New to resale shops, vintage style and secondhand clothes? It’s just like regular shopping, but here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Examine everything. First, let’s get the basics out of the way. Whenever you’re buying something secondhand, pre-loved, vintage, whatever you want to call it, make sure to check for stains, loose threads or missing buttons—inside and outside. At Water St. Boutique, our staff washes and inspects everything, but it never hurts to give things a second look.
  2. Know specific items’ pain points. For jeans, make sure to pay look for excessive wear on the inner thigh, seat and knees. Make sure dresses and skirts don’t have unraveling hems or stuck zippers. Check jackets and coats for ripped linings, especially at the armholes or wrists.
  3. Visit often. Since resale shops don’t carry a standard selection of items, the clothes available are always changing. If you want first dibs on new items, find out the days and times your favorite thrift store tends to restock its racks.
  4. Have a plan… Going to a thrift store without knowing what you’re looking for is like going grocery shopping on an empty stomach. Because of the sheer number of different items, thrifting can be overwhelming. Have a mental list of the types of items you’re looking for—a white tank top, a cozy sweater, a fall jacket, etc.
  5. …but be open to trying something new. One of the great things about thrifting is the affordability. A wild or trendy piece you wouldn’t spend $100 on is a lot less of a fashion risk if it’s only $10.
  6. Sell before you buy. Really want something new to wear but a packed closet is making it hard to justify? Weed out your closet and donate those clothes to Water St. Boutique next time you come to shop. It’s a win-win situation.
  7. Scan, don’t flip. Flipping through every piece of clothing on every rack gets boring and a little overwhelming. Remember that plan? Take a step back and scan the racks for colors or styles you’re looking for.
  8. Be picky! Only purchase items you truly love and know you are going to wear. You will stumble upon beautiful pieces that are unique, but you won’t get any wear out of them if they’re not your style or don’t fit quite right.
  9. Learn how to make small alterations. We started this list reminding you to look for tears or loose threads. But if the only thing keeping you from something you love is a loose hem, pick up a needle and thread. You can find cheap sewing kits with a needle and several different colors of thread at your nearest drugstore or grocery store. Sewing a button back on or fixing a hem is actually pretty simple.
  10. For nicer items like suits, consider taking them to a local tailor to get them to fit just right. Yes, tailors still exist, and they’re more affordable than you think!

Whatever you’re shopping for, have fun! Everything looks good if you wear it with confidence.