Fashion forward: Rebuilding your wardrobe with second hand clothing

Fashion forward: Rebuilding your wardrobe with second hand clothing

by Ashlyn Kittrell

With my graduation looming and adult life following shortly thereafter, there have been several pressing matters on my mind. Although transitioning to a more professional wardrobe is pretty low on the totem pole as far as things that I actually
need to accomplish, the saying does go “Dress for the job you want, not the job you
have.” That being said, I probably have some more cut off shorts and crop tops to filter out before I can really consider myself anything resembling an adult.

Despite this pressure to shift into a mindset of only bringing nicer things into my
closet, I am like many college students in the fact that I don’t have the luxury of going to purchase a brand new, designer wardrobe when the mood suits me.

Instead, I have been relying on secondhand resources to slowly add more high quality pieces while staying on a budget.

Not all secondhand resources are created equally. Each service offers something a little bit differently, but I highly suggest trying as many options as possible.

The first, and probably easiest, option is to use secondhand shopping services like Twice or Poshmark.

Twice ( is a service for both buying and selling gently used clothing online. To sell, all it takes is requesting a seller’s kit and Twice sends a large bag with prepaid postage that can hold several pounds of clothing. As far as shopping goes, Twice is best for finding simple basics like jeans, striped tee shirts and button ups. There are thousands of pages of clothing to sift through, so it is important to take advantage of the size and brand filters.

Similarly, Poshmark is an app available for Apple and Android that combines the feeling of a social network with the shopping experience. Users post items from their closet onto their profile and are required to put both the original price and their listing price so the discount can be calculated. Typically, users discount their items anywhere from 50 to 80 percent. Poshmark is the best place to buy or sell highly trendy items, but they do take a 20 percent cut of any sales that occur.

Rounding out my favorite online sources for secondhand goods is Etsy. While it may be a bit cheaper to scour eBay for vintage items, Etsy is usually easier to and feels a bit more secure. Not everyone is interested in incorporating vintage into their wardrobe, but Etsy is still a great resource for finding high quality handbags, belts, shoes and even formal dresses.

Looking for secondhand clothing in person is usually more of a commitment than
searching online, but it can yield bargains that are just as rewarding. Here, it is important to note the difference between consignment, resale and thrift stores.

Consignment stores put clothing and accessories on the floor that belong to someone. When purchased, the store and the seller both get a cut of the commission, but the seller only gets paid if a customer buys their items. Typically, these items are going to range from higher end mall stores like Banana Republic and J. Crew to designer goods like Valentino. This type of store is great for scoring one of kind pieces that might otherwise be out of the typical student price range, but are still not necessarily the best places to go for a bargain. My favorite local consignment store is Reruns in Knoxville located on Union Avenue.

Similarly, a resale store goes through sellers’ clothing and decides what they want to buy from them. However, in a store like this, the store’s buyer makes a flat rate offer on the items and the seller will walk away with cash or store credit if they accept. There are chain stores that operate on this model like Buffalo Exchange (which we unfortunately do not have nearby) and Plato’s Closet, located in West Knoxville. There are also several local options such as Katie’s Kloset in Maryville and Planet Xchange in Knoxville. This type of store is the best bet for scoring anything from American Eagle to Ralph Lauren, typically at a lower price point than that of a consignment store.

For the most ardent of secondhand shoppers out there, thrift stores are the place to score the best deals. Thrift stores operate on a donation basis, so prices reflect that. While it definitely takes time and dedication to sift through all of the offerings at thrift stores, be it Goodwill or a local operation, some patience will result in finding everything from basic button ups and blazers to quirky vintage pieces.

Although it seems easier to find clothing at a traditional retail store, the prices and environmental initiatives behind secondhand shopping make it a worthwhile venture. A mix of different resources means that no one has to look like they are rocking nothing but thrift store garb. It’s easy to mix styles and high and low end pieces for a look that is not only stylish, but truly unique.

One thought on “Fashion forward: Rebuilding your wardrobe with second hand clothing

  • March 12, 2015 at 10:18 am

    Good observations. My wife went into one of these stores here in Louisville a few years ago and found a beautiful Irish wool plaid skirt. It was brand new and even had the labels and tags still on it. What a bargain!


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