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November 9, 2015

I've gone almost a year without buying a new item of clothing — albeit unintentionally.

I’m not on some shopping hiatus as part of a New Year's resolution or a challenge to save money. I’ve subconsciously chosen to shop secondhand because I’ve found every item on my list this year by rummaging through thrift shops.

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I prefer buying secondhand clothing because it's a more environmentally friendly way to shop. On average, every American tosses 82 pounds of textiles a year. These fabrics ultimately end up in landfills, where they are left to decompose. Certain fabrics — your Nylons, rayons, polyesters, and other synthetic materials — are essentially plastics and can take decades to break down. As consumers, the best thing we can do for the environment is to shop for secondhand clothes or clothing made with natural fibers like cotton and hemp.

Though secondhand shopping may seem tricky, it isn’t as difficult as you'd think. The first time I stepped into a Goodwill store was to find furniture three years ago and I ended up stumbling across a pair of boyfriend jeans that I still wear frequently.

The trick to curating a closet you love with secondhand items is flexibility. You may not find the exact item you're looking for right away, but you will find something similar. Next time you're on the hunt for a new outfit, throw on some comfortable clothes and check out a secondhand store using these five tips:

1. Never shop without a plan.

Secondhand stores have an abundance of clothes, which can feel overwhelming. I don’t like going into one without a plan because I end up making impulse purchases. To create my shopping list, I go on Pinterest and create a board of "want" items and "need" items. My list covers pieces for the entire year, and fills the various holes in my wardrobe. By keeping a list for the entire year, I put less pressure on myself to find what I’m looking for in a short amount of time. I bought my favorite camel coat at Goodwill this spring, even though I knew it would be a while before I got to wear it.

Here's a peek into a few secondhand looks I've pulled together from this year's fall wish list:

I found this perfect Lou & Grey top from Crossroads Trading Co. on my very first shopping trip. #thriftscore
This easy shift dress, also from Crossroads Trading, is just what I was looking for
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2. Know which store to go to.

Secondhand stores differ in what they sell and how they display their clothes. Some are easier to sift through, and others require glancing over many clothing racks. If you are looking for an easier shopping experience with trendy in-season items, Crossroads Trading Co. or Brickyard Buffalo are both good bets. Savers separates their clothes by category and size, which makes shopping less stressful, but their items aren't always trendy or in-season.

Shopping at Goodwill takes more time and patience because there are usually more clothes to search through, and they aren’t always organized in the most efficient ways. Nonetheless, I’ve managed to find some great high-end pieces there.

3. Shop online.

Buying secondhand has gotten so much easier with the expansion of online options like eBay and Thred Up. Ease your way into secondhand shopping by checking out these two sites. You can find brand name, gently worn clothing and accessories without leaving your home. My tip for shopping online is to look at the brand name to determine quality. Oftentimes, brand names can give you an idea about how long the item may last.

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4. Make sure you love it.

This tip doesn’t just go for secondhand items, but for shopping in general. Make sure you love what you are buying. If you are unsure, don’t buy it, because you may be taking that item away from someone who would have cherished it and worn it often. When I’m shopping, I always visualize three different ways I could wear an item to justify my purchases.

5. Don’t disregard the power of a good tailor.

If you buy something you absolutely love, don’t be discouraged if the fit isn’t perfect. I’ve tailored a couple of items I bought from secondhand stores because they had minor issues that could be easily fixed. If you're really unsure about buying something that needs alterations, take a picture of yourself wearing it and take it to a tailor to ask their opinion.

Related read: 7 Fun Ways To Save Money On Clothes (That You've Never Tried)

Preview Photo Credit: Stocksy

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