37 In Shopping Tips

How do you feel about wearing used clothing?


I stopped by SAX Consignment to grab my daughter Caitlin and take her to lunch one recent Saturday. She said, “Just a minute, Mom.”

No problem, I could wait. But I’m in my girls’ consignment store, I might as well look around while I’m waiting, right?

I was checking out the pants section when a Theory plaid pant jumped out at me. Do you know how long I’ve been searching for a pant in a menswear fabric? Years, really! Nothing I’ve tried on has worked.

Could I get lucky this time? I took them into the dressing room and tried them on.


shopping consignment stores

In the dressing room at SAX Consignment


Five minutes later Caitlin popped her head out of the back room. “Ready, Mom,” she said.

“Okay, me too,” I replied as I stepped out of the dressing room. “I’ll take these,” and I handed the pants to her so she could ring up the sale.


Breaking down my used clothing outfit

Monday rolled around and Erin and I were working with a client in SF, only blocks away from where Erin lives in Pacific Heights.

After work, I got my daughter to take some pics of my outfit, which is made up of head-to-toe consignment (used) pieces. I purchased the jewelry new that I’m wearing and the floral scarf was new and came from J.Jill.

Let me introduce you to my worn-by-others clothing items.

The white shirt is by Hugo Boss and has great detailing. Keep scrolling down at the pics and notice the details of the shirt. It’s way more than “just a white shirt” with its tucks and stitching and quality cotton. We’re talking comfort.



Floral print scarf goes well with menswear

Menswear plus floral print scarf


Used clothing shopping

My used clothing pieces all have great labels


The it-belonged-to-someone-else-first-jacket is by Armani. I love several things about it besides the fact that it fits me well and was priced within my budget. It keeps me toasty and cozy. People familiar with San Francisco weather know that staying warm is a yearlong effort. I wouldn’t be wearing this jacket in Sonoma in June; it would be way too hot. But in SF? All I’d have to do for June weather is add another layer to it, throw on a cashmere wrap, and I’d be ready for sightseeing with out-of-state relatives!


Menswear outfit

There’s my bee necklace, bought new


Can you see the textured detail in the fabric of the Armani jacket? It’s kind of puckered. That texture could be what adds the insulation that protects me from the chill of the fog rolling in over the Golden Gate Bridge.


Theory pants, good as new

Theory pant closeup


In this last picture, you can see a closeup of the pant. I love how it has a bright white background and those bright merlot colored lines. The bright white gives this fabric a modern kick. Who would have given this pant up to the consignment store? Maybe it wasn’t the right size or something. I’m the lucky recipient because it’s just right for me.


Used Rosa Mosa oxfords finish off this menswear outfit

I feel a little funny about wearing other people’s shoes unless they’ve hardly been worn; you can tell. These came from SAX Consignment as well. I think they caught Erin’s attention first when they came into the store, but lucky for me, they were a little big on her. She called me up, “Mom, we have these Rosa Mosa oxfords that came into the store. I think you’ll like them.”

I didn’t like them, I loved them! They are the most comfortable shoes ever and if you’ve been reading the blog, you know how hard it is for me to find comfortable shoes. When I post pics on Instagram wearing these shoes, everyone wants to know where they came from. Winner!


Menswear clothing for women

My modern menswear pieces


The white laces and the white lug soles give them a modern twist. I’ve very thankful for whoever wore these before me. I’m happy she got money for them when they weren’t right for her because someone else found lots of joy in them. Me! That’s the great thing about consignment stores: What doesn’t work for you could very well work for someone else.

When I’m working with a client and things aren’t looking great on her, it’s nice to be able to say, “You know, it doesn’t serve you anymore, but it could serve someone else.” Whether that means taking it to a consignment store or donating it to a charity, used clothing will turn into outfits for others.

Clients love getting a check for clothes that have sold in the store but mostly I think they relieved to not be contributing to landfills. Once we purchase a piece of clothing we’re responsible for it. If it doesn’t work, the responsible thing to do is find a better home for it.



Did you wear hand-me-down clothes when you were young?

I heard a colleague say that she had a bad association with used clothes—avoiding consignment stores or thrift stores—because she wore hand-me-downs growing up. I could respect her point of view. She wanted new clothes and that was certainly her prerogative.

I too wore hand-me-downs growing up. Dad had a cousin who lived in Valley City, ND when we lived on a farm 20-miles away. They had twins as well—Mike and Mary. Mary was older than me—and not that interested in playing with me, but as we’d be getting ready to go home, her mom would give my mom a bag of clothes that Mary had outgrown. Many of them worked for me and I loved wearing those clothes. They were store-bought clothes, which was different from the homemade clothes I mostly wore. Mother was the sewer, and I loved the clothes she made me but store-bought clothes had a sexy appeal—long before I knew what sexy meant.


Getting my daughters to do the shopping for me

I’ve never been much of a consignment shopper on my own, but Erin worked in the consignment store she and her sister now own since she was in high school. It was her first job. She went on to college but years later when her friend Jen owned the store, she went back to working there one day a week. That’s when I started to reap the benefits of consignment store prices. When she’d spot something she thought would work well for me, she’d set it aside and call me. Fast forward to two and a half years ago, my two girls bought and now run the store along with some great employees.

This all means that I benefit from consignment stores without actually spending much time shopping in them. I did go out on my own a couple of summers back and bought a jacket when I was in Santa Fe that always wins compliments.

My point? It works for me to wear other people’s clothes as long as they suit me, my lifestyle, and they put a smile on my face. I don’t feel squeamish about it at all.

What about you? Do you wear used clothing? Do you enjoy thrift shops? Or do you avoid them like crazy? I must, I must, I must know! Please comment and share your experiences!



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  • Reply
    March 28, 2019 at 4:16 am

    Greetings from Australia. I love your blog and I love second-hand shops! There’s a wonderful consignment shop near the university in which I work and I have had some great luck there. Also the Good Samaritan’s (much like Goodwill in the US) has some treasures. I once found a beautiful Armani jacket in a GS in Sydney and paid $30 for it. Winning 🙂

  • Reply
    March 28, 2019 at 4:39 am

    Hi Brenda
    I have been shopping in consignment and thrift stores for years, although not called that here in Britain. It always amazes me what you can find that has been never or hardly ever worn. I tend to stay away from jumpers, as they are often ‘bobbly’ and as you say, would only buy hardly worn shoes, but everything else is fine. I know people who won’t go into these stores’ but one of these people went into a store last year with a friend and came out with a wonderful dress for a family wedding. So, never say never! One mans junk is another man’s treasure.

  • Reply
    March 28, 2019 at 4:50 am

    Some of my most favorite clothes have come from consignment stores since the late 1970s. I’m still wearing an Issey Mikaye shirt I got in New York in the 1980s. I’ve also sold things to consignment stores and you are right — its fun knowing that someone else is now enjoying what I used to wear. Consignment stores connect us. Wish I lived closer to your daughters’ store.

  • Reply
    March 28, 2019 at 5:03 am

    Love your posts! I have been shopping almost exclusively at consignment stores for about a year. I really enjoy Thredup online for purchases and we have a great consignment store, Copper Horse, in my small town in Wisconsin. I almost feel guilty if I buy new and I will try and look for something in the consignment shops before I buy new. I am going to be in your area in the Fall and I hope I can check your daughters’ store.

  • Reply
    March 28, 2019 at 5:05 am

    Hi Brenda,
    I’m with you! Finding an almost new perfectly tailored Albert Nipon jacket for $5 back in the 1980s got me hooked on thrifting clothes. I could experiment like crazy for a pittance. I buy far fewer clothes now, but judicious thrifting allows me to wear an Italian-made jacket with a variety of silk scarves and to carry some nicely made leather purses; in other words, to feel like a million dollars for much less. And I love the fact my clothes get to live a new life. I’m grateful to those who have recycled their cast offs.

  • Reply
    Michele Ferguson
    March 28, 2019 at 5:10 am

    I, too, wear clothes from consignment stores. It’s amazing what can be found. Although, it’s heartbreaking to find something you love that’s too small. Too big is not usually a problem. This is fairly new for me, shopping consignment. Years ago, I couldn’t get over the “ick” factor of trying on a stranger’s clothes. But now, no problem. I also sell my clothes in a consignment shop, only my very best ones. Clothes that are still in good condition, but more worn, I donate.

  • Reply
    Linda B
    March 28, 2019 at 5:30 am

    My clothing collection has a substantial number of pieces from consignment and thrift stores. I don’t have a lot of time to shop these days, but when I do, it is often to one of these places I go. You definitely can find quality pieces in fantastic shape for pennies on the dollar. My best find ever might have been in Austin, when I was visiting there about 7 years ago–I found a Christian Lacroix lace “duster” with the tags still on it from Neiman Marcus, and the asking price was about 2% of the original cost. I have to be in the right mood to rock this piece, dressing it down with jeans. . . But I have many other second hand pieces I wear constantly.

    Growing up, I did wear a lot of second hand clothes, which had been my cousin’s. She is 9 months older than me and her father owned a small town department store along the Arizona-Mexico border, which had beautiful clothing. The customers were mostly wealthy Mexicans. Getting a box of my cousin’s beautiful hand-me-downs was always very exciting! I never thought about how that pre-disposed me to liking second hand clothing, but I guess it did!

  • Reply
    Edda Hutson
    March 28, 2019 at 5:58 am

    I was so pleased to see this post. I am 80 but feel 60. I have been shopping in consignment and thrift shops for years. Your pictures influenced me to stop dyeing my hair. Now I get so many compliments just being natural. I also love the fact that you wear shoes that look fashionable and comfortable. I am so happy I found you. Thank you.

  • Reply
    jodie filogomo
    March 28, 2019 at 6:43 am

    It’s funny because I figure once it’s worn once, it’s preloved, whether that’s by me or someone else. And heck, even the “new” clothes have been tried on by others. So no, I don’t mind “used” clothing.
    In fact, I have many friends that give me their hand me downs, and I revel in it.

  • Reply
    March 28, 2019 at 7:08 am

    I don’t shop at consignment stores because there are none in my area! I’m very rural, and no one has ever tried it with any success. We do have several Goodwills. I never think to go in and look around. I have a friend who almost exclusively dresses in clothes from there. She always looks very nice. If we had a good quality shop in my area, selling more name brands, I might be more inclined to look around and buy.

  • Reply
    March 28, 2019 at 7:32 am

    I love seeing clothes be recycled rather than wasted…in fact I have an eBay store devoted to the same thing! In the US we buy and waste so much. It’s nice when unloved items find the right person.

  • Reply
    March 28, 2019 at 7:57 am

    I take my clothes to a consignment store near me but have never actually shopped there for myself. I grew up wearing some hand me downs from my very young aunt who wore beautiful clothes. I always said that when I grew up I wasn’t going to wear hand me downs and I haven’t. On another note, I recently went to the big city near me and shopped at Chicos. I had forgotten about them until I started reading your blog. I found a beautiful long reversible light weight jacket in their travel section. I came home and ordered the pants and shirt that go with it. I will have several ways to wear it. Yay!

  • Reply
    March 28, 2019 at 8:03 am

    I forgot to say that I love your outfit.

  • Reply
    Gail Guinn
    March 28, 2019 at 8:28 am

    I’m a HUGE EBay and thrift shopper! It became my passion around 5 years ago when I moved to the Palm Springs area. The thrift stores here are filled with J Jill, Chico’s, Eileen Fisher, and brands sold at Sax. One of my most exciting items I have gotten was inspired by the oxfords you mentioned in this blog and occurred last week. I love those shoes on you and have been looking for a pair for quite awhile now. (Quite frankly, I have copied your style on a few pairs of shoes I’ve loved on you but would never have thought to get on my own!) I found a pair of Eileen Fisher oxfords on Ebay that were in excellent, barely worn condition, that sell for $260 at Nordstrom’s. I got them for $32!!!! I was thrilled!!! I love this post and hope there might be more tips on how to improve our thrifty shopping experiences!

  • Reply
    March 28, 2019 at 8:50 am

    Totally yes. I shop resale, thrift, consignment, yard & garage sales. I also sew & tailor most of my own clothes as well. I don’t think I’ve paid full price on anything since the early 70’s. I’ve taught both my sons how & wear to shop as well & the 25 or old is a seasoned pro already. He just bought 6 shirts & 2 pairs of trousers for under $ 60. He is 6′ 5″ tall wears a 2xl T (50″ chest) in shirts with a 39/36 slacks so is difficult to fit. Yes he is a big guy. LOL

  • Reply
    March 28, 2019 at 9:01 am

    Buying “pre-loved” doesn’t bother me one bit. There are excellent thrift and consignment shops where I live now, and I’ve discovered some real treasures there. Just last month I scored an Armani skirt in a lovely shade of pale taupe for … wait for it… twenty dollars. It was a bit too large, so I brought it to my alterations lady and for just $20 more she made it fit perfectly. I’ve already thought of at least three ways to wear my new-to-me Armani, and it’s only just barely Spring weather here!

  • Reply
    March 28, 2019 at 9:11 am

    Except for underwear and maybe a couple of pairs of shoes, ALL my clothing comes from thrift stores, and with shoes, ebay, and are natural, and therefore, biodegradable materials . Not only do I feel good about not feeding the consumer machine, but I also have really nice clothes that were not costly. When I decide something no longer makes me happy, I pass it along to a friend, or if no one I know wants it, it goes back to the thrift shop. In effect, Gary says, I rent most of my clothing from the thrift store!

    I have a friend who buys in department stores and had a great Eileen Fisher dress that she decided didn’t work on her; so I had a great Eileen Fisher (thrifted) that didn’t work on me, so we swapped. After a couple of years, and my having her dress taken in, as well as making it shorter (I could do that myself because it had an unraveled edge), I decided it just didn’t look good, so offered it back to her, and she gave me back mine. Both of us are back to wearing our original gray dresses and are happy!

  • Reply
    March 28, 2019 at 1:20 pm

    I went into a “pop-up” $$$consignment store once in Las Vegas. It was lots of fun to look at all the goodies, but I couldn’t afford anything in there! It was all REAL designer stuff, like Birkin bags for the bargain price of 10 to 30K. Yikes! I shopped the local thrift stores when I was in high school and didn’t have lots of money to splash out on clothes. I no longer shop thrift or consignment, but I certainly do contribute to them. Twice a year I have my closet clean out and whatever doesn’t get snatched up by my nieces and sister-in-law goes to the local charity shop. We are talking barely or never worn goodies in great condition. I hope whoever buys them uses them and enjoys looking great.

  • Reply
    Lisa Antoniou
    March 28, 2019 at 1:27 pm

    The “pre loved” pieces look great on you!
    I used to really enjoy shopping second hand clothing boutiques when I lived in the Bay Area.
    I now live in Queensland Australia where this kind of shopping is not as fruitful.I sometimes yearn for those times when I would find the perfect item (like you did with the men’s wear inspired pants) and fit it into my wardrobe.
    Reading about your experiences inspires me to keep being as inventive as I can with what I put on each day.
    Thank you from a “Bay Area Baby Boomer” now transplanted “Down Under”
    Happy shopping,

  • Reply
    March 28, 2019 at 2:00 pm

    Both my daughter and I love to shop consignment. It is like a sport to us. Lol. We can spend a whole afternoon together, come home with a huge bag of new (to us) clothes and not have spent a lot of money. I also remember when my younger daughter was in high school I would shop consignment stores with her and she ended up being voted best dressed in her class.

  • Reply
    Diane B
    March 28, 2019 at 2:17 pm

    Yes, I do buy a lot of consignment and thrift clothes. With a condition that has huge swings in weight, I find it is a great way to still wear better brands without the constant changing sizes in retail pricing. I wore home made and remade clothes when growing up. My aunt was a wonderful seamstress, and could remake her dresses over for me as well as whip up a new outfit from a pattern we found. It took me a few years to get back to thrifting, but do enjoy it now. Love the outfit above.

  • Reply
    Jen Biggs
    March 28, 2019 at 2:44 pm

    I love consignment/thrift stores although I don’t shop as much as I did when I was working. Store-bought clothes were also a big treat for me growing up. My mother sewed most of our clothes, but I remember the first brand new, store-bought dress an aunt bought me. Thrilling! We were always happy to get hand-me-downs as well. My mom worked in a fabric store at one point, so choosing fabric for a new outfit was a fun pastime; how I wish she were around to sew for me again.

  • Reply
    Elaine @ Following Augustine
    March 28, 2019 at 7:34 pm

    I love thrift store shopping! There aren’t any consignment stores in or close to our very small rural town, but there are two small thrift stores where I’ve found many treasures. I didn’t wear hand-me-downs growing up as my only sister is younger than me and my only girl cousin is ten years older. I wear them now though! My sister-in-law loves to shop and has a much bigger clothing budget than I do. She’s also very generous and since we’re close to the same size, she passes many lovely items on to me.

  • Reply
    Karen Winfield
    March 29, 2019 at 2:02 am

    Just like you I wore home-made clothes as a child lovingly crafted by my beautiful and stylish Nanna, and I loved them. My three sisters and I always got to choose the style and the fabric and they were made with so much love. But as I got older I did crave store-bought and was so excited when I would get a brand new dress for my birthday. Now thrift store (or ‘op shop’ as we say in Australia) shopping is a competitive sport with my best friend and we have scored some major finds.

  • Reply
    March 29, 2019 at 3:53 am

    Hi Brenda, in my head I know it’s useful for the planet, good for the purse, and positively energetic in spreading the love. BUT, apart from one jumpsuit that I love, I just cannot bring myself to wear second hand. I have written many times about this dating back to a ‘hand me down’ childhood, and I should have got over that by now – right? But even when if I do buy, they go back, unworn, to the shop (or as a charitable donation). I guess it’s an emotional response but it’s mine and I have to respect it. I take my hat off to those who do purses this way of buying, as logically I totally agree with the concept. My way of looking after the planet is to continue to wear what I already own. That means stringent buying rules apply!! Have fun with your clothes, how ever you do it. See you at conference Brenda. Much love xx

  • Reply
    March 29, 2019 at 8:30 am

    I too worked in an CONSIGNMENT SHOP about 15 years ago part time!I LOVED IT!
    I have NO problem wearing others clothing!
    Thrift shops I have never had much LUCK in the clothing but CONSIGNMENT I ALWAYS FIND SOMETHING!
    Time for me to head across THAT BRIDGE and check OUT my old stomping grounds of SA!

  • Reply
    March 29, 2019 at 9:22 am

    I try to only purchase from consignment & thrift stores and your story reminded me that I, too, received dresses from the girl that lived across the road from our farm when I was growing up. My grandma sewed all of our clothes (tap dancing outfits, wedding dresses, prom dressed, etc. ) but it was fun to where Bonnie’s dresses. Of course they were store purchased. :).

  • Reply
    March 29, 2019 at 10:20 pm

    Yes! So much of my wardrobe is secondhand from stores and clothing swaps!

  • Reply
    March 30, 2019 at 11:09 am

    Bonjour from France! I love to see your pictures. It remembers me such good times I spent in SF when I was an au pair in SF in 1984… I always loved spending time in consignment and second-hand stores. When I was a student in Paris it was the only way for me to buy a stylish something… we (with my friends) spent hours in a large one located near our high-school in Paris 16th. In this “bourgeois” area, we were sure to find some really nice high-end pieces… We were also searching among piles of clothes in the Flea market. Even cheaper, sometimes smelling musty and not always very appealing :))… and then we would transform our little treasures cutting, dying them, etc. That was a lot of fun! And I still like it! Congratulations to your two daughters! Such a useful and interesting business. I would have loved to open this kind of shop! I was wondering: facing the competition from many second-hand websites and apps, how brick and mortar consignment stores are doing now? I value very much your answer as a mother of owners 😉

  • Reply
    Diane L
    March 30, 2019 at 11:43 am

    I like it when my clothes have stories: a pretty blouse handed down from a friend, a fabulous jacket from a resale shop, a silk scarf I bought in a museum gift shop. A friend who’s an expert seamstress advised me to “shop by touch” in order to find clothing made from high quality fabrics. Using that guideline, I have found wonderful garments at resale shops, including a jacquard coat made in London that I wore to a wedding. Resale shops also can be great places to find well-made jeans or other pants without spending a lot. Plus, it makes me happy to think of nice clothes continuing to find good homes.

  • Reply
    March 30, 2019 at 5:13 pm

    Mainly I shop for everyday casual clothing at a local consignment store. When I’m getting ready for a vacation I check the ample supply of jeans and pants there. I’ve got a pair in my closet right now. Being the oldest of four sisters, I provided hand me downs to them but I do remember getting things from the older girl next door. She had lovely things and I wore them with pride. My mom made most of our clothes and they are a very precious memory now knowing they were sewn with love.

  • Reply
    March 30, 2019 at 6:43 pm

    Consignment seems to be catching on, because it’s getting harder for me to find anything in my size.

  • Reply
    La semaine d'une gourmette
    April 1, 2019 at 7:24 am

    I started shopping at thrift stores, flea markets and White Elephant sales when I was 16, and it was the only way I could afford those vintage clothes I so loved! I still shop second hand, as a matter of fact my go-to winter coat, a long, comfortable and chic Max Mara one, cost me less than 100$ (those coats are about 8 times that price) a few years ago.
    One of my friends is opening a consignment store 2 weeks from now, I gave her a whole suitcase of stuff to sell (she was overjoyed, it’s not easy to have enough to sell when you start off), and I very much look forward to buying from her too.

  • Reply
    April 2, 2019 at 3:52 am

    I grew up wearing used clothing. I had an older sister and cousin who provided me with enough hand me downs to fill my closet. They were enough older than me so I was always off trend as a teenager. I swore that when I was able to buy my own clothing…nothing would be second hand. The value of mixing consignment or thrifted clothing has not been lost on me as an adult; it just took me a while to learn how to make whatever I wore uniquely my own.

  • Reply
    Trinnie q
    April 3, 2019 at 5:42 am

    Thank you for sharing your family story of love, enveloped by your village of love.So the beautiful cycle of life continues. Good luck on your wonderful journey to motherhood Caitlin. It truly is a beautiful road on which to travel, luckily surrounded by love and support. Sending love to all of you from Oz.

    • Reply
      Trinnie q
      April 5, 2019 at 11:31 pm

      Just realised I put this reply in the wrong space. It was supposed to be in response to the article on the baby shower, and impending arrival, ! Oops ,

  • Reply
    April 5, 2019 at 1:57 pm

    My mom, like yours, was an accomplished seamstress. In late summers, we would go window shopping with her steno notebook. I would pick outfits I liked, she would sketch them right there in the store, then we would head off to the fabric shops. I always started school with three or four nice new outfits. She did alterations, play/musical costumes, dance costumes, wedding dresses, etc. She also made clothing for the Memphis Maid of Cotton to wear at various events. One lady she sewed for would always bring a Kroeger sack (grocery bag) filled with clothes from her daughter (a couple of years older than me). Whenever I knew she was coming for a fitting, I would hang around and try to act like I wasn’t too excited about digging into the sack. In later years, she had a friend who self-medicated by clothing shopping. She would tire of her things quickly then give them to my mom to share with others. Whenever I would go back home to visit, Mother would laugh and say her friend sent a “Kroeger sack” (our code for hand-me-downs). Many of my favorite outfits came from those bags!

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