101 Things to Buy Secondhand

101 things to buy secondhand thredup

National Thrift Shop Day is August 17th and online secondhand retailer, ThredUp, has declared August Secondhand Month. I decided to join up by featuring secondhand outfits and inspiration. Contains affiliate links

Even though I spend up to 40 hours a week working at a thrift shop, it's easy to forget just how many things are available on the secondhand market.

A combination of convenience and incessant marketing discourages most of us from seeking out as many things as possible secondhand, but honestly, the


part of the argument has become, in the age of the internet, a poor excuse.

With relative ease, you can shop millions of secondhand products from your living room.

And if that's not your preferred method, most towns are located near a local charity shop, Goodwill, or used furniture store that round out your options.

Finding something like a used blender may not be as easy as stopping by your local Bed, Bath, & Beyond, but the cost savings and environmental good you're doing more than make up for it (she says after having just purchased a new blender).

Why is secondhand ethical?

The secondhand market is just as it sounds: a secondary market. As such, purchases made from individuals and shops selling secondhand goods do not directly contribute to demand for new goods, which means no person or ecosystem will be further harmed as a result of your purchase (that burden lies on the first consumer of that good, though it also lies on the system that allows exploitation to happen in the first place). Secondhand, in this sense, is an ethics-neutral marketplace.

However, shopping secondhand is also a stop-gap between the initial consumer and the landfill. If you can get even a few more uses out of an item before it's discarded, you're significantly reducing its environmental impact. Not to mention you'll save a lot of money over time.

The List 

Below, I've brainstormed 101 things to buy secondhand and provided links where applicable to help you narrow down your search. And in case you're wondering, yes, I have either personally thrifted or helped others shop for every single thing on this list.

As a general rule, household and clothing items are readily available on Ebay; clothing and accessories are easily accessible through




, and

; and electronics are available from



B&H Photo

. Fun vintage items are easy to find on Etsy. But never forget your local secondhand shops!

101 things to buy secondhand thredup

Without further ado...

101 Things to Buy Secondhand


Online Options:


 (search "pre-owned")

Local Options:

Habitat ReStore, Goodwill, Local Resale, Craigslist

1. French Press or Electric Coffee Maker

2. Pots & Pans

3. Silverware

4. Plates

5. Food Storage containers

6. Sheets

7. Curtains

8. Quilts & Comforters

9. Towels

10. Furniture

11. Bathroom caddies

12. Mirrors & Artwork

13. Picture Frames

14. Tiles & Flooring

15. Cabinetry


Online Options:



B&H Photo



 (search "used" and "refurbished")

Local Options:

Goodwill, Local Resale, Craigslist

16. Computer

17. Camera & Lenses

18. Cell phone

19. TV

20. External Harddrive


Online Options:









Local Options:

Goodwill, Local Resale

21. Tops

22. Pants & Skirts

23. Sundresses

24. Evening & Cocktail Dresses

25. Wedding Dress

26. Socks

27. Bras

28. Pajamas & Loungewear

29. Swimsuits

30. Activewear

31. Scrubs

32. Jackets & Coats

33. Baby & Kids' Clothes

101 things to buy secondhand thredup


Online Options:





Local Options:

 Goodwill, Local Resale

34. Purses

35. Shoes

36. Backpacks & Suitcases

37. Scarves

38. Belts

39. Jewelry

40. Hair Accessories

41. Shopping Totes


Online Options:


 (search "pre-owned")

Local Options:

Local Resale, Goodwill, Habitat ReStore, Craigslist

42. Outdoor Furniture

43. Bird Feeders

44. Sporting Equipment

45. Flower Pots

46. Plant Stands

Baby Equipment*

Online Options:



Local Options:

Craigslist, Local Resale

47. Pack 'n' Plays

48. Strollers

49. Cribs

50. Booster Seats

51. High Chairs

52. Activity Centers

53. Mobiles

*Check safety standards and regulations. It is generally best to avoid buying used safety equipment like car seats. 


Online Options:




(vintage toys)

Local Options:

Goodwill, Local Resale, Craigslist

54. Bikes

56. Stuffed Animals

57. Legos

58. Toddler & Baby Toys

59. Baby Dolls

60. Barbies

61. Melissa & Doug Toys

62. Puzzles

63. Board Games

64. Scooters

65. Video Games & Equipment

66. Card Games


Online Options:


Local Options:

Local Resale, Goodwill, Craigslist

67. Crafting Kits

68. Looms

69. Yarn

70. Knitting Needles

71. Fabric

72. Ribbon

73. Buttons

74. Thread

75. Sewing Machines

76. DIY Books

77. Sewing Patterns

78. Canning Jars

79. Craft Storage Cases

80. Paint

82. Markers, Crayons, Colored Pencils, etc.

83. Canvases & Stretcher Bars

101 things to buy secondhand thredup


Online Options:


 (search "pre-owned"),

Better World Books

Local Options:

Local Resale, Goodwill, Vintage Shops, Craigslist

84. DVDs

85. Records

86. CDs

87. Books

88. Audio Books

89. Magazines (these are often free at thrift shops or libraries)

90. Record & CD Players


Online Options:


 (search "pre-owned")

Local Options:

 Habitat ReStore, Goodwill, Local Resale, Craigslist

91. Blender

92. Toaster

93. Washer & Dryer

94. Dish Washer

95. Food Processor

96. Knife Sharpener


Online Options:


 (search "pre-owned")

Local Options:

 Habitat ReStore, Goodwill, Local Resale, Craigslist

98. Carpentry Machinery

99. Screwdrivers & Drills

100. Hardware


Online Options:


Local Options:

Goodwill, Local Resale

101. Sealed Toiletries

Once you sit down and think about it, you realize that items available on the secondhand market are virtually infinite. A little forethought goes a long way.

101 things to buy secondhand thredup

What's the weirdest or most surprising thing you've purchased secondhand?

Secondhand Halloween: My Madeline Costume

thrifted halloween costume - Madelinethrifted halloween costume - Madelinethrifted halloween costume - Madelinethrifted halloween costume - Madeline
Ethical Details: Jacket, dress, blouse, sash, socks, and hat  - thrifted; Shoes - Frye

I love making costumes out of secondhand and thrifted goods because it forces me to get creative. I find no joy in buying a pre-made costume when I can hunt for the perfect details at charity shops.

I picked up this hat, which I've affectionately been calling my Madeline hat, last year in California. It's what inspired this costume. I purchased the rest of my outfit at a local thrift shop. Not a perfect match with Madeline's swing coat, but I could still see her wearing it.

See how Madeline wore it here.

Happy Halloween!

second hand challenge: outfit 1, black and white stripes

second hand outfit
low back top
strappy flats
black and white outfit
Ethical Details: Top - thrifted; Skirt - secondhand via Thredup; Shoes - upcycled

I take it for granted how much of my wardrobe belonged to someone else before it got to me. Working at a thrift shop, you can lose track of how much you're taking home with you. When I bought this blouse (for $3.50), I remember thinking it wasn't quite my style and wondering if I'd actually get around to wearing it, but I love the plunging back and the fit of it so much that it's become one of my favorite pieces. 

That's not always the case, though. I've made a lot of terrible impulse buys that I end up re-donating. Still, I've had pretty good luck getting things I love at second hand shops. In the past month alone, I've purchased a cashmere cardigan ($3.50), practically new Urban Outfitters duster ($3.50), Sam Edelman Petty Booties ($3.99!), and a current season J. Crew top ($10.00) from thrift shops and ebay. (You may be asking, "But what about your capsule wardrobe?" at this point, and to be honest with you, that's up in the air; that project really helped me figure out my style and narrow down my purchases, but the seasons here are so unpredictable that I haven't been ready to start it.)

I know a lot of people find no thrill in sorting through poorly organized racks of second hand clothes (I can't imagine why! JK), but it's definitely worth your while to take a quick look around a second hand shop before splurging on a new item. You'll save money and give old things another chance to see the light of day. 

the moral wardrobe: after the storm

Ethical Details: Top - thrifted; Skirt - secondhand via ebay; Sandals - thrifted; Earrings - handmade by Hannah Naomi via Ash & Rose

Man, the past couple of weeks have been rough. So much being-a-grown-up required at every turn. Difficulties at work, last minute deadlines, flights to schedule, complicated talks with the duplex mates. It's one thing after another. When it all piles up at once like this, I often do two things: shop and have a crisis of self esteem. Though, as expected, these things did happen, I managed them a little better. Instead of spending money on fast fashion (or even slow fashion), I bought myself some Chik-Fil-A and got a hair cut. Instead of angrily picking my pimples, I put on a little extra makeup and got on with the week. I'm trying to go easy on myself without throwing in the towel and it's helped immensely to just simplify my routine and put on things that make me feel comfortable.

I know I've been an adult for several years now, but 26 has been the transformative year of actually feeling like one. It's not always good, but I am managing. And I think, more than anything, it's the confidence that I can manage it that makes me feel grown up.

inside an ethical wardrobe: spring 2015

ethical capsule wardrobe

Spring has sprung here in Charlottesville, so I'm back with another installment of my "Inside an Ethical Wardrobe" series. See my winter post here and my jewelry post here.


I've been in aggressive spring cleaning mode for several weeks and I've finally been able to part with a lot of things I was holding onto because of their nostalgic or "practical" value. I'm a firm believer that it's ok to have an attachment to things that remind of us people, places, and experiences we love, but it was time to clear out old high school event t-shirts and ill-fitting blouses.

striped tees

I'm left with a reasonable, varied assortment of knit cotton tops, including several v-necks from Everlane, a few fair trade statement tops, a couple old items purchased from conventional retailers, and several thrifted items.

Note that a few things are missing either because I was wearing them or they were in the wash, but this is a pretty accurate representation of my wardrobe.

thrifted cardigan

I'm a cardigan lover, so I have about double what's depicted here, including a mustard yellow cardigan (an old purchase) I'm wearing while I write this post, a wrap cardigan (made in USA), and a thrifted shawl collar cardigan.

spring skirts wardrobe

I love skirts for spring and summer, particularly midi and maxi skirts that allow me to move freely without fearing my skirt will fly up. The above skirts are (clockwise from top left): Fleet Collection (made in USA), thrifted, secondhand via thredUP, Mata Traders (fair trade), and thrifted. I have a black skirt from thredUP coming in the mail this week.

ethical dresses

And finally, a mess of dresses. About half of my dresses are fair trade and the other half are thrifted or vintage. The ones pictured here are (clockwise from top): thrifted, Nomads, Synergy Organic, thrifted, vintage, and fair trade/sustainable from Gaia Couture.

I left out a few rarely worn graphic tees, formal dresses, and two button-ups that I keep around for professional events. I'll do a separate post for shoes and accessories later.

And just a quick reminder that this isn't a capsule wardrobe. The items I photographed in my winter wardrobe post are still in regular rotation when the weather is suitable for them. Maybe it's my Florida upbringing, but I prefer to wear as much of my wardrobe as possible year round. In fact, I'm wearing my high waist jeans today.

the moral wardrobe: clothing swap

Finally, my clothing swap dreams have come true! I've wanted to attend or host a clothing swap since I first heard about them years ago, but it just never came together. But my friend, Natasha, who's moving to Austin, asked a few of us if we wanted to go through her old clothes before she donated them and I asked if she'd like to do a clothing swap instead. We headed over to her house last weekend with a couple bags of clothes each and laid out our goods for our friends to sort through. 

clothing swap

It's rather embarrassing to see how much one person can accumulate over time, but it's also a lot of fun to see your friends in your old clothes. A shirt can look totally different on someone with a different frame and I think we were all pleasantly surprised that, despite our varying sizes, we all found something that suited us. We donated the rest to the thrift shop where I work.

menswear inspired outfit
cropped jeans look
Ethical Details: Cardigan - secondhand via swap; Top - made in USA; Jeans - thrifted; Ear Cuff (not shown) - secondhand via swap

I got this cardigan from my friend, Greta. It's been funny watching her husband slowly realize that all of his wife's friends are wearing her old clothes.

the moral wardrobe: a blustery day

j crew camel sweater
j crew camel sweater
j crew camel sweater
Ethical Details: Sweater - secondhand via ebay; Skirt - thrifted; Earrings - Ten Thousand Villages; Socks - SmartWool

Winnie the Pooh: Happy "Winds-day", Piglet.
Piglet: [being blown away] Well... it isn't... very happy... f-for me.
Winnie the Pooh: Where are you going, Piglet?
Piglet: That's what I'm asking myself, where?
[he is lifted into the air by a gust of wind]
Piglet: W-Whoops! P-P-P-Pooh!
Winnie the Pooh: [grabbing Piglet's scarf] And what do you think you will answer yourself?

A volunteer at the shop died on Monday. I didn't know her well, but she was a part of the thrift shop family, so it's been a hard week for everyone. You never get used to death. You never get used to seeing someone alive and animated, getting into their car, saying "See you next week," and then never seeing them again.

the moral wardrobe: hoosier

Ethical Details: Coat - thrifted; Scarf- thrifted; Boots - secondhand via ebay; Sweater - secondhand via ebay; Tee (not shown) - Everlane

I come from a long line of Hoosiers. My ancestors on both sides hail from Indiana and I lived there for nine years before moving to Florida. We road tripped over to Lapel, a tiny town outside of Indianapolis, to visit my mother's mother while we were with my parents for Christmas. The field behind the house used to be active farmland, but the owner lost interest several years ago. The local gossip is that they're going to turn it into a softball diamond. 

My grandpa used to sit outside on the back porch and watch the birds for hours. There was a big old tree that attracted larger birds and hummingbird feeders strung at the edge of the porch. The tree is gone now and so is Grandpa.

the moral wardrobe: migraine weather

gap moto jacket
black and white outfit personal style
madden girl combat boots
thrifted outfit
Ethical Details: Top - thrifted; Skort - thrifted; Leggings - uber old; Socks - SmartWool

I was inspired by my thrift post to put together a thrifted outfit. With a little more thought, I could have easily gone full thrift, but, you know, I was getting dressed midday after a morning of blogging and it was surprisingly warm outside and I just needed to move forward with the day. 

I got this skort early on in college and am sort of horrified that I used to wear it without leggings underneath, as it's awfully short. Black and white pattern mixing is one of my favorite ways to make an outfit more interesting, but I also wanted to add some color with my jean jacket. 

The light in these photos is pretty crazy! Winter light has arrived, the kind that's so clear and white-bright it threatens to give you a migraine if you stay outside too long. I narrowly averted one this afternoon.

Do you have an old item in your closet that you'd second guess wearing now?

the moral wardrobe: practically summer

Ethical Details: Top - vintage; Cardigan - thrifted; Earrings - Mata Traders; Shoes - old

You guys, it's practically summer outside today. Woo hoo! High of 71. They're predicting snow for Wednesday, so I've got to savor this while I can.

I've got one day of work tomorrow, followed by various reunions. I hope to visit with a friend from high school early in the week before heading to my father-in-law's wife's parents' house for Thanksgiving. Hope you're also on your way to a festive week.

tradesy: secondhand shoes galore

I know that the thought of wearing used shoes makes some people nauseous, but I've never taken issue with it. In fact, probably 1/3 of the shoes I own are secondhand. In a consumer culture dominated by 5-week trend cycles, people are doomed to impulse buy, which leaves a lot of gently used stuff on the secondhand market to trawl through.

I've typically thrifted or searched ebay to find secondhand shoes, but the popularity of online shopping has resulted in all sorts of new places to shop for secondhand goods.

I discovered Tradesy over the weekend. It's a mashup between the Ebay/Etsy, direct-from-the-seller approach and more curated sites like thredup and Twice. Basically, an individual lists items, which are placed both within their personal shop and within the larger marketplace. Once an item sells, the Tradesy team processes the order and sends the seller packaging materials, which the seller then uses to ship the item to the customer. Items ship free and returns are free, as well.

Tradesy's setup isn't perfect. Items that sell out are delayed from removal while the site waits to confirm the order with the seller, which means the customer has to scroll through a lot of extraneous listings to find something she can actually buy. But they're the best I've found when it comes to shoes. Prices tend to fall in ebay ranges with the advantage of avoiding the auction and having your item ship free.

the moral wardobe: color of the week

wa1 wa4wa2
Outfit Details: Top - H&M / Skirt - secondhand / Jacket - secondhand / Shoes - ASOS

Now that my hair is on its third color in a month, people have begun asking, "what color will it be next week?" I never thought of myself as the new-hair-color-every-week type, but I guess that's what I've become. I don't plan on making any more changes for awhile, though, so cross your fingers that the color doesn't fade into some weird green-blonde.

Things are looking rather autumnal these days, so I had the chance to wear a jacket I bought several months ago to our monthly potluck. We spent the evening telling (mostly bad) jokes, eating crepes and salad and delicious varieties of cheese, and participating in general merrymaking.

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the moral wardrobe: mauve

personal style pink hair ma6ma2
 Outfit Details: Top - very old / Skirt - thrifted / Sandals - old / Necklace - handmade via etsy

No, I didn't re-dye my hair. It just faded into a unique shade of coppery pink over the past couple weeks. I like how well it matches the bricks on my house and the colors in my skirt.

We did a major overhaul of the thrift shop layout over the weekend. It was a lot of work (way more physical labor than I'm used to), but I can already see positive results. Customers gushed about the ease of their shopping experience now that the clutter is gone and everything has its place. I love being able to see the fruits of my labor. That sort of direct feedback can be hard to come by outside of school.

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Fashion Project


fashionproject by fracturedradiance on Polyvore

Fashion Project is a new-ish online secondhand clothing retailer with one important difference from other companies in its market: 55% of proceeds go to charity.

The company focuses on well known, mid to high end designers and the site is distinctively modern, with clean lines and minimal use of color. It's a cool place to be. From a quick sampling of items within several categories, clothing is priced in about the same range as Thredup's higher end pieces (but noticeably lower on designer shoes), but the site layout and product images and descriptions are considerably better.

I don't tend to buy much from Fashion Project's preferred brands (Trina Turk, Elie Tahari, Anne Fontaine), so I don't really know where to start, but I think they're capable of appealing to a unique niche within the secondhand market, and that's a great thing. The more the merrier.

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the moral wardobe: edge


So, the fashion show went well. It was a crazy, fun, stressful, exciting experience and I'm glad I participated. I learned I can, in fact, walk a runway with ease and I made lots of new friends in the process. I encourage all of you to take a small step outside your comfort zone to see what you can achieve if you allow yourself to go with the flow.

I'll post photos from the show as soon as I have access to them.

Ethical choices are bolded below. Retailers taking steps to become more ethical are bolded in gray.

  • Top - H&M

  • Dress - secondhand via Thredup

  • Flats - Blowfish, last season

  • Earrings - handmade via ofmatter on etsy

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the moral wardrobe: fusion

sporty style st6ethical outfit modcloth

This outfit is a cross between referee and newsie. Refersie? Newseree?

I always forget I have this hat. Freshman year of college, my then boyfriend and I walked all the way to the transit station to take the bus to the mall, where I bought this at Gap under his sartorial guidance. That was a very short relationship, but I'll always have this hat to remind me - for better or for worse - of that strange, idealistic time in my life.

Ethical choices are bolded below. Retailers taking steps to become more ethical are bolded in gray.

  • Hat - Gap, quite old

  • Top - made in USA via ModCloth

  • Skirt - secondhand via ebay

  • Leggings - Old Navy

  • Boots - vintage via etsy

  • Earrings - handmade via etsy

On a different note, 12 Months, 12 Goals is suffering from recent life chaos, but I plan to do a recap post for last month and start up this month by next week!

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the moral wardrobe: paisley

threadsence paisely dress pa6mod look

I often use polyvore to create outfits out of things I already own. When I combined this dress with these ruby red sneaker wedges, I knew I'd come up with something I would love to wear. And sure enough, the pair worked just as perfectly in real life as it did on my computer monitor.

I've wanted red boots and sneaker wedges for a few months now, so when it dawned on me that I could combine those two things into one pair of shoes, I got busy searching through ebay for a great secondhand pair. The ones I ended up with are by Skechers and they're really comfortable.

Ethical choices are bolded below. Retailers taking steps to become more ethical are bolded in gray.

  • Dress - made in USA, won in Threadsence giveaway

  • Black top - H&M

  • Leggings - Old Navy

  • Earrings - handmade via etsy

  • Shoes - secondhand via ebay

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the moral wardrobe: hello bob

m2 m6m4

This is the hair cut I've been envisioning for months. Those pixie cut layers just kept holding on, so it took until now to achieve it. Paired with an oversized collar, the top part of this look feels a bit mod to me.

Daniel and I hosted the monthly Young Adults church potluck on Saturday night. The house was packed full of people I love having interesting conversations and munching on delicious homemade platters. I never expected to love entertaining as much as I do because it feels so quintessentially domestic, but it's great to see people enjoying themselves and know you helped make it happen.

Ethical choices are bolded below. Retailers taking steps to become more ethical are bolded in gray.

  • Top - made in USA

  • Collar -handmade by Luminia

  • Skirt - vintage

  • Leggings - old

  • Shoes - old American Eagle

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12 months, 12 goals: shop secondhand

secondhand shopping

"...thrifting is also the moral choice in a 'fast fashion' consumer culture that strips the earth of resources and people of their dignity to meet our insatiable demand for more. It’s time that we take responsibility for our purchasing power. It’s time that we’re made aware of how our weekend hauls at the mall impact and exploit workers at the foundation of the retail chain (from my article for Relevant Magazine, Why I Buy Secondhand)."

When I published my article for Relevant online last May, I was convinced that thrifting was the absolute best alternative to fast fashion retail shopping. Thanks to thought provoking comments and conversations since then, I realize it has its downsides. For one, we can't simply stop producing new garments, because this jeopardizes the livelihoods of milllions of individuals who work in the clothing industry. In the long term, it also thwarts creativity and innovation. But I do think we could stand to downsize the industry altogether.

Those arguments aside, there's no doubt that thrift shopping is a positive endeavor. When I buy something from my local thrift, I save money, recycle, give money back to my community, and avoid increasing demand for unethically produced garments.

thrift haul

On a recent trip to Goodwill, I bought a sweater, J. Crew top, lace crop top, and two striped shirts for a total of $15.00. Had I purchased these new, I likely would have spent over $100.00. I also would have implicitly contributed to unsafe cotton farming practices, depressed factory wages, and unethical sales practices (see my post on retail theater).

Secondhand shopping is the easiest, most immediately effective way to redirect one's spending, but it's not the end all, be all of the fair trade lifestyle. I see it as the foundation of ethical spending, which is why I placed it at the beginning of my 12 Months, 12 Goals challenge.

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