Money & Style

Shopping Pre-Loved

5 Strategies for Success

Happy day, reader dear!

It’s lovely to be into a new month. Somehow it feels like a fresh start, or at least closer to a finish line… I pray you are staying safe and sound and sane. Are restrictions loosening where you are? I don’t understand the thinking behind some of the changes, and will make my own decisions about what is safe for me and my family.

I’m learning a lot about myself during this time of restriction, some things I like, and some things about which I’m not so proud… They say that knowing is half the battle, so hopefully this will also be a time of growth for all of us. I know I’ve been growing frustrated with my 2020 Style Resolution to start all my shopping pre-loved, because my IRL shopping options have disappeared and I have been limited to on-line preloved, but I’m learning a LOT of lessons! Today I’ll share a few of my 5 Tips and Tricks for shopping pre-loved.

If you’d rather listen/watch me ramble on (unedited) about this, feel free to watch this:

Warning… It’s long! 18 Minutes long.

If you prefer the Cliff’s Notes version, you’re in luck! Read on…

(1) Know Yourself

While an inexpensive pre-loved piece might be a great way to experiment, when starting out, go with what you know! Knowing your Body Shape and what silhouettes fit and flatter you is key! Stick with what you already know works for you. Do the same for color and brands. Think of it as expectation management! Another important know thyself piece is: What triggers your Creep Meter? By that I mean: Where do you draw the line on what you will wear pre-loved? My line is undergarments, swimwear, and running shoes. Someone else might not buy shirts or sweaters. Shoes are a Creep Meter trigger for many. (I only buy shoes that look practically new…) If you are just dipping your toes into the pre-loved pond, accessories (Think jewelry, handbags, and scarves.) are a great place to start! Also decide what your price limit/s is/are, and what kind of Returns policy you will accept. (I don’t shop from vendors with a no return policy. Unless the item is so inexpensive that a total loss won’t bother me.)

I found these never-worn beauties on vacation in Arizona!

(2) Know the Merchandise

Read each description thoroughly! Every. Little. Bit. Scrutinize the pictures. Message the vendor if you have questions. Ask for more pictures if you need them. A reputable vendor will get back to you. Check the vendor’s rating. Also look for the same item from other vendors (AND on other sites) and read their descriptions. They may include information that “your vendor” has neglected to include. Also, search reviews for that item out in Weblandia. You would be surprised at what people review on blogs and video. (Maybe you wouldn’t be, but I’m always surprised…) If the item you are pondering gets a poor review new, chances are you will want to skip it used.

(3) Use Your Filters

Narrow the search to prevent overwhelm. Search for a particular item in a single color at a time. Narrow by size, brand, material, and especially by usage. Do you only want to buy pre-owned? Make sure to tick that box. Is NWT (New With Tags) good for you? Or NWOT (New Without Tags). You decide. I only shop Buy It Now (Or Make an Offer) pieces. I’m not interested in a bidding war, or losing out because I was in a meeting when the auction came to a close. Not my jam. Might be yours? Searching blue skirt is going to give you thousands of hits. Blue pencil skirt 4, fewer. Save your sanity. Eat the elephant in little bites…

(4) Be Patient

This may be the hardest, but most valuable strategy. If you are looking for a new dress for a party this weekend, you might want to skip the pre-loved market. But if you have had a plaid blazer on your list, keep trying. Persistence is a virtue. It can be hard to balance patience with snapping up your ideal piece, though. If I am balking at the price, I’ll leave it. Sometimes an email will pop up in my box in a day letting me know of a discount. Other times, I have regretted that tactic. I’m still looking for one lovely grey leather tote that got away…

Also in the Be Patient category: Plan but leave room for serendipity. Browsing for just anything that catches your eye will give you oodles of pieces (and an empty wallet), but nothing to wear. Think in terms of building your wardrobe. Know what you need, and keep an open mind for other Oh-My-Goodness-Did-You-SEE-That! moments. (For other on-line shopping pros and cons, read this.)

Yes, there is a difference! They used to teach building in Home Ec…

(5) Location, Location, Location

In pre-loved shopping, just like in real estate, it’s all about the location! Choosing to shop thrift in neighborhoods with higher real estate values normally means brand names with better track records, and more luxury and high-end pieces. College campus area thrift stores (on the other hand) are often filled with the cast-offs of students who couldn’t fit everything in their car to drive home. Consignment and vintage shopping in those same areas? Sure! The consignment store manager or vintage buyer is sorting through the dross for the finds for you. Yes, you will pay more, but you need to decide what you have more of: time or money.

Another often neglected pre-loved shopping win can be those little antique malls/marketplaces that have cropped up in many communities. Vendors rent booths and keep them stocked, the desk collects and disperses the funds for the vendors. That’s where I found my midnight navy Chanel jacket. Not a classic Chanel style jacket, but the top half of a suit. I got a deal on a piece of history and sample of fabulous construction, and both the vendor and the mall made a penny or two.

Serendipity AND a day trip conspired to bring this find into my wardrobe!
Yes, it did answer my 8Q’s.

NOTE: Vacationing has brought me some of my BESTEST pre-loved finds. Think about it. People who own vacation homes are likely to be buying higher end pieces and don’t want to haul them back and forth. I always Google consignment store near me when we take a trip, even a day trip! You never know what you might find. A souvenir you will wear is a perfect way to remember your trip! Much better than a coffee mug, or a shot glass, or a spoon…

AND… Last but certainly not least, pre-loved shopping is still shopping; give some thought to these 8 Q’s before you buy. (Some you may not be able to answer until the package comes to your door!) So how about you? Do you shop pre-loved? What are your favorite pieces to look for? Favorite haunts? (Don’t worry… I won’t tell anyone!) What triggers your Creep Meter? Do tell! I love to hear from you…

Thanks for reading and stay safe and sound, and sane and stylish! XO

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