Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Secondhand Shopping with My Mom

Secondhand Shopping with My Mom

My mom is many things, and one of them is an avid secondhand shopper. She's also an incredibly talented seamstress who can make even the most worn, sad items into exactly the things you want to wear. Oh, and she's silly! I love that.

A few months ago, she came to visit me, and we went to a secondhand store near my house. I had never been there before, but of course my mom sniffed it out as having great items-and prices! Here are some of the things I tried on and lessons I've learned over the years from her.  You might know some of them already, or you might still be learning, like I am!

Try on anything you might possibly like.  

The worst that can happen is that you feel frustrated and leave empty handed. The best that can happen is that you go home with new clothes at a low price! If there's something that catches your eye, bring it into the changing room with you and give it a try!

Try on all sizes that look relatively close to yours. 

In stores that sell new clothing, I typically recommend that you go into the fitting room with clothes that are your size, plus one size up and down, especially if it's a store you don't typically shop at or if you are unsure of your size. For secondhand shopping, that rule goes out the window. Eyeball it and bring it in if it's at all close. As you likely know, sizes have changed a lot, and you might end up with a size that is a lot bigger than your current size! I typically try on anything from a 4 to a 10 or even a 12P while secondhand shopping. See the tags above? S, M, and L.

Use the trick of measuring the waistband around your neck to see if pants or skirts will come close to fitting you. Quality material is worth having altered (or altering yourself) if the size is close-but-not-quite-right. 

Try secondhand pieces on with clothing you already own and like-or find something that works.

When I plan ahead, I like to wear something simple that fits me well to go secondhand shopping so that I can try on everything else with it. If you end up there with a bright patterned shirt or a dress or something less than ideal, grab a simple top and try that on with everything else.

Happy Shopping!


  1. I loved shopping with my mom. We always had a good time. I thrift a lot but never for clothes. You mentioned "measuring around your neck" for skirts and pants. I have never heard this before. Could you explain it? Thanks for sharing. I am enjoying your insight into fashion.

  2. What a treat to go shopping with your mom and learn the tricks of thrift shopping! I've come away with some great finds for mere dollars. Yes, you have to be patient and dig through lots of clothes but it's fun when you strike it rich! Lol! Yes, please explain the " measuring around your neck". I've never heard that before either.

  3. Hi Deb and Cecilia! Thanks for the comments! Depending on your proportions, for many women an easy way to check to see if pants or a skirt will fit is to measure the waistband around your neck. If it's tight, that's how the pants will fit. If there's a lot of room between the waistband and your neck, they'll be too big. You want them to fit around your neck snugly, like you want the waistband to fit your waist. Here's a Wiki with pictures:

    You might want to try this out with some pants you own to see if your proportions work for it. If they do, then it's an easy way to sneakily check and see if something will fit-especially if there isn't a fitting room like at some second hand spots! -Ella