It’s all in the Jeans

by Katy on February 13, 2010 · 33 comments

I went out for a day of thrift store shopping yesterday with the singular goal to buy myself a pair of jeans. Unlike the sterotypical American woman, I find zero pleasure in clothes shopping. In fact, I derive negative pleasure in clothes shopping. The net result of this is that I tend to err on the side of not having enough clothing, especially with pants.

So a clothes shopping did I go.

I aimed the mini-van in the direction of a hipster neighborhood, as I figured that the donations would be better.

My first stop was a thrift shop that prices their clothing less than Goodwill, (plus I had a gift certificate) and although I did bring two pairs of jeans into the dressing room, I didn’t find anything that either fit or was the style I had in mind.

Next stop was the Goodwill thrift store, where I found three pairs of jeans that looked like they might fit. (Jeans shopping does make me feel like I have body dysmorphic syndrome, as almost every pair is either way too big or way too small!) One pair even had a black tag, which meant it was half price. I went into the dressing room without much faith, but came out with a smile on my face and a half-off pair of  jeans slung over my arm. And not just any jeans, but a perfectly fitting pair of brand new looking Levi’s mid-rise boot cut jeans, which in case you were wondering — are not mom jeans.

And the price? $3.49. Cause yeah, they were the half price pair.

Some times it is all in the jeans.

Do you ever buy second hand clothing? If so, what was your greatest score? Please share your stories in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

David February 14, 2010 at 1:31 am

I live in Ukraine these days, where at retail clothing is often more expensive than in the U.S. or Canada. Before I moved here to be with my wife and stepson, I often shopped at thrift stores in Texas–and found some amazing deals there. Fortunately, a large “Second Hand” store (these are all named in English for some reason) was opened two blocks from our apartment. My wife has found some absolutely astonishing deals there as well. Among many items such as shirts, pants, dresses, and shoes she also bought a German leather coat–brand new with the tags still on it–for $400. The price on the Internet for similar coats by the same manufacturer ranges from $1600 to $2100. Shoes that are in the shops for $300 she has bought for $36, and many shirts for less than half a dollar. She now has many of her friends and colleagues shopping there as well.


Jinger February 14, 2010 at 6:08 am

Austin has amazing thrift stores and sometimes I just get a yearning to go thrifting when I have an extra few dollars to spend. Last week, I found a Talbot’s top, an Eddie Bauer white long sleeve T shirt, a T shirt for exercise, and a pair of khaki shorts…all were all cotton and the total cost was $7.50 with my 1/2 price senior discount!

Also, a few months ago I, too, found the perfect Gap jeans for $3.50. So, yes, I do buy clothing at thrift stores and delightedly so!


Bellen February 14, 2010 at 6:23 am

I’ve lived in SW FL for 6 years and until this year had no real need for long-sleeved tops and long pants – my pair of PJs for indoors and 2 pair of slacks were plenty UNTIL this year’s 10 day cold spell in Jan and now 7 days in Feb. So, off I went to my favorite second hand shop where all proceeds go to victims of rape and abuse.

Anyway, clothes are $1 a piece – I bought a 2pc Bon Worth outfit, a cardigan, long sleeved t-shirt and long sleeved cotton shirt not bad for $4 and in XL to boot. Hubby picked up a pair of cross trainers that need a polish and new insoles for $1 also.


Lori February 14, 2010 at 6:25 am

My “new” winter coat for this year is a Columbia Whirlibird parka that I spotted in the basement of our town’s resale store. It’s the pudgiest, warmest parka I’ve ever had, and it cost me $20. And to add to the savings, my 13-year-old daughter is now tall enough to wear my old parka from last year. She was very good about accepting my cast-off and not asking for a new full-cost coat.

I’ve also got two pairs of “new” jeans from the resale shop – both cost about $7. They look great!


Shannon February 14, 2010 at 6:32 am

One of my favorite pairs of jeans ever came from a thrift store, and oddly enough they were my very first pair of non-mommy-jeans and looked fabulous. I probably paid $1 or $2 for them. Probably my most impressive score was this flocked print satin skirt, very dressy, and a velvet blouse to go with it for a dressy function, cost was a total of $3. Also I routinely find look-of-the-moment sweaters and dresses for $2-$3. We are lucky to have a Salvation Army and Volunteers of America thrifts, plus the absolute nicest, cleanest chain called Ohio Thrift not too far from us. Also, a Goodwill opened last year in a very ritzy part of town. I only shopped there once, but basically most of the clothing is designer, and everything is $5. And there are two nicer resale shops within a few miles. Now I know where to go if I have to get back into the job market!


Lisa February 14, 2010 at 10:30 am

All my clothing is purchased used except for socks and undergarments. And before shopping the thrift stores, I go first to the food and clothing bank hosted by a local group of churches. All items are free, and I’ve found some really good items there!


Angela February 14, 2010 at 11:22 am

Great score! Jeans are the absolute hardest thing for me to buy, so I haven’t even tried finding them used. I’m not exaggerating- I have to try on 40-50 pairs to find one that fits properly.

My best Goodwill score is probably a Hawaiian style party shirt that is one of my husband’s favorites. I think we paid $2 and he’s worn it countless times.


Angela February 14, 2010 at 11:23 am

I forgot to ask- where did you get that hilarious photo?

I love SNL’s mom jeans skits.


liza February 14, 2010 at 11:42 am

i love second-hand clothing because you can find good deals and unique pieces.
several years ago i was in Seattle for my SIL bachlorette party. we found an estate sale when we were driving around the city, and of course we stopped. i found a yellow mohair sweater jacket with 3/4 length sleeves. it’s I.Magnin. i love it and wear it whenever i’m feeling playful or want to liven up my day. i payed $30 for it–my favorite clothing find


Tracy February 14, 2010 at 11:57 am

I buy no retail. It’s all rummage sales and resale for me.

A couple of weeks ago at Value World, a chain thrift store with a few locations in metro Detroit (where I live) and elsewhere, I found the Columbia jacket I always wanted, for $12. It’s the Columbia Convert, a pale blue snowboarder’s jacket with black and white trim, and it appears to be new. Down the rack from it was a deep purple Eddie Bauer down jacket, also in my size, for $15. I was thrilled, and bought both. Then, the following week, at the thrift store for the American Council for the Blind, I found the Columbia Convert hat that matches my jacket, for $2. With all the snow we’ve had lately in southeast Michigan, I wear my new jackets with the $10 pair of purple Sorell boots I found at a garage sale last year, brand new with tags. Score!


Jen February 14, 2010 at 12:00 pm

I am like you, I hate shopping and I also hate thrift store shopping because it requires a lot of looking and very little finding. I don’t like to go through racks and racks of clothes. Something about it saps my energy. I have started to just get a pair or two of sale jeans from Old Navy and replacing them as they wear out and getting a couple of hoodies from Lands End as well as a few colored t-shirts. That is pretty much all I wear. When I hear people talk about their overflowing closets I laugh because I own like, ten pieces of clothing and three OLD pairs of shoes.


BarbS February 23, 2010 at 10:35 am

I couldn’t agree more, Jen. I also hate shopping, especially for clothes. I find that thrift-store shopping for clothes takes just too much time and energy. Going through racks and racks and racks of clothes to find a sweater or shirt that might be comfortable and suitable for work just doesn’t seem worth it to me.

I do buy coats, pajamas (especially flannel pj pants), casual clothes for the kids, household items and gifts at the thrift store. These items don’t seem to be as difficult to find. But for myself, I buy work clothes and jeans on sale and rarely, mostly just making do with what I already own. I find that much easier than dealing with the overwhelming, unsorted clothes at the thrift store.


Kristen@TheFrugalGirl February 14, 2010 at 12:54 pm

My most favorite pair of jeans came from Goodwill, actually! They’re Mossimo and were in brand new shape. Love that.


Saving Her Life February 14, 2010 at 1:20 pm

I just got home today from finding two new pairs of jeans from Goodwill. One of my favorite thrift store finds is a blue jacket I scored while I was a sophomore in high school. I still have it. I only paid $1.99 for it then. At the time, my mom worked at our local Goodwill so she let me use her employee discount. I still think that was her best job ever.


Jeanine February 14, 2010 at 3:51 pm

I very rarely find anything in the already slim pickings of our thift store…..they tend to not carry plus sizes.


I find things there for my youngest daughter ALL.THE.TIME. I just bought her 10 long sleeved t-shirts for ten dollars yesterday. A couple still had the tag on them. A few weeks ago, I bought her some Arizona jeans (JC Penny brand) for about 2 bucks each. Cannot beat those prices.


Megan February 14, 2010 at 4:08 pm

Last summer, my best friends both got married. One had a sophisticated wedding in a cathedral in Chicago. For our bridesmaid dresses, she asked us to get a black dress. About four months before the wedding, I wandered into Goodwill and found the perfect spaghetti strapped/draped neck, ankle length black dress. It matched the pair of black shoes I already owned perfectly. Total cost for wedding attire: $3.50.

Then for the second wedding, there was a purchased bridesmaids dress in fall leaf colors, but I really didn’t have shoes that worked with it. I walked into Goodwill and found a pair of backless mules that matched perfectly. Total cost of wedding shoes: $2.50

I love Goodwill.


Katy February 14, 2010 at 4:10 pm


You must have been the envy of all the other bridesmaids!

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


Tara Morrison February 14, 2010 at 4:49 pm

I am not an avid GW shopper because our local stores don’t offer as good of a selection as some of the religious second thrift stores and consignment stores and their prices tend to be higher. That being said I am wearing a pair of Micheal Kors jeans I paid 11 bucks for and have a pair of Diesel I paid 9 bucks . I live in jeans and have pairs that are 10 years old and like to mix it up so I am always on the look out for cute a pair!


Cindy February 14, 2010 at 5:09 pm

My best thrift store find was a $180 linen dress with the tags still on it – and I got it for $4.00!


Kristin February 14, 2010 at 5:41 pm

I’ve converted to the joy of secondhand clothing. My biggest score so far is a brand new J Crew sweater. I also have a fabulous black velvet opera cape trimmed in maribou– that was a gift, but I know it was consigned.

My eldest daughter is 2.5 and she has an extensive collection of beautiful dresses, all purchased from consignment stores by grandma. The dresses will be passed on to her sister and potentially to another sister (if as-yet-unconceived-child-number-3 is a girl.)

Even my husband is getting into it. Why pay more than you have to?


Karen February 14, 2010 at 6:14 pm

My most fav thing I ever found at our local Savers thrift shop was actually a J Jill blouse that I bought as a gift for my friend who loves J Jill. The tags were still on, it was a gorgeous dark green that she loves and looks great in, and they wanted $9.99 for it but I got it for half off due to some sale. My friend flipped when she saw it. Smiles all around!

Not all our GW’s are great, but I also am a regular shopper at the best GW around here, and often find good jeans. You have to keep looking through everything, as the sizes tend to get all mixed up, but the hunt is fun and worth it. I often find purses and bags at that GW, which I stop by about twice a month. I honestly don’t know how people can stand to shop new retail!


Barbara February 14, 2010 at 6:40 pm

All the time! I haven’t bought anything new in almost a year. I used to not have many things. Since a Goodwill opened in my neighborhood, I have a much larger wardrobe. I always look for the half price deals. I love that store. There are a few other thrift stores a distance away, but they pale in comparison for selection. At some point I am going to have to buy a couple of new bras…don’t have any luck finding bras at GW, not even a TX (Target surplus)…they often have brand new (from Target) bras, panties, socks, clothes, and non-clothes items…but I have yet to ever find a bra in my size.


Alice February 14, 2010 at 6:55 pm

My best score was at an upscale thrift store. Seven Jeans (normally +$150) almost “new” for $10. Looks like someone bought them but didn’t wear them. I have great luck with jeans in thrift stores since often people buy things for the size they want to be, not the size they are. Then they donate so the likes of me (i.e. too broke for designer stuff) can still be fashionable.


gfpumpkins February 14, 2010 at 7:55 pm

One fabulous find was a pair of jeans for $10 (expensive by thrift store standards) that would have been $80-90 in the actual store. They looked like they’d never been worn.
Another fabulous thing here in Madison is Dig and Save. It’s last chance St. Vinny’s stuff that will be thrown out otherwise. You can buy clothes, linens and household goods by the pound. This weekend I found 7 wine glasses in great shape. Paid $1.26 for them (if I’d bought them in the regular St. Vinny’s store they would have cost $6). I was pleased!


Christopher February 14, 2010 at 10:45 pm

For some reason, a while ago I got it into my head that I wanted a pair of brown Levi’s & by the time I could wonder a) do they even still make brown Levi’s? and b) where would I find a pair? I roamed into R&R Thrift here in Davis, CA and found (get this) not only a pair of brown Levi’s, but 501’s (my preferred) and in my exact size!!! (for $8). Right now I’m wearing black Levi’s 501XX’s that are marked too big for me, but somehow shrank to fit exactly perfectly (these were $5 at the same thrift store). Levi’s are one of the perfect thrift store clothing items (although my secret joy is finding bizarre T-shirts).


magdalena February 15, 2010 at 6:56 am

I always buy second hand for myself and husband. My latest clothes come from eBay, since I can’t find much suitable in any stores. Husband’s jeans and plain shirts all come from Goodwill or the Sally Ann. It’s not just frugal, but it’s ecologically friendly, too. It makes me wonder – why are people buying so much clothing they can’t/don’t wear?


Kristin @ klingtocash February 15, 2010 at 7:09 am

I always have terrible luck at second hand stores, but then again, I generally have terrible luck whenever I go clothes shopping. I think I spend about $50 a year on clothing.

I usually purchase my jeans at wal-mart.


Elizabeth February 15, 2010 at 12:30 pm

I live in Alabama and Goodwill shopping is not the greatest. Thrift stores tend to be in unsafe areas or, when they aren’t, just don’t have good selections. However, I am a huge fan of consignment shops, especially those that only buy certain kinds of clothes. I got a cocktail dress for a party in college for $12 and the best part was that it still had the tags on! It wasn’t an expensive dress to begin with, but it fit great and I loved it. I also got a lot of compliments at the party.

I’m very weird about my jeans and will only wear a few brands. It gets super expensive to buy them new, even at an outlet or online, so I started going to Plato’s Closet. I can usually find 1-2 pairs in my size, so when I need new jeans I always go there first! I usually pay $8-12 a pair, which is way better than the $50 they would be at the store!


Lisa February 15, 2010 at 10:04 pm

Seattle Goodwill. Nanette Lepore cashmere cardigan. Easily the most gorgeous article of clothing I own: chocolate brown with bell sleeves, trimmed in rose. Retailed for $325. Mine for $8 (using a 30% off coupon).


Katy February 15, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Can I borrow it?

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


This Thrifted Life February 16, 2010 at 6:38 am

I try to buy most of my clothing secondhand. I just picked up a pair of new-looking Banana Republic bootcut jeans this week for $4. After a bit of hemming they’ll be perfect on me.

It may take a little extra time to hunt through the racks, but the prices are just worth it.


Deb February 16, 2010 at 9:48 am

So far my best score at Goodwill was a 100% wool winter coat, Eddie Bauer, which my sister priced at over $130.00 retail. All it needed was for the buttons to be stitched tighter, which I did in about 10 minutes. Including having it drycleaned, the total cost was less than $20! During the winter I now have a beautiful, hooded, wool coat to keep me warm. My second best deal was a gorgeous designer (can’t remember who right now) skirt for $1.50, brand new — still had the tags on it! I need to dress up for work, so this find excited me


Jay February 17, 2010 at 9:20 am

For those in the Seattle area, the Value Village in Capitol Hill is AMAZING. When I lived there, I’d wander through VV a couple times a week just to see what was new.

I actually think it’s easier to find clothes second hand. Department stores carry a few versions of a pair of jeans in every size there is. Thrift stores, on the other hand, can have dozens of different styles in one size. The wider selection means I almost never leave empty-handed.

Buying thrifted clothes for a few years means that I get major sticker shock when I see how much they cost new. There’s no way I could even pay $10 for a t-shirt now, and that’s relatively cheap.


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