Online Thrifting Tips for the Serious Thrifter

by Janelle Bernard
thrifting tips for online thrift stores

Thrift stores have been part of our lives for generations. You probably have a memory of visiting a thrift store when you were young. Or even better, you have some embarrassing photos of outfits that your parents bought from a thrift store. If you have carried on the thrifting spirit to date, you must appreciate the introduction of online thrift stores because they make shopping fun, easy and convenient. With so many options at your fingertips, why not go through some online thrifting tips?

In the past, thrifted clothes were loved because of their low-price tag. As a serious thrifter, you can admit that most of us used to consider quantity over quality. However, from our numerous thrifting escapades, we have obtained fashionable and unique garments that have completely changed our perception. 

These days, thrifting isn't just for shoppers on a budget. It's an activity appreciated by fashion enthusiasts who crave unique second-hand clothes. Not forgetting that were it not for thrifting, many clothes would have ended up in the landfill. Therefore, thrifting promotes sustainability.

It's also worth mentioning that thrifting isn't all about buying second-hand items. You can also earn money from selling clothes you no longer wear. Considering how quickly online thrifting is becoming popular, the demand and supply are expected to double in the coming years. 

When you visit your favorite online thrift store, you will come across plenty of second-hand clothes and other fashionable items. How do you know which option is perfect for you? Here are expert online thrifting tips for the serious thrifter. With the help of this guide, you will be able to find thrifted clothes that match your style and budget. 

online thrifting tips

13 Tips for Online Thrifting 

1. Identify the Best Online Thrift Store 

The first and most important decision you have to make is to identify a reliable online thrift store. There is no doubt that there are hundreds of online thrift stores. But the one you settle for will determine your overall experience. 

A good online thrift store should have a vast collection of unique second-hand clothes. It should also stock various items in different sizes. The rates should be low, and you should be able to spot some fine vintage when browsing through the catalog. 

A peer-to-peer online thrift store is a suitable option because, other than buying, you can also sell your old clothes and earn some money. Choosing a thrift store that promotes sustainability and supports local charities is also a good idea. 

2. Know Your Measurements 

When buying second-hand clothes online, you must know your measurements from head to toe. This ensures you don't buy a small or big outfit that won't fit you comfortably. The thing about thrifted clothes is that they are not sold in various sizes as is the case with new clothes. 

If it's a trouser, you will only get them in one size. It can be frustrating to order a fancy piece of garment only to find out that it's a bad fit. As you shop in an online thrift store, have your measurements noted somewhere and refer to them before making a purchase. 

Figuring out your measurements should be pretty straightforward. You only need to look at the tags of the clothes you are currently wearing. Or, if you want a precise measurement, book an appointment with a tailor. 

A pro tip when buying thrifted clothes is always to go a size bigger if you can't find an exact measurement. An oversized garment is much easier to tailor and customize to a perfect fit than a smaller one. You also need to understand that various brands use different measurements. 

3. Understand Your Personal Style 

When thrifting online, you will come across different styles of clothing. As a result, it can be overwhelming to choose which clothes blend well with your personality. Before you start checking out new items, evaluate your personal style. Do you like casual more than official? 

You can shop for thrifted clothes more strategically with a clear picture of your style. Also, you will know what to key in on the search button. As you attempt to understand your style, figure out what are your favorite colors. This will also narrow down your searches.

Whatever your style, make sure you know how to clean thrifted clothes

4. Develop a Budget and Stick to It 

If you are a serious thrifter, you must develop a budget and stick to it. When shopping for second-hand clothes, it's common to see lots of fashionable garments. That doesn't mean you should purchase any fancy piece of preloved clothing you come across. 

A budget will guide you to spend wisely. The presence of online thrift stores makes it even harder to monitor your expenditure on purchases. Because to access the store, you only need to visit the site on your PC or phone. This ease of access can lead to impulse purchases. 

It's a good idea to be strict with your expenditure. Buy only what you need. If you need a jumpsuit for an upcoming event, don't start clicking on shirts or trousers. 

While we are still on a budget, you should use discounts and coupons as you shop. Even though thrifted clothes are usually cheaper, you can save more money from discounts. Always keep a keen eye on items that are being sold at a discounted price. 

5. Be Curious 

Many people make the mistake of treating online thrifting the way they shop for new clothes. Be casual in your search for preloved clothing. Sometimes an unclear photo doesn't mean that item is terrible. It could be a hidden gem that everyone keeps overlooking. 

tips for thrifting online

Having a sense of curiosity is crucial when online thrifting. Even if a particular listing doesn't seem interesting enough, don't ignore it. Through curiosity, you will unearth some of the best second-hand clothing from your favorite thrift store. 

In the search bar, use phrases such as vintage and unique. These keywords can lead you to clothes that will be an excellent addition to your wardrobe. 

6. Familiarize Yourself with the Return Policy 

One of the reasons we advise you to find the best thrift store is that not all of them accept returns. Sometimes, you may buy a second-hand outfit only to discover that it's small or not what was advertised. In such a scenario, you should be able to return it and get a refund. Before clicking the purchase button, you must be aware of the return policy. 

If a particular online thrift store doesn't accept returns, you can always set it up as your listing. Sell it and get your money back. Alternatively, you can always donate it. 

7. Take Your Time 

As affordable as thrifting is, it may sometimes take more of your time. But at the end of it all, it will be worth it. If you are looking for a specific piece of garment, it may take a while before you can find it. 

The issue with thrifting is that you only get what is available. Take a wedding dress, for example. If you want a wedding dress, you can get a new one delivered to your doorstep in the next few days. But if you want a second-hand wedding dress, you will have to wait until someone posts it on your online thrift store. You need to be patient. 

8. Some Research Comes in Handy 

This mainly applies when buying vintage clothing from an online thrift store. If someone advertises a piece of cloth as a luxury vintage, it's a good idea to research the brand before buying it. We are living in strange times where you can't trust everyone. 

The research will show you the brand's symbols and some ways to determine authenticity. You can go back to that listing and cross-check whether that vintage piece is original or not. Research can save you from being misled into buying the wrong things. 

9. Never Hesitate to Ask for More Pictures 

All sellers on online thrift stores post the best photos of their items to attract customers. As a buyer, you should confirm the item's condition before purchasing it. And one of the ways you can do that is by asking for more pictures. 

When you have all photographs of a top from all angles, you can inspect it for damage or wear. You can also check how clean that clothing is. Plenty of photos of an item you are interested in help determine whether you like it. If a seller declines to provide more photos, that should be perceived as a red flag. 

ask questions about thrift items

10. Feel Free to Ask Several Questions 

Sometimes, pictures are not enough to tell you everything about the item. That's why you should ask any questions you may have. An online thrift store has a section where the buyer and seller can communicate. You can use this feature to learn more about the brand, where that item has been sourced, and any other questions you may have. 

It's through these inquiries that you can also filter out serious sellers from jokers. You also get to learn more about what you want to buy. 

11. Don't Buy What You Don't Need 

Because thrifted clothes are affordable, it can be tempting to buy a heap of second-hand clothes. Unless you are interested in a complete wardrobe change, there is no need to purchase every unique piece of item that pops up in your search results. 

When you excessively buy preloved clothing, you will fill your closet with clothes you may never even wear. Or even worse, you will be adding more clutter to your home. Doing so negates the sustainability of thrifted clothing. Develop a habit of buying only what you need. 

12. Follow Certain Sellers 

If you like a particular item from a specific seller, add them to your favorites list. That's because if they have something you want, their wardrobe is most likely filled with more likable items. The next time they post a new listing, you can be notified. 

13. Go for Durable Fabrics 

When thrifting online, don't focus all your attention on aesthetics and forget about the fabric quality. It would be a waste of money to buy a great-looking item only for it to last a few months. 

Always check the description and look for the type of fabric. Leather, denim, and cotton are known to be the longest-lasting fabrics. It can be challenging to examine the thickness of the material online, but you can inquire from the seller. 

common online thrifting mistakes

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Used Clothes Online 

Here are some common mistakes online thrift shoppers make when buying used clothes; 

  • Avoid buying thrifted clothes from fast-fashioned brands. It makes no sense to pay the same price for a fast-fashioned piece and a vintage. 
  • Don't focus mainly on fashion clothes. Buy the basics as well. You can get quality sweatpants for lazing around the house at an online thrift store or some tank tops for workout sessions.
  • Be wary of clothes that have a lot of stains and holes. Some thrifted clothes indeed look better after slight repairs. But if there are too many holes, it won't be worth spending more on repairs. 
  • Avoid shopping for thrifted items during the respective season. You can qualify for more discounts and better prices when you buy clothes off-season. Instead of buying coats in winter, look for them during summer. The prices and competition will be low. 
  • Don't buy more thrifted clothes than you are disposing of. If you are an avid thrifter, you can quickly fill your wardrobes with second-hand clothes. The best solution is to balance thrifted purchases. You can open a seller's account and advertise clothes you no longer wear. (Click here to read "What to do with Old Clothes You Can't Donate"

The Bottom Line 

Online thrifting is fun and interesting. However, it can also be overwhelming to both new and experienced thrifters. With the tips shared above, you should be able to get the most from your online thrifting experience. There are lots of great deals and unique second-hand clothes out there. You only need to know how to look for them. As we wrap up, remember that thrifting isn't all about buying preloved clothes. You, too, can also sell clothes you no longer wear


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