Don’t buy one more thing until you read this


For me, back-to-school shopping always went a little something like this: My mom and I would enter our local mall and embark on a fun-filled afternoon of… arguments.

We’d hit store after store, searching for fall essentials and trendy scores so that, come the first day of class, I could show up looking fresh, fab…and just like my friends. It was a yearly style sprint that broke our spirits—and our budget.

Thankfully, many teens have now shifted from the frantic mad dash around the mall of yesteryear to a more sustainable way of shopping that is both cost effective and, dare we say, more creative: consignment stores, pre-loved fashion sites and brands that upcycle clothes.

“More than one in three Gen Z’ers shopped secondhand in 2019,” says Jordan Goldberg of ThredUp, a fashion resale platform. So, what’s old is new again? Yep. It’s called the circular economy. And not only are upcycling and shopping secondhand environmentally friendly ways to land new looks, they just so happen to be the secret to nabbing perfect fall pieces.

Read on for our expert tips and tricks for scoring the most fashionable finds from your favorite brands (did we mention at *major* discounts?), all while reducing your carbon footprint. As if you needed one more reason to shop this season…


Searching for that perfectly worn-in denim jacket, minimalist ’90s bag or vintage Levi’s?

Well, look no further than some of the most reliable names in thrift: Goodwill and eBay. “I love searching for different fun pieces that no one else will have,” says fashion influencer and author Caroline Vazzana, who is known for her colorful, secondhand scores. “Once I do find them, I just mix them into my wardrobe where I feel they fit—there’s no line between the secondhand and traditional buys.”



goodwill? more like greatwill🦋🥞

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WHAT IT IS: A chain of nonprofit thrift stores (also now online!).

WHAT TO BUY: Name-brand denim, mall labels, trendy staples and athletic wear.

HOW TO SHOP: Unlike eBay, it’s best to shop here with an open mind. “Take your time,” says Vazzana. “You need to be able to browse. That’s when I find my best pieces.” Contact your local store to learn when new merchandise is put on the selling floor, then go early for the best selection.

PRO TIP: If you like it and it’s in your budget—buy it. Chances are it won’t be there when you return. Oh, and shop the “Color of the Week” sales, where you can score amazing buys for 50% off.


WHAT IT IS: The OG online reseller is a marketplace for everything from designer bags to vintage clothes.

WHAT TO BUY: Hard to find items or one-of-a-kind versions of your favorite trends.

HOW TO SHOP: “My biggest advice for beginners is to go in with an idea of what you’re looking for. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed,” stresses Vazzana. Knowing what you want ahead of time saves minutes and money. Research the price of an item before you buy or bid—and always check the rating of the seller.

PRO TIP: If what you’re looking for gets scooped up, set an alert for when a similar item becomes available.


Digital marketplaces like Poshmark and Depop combine the thrill of finding covetable clothes with social media. “The beauty of resale is simple: If you decide your outfit no longer fits your style, you can resell it to make quick cash while also being sustainable,” says LyAnn Chhay, SVP of Community at Poshmark.


WHAT IT IS: A social commerce forum where you can shop or sell fashion and accessories.

WHAT TO BUY: The “virtual mall” has top brands like Adidas, Brandy Melville, Nike, Patagonia, Madewell and Zara.

HOW TO SHOP: As with any social media, the more you engage, the more you’ll find. “Like” and bundle items you want. Sort by “just in” to get better deals, since most things sell quickly.

PRO TIP: Go with sellers who have clear pictures and helpful descriptions. And don’t be afraid to shop off-season—just be sure it’s something you know you’ll want later.


WHAT IT IS: A social shopping app that lets you discover, like and bid on new buys.

WHAT TO BUY: Insta-friendly outfits, curated vintage, upcycled thrift store finds.

HOW TO SHOP: Bargaining with sellers is the name of the game when it comes to this app. If you spot a must-have, look for similar items from other sellers to land on a price that suits you. After that, commit to your purchase or move on.

PRO TIP: When searching, use specific style names. Usually, sellers will post items as they are (or were) listed on the original brand’s site. RESALE RENEGADES Sites like The RealReal and ThredUp might not seem like your first stop for fall basics, but check them out for highend brands at a low-end cost.


Sites like The RealReal and ThredUp might not seem like your first stop for fall basics, but check them out for high-end brands at a low-end cost.


WHAT IT IS: The largest authenticated fashion resale platform.

WHAT TO BUY: Everything from Gap to Gucci. Look for gently worn Free People, Converse, J.Crew, Kate Spade, Ugg, Vans and The North Face.

HOW TO SHOP: Take advantage of the curated selections by price point and featured themes. Shopping deals is easy, as is organizing via your fave brand and size.

PRO TIP: The site can get overwhelming on your phone— your laptop allows easy access to all the browsing features.


WHAT IT IS: A luxury designer resale (online and in-store).

WHAT TO BUY: Find amazing, authenticated high-end labels like Burberry, Yeezy and Nike alongside designer denim.

HOW TO SHOP: Create saved searches for specific items and set up alerts so you’ll be the fi first in line when your coveted buy comes in. Found a new designer you love? Sort by “newest first” daily and “price low-high” to score the perfect piece for the right price.

PRO TIP: Make your money stretch by sticking with classic pieces and styles that’ll last. 

Zoey Washington is a style expert and founder of DIY fashion brand Sewsquad. You can follow her @sew_squad.

Hey, girl! Just wanted to let you know that this story originally ran in our August/September 2020 issue. Want more? Read the print mag for free *today* when you click HERE.


by Zoey Washington; edited for digital by Samantha Dorisca | 8/28/2020