If the words “thrift store” and “secondhand” have you shaking in your Chanel, it might be time for you to get updated on what secondhand store shopping, or “thrifting,” means these days. Forget the mothball-scented, Raggedy Ann-reminiscent housedresses and nubby cardigans of yesteryear. Today, secondhand and consignment-store shopping can be as rewarding as going to your favorite designer outlet store. And cheaper, too. We’ve put together our best tips for you here on how to spot the secondhand gems that will leave your work wardrobe enriched and your wallet unharmed.
Take a trip. Start your secondhand scouting in the more upscale neighborhoods of your city. That’s where wealthy residents send their designer, and often barely worn, castoffs, and the selection hasn’t been aggressively picked over. You may even be surprised by how many thrift and consignment stores are in your area after a quick Google search. Bring some friends along and make it a Saturday of store hopping.
Keep your eyes peeled. Go through the store with a fine-tooth comb, leaving no sweater or handbag unchecked. Oftentimes these stores have a small staff—making it difficult for them to keep up with organization—and it’s up to you to find the hidden treasures.
Know what the go-to items are. No matter what you’re hunting for, there are a few items you can’t go wrong with purchasing secondhand. While belts are back on the runway, they’re also one of the most versatile and inexpensive ways to renew an existing office outfit. Scarves, whether long or short, wide or narrow, square or rectangular, silk or wool, are a staple in every fashionista’s closet—and are completely work-friendly. Perfect to wear in your hair, around your waist, or over your shoulders, a single scarf can take your outfit from day to night and cost as little as your morning cup of coffee, which, if you keep shopping like this, you won’t have to give up. And don’t skip the accessories counter: Gorgeous and unique vintage brooches, bracelets, rings, and more can be found here for a fraction of their original cost.
Aim for almost perfect. Finding the perfect pair of gray flannel trousers or a houndstooth blazer may set your hopes high—until you try them on and the pants are three inches too long and the blazer is a bit shapeless around the waist. Purchasing the almost perfect items and taking them to your favorite tailor is a great way to split the difference. You’ll still have spent only a portion of the retail price on a new outfit, and by having it custom-tailored you’ll be turning your shopping spree into an investment.