How to Shop for Secondhand Clothes for Sustainable Fashion
This post is for everyone who has gone into a thrift shop or consignment store, been completely overwhelmed and turned around and walked out. I want to help you on this journey and make it as easy as possible to shift your shopping habits to secondhand clothes and accessories. Personally, I find that the layout of nearly all consignment and thrift stores makes it much easier to shop and find what you are looking for. Below is my process for how to shop secondhand for clothes for sustainable fashion.
Select your store.
Choose thrift or consignment and take the time to preview the stores (don’t plan to shop). Just cruise around and note where things are and how they are laid out. Nearly all consignment and thrift store are laid out the same way – by gender, style (shirts, dresses, shorts, etc.), color and size. This makes it SO much easier for you to find what you are looking for. It’s not like at a department store where you have to check every floor for designer, luxury, “better” (what does that mean, anyway?), and make sure you didn’t miss anything. In a secondhand store it’s all separated out for you based on the characteristics that matter. (Watch – What’s the difference between thrift and consignment stores?)
Create a list
Absolutely do not go to a store without some idea of what you are looking for. I typically have short term and long term lists. For example, I recently found a pair of gray heels that have been on my “list” for about a year. I wasn’t in a big rush but knew I wanted to find a pair and eventually I did.
Know your style and colors. This is crucial.
I like to say that you want to shop with filters. What I mean is that you don’t want everything in the store to be available to you. Limiting yourself to your styles, your colors and sizes helps a lot. It’s exhausting to think you need to look at everything, and it leads to decision fatigue. This is also why the store layouts can actually help. Many thrift shops and consignment stores are organized by type of clothing and color. Use this to your advantage.
Measure the Clothes!
I shop by measurement for all of my clients and I recommend you do too. When you shop by measurement you limit the number of items to try on in the fitting room and therefore save a lot of time. Measurements are not perfect, but they are so much better than relying on arbitrary sizing (for women). For men – know your measurements and search for clothes match your measurements. Use your measurements (and measuring tape) to screen clothes that are sized by letter i.e. S, M, L, etc.
Develop a strategy – read this post to help you be more strategic with your secondhand shopping!