The Ultimate Guide to Online Thrift Shopping

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Online thrift shopping has become increasingly popular in recent years— luckily for us vintage lovers that means it’s easier than ever to buy and sell vintage clothing online.

Online vintage stores, vintage fashion influencers, and even brands are offering a wide range of vintage and secondhand clothing options, from classic and timeless pieces to more unique and rare finds.

This is new territory in the world of thrifting, and even for the most advanced vintage hunters it can be a little intimidating to start shopping for second-hand treasures online. That’s why we’ve put together a guide to online thrift shopping that covers everything from why thrifting is the zeitgeist, tips for making online vintage hunting a breeze and all the terminology that you need to know:

Let’s get the Terminology Straight:

Second-hand, vintage, and thrifting fashion are related concepts, but there are some differences between them. More often than not these terms are being thrown around interchangeably, but you should know the difference to help refine your online searches and make sure you know what you’re getting.

  • Second-hand fashion: Second-hand fashion refers to clothing that has been previously owned and is being sold again, often at a lower price than it was originally sold for. This can include both modern and vintage clothing and can be found in a variety of places, including consignment shops, online marketplaces, and thrift stores.

  • Vintage fashion: Vintage fashion refers specifically to clothing that is from a previous era, typically at least 20 years old. It often includes styles that were popular in the past, such as 1920s flapper dresses, 1950s circle skirts, and 1970s bohemian clothing. Vintage clothing can be found in vintage stores, online vintage shops, and at flea markets, and antique shops.

  • Thrifted fashion: Thrifted fashion refers to clothing that has been found in a thrift store, which is a type of second-hand store that often operates as a non-profit or charity. Thrift stores receive donations of clothing from the community and sell them at low prices to support their mission. Thrifted clothing can include both modern and vintage clothing and can be a great way to find unique pieces at an affordable price.

Why do people <3 Thrifting for Fashion? (Both Online & IRL)

  • Sustainability: In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the environmental impact of fast fashion and a desire to reduce waste. Vintage fashion offers a sustainable alternative to buying new clothing, as it reduces the amount of clothing that ends up in landfills and conserves natural resources.

  • Nostalgia: Many people are drawn to vintage fashion as a way to connect with the past and evoke a sense of nostalgia. Vintage fashion can also hold personal significance for some, reminding them of a special time in their life, or be a family heirloom that has been passed down through the generations.

  • Unique style: Thrift Shopping online is a great way to find unique pieces that stand apart from the cookie-cutter style that comes from fast-fashion retailers. It allows people to express their individuality, hone their true style rather than following trends and stand out from the crowd.

  • Social media: Social media has played a role in the popularity of vintage fashion, with many influencers and celebrities wearing and promoting vintage pieces. This has helped to bring vintage fashion into the mainstream and make it more accessible to a wider audience.

  • Accessibility: The rise of online vintage stores and marketplaces has made vintage fashion more accessible to a wider audience. People can now easily shop for vintage clothing from the comfort of their own homes, and have access to a wider range of vintage options than ever before.

  • Ease of Shopping: Online thrifting shopping can offer a more convenient way to shop for vintage clothing than in-store. You don’t have to dig through piles of clothes, but rather just browse through their selection from the comfort of your own home.

  • Quality of Garments: Vintage clothing is often made with higher quality materials and construction techniques than modern clothing. The clothing was designed to last, and that’s why many vintage pieces are still in great condition today.

  • Investment potential: Some vintage clothing is highly sought after by collectors and can appreciate in value over time. If you’re lucky enough to find a rare or unique piece, it could be a valuable investment.

  • Affordability: Vintage clothing is often less expensive than new clothing, especially if you’re looking for designer pieces. You can often find high-end vintage pieces for a fraction of the cost of buying new.

Tips for Online Thrift Shopping

If you’re new to this, it can be a little intimidating since you don’t get to try before you buy. However, with a few good tips for online thrifting, you’ll be an online vintage pro in no time:

  • Know your measurements: Vintage sizes can vary greatly from modern sizes, so it’s important to know your own measurements before making a purchase. Look for sizing charts provided by the seller, and don’t be afraid to ask for additional measurements if needed.

  • Read the item description carefully: Vintage clothing often has wear and tear, so it’s important to read the item description carefully to check for any flaws or imperfections. Look for information about the item’s condition, any repairs that have been made, and any details about the fabric or construction.

  • Look for clear, detailed photos: Make sure the photos of the item are clear and show the details of the item. If the photos are blurry or don’t show the details of the item, it may be difficult to determine the quality of the item.

  • Check the seller’s ratings and reviews: Check the seller’s ratings and reviews to ensure they have a good reputation and have satisfied customers in the past. If you’re looking for some trusted online vintage stores, check out this list of the best sites for online vintage shopping.

  • Be patient: Vintage shopping online requires patience as you may need to search for the perfect item for a while. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t find what you’re looking for right away.

  • Consider the return policy: Make sure you understand the seller’s return policy in case the item doesn’t meet your expectations or doesn’t fit properly.

  • Know the era: If you’re interested in a specific era, make sure you have a good understanding of the fashion trends and styles of that time period. Look for sellers who specialize in the type of vintage clothing you’re interested in.

  • Don’t be afraid to negotiate: If you’re interested in an item but think the price is too high, don’t be afraid to negotiate with the seller— this is especially true for thrifting apps like vinted or depop. They may be willing to lower the price.

  • Enjoy the process: Vintage shopping online can be a fun way to discover and play around with new styles, so take your time and enjoy the process. You may discover unique and one-of-a-kind items that you wouldn’t find anywhere else!

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