Post updated December 2020
I’m so excited to share an honest unbiased review of my experience buying clothes on ThredUp! There are a ton of reviews online, but most are reviews of selling clothes. Or, they are sponsored posts which means they are paid to say nice things. Since I paid for my items, I get to share the good and the bad of buying used from ThredUP!
I’m going to share with you what it was like to buy items, to return unwanted items, how to find the best items for the least expensive price, and the quality controls they have set in place. I’ve now several orders with them and I really do like about half of the stuff I end up trying on.
Why I decided to try buying clothes on ThredUP in the first place
My mom wardrobe was severely lacking. Normally, I love shopping at Nordstrom Rack online to find a few staple shirts or dresses, but wanted to see if ThredUp could really deliver cheaper clothes that I liked.
Overall, I was very happy because I found a few things I’m going to wear ALL the time, which was worth the effort of having to return a few things I didn’t like. The return process was smooth, I loved that there were so many clothes in my size, and free shipping over $79. All orders under that are $5.99 flat rate shipping.
This post contains affiliate links to products I use and love.
How does buying from ThredUP work?
ThredUp is the largest online thrift store for women and kids that carries like new items for up to 90% off. I’ve found most to be closer to 50%-70% off.
Anyone can buy and sell like new items and gently used items from generic brands like Old Navy to nicer brands like Anthropology, Free People, Banana Republic, and Lululemon. Some items are also new with tags, but not most.
You can shop for women’s clothes (maternity and designer brands as well), juniors, kids, handbags, jewelry and shoes.
They claim to add around 15K new items daily to the store! Not to mention their site says they have 500 employees sorting through bags of clothes 6 days a week. So it’s bigger than I thought!
What are their quality standards?
When ThredUP sorts clothes, they have a checklist of things they look for, so as a buyer here’s what you can expect, supposedly.
- Clean, freshly washed (ThredUp doesn’t wash, but they supposedly only take clean clothes).
- From a name brand
- On Trend and less than 5 years old
- No tears, rips, or stains
- In excellent condition
I’ve heard from those who sell their clothes on ThredUp that the company is very choosy with what they take. ThredUp claims to accept about 40% of what comes in.
This is nice for the shopper, not for the seller. Everything is either “like new”, “gently used”, or “new with tags”. When you click on an item, it will tell you any specifics such as “minor pilling” or “light fading”.
Update December 2020: I personally have sent in a few boxes of nice, name brand clothing just to see if anything would sell. I stopped doing that unless I was going to donate anyways because the payout was so terrible and took months. They don’t accept a LOT and what they do often doesn’t sell. Sooo not sure how people are making it worth their time to sell through ThredUp. But I can say they are pretty picky with what they accept.
Tips for buying clothes on ThredUp
Search for brands you already love
I think the surest way to find a win item is to search for brands you like and are familiar with your size in that brand. Then, you can narrow your search to see a ton of that brand in your size. From there narrow it by color or type of clothing, like tops.
How to get the best deals on Thred Up
Since I know Ann Taylor XS tops fit me well, I can put in the brand, my size, search just tops, and have 20 or more pages come up. Next, I sort by price low to high to find the best deals. I’ve found dresses there for $10 that way that normally cost $100 in a store.
There is so much on sale! There’s a lot of good stuff because they get over 15K new items in daily. I’m much more prone to try (guilt free) a $4 shirt than I am a $15 shirt. If I can’t return it oh well.
ThredUp is a used Lululemon goldmine
If you love high end workout gear, you can score on ThredUp! A new Lululemon top is around $50, and you can find them for about half off on ThredUp! It felt like much less of a gamble since I know my size too.
I did realize later (though no fault of ThredUp), that Lululemon doesn’t print their sizes on some shirts apparently. My guess is that ThredUp has to guess the size. So one of my returns was a Lululemon shirt because it was way too big even though I ordered what said “size 4” on the website. For future reference, if you have some Lululemon gear and can’t find the “size dot” (their version of a tag), here’s where to find the size dot for your Lululemon gear! It was super helpful for me because I couldn’t find the size on my current Lululemon till I read this.
Avoid items you are very picky about
Whatever it is that you tend to try on 50 of at a store and leave unsatisfied, I’d avoid buying online. For me, that’s pants, jeans, and shorts. I guess I could take a gamble knowing I’d return a bunch, but it’s just easier to try those things on in stores for me.
Always use a promo code
Duh. Just google ThredUp promo code and find one that works.
My experience buying clothes on ThredUP
I scored with my order, which may not happen every time. Out of the 16 things I ordered, I kept 9. My total for 16 items came to $166 including shipping.
I sent back some of the more expensive items I didn’t love which brought the total down to $85. I would have kept 2 less items, but they were both “final sale” items which I knew when I ordered and took a $7 gamble on each.
My tips for shopping ThredUP
Press the heart button on anything you like to easily find it later
One thing made sifting through hundreds of clothing pieces easier. I “liked” (by pressing the heart button) anything that caught my eye.
This essentially created a wish list which made it easy for me to go back to and weed out my least favorites. A few times I saw a duplicate and “liked” both so that I could go back and compare the price and condition later. I chose the cheaper of the 2 identical items. They probably just got processed at different times by different employees!
Get a better deal by buying more items
I decided to earn the free shipping over $79, and take advantage of the 20% off my first order by buying more items.
Don’t expect local thrift store prices because this is a for profit business that has to pay employees, maintain a huge website, pay photographers, and rent buildings. But, you can still expect awesome deals on name brands!
Overall, I genuinely recommend trying out ThredUP now! I have 3 kids and so shopping online is a way to update my wardrobe without needing a babysitter.
Shipping took over a week. My 16 items came in 4 separate packages. They arrived 6-8 days after I ordered with the free shipping over $79 option. I’m spoiled with Amazon’s 2 day shipping I guess!
Some items are just ok. You know the feeling. You’re so excited about that shirt, but then you try it on and it looks “meh”. If you were trying it on at Target you’d just leave it in the dressing room, but when it’s ordered online you have to return or keep an “ok” item.
What to watch out for when buying used clothes
Final sale items. You cannot return these so it is a gamble. If you’re not sure of your size in that brand, I’d hold off with final sale items unless it’s really inexpensive.
Wash used clothes. Another thing is that they are not laundered at the warehouse, so you are getting clothes washed by someone else. With that comes the risk of other people’s germs, perfumes, or even bed bugs (although that one is highly unlikely).
If you are worried about bed bugs when it comes to buying used clothes, here is how to kill bedbugs with high heat.
Do keep in mind ThredUp asks you NOT to launder the clothes if you want to return them. They have the option to not refund your money AND keep the items if you do. Technically that means you would have to try on clothes pre treating them for bed bugs.
Since I’m uncomfortable with that, I toss my dry used clothes right into the dryer on high heat for 60 minutes and hope for the best.
Which route you choose is up to you.
How easy are returns?
I was pleased with ThredUp’s return policy actually. There are 3 ways to start a return.
- Free shipping label. To get a completely free return label, you must choose to refund for store credit. That’s what I did, since I’ll be shopping there again.
- $8.99 shipping label. They’ll fully refund to original form of payment.
- Create your own shipping label. Full refund to original form of payment. This may be a good option, depending on the size of your return.
Return it quickly if you plan to do so!
- You only have 14 days from the date of delivery to send it back.
- Handbags are all final sale
- All items must be as you received them (no removing tags if they had any)
- Some items come with a $1.99 restocking fee. None of my returns did FYI, but you can see which items this applies to as you are starting a return.
Try ThredUp and see what you think
I’d say if you are super thrifty and are used to getting new clothes you love at clearance prices, then buying clothes on ThredUp may not be for you. But if that’s not your strength and you love a good deal on gently used items, then sign up and get $10 to spend!
Worst case, you send it all back, get a refund, and are out $9. Best case, you find a gem at a price too good to pass and fall in love with the idea of buying used. Where have you had luck shopping online for clothes before? I’d love to know in the comments!