Fashion & Shopping

5 Tips For Thrifting Your Next Fave Sweater

January 29, 2024

Sweater season is far from over. If you are already getting uninspired from your sweater rotation or are lacking some stylish cozy knits, thrifting is a great option. Finding quality knit pieces on a budget can be a difficult task, especially if sustainability is top of mind for you. Whether you are shopping on a resale app, checking out the online offerings of a small, curated vintage boutique or heading to the thrift shop in person, there are a ton of amazing sweaters out there looking for a new home. Here are five tips to help you shop for sweaters secondhand. —Jen Pistor

Before you head to the thrift store, do inventory of your sweaters. What do you have? How many cardigans, turtlenecks and pullovers do you have? Do they all fit? Are you wearing them? It’s important to know what you have before you add anything else into your wardrobe. Sometimes a repair or a shave from a fabric shaver can have old pieces feeling shiny and new again.

Use size as more of a guideline than an exact science. Be sure to look one size above and one size below your usual size. If you typically wear a size large, be sure to look through the medium and extra large sections, too. As we know, the size on the tag means very little and from one brand to another we can wear very different sizes for the same fit. Give yourself time to look through many racks and be flexible. Don’t get hung up on what the tag says, wear what feels right.

Look for natural fabrics like wool, cashmere, linen and cotton. Skip the synthetics with your knits. Most synthetics like polyester are plastic which is derived from oil. Synthetics will shed microplastics every time you wash them. Natural fabrics are not only better for the planet, they will also last longer. Quality sweaters in a natural fabric is the best choice.  

Shopping Hack: When you’re going through the racks of sweaters, brush your hands against the sleeves as you slowly walk by. The cashmere options will feel obvious, but you can double check the label. Cottons and wools will also stand out. The more you shop for natural-fibre sweaters, the easier they become to spot just by feel.

Don’t limit yourself to one section. If you only shop in the women’s section of the thrift shop, you are missing out on the real gem pieces. There are often much better quality pieces in the men’s section. This is where you can find vintage wool sweaters, oversized cotton knits, cashmere knit vests and merino-wool cardigans. Things can often get put away in the wrong location, too. An oversized sweater may be mistaken as a dress or a knit vest may get mixed in with the suits. Then there is the end of the racks where shoppers dump their try ons. You never know what could be hiding.

Think about more than one season when you’re thrifting for sweaters. Cotton sweaters are not only durable and long lasting, they can easily take you from one season to the next with ease. You can layer it in the colder months and wear it on its own in the shoulder seasons. A 100 per cent cotton sweater won’t pill or fade as quickly and if kept folded, will hold its shape for years. Linen is another fabric to keep an eye out for when thrifting. Linen is durable and works for any season. Cardigans are a year round item, so a cotton or linen cardigan can be worn any time of year.


  1. Shirley

    March 11th, 2024 at 6:47 pm

    Thank you for these tips @shke5456

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