Items you will need
Brand name items bought at retail prices can quickly deplete a clothing budget. Gently used clothes are available at far below retail prices at thrift stores and consignment shops. Because these stores carry only clothes that are donated or put up for consignment, it can be difficult to find just the right item in just the right size. However, with preparation and persistence, you can find quality, long-lasting brand name clothing at a reasonable price.
Familiarize yourself with brand-name clothing. Look through your own closet for any favorite brand name items and make a list in your notebook. Include the brand name, a brief description of the garment such as "low rise jeans" or "long-sleeved black top" and label size . Visit high-end clothing stores and try on the clothing, again noting the brand, garment type and size.
Once you have a number of entries in your notebook, look for trends among your tastes. You may find that you especially like the tops made by a particular brand, but their jeans don't fit you well, or you may find that your favorite high-end jeans are labeled a size smaller than the rest of your jeans. This information helps you sort through clothing racks at a thrift or consignment store more quickly.
Shop for clothing at second-hand stores using your notebook as a guide. Be prepared to look in the section for your own size, as well as a size larger and smaller as sizes are not consistent across brands or even among lines of the same brand.
Keep an eye out for other high-end brands of which you might not be aware. Look for high-quality fabrics, impeccable seams and tidy buttonholes. Turn a garment inside out to inspect the inside. Quality garments are finished as beautifully on the inside as on the outside .
Try on a lot of clothing. A brand-name alone does not ensure a great-looking outfit. Make sure the clothes fit you just the way you like. A $10 pair of designer jeans is no bargain if you can't wear them because the jeans don't fit. Examine your finds carefully for rips or stains. Some people only donate their brand-name clothing because they no longer consider it wearable.
Visit thrift stores and consignment shops regularly. While some stores keep older items on the rack indefinitely, many stores use a color-coded tag system to rotate stock every four to six weeks. Many stores re-stock overnight and have the best selection first thing in the morning.
Look for the best deal. Thrift stores may have half-price days or may discount items marked with a certain color of tag. Consignment stores are generally more expensive than thrift stores because the original owner of the clothing receives a portion of the sale price, usually 50 percent. However, the clothing at consignment stores may be extremely high end and is usually in excellent condition.
Bring cash to spend. Some second-hand stores don't take anything else. Shop with a friend to help keep up your personal style on track, and as a second set of eyes to help comb the racks for great finds.
Some secondhand stores do not accept returns or exchanges. Be sure you really want your garment before purchasing.