Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Should You Buy 2nd Hand Clothes?

 Several years ago I'd say, yes. Now I'd probably say, no, unless you are in reduced circumstances.

First of all, the clothes which end up in these stores are nearly never new (sometimes they get some new stuff from big retailers, but it doesn't happen very often). Mostly they are well worn out, and you can see it.They generally don't look very nice per definition, unless it's a well-known quality brand whose  owner only put it on a couple of times (granted, this happens, too).

Next, of course, I'm aware that they all get washed and disinfected and what not, but have you never noticed that people generally leave some imprint on their surroundings and the things they use? Like, for instance, in some houses you feel sad while in others you will feel happy? 

I realise it sounds a bit new-agey, but you have no way to know what sort of person wore this item before and how it could influence you. I would say it's different with the big stuff like furniture, but clothes is something you put on yourself, close to your skin and then have on a couple of days or even longer, if it's something like a cardi, for instance.

2nd hand clothes are usually quite cheap. Herein lies the problem. You aren't on your guard around cheap things, hence you are much more prone to impulse buying than normally. After regularly visiting a thrift store, you can easily end up with lots of stuff you don't really need or like which later goes direction the garbage can anyway, and you waste more money than buying some new item from a regular store.

Also, nowadays you have cheaper retail and markets which sell decent-looking, average quality clothing which is quite affordable, and doesn't look like something out of Granny's closet. I do think it's different when you get stuff from family and friends, especially for kids who are growing very fast so they only wear these donated items like several months or year at most. Grown-ups are a different matter.

That said, I still enjoy visiting thrift stores. I just noticed that of all the clothes I bought there over the years I only kept like 2 things total, all the rest was like a couple of months on average and then out it went, while most of the new things I buy I keep wearing until they start falling apart. There are exceptions, of course, but still...

Any thoughts?


  1. I've purchased used clothing for the past 40 years and have never felt any "imprint" of the previous owner. Most of my wardrobe is previously owned. I look for good labels, excellent quality, and have a list of needs and wants to go by so I don't get sucked in by impulse. The clothing I can afford new is not the quality I want and I don't want to support slave labor in third world countries, so I prefer shopping used. What I don't generally buy used is shoes, because there is a physical imprint of the previous wearer and I generally can't find my size anyway.
    I have furnished our home(s) over the years from thrift stores; everything from furniture to bed linens to dishes and books. The USA is awash with excess, most of it very good quality so I avail myself of the bargains and enjoy a higher standard of living than would be possible if I only shopped for new.

  2. Well, I do think we get attracted to certain designs and patterns so if you use your intuition you'll probably end up with 2nd hand clothes you really feel good about. It also depends on what your taste is and how easy it is to find affordable clothing you like.

    Here it's become relatively easy to find decent quality, durable items and we have lots of German stuff, I think the production switched more to Eastern Europe nowadays, though I think I should look at the labels more. The point is, thrift stores sell more of the same stuff, only used, so it doesn't really make a difference.

    May be it's just me, but I don't really have problems with 2nd hand furniture or cups and dishes, I wouldn't buy shoes or bed linens though.

  3. I'm not against buying clothes from a thrift store, but on the rare occasions that I buy apparel from one, it has to be very good quality, and made by a company known for higher quality.

    It occasionally happens, but you're right. Thrift stores aren't what they used to be. If I can buy a Walmart shirt from Walmart brand new, why would I pay .50 less for one someone else already wore?

    I'm kind of with Rozy Lass as far as worrying about who wore the things before, not worried. However, smells do matter so I think people should shop carefully in thrift stores.

    When I go into a thrift store it's usually looking for a pretty specific item, and it's almost never clothes, although I did shop recently for a particular item for a drama production at our school.

    I don't buy furniture from thrift stores, although I will by pieces second hand. Just direct from the owner. We recently bought an excellent quality wood desk from an elderly couple who'd taken excellent care of it. But we used online classifieds to do that, which is our preferred method.

    1. I've found some nice deals at my local antique shops over the years, but if you have to be patient and wait for the right opportunity. Lately, one antique shop in my area said the prices have dropped on things because most people were downsizing. I also learned that those Oriental art private screens are not worth a whole lot these days either.

  4. We have a juuge second hand store around here and when I have nothing else to do, I just wander around it, having lots of fun:) That's how I used to end up with all these unnecessary clothes, lol! My husband likes it, too, btw as they sell all sorts of stuff including electronics and bicycles.

    We have 2 more in town, one clothes only, but they are less interesting so I'm really not a snob about these things. What I really like about thrift stores are books. I think most of mine came from there. New books are very expensive, so I'm very selective about what I buy.

  5. All the clothes are just jammed together and I find it overwhelming. But that's just me.

  6. You mean at thrift stores? Ours have clothes nicely sorted out by colour and size, on hangers.

    1. Ours are similarly sorted. It's not hard at all to navigate. It is however, as you noted, that there are fewer things of high quality. So it's easier to buy new more often than not.

  7. We have Goodwill stores in many cities.

    I'll buy an old shirt to wear outside for yard work. I use my worn shirts for outside. I've also found some decent used shorts for about $5 that easily cost 5 times that a store and the quality is not that great anyway.

    I've found a good deal on leather loafers that cost easily a $100 new at a department store and usually wear those outside because you can slip them on and off. If I find one in good condition, I'll use them for a while before using outside.

    I found a decent wool suit for $5 and spent some money having it altered. Good enough for as often as I'll wear it. Suit coats also a good deal if you can find one that fits.

  8. Well, I guess with men it's different, you guys all appear to have the same taste!!!

    I have never seen a complete wool suit in one of our Goodwill stores, and the prices also became more expensive. Eastern Europeans just go there and buy anything decent on sight, btw. I think they send it all home.

  9. Post Alley CrackpotJune 4, 2021 at 8:09 PM

    The astonishing thing is that you're looking at the best of the lot.

    Most donated clothes aren't of sufficient quality to be sold at these charity shops, and so they're sent to recyclers that can use the cloth fibres for other purposes.

    U-Haul in the US is apparently fond of this.

    I rented some moving pads from U-Haul for our move and found that they shed lots of little fibres that the pads proudly proclaim are from "recycled denim".

    It took two weeks for me to cough out and sneeze out all of the wretched recycled denim fibres, that after having showered twice.

    I no longer bother with trying to buy used clothing or even to sell it: what I have to buy or sell needs to be tailored for me to an extent that the only other people who would give it away or want it are current and former footballers.

    As it is, I have to have everything tailored from a larger size so that the shoulders and thighs fit me.

    There's a foot tall stack of jeans and shirts that I still need to have tailored that we'd just unpacked.

    BTW, Peter Grant had a bit a while back on his blog about the state of used and charity clothing in the US, you may find it interesting.

  10. Who is Peter Grant? Should I google him?

    Yeah, I know custom made is the best and all that:) We just can't all afford it...

    BTW, we have "nicer" thrift stores which sell better quality stuff (prices about 10 euro for a dress/skirt and 2-5 euro for a t-shirt) and very cheap ones meant for really poor where everything goes for 1 euro. We also have "luxury" 2nd hand stores which usually sell designer brands, but their prices can be higher than the new generic clothing.

    I visited several today and you know what? Their clothes are still made in China!

  11. I will occasionally buy a garment at a thrift store, as in every couple of years. Unfortunately, the past few times when I thought I was getting a good deal (high end brand name, my style/color of garment, in good shape) I would bring the item home and wash it, only to discover it had some overwhelming fabric-softener smell that would not come out. It was hard to tell in the store, because in our Goodwill the clothes are hung on the racks so thickly, you can't separate them very well from the surrounding items. I like the smaller town stores more than Goodwill now. But still, Walmart on clearance can beat them all..
    It is also nice that friends who know what my style will pass things to me rather than give them to the thrift stores first.

    1. I have not checked lately, but surprisely, the work khakis at Wal Mart held up pretty well for $12 when I bought about three years ago. The shoes and shirts though are questionable though I've had pair of cotton Wal Mart shorts last longer than St John Bay or other department store brands for much more.

  12. Well, I should say that over here you can also buy clothes at the open air markets, often of good quality. I see similar things hanging in stores and there they cost like 10-15 euros more. You can buy yarn and fabric at the market, too.