Consignment Shopping: Five Survival Tactics

I sat scrolling through the rabbit hole that is pinterest a couple months ago (as well as over lunch today), admiring breezy linen sundresses and lacy tops. I was gathering up inspiration for fresh summer outfit ideas, which were part Jackie Kennedy, and part Kate Middleton, only to find myself dismayed at the prices of the items I was finding. As anyone who is attempting to remain faithful to a budget knows, it’s impossible to justify spending $168 on one article of summer clothing. I realized that if I wanted to freshen up the wardrobe while still being able to grocery shop, I would have to be a little more creative in my hunt…

Cue one of my favorite weekend activities … rummaging through the local consignment shops! A treasure trove of possibilities, this method of shopping is not for the faint of heart. It requires a decent amount of time and a large dose of patience, but the thrill of finding quality pieces for a fraction of the cost make it easily worth the time and effort. I’ve learned, too, that there are few strategies that make the daunting task of sifting through endless racks not only easier, but also far more enjoyable. So next time you tackle your local thrift store, keep these things in mind:


Have a pear shaped figure that looks fabulous in an A-line silhouette? Or are you more rectangular and want to showcase the curves you do have? Knowing the styles that flatter your figure will naturally narrow your choices and cut down on your shopping time: you’ll spend your time trying on items that actually work with your body rather than frustratingly wading through an endless assortment of items.


Think oversized cotton tops, chic button downs, pencil skirts, jeans, and oversized sweaters.  Buying these staples second-hand means you’ll have basic pieces at a fraction of the cost and you’ll have a little wiggle room to splurge on the cute pair of fall booties.


Hidden in the racks you are guaranteed to find the Madewell, Nordstrom, Anthro, and J. Crew, tags that will wear well and stay stylish season after season. Holding out for the higher-end items might mean it takes a little longer to build your wardrobe, but you’ll be happier with the result rather than settling on the cheaper pieces that need to be quickly replaced.


Consignment shops are usually small and want to move inventory. I have seen shops mark their summer items down to a $1 just for the sake of making room for a fresh season. Again, if you are looking for staples pieces, end of the season is the perfect time to stock up since those items will not go out of style.


If you don’t absolutely fall in love with it, and you are only buying it because it’s a good deal, put it back! It will sit in the back of your closet and will never be the item that you find yourself constantly wearing. Only bring home the items that you love, and you’ll never find yourself standing in front of your closet exclaiming, “I have nothing to wear!”

Happy thrifting! What are some of your favorite tricks for savvy shopping?

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