A Guide to Thrift Shopping for Men
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 $15.00. That’s not per item, that’s the grand total! The sportcoat is 100% wool, made by a top menswear brand in the USA, and was purchased second-hand from a local Goodwill Thrift Shop for $6.00. The wool-acrylic blend cardigan was purchased in like-new condition on online marketplace Poshmark.com. The shirt (100% cotton, Calvin Klein), tie (100% silk), and wool slacks were all purchased for $1.00 each from a local thrift shop (during their $1.00 Thursdays Clothing Sale)!
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.
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.
If you are shopping for shirts, sweaters, ties, and casual clothing, check out your local thrift shops, including Goodwill, Savers 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 that allow you to save even more.
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. Check this post for tips on thrift shopping for dress shirts.
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 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. When building a wardrobe I check out eBay and Poshmark at least twice a week to see what new items are added that may interest me.
Finally, practice makes perfect. Your ability to search out amazing deals on high-quality clothing improves with experience. You will occasionally buy a clothing item that just doesn’t work out. On eBay, most vendors accept returns. Or, 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 for $500 or higher 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. Be sure to read my guide to buying second-hand suits online for tips on getting great deals on the right suit for you.
The Best Season to Thrift Shop Online
While you can find second-hand clothing online for all seasons at any time of the year, prices do fluctuate seasonally. I have found the best season for online thrift-shopping for menswear to be in January just after the holidays and in the summer months. These are the slowest seasons for menswear sales. As a result, online vendors generally set lower prices to move inventory during those periods. As demand starts to rise in the fall for clothing, so do prices, which remain high through the holiday season. I do most of my second-hand clothing purchases for all seasons in the summer when prices are generally lower.
I hope this will help you to get started on your way to becoming an unabashed, skillful and discerning menswear thrift shopper. 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!