21 1 / 2014

Dressing well is expensive. We all want to look good, but paying upwards of $200 for a pair of jeans isn’t exactly ideal. That’s why an increasing number of men are buying used clothing online. Buying pre-owned clothes is a great way to save money and still look like you’d rather be on your yacht pounding champagne with models; but for the uninitiated, shopping for used clothing can be a daunting task. Thankfully, we’re here to help with a handy guide to buying used clothes online.

Look for new or lightly used clothing

People buy things they never wear all the time. Maybe you got a terrible gift from your mom that just sits in your closet giving you judgy looks for not studying more, or maybe you finally realized those red pants make you look like a clown. It happens every day and those clothes end up being sold online. Most ‘used’ clothes are actually brand new with tags or have only been worn a few times.  You could end up getting some crazy discounts, like saving $300 dollars on this shirt or $338 dollars on this jacket.

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If it’s used, look for quality

You can get some serious deals on used stuff too, but you have to be careful. Ask the seller how many times the item has been washed and worn - if the number is high, only buy if it originally cost a boatload of money. Brands on the lower end of the spectrum, like J Crew and H&M, start to fade and look used after multiple washes. Buying these brands used is a waste of money. High-end, well made clothing will stand up to years of abuse and still look brand new. A couple months ago I bought a pair of The West Is Dead Chinos for $65 (retail $180) that were 2 years old and basically look brand new. Similarly this Denim Demon jacket is less than 25% of its retail price and even though it has been worn many times, it has no noticeable wear.

Check out the photos

When buying secondhand items online, photos are king. First off, make sure the seller has uploaded a photo of their own, and isn’t just using stock images. You also want to see a picture of the seller wearing the item. It gives you an idea of how the piece fits on an actual human being instead of a hanger or a model in a studio.

Another good thing to ask for is a close-up photo of the fabric. It’s often hard to represent the actual color of an item well in a photo, but a closer shot of just the fabric will give you a much better idea of what it looks like. It will also help you get an idea of the weave. For example, the texture on this Frank Leder cardigan (pictured below) is stunning, but without the close up photo you’d never see the intricate weave or the flecks of red.

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Ask questions to size

Sizing can be tricky, especially since it’s not standard across manufacturers. But you can figure out how something will fit by asking the seller a couple questions. Ask the seller if the item fits true to size or not; they will be able to tell you if it is best for a ‘slim medium’ or a ‘true to size small’. If you want to be absolutely certain of the fit you can ask for measurements. Take a shirt or sweater you love the fit of and measure it from shoulder seam to shoulder seam and armpit to armpit; for pants, measure the waist (laid flat) and across the thigh starting at the bottom of the crotch. Then, ask the seller for the s2s and p2p or waist and thigh measurements. By comparing your measurements to those of the item, you can determine exactly how the item will fit you. It’s a foolproof way to determine sizing. Every piece I’ve bought where I asked for measurements has always fit perfectly.

Factor in shipping and make an offer

Make sure to consider shipping cost when considering an item. Many sellers will include shipping for free but if you live in a different country from them you should inquire about the additional cost. You also shouldn’t be afraid to make an offer. If the item has been listed for multiple weeks the seller will likely be more willing to negotiate on price. For example this Robert Geller jacket has been posted for about a month, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the seller was willing to sell it for $250. Don’t push too hard though; sellers might be frustrated by a lowball offer. A good rule of thumb is not to offer less than 75% of the asking price unless you have a good reason.

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Don’t be afraid to buy

If you see something you like, buy it!  I waited too long to purchase these Maison Martin Margiela Paint Splattered GATs and someone sniped them out from under me. If you want to buy something, go for it. Very rarely will you regret a purchase, and if you do, grailed makes reselling the item a breeze.

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(This originally appeared as a guest piece on Man of Many)

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