I Only Shopped Secondhand for the Month of January—Honestly, It Was Thrilling


"Welcome to I Tried It Month, where we’ll be publishing a new fashion, beauty, or wellness article every day that features a first-person account of shaking up an old habit, pushing beyond a comfort zone, or simply trying something new. Follow along for 31 days of storytelling, including everything from trying new beauty treatments to copying the most risqué runway looks of the season."

I'm not going to lie—I love shopping for something new. Most months I acquire a handful of items from Zara, Mango, H&M, and the like, occasionally splurging on an investment piece to elevate my wardrobe and feel on-trend. This is not an easy habit to break. It is quite literally my job as a shopping editor to cover all things au courant—from the newest arrivals, latest It pieces, most cutting-edge brands, and contemporary designers. Because of this, there's always a desire to acquire these new pieces for myself and an eagerness to stay relevant in the ever-changing, fast-paced fashion world in which I'm immersed in.

As much as I try to shop intentionally, I often end up with an overflowing wardrobe at the end of every season, which I only end up wearing a small percentage of.


(Image credit: @joiedejude; Styling: Vintage blazer from Etsy)

In an effort to slow down my fast-fashion roll, and get out of the habit of always shopping for the "new," I thought that Who What Wear's I Tried It Month would be a great opportunity to start shopping secondhand again. I say this again because I am no stranger to thrifting, hunting for vintage, and shopping for pre-loved pieces. In fact, many of my earliest and (and fondest) childhood memories is scuffling through racks of musty old clothes at the local secondhand store with my mother. It's a custom I continued as a strapped-for-cash student and a shopping ritual I wholly believe lead to my enduring and adoring love affair with fashion.

Now, somewhere between getting caught up in my job, having two kids, being strapped for time, and to be honest, starting to make a decent salary where I could actually afford more "new" things, I let this eco-friendly shopping habit fall to the wayside. 


You'll be glad to hear, however, shopping solely secondhand this month has well and truly changed my mindset. There's no question, I love the benefits of shopping pre-owned clothes—it's cost-effective, favors quality over quantity, offers affordable access to designer heritage brands (hello, Gucci and Chanel), it encourages sustainability (a topic I've truly come to understand and appreciate as I've matured), and, of course, it maintains individualism—something that always excites me—there is nothing like integrating something special and one-of-a-kind into my outfits that I know no-one else in the room will be wearing.


(Image credit: @joiedejude; Styling: Vintage jacket, silk scarf, and leather bag)

With the secondhand market booming and such a wide variety of online sellers and sites catering to every sartorial taste, there's really no reason not to shop secondhand and sustainably right now. Depop's Brand and Marketing Director Steve Dool, gave me some insight, "As we step into 2023, we expect the secondhand shopping market, which is projecting $82 billion sales by 2026, to continue experiencing dynamic growth, especially as we see an increase in Gen-Z spending power as they enter the global workforce and continue to prioritize sustainable and circular fashion at lower price points."

And as I found throughout the month, it's actually really fun to integrate some of this year's biggest trends and aesthetics with vintage and thrifted finds. "There are definitely a lot of us who feel ready to show up and bring a little life to our wardrobe in the new year. Four trend immersions we're watching closely at Depop include Aquascape, Grunge Sleaze, Retro-Fits, Celestial and New Neutrals." explains Dool.

With so many fashion-forward secondhand stores and sites to shop, this month I immersed myself in the world of the pre-loved market and below I'm sharing a glimpse into what I bought, learned, and discovered as well as the challenges finding pre-owned pieces can present. Take a peek how I've been integrating some of my secondhand finds into my daily wardrobe and see some of my favorite places to shop pre-loved items.


(Image credit: @joiedejude; Styling: Vintage cardigan from Etsy)

Where to Shop

I'm lucky enough to live in Los Angeles—a mecca of thrift stores, vintage boutiques, flea markets, estate sales, and pre-owned designer stores, and as you'll see further into the story, I shopped many of them throughout the month—from Buffalo Exchange to cool-girl boutiques such as RLT.


(Image credit: @shoprlt)

Shopping IRL is still my favorite way to buy secondhand but since this isn't a local story (I'll leave my favorite L.A thrift stores for another time!), I will, however, share a cheat sheet below as to where I conveniently shop online for cool pre-owned pieces. Many you will already know of course, including Etsy—a treasure trove for all things vintage, Depop—a must for finding contemporary and cool designers at extremely reasonable prices, along with ThredUp, Helpsy, eBay, Poshmark, and The RealReal for luxury designer brands.


(Image credit: Who What Wear)

It's also refreshing to see several contemporary brands venture into vintage and sustainable secondhand initiatives. For example, J.Crew recently launched a 360-resale program powered by ThredUp—J.Crew Always—where customers can now buy and resell gently worn J.Crew pieces. They also launched their Vintage program, a curated collection of women's pieces at select stores.

Olympia Gayot, head of Women's Design explains, "J.Crew has always stood for timeless and quality styles that are not only intended to be handed down but handed around. There are so many incredible, timeless vintage pieces from our 40 years that still look relevant today. Vintage is an important part of my wardrobe; since I was a little girl, I have always been on the hunt for those special pieces that are well-worn and unique. Our planet is the most important hand-me-down of all and by bringing back some of our very best vintage womenswear looks, we are allowing women to shop iconic, heritage J.Crew styles while also encouraging our customers to think secondhand first.”


(Image credit: @olympiamarie@lostjcrew)

Shopping Vintage

My love for vintage shopping runs deep and was definitely one of the most exciting parts of shopping secondhand this month. There are so many online vintage stores and sellers I've discovered through Instagram, research, and recommendations including, Na Nin Vintage, Lucia Zolea, RLTGoodShop BadShop to name but a few.

But one of my favorite ways of finding vintage is through Etsy. "In an age of social media, shoppers are increasingly looking to stand out from the crowd and vintage is a surefire way to find that one-of-a-kind piece that no one else will have while shopping sustainably by giving an existing product a new life," explains Etsy Trend expert, Dayna Isom Johnson. "There's been an increase in searches for Y2K sweaters, cargo pants, vintage grunge items, and bomber jackets as shoppers channel the aesthetic of the early internet era that straddles the line between late '90s grunge and futuristic Y2K fashion."

Etsy was a huge part of my shopping this month, after way too many late nights searching and scrolling, I picked up some real sartorial gems. Below I wanted to share an overview of some of my favorite vintage sellers I've discovered and love.


(Image credit: Who What wear)

The Thrill of It

Sure, securing the latest It bag is delightful, but honestly, isn't a gently worn Chanel jacket for under $200 just as exciting?! This month, I rediscovered that there is absolutely nothing like the thrill of finding that one-of-a-kind secondhand or vintage piece that no one else owns. Especially something that, although might be old or gently worn, still feels fashion-forward, relevant and easy to integrate with other pieces in my wardrobe. Some days, I'd search for hours online or IRL and leave empty-handed, other days it really paid off when I found a gem. (This is especially satisfying when you find something at a very favorable price point).


(Image credit: @joiedejude; Styling: Vintage bag from Santa Monica Discovery Shop)

Of course, there were plenty of challenges shopping secondhand this month. One of the most frustrating parts was the amount of time and patience it took to sift through the overwhelming amount of products and sites to find the items that really caught my me. And then I just prayed it was in my size! Sizing can be hard online. (Another reason I love shopping IRL). I actually started to shop with my tape measure beside me (many sellers add the measurements of each piece) but of course, the most disappointing part is when you find an item you love but it's not in your size. This happened on several occasions and it was definitely a bummer. Some sites allow you to search by filtering your size, which is nice but can equally feel limiting. 

I would definitely recommend approaching secondhand shopping with somewhat of a game plan otherwise it can feel overwhelming. I compiled a list of a couple of trends I wanted to see if I could find ('90s items, "pretty" pieces, maxi coats), along with some specific designers (such as Gucci, Celine, Ralph Lauren, LL Bean), and a few ideas of what I wanted to add to my wardrobe (a statement sweater, a cool chore coat, etc).

Having a plan does keep you focused but there's no doubt I started to enjoy the thrill of the hunt—it's what made the experience even more exciting—eagerly scrolling to see what treasures popped up! And I'll be honest, a lot of the time it's the pieces I found along the way while looking for something else, where I often stumbled upon something perfect.

Take a peek at some more of the finds I scored secondhand below and how I integrated them into my daily outfits.


(Image credit: @joiedejude; Styling: Vintage blazer from RLT; Vince sweater from Crossroads)

When it comes to buying basics secondhand, I try and focus on quality fabrics, timeless silhouettes, and designer brands. I scored this beautiful quality white linen blazer from RLT—one of my new favorite vintage stores (which now has a physical location in L.A.). They stock the absolute chicest, minimalist designer pieces. The ivory cashmere Vince sweater I'm wearing it with is from my local Crossroads thrift store—the quality is amazing. I paired them both with other whites in my wardrobe for an elevated look.


(Image credit: @joiedejude; Styling: Façonnable Button-Down Shirt from an estate sale)

I love to peruse estate sales on the weekends (we have some amazing ones here in L.A.). While it can definitely be hit or miss, you can score some shockingly cheap pieces with a little haggling. I scooped up this crisp white Façonnable button-down for just $8—which, no surprise—I wear all the time.


(Image credit: @joiedejude; Styling: '90s Vintage Talbots pumps from PleasantVintage on Etsy)

Shoes can be a tougher category to shop secondhand because finding your size is not always easy. I wasn't really looking for new shoes but when I spotted these vintage '90s Talbots pumps from PleasantVintage on Etsy, I snapped them up quickly. They have chic French-girl Chanel vibes and I know I'll wear them a lot with jeans. They were a no-brainer for $24.


(Image credit: @joiedejude; Styling: Vintage LL Bean coat from Depop seller @spacekat)

Inspired by Olympia Gayot's vintage red chore coat in her recent Instagram post, I set out on a mission to find a similar one. I'm a big fan of chore and barn coats—they give me cool Alexa Chung vibes that speak to my aesthetic. I found that Depop is a treasure trove for colorful vintage varieties. My heart skipped a beat when I found this gently worn LL. Bean coat with its cool brown corduroy trim and in my size! Major score for $40.


(Image credit: @joiedejude; Styling: Vintage denim jacket from Buffalo Exchange)

Probably one of my favorite buys of the month is this faux-fur trim denim jacket—a true vintage gem—which I snagged from Buffalo Exchange. I love everything from the wash to the silhouette and pockets. It's very warm and of amazing quality. It was $24! Plus, it leans into 2023's big denim trend.


(Image credit: @joiedejude; Styling: J.Crew Always sweater; Vintage leather bag from Santa Monica Discovery Shop)

After discovering J.Crew's new secondhand program with ThredUp, I immediately bought this easy and timeless black crew neck sweater. I styled it with one of my own vintage silk scarves and the most beautiful red leather bag I found at the local Santa Monica Discovery Shop.


(Image credit: @joiedejude; Styling: Vintage belt from JoysVintageFinds on Etsy)

Vintage accessories can be a great addition to your closet. This unique and chic brown Vintage belt I found from JoysVintageFinds on Etsy was a winner for $20.


(Image credit: @joiedejude; Styling: TSE cashmere cardigan from an Estate Sale)

I have been looking for a decently priced wool maxi-length coat for a while. I had originally planned to buy one at Mango but since I was shopping secondhand this month I wanted to see what I could find pre-owned instead. While I never found quite what I was looking for I did end up seeing this TSE oversize maxi-length cashmere cardigan at an estate sale which felt very The Row. Even though it was a little big for me, I would have completely regretted it had I not bought it.


(Image credit: @joiedejude; Styling: Vintage bag from Santa Monica Discovery Shop)

I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw this striking little bag at my local thrift store. The satin rosette feels completely unique yet altogether on-trend—leaning into the "pretty" trend we've talked about a lot lately.


(Image credit: @joiedejude; Styling: American Apparel Bomber jacket from Helspy)

Bomber jackets were another item I searched for a lot this month. I've been on the hunt for the perfect oversize leather style. While I had no luck finding one I really loved in my size, I did come across this cute corduroy bomber from an affordable secondhand online store, Helpsy, that offers contemporary brands at really affordable prices. It was completely not what I was looking for, but it felt super cool and I had to have it.


(Image credit: @joiedejude; Styling: Vintage sequin vest from Salvation Army Thrift Store.)

There is a "boutique" section in my local Salvation Army where you can find some of the fancier brands. This statement sequin vest was obviously left over from its holiday inventory (so was marked down even further), but honestly, it was too good to pass up. Plus, sequins are a big trend in 2023 and I definitely won't be waiting until the holiday season to wear this! I find shopping secondhand is wonderful when you're looking for those unique, one-of-a-kind statement pieces and this is definitely one of them.

Secondhand and Vintage Items I Currently Have My Eye On

Next: I'm Taking a Zara Break and Shopping These Awesome Vintage Stores Instead

Judith Jones
Senior Fashion Market Editor

Judith Jones is the senior fashion market editor at Who What Wear who specializes in shopping content and trend stories with high-affiliate impact. She shares the coolest, most desirable fashion market finds and brands for every budget. Previous to working in fashion, Judith worked as a TV host on the PBS travel show Globe Trekker (airing on Netflix and Amazon Prime) sharing her passion for travel and culture.