Best 5 Tips For Secondhand Shopping

Let’s be honest—just because you can score fantastic outfits for just a few bucks doesn’t mean secondhand shopping can’t break your budget. The lure of the deal is hard to ignore, and if you’re not careful, that pile of must-have pieces can turn into cash register shock in no time. So what’s a thrift store maven to do? Check out these tips for staying on budget and in style before hitting up your favorite secondhand shop:

Tip 1: Consult your closet

Before you venture out, check out what you already have in that jam-packed closet. Getting rid of things you haven’t worn in a while is always a great pre-shopping routine, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the clothes you keep. Is there a skirt that needs the perfect blouse? A dress yearning for just the right belt? Boot-cut jeans with no boots? Take photos of pieces that could use a soulmate to consult once you’re hunting the secondhand racks. It’s easier to stay within your budget when you’re looking for something, not everything.

Tip 2: Mix and match

When you happen upon something cute and amazing and in your size, it’s tempting to toss it in your buy pile and figure out how you’ll wear it later. To keep your pile in check, visualize that closet you just tore through to determine whether the piece will mix and match with your existing wardrobe. Neutral colors, clean lines and classic fabrics are good choices for base pieces, and of course, you can’t go wrong with black—it goes with nearly everything.

Tip 3: Take a friend

If you’re not the best judge of what you actually need versus what you think you need, take a trusted friend for a second opinion. Close friends usually have an eye for what looks good on you and they aren’t afraid to steer you away from a potential fashion faux pas. (Remember, there’s usually just one of everything at thrift stores, so invite a shopping buddy in your same size with similar taste at your own risk.)

Tip 4: Watch for sales

You might not think secondhand clothes can be cheaper than they already are, but most shops offer sales, specials, and coupons on occasion. Staying on top of your favorite secondhand shop’s website for news means you can stretch your budget even further. (Speaking of your favorite thrift store, check out Thrift Trader specials here.)

Tip 5: Know your limits

Staying within your budget means that every piece counts—something to consider when you find a piece that’s 90% perfect. Maybe that remaining 10% is a slightly big fit, or a sticky zipper or missing button, but whatever the imperfection, you’ll need to know the limits of your tailoring skills and decide how much work you’re willing to put into an otherwise heavenly secondhand piece.

Bonus tip: To buy more, sell more

While the previous tips focused on staying within your shopping budget, here’s a bonus tip to expand it: Choose secondhand shops that buy clothes, and take a load each time you shop. Not only will this make more room in your closet for secondhand finds, but it will also enable you to buy that killer piece (or two) that might not have made the cut otherwise. So check out Thrift Trader during buying hours (every day from 10am-6pm) at our North Park and Pacific Beach locations, and show that shopping budget who’s boss.