To Buy Used or New: A Guide to Purchasing Clothing

By Amanda Cohen on July 16, 2019

When people think of used clothing, or any used item, they often think of yard sales, hand-me-downs, donated items, etc. However, there is a thing called consignment: according to the dictionary, a consignment shop is, “A store that sells secondhand items (typically clothing and accessories) on behalf of the original owner, who receives a percentage of the selling price.”

You may think this is sketchy, but purchasing consigned clothing is not only very friendly to your wallet, but you can also find some amazing items that you may have missed in the original store. Another way of purchasing clothing is by buying new items from the designer or manufacturer or a second-hand site directly. It can be tricky to decide what you should buy new versus what you should buy used, which is why I’m stepping in to help you. These are my thoughts when it comes to new versus used clothing and where to buy from.

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Handbags: Consignment

Handbags are meant to be worn in; instead of doing the wearing in yourself, save yourself some money, and purchase the handbag from a used clothing site or shop. This is especially useful if you are looking to purchase a bag that is more high-end: you get to treat yourself without spending thousands of dollars. Unless you are receiving a purse as a gift, consignment is always the answer.

Sunglasses: Consignment

Sunglasses, surprisingly, can be very expensive. In addition, different styles of sunglasses often go out of style, so don’t waste your time buying the trendiest new sunglasses at the original price when, in a few years, you’ll just have to do the same thing all over again. Buy the sunglasses used, unless they are a traditional pair of sunglasses that will never get old. However, make sure that you only buy used sunglasses in person in order to ensure they aren’t too scratched up.

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Jeans: New

As someone who loves a good pair of jeans, I strongly believe you are better off buying jeans brand new than you are used. General blue jeans never go out of style and, as you get older, your sizing won’t fluctuate, therefore think of purchasing brand new jeans as an investment. You’ll have them forever, and the more you wear them, the more worn in they become, and the more comfortable they will be.

Jewelry: New

This one may be a bit more controversial, but I personally would only purchase brand-new jewelry, unless it was an item that was handed down to me from a family member. Most of my jewelry has some sort of significance, which is why I think I am so partial to new jewelry rather than used jewelry. In addition, if you are looking for lower-priced jewelry, you can find it easily without having to look into consignment. However, if you want something super expensive (i.e. a Cartier Love bracelet), you could look into getting one from a high-end consignment shop.

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Coats and Outerwear: Consignment

Outerwear and coats are expensive and get easily worn in, so there is no need to spend ridiculous amounts of money on these items. This is especially true for people who live in areas that are warm all year round: don’t waste your money on heavy coats or anything of the sort if you only need the items once or twice a year. If you live in Chicago, maybe you will want to spend the extra money on a brand new super heavy jacket, but this is still up for debate.

Bathing Suits: New

You may be scoffing and asking yourself why I even feel the need to include this? Honestly, I just want to ensure that no one is purchasing used swimsuits unless you are taking from a close friend or sibling. I’m laughing as I write this, but it had to be said. That is all.

Here are some tips when purchasing consignment:

  • Look at the return policy. If a person and/or company has a bad return policy, they might be trying to sell you either a heavily worn out or damaged item. Don’t purchase if you don’t have the opportunity to return.
  • Check the quality of the item and the entire site. Look up reviews, ask for additional images and videos, and make sure that if something isn’t right that you will get your money back. If you are purchasing used items online, you can easily be misled because online images can easily be photoshopped. Don’t fall into this trap.
  • Ask for proof of designer. For high-end consigned items, each item should have a little card with it that proves that the bag, for example, is an original Louis Vuitton and not a knockoff. If the item does not have this seal of authenticity, do not purchase it because it is probably a fake.

Check out your local consignment shops and other popular consignment shops on Poshmark and companies like the Real Real and Rebag. I hope this helped you with your shopping endeavors!

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