Why I Love Secondhand Clothes

Fall approaches. And while many are bouncing with anticipation about pumpkin spice everything, I am getting excited because it’s time for the twice yearly consignment sales. Whether or not the local sales are on, I buy a lot of our clothes secondhand.


1. Because textile waste is a thing. Have you ever gone to donate clothes and found the donation bin overflowing? How many of those pieces of clothing do you think actually end up in the hands of someone in need? How many get recycled? How many become trash? (unscientific answers: not a lot, not a lot, a lot, but see link above). Companies make clothes, people buy them, companies make more. Buying secondhand plays a (small) part in reducing the demand.

2. Because everything looks used after one wash anyway. This is especially true when you have strawberry-loving, yogurt-wearing, outside-playing, spaghetti-slurping children.

3. Because of Math. 

3A. Actual price: secondhand is, overall, less expensive than buying new or retail. Eight people live in this house and wear clothes. Six of them are still growing and need wardrobe updates every season. Costs must be controlled.

3B. Quality: Having six kids means many hand-me-downs. A $10 secondhand shirt of a high quality brand will wear better than many shirts I can buy new for $10. Quality counts (especially if you don’t have time to line-dry everything). Lucia (3) wears dresses that Elena (12) wore almost 10 years ago, but some other dresses wear out before she’s even outgrown them.

3C. Because unfortunately I like things that are cute and out of my budget. Three of my kids are old enough that I don’t really get to dress them anymore. But I have three littles who (most days) let me, and I would like to have fun with that while I can. Unfortunately, I have Mini Boden taste on a Garanimals budget, so I get around that by buying secondhand.

little kids in mini boden

The time before their tastes shift to athletic wear is limited.

3D. Resale. I could buy a new dress for $15, but instead I buy a pre-owned, originally $60 dress for $25, let my two girls wear it, and then resell it for $18 when they outgrow it. I love math. And yes, it does become a bit of a hobby.


I already sold the shirt Lucia is wearing.

Now of course there are limitations. As they grow older, the quality of the pre-owned clothes available drops significantly. Kids just get better at tearing holes in the knees of their pants as they grow, I guess. And some things you just don’t want to buy secondhand. But you can usually find someone reselling what you need (especially if you enjoy looking).

Want to see what’s out there? There’s so much more than eBay (an oldie but still a goodie). There are Facebook groups, apps like Kidizen, websites like ThredUp (where my own jeans come from), and local consignment sales and stores. You might be surprised at what you find!