Thrifting for Three Months: A Secondhand Shopping Challenge

secondhand shopping

In the new year, I want to take a little bit of a focus off fashion. Its done more harm than good to focus so heavily on my wardrobe. In an effort to shop sustainably and ethically, without wasting money, I will be sticking to thrift shopping for the next few months. That’s right, for 3 months, I am choosing not to buy any new items for my closet or my home. No Everlane sweaters or Target throw pillows.

(I just winced a little as I wrote that. Am I really doing this to myself?)

Here’s the thing: I still occasionally need to buy things. I still need clothes, and really enjoy decorating my home. I really don’t want to do another shopping ban. However, I can’t afford to shop the way I want to, either. I have loans and bills to pay, and the financial aspect of my closet journey this year was really tough on me mentally. (See Tuesday’s post for more on that.) I hope that by purchasing only secondhand I’ll save money and feel less stressed.

What I hope to gain from secondhand shopping:

  1. Less guilt. When something doesn’t work out, I don’t have to feel bad about it. When I spend $50+ at Everlane, and a piece ends up sitting unworn, I feel massive guilt. I don’t have the disposable income to make purchasing mistakes with that kind of price tag. A $10 blouse from the consignment shop? That I can deal with.
  2. Feeling good about my purchases. While purchasing a new item that has been ethically manufactured with sustainable practices is good, secondhand is better. What could be more sustainable than reusing? Secondhand shopping also eliminates the demand for one more item. Even sustainable clothing companies are adding new items to the world, which eventually will lead to waste. I’m tired of feeling like I’m consuming all the time, and want to slow the cycle of production and consumption.
  3. Creative freedom. Like I’ve mentioned, the price tags are going to be lower on secondhand goods. Without the added stress of deciding what to “invest” in, I can open myself up to more options, giving myself some creative freedom in my wardrobe. I can play around with different pieces I may not have tried before. In short, it will be more fun.

While this challenge is mostly about my closet, I’ve also decided to extend this to home decor, furniture and anywhere else I can find to purchase secondhand, rather than new. Here are a few guidelines I’m following, if you’re curious.

+ Buy all clothes, home decor, and furniture secondhand.

+ Exceptions to clothes: active wear (stuff that gets really sweaty), socks, underwear, any other items that cannot be found secondhand.

+ If I can’t find something secondhand, truly consider whether it is a need, before buying it new.

+ Don’t over-complicate it.


I’ve learned that resolutions like this, shopping bans and capsule wardrobes, don’t solve all my problems. I think all I can do is try to be better, and keep trying things to figure out what works for me. Anyone have any good thrift and secondhand shopping tips?

  • secondhand shopping online for clothes is actually pretty good now.. I always ask the sellers for measurements and keep a tape measure handy as well. This has saved me a lot of money for high quality designer labels.

    • I haven’t taken the plunge yet, but I always keep my eye on sites like Poshmark and Thredup. Thanks for the measurement tips!

  • Yay, excited for you! Love this challenge. I agree, it’s wayyyy too easy for me to focus on my wardrobe and drop $$$. I think I’ve told you this, but I’ve had really good luck at the Crossroads on NW 23rd. Also, I love using Poshmark. I replaced two pairs of my Paige jeans using the app, I got great deals on like-new denim. When shopping in person, I always recommend going with a list for the specific types of items you are looking for – you’ll be a more efficient shopper and not get confused and distracted by all the pretty things. Keep us posted!

    • I’ve only been in Crossroads a couple times, but I found one of my favorite jackets there. Once the weather clears up, I’ll head back there again. I always have good luck at Buffalo Exchange downtown, just because I can go in there so often being next to my office! I haven’t purchased from Poshmark yet, but I’ll definitely give it a try soon! I’ve got a pretty slim list right now (cozy sweaters, jeans, chambray shirts) to stay focused :)