how to get a new fall work wardrobe without spending a ton

And now a word from a sponsor…

Maybe it’s because back-to-school shopping instills it in us as kids, but I always have the urge to buy new clothes in the fall. It could also be because fall and winter clothes are so much better than summer clothes … Scarves! Thick tights! Boots!

If you’re thinking about refreshing your work wardrobe for fall and winter, thredUP is the place to do it, especially if you want to save massive amounts of money and therefore get an unreasonable number of items that otherwise would blow your budget.

thredUP is the largest online store that buys and sells high-quality secondhand fashion for women and kids. You can shop like-new fashion from top name brands and designers for up to 90% off.

 90% off is a ridiculous discount and you can get SO MANY MORE BOOTS that way.

They’ve got great brands like Anthropologie, Ann Taylor, J.Crew, Banana Republic, DKNY, Cole Haan, Theory, Tahari, and tons more, and you can filter your searches by size, color, price, and style.

This is also one of the nicest secondhand shopping experiences you can have. They triple inspect each item by hand to ensure all clothes are like-new, and a lot of their items are even brand new with tags. Everything I’ve ordered from them has always arrived in excellent condition; they’re picky about what they’ll sell, and it shows.

In my most recent order, I spent $153.95 and got a silk top from Calvin Klein, a dress from Ann Taylor Loft, a dress from BCBG, and a blazer and pants from the Gap. In total, I saved $462.05 off of regular prices. Think of all the tights I can buy with that. So many tights.

If you’re intrigued, thredUP is offering Ask A Manager readers a special discount: The first 100 people to use the code MANAGER40 will get an extra 40% off their first order! (This applies to new U.S. customers only. Discount up to $50, and redeemable online only.)

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by thredUP. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

{ 52 comments… read them below }

  1. Katie the Fed*

    I love buying secondhand. Not just the money savings but the environmental impact. Everything you buy secondhand is one less item to be manufactured, shipped, and end up in a landfill. I’m trying to buy everything I can for the baby secondhand (he won’t be using them for long).

    Will have to check out ThredUp when I’m past maternity pants :)

      1. Green*

        Hear! Hear!
        I have transitioned this year to exclusively buying secondhand for the environment’s sake. 90% of the resources in any production is up front for initial manufacture.

        1. Murphy*

          A lot of them aren’t really discounted though, so you have to know what you’re looking at You can buy a new pack of onesies for $10, and ThredUp will have them for individual sale for $3-5 each.

          1. Karen D*

            Right. I use thredUP for fancier/designer stuff, and hit Swap and Schoola (and good ol’ Goodwill) for basics.

            The cool thing about thredUP is that its descriptions are meticulously accurate and they are very picky about what they accept – generally speaking, it has to look new or they won’t take it. So if you see something you like at a price you like, you can buy it without worry.

            1. Joan Callamezzo*

              its descriptions are meticulously accurate

              Unfortunately that hasn’t been my experience. I found many items listed in my sizes that were described incorrectly as to style–e.g., “sleeveless” for a top that obviously had sleeves, “midi” skirts that were above the knee, “wool” for a summer skirt that appeared to be a light synthetic, and so on.

              1. Karen D*

                Oh, bummer! But good to know. I have had good luck with everything I got from them, but everything you describe would be a real problem for me, so I can imagine that was frustrating!

              2. MCMonkeyBean*

                I was surprised at how much trouble I had trying to search for items, but it seems like they maybe grew exponentially recently and are struggling to figure out how to describe/tag everything well. I hope they fix that because overall I enjoyed my experience shopping there but the inability to search for just the type of items I wanted to see kept me from buying more than I otherwise might have.

              3. TM*

                I’ve had bad experiences with their descriptions as well. The plus sized clothing is the worst. They tend to list straight sized jeans by waist size, then classify them as plus. Sorry, but a 24 inch waist is not a plus size! Also, just had to return a dress that was listed as a 5x (figured it would be big and I could alter it down), but when it arrived, the tag says XS. They used to be great, but their sizing has been so off lately that I’ve had to return everything in the last 3 orders I’ve placed. Now I’m just trying to use up my credit.

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          I’ve not been wowed by the kids’ clothes from ThredUP – the prices aren’t great, and a lot of the discount assumes you’re going to pay retail price for something (which I rarely do). I can often get brands like Gymboree, Children’s Place, and Gap Kids for less in the store than they are priced on ThredUP. Even better, I can do semi-annual consignment sales (not shops, sales) and make out like a bandit (and then sell it all back when the kid outgrows it, assuming they have not also destroyed it).

          ThredUP is great for women’s work clothes, though. (Particularly when your mass retailer keeps discontinuing the only style pants that fits you well.) If you know what brand/size fits you, there are some really good deals to be had. I still don’t think it’s as good as Twice was, but I find it better and easier to use than something like Poshmark.

          1. Karen D*

            Poshmark is the only big consignment site I don’t recommend. Of the seven transactions I’ve had there, four have had problems … basically it seems to combine the worst parts of eBay (like sellers being deceptive) a clunky interface, massively inflated prices and a general bad attitude among many of the buyers and sellers.

    1. Specialk9*

      Here’s a secret for you – you’re never really past maternity pants. :) A friend of mine said “you can pry my maternity pants from my cold dead hands” and I didn’t get it then, but now I do. I always used to wear undershirts or belly bands to prevent showing skin or underwear. Now I just wear my black Gap work maternity trousers (ironic since their regular pants don’t fit me) and it has a built in discreet soft black panel that keeps me modest. And since my belly can still ache, years later, it’s nice to not have a hard waistband digging in.

      You can pry my maternity pants from my cold dead hands. :D

    2. XK*

      I’d recommend your local thrift store for super cheap onesies and shirts and stuff when they are very little – is there a super nasty mess that came out of one end or the other? No need to clean, just toss!

    3. Cath*

      I got pretty much all my maternity clothes from Thredup this past baby. Retail prices on maternity clothes is a scam, pure and simple.

  2. Dust Bunny*

    Layers and accessories!

    I live in a hot climate where a dedicated seasonal wardrobe doesn’t make sense–you pretty much wear summer clothes all the time except for a little while in what passes for winter, when you wear your awesome cabled stockings and adorable sweaters and jackets over the dresses you wear, anyway.

    1. Bea W*

      I live in a climate that is supposed to have fall. First frost usually happens in the burbs early-mid October. It’s still in the 80s. It will be in the 80s next week too. Enjoying a brief dip into the 70s between. I have not been able to wear fall clothes yet!

  3. LizB*

    Days I go thrifting and find things I like are seriously the best days. It wasn’t through ThredUp, but I had an awesome thrifting score last week shopping for new work pants: two pairs, super nicely-fitted and professional, already the right length for my short little legs so I don’t have to hem them, and they’re seriously as comfy as wearing sweats. The only downside is one of them doesn’t have front pockets (boo), but I can live with that. Also I found a dress that fits me like a dream and DOES have pockets. It was an awesome day.

    1. S*

      OMG, I love, LOVE my local thrift shop! My husband thinks that 62 F is a reasonable temperature to keep the house in the winter (and when I’m paying the bills, I have to agree with him!) So, know how I handle it? I wear thrifted cashmere sweaters over my PJs! (I telecommute). I buy giant men’s cashmere sweaters for like $8, and I wash them on delicate. They shrink, yes, but that just makes them thicker and cosier.

    2. R2D2*

      Amazing! I love thrift shopping. I scored an adorable faux leather jacket at Goodwill a few weeks ago and have received so many compliments. It fits me perfectly and only cost $15. I’ve had some success with ThredUp as well, but ordering online is tricky as women’s sizes are often inconsistent.

  4. stitchinthyme*

    I love having a job where I can wear jeans and t-shirts, and not have to spend tons of money on clothing!

  5. Not a Morning Person*

    I’ve used thredup and was very impressed with the things I got, including a very nice Ralph Lauren cashmere winter coat for only about $60.00.

  6. chocoholic*

    I have been using ThredUp for about a year now. I have been so happy with the things I have gotten and they have a super easy return policy. I will say that their returns have been very slow, taking several weeks to process. But they have been responsive when I have complained.

  7. Gina*

    I love BUYING from ThredUp. I do NOT recommend selling to them – they discount the value way too much (which is their business model and they need to make their profit), but sell elsewhere.

    1. MCL*

      Interesting. I literally got a bag yesterday from them to send in clothing for sale. I think I was maybe going to donate some of the pile anyway (so even getting a little bit might be fine), but is there another place you recommend selling? I’m getting rid of some plus-size women’s clothing; a few pieces are pretty nice.

    2. SCORM Hacker*

      Second this on the selling side, I’ve recently had a horrible selling experience, sent two bags full of like new and some new with tag items, and literally got a total of $10. Some of my nicest stuff they didn’t even take and where it ends up, who knows. I saw their online reviews too late, but my experience seems to be a fairly common occurrence with people trying to sell with them. You would be much better off selling to your local second hand store, you’ll get much better return and much less headache.

      1. Cath*

        I did okay on my fits bag, but they changed the valuation model and I actually lost money on my last bag. Sad.

    3. SCORM Hacker*

      Second this on the selling side, I’ve recently had a horrible selling experience, sent two bags full of like new and some new with tag items, and literally got a total of $10 (which ended up being around $3 after they deducted the price for the selling bag). Some of my nicest stuff they didn’t even take and where it ends up, who knows. I saw their online reviews too late, but my experience seems to be a fairly common occurrence with people trying to sell with them. You would be much better off selling to your local second hand store, you’ll get much better return and much less headache!

    4. ggg*

      I’ve actually had modest success with selling (it was that or donate) but not such luck with buying. And I wouldn’t necessarily blame that on ThredUp — I just end up not liking most of the items I tried for various reasons.

      I had much greater success buying kids’ clothes from them.

  8. The Other Dawn*

    I’m thinking about trying this. I’ve been using Stitch Fix. I’m on my third shipment and I’m just not feeling it. Not so much because of the clothing choices I’m receiving–although that’s part of it–but because it’s so hard to figure out my size. I’m sometimes a Misses XL and sometimes a Women’s 1X. It seems to me mostly with tops that the 1X is too big, and the Misses is too small for the bottoms.

    Maybe I’ll give this a try and see what happens. I suspect that mail order just isn’t for me anymore; I really need to try things on in the store.

    1. Murphy*

      I’ve tried StitchFix too. I’ve had two shipments and I’m giving it one more try. So far, mostly the stylist is ignoring all of my preferences, but I have fit issues at all.

      ThredUp is nice because they actually provide the measurements, so you can have a somewhat good idea of whether it will fit you.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, this is my last box from SF. When I get the shipment notification I go into the checkout to see the items I’m getting. Again, I’m getting a blouse that looks almost like the last two that I said I hated, a necklace that doesn’t look like I’m going to like it, and straight leg pants, which I said I didn’t like. I think, too, that I can be very picky about clothing, so that could be another issue.

        1. Murphy*

          I said I liked bold colors and patterns and did not like skinny pants. 3/5 items were black, one was beige, and one of the black items were skinny pants.

      2. knitcrazybooknut*

        I really did not like Stitch Fix. My first box had one great top that I kept, with other items that were not for me, and the second box had three shirts that were awful and not at all to my taste, not even close to my description as given. The jeans fit perfectly but were out of my price range. I cancelled after the second box.

        I’m disappointed that ThredUp wants my email address before I can enter the site.

    2. all aboard the anon train*

      I used to do Stitch Fix and moved over to Trunk Club. TC is a Nordstrom company, so some of the clothes are pricier than SF, but I’ve gotten some nice blouses for about $30-$40 and had splurged on some nicer items. They have physical locations in certain cities, and you can go in and work with a stylist, which I think is what I liked about it. Trying on clothes to have a stylist see what works on my body and what doesn’t meant that the first trunk I was sent had all 12 items fit wonderfully to both my body type and my style.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, I’ve heard great things about TC and Nordstrom’s stylist service. Seems like this would be easier for me: I can work with someone in the store to see what fits, what doesn’t, how to match pieces, etc.

    3. Just Another Techie*

      Stitch Fix doesn’t go up to my size :(

      I’ve been using LeTote for maternity clothes, and so far it’s been pretty great. I’m a US 16/18 and very busty up top, and they’ve been good about sending me things that will fit properly.

  9. KL*

    I just got my most recent order from thred up a few days ago. I was really excite to find a pair of Ann Taylor Loft dress pants for $15 that were exactly like a pair I wore out last year. And a super cute and kindda-funky-boho sweater from Anthropologie for $15 as well.

    I have to return a dress, but they make returns super easy.

  10. Portia*

    I tried ThredUp because of Alison’s recommendation and discount code, and now I don’t know what I’d do without it. I get almost all my work clothes from there. If you download the app on your phone, it gives you pretty frequent discount codes and free shipping offers.
    The only downside: I generally wind up returning about half my order because online sizing is just hard to pin down, and I find ThredUp’s measurements are not very accurate. But if you’re willing to get refunds in store credit, you can return anything for free, so it’s not really a problem.

    1. Ornery PR*

      I also first heard of ThreadUp from this site. I’m actually wearing a shirt I got from there today and it’s now one of my favorites. I’ve only ever sent one thing back because it was too small, and have loved every other piece I’ve bought. I do love the idea of buying second hand, and though I’m a little disappointed to hear about people’s send-in-my-clothes experiences, I think I’ll try it anyway. It’s either that or taking them to good will or sending them there through the Amazon donation service.

  11. Laura the Librarian*

    I can vouch for ThredUp. I tried it after Alison’s earlier recommendation and I love it. I wear a lot of stuff from Ann Taylor and the Loft and I’ve gotten so many great deals there!

    1. Salamander*

      Yup. I love ThredUp. Though I work from home most of the time, I am often in need of life staples: jeans, cargo pants, tops, cardigans, etc. I got some amazing deals on winter coats over the summer.

  12. Gaia*

    I really wanted to use thredUp. I wanted to like them. But I take issue with the fact that they require me to give them contact information before I can even view their products.

    1. Alli525*

      I logged in with my Amazon account – hopefully that will limit their ability to see my email address and spam me. If not… hey, “unsubscribe me now” is essentially law when it comes to promotional emails.

  13. FormerEmployee*

    If you can afford to spend a bit more, try new stuff from J Jill. What I wear and recommend in particular is their wearever line. Comfortable, stretchy and forgiving – pants & skirts are elastic waist. They have petite, regular, tall and women’s sizes. I always mention them when clothing is the topic and no I am not now and never have been an employee of theirs.

    I also like their linen pants – the elastic waist ones.

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