Elizabeth Cline
Secondhand Shopping Guide

My Review of Shopping Secondhand on Swap.com

My wardrobe is mostly one-of-a-kind designer and vintage pieces. How did I afford a valuable and gorgeous wardrobe on a writer’s income? By shopping secondhand of course. Many of my favorite pieces have come from a growing number of online secondhand shops, like Swap.com, which I’m reviewing today.

I started buying pre-loved to cut back on my environmental footprint, but I quickly realized that it was the key to shopping smart. Among its many benefits, shopping secondhand allows you to: Upgrade to high quality brands you couldn’t otherwise afford and experiment with daring new styles and try new designers with no risk (because it’s up to 90% of retail price).

But there’s more good news. Secondhand shopping has gotten MUCH savvier in recent years, as its migrated online. The rise of websites like thredup.com, theRealReal.com, Tradesy, Material World, Grailed and of course Swap.com have made curated, high quality secondhand shopping a cinch. No more digging through dusty racks looking for a treasures. These websites ONLY stock treasures. Their quality standards are sky high. Seriously, try online thrifting if you haven’t already.

GREAT FOR LOW & MID-PRICED MAINSTREAM BRANDS (& FREQUENT SALES)

Now, on to my review of Swap.com: Swap.com has been around for a few years. I started out as a seller on the website. Swap.com’s bread and butter and the vast majority of what you will find on the site is lower and mid-priced mall brands, department store brands and fast fashion, such as Charter Club, American Eagle, Gap, Banana Republic Mossimo and Forever 21. This is great for parents buying for kids and teens, if you are already shop and love these brands anyway or are just looking for some deals on some cute, trendy clothes. You can find countless new and like new items from these major brands for as little as–wait for it–$1 when the site is having a sale. And they are OFTEN having sales. So, in short, why pay full price at the Gap when you can get it for up to 75% off on Swap.com??

HIGH QUALITY STANDARDS

Swap.com has unbelievably low prices, as I mentioned, but they also have very stringent quality. You’re really only going to find new and like-new pieces on Swap.com. As a rule they don’t accept older items, which means no sorting through 90s suit sets and 80s dresses as is the case at the local thrift store. More importantly, you really don’t have to worry about your purchases showing up with holes, stains or odors or in an out of date print or cut. Your item is going to show up pristine.

MASSIVE INVENTORY

Another great thing about Swap.com is they have a truly staggering amount of inventory and are adding thousands of items to the site every single day. If you’re just browsing, the site’s huge selection can be a little overwhelming. However, if you know what you want, it is a godsend. For example, I recently decided I needed to add a black bodysuit to my wardrobe. Well, imagine my delight when I realized there were HUNDREDS TO CHOOSE FROM in my size on Swap.com. I ordered five and kept two, ranging from a pricey Versace one (the site does have a handful of luxury items) down to a basic Express number. The ones that I kept: A Zara bodysuit with tulle sleeves, which I scored for $4. The other was the brand new with tags Express bodysuit, all cotton, for $12.

shopping on swap.com
Two of the bodysuits I purchased on Swap.com. Look at those prices!

AND NOW FOR THE DOWNSIDES…

Okay, so what are the drawbacks you might be wondering? Does this website sound too good to be true? So, Swap.com does have its downsides. For starters, because they have so much inventory, it can be–as I stated–overwhelming to shop. The site needs much more curation where they do sales and edited selections based on certain styles, timely events, or current trends to help guide shoppers through the muck. They do a little of this now, but it feels half-baked. For example, a holiday party dress guide (a useful idea!) that’s currently up on the site produces results of mostly black dresses. In what universe does someone wear a black dress to a Christmas party? It’s got to be sequins or gold lame! I just mean it’s got to sparkle. TSo yeah they need to hire some fashion and creative people STAT.

The second main drawback has to do with the photos of the clothes. It seems that many if not most items only have ONE photo and the photo is often poorly lit and hard to read. Dresses and outerwear and mens suits and outerwear are an exception, where you get to see front and back and the item is photographed on a mannequin. All too often photos are taken flat on a white background, so it can be very difficult and sometimes impossible to get a clear sense of the garment. For example, when I ordered the batch of bodysuits, part of the reason that I ordered five is because I couldn’t really tell what many of them looked like — I couldn’t get a sense of the fabric and design details. One had a lace0up detail in the front that I didn’t even notice on the website. Luckily, Swap.com has a liberal return policy, so until they get their photos straightened up, I encourage you to just use it as I do and order everything that you think might work and ship back what doesn’t.

Swap.com has a little ways to go to be the secondhand shopping mecca I know they can be. But the site is improving all the time. Either way, I have found some treasures on that site at prices that you wouldn’t believe and I know you can too! I highly recommend shopping on Swap.com.

 

 

 

 

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