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5 Wardrobe Items I Always Buy Secondhand

I have been talking about thrift for years, and still have yet to convince some people that thrifting is THE answer to all closet problems. The thrift shop is where all cultures collide. It’s also the birthplace of some of the most creative looks you will EVER see walking down the runway. Where do you think all of the designers get their inspiration? The archives, their own private libraries, and yes, the thrift shop. So what’s stopping you? The smell?

Well today, I’m going to share with you some staple items that you should consider thrifting. Now this is not a hard and fast rule. You can absolutely purchase these items at your mainline stores. However, once you see the variety of offerings at your local thrift store, you’d be hard-pressed to shop for them anywhere else.

1. Black pants: The thrift store is the best place to buy dress pants in general, but particularly black dress pants. If you have a hard-to-fit figure (like I have, with these Jamaican thighs), you can spend a minimal amount of money on some barely-worn black pants, and use the money you save to have them tailored. Many times (and my expert thrifters can attest to this), you’ll find black dress pants with the label still attached. More than once, I’ve paid $5 for a brand new pair of black dress pants that originally priced at $100. Who can pass that up? Even if they don’t fit, I’ll take them to my tailor and have them fix me up for $15-$20. I still made out $75 cheaper than if I would’ve gone to my nearest mall.

2. Blouses: This may not be true for all thrift stores, but some of your thrift superstores will have rows and rows of basic color blouses — black and white specifically. However, I’ve been to a few thrift stores that have multiple rows of blues, reds, yellows…every color in the rainbow. Also, since you’re thrifting and not spending a guap at the department store, you can absolutely splurge on a trendy floral piece or seasonal top. This is the perfect place to do it.

3. Belts: Belts are the essential non-essential. I mean, has anyone ever commented on how beautiful your belt is, or how they love the detail around your waist? Belt buckle, maybe, but I don’t see people oohing and awing over that strip of leather that holds your look together. So, go to the belt section of your local Goodwill or Salvation Army, and thrift your heart away. You’ll have loads of options to choose from for about $1 a piece. Also, don’t be afraid to peruse the men’s section. They tend to have a better selection, and you may end up with a really great quality leather belt for a minimal price.

4. Jeans: If you’ve ever been to a thrift store, you know this to be true: there are rows and rows of jeans. Blame it on our ever-happening quest to find the perfect jean, but there are literally dozens, if not hundreds, of nearly-new jeans at your local thrift store. If you’re aiming to follow the summer distressed jean trend, buy a couple, and try your hand at distressing them yourself. YouTube is chock full of do-it-yourself videos.

5. Costume jewelry: I love my accessories. I think 95% of my jewelry collection has been thrifted. Call it my penchant for vintage, but the jewelry section at the thrift store is amazing. This is doubly true if you’re a clip-on type of gal. In some of the thrift megastores, they basically have a jewelry counter full of vintage earrings, necklaces, bracelets, watches…etc. And don’t think it’s all costume jewelry, either. A good percentage of the jewelry is 100 gold or silver. You’ll come up on some very rare (and very expensive) pieces if you have the time to look through it all, like I do.

Well my dears…are you convinced? There are so many options…you can spend the money you save on that basic white blouse on a fabulous new handbag or to-die-for shoe…that’s what I do! When you to your local thrift store this weekend and tag me on Instagram with a few of your finds. I wanna see what deals you find!

In the Fall of 2013, Dionne launched Styled by Dionne Dean. Her mission was to help new graduates, career changers and entrepreneurs build a professional working wardrobe on a budget. Since that time, she has worked with such brands as Lacoste and Macy’s as a Visual Merchandiser. In 2014, Dionne took on the role of resident beauty and style expert for Good Morning Texas and began sharing her tips and tricks with the Dallas community. She recently taught Fashion Image, Fashion Promotion and Fashion Retailing at Tarrant County College, and has begun a new venture as YouTube vlogger, teaching her 4,500 subscribers how to “NEVER pay retail.

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  • katie_does

    Yes! I agree with all of this. I haven’t bought a pair of new jeans for YEARS – my completely thrifted selection of Gap, J Crew, Lucky Brand, Ann Taylor, etc still looks great, tyvm.

  • Ella

    Pants at the thrift store ALWAYS! I love the thrift store for dresses too. I struggle to find nice, basic blouses though. Maybe I just haven’t found the right thrift store for that?

    Cardigans just never happen at the thrift store. Always pilled or stretched or a weird embellishment.

  • Alyssa Loyet

    My favorite clothes are the ones that I have bought second hand. I also don’t feel bad when I try to tailor them myself.

  • bextannya

    HECK TO THE YES! Thrifting and swapping clothes have clothed me for the past 4-5 years! I swap with a group of girlfriends (and their friends), so we know that nothing is infested with bugs! We swap maybe 2-5 times per year, and we always end up with something different (despite our various clothing sizes). Thanks for the article!

  • Ellie Hamilton

    Gonna chime in here and suggest my personal fave — hear me out — lingerie. I’m talking about anything that doesn’t touch the junk, mind you, haha…. cuz that’s just creepy/nasty/NOPE. But seriously, I started exploring the lingerie/pajama/robe section a few years ago when I wanted to explore a more burlesque attire in the bedroom only to have maaaajor sticker shock at boutique websites and adult shops. I started bee-lining to the PJ section when I discovered that a lot of women will donate hardly (or never!) worn stuff. I mean, these things aren’t really ever “worn” that much anyway, so they stay basically new forever and you only donate them if your body changes or you get bored with the style! So it’s not as weird to buy used, I think, as it seems at first. I’ve found bustiers, floor-length silk robes, adorable onesies (that can also double as tank tops in the right setting!), and I’ve even lucked out on a few really radical bras that are so pointlessly fantastic (not supportive/lacy and delightful nonsense ALL OVER) that you really only wear them for 5-10 minutes (let’s be honest) and therefore would never wanna spend the exorbatant $70-300 a piece these things usually go for. Bonus, you can get more daring with such things because you’re saving money, too. Also, pro-tip, check the skirt section for teensy mini-skirts and the blouse/tank top/swimsuit section where sometimes things get misplaced. If you’re feeling ballsy you can check the kids department… I’ve found a few absolutely mis-categorized pieces in their tank top section, hahahahah…. Bravely go explore your sensuality on a dime, ladies! 😀

  • Susieq

    Just last night, I decided that I needed a new purse. Rather than go to the mall, I went to a resale shop. I picked up a name brand purse with the dust bag and tags still on for only 4 bucks! High end purses can also be found reasonably priced at thrift stores.

  • DesignsByRob

    Great article Dionne! And to add to the list…my personal favorite – leather jackets! Perfect paired with a t-shirt and jeans, fresh and flowing summer dress, pencil skirt and crisp blouse AND typically at a fraction of the retail cost (probably why I have soooo many). Rock on thrift shoppers!

  • Satenik Simonyan

    Yeah! totallly agree with your article.