Sustainability & Communications Consulting


Sustainability 101

How to Shop for Secondhand Clothes?

I know what you’re thinking. Buy clothes that somebody else wore and gave away? Really?

Yes. Really.

Buying secondhand is a very affordable option to add high quality and designer pieces to your wardrobe. It is incredibly sustainable, as each piece gains years of life as it enters your closet without any additional energy or materials being wasted in its production.

However, shopping secondhand takes practice and can be a very daunting process. But trust us, all the hard work you put into it makes the satisfaction of finding a secondhand gem even better!

To make the process a bit easier for you, we gathered 8 indispensable tips for successful secondhand shopping.

1. Choose your venue: Vintage (or consignment) is different than thrift. You can certainly find a killer vintage gem at a thrift store from time to time, but vintage or consignment stores usually carry only designer items. Thrift stores can sometimes be a bit overwhelming by the amount of stuff they carry. Vintage stores, on the other hand, are usually more curated and polished. Choose your venue depending on what you are looking for and your budget.

2. Make a list: Know what you are looking for so you don’t get lost in the amount of stuff they have hanging on the racks. Make a list in advance of the pieces you need to add to your wardrobe. It will save you time and also will prevent you from making an impulse buy. You can even make two lists: One for what you need to add to your wardrobe immediately and one for what you want to invest in, like a purse or a pair of shoes from a particular designer.

3. Dress Down: Second hand stores are usually packed and the fitting room is often just a teeny tiny space covered by just a broken curtain. Wear leggings or any sleek outfit you can try the clothes on over easily.

4. Thoroughly check the garment and look for holes, missing buttons, stains… Don’t forget to check the armpits! If you decide on a handbag, make sure that the clasps work and check the bottom of the bag for any signs of wear.

Sex & The City

Sex & The City

5. Check the fabric and wash instructions. Try to avoid synthetic fabrics as they usually retain odors more and don’t hold up as well. Even when shopping second hand, avoid fast fashion items since they are most of the time poorly manufactured and made of synthetic materials that can be toxic for your skin.

6. Know what can be altered. You can usually tailor something that is a size or two big for you, but it’s really tough to tailor a piece that’s too small. An unstitched garment can also be repaired and shoes resoled. In general, try to stick to items in good condition with few signs of wear. Chances are, you won’t reach out for worn out pieces in your closet, even if it’s a designer piece that you got at an amazing price.

7. Do the alterations immediately. Don’t let your secondhand piece hang in your closet waiting to be altered. Get it tailored immediately, because if you don’t chances are you never will!

8. Bring cash and don’t be scared to bargain. Most of the time, it will be way easier to bargain a piece if you offer cash. It also will helps you to control your budget and prevent an impulse buy.


Our Favorite Places to Shop second-hand in NYC

  1. Pilgrim NYC

  2. Designer Revival

  3. What goes around comes around

  4. Beacon Closet

Our Favorite Places to Shop second-hand Online:

  1. Ebay

  2. Etsy

  3. Vestiaire Collective

What are you favorite places for secondhand shopping? Share them with us in the comment section!

Clara SharmaComment