Last updated May 9, 2020.
One of the most common requests I get from readers is for tips on how to shop for consignment clothing. Y’all know I love shopping consignment! It’s a great way to get the look you want for less, all while being good to the earth!
Shopping consignment is a sustainable way to shop. You are purchasing something that has already been made rather than creating more demand and putting additional strain on the earth’s resources. Shopping consignment also helps keep perfectly good clothing from stacking up in landfills.
Here are my tips for how to have a successful online consignment shopping experience.
1. Decide Whether Online Consignment Shopping is Right for You
Online consignment shopping has a lot of benefits. While a brick-and-mortar store only pulls inventory from the local community, consignment websites give you access to closets all over the world, so chances are high you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for! You can also shop at any time of the day or night, all without leaving your house. The only downsides are that you can’t try on the item before purchasing, and returns may or may not be an option depending on what site you are using.
Consignment shopping in a store comes with the benefit of being able to try on and examine the clothes in person prior to purchasing. The downsides to shopping in a store are that the selection is more limited than online, and you can’t necessarily shop at 2:00 AM when you suddenly realize you could use a new pair of heels.
If you have decided that you’re more of an in-store consignment shopper, click here for tips on in-person consignment store shopping. Otherwise, keep reading for more tips on online consignment shopping!
2. Choose a Website That Works for You
The number of consignment shopping websites and apps continues to grow! Here are just a couple of the websites/apps that are available to get you started on your search to find one that resonates with you:
Poshmark is a platform that allows individuals to sell new and used clothing and accessories. You are buying directly from another individual, and Poshmark takes a cut for providing the platform. You can make an offer on an item or buy outright at the full list price. Poshmark provides a priority mail shipping label to make the shipping process convenient and standard. They do not offer returns. Poshmark has women’s, men’s, and children’s categories. It started exclusively as a clothing and accessories platform, and while it has recently expanded into home goods, it remains primarily clothing- and accessories-focused.
You can get a $10 credit for signing up for Poshmark using invite code CUPCAKE4815.
thredUP is an online thrift store that purchases secondhand clothing and accessories from individuals and then sells them. You are purchasing from thredUP rather than an individual seller. They have women’s and children’s categories and only sell clothing and accessories. thredUP ships to the U.S. and Canada. Some items are eligible for returns, sometimes with a small restocking fee.
The original reselling website, eBay is a platform where you buy directly from an individual/company, and eBay takes a commission. You can shop for new or used goods. Each individual seller decides whether they will sell their item auction-style to the highest bidder or whether there is a set price. Each seller also determines their shipping fee and shipping method, and some sellers accept returns while others don’t. eBay offers women’s, men’s, and kids’ clothing categories (along with categories for just about anything else you can think of).
Like Poshmark, Mercari is a platform where you can buy new or used goods directly from another individual, with Mercari taking a percentage fee. They offer women’s, men’s, and kids’ clothing categories, in addition to many other categories of goods. Mercari provides shipping labels to the seller to standardize shipping and does not offer returns.
Consignment Store Websites
Some brick-and-mortar consignment stores also post their inventory for sale on their website. If you have a favorite consignment shop, check out their website to see if they are selling online as well.
3. Know What You’re Shopping For
Unless you have a ton of time on your hands, I highly recommend you go consignment shopping with a mission. Consignment websites and apps are rarely specialized and typically carry a whole lot of everything. You can waste a lot of time scrolling as you browse for something that catches your eye!
Instead, know what you are searching for so you can narrow down your search and streamline how many racks you are sorting through. For example, maybe you know you want to add white jeans and a pair of wedges to your closet. Browsing the jeans and shoes is much more manageable than looking at everything in the store!
4. Use Filters to Your Advantage
One of the best parts about shopping online for consignment clothing is that you have search filters available to help find what you’re looking for! This a huge benefit over in-person shopping. For example, I was recently searching for a pair of shoes to wear to a wedding. Once in the “Shoes” section on thredUP, I was able to refine my results by type to Heels and include only the colors Tan, Ivory, and Black. This way I was only browsing through shoes that fit the general style and color requirements I had in mind.
Use these search filters to your advantage! It saves time.
5. Scrutinize for Quality
Once an item catches your eye, look at the listing and photos closer. In the photos, look for stains, snags, rips, holes, fading, or pilling. Carefully read the listing and note whether the seller comments on the condition or mentions any flaws. If no statements have been made about the condition, ask! I always ask if there are flaws prior to purchasing or making an offer. This is very important since many online consignment sites do not offer returns. It’s also important for your own protection. If a seller has not disclosed an item’s flaws when you have asked, you may be able to get a refund.
6. Do Some Research
Because many online consignment sites do not offer returns, it is important to do a little research to figure out whether an item is for you. For example, you might go to the brand’s website to learn more about the item. When I was considering a pair of Albion Fit pants on Poshmark recently, I went to Albion Fit’s website to learn more about their sizing and to read reviews about the pants.
You can also learn more about an item by going to an in-person store. Yes, I went to Victoria’s Secret last year to try on workout leggings for sizing information. When I got back in my car, I promptly pulled up the Poshmark app and purchased a pair of identical leggings that were being offered secondhand for a fraction of the price. I knew they would fit and that I would love them because I had just tried them on!
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Contact Customer Service if Something Isn’t Right
I have purchased online consignment quite a bit and have only encountered issues (i.e. undisclosed flaws) a couple of times. Each time, I promptly reached out to customer service for the particular site I purchased from, and each time, the situation was rectified. Yes, it’s frustrating to receive an item with unexpected issues, and thankfully it doesn’t happen often. But when it doesn’t happen, don’t be afraid to find a solution. That way you can protect your resources and ensure that untruthful sellers are dealt with appropriately, making the online consignment experience better for everyone.
I hope these tips were helpful and that you’ll give online consignment shopping a try! If you have other online consignment shopping tips, please drop them in the comments below!
P.S. – For more sustainable fashion posts, click here!
P.P.S. – This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you purchase a product using a link from this post. Read more here about my disclaimers/disclosures.