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This story was originally published on August 27, 2015
There are many good reasons to go secondhand shopping. It's affordable! It's less wasteful! The chances someone else you know will own the same garment are next to none! With the revival of so many trends once believed long gone, we'll jump at the opportunity to go authentic rather than just pick up some contemporary interpretation of, say, a lace-front top. But scoping out the racks isn't always about finding that one-off, one-of-a-kind statement piece you'll wear every blue moon. There are many staples you might not think to buy gently used, but there are pieces that might actually be worth your while.
"The best things to buy in thrift stores are basics," explains Shareen Mitchell, owner of SHAREEN.
She goes on to list pieces we are perpetually shopping for, like blouses, pencil skirts, and cardigans — items we've been wearing for decades and that haven't gone out of style. Odds are, they're in stock at your local secondhand shop. Before we get into details, though, let's get some of the nomenclature down: An item is vintage if it dates back 20 years. So in 2015, clothes and accessories from 1995 are considered "vintage." (Time to start digging through those boxes in your parents' basement.) Anything more recent is considered thrift."Thrift stores generally carry used clothing that is up to date, today’s used clothing," clarifies Mitchell.
You can build an entire wardrobe with pieces — from everyday staples to dressier, one-off finds — at thrift and vintage stores. Online resale platforms like Tradesy
, on the other hand, allow you to track down coveted classic, high-price pieces at a slight discount. Regulars on the secondhand circuit also develop certain strategies to maximize what they find at a used clothing store: "I think it's helpful to go in with a color palette in mind," Jane Aldridge, vintage savant and blogger behind Sea of Shoes
, says of her own strategy. "Say one day, you really want to buy something in fuchsia. You just make it your goal that day to buy all the pretty fuchsia things you can find."
It's not hard to find a good reason to buy something secondhand. However, we spoke to three experts about six underrated categories in the vintage and thrift market you might not have considered to buy used, but are probably worth dipping your hand in the pool for the next time you're looking for an upgrade. Click through for tricks of the trade from Mitchell, Aldridge, and Tradesy CEO Tracy Dinunzio.