Published on April 20, 2017 — Leave a comment

9 Practical Tips to Kick-Start Your Thrifty Life

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As forever fans of home stylist and blogger Emily Henderson, we were beyond thrilled to hear about her passion for thredUP and our mission. We always knew she had a knack for mixing vintage and new but had no idea what an important role secondhand has played in her life. Read on as she shares her thoughts and ideas around what it means to be thrifty plus her nine practical tips to get started.


1. Try to buy vintage or used whenever possible as it’s so much better for the environment (and your wallet).

2. Think secondhand first. But if you go to the mall to buy a brand-new shirt, consider its resale value.

3. Don’t buy anything used you wouldn’t also like if it were new.

4. When shopping thrift, always keep your personal style in mind. Your fashion and your home should always express your personality.

5. Aim for a thrift/new mix when styling your home and outfits. Keep it looking fresh and 2017.

6. Do those minor repairs on your favorite pieces to keep them in the best shape possible. Sew that button, mend that hole, erase that stain.

7. Do a clothes audit. Own 10 pairs of jeans in a size that fit you 5 years ago? Always keep your closet up to date and only full of styles you love to wear.

8. New to the secondhand game? Start with the staples—the pieces you wear all the time.

9. Have fun! The treasure hunt is the true thrill of thrifting.


We sat down with Emily at her gorgeous Glendale home for coffee and a quick chat about why being thrifty is a smart choice for everyone. Read her interview below in which she talks about growing up on secondhand, what conscious living means to her, and where she finds design inspiration. 

What is your philosophy on secondhand?
I know a lot of people who will say they’ve always bought vintage or shopped at thrift stores, but I was seriously raised wearing only secondhand. I was a fourth child so hand-me-downs were a way of life. And my parents were both teachers and had six kids so thrift store shopping wasn’t a hip thing to do, it really was how we clothed ourselves. And I LOVED every second of it then and still do now. I will say that thrift stores these days are so expensive and often so picked over that I’ve lost my mojo. I still buy a lot of vintage and go to the flea market but one of the reasons I love thredUP is that it’s affordable with good pieces and it’s online instead of some thrift stores with questionable environments. It’s bringing back thrift in a new fresh way.

What does conscious living and liveUP mean to you?
We all consume and as a stylist I consume a lot of new, sure, but I try to buy vintage or used whenever possible as I know how much better it is for the environment (and my wallet). LiveUP is a philosophy that I would love to be a little more ingrained in all consumers, to think secondhand first, and then when you want to go to the mall and grab a brand-new shirt, sure do it, but think about its resale value.

What are your thoughts on expressing your personal style through your wardrobe and your home?
Your fashion and your home should look like your personality. If you are vibrant and funny, then that quirk should be displayed in your fashion and your living room. If you are more reserved and calm, then that too is a style that can be easily emulated. Your home and your closet should look like you.

What are your best tips for buying secondhand furniture?
Think about the shape first, finish second. You can always change the finish (reupholster, refinish, paint) but a bad shape can’t be changed. As much as you love that antique dresser make sure that the drawers actually work. It’s so easy to get romanced by antique pieces, but before you pull the trigger make sure that it functions. Anything before 1970 will tend to be higher quality than something made in the ‘80s or ‘90s when we started doing more mass manufactured furniture. If you are buying pieces that were made during that time, just make sure that you are getting a good deal as the quality won’t be as high.

What are your best tips for buying and selling secondhand clothes?
Don’t buy anything used you wouldn’t also like if it were new. Sure, there are some basics that are just great to have, but if you wouldn’t buy it new then maybe it’s not something you should buy used.

What is a good formula for designing a home with new and used furniture?
You definitely need a mix— if it’s all thrifted or vintage it can feel dated and like a thrift store, so you need new pieces (or at least vintage in really good condition) to balance them out and keep it looking fresh and 2017.

What is a good formula for putting together a wardrobe of new and like-new clothing?
When used clothes are in good condition you can basically treat the same as new clothes. Sure, it’s great to mix in something this season or something really trendy with more basics to keep it looking fresh and new.

Which pieces are best to buy secondhand or new?
I say buy all of them secondhand. Basics are always great, and something that feels more colorful and trendy is never a bad choice, too. When in doubt go for pieces that you wear all the time. For me, that’s a chambray top and skinny jeans. I’ll never regret having more of those.

What are the best sites to buy and sell secondhand furniture?
Chairish, Everything But The House, eBay, Craigslist.

Where do you go for design inspiration?
I look to a lot of my friends. Bri from DesignLoveFest, Joy from Oh Joy, Jen Gotch, Justina Blakeney… I’m sure there are a million more!!


Emily Henderson is an HGTV host, home stylist, and founder of the blog Style by Emily Henderson. She specializes in mixing eclectic styles on moderate budgets.