Shopping Guide: When To Go Thrift Or Buy New

Knowing when to go vintage or buy new is a shopping habit that, believe it or not, will save you a ton of money over time. With that in mind, we put together an easy-to-navigate guide explaining which items are best bought secondhand and what's better fresh off the rack. Just think of it as another step towards becoming a pro shopper.

Button-Down Shirts


Neon Blush; Sincerely Jules

The men’s section in thrift stores can be a treasure trove of cotton button-down shirts. The key is to look for a slightly oversized fit that can be tucked into jeans or, even depending on the fit, can be worn as a shirtdress. Additional note: make sure the shirt is stain-free around the collar and under the arms.

Images via Neon Blush and Sincerely Jules

Mum Jeans


We Wore What; Street Peeper

Lucky for us, this trend is making a serious comeback, and thrift stores are loaded with the infamous high-rise jean. Look for classic, light-wash denim that is cropped just above the ankle. A distressed style is a big plus, as the detailing is completely on-point for spring.

Images via We Wore What and Street Peeper

Leather Boots


Natalie Off Duty; Framboise Fashion

The great thing about buying boots from the thrift store is that they’re already broken in. Well-loved, lace-up leather styles will be a timeless addition to your shoe collection.


Images via Framboise Fashion and Natalie Off Duty

Denim Jacket


Majawyh; Collage Vintage

They say some things only get better with age and wear, and the denim jacket is certainly one of them. We love hitting the boys’ section for this spring staple, and if you find one with interesting patches—all the better.

Images via Majawyh and Collage Vintage

Slip Dresses


Dans Vogue; Song of Style

Probably the most versatile piece for your wardrobe this spring, a  Kate Moss-inspired silky slip dress, ideally from the '90s, is a great vintage find. Look for a knee-length slip with lace trim to layer under a lightweight sweater or leather jacket.

Images via Dansvogue and Song of Style



Atlantic-Pacific; Brooklyn Blonde

A great pair of pumps is an integral part of your wardrobe that can easily be dressed up or down. With so much potential wear, it’s best to purchase new pumps, rather than a secondhand pair that’s seen better days.

Images via Atlantic-Pacific and Brooklyn Blonde

Schutz Libertine Pumps ($150)

A pair of classic black pumps will take you from the office to a night out with ease.

Basics T-Shirts


On The Racks; The Native Fox

A basic top that gets a ton of use, such as a Breton stripe tee or white V-neck, is worth buying new.

Images via On The Racks and The Native Fox

Gap Essential Stripe Boatneck Tee ($27)

A striped tee is the perfect go-to basic for spring.



Sincerely Jules

If your spring budget only has room for one investment piece, go for that designer bag you’ve been eyeing. A versatile handbag will last you for seasons and gives your look a fresh update.

Image via Sincerely Jules

ZAC Zac Posen Leopard Eartha Soft Bag ($550)

Leopard-print panels give this polished satchel a touch of playfulness.

Leather Clothing


Always Judging; Vanessa Jackman

From baggy trousers to midi skirts, designers are consistently reinventing leather apparel. So if you’re looking for an of-the-moment style, it’s always best to go new.

Images via Always Judging and Vanessa Jackman



Street Peeper

A tailored suit is a staple that gets a modern update every season. To keep your work-wear in style (and to avoid an ‘80s shoulder pads disaster), buy your suit new.

Image via Street Peeper

Express Ultimate Double Weave Jacket ($128)

A slim, neutral blazer is a fresh office alternative for spring.   

Express Columnist Ankle Pants ($70)

Tailored trousers that hit above the ankle are universally flattering.