For those of you who don’t know, ThredUp is an online store where you can buy clothes second-hand. They claim that you’ll be able to save up to 90% off name brand clothing.
Now, before getting into my review of ThredUp, I first have to admit that it’s very difficult for me to buy clothing and I finally cracked the code as to why.
Just roll with me here. There’s an important money point to be made.
I’ve never been one for clothing. It’s just not my jam. In all honesty, I’d much rather spend money on an epic trip than spend money on fashion. I’d also rather put money into an IRA or into savings before going shopping.
However, I was hit with a bit of reality a few years ago. My avoidance of buying decent clothing was coming back to bite me in the ass.
First, because good clothing makes you feel better. When you feel better you do better.
Second, because my career was becoming more public. I’m getting asked to speak for organizations like South Florida Bloggers and the Miami Arts and Business Council. I also make regular TV appearances and at one point I literally had almost nothing to wear because I’d sold all of my former business attire when I was broke.
The point is that I know I can’t get away with jeans and a T-shirt all the time. However, I also really hate spending money on clothing.
Like I do every time I come up against some discomfort with my financial life, I started digging to see a) why I felt so uncomfortable buying clothes even when I need it and b) ways to save money on clothing.
Why I feel like shit when I buy clothes.
How you feel about money does directly impact what you do with your money. In my case, my coach, Nikki Novo, helped me pinpoint why I would feel so terrible after I bought clothing.
The answer is I was living in lack mentality. I’d spent years just trying to survive financially. First, because I was unemployed for so long after graduating. Then, because all I could find was a part-time job. Then, because I was underemployed. And, finally, because I decided to screw regular jobs altogether and go out on my own.
It really wasn’t until 2015 when I experienced a financial shift in my business where I began making decent money. As in, I can pay my bills, save money and have fun. The idea of not having to survive was still new to me.
So what happens?
Whenever I would spend money on something that is not perceived as a necessity, even if I did actually need it and could pay for it without ruining my budget, I felt like shit.
In reality, I’m in the middle of experiencing a new level of my money consciousness. I’m moving out of surviving and into giving myself permission to enjoy some of my money on things that, at first glance, may be deemed as “irresponsible.”
But like I already said, I can’t be walking around naked and I can’t look like a slob, so after giving myself permission to spend money on clothing, the next step is to figure out how to save money on fashion.
How to Save Money On Fashion
Since then, I’ve learned a thing or two about saving money on clothing. My friend Patty coached me on what to wear before my first TV appearance and I met an eco-friendly fashion designer at a blogging event.
When I complained about having to spend a ton of money just to look good, they both gave me the side eye followed by an education. Here are some of the things they taught me.
Buy items you can wear multiple times.
In order to save money on fashion, you have to find items that you can get a lot of wear out of. For example, basics like a white top can be worn in a thousand different ways.
The photo below is a top I got from Elizabeth and Clarke, a subscription box that sends out basics for every season.
I’ve worn that white top at least 100 times with skirts, jeans, and slacks. I can dress it up when I’m speaking like I did at FinCon or I can dress it down when I’m going to the office.
You may also notice how my shoes are a neutral color. This is my favorite pair of heels and you can bet I’ve worn them a thousand different ways too. Now, these items did cost me a little more, which brings me to my next lesson.
Buy better, buy less.
The next step to save money on fashion is to focus on better quality clothing.
Granted, you don’t always have to do this. I have an Old Navy skirt I adore and it only cost me a few bucks. However, in my experience, if I spend money on better quality items I end up spending less in the long run because I don’t have to replace them.
The shoes and the top I mentioned in the above section were more expensive than I what I used to feel comfortable spending on such items. However, they are also better quality than what I used to buy.
Keep an eye out for good sales.
When I met a fashion designer who focuses on eco-conscious clothing, she mentioned how when she lived in New York she would save a ton of money on quality clothing by going to sample sales.
I also learned that, while not as plentiful, these sales do exist in Miami. Furthermore, these sales definitely exist online.
For example, I found out from a friend of mine that Kate Spade has a 70% off online sale a couple of times a year. I signed up for the email list and when the sale came around, I stocked up on every kind of purse I could possibly need for the next few years. I won’t need a new purse for years to come because I’ve got plenty of good quality classic ones, and I bought them all for the regular price of one handbag.
Know what you need and plan accordingly.
One of the reasons I didn’t spend an arm and a leg at the Kate Spade sale is because I knew exactly what I needed and only bought those items. I did the same with my recent order from ThredUp. I knew I needed outfits for speaking engagements and TV appearances so that’s what I focused on.
It’s kind of like grocery shopping. If you go into the store without a list you’re going to spend unnecessary money. It’s the same when you’re buying clothing.
Buy second hand.
The final step to help you save money on fashion is to buy second hand. This is where the ThredUp review comes in.
I’ve tried ThredUp a couple of times now and have overall been pleased with what I’ve gotten.
The skirt in this photo was purchased second-hand from ThredUp. It’s a Brooks Brothers skirt that retails for $198. I got it for $38.99. Receipts below.
The next item is a J.Crew blouse that I am quite frankly completely obsessed with. I wore it twice within the first three days of getting it. Once for an event and then once more again for just another day at the office.
What I like in this blouse, in particular, is that I can dress it up or down. It’s also a good color so I can find multiple ways to wear it. The retail price for this blouse is $110. I got it for $26.99.
Honestly, I have no idea who would spend $110 on a blouse. That seems crazy to me. But hey, someone did and posted it on Thredup so I thrifty shopper like me could enjoy it at 75% off.
Here’s a screenshot of my last order from ThredUp so you can see how much I bought and how much I got it for.
That’s nine items, many from pretty expensive brands for a total of $210 including tax. Now, there’s a $15 credit which I will now explain.
How Returns Work
It’s pretty easy to return items that didn’t work out to ThredUp. All you do is is log in, click on the item you want to return, print the label and ship it for free. If you do it this way you’ll receive store credit. The credit on the above receipt is from a previous order where I returned a couple of items I ended up not liking.
Now, if you want to return an item and get the amount credited to your account, you’ll have to pay for your shipping. In other words, you don’t really get the full amount back. Seeing as how there are times when we have to buy clothing, I’d say just stick with the store credit. I actually got a sweater I needed for free by using store credit.
Things That Didn’t Work
I’ve used ThredUp three times, have ordered a total of 18 items and have only returned three of them. Reason being that, as with any shopping done online, you can’t try the stuff on before you buy it so sometimes things just don’t work out.
Additionally, I haven’t been too impressed with the shoes. I’ll probably continue buying shoes elsewhere precisely so I can try them on.
Overall I think Thredup is a good choice if you need to buy clothing. It’s helping me save money on high-quality clothing so I don’t feel so bad about spending the dough.