I love high-end clothes.
I love shopping at Nordstrom, Von Maur, Dillards, Macy’s and small boutiques.
The problem. I can’t afford to shop at Nordstrom, Von Maur, Dillards, Macy’s and small boutiques all the time. Either I’d go broke or I’d end up in a divorce.
(While I understand there are stores for “affordable fashion” – thank you Target and Forever 21 – after you hit a certain age, it is WORTH IT to have better-made clothes. They fit better and last longer. Especially less trendy items like jeans, dresses and blazers.)
My solution for the last few years…thredUP.
thredUP is an online consignment store filled with THOUSANDS of items – jeans, jackets, dresses, shirts, shoes, handbags, scarves, belts and more – from department store brands like Kate Spade, VINCE Camuto, Joe’s Jeans, Hudson, CABI, Michael Kors and more.
I’ve been shopping with thredUP for over four years. And during that time I’ve learned (and read a few) tips and tricks on how to buy high-end clothes on thredUP. Hopefully, a few of these can help you save a few dollars too.
How To Shop For High-End Clothes On thredUP
1. Know your brands. If Banana Republic clothing never fits or flatters you when you buy it new, it’s unlikely to start magically fitting when it’s secondhand. So, if you’re a love Karen Kane or J.Crew or Anthropologie lover, look for those brands first – – you’ll know what their sizing means and you’ll have a good feel for their style and fit.
2. Know your measurements. One the keys to success with online consignment shopping – knowing and understanding measurements. (Want a PHD in measurements and body type – and never buy ill-fitting clothes again – check out the course at Adore Your Wardrobe.) thredUP does a great job of providing key information about inseam, rise, chest-size and length. By comparing that information to your measurements, you are more likely to make a great buy.
3. Have a goal. It’s one thing to waste an hour at Nordstrom without any particular idea of what you want to buy because they have things organized beautifully and mannequins all over the stores to give you outfit ideas. But don’t do that on thredUP – it will be overwhelming and black-hole time suck. You’ll have a greater chance for success when you enter the site thinking, “I need a new pair of black jeans” or “I’d like a striped sweatshirt”.
4. Look frequently. You know how some people unwind for the day by looking at Facebook for twenty minutes? Get the thredUP app and browse thredUP instead. I browse through my “saved searches” several times a week because inventory turns over quickly, and you never know what might pop up. In fact, I always click on “New Arrivals” to see the new additions since the last time I browsed.
5. Use the filters. Filters help you narrow things down really quickly. For instance, if you decide you need a few new t-shirts for the summer months, filter to tops, then ones with short-sleeves with a scoop or v-neck in your size, then pick a color – each filter will reduce your number of options to a more manageable amount. Or if you love CABI shirts, search CABI, then narrow it down to size. Everything can be filtered down.
6. Create a personal shop. I love Joe’s Jeans. I know that I am a size 28 or 29 and my inseam has to at least be 31 inches. So instead of “filtering” this search one more time, I created a personal shop with this information. I just go to “My Account”, “Personal Shop” and click the “saved shop” and instantly the items available will pop up on my screen.
7. Know the value. In my opinion, the greatest value ratios are jeans and shoes. The majority of the time, you are able to get both for at least 50% off and sometimes as much as 75% off. Shirts and dresses have the least value ratio, usually only 30 – 40% off.
8. Buy higher-end than you might normally. One of the big draws of thredUP is that you can buy a $95 J.Crew top for $15. That’s a HUGE saving…so don’t waste your time looking at Target or Old Navy clothes. Move up! Besides, higher-end clothes fit so much better.
9. If you like it, put it in your cart. Once you put an item in your cart, you lay “claim” on it for a few hours. Which is nice, if it is a larger purchase and you want a few hours to “think about it”. But don’t wait too long, the most popular items on thredUP sell fast (and I’ve lost a killer blazer or two for waiting too long).
10. Buy off-season. In general, people get rid of their summer clothes in early Fall and their winter clothes in early Spring. If you commit to buying in the off-season, you’ll have a better selection and less competition.
11. Shop the sales. thredUp has semi-annual sales where merchandise is marked down even lower. Just like a regular consignment store, they have to make room for new inventory. What does that mean? That trench coat from J. Crew you’ve been eyeing…it’s an extra 20% off.
12. Coupon codes. In addition to the already low prices, thredUp has coupon codes. First, when you sign-up as a new customer, you’ll receive $10 credit. Plus, use code DEC40 at checkout and receive 40% off your first purchase. (This makes those higher-end items even more reasonable – SCORE.) Plus, receive more coupon codes when you sign up for their emails and use their mobile app. (Note, the coupons are time sensitive and usually last only a few hours.)
13. Keep in mind the clearance items. Unfortunately, while the clearance items are the best bargain (90% off), they aren’t returnable. If you aren’t 100% sure, pass.
14. Take advantage of FREE shipping. Shipping is free with a $79 purchase, plus your return is also free. Because online consignment is bargain hunting, it always good to have LOTS of options, knowing that you most likely will be returning a few of the things anyway.
15. Try things on twice (or three times). When you get your box from thredUP, try everything on. You may find that you immediately put things back in the box to return that you don’t like. The ones that you do decide to keep? Try those things on again a day or so later to make sure you really want them. Plus, because this is consignment, so make sure the item doesn’t have any holes or stains.
16. Return things that don’t fit. When something comes from thredUP that doesn’t quite fit or flatter you, resist the urge to say “well, it was only $5.” Send it back. Think about choosing to get your refund as in store credit so that you can get free shipping the next time you make an order.
17. Consider selling on thredUp. Selling is a great way to make a little thredUp credit. It’s super easy, too. Just go into “My Account” and “My Selling History” and request a bag. Fill the bag and send it back. thredUp will pick the items they want to sell and pay you upfront. Items they didn’t want? You can either pay to have the items sent back or have them donated. Plus, when you sell on thredUP, you receive $10 credit instantly. As you can see, I’ve sold many items to thredUp and have been pleased with my payouts. In general, you’ll receive between 10 – 20% of the retail value.
Are you ready to get started using thredUP? It’s such an easy way to get high-end clothes for Target or Forever 21 prices. Use some of my tips and trick for how to shop for high-end clothes on thredUP and you’ll be rocking designer jeans and dresses in no time.