfect condition while shopping in a way that honors people and the planet. Not to mention, nothing feels better than a great secondhand score!

I’ve mentioned it before, but there was a time in the not-so-distant past when I wouldn’t have been caught dead in secondhand clothing, because it “grossed” me out. I don’t even know what I was thinking! I’ve become a total secondhand shopping convert, even purchasing shoes secondhand (which used to “gross” me out the most.) I had a totally misinformed notion of secondhand clothing being in poor condition.

Some of my favorite items of clothing are secondhand scores, from my rag & bone ankle boots, to my Madewell overalls, to this cozy and feminine Eileen Fisher boxy sweater – my most recent find!

While a great secondhand score is partially luck, there are some strategies that can help you find the pre-loved items of your dreams. Secondhand shopping also makes ethical shopping much more affordable. Eileen Fisher is usually out of my price range when new, but is very easy to find on the secondhand market!

Here are my seven tried-and-true tips for successful secondhand shopping.

  1. Know your brands.  This one is pretty straightforward, but it is SO important to go into secondhand shopping, whether it is online or in-store, being familiar with the brands you’re on the hunt for. Research what their items typically sell for, both new and used, and know what items are from their current season. This will help you better understand if the pieces you find are actually a good deal, or if you should wait and keep looking, or if you should splurge for something new based on the pre-owned condition of the items you’re finding.
  2. Know your fabrics. If you’re going the in-store route and are scanning the racks, being able to glance at fabrics and gauge their quality is a great skill to have. I always joke around that my spiritual gift is going into a store and picking out the most expensive item without looking at the price. While this is a terrible quality to have when shopping new, it is a great quality to have when shopping secondhand. Be able to recognize silk, wool and cashmere blends versus say, acrylics. This just comes with practice, so get out there and start checking some care tags as you browse!
  3. Be persistent. Check your secondhand sources – whether it’s a local shop, Goodwill, eBay, or Poshmark – often. You never know when someone will consign the item you’ve been looking for! I check apps and websites once (sometimes twice) a day. Online is my preferred method, but if you’re looking in-store, try browsing a couple times a week.
  4. What goes around, comes around… Anything that is trendy today has likely been trendy before, so you can participate in these trends a lot more cost-efficiently and sustainably by purchasing items secondhand. Think today’s straw bag trend, loafers and midi dresses.
  5. But the classics can’t be beat. If you’re looking for classic pieces like cashmere sweaters, blazers or tailored pants, the secondhand market is teeming with these items. They also rarely look dated (unless you know, shoulder pads), so you don’t need to worry about how “old” the item is.
  6.  Don’t act on impulse. Prepare a list of the items you need or really want, and stick to them. It can be easy to purchase things just because they are a good deal, or because you are afraid someone will snatch them up. But adding unnecessary items to your closet doesn’t help in the long run.
  7. Know when to walk away. When shopping online where people are listing their own items, prices can often be inflated due to the emotions behind the clothing. Bringing it back to tip 1 – know what things are worth and what they are selling for both new and used. Don’t low-ball sellers, but if someone’s pricing is based on emotion rather than the reality of the item, know when to walk away.

So, there you have it – my tips for secondhand shopping! Do you guys have any other tips? Would love to hear from your experiences!





  1. The only things I have bought second hand are books. I will keep these tips in mind when shopping second hand. Thanks for sharing Kellie!! 🙂

    • Thank you Bety! You’ll have to let me know when you make your first secondhand clothing purchase!! 🙂

  2. Loving your tips! As an avid thrifter, I cannot stress the benefits of shopping second hand. I’ve converted almost half my wardrobe in a year by committing to #slowfashion!

      • I’ve learned on man occasions to keep it simple and dress for the occasion when thrifting! There is nothing worse then getting into the fitting room and engaging in a wrestling match just to take off your skinny jeans! Loose clothing and comfy shoes are your best friend lol

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