There’s Money on Those Hangers: 8 Tips for Selling Old Clothes on Instagram

A woman emerges from her clothing wrack wearing a pink blazer.
Getty Images

The first stage of selling clothing on Instagram is usually denial.

Much like grief, getting rid of old clothes that have been trusted friends over the years is not easy. But between grief and your eventual acceptance, there’s another emotion we all have to go through to sell clothes on Instagram successfully: preparation.

There’s no wrong way to sell clothes on Instagram (it’s an art, not a science), but there are methods that might help you get your desired result — your clothes sold quickly and out of your closet. The key, as with anything selling online, comes down to pricing and presentation. If you present your options well and price them low, you have a better chance at a sale.

8 Ways to Win Instagram

We rounded up some of the best simple tips to keep in mind as you go through your closet and start selling your old clothes on Instagram.

1. Work Up the Crowd

Treat your closet sale as an event and not an ongoing phenomenon. You’ve decided to sell your pieces now and not later for a reason. If you have a dedicated Instagram brand with followers who admire your fashion sense, then you have a built-in audience.

Consider teasing your Instagram closet sale in your stories. Market the sale by talking about some of your favorite items in advance. And to really get the anticipation going, try a countdown sticker in your stories. People can tap the sticker to get a notification when your sale goes live.

2. Visuals Matter

It goes without saying that photos are key on Instagram. Descriptions are important, but good visuals can sell your product. Remember that you are selling your old clothes and not curated vintage. If you can take a well-lit photo with a clean background and feel comfortable posing, consider modeling the clothes yourself. Remember to look for natural light, which tends to be in the morning or about two hours before sunset, or warm artificial light. Avoid cluttering the photo with additional accessories or furniture which can prevent shoppers from focusing on what you are selling.

If you don’t have the time for a staged photo shoot, find old photos of yourself in the clothing at your most confident. Seeing what the clothing items look like on a person is a bonus.

3. Use Instagram Stories for Tours

Congratulations! Your sale has gone live. If you have a countdown going, you might already have some immediate interest. Consider taking your followers through a tour of your closet sale in your stories. Narrate different items with tales of where you’ve worn them and comments about the fit. If you explain why you fell in love with the clothes, then your followers might fall in love with them as well.

And to make the sale feel like an organic and participatory event, update your stories as pieces sell. There’s nothing wrong with creating a little excitement around your old clothes. They deserve new homes!

4. Give Details

Although images tell a large part of the story, people need to know the details of your items to buy them. Make sure to note sizes, measurements and stains or tears, if relevant. If you are selling vintage pieces from a thrift store that might have unique sizing, try to give a guide to what contemporary size that piece might fit.

Be prepared to have extended conversations in your DMs. People often want to know more before they buy. As long as you have the correct information on hand about your clothes, you’ll be ready to go.

5. Use a Hashtag

Hashtags are becoming increasingly passé on Instagram, but in the fashion realm, they still work. What are the dominant characteristics of your clothes? Are they vintage or from a thrift store? Are they a classic and popular brand, like Madewell or Lululemon? Are they a type of gear, like athleisure, preppy clothing or goth? Try hashtagging your posts or stories based on a subgroup that might attract new followers.

6. Price it Right

If you’re selling clothes you’ve had in your closet for years, it’s best to price them low. Think of all the memories you’ve gotten out of them. Making any money off of your old clothes is a success.

To show buyers the value they’re getting, you can post the original price of the item (what you paid for it) versus what you are charging for it now. Perhaps you’re selling a $300 designer dress for $50. Share that information. If a buyer feels they’re getting a bargain, they’re usually more inclined to buy.

But the best way to get your clothes to sell is to price them at incredibly low rates — think between $10 and $50.

7. Diversify Your Images

Don’t post one photo and think that’s the end of your sale. At the same time, if you are running a closet sale from your personal Instagram account, consider relying heavily on Instagram stories to promote each separate item and posting once or twice about the sale itself. If you bombard your followers with posts of individual clothing pieces, you run the risk of having them all mute you.

Plan in advance the best way to promote your sale through stories and posts. One option is to create a single post with your clothing highlights and then direct followers to your stories. If you have a lot of items to sell and want to space them out over days, post a few at a time and promote them in your stories. Make sure you are offering people different content in each forum rather than hitting them with the same information.

8. Business Accounts Should Use Product Tags

If you have an Instagram business account, then you’ve probably done this before. In that case, most of this advice may already seem obvious. But one way to utilize Instagram to its highest degree is through product tags.

These tags allow the seller to use the platform as an e-commerce site. Potential buyers can click on an item and a tag pops up with the price and a way to purchase the item through Instagram. It makes the buying process seamless and significantly cuts down on those “How much is this skirt?” questions in your DMs.

Writer Elizabeth Djinis is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder, often writing about selling goods online through social platforms. Her work has appeared in Teen Vogue, Smithsonian Magazine and the Tampa Bay Times.