How to Shop for Secondhand Clothing
Introducing “The 101”—not the name of my favorite California freeway—but a quick and dirty look into fashion concepts that can help make our closets more conscious, and even more fun.
For the first 101, let’s dive into secondhand clothing. Whether you call it recycled, resale, or used, it is the alternative to buying new. This post will focus on secondhand online and offline selling and buying. More to come on thrifting and vintage in upcoming 101s.
My journey to secondhand
I discovered secondhand clothing stores when I was in middle school. I learned geometry, life sciences, and how to identify a real Louis Vuitton rainbow bag from a fake.
I transferred from my neighborhood public school to a private school. And at my new school, trends were IT. If you didn’t have a Von Dutch hat, a Juicy Couture sweatsuit, and some Uggs, well, you might as well not show up to school on our non-uniform Fridays.
I told my dad I wanted to look at the stores on Rodeo Drive. (There were kids in real Louis Vuitton at my new school let’s not forget). Just picture a 12 year old going from Chanel to Gucci—with less than $50 of birthday money. He said, “I have a better place—Melrose.” I begrudgingly agreed to go.
We drove from the San Fernando Valley, over Laurel Canyon, to West Hollywood and walked into a place called Wasteland. 7 For All Mankind jeans for $50! (this 2003 people…), True Religions for $60!, and then there it was—Juicy shorts with "Juicyland" on the butt for less than $40. Birthday money here we go!
That same day I bought the Juicy shorts my dad got me a pair of used blue crushed velvet Dr. Martens. Guess which of these purchases I still own (and wear) today.*
*I am still a fan of Juicy, new and 2000s styles. The more sweatsuits in my life the better…just with less on-the-butt writing.
Back on the 101
What is secondhand clothing?
Secondhand means owned by someone else. I like the idea the clothes have had a whole life behind them—they come with experiences, stories, and hopefully no stains. (Always good to double check before you buy!)
How can I sell my secondhand clothing?
Try both offline and online stores. At offline stores, they usually only take what is trending for that season. You can check out selling guides to see what the stores are in need of and what is popular. (I have gone in and they have taken nothing. Badge of honor, I think). You can get paid with store credit or cash for the items you sell. If store credit is an option, this will usually be a higher amount than if you go with cash.
Why buy secondhand?
First, it will save you money and make you can money when you sell your clothes too.
Second, It is more sustainable. Because you are buying secondhand clothing instead of new, the chemicals and water to produce the clothes aren’t getting used, reducing the climate change impact of manufacturing. The less new clothing produced, the better the environment.
I’m ready to jump in...now where do I go?
Check out our list of offline (local and national) and online secondhand stores. And add a comment below if you recommend any others!
Want more? Head beyond the 101 below.
Happy secondhand shopping!