Are Used Clothes Disgusting Or A Great Way To Save Money?

One great way to save money is to purchase used clothes. Some people spend thousands of dollars on clothing every year, and because shopping is a pastime for many people, that number just keeps rising.

One way to combat the high costs is to get comfortable with buying used clothes. I don’t mind wearing used clothes at all as long as they are in good condition. I’ve saved quite a bit of money this way (and by avoiding the mall altogether!)

However, not everyone agrees with me, so here are a few things to consider when talking about buying clothes or even buying used clothes in general.

Lasting Power

One thing to consider when buying used clothes is how long they will last but this can be applied to new clothes too. For example, you can get an entirely new wardrobe at a place like Forever 21 and not spend a lot of money, but how many years will you get to wear them?

Sometimes, it really is worth it to buy new clothes that are high quality because they can be “investment” pieces that will last a very long time. Investment pieces should be things like business attire, suits, dress shoes, etc. Things like mint colored jeans are only going to be in style for a little while, so it makes sense to purchase those from a thrift store or from a store with less expensive merchandise.

Also, when you buy used clothes specifically, one concern is that you don’t really know how used they are or if they were taken care of. For example, you might find a great quality brand a thrift store but if the previous owner didn’t follow the dry cleaning directions, you might be buying something that will fall apart after the first use.

Your Level of Queasiness

I’ll be the first to admit it doesn’t bother me at all to buy used clothes. I love to buy Lilly Pulitzer sundresses and Polo button downs off of eBay because they are nice, high quality brands that I know will last despite multiple uses and wearers.

However, the thought of wearing clothes that someone else had on makes my husband queasy. He just doesn’t like the idea. He also likes to just go into the mall and pick up a shirt and buy it quickly or order one online quickly whereas I love digging through the sale racks and thrift stores to try to find a gem.

He completely acknowledges that I’ve found some great gently used clothes. He’s just not willing or interested in putting in all the effort to search for them in stores that appear (at least to him) to be kind of dirty.

Your Finances

Sometimes, you really don’t have a choice what kind of clothes you buy because of your budget. I’ve totally been there, needing a specific type of clothing for an interview but hardly having any money in my bank account. At times like that, you really can’t be picky about brands and prices and whether or not you like wearing used clothes. Sometimes you just have to do it in order to get to the next step!

So, now it’s time to hear from you. Do you like going to thrift stores or shopping on eBay for used clothes? Does it bother you? Do you think wearing used clothes is a smart move or a not-so-smart choice due to the reasons listed above?

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About Catherine Alford

Catherine Alford is a personal finance freelance writer who received a B.A. from The College of William and Mary and an M.A. from Virginia Tech. She enjoys sharing her adventures on her blog,


  1. Sometimes, I bought used clothes are usually known as “pre-loved items”. For me, I can save money by purchasing used clothes, but you need to double check the items if it is worth to buy. Last week, we went to a garage sale where mostly used clothes are being sold.

  2. Almost all of my clothes are used. I actually prefer to buy them that way. I don’t think it’s gross at all. Just wash them!

  3. While I wouldn’t say used clothes are disgusting, I only wear clothes I’ve bought new. My husband introduced me to thrift shops shortly after we met and we have bought clothes from them in the past, but not that we wear regularly. I think “queasy” is a good word to describe my feelings toward used clothes. They are so intimate! That said, I don’t buy expensive clothes and I rarely shop for clothes (1-2 times per year). I guess the choice I’ve made is to have a much more limited wardrobe than to buy secondhand clothes.

  4. Bryce @ Save and Conquer says:

    Used clothes are fine with our family. Even though our son is a single child, he has been wearing hand-me-downs from various friends for his entire 13 years. My wife and I have bought and wear used clothes, but most of our clothing items are do inexpensive, anyway, that buying new on sale clothes may be a better deal. We typically manage to make our clothes last for decades.

  5. I prefer thrift clothing, not just from a financial standpoint but from an ethical one as well. Most clothing is not made in the most ethical way, and a way to bypass the sweatshop is to buy used. Even high-end designers like Helmut Lang make their expensive duds in China.

    There are some things I buy new still, like underwear and bras, but since I try to buy quality with those, they last a while.

  6. Yankeegal says:

    I do 99% of my clothes shopping at thrift stores. Most are labels I would never pay the “new” price of. If you ever worked retail and saw what went on at times in the dressing rooms regarding the trying on of new clothes, you might not be so bothered by thrift shop clothes. Either way just wash them when you bring them home.

  7. When I was a kid I’d get hand me downs and my folks would buy the occasional used clothing. Now I’m doing OK, so I’d rather buy them new (am not into clothing anyway, so my budget is actually pretty small in this ‘department’).

  8. There is a used clothe store in my town and it is actually where you get the best brands as most things come from the US while the normal stores have cheap poor quality stuff made in Guatemala. After a good wash it doesn’t bother me to use them but I wouldn’t buy used shoes or underwear (which they sell).

  9. I love thrift shopping! There is a Goodwill near my house that I call Magical Goodwill. It has an amazing selection of stuff. I’ve become a lot more focused on who is producing my clothing so I’m transitioning to an always buy American model of shopping. Obviously I won’t be able to do it 100% of the time, but buying used clothes is my way of saving money and cutting down consumer/carbon foot print.

  10. While I’m not into this for myself, I’m comfortable with it for little kids. From experience, I know that generally speaking little kids don’t care what they’re wearing as long as the clothes are comfortable. Hand me downs from friends can work just fine and save a lot money since kids grow so fast.

  11. I love second hand stores for clothes, household items, books- pretty much any deal I can find. The key is being vigilant, making sure there are no stains, holes, rips, etc., and of course washing everything before you wear it. I’ve gotten some of my favorite items from our local Goodwill, and have no intention of changing my shopping habits (no matter how wealthy I get).

  12. I can’t ever bring myself to wear used clothing. I received hand-me-downs once from some family friends when I was a kid, and no matter how many times we washed the clothes, a distinct odor emanated from them, especially in the armpit and other sweat gland areas. The only time I’ll buy clothing from thrift stores now is if I’m planning on altering them into one-time use costumes.

    If you’re looking for ways to save money on clothes other than buying used, keep up with store sales. I have a very extensive wardrobe from various brands, and I rarely pay more than a quarter of the full price on my clothing. Not knocking anyone who buys secondhand; it’s just been ruined for me because I can usually still smell the previous owners’ body chemistry on clothes even after washing.

  13. I find that used clothes are more to my liking than the new ones in the stores. I’m a big garage sale buyer and I am more comfortable about buying clothes when I have an idea where they come from. However, that doesn’t keep me from doing otherwise. Guess I feel somewhat worried about thinking I might “catch something”. But I always put it in the sun several hours and then wash it. After a while, I forget about it! (if I can’t wash it, I usually don’t buy it)

  14. Disgusting is the attitude some folk have about being grateful, resourceful and economical. These are virtues, people. Greed, snobbery, arrogance…why champion them? It’s not even the amount of money being charged for clothes that really frightens me, it is this attitude; if I needed clothes to be previously unworn or unreasonably high priced to feel good about myself or even just comfortable in them, I’d be reassessing my life, not my wardrobe.

  15. Miss Gateau says:

    I am into being fashionable and I shop for clothing regularly. I found a new passion for thrift shopping and saved on many cute named brand clothes from Anne Klein, Express, Jones New York, and so so much more! I have an eye for fashion and I take about an hour in a thrift shop and come out saving hundreds of dollars! I rarely spend over $30.00 for three to 4 outfits. I often get compliments on my casual and professional style. It’s just the coolest feeling to save.

  16. I shop Thrift stores all the time. In my area, you can find new items in Thrift stores with the tags still on them. I went to a Salivation Army store recently and bought a brand new pair of Liz Claiborne pants that had the $49.99 price tag still on them for $4.99. I bought a $60.00 Liz Claiborne blouse for $6.00 that still had the tags on it. I bought 2 Kim Rogers blouses that still had the tags on them. They were $35.00 blouses and I paid $2.99 each for them. I got $145.00 worth of clothing for less than $20.00.

  17. I can’t stand the idea of wearing clothes someone else has worn, but it’s because of my OCD. I know it makes no sense, but even when I try, it just radiates in my mind that someone has sweated in them, or whatever else. I really don’t like the idea of someone wearing my old clothes, either. I really respect people who can shop at thrift stores, but for some reason (which I hate) I just can’t make myself do it. I’ll buy cheap sale clothes before I’ll just torment my brain in used ones.

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