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Shopping for secondhand denim? You can do it.

Is there anything more challenging than shopping for jeans?  (Okay, maybe bathing suit shopping tops the Most Challenging list, but never mind that for a moment.)

Shopping for jeans is hard, shopping for jeans in a secondhand shop is even harder … but so worth it. New jeans are expensive. It’s certainly not unusual to find ones that cost $100 or more. Secondhand jeans tend to run a fraction of the price, between $5 and $20 depending on where you’re shopping. And if you’re really lucky? You will find a pair with the tags still on them. (It has happened!)

I’m a big fan of buying secondhand denim, yet at the same time, it’s probably one of the most time-consuming thing you can venture out to buy.

Allow me to share a few things that have worked for me.

Off to shop for jeans secondhand?

1) Devote a couple of hours when you’re not feeling tired (or bloated for that matter) or about to rush off somewhere. Saturday mornings are perfect for me. Do I need to remind you that it might be best to leave the kids at home? 🙂

2)  Do not be distracted by household knickknacks or children’s clothing. You are on a mission. If you’re shopping for jeans, shop for jeans. Time and energy are limited! Speaking of which…

3) Fuel up with a fine balance of caffeine, protein, and carbs before you head out. (Think bacon and eggs and a good dose of coffee.) You will need as much energy as you can muster. Bring water.

4) Consider shopping with a friend, someone who can honestly answer that age old question: Does this make my butt look big? And don’t be offended if she says yes. Do the same for her too.

5)  Wear comfy clothing (and shoes!) that you can put on and take off easily. I like to wear wide-necked summer dresses with flip flops for this exact reason. No laces, belts, or pony tails.

6)  Ok. Now you’re at the jean racks (assuming the store you’ve chosen has such a thing and not just a large bin of random pants). Start with the part of the rack that is a few sizes past your normal size and work towards what you normally wear. There is no such thing as standard sizing. It ranges hugely from manufacturer. I’ve been a 2 in some brands and a 12 in another. (No joke.) Clothing is frequently mis-sized. What’s more, once they get to the rack you’re about to go through they’ve often shrunk and don’t reflect the size stencilled on the inside of the waistband anymore. Also, customers and staff sometimes put them back in the wrong spot on the rack.  I’ve often found the perfect pair of 29s in the 32s. Hooray for human error!

7) As you’re flipping through the rack, position yourself so that you are focusing on the back of the jeans instead of the front. When they’re hanging up, jeans all look very similar from the front. If you look at the back of the jean while it’s still on the rack it will save you precious seconds of shopping time.

8 – And this is kind of obvious, but grab a boatload of different jeans before you head into the changeroom. Grab more than you think you need. I’ve tried on 20 pairs and come out with nothing.

I’m charging my batteries to go shopping for secondhand jeans this week. Wish me luck! Maybe I’ll come back here and show you what I found. 🙂

Any suggestions you’d add to the above?

Mother of two imps and wife of one. Writer, photographer, pro blogger, adventure-seeker, Ottawaholic, social media evangelist and lover of STUFF. Also known as @missfish on Twitter.

One Response to “Shopping for secondhand denim? You can do it.”


I bought some second-hand jeans after I had my baby and was between sizes. They were so great that I’m lamenting the fact that they’re too big for me now. I still hang onto them because they are the perfect jean–soft denim with cuffs and a wide trouser leg. *sigh*


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