Which fashion lover doesn’t adore a Hermes scarf, Kelly bag, Gucci boots, …. you name it. While most of us can’t afford these luxury items, the good news are buying exclusively designer clothing doesn’t make you look effortlessly stylish, and we can search for them and buy them second hand at affordable prices. This post discusses what to look for, how to know a piece is right for you and worth buying, which designers to look for and provides examples of styling ideas for second hand scores.
- How Women Shop
- How to Get Designer Clothes on a Budget
- Before You Buy Know Your Personal Style
- List of Designers Worth Buying
- 9 Tips You Can Save Time When Thrifting
- Example: Classic with a Twist Designer LBD with the Right Fit
- Conclusions: Major Points to Consider When Buying Designer Brands Second Hand
Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post and all opinions are my own.
How Women Shop
Unless you are a heiress, married rich, won the lottery or became a billionaire due your own hard work, you don’t buy a $4000 designer bag, a pair of $2000 shoes and a $5000 coat on a Saturday shopping trip on 5th Avenue or Avenue des Champs Elysées. Most likely, just doing one of those purchases would automatically block your credit card.
No, I don’t envy them and you shouldn’t either. When someone pays 100 times the taxes you pay, a $1000 item is like a $10 item for you.
If you like it, you buy it.
That’s what the Rich do too. And, it’s good that they buy these products. They keep well skilled craft(wo)men at work. They help preserving the art of high-end fashion and Haute Couture. Or high-end fashion as an art? Anyhow. When you buy your $10 item, you help someone somewhere making a living. And always rememberStyle is not defined by money, but how you edit and wear you clothes. #personalstyle Click To Tweet
… and yes, some of the expensive designer brands make their way to a thrift-store for a second time around. Who of us doesn’t love recycling and being resourceful. One woman’s trash is another’s treasure.
How to Get Designer Clothes on a Budget
Most of us are on a budget fashion-wise. However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t get the one other high fashion item on a budget. There are two legal ways to adding designer pieces to your wardrobe.
- Saving for the lust piece by putting a fraction of the monthly fashion budget aside,
- Or buying them second hand in a consignment or thrift store or online on eBay and alike.
Actually, I do both.
Unlike in a regular store, you cannot go in to buy a particular item. It’s no secret to score high on eBay requires patience. You may have to search a long time until someone sells what you are looking for. Scoring high in a consignment store or thrift-store requires regular browsing. It can be time-consuming unless you apply some of the time-saving strategies discussed later in this post.
Before you buy – now your personal style
Like you try to avoid mistakes when shopping the sales, it’s important to know when to splurge or bargain. Only buy items that fit you and your personal style. Otherwise you end up with a stuffed closet and you are not wearing the clothes you have. Recall:Closet space is real estate. Don't waste it. #styletip Click To Tweet
It doesn’t matter that that Chanel skirt suit is $200 when you are a California Casual or Bohemian Style gal. It also doesn’t do you any good, when it is too tight or two sizes too large.
Only buy pieces that you can't wait to wear. #shoppingtip #HighLatitudeStyle Click To Tweet
In these cases, alterations are impossible.
and only buy when it fits. Reacall size doesn’t matter, but fit does.
Designers Worth Buying
… when the piece works with your personal style (use this free online style finder if you don’t know your primary style). Here is a list of my favorite designers I look for when shopping second hand. They are listed in no particular order, but alphabetic so you can easily check them when browsing. Note that when they are second hand, they still have a comparatively higher price tags attached than cheap brands. It’s the same like they did when they were new.
- Anne Klein
- Ann Taylor
- Banana Republic
- Bottega Veneta
- Calvin Klein
- Diane von Fürstenberg
- Eli Tahari
- Ellen Tracy
- J. Crew
- Jones New York
- Lauren Ralph Lauren
- Liz Claiborne
- Michael Kors
- Michael Michael Kors
- Oscar de la Renta
- Tracy Reese
- Ralph Lauren
- Stella McCartney
- Tory Burch
- Valentino Red
- Vera Wang
- 3.1 Philip Lim
Get the list as a cheat sheet to put into your purse or bookmark this post in your browser to have it handy next time you are looking for second-hand clothing.
Pro tip: Always clean the items before you put them in your closet and/or wear them. You may save with at home dry cleaning.
9 Tips You Can Save Time When Thrifting
- Befriend a sales person and tell her about what items you like/look for, what you style preferences are, brands and colors you love, and give them your contact information. S/he will notify you when something comes in that may be of interest for you.
- Call the store whether they got new items in your size prior to going there.
- Just search in the section with your colors. You will not/should not buy an orange trench coat, for instance, when you look awesome in cool colors and/or have nothing that would go with that color.
- Don’t spend time on browsing thru items that are not your style, e.g. in my case, ruffles, pleasant skirts, ballerinas.
- Restrict your browsing to your size plus a size up and down. Recall size is just a number. Many items end up in a thrift store because they were bought outside the country and are cut larger or smaller than the US size or were the wrong size because of wrong sizing. A US 10, for instance, is a UK 12, Japanese 13, and Australia 14. Some items may be smaller than the size tag due to having been washed too hot (e.g. jeans, sweaters).
- Know your measurements and have a measurement tape in your purse. Check whether an item may fit before you try it on. This way you can sort out items that have no chance to fit even though the size tag suggests the contrary. Sizing has changed over time. Thus, sizes of vintage pieces differ from today’s sizes. Recall that sizes are just numbers, shrinking or being bought abroad may be in the game too.
- Know which brands usually fit well and look for them. This method is particularly time saving with shirts, shoes, pants and jeans. It is also great when you shop sales.
- Try to browse on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. People tend to de-cluster their closets over the weekend and bring the items into the store on Mondays. Cataloging and placing the merchandise on racks takes up to a day or so depending on how much was brought in. Thus, there is more choice early than later in the week, especially for work related clothes.
- Inspect the items you intend to buy. When they need alterations (e.g. shortening of the hem, new buttons as one is missing), take the cost for this in mind when deciding whether the item is a good deal. Not to mention that these additional steps cost time too.
Example: Classic with a Twist Designer LBD with the Right Fit
This little black dress is a thrift store find. It was brand new with even the tags still attached. Probably, it was a gift from a mom, grandma, aunt or friend in the wrong style or size. Anyhow, in thrifting it’s like one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure.
Why is it a great find for me? As you know, black is my favorite color and I love edgy details. This zipper detail dress called my name. It fits perfectly and was just $18. I couldn’t resist. Another awesome ageless classic with a twist dress that I found in a thrift store is my black and white sheath dress.
Check this post for more examples how to look modern with second hand finds.
Conclusions: Major Points to Consider When Buying Designer Clothes Second Hand
- Don’t fall for a name, but look for brands that match your primary personal style and are timeless.
- Know the prices of the originals. Use that knowledge to assess whether the price for the used item is realistic. If it is too cheap, it’s most likely a knock-off. Thus, learn how to make that assessment. See the post at the link for how to score high when buying second hand.
- Don’t rely on size, but measures. The former owner might had it altered.
This post was featured in Links à la Mode: Fashion roundup by Independent Fashion Bloggers.
Photos of me: G. Kramm
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