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Second Hand Clothes - Cut Corners, Not Style

Updated on August 13, 2011

Spend Thrifty

By now most of us have discovered that designer clothes can be had at a decent discount if you can hit the outlets, or the “Seconds” shops like TJ Max and Marshall’s. These stores have the Bloomingdale pieces without the  price tag.

But there is a world of gently used clothing out there. Just like with a car, sometimes the brand new one isn’t the most cost effective. In today’s economic crunch down, maybe it’s time to look into some of these options.

Second Hand Has Come a Long Way

Consignment and second hand shops are not only good for shopping, they are good for selling. Bring in your old stuff, leave with someone else’s. It's a nice set up to keep things moving in and out of your closets.

Got an instant yucky turned-up-nose at the idea of used clothes? Thinking about some church bizarre where your grandmother bought moo-moos for $1 each? Well think again. Consignment or second hand shopping is not always that kind of shopping, not that there's anything wrong with that kind of shopping! These shops are everywhere and come in all different levels of fashion, price and specialty.

Take RIF in Los Angeles for example. RIF is infamous for being able to find anything, and their staff constantly gets stellar reviews for their knowledge and helpfulness.

RIF even has an online shop, and is your west coast go-to place for sneakers, Dunk, Bape, and other higher end pre-owned fashionista pieces for much less than you’d pay brand new. This is the kind of place where you might find a $1500 pair of sneakers for only $500, slightly used.

In New York City, we have some long time established used clothing shops, like Andy’s Chee-Pees, specializing in vintage clothes.

Beacon’s Closet in Brooklyn has a great mix of apparel and accessories and is priced pretty fairly. The atmosphere is always fun, and the staff there seem to be pretty down-to-Earth and helpful. Another major plus about the company is that they donate a great volume of stuff to charities - gotta love that.

At places like this you might find vintage Doc Martens, a vintage Adidas jersey for $17, old Vans and Converse canvas high tops, good used leather jackets for under $100, top hats and tails, and a plethora of designer business wear giving your office wardrobe a streak of personality while still maintaining your professionalism.

The Plato’s Closet chain continues to grow, although I hear the Detroit locations are still the cream of the crop. These shops feature teen clothes gently used, and have a wonderful turn over rate. You could visit every day and still manage to find something different on each trip. Are you trying to dress several teenagers in your home? Then you need to know about Plato.

The Second Child in Chicago offers upscale childrens and maternity clothing resold at resale prices. Ralph Lauren, Lily Pulitzer and Cake Walk are only some of the designers you can buy AND sell here.

The Buffalo Exchange and House of Dang! in Dallas Texas both feature designer duds at discount prices. At Buffalo you can participate in a program to give your old fur coat back to the animals, and at Dang! you can pick up some household items and crafty artsy pillows as well as a Marc Jacobs t-shirt at 75% off. Check out their sites for additional locations.

The Start of It All

And then you have your nitty gritty second hand clothes shop, the heart of the idea. The Goodwill in Denver Colorado  is one such place. Got $20 and a new job starting on Monday? No problem! You can find blazers, blouses, ties, slacks and more for next to nothing. Some stuff is used, but some is brand new and donated by different companies. You can’t sell your second handers here but you can donate them and help out people less fortunate that you are.

Well known for their Go-Green attitude Goodwill is committed to keeping things out of landfills if they can be reused or repurposed in any way.

And speaking of that anti-land fill go-green way of thinking, don’t forget to find Freecycle in your area. Go to the main site for and narrow down your search to your state, then your city or county. This might be the greatest thing since sliced bread. My area Freecycle boards always have ads for children’s clothing. Are yours growing like weeds? Give back what doesn’t fit, and get stuff that does. Hook up and network with other families for trades.

And speaking of trades, that’s a great idea for the ladies too.

I used to host these swap nights about 15 years ago in my apartment just outside of the city. I’d invite maybe 10 girlfriends or workmates and ask each to bring a little finger food or a bottle of wine. We’d all bring a bunch of good accessory and clothing items we were no longer using or at least willing to trade. Shoes, handbags, suits, jeans, sunglasses, coats, gloves, even jewelry. At first we were kind of ordered about taking turns picking one thing. After a while of knowing each other we could sink into a more grab and take kind of friendly-frenzy.

We'd eat little pizza bagels, drink Merlot, trade our stuff, and share magazine articles and ideas for different looks. It's amazing what new eyes can tell you about your wardrobe.

I bet moms would find this concept useful for a kids clothes/toy swap.

Get Started

We’ve all had our ebay experiences. Some good, some not so good. It can be a treasure trove if you’re patient and careful. If you do decide to make some purchases on Ebay, make sure you read the listings in full. Be clear on shipping cost, damage, measurements and sizes. Check feedback and payment methods. If you can get the hang of Ebay, buying and selling can be fun and fruitful. If you aren't mindful though, you can get ripped off.

To host your own clothing exchange party, here’s some tips to get things rolling:

Invite some coworkers or friends that are of similar sizes. For example, if you’re a size 6, don’t just invite your friends that are all 12 – 18’s. Make sure you include a couple people that are of similar stature. This is a good opportunity to walk up to that coworker who's about your size and always dresses well and invite her over for a cocktail and a swap.

Add food and spirits and you’ve got a little gathering.

Not sure how to pull that off? OK, then start smaller. Start with an accessory exchange. Handbags, belts, jewelry, scarves, gloves, sunglasses, hats and wraps. Make your ideas clear. Just as with any hostess party put it in writing. Email or hand out invites with exactly what’s going on. Time, Date, Place, what to bring, what you hope the swap will be like, and where to rsvp. Explain the idea you’re trying out and be open to tips and thoughts from your would-be guests.

Google “consignment clothing” or “Second hand clothes” and your city and state. See what you come up with. Check out the shops that come up. Check out your local flea markets and church stores. Don’t forget Goodwill and Salvation Army – they started it all, and in many places and cases they still lead the way. My local SA is my go-to for used Levi's. I can always find a great broken in pair in my size for under $20.

Sign into Freecycle. And check out those “Seconds” shops like TJMax and Marshall’s in your area. You can dress for less: less money, not style.

Superhero Fashion Emergency - Collegehumor

All text is original content by Veronica, written for Hubpages. If you are reading this anywhere other than Hubpages, this article has been STOLEN.

All photos are original content by Veronica or used with permission.

All videos are courtesy of Youtube.

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Submit a Comment
  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    10 years ago from NY

    Very cool Manali!

    I invite anyone that has a second hand shop or website, or uses a second hand shop or website that they recommend, to post the links here.

  • profile image

    Manali Rohinesh 

    10 years ago

    This post is great to read because I've just got a seconds website going since last year in India. Any article or other website that helps me with mine is a bonus. Besides, I don't have clothes as a category up yet because I was hesistant about who would buy them. But this article has put that doubt to rest. Please do check out my site and tell me how I could improve it.

  • Sally's Trove profile image


    10 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

    You've hit on such hot, smart, high-end shopping adventures!

    Just outside Philadelphia, we've got a couple of dazzling "thrift" shops where you will pay pennies on the dollar for gently used (or brand new, as you said) designer clothing and accessories. These shops benefit local charities including those that provide services to battered and abused women and those that support local hospitals. The men and women who manage these shops are stellar retailers and know their markets. And guess who shops there in addition to you and me? The donors themselves.

    A word about eBay. A small handful of extremely successful and equally honest sellers have been marketing high-end, second-hand designer items for years in this online venue. It doesn't take much searching to find them. Just check out a seller's volume, feedback, and history. Still have doubts? Email or call them.

    Awesome Hub!


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