A Guide to Thrift Shopping for Men

Can you build a beautiful, complete men's wardrobe from second-hand thrift shop purchases and online used-clothing vendors like eBay and Poshmark? Yes! In fact, it has never been easier or more economical to do so. Here's how!

The Thrift Shop Man - How To Build A Great Wardrobe

How To Build An Amazing Men’s Wardrobe from Thrift Shops!

Look at the outfit shown above. Everything seen in this photo cost less than $25.00. That’s not per item, that’s the grand total! The sportcoat is 100% wool, made in Italy and was purchased second-hand on eBay for $12.00. The shirt (100% cotton, Calvin Klein), tie (100% silk), and slacks were all purchased for $1.00 each at Salvation Army Family Thrift Store (during their $1.00 Clothing Sale on Thursdays). The hat was purchased new for $7.00 (including shipping) directly from China using the website AliExpress.

How To Master the Art of Thrifting

You can find similar deals on second-hand menswear both online and in thrift shops in your area. And yes, you can build a complete wardrobe by making careful use of thrift shops and online vendors. My wardrobe for the last 30 years has come exclusively from thrift shops and second-hand clothing vendors. I have collected better-quality menswear that I need never apologize for. You can do the same.

Made-to-Measure Linen Sports Coat - Thrifted
This beautiful gently-used linen sportcoat was purchased on eBay for $15.00

Thrifting for menswear is a skill that gets better with practice. First, you need at minimum a rudimentary knowledge of men’s clothing.  Educate yourself about menswear brands and manufacturers so that you are in a good position to gauge quality and value when shopping second-hand. Learn how to judge the quality of a suit or sportcoat. My guide to buying used suits on eBay is a good place to start. There are numerous websites, blogs, and videos that can add to your menswear expertise.

Where to Shop For Second-Hand Menswear

If you are in the market for suits and sportcoats, start with eBay.com. Most thrift shops now sell their better clothing on eBay. You can shop by size, brand, fabric, and price. eBay is the ultimate source for the widest selection of better second-hand menswear. My guide to buying second-hand suits on eBay can guide you through the process. I have also found great deals on Poshmark.com, an online fashion marketplace featuring second-hand clothing.

Goodwill Thrift Shops
A Goodwill Thrift Shop

If you are shopping for shirts, sweaters, ties, and casual clothing, check out your local thrift shops, including Goodwill, Salvation Army Family Thrift and others. Generally, they offer better prices for these items than any online vendor, especially when you add in the cost of shipping. Find out about sales days and discounts. For example, my local Salvation Army Family Thrift has a $1.00 All Clothing Sale every Thursday. You can load up on amazing clothing deals on thrift shop sales days!

Menswear Thrift Shopping Strategies

It is very easy to impulse-buy thrift shop clothing items only to discover that they do not compliment anything in your current wardrobe.  Buy items that will work well with the colors and style of your current wardrobe. Buy classic suits and sportcoats from quality brands when starting out. You can add color and style with low-cost accessories like ties and pocket squares.

Shop Often To Get The Best Deals

When you are building a wardrobe with thrift-shop clothing, the dynamics of shopping are different from shopping retail. You may need to check your thrift sources on a weekly basis as you’re building a wardrobe to find the best deals for your needs and tastes. In exchange for tremendous savings on lightly-used apparel, you need to invest more time seeking them out. This is much easier to do when shopping online. I set aside a monthly budget of $60.00 and check out eBay and Poshmark twice a week to see what new items are added that may interest me.

Thrifted Emilio Yuste Sport Coat
Silk/Wool Sportcoat purchased second-hand on eBay for $15.00

Finally, practice makes perfect. Your ability to search out amazing deals on high-quality clothing improves with time. You will occasionally buy a clothing item that just doesn’t work out. Just re-donate it to a local thrift shop to get discounts or credits toward purchases on more clothing.

I generally look for suits that would retail in the $400-$800 range when new from reputable brands. Suits in this price-range offer the best balance of quality and value when purchased second-hand and are plentiful on eBay.

I hope this will help you to get started on your way to becoming an unabashed, skillful thrift shop man. With this skill, you may be able to eliminate clothing purchases as a major household expense, especially if you learn how to do your own alterations! Enjoy the style… enjoy the savings!