a spring capsule wardobe with thredup.

March 1, 2016

thred_up_reading_my_tea_leaves_IMG_5240This post is sponsored by thredUp, a secondhand shopping website selling like-new clothes.

I’ve never really embraced the term capsule wardrobe. I prefer minimalist wardrobe. It feels a little more holistic and a little less fleeting. Besides, capsules remind me of pills that need swallowing. But regardless of what you call it, when thredUp reached out to have me work on a post about my tips for building a thoughtful wardrobe for spring, I knew I had a few things to say on the subject and I was eager to familiarize myself with a site that so many of you have raved about in this space.thred_up_reading_my_tea_leaves_IMG_5176For folks who aren’t familiar, thredUp is an online marketplace for both selling and buying secondhand goods. It’s like a consignment shop on the internet with some real advantages over the traditional consignment system.thred_up_reading_my_tea_leaves_IMG_5190 I’m the first to admit that I can be a lazy secondhand shopper when it comes to my wardrobe. I’ll hold out waiting for the perfect vintage dresser for years, but I’m much less thrilled by the hunt for clothes. One of my least favorite things about traditional consignment store shopping is sorting through unruly racks and piles. While I understand that for a lot of folks this is the fun part, I find it to be overwhelming. More often than not, I give up shortly after walking into a secondhand store.thred_up_reading_my_tea_leaves_IMG_5182The genius of thredUp is that the website does the sorting for you, making it easier to apply some of the guidelines that I use when thinking about my minimalist—er, capsule—wardrobe. I found the thredUp site to be particularly helpful in three main areas:

Color Palette

You already know that I’m a color palette devotee. If you ask me, it’s one of the most helpful things to embrace when opting for a pared down wardrobe, because everything matches! One of my favorite features of thredUp is that you can narrow your search by color. In my efforts to not get overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of available options, this was hugely helpful. I could sort by blues and browns and whites and creams and cut the purple and yellow out of the equation entirely. (Not to harsh on yellow on purple, but you know what I’m saying.)

Limiting Factors

Self-imposed restrictions like choosing only to support brands whose ethics and ethos I admire is another way that I keep my wardrobe slim. I loved being able to search thredUp for specific designers and brands. 

Specifics

Finally, if you’re after a particular item to round out your wardrobe, it’s easy to search for that item specifically. I’d been admiring the silk tank tops since I wrote about them earlier this winter. When I logged into thredUp for the first time, the first thing I did was put in a search for those tanks specifically. And: snagged one.

Here’s what I ended up with:thred_up_reading_my_tea_leaves_IMG_5187Jeans

I’ve written before about the relative merits of buying designer jeans. Potential eye rolls notwithstanding, I find that designer jeans stand up to wear better than other brands and have more consistent fit and styling. All of these things make them ideal candidates for secondhand shopping. The pair I found were actually brand new, with the tags still attached (and hugely marked down from what I would have otherwise paid). Full disclosure: They ended up not being right for me (ah, the sometimes pesky reality of jean shopping), but ThredUp gives you 14 days to make any returns, so no worries on that front.thred_up_reading_my_tea_leaves_IMG_5198Silk Cami

Silk camisoles at affordable prices? They’re hard to come by. But the genius of thredUp is that someone else’s mistake is your triumph. Remember the Eileen Fisher tank top I was admiring in this post? Well I didn’t find the exact camisole, but I did snag a new Eileen Fisher camisole in a color I needed, with its bluesign-certification tag still in tact, for a fraction price of what I would have paid for it new.thred_up_reading_my_tea_leaves_IMG_5250Special Blouse:

I chose a special-for-spring blouse to add to my closet this year. It’s from a past season’s collection at Rag & Bone, but it fits the bill for the tiny flower prints and prairie-inspired designs that have been on the runway this spring, and in my heart since forever. I love the old-fashioned print and the fact that it’s firmly in my color palette without being boring. thred_up_reading_my_tea_leaves_IMG_5267The real beauty is that the things I found were things that worked seamlessly with what I already own. The blouse pairs beautifully with my favorite overalls. My trusty gray cardigan on top will help me wait out the last of the cold weather. I’ll pair the blouse with a pair of vanilla-colored pants later this spring and layer it under a striped boatneck tee for a little bit of pattern play on cool days this summer. The camisole is pure heaven and goes—as you know—with everything. The jeans—once I find the perfect ones—will be workhorses that a trusty pair of jeans always are.

Here’s my best advice: Don’t try to build a spring capsule wardrobe from scratch. Make slow, careful decisions in every season about what additions make sense for your closet, and search until you find just the right thing. Right, mostly, because you love it.  

Just for you: ThredUp is offering Reading My Tea Leaves readers a 40% discount off first-time purchases (up to $50) with the code RMTL40. The code expires 4/1/2016.

This post was sponsored by thredUp. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support this blog. 

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37 Comments

  • Reply Alex Chua March 1, 2016 at 8:42 am

    One of the worst things about buying clothes secondhand (other than sorting through tons of unruly piles) is the inability to return something that isn’t quite right. I stopped trying to buy clothes through eBay and other online retailers because it just ended up being a waste of money, and generally I find that someone else’s mistake is likely to be yours as well. There’s a reason people get rid of things in the first place. Having said that, I will give Threadup a try in order to search for duplicates of items I really love, but are no longer available to shop through their original retailers.

  • Reply Amanda K. March 1, 2016 at 8:43 am

    ThredUp is also great for making more room in your closet season to season. If you’re interested, you can read about my experience selling with ThredUp

    here: http://www.thekriegers.org/2015/11/my-experience-selling-with-thredup/

    and here: http://www.thekriegers.org/2015/10/cleaning-out-my-closet/

  • Reply Melanie March 1, 2016 at 9:32 am

    I buy wayyyy too many clothes so I might be interested on donating to Thred up! But I will check it out!! =)

    • Reply Meghan March 1, 2016 at 1:19 pm

      You don’t just donate to thredUp, they give you $$$ for the clothing you send them!

  • Reply Lia Domingues March 1, 2016 at 9:32 am

    I was interested to see this site, but it COMMANDS that you log in.
    No, thanks.
    I don’t wish to share on facebook nor provide my Gmail to any site without the possibility of taking a look first.

    So, it doesn’t help to make a fine advertise if they don’t allow us to look at the site “for free”.

    • Reply Erin Boyle March 1, 2016 at 10:07 am

      You’re right. It does appear that the only way to browse is to log in! Good feedback for Thredup and I’m sure something they’ll note!

    • Reply Monique March 1, 2016 at 10:34 am

      I’ll briefly add my voice here… as a Canadian shopper (and often left out of these super awesome companies!) one of the first things I do is try to see whether they ship to Canada and whether it will cost me an arm and a leg (a very real consideration these days with the US dollar being so strong). Having to share my login info just to do that seems a bit much.

      But I love this concept so much! ThredUp, come to Canada! 🙂

    • Reply Kate March 1, 2016 at 1:34 pm

      that bugs me too, but by clicking on “terms of use” from the login popup, I was able to bypass that (https://www.thredup.com/tou) and get to other pages, like About: https://www.thredup.com/about
      It’s usually worth trying to get around these kind of things 🙂

      • Reply Monique March 2, 2016 at 9:12 am

        Thanks Kate! Some intrepid googling helped me out (which got me around the pages as you pointed out) and to their Facebook page where someone had asked this question too. The only bummer is now I love the concept that much more! Oh, Canada.

  • Reply ladylyn March 1, 2016 at 10:37 am

    Have you tried Henry&Belle jeans? I found them by accident on ThredUP, and they’re my favorites now.

    • Reply Erin Boyle March 1, 2016 at 10:51 am

      Haven’t tried ’em. So glad you love yours!

  • Reply Emmy March 1, 2016 at 11:54 am

    Hey Erin, I love that Rag & Bone blouse! Can I ask what search terms you used to find it? I’ve tried to use Thred Up a few times now and always get discouraged at the sheer amount of stuff there is to wade through. Your blouse is pretty much exactly what I’ve been hoping to find, but no dice yet!

    • Reply Erin Boyle March 1, 2016 at 12:03 pm

      I filtered through by designer (the general filter to get only designer brands) and then by the colors that I mentioned above (and size of course!). Beyond that the find was serendipitous—I didn’t search for ivory blouse with tiny blue flowers, for instance. Good luck with the search!

    • Reply Sara March 1, 2016 at 11:03 pm

      Emmy I’m loving it too! Cant find it anyhere. Good luck to you lovely!

  • Reply Rebecca N March 1, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    I have been browsing ThredUp for weeks now looking for a dress for weddings and banquets this spring and was thrilled to have your 40% off link! A NEW little black dress for less than $20? Yes, please! Now hopefully it fits…… Thank you!

    • Reply Erin Boyle March 1, 2016 at 12:05 pm

      so glad! good luck!

  • Reply Emily March 1, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    Ooh, can you tell us more about this trusty cardigan? I’m on a maddening hunt for one relaxed, lightweight gray cardigan to layer as the weather warms up. My previous cardigan is a few stages past shabby, seriously limiting the wearability of my short-sleeve tops!
    Thank you for the final piece of wisdom in this post. I sometimes feel the urge to scrap it all and start again, but that’s probably not the way to a successful small wardrobe 🙂

    • Reply Erin Boyle March 1, 2016 at 12:24 pm

      My gray cardigan is one I got two years ago from Everlane. It’s a bit oversized and cashmere and it’s gotten a ton of use!

      • Reply Emily March 1, 2016 at 12:39 pm

        Thank you!

    • Reply SLG March 1, 2016 at 8:04 pm

      I’ll also put in a plug for a “sweater shaver,” or any of various ways for removing pills from sweaters. I find that removing pills takes a little while but it does make my sweaters look almost brand new. So I call the sweater-shaving a “meditative ritual” 🙂 and enjoy the fact that I’m lengthening the life of my sweaters.

      (No particular one to recommend; they’re generally available on Amazon and I’ve had decent luck with getting whichever one is rated the highest.)

      • Reply Erin Boyle March 1, 2016 at 8:46 pm

        Agreed! (I’ve been known to use an old razor this task!)

  • Reply Jen March 1, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    My first experience with ThredUp was disappointing. The dress I ordered arrived with a hole. The customer service person was very apologetic, and the dress was easy to return, but they would not refund the shipping charge. I understand shipping would be my obligation if I hadn’t liked the dress, but I wasn’t down for paying for shipping on their error. After some back and forth, he offered a credit to my account in the amount of shipping, which was fine. I just don’t think I should have been forced to haggle for it.

    On the second order, everything was perfect, and I was quite happy with my choices.

    • Reply Erin Boyle March 1, 2016 at 2:46 pm

      Ah, interesting! Glad you got it sorted and went back for seconds!

    • Reply Lisa March 12, 2016 at 6:36 pm

      Hi Jen!

      I have been shopping with Thredup for over a year and usually receive near perfect merchandise (even the items that aren’t priced as “new with tags”). I received two flawed items @ different times and for the first, they refunded my money with just a photo of the damage thru my phone. It was super simple and I didn’t even need to bother with the return. The other was a child’s wool cardigan that had clearly been shrunk. I received an immediate refund as well as a return label. Perhaps your issue would warrant a 2nd call as I’ve never had that problem. Perhaps it was a “newbie”. Best wishes!

  • Reply Vicky March 1, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    Oh !! Erin! I come here from SFGirlbyBay and your blog is beautiful, simple and I love it!
    kisses from Argentina 🙂

    • Reply Erin Boyle March 1, 2016 at 2:46 pm

      Thank you!

  • Reply MJ March 1, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    Thanks for the tip, Kate. I tried that and did get to the “terms of use” (absolutely riveting reading!) and got to see one random page of women’s clothing. Like others, I don’t want any article of clothing badly enough to create an account in order to see if anything is truly something I want or like Monique to see if they ship to Canada and at what cost.
    It sounds like an interesting site but not worth giving up personal information to peruse.

    • Reply Erin Boyle March 1, 2016 at 4:15 pm

      Hey there: Totally understand the concern here. I know that the philosophy behind this kind of system is usually about targeted experience, special offers, and improving customer experience. I also know it can feel like handing over a lot of information. A perhaps helpful tip? I know a lot of folks who use a special email address for these kinds of signups specifically. It’s maybe not your ideal choice, but it does give a little bit of control back to you if you’re still into checking out the site. Hope that helps some!

  • Reply Becky March 1, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    Since discovering your blog last year I’ve been working on only buying clothes I love that I’ll actually wear. Thred up has been a great way for me to buy nicer clothes from brands I normally wouldn’t be able to afford. I also like that they recycle any donations that don’t make the cut responsibly so they don’t end up in landfills.

  • Reply Laurel March 1, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    Hi Erin! Just wondering where your overalls are from? Thank you!

  • Reply Mary McDaniel March 19, 2016 at 7:07 pm

    Thanks for the discount code! I used to be a big fan of thrifting, but since I had a wee one seven months ago, it just hasn’t been a priority. I’ve ordered three pairs of jeans–I’m hoping one of them fits! I also found a beautiful silk tank–thanks for the inspiration!

  • Reply Michelle April 3, 2016 at 9:33 pm

    I’ve been donating my clothes to thredup for a while. It’s so easy! I haven’t made any purchases though. I’m a little hesitant because the photos don’t show the clothes on models so its hard to see how it might look. But I think buying classic from trusted brands like Eileen Fisher is the way to go. Thanks for sharing! I’m also really passionate about minimalist lifestyle and wardrobes. Come check me out here: dritgirl.com

  • Reply Angela May 19, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    I realize this is late but this is my recent experience with Thred up. I sent in my bag and they kept 16 items to sell for $152.50, I got $21. That’s not even $2 per item. I know this is a business and they are in it to make money but that’s ridiculous. Keep buying from them if you want but I would sell my items elsewhere.

    • Reply Erin Boyle May 20, 2016 at 10:50 am

      So sorry to hear that you haven’t had a great experience with selling your clothes this way!

  • Reply Angela May 19, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    Just got email for my second bag (I sent 3 bags total) and this time I earned $22.85 for 35 items. This site used to pay out fairly but now I’m afraid it’s just a huge rip off.

    • Reply Amanda K. May 20, 2016 at 10:36 pm

      I got a lot less for my second bag than my first. I’m wondering if they snag you with a great payout the first time, or if perhaps they got the best of my stuff with the first bag. Either way, I hear a lot of people say the second bag didn’t compare to the first. If pay out declines, then their inventory will suffer and so will their business.

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