Photo: How to shop thrift and consignment stores

I'm wearing a men's shirt, turned into a ladies blouse, the belt is courtesy of my last clothing swap and a Betsey Johnson skirt (a consignment find). (Credit:Brendon Purdy)

Thrift and consignment store shopping is a treasure hunt. I score amazing finds — even when I'm not looking — like a Betsey Johnson skirt, Calvin Klein coat and a cashmere sweater, each for under 20 bucks!

Try these 12 tips on for size to "green" your wardrobe:

Alterations are your friends! Always try on items. Don't guess size or fit. Then hem, repair, resole, etc.

Avoid trends. Why look like everyone else or get sucked into a seasonal vortex of buying things you don't need?

Choose sweatshop-free. It's not a third-party certified claim...yet. Made in Canada is one way to ethically source.

Host a clothing swap. Any time works but people usually go through closets in spring and fall.

Kids don't care. Little ones don't know the difference between old and new. And the younger they are, the faster they go through things. One month in $50 shoes is not sustainable! Find a kids' consignment store and put the savings into an education fund! (Or host a kids' clothing swap with neighbourhood parents.)

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"Let the clothes find you!" says eco-stylist Myriam Laroche. Don't shop for a specific something. Visit local thrift and consignment stores regularly and keep an open mind.

Look for well-made garments. Used or new, check the seams, elastics, etc. High-end brands are often built to last decades and outlast trends.

Matching is overrated. Release your inner stylist! Things only need to "go". Does creating an outfit hurt your brain? Follow eco-style mavens (@myriamlaroche), copy magazine pictures and watch "green" runway videos!

Purge what you don't wear. Some have a rule that if an item goes a year unworn, it's time to consign, donate or give it away. How do you de-clutter?
Store clothes without mothballs. Protect your treasures!

Treat stains. Found a smudged something you can't pass up? Think you ruined a favourite piece? Try my homemade stain solutions. (I'd also love to hear your suggestions for eco-friendly stain removers! Please post a comment in this blog.)

Wash before you wear. It'll remove a percentage of chemical treatments (from new items) and synthetic fragrances.

What trick or tip are you willing to share?

Lindsay Coulter, a fellow Queen of Green

August 10, 2014

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Oct 09, 2015
8:00 PM

I LOVE shopping at Value Village and consignment stores. 1. Price Point

Aug 19, 2014
3:23 AM

Hi Lindsay, How are you and compliments on a great little article! Succinct, stylish and sustainable..!! My very stylish and also very ecologically sensitive friend Jessica put me on to it. Really good website and I love the whole Queen of Green concept. In addition to working in the environment field here in Canberra, Australia, a sideline — and one of my passions — is retro and vintage fashion. I am part of a market stall and creative project: Librarian Chic. In terms of ideals, we don’t care whether someone purchased from us or another recycled fashion source, we just love people’s stories of second hand style successes..! In support of this (and I thought you might like this particularly) we have on our facebook page a photo album which is all about why people love their favourite recycled items of clothing and accessories . It’s called “Librarian Chic: Style Secrets of 2014.” I hope you can check it out and that you like it. If you do, feel free to connect..! Stylish regards — Nathan

Aug 18, 2014
10:59 AM

Love this. I wrote a similar post a while back on my blog. I find the BEST fashions at the local thrift stores. I love to find items that I wouldn’t normally venture too but because the price is so good I can really play with my style.

Thanks for the great article. Read my post on a the topic at

Jennifer (designer and owner at Salts Organic Clothing)

Aug 18, 2014
10:50 AM

Thank you for reinforcing lessons that I learned from my parents. You have a repeating paragraph above (Kids don’t care). I will remember these lessons as I continue to prepare for back to school. Thanks!

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