My Best Tricks for Scoring Deals on ThredUp

January 26, 2016
Eleven secrets for finding clothing steals on ThredUp!

I posted a picture on Instagram of this sweater a few weeks ago and mentioned it was from ThredUp and someone asked how I find cute things on there.

Well, it only takes one question for me to barrage you with an entire post of my (dubious) wisdom, so buckle up.

In the last six months, I’ve only bought about three clothing items that aren’t from ThredUp. I seriously love that site and I’d say about 50-60% of my closet is now from there (this post isn’t sponsored; I assume they have no clue who I am except as that person who orders a LOT of things. There are, as usual, some affiliate links, plus if you make your first purchase on ThredUp through my link, you’ll get $10 off your first order. Proceed disclosed).

So! With more experience with it than I should probably admit to, here are my secrets:

  1. Look frequently. You know how some people unwind for the day by looking at Facebook for twenty minutes? That’s what I do with ThredUp. I don’t look every single day, but I probably browse through a couple of times a week. Their inventory turns over all the time and they have so MUCH inventory that you never know what might pop up.
  2. Start with shoes. The thing I look at most often is shoes because I know exactly what size I am, and shoes aren’t as tricky to figure out online as other items. I’ve bought some amazing pairs of shoes on there that look brand-new.
  3. Stick with brands you know. If Banana Republic clothing never fits or flatters you when you buy it new, it’s very unlikely to start magically fitting when it’s secondhand. On the other hand, if you’re a loyal Gap or J.Crew or Anthropologie lover, try those brands on ThredUp – you’ll know what their sizing means and you’ll have a good feel for their style and fit.
  4. Shop with a goal in mind. It’s one thing to go to Old Navy without any particular idea of what you want to buy – they have things organized beautifully and mannequins all over the stores to give you outfit ideas, but when it’s just individual items on ThredUp, it can be ridiculously overwhelming. I just went and looked at the women’s section and there are currently 107,000 items on there. That’s ridiculously overwhelming. I have much better luck on ThredUp when I enter the site thinking, “I need a new pair of black jeans” or “I’d like a striped sweatshirt.”
  5. Use the filters. The filters will help you narrow things down really quickly. For instance, if I decide I need a few new t-shirts for the summer months, I filter to tops, then ones with short-sleeves with a scoop or v-neck in my size and suddenly I’m down to 2,000 options. If I specifically want a black one, then I’m down to 145 items. The search tool is pretty excellent too – I found a polka-dot shirt in thirty seconds this summer after I saw someone at church wearing a darling one.
  6. Buy higher-end than you might normally. For me, one of the big draws of ThredUp is that I can buy a $95 J.Crew top for $15. My closet has much nicer items than it has the in the past – now most of my jeans are in the $150 range (if they were new – they’re about 75% less on ThredUp) and, surprise! They fit so much better than the $7 ones I bought at Forever 21. I know – I’m astonished too.
  7. Try things on twice (or three times). Usually, when I get a box from ThredUp, I try everything on. I immediately put things back in the box to return that I don’t like and then I hang the rest of the items in my closet. Then I try those things on again a day or so later. Which brings me to. . .
  8. Return things that don’t fit. I’ve been so careful with my closet this past year, and it’s been amazing how much easier it is to get dressed in the morning. So when something comes from ThredUp that doesn’t quite fit or flatter me, I resist the urge to say “well, it was only $5” and I send it back. I always choose to get my refund in store credit so that I can get free shipping and then the next time I make an order, I just use that store credit again and so on and so forth.
  9. Resist the clearance items. I love clearance items but with ThredUp, clearance items aren’t returnable and so I just avoid them all together.
  10. Don’t forget the extras. You can also buy scarves, hats, and handbags on ThredUp (although the handbags aren’t returnable, so keep that in mind when you’re ordering).
  11. Kids too! They don’t have men’s clothing on ThredUp but they do have tons of kids clothing and I’ve basically restocked all three of my girls’ wardrobes this fall and winter. I bought Ella the gorgeous red wool coat she’s wearing in our Christmas photos here, plus tons of shoes, jeans, tops, skirts, and dresses for them. The prices are killer and it’s nice for them to have clothing that is a little higher-end and actually holds up for more than one washing.
I’m happy to answer any questions about ThredUp! Just be warned that if you get me started, you might not get me ever to stop.

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  • Reply missris January 26, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    Not to mention, buying things from ThredUp (which has such good quality control) is SO MUCH BETTER for the environment. I mean, 107,000 items currently NOT in a landfill or dubious "donate bin" but instead on their way to new homes all over the US for a fraction of what they cost new? Yes, please! A few of the things I've gotten from ThredUp have been, as far as I can tell, brand new. Perhaps they're items like we all have, that we bought but never wore. It's a steal, for more reason than one.

  • Reply wtiger9 January 26, 2016 at 6:41 pm

    I LOVE Thred Up! Annnnd, I just got notice that my cart is about to expire, so off I go to complete my order. 🙂

  • Reply Sbjp January 26, 2016 at 8:40 pm

    I have read some bad reviews about them not paying much for your items when you send things to them. Have you had this trouble?

    • Reply Janssen January 26, 2016 at 8:45 pm

      I have read some of these reviews and I personally disagree with them. I've sold items and it is true that they don't pay a ton (I think I got about $5 per item for things that were Gap brand or equivalent), but how can I possibly expect to get killer deals when I BUY things if they are paying a boatload to purchase those items?

      I figure that anything I get is better than the nothing I would get for donating them to a thrift store, and I didn't even have to leave my house. I suppose I could possibly get a little more if I took them to a consignment shop, but that seems like a lot more effort.

    • Reply Sbjp January 27, 2016 at 3:46 am

      Thanks. I love all of your tips. Do they always give free return shipping if you take a store credit? Have you sent in many children's clothes?

    • Reply Janssen January 27, 2016 at 3:52 am

      Yes, you can always get free return shipping if you take store credit.

      And, now that you mention it, I've never sold any children's items – only adult clothing. So I have zero knowledge on that topic.

    • Reply April January 27, 2016 at 1:22 pm

      I've sold to ThredUp, and I've had the experience that Sbjp mentioned. They paid me exactly $1.45 for a pair of Gap skinny jeans (in good condition) that I originally paid $50 for on sale. They also paid me $3.80 TOTAL for 6 items: 2 Victoria's Secret bathing suit tops, and 4 pairs of shorts (from Target, H&M, JCPenney, and Old Navy).

  • Reply Laura {a spoonful of joy} January 27, 2016 at 1:21 am

    Thank you for these tips – especially the store credit in exchange for free return shipping – I wasn't aware of that policy! When I was pregnant last year I bought my entire winter maternity wardrobe (my other two babes were summer pregnancies) from ThredUp and was so happy with almost everything I bought. However, because I live on the east coast, the cost to return the few items that did not fit was so much that I haven't purchased with them since. Thanks to you I'm going to go do some shopping right now… and use your link! 🙂

  • Reply jzimmerman January 27, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    I sent a big pile that had been headed to donations to ThredUp instead after reading about it on your blog a while back. While they didn't pay a ton, like you said – it was more than I'd get if I just donated the clothes, and WAY less hassle! I am moving soon and plan to send another big shipment.

    Once I was on the site to sell things, I was obviously sucked in and ended up purchasing some things. Your tips above are super helpful as I've definitely gotten frustrated by the sheer volume of items and difficulty in really telling what things look like from the photos. I do have a few complaints and I'm curious if this has been your experience: 1) I received one item that had very clearly come from a home with a cat – visible fur, and I basically had an allergy attack the second I opened the box! I had to return everything that was in it! 2) Maybe this is because I live farther away, but shipping returns has taken FOREVER — 1-2 months. That is a LONG time to wait for a refund!

    All that being said, I will probably try again armed with your tips! I did get at least one item that felt like a super score (a pair of sandals from Anthropology that I desperately wanted last season but refused to shell out $80+ for, purchased like new for $15). Their customer service has also been responsive and helpful.

    Apologies for the super long post here! I learned about ThredUp from your blog and have had a mixed experience, so figured I'd chime in here!

    • Reply Janssen January 27, 2016 at 11:01 pm

      Whoa, that return window is INSANE! Mine usually is less than a week.

      And that cat hair incident? Yikes. . .I've never had that problem, but especially with an allergy, that would be terrible.

      Thanks for sharing your experiences, good and bad!

  • Reply Erica January 28, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    Awesome that this post is featured on the thread up blog. Way to go! !

  • Reply Erica January 28, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    Awesome that this post is featured on the thread up blog. Way to go! !

  • Reply Miller family February 1, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    I've loved ThredUp for a long time! It's been a while since I bought stuff there, though–they used to have $50 free shipping and free returns on any items from mobile orders. So I'm curious…when you take store credit to get free returns, does using that return credit on a future order count towards getting you to the $70 free shipping amount? Thanks!

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