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Buying Yard Sale Clothes: What You Need to Know

fashionable woman wearing yard sale clothes

Yard sale clothes are one of the secret pleasures of shopping at a yard sale. The treasure hunt is real! Today, we’re looking at garage sale clothes, and what you need to know before you buy them.

Worried About Hygiene?

When it comes to yard sale clothes, people will put anything and everything up for sale, including underwear, undershirts, lingerie, swim gear, socks, and hats. These kinds of intimate garments require extra cleaning in order to alleviate potential hygiene issues.

Many people would avoid buying these kinds of garments entirely. But that’s not necessary, and you could be missing out on some great value. Germs are not immortal, and if you can kill them then the clothes will be safe to wear. Hotel towels and sheets are exposed to the same gauntlet of yuck as socks and underwear, and they get reused for years with very little trouble.

The easiest thing to do would be to use bleach and boiling water on your new yard sale clothes, but of course, most clothes can’t handle that. Fortunately, there are many alternatives. There are many ways of disinfecting clothes in the laundry using laundry disinfectants other than bleach.

So if you’re looking at garage sale clothes and you see a too-cute pair of socks, or the perfect bikini, or a gorgeous hat, give it a shot. Don’t live in fear!

  • Tip: Always wash yard sale clothes before using them, even outwear like jackets. If it can’t be washed, have it dry cleaned.

Getting a Good Fit

finding the right size yard sale clothes

Most of us would never buy new clothes without trying them on first. But you’ll almost never have the opportunity to actually try on clothes at a yard sale. There’s no harm in asking the seller, but be prepared for them to say no.

Since you can’t try on yard sale clothes, they are “as-is,” meaning you have to take your chances. But you can improve your chances of getting a reasonably good fit by taking a few reasonable precautions:

  • Know Your Measurements: If you haven’t taken your measurements lately, take the time to do it before going to your next yard sale. Take your time and get the most accurate measurements you can.
  • Know What Your Size Looks Like: Take some of your current well-fitting clothes and hold them up under the light, the way you would do if you were checking them out at a yard sale. Try and get a sense of how they look and feel. You might even measure them, then take your measuring tape to the yard sale and do the same with the yard sale clothes.
  • When in Doubt, Buy Bigger: If you’re not sure of a fit, err on the side of buying garage sale clothes that are too big. Clothes that are a little loose are a lot more comfortable than clothes that are too tight, and they usually look better, too. It can be upsetting when you think you’ve discovered a great haul at a yard sale, then take it home only to discover they’re too small. Don’t set yourself up for that kind of frustration! Be honest with yourself about your size, and practice some self-love for your body whatever size it may be.

Remarkably High-Quality

People don’t always equate secondhand goods from a yard sale with the notion of high quality. That’s a real shame, however, because yard sales can actually yield some amazing treasures!

It’s true that yard sale clothes tend to be relatively old: 10, 15 years…maybe even more. But clothes were often made of higher quality in the past than they are today. Today, ruthless consumer demand for low prices has driven the global garment industry to cut every conceivable corner. The result is flimsier material (and less of it), sloppier stitching that comes apart more easily, and inferior grades of fabric.

This isn’t to say that high-quality clothes are extinct, or that there weren’t low-quality clothes in the past. Rather, our point is simply that you may be pleasantly surprised by the quality of yard sale clothes, even if they are secondhand.

  • Tip: “Secondhand” isn’t the same as “heavily used.” You’ll find plenty of garage sale clothes that were hardly ever worn at all!

Hard-to-Find Styles

There are many old styles of clothes that aren’t made anymore or are very hard to find. When’s the last time you saw a new short-sleeve t-shirt that actually goes down to the elbow? Or a new heavy flannel suit that’s perfect for a cold winter’s day? Or a goldenrod blazer?

You can still acquire all of these things at the bespoke level, and sometimes at high-end boutiques, but for the ordinary consumer public they just don’t exist anymore. Yard sale clothes are a portal into the past, offering high-quality clothing in classic styles. If you want to freshen up your wardrobe with quality pieces no one else will have, yard sales may be your best option!

Some people don’t like to wear clothing that’s more than a year old. But for every person like that, there’s another person who is comfortable, happy, and right at home in an old garment from yesteryear.

  • Tip: Don’t let fashion pressures trick you into rejecting clothes that make you happy!

Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate

Lastly, don’t be afraid to negotiate price on yard sale clothes. Many sellers don’t have a good sense of how to price articles of clothing and are eager to sell to anyone who will give these clothes a good home.

  • Tip: If a seller won’t come down on the price of an individual garment, try negotiating a bulk discount: Offer to pay their price, or even more, in exchange for multiple pieces of clothing.

Find Local Yard Sales with Yard Sale Radar

We hope you’ve enjoyed this little look at yard sale clothes. Every week, there are awesome yard sales with new treasures waiting to be discovered. Yard Sale Radar can help you find yard sales in your area, or post a sale of your own.

You can also check out our blog to see more articles like this one!