Why I Buy Second Hand for My Wardrobe

I have a huge affinity for thrift, vintage, consignment / resell stores, and estate sales. About 90% of my wardrobe consists of items that I have found at a thrift store, bought second hand online, or purchased at local consignment store. While I grew up going to yard sales with my mom, I didn't start thrifting  a lot or for myself until high school where we would spend weekends thrifting and trying to find the most outlandish item we could find. 

I will never give up the fun, practicality, and true fashion creativity that comes from crafting a style that is centered around 2nd hand pieces. After all, they tell a story no retail piece ever can.
— Sydney, from my recap post on my year of shopping second hand

Over the years, as my style and sense of self matured, I fell in love with thrifting all over again, but as an eco-friendly, budget conscious, sustainable-fashion way of life (well that was a mouthful). In 2013, I made a pledge to only shop second hand for an entire year (you can read that blog post here and the recap here) - no malls, no Targets, nothing but thrift and consignment stores. And I loved it. 

Outfits from 2013 comprised entirely of already owned or second hand pieces.

Outfits from 2013 comprised entirely of already owned or second hand pieces.

I learned so much from that year and it influences why I still primarily buy second hand for my wardrobe today. 

  1. I don't need any new clothes. Shocking, right? If you look carefully at the photos above, you'll start to notice item repeats - but they are styled, layered, or paired differently each time they show up. At first glance, it looks like I own SO MANY clothes. And while I do own a decent amount, the mixing and matching and rewearing extends my wardrobe triple fold. 
  2. I've discovered quality over quantity.  Before my little experiment in 2013, I had rarely set foot into a consignment or resell store. I had never heard of them. But then when I did, boy, did it change everything. Designer (like, designer designer, not just mall brands) were out there. And they were affordable. I bought my first pair of Salvatore Ferragamo and Jimmy Choo heels that year. And those shoes are still with me, getting resoled and fixed when needed. 
  3. I started to shop slow. "Slow fashion" is a term that is picking up speed and is part of the sustainable/ethical fashion movement. But for me, it also means shopping with intention, avoiding impulse purchases, and always having a "wardrobe needed" list (store this in your notes section on your phone for easy access!). Shopping second hand means that I can't go and just buy a trendy necklace, or try on the same pair of jeans in seven different washes and five different sizes. I have to be conscious about buying my clothes - what do I have, what do I (honestly, truly) need - and be patient and willing to wait to find the right piece (which I can do because of #1 remember?). 
  4. I want to live simply. This goes hand-in-hand with number 1 and 3, but also focuses on moving away from avoid consumerism and materialism. So often in the fashion world, we are bombarded with "own this!" then "buy that!" and it only leaves us with closets full of clothes we can't see, enjoy, or wear. Shopping second hand literally forces you avoid trends, to keep a curated list of items you need, and to think before making that purchase. In turn, my closet is less crammed, I'm storing less, and ultimately taking up less space in my home (an unintended but great result). 

Peek more of my second hand finds by searching #2ndhand1st on Instagram!