After college, Leah Lyman Waldron began secondhand shopping out of necessity while living on a volunteer’s wage in Mississippi. After saving some serious cash on her wardrobe thanks to learning handy thrifting tips, she didn’t head back to department stores to pay full price for clothes when her wallet could handle it.
“Ninety-five percent of my clothes came from thrift stores,” she said. “For me, it saves money and it’s environmentally conscious by not creating a need for new clothes. I’m a pastor in my day job, so I love the theological aspect: Taking something and giving it a new life.”
A self-proclaimed thrift-vangelist, Lyman Waldron now shares her thrifting tips on her blog Thriftshop Chic to inspire others to save cash, and the environment, by choosing used items.
If you’re looking to update your wardrobe this season with some gently-used or vintage finds from secondhand stores, keep reading for thrifting tips from Lyman Waldron as well as from a consignment shop owner!
Look and Feel for Quality Clothes When Secondhand Shopping
When thrifting for wardrobe additions, it’s important to buy clothes you can wear for many seasons to come. Check seams, look for tears and buy clothes made out of long-lasting, comfortable materials.
“The more you thrift, the better you get at finding good materials like silk, wool, good-quality cotton, or polyester that is really nice,” said Lyman Waldron.
Insider tip: To find designer and good-quality merchandise, find a thrift store located between an affluent and an up-and-coming neighborhood, she added.
Many smaller consignment stores, like The Left Bank owned by Jackie Goodman-Lean, will only buy or trade good quality clothes to begin with. But buyers should expect small imperfections, especially when shopping for vintage items. After all, they are used clothes.
“Focus on material and fit,” said Goodman-Lean, who owns and operates the store in the trendy Atwater Village neighborhood of Los Angeles. “I tend to choose items that are made out of breathable, comfortable materials.”
“If you’re able to try things on, you should!” she added.
Shop with Styles in Mind to Avoid Overbuying Clothes
Cheap prices may evoke an “I can afford everything” response, but fight the urge! You don’t want to fill your closet with clothes you may never wear.
“Pretend like you’re shopping retail,” advised Lyman Waldron. “I always ask myself ‘Would I buy this for $40 over $4?’”
Goodman-Lean is not only a thrift shop owner, but she’s also a secondhand fashionista. She said it’s a good idea to start in one section of the store before moving to others, because it will not only help you avoid overbuying, but also help you focus on finding great fashion!
“(Thrifting) can be overwhelming, so if you have a piece in mind – like a shirt – you’ll know where to start,” she said. “But if you don’t, you can end up just drifting around or find yourself overwhelmed and leave with nothing.”
She shared the time she focused on coats. Thanks to her diligence (she looked at every coat hanging on the rack), she found a $1,000 designer coat for only $20! We should all be so lucky.
Don’t Forget to Sell or Donate Your Forgotten Clothes
Amazing secondhand finds didn’t start that way. Someone took the time to sell or donate the items to give them a new life in a new closet, and it’s important for everyone to do the same. If only to make more room for styles you love now.
“Because I don’t spend a lot of money on my clothes, it’s easy to change them out,” said Goodman-Lean.
If you’ve got a busy schedule, or are just someone who always intends to drive to the consignment store but never actually makes it, there several smartphone apps that allow fashion-loving shoppers buy, sell and ship clothes from home!
Since Lyman Waldron now lives near Boston, she said it’s important to circulate the clothes in her closet for the upcoming season. She evaluates her secondhand selection and decides which pieces may need a new home and which clothes she still loves.
“I look back at my Instagram to remember and see which (outfits) I am still excited about,” she said.
Top photo courtesy of Leah Lyman Waldron