Why I Love Second Hand

My week in NYC reinforced one of my style mantras: shopping secondhand is more fun, and more intoxicating, than shopping retail.

On my first day I went to the newly opened Nordstrom Rack with high hopes for fashion bargains. Broken hearted. The offerings looked all of a piece, many of the fabrics were poor quality, and the prices were not tempting.Β  I left after a look at the handbags (nothing special) and the sunscreen (great selection!)

I had similar experiences at the few other big retailers I popped in on. Lots of same-same, lack of variety, cheap fabrics and cuts. I didn’t go to Barneys: I’m sure I’d find beauteous things there, but my credit cards couldn’t handle the strain. Both Sandy and I needed a couple of extra long-sleeve tees for the trip, and GAP was good for that.

For most of my shopping time, I wandered through the thrifts, vintage shops, and consignment stores I’ve come to love. And a few new ones. Below is a photo essay on why I love secondhand most.

(Your mileage may vary, and no side-eye is given to women who like department stores. There’s lots of reasons to prefer them: bigger, usually cleaner, specialty departments for petites and plus size, ease of navigation, faster, and liberal returns.)

The variety is limitless. You’re not restricted to one season, one color range, or even one decade.
Or one price range. There’s something at every price point.
Sometimes you don’t even have to go inside to find a great piece.
These 70’s wrap skirts are right up my alley, at $30 per.
You might not be looking for a purse but you stumble upon a fab grouping of vintage beauties.
Inspiration follows! Outfits are created!
There’s often a housewares corner. I’ve picked up lots of interesting dishes at the thrifts, for pennies
and dimes. Beautiful dress form here, too. I’m on the lookout for odd cats, so there’s that.
Art! Some great paintings and drawings are donated, and can be brought home for a tiny fraction
of gallery prices.
Feeling like you might have helped. You’re recycling and the $$ sometimes goes to good causes.
Housing Works helps people with medical, housing and mental health needs.

Why do you shop second-hand, if you do? What odd items are you on the lookout for?
Have the very best day, and stay fabulous,

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patti

38 Comments

  1. oh, no, I completely understand that. Unfortunately, I live in a city where there are very few upscale size 16 women, LOL. Hard enough to shop in the stores…so I usually shop online.

  2. I love charity/thrift shopping too and right today I picked up a skirt from a brand I am happy to pay full price for but paid just a few pounds. As to what you always buy new, I'm with Gracey on the trousers (being tall) and with you on the undies. As was Ian Dury, a British singer of the 70s, whose first album was entitled 'New Boots and Panties' – those being the only garments he bought new http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Boots_and_Panties!!

  3. Oh, that varies from location to location, even within a thrifting chain! There are five Goodwill store locations in my town. One is well-stocked with what look to be tiny suits from a local t.v. anchorwoman. One is great for shoes in wide widths. At least two have a great plus-sized garments department. Since local thrifts accept local goods for resale, it pays to shop in the part of town where people-who-dress-like-you-do live. Oh dear, that sounds weird. I don't mean that tiny people should all live in one place exclusively, and big people all live in one place exclusively; any more than people of one race or one religion or one language group should do so. But I do find bigger clothes when I shop on the "big" part of town.

  4. Second-hand shopping is like going into a museum and being encouraged to touch the exhibits! I often find clothing and household goods that I lusted for when they were new but could not afford then. Over the past 20 years of the reign of hip huggers, if I did not sew my own, thrift stores were the only place to find trousers, slacks, and jeans that felt right and provided sufficient coverage to make me comfortable about wearing pants.

  5. I only shop at thrift stores or consignment stores now. Can't bear to pay full price for items unless they're intimates. You know you aren't prey to the latest trends if you shop at these stores. Plus I would prefer to support my local thrift store and recycle clothes than buy another mass market blouse from the big box or nationwide chains.

  6. Your consigment stores and second hand stores are better than the ones in The Netherlands. I always get a bit disappointed if that perfect item is not my size. Or if most of the stuff is very visibly worn.
    Greetje

  7. Definitely love thrift stores as well! The variety and unique nature of so many pieces is awesome. And of course the English teacher wouldn't miss the book section. πŸ™‚

  8. Amazing photos here Patti, so much good stuff to be found when shopping secondhand vs retail

  9. I too love second hand. But I recognise one of those skirts ,…and indian skirt I bought new and wore long ago:)

  10. Great post. I'm a baby boomer and a thrift shop junkie…lol. I've been shopping second-hand for years, and also consign at our local charity thrift shop. We have lots of Goodwill, Salvation Army and boutiques in our area,but find the charity thrift shops and boutiques more fun and at lower prices. I've found the most beautiful clothes, lots of designer brands, and vintage items, at such a low price. I find better fitting jeans than at the department stores, and have never paid more than $5.00 for them. I will never buy another pair of jeans at a department store. I must confess, I have bought the best fitting jeans from Diane Gilman on HSN. She specializes in baby boomer fashion. I'm also a teddy bear artist so I find lots of goodies to accessorize my bears and to use as props at shows. I'm also always on the hunt for jewelry, especially vintage, to restring. It's so much fun thrifting….you never know what treasures you will find. Happy hunting ladies.

  11. I used to buy most of my dishes second-hand, and I probably still would but my husband has different ideas. I like the variety of the clothes you can find, although it does take time and patience to find the gems. I find it's easier to get shoes new, but in my brave new world without a job, it'll be Goodwill all the way!

  12. I love browsing through thrift stores, though I never seem to find the fabulous finds that some of our fellow fashionistas seem to find there. I did find a Lanvin scarf once for $5 so that is my thrifting claim to fame. πŸ™‚ Great pics! Makes me wanna shop (but what doesn't?!)
    OXOX
    Dawn Lucy
    fashionshouldbefun.blogspot.com

  13. I am truly a thrift store junkie. Here in the suburbs of Philly we have quite a few to chose from. I just adore the thrill of the hunt – you never know what you'll find! I haven't been in a mall in years, and my budget thanks me very much!

  14. A great post and delightful pictures! I love to shop second hand and my reasons are pretty much the same as yours. I can't get everything that way but I love the thrill of the hunt, the fact that I will have something unique and not come across someone else wearing the same thing, the prices and the contribution to charity all appeal to me as well.

  15. I, too, love Housing Works in NYC. My daughter lived in Tribeca and I could not believe the furniture, housewares, books and paintings they had there, in addition to the clothes and jewelry. My daughter has since moved to Park Slope in Brooklyn and there is another Housing Works right around the corner with lots of wonderful goodies. And the people who work at the store could not be nicer.

  16. I get retail anxiety now and find the clothing as a whole to be overpriced with cheap fabrics and shoddy workmanship. Shopping secondhand is so much more fun!

    That is why I am the Thrift Shop Commando!

  17. I shop second hand because is so much more exciting and the pieces are unique! the prices are great and the materials much better. But mainly is the hunt fever that brings me back. You never know what you'l find for a few bucks!

  18. I shop retail when I have something specific in mind that I need (socks, underwear, mittens, tights, et.) and it's never usually fun, whereas secondhand/thrift shopping is usually relaxing and inspiring, whether I find a treasure or not. I didn't find much in the thrift stores that I went to in New York, and am hoping to check out a couple of the consignment stores on my next trip.

  19. I agree about second-hand clothing and support that for multiple reasons. Lumping fine are with that, however, is a mistake. Real art is valuable and won't be found in thrift-stores. Decorations, perhaps, but not real art. (We can avoid paying dealer prices by buying at art-fairs or directly from artists.)

  20. Great post, great photos, and looks like great shops! Going to NYC soon… any tips on best areas for thrift finds?

  21. Wonderful post, I shop second-hand for all of your listed reasons, plus its now one of the few places I can find natural fiber clothing, (cotton, silk, wool, and linen) which I love.

  22. I'm growing to like it more and more, i was an absolute second hand person before but even more so now – Went i go to a retail store – I see a lot of the same always, boring
    Second hand is much more fun and you never know what you will find –
    Nevertheless, i shop retail for shoes still and undies of couse!

    Take care

    Arianexo

  23. I'm right here with you girly! I prefer thrift over retail any day! At thrift stores you see ALL styles…retailers are basically selling the sames styles at the same time. And you're right again! Quality has gone out the window! I'm shocked when I'm thrifting at some higher end brands that are pilling or snagged or coming apart in the seams. I think, "Someone paid a fair amount of money for something to look like crap so quickly!" Enjoy your trip and travel safe!!! Serene

  24. Thrifting is much more fun for me than shopping retail. Well for one thing I can afford most anything I fall in love with at most thrift stores. But it's more about the thrill of the hunt and the chance of finding something totally unexpected.

  25. I always look for jewellery, I've amassed quite a collection of vintage (and new) jewellery. But clothes… I'm a bit squeemish, I want my clothes unused… I might make an exception with something truly unique and fabulous.

  26. Yes! To me, thrift shopping is like a treasure hunt. You never know what you're going to find. We even have oversize clothing for men and women separated from everything else. The only down side is probably that the thrift experience can vary so much from place to place. Not everyone has the good stuff to choose from.

  27. I couldn't agree more. I visited that store the last time I was in NY : )

    I think more than anything I've come to love the idea that what I find in a thrift or consignment store won't be found anywhere else. It is truly a quest.

    bisous
    Suzanne

  28. Love it, Patti! (And I'm with you on the undies!) You know I've been shopping second-hand for years, and I have similar reactions when I go into department stores and malls. Just…yuck. Why would I pay good money for such crap quality? I love the quality of the vintage I find, I love the unique styles, and I love finding those treasures. I try to shop in consignment stores that are locally owned, and thrift stores that go to good causes!

  29. I LOVE going to thrift stores, but mostly for accessories. They just don't have much good stuff for plus sized women, except in the men's department, the occasional shirt.

  30. Can't think of much to add to that, Patti! I would love a rummage in the shops you've shown, they look great. I think secondhand shopping is just a different mind-set, you have to put in a bit more effort, you can't be daunted by the times you don't find anything, and you have to persevere. But it is sooooo well worth it! xxxx

  31. I have no thrift stores nearby so when BFF and I do our birthday ditch day from work, I always make it a point to have her take me to her local thrifting watering hole. It's our special treat. You know what's also super inexpensive at thrift stores? BOOKS! πŸ˜€

  32. I couldn't have put it better myself, Patti!
    I'm hyperventilating over those racks and wonderful displays, i need to get myself to NY pronto. I bought some odd cats from a charity shop this week – I'll have to post a photo of them soon! xxx

  33. Wonderful post. You know I love second-hand shopping and for all the reasons you give. I do shop retail for jeans (hard to find Tall in a thrift store), undergarments and most of my shoes, but most everything else, I prefer to thrift. You can find one of a kind items at wonderful prices; it's the best!

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