In Discussions, Shopping, Style, Wardrobe Help

Switching to Consigned or Thrifted, Used Clothing: Can I do it?

I’m seriously considering switching to thrifting as the majority of my purchases.

I am thinking 75% of my clothing budget this year should be secondhand.

Not 100%, because I won’t buy used underwear, socks or intimates but for things like sweaters, tops, dresses, purses, jewellery… I’m starting to get more and more into the idea.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THRIFTED AND USED CLOTHING

Wardrobe-Closet-Mochimac-Clothes-Tops-2

Photograph of my wardrobe

Thrifted: Goodwill, Salvation Army, Value Village — all places where people donate clothes and things for free by the garbage bag.

Consignment: People drop off higher quality, nice things for resale, and get a percentage when the item sells, usually 40% – 60%.

You will see mostly designer brands like Marc Jacobs, Chloe, Louis Vuitton or high street designer-y brands like J. Crew, or Anthropologie here.

This is my preferred place for used clothes shopping, mostly because people who care about their clothes, want their money back (or as much of it as possible), and tend to take fairly good care of their items.

(At least, I do…)

In no particular order, here are the reasons for me to consider doing so:


REASON #1: IT’S CHEAPER THAN NICER STUFF AT RETAIL

I’ve scored plenty of great deals on clothes and things, at a fraction of the original retail cost.

A few of my great scores:

  • Hermes Cashmere & Silk Sweater = $200, originally thousands of dollars
  • Cashmere Sweaters = $30, originally $200 – $800 per sweater
  • DKNY Grey Swavroski Necklace Collar T-Shirt = $20, originally $300

Since I won’t be paying the full retail price of the item, it is technically not that hot for the economy because I wouldn’t be buying anything that is newly produced, but I’d contribute by helping consignment and thrift stores grow their business, and it gives money back to those who sold their clothes, and they can go spend that money.

But it isn’t as cheap as a $5 top because I actually want higher quality clothing (I’m not necessarily focused on brand names).

REASON #2: IT ISN’T CHEAP IN THE WAY THAT WILL KILL ME

Read: Toxic Clothing — Is your cheap sweater killing you?

I never thought about chemicals in the processing of clothing, but it makes so much sense now.

I won’t say that I believe everything I read from GreenPeace 100% without a grain of salt, but it still makes me think more about the choices I make with my money.

REASON #3: I ALREADY HAVE A BASIC WARDROBE

It’s true.

I really don’t need any clothes, so it becomes a great thing if I DON’T find anything that is my size, or in the colour I like.

…but if I do, what a find!!!!

I’d be talking about my finds until my future grandchildren run from the room.

REASON #4: ENSLAVED & POOR CONDITIONS FOR CHEAP LABOUR FOR CHEAP CLOTHES IS DISTRESSING

Katy wrote about Bangledeshi workers who were trapped in their factories, dying from fires, while trying to produce clothing for H&M, Wal-Mart, Gap, and J.C. Penney.

Not only that, your cheap sweater could be killing you with the chemicals used to process fast fashion.

I’m already not a huge fan of China because of a wide range of reasons (politically, socially, economically, ethically, environmentally), and it bothers me slightly that literally everything I touch, is Made in China.

We all know why it’s made in China, too.

I’m not saying other countries are better or that I can be guaranteed that the fabric purchased to be made into clothing by North American or European countries has not been originally sourced from China.

It’s just really tough, and physically painful to read about, and see heartbreaking videos of children chained to machines just to produce newly made cheap clothing for our greedy consumption.

REASON #5: IT’S BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

Buying used means another new sweater won’t be made for my consumption.

I’ll be re-consuming what was originally consumed, or recycling and reusing, if you want a simpler word for this.

REASON #6: IT’LL FORCE ME TO APPRECIATE WHAT I HAVE & BE CREATIVE

If I stop buying new things so easily, it won’t be so easy to find what I want to make my outfits change, evolve and be different over time.

If I want a specific style of a sweater, I’ll have to find it by combing stores, even if it takes a year.

It could even be an interesting shopping hunt of sorts.

Instead of window shopping for new things, I hunt for old ones, and end up not spending much because it’ll be harder to find exactly what I want if it’s used.

I’ll have to find ways to make what I have, look different to me.

REASON #7: I WON’T BUY AS MUCH

Instead of telling myself: Self, you’re on a CLOTHING BAN, I will be imposing a rule that will let me have the freedom to buy what I want, but not necessarily telling me to stop completely.

Bans don’t work on me.

If you tell me I can’t eat for 12 hours so I can give blood, and all I can think about for the next 12 hours, is eating.

Eating lots of food, stuffing my face… it doesn’t end.

Lyons-Food-Meal-French-Delicious

Photograph I took of my meal in Lyon

It’s the same with shopping. If I can’t shop, then all I want to do and all I can think about, is shopping.

You have to be a lot pickier in thrift stores. There are tons of great deals, but things are not the right size, colour, or they simply don’t look good.

I’ve passed over plenty of nice things because they don’t fit or flatter me. I wished I had a friend there for whom it would look perfect on, but .. alas.

CAN I MAKE IT? WOULD YOU TRY SOMETHING LIKE THIS?

 

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Am my own Sugar Daddy. Am a millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using TheBudgetingTool.com. I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I have 11 side incomes that are on track in 2020 to make me $50K - $75K. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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Posted on September 4, 2015

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23 Comments

  1. Aleksie

    Ebay has a lot of used clothes. You don’t get to look them over, but I’ve saved so much money.

    Reply
  2. Tania

    First of all I’m so glad I found you again. Your prior blog, FB, is just not the same since someone else took over. The tone is quite different and I don’t find the new posts particularly interesting and the site seems to be veering away from personal finance at times. I’m a blogger too and am a bit all over the place, especially in the beginning so I feel hypocritical saying it. But I really liked your old sites because of the personal finance and minimal focus. It is possible to write about other things and connect it to personal finance as you’ve done here.

    Whew…like I said, happy to see ya again. I much prefer consignment shopping to thrift or fast fashion (cheap trendy crap). There are times in life that I get sucked into fast fashion a little but then come back to the less but better quality is more track. Thinking about where things were made is truly important. The overwhelming amount of “shopping haul” vlogs and posts on the net not only reflect a shop til you drop epidemic but also a complete lack of understanding of why a shirt made in the US is more than a shirt made in China. I blog about things as well (again a hypocritic) but focus on design and artful objects, the whole “look at the three bags of really cheap crap I bought this month” concerns me.
    All your reasons above mirror mine plus I’ve found some really special pieces at consignment like a vintage huge Dior wallet that looked like a big coin purse with two compartments so I can carry my phone in it on one side, money/id on the other. I adore it so much more than the more current wristlets or mini purses available now. It’s got history and not everyone has one. And I paid nothing, traded it for my dropoffs.

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      Thank you for tracking me down. How did you do it? 🙂

      I haven’t been back to the blogs since I sold them, but it was more of a self-imposed pressure thing.

      I am HOPING to find a great vintage wallet like yours! I think it would be awesome to have a story about how you got it, and it’s even better that you paid for it with your drop offs.

      I don’t want to rule out thrift shopping because I CAN find good things I’m sure (some people don’t even know consignment exists), but it’s just so long to dig through all the racks of mainstream clothing from brands that would sell a t-shirt like that for $10 anyway.

      Reply
  3. Janine

    I was just at a conference that talked about a great second hand store in my city and I’m thinking I might pop in to take a look. I regularly scour Kijiji for clothes but I’m little and tall so it’s hard to find things that fit me! Good luck tho, let me know what other great finds you come across!

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      I will do a post soon on what I have so far as deals. I am a lot pickier for thrift store stuff than for new stuff (obvious reasons — size, fit, colour)…

      Reply
  4. hereverycentcounts

    I’ve been thinking about buying gently used lately too – esp since this year I’m on a huge diet and that – hopefully – means going through a few dress sizes before I find a stable size. I have a weird OCD phobia of used clothes, but I can see why buying used makes a lot of sense, esp if you like designer items that you can’t afford new. I look forward to reading more about your finds!

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      I don’t think your phobia is weird, but when I buy used things, I thoroughly wash and disinfect them.

      Reply
  5. Janelle

    I really think you can do it! Even if you just do thrift only! 😀 I guess it depends on the quality of stores around your area. I think I was doing this right when I first discovered the joys of thrifting… I kept going back because the prices & the goods I was getting was just too good! Good luck 😀 <3

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      Thanks! 🙂 I have a list of consignment shops I want to visit, and a short list of my favourites.

      Reply
  6. Sarah Li Cain

    I love thrift stores, but have yet to look into consignment stores. I also love yard sales, you can purchase some neat clothing there. I got sweaters for like a dollar! Some of them never worn!

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      Yard sales are harder to come across in this area, and I’d probably enjoy yard sales in richer areas as a result (nicer stuff).. otherwise, I am not interested in buying stuff from those fast fashion places I mentioned (H&M, Mango, Zara) even if they’re dirt cheap.

      Reply
  7. Anne @ Unique Gifter

    Most of my clothes come from a consignment shop, clothing swaps, or friends. I’m kind of a hobo. Oh, and there’s a local FB page to sell clothes on, where I’ve snagged some pretty sweet deals.

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      Maybe there’s an FB page for Toronto too!!

      Reply
  8. Debt and the Girl

    I don’t really buy too many clothes but I have gone to thrift stores. You can get some really cool stuff if you keep your eyes open. Just have to make sure to sanitize them correctly 🙂

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      I’m a freak for that 🙂 Don’t worry.

      Reply
  9. Nicole J.

    I have been buying thrift clothing almost exclusively for over a year. I found the best store around and have found many great items there, and just some basic ‘I need clothes to cover my butt for work’ stuff. I have bought underwear and the perfect hat (touque) new this past year. I can’t think of anything else I have purchased new. I think you can do it – my experience has shown me to go to the store frequently and with an open mind. You are right, there are often many super items that are just not quite right for you…

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      I see lots of great things that I wish I could show other people, but it doesn’t fit because of the size (too big or small), or style..

      Reply
  10. Girl Meets Debt

    I think the neighborhood you choose to shop for thrifted or consignment clothes makes a big difference as well. I like the idea of shopping at these places but truthfully it would take a lot more effort. Which might decrease my want of shopping, so it might not be such a bad idea after all 😉

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      Actually, the neighbourhood doesn’t matter TOO much if you go to consignment shops that filter through what gets put into the store. In Toronto, Queen Street is great, but there are hidden gems all over the city, it just takes a little time to get there.

      Reply
      1. Kris

        Neighborhood is important for thrifting though. I go to Good Wills in rich neighborhoods and have gotten Ann Taylor garments with the tags still on, for example. $5.00 Ann Taylor? Yes, please!

        Reply
        1. Mochi & Macarons

          I generally don’t go to thrift shops which is why neighbourhood doesn’t matter for me. Consignment stores usually always have richer clientele dropping off stuff to sell, so their neighbourhood location doesn’t matter as much.

          Reply
  11. Student Debt Survivor

    I definitely think you can and should do it. I love buying gently used clothing and household items. Not only are you giving the item a second life, you’re also keeping them item from ending up in landfills. I hadn’t seen the killer sweater stuff before. Lord knows that kind of toxins are in the clothing that comes from China, scary!

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      You’re telling me. It’s been on my mind lately, and every time I look at my things, it makes me think about the choices I make as a consumer and how it trickles down to others.

      Reply

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Save. Spend. Splurge.
[ wealth. style. minimalism. ]

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