Don’t you wish thrift store shopping could be just a little bit easier?
In high school I wanted to have a closet full of clothes and endless combinations of outfits, but since I wasn’t independently wealthy I had to make the tips I earned at my waitressing job go the distance. Combine this with an early affinity for vintage clothing (thanks to James at bleubirdblog.com) an obsession with thrift-store shopping was born. I always got compliments on my outfits, and by senior year I won the superlative “best dressed”…and most of my clothes were secondhand!
Over the years I have transitioned from spending hours lazily looking at each blouse, t-shirt, and dress to make sure I didn’t miss anything, to spending 20 minutes in a store and leaving with amazing scores that I love. Over time I picked up on a few things that made my shopping experience more efficient, productive, and more pleasurable overall. Here are the tips I live by to make sure I find the best pieces without sacrificing a whole afternoon.
KNOW WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR
Thrift stores can be overwhelming, especially if they’re the catch-all kind like Goodwill or Salvation Army. To save yourself from overwhelm, plan ahead for the pieces you hope to find. Know what colors, patterns, styles, or fabrics you want so that you don’t stray into other areas of the store and buy what you don’t need.
SET A BUDGET FOR YOURSELF
Another way to make sure you’re not over-spending and filling your closet with things you may not be able to return, set a budget before you go. This will vary depending on the type of thrift store you go to, but will be very helpful in making sure you only go home with the items you need and love.
LOOK FOR QUALITY
Quality can be a little harder to discern when you’re shopping at a thrift store. Start by looking at the brand. A Forever 21 top probably won’t last as long as a J. Crew top, and that’s something to consider if you’re making room in your closet for this new item. If you don’t know the brand, you can use sites like Label Resource. Another helpful rule of thumb is that labels with the name of the brand sewn into them rather than printed on means they are better quality. Next, check for any imperfections in the garment. This includes stains, loose threads, or snags in the fabric. It’s helpful to take the item to natural light (if able) and look for any imperfections there. Lastly, keep an eye out for fabrics that wear well over time, like cotton.
DON’T LIMIT YOURSELF
If you’re looking for a button down, try checking in both the men’s and women’s sections. Sometimes you will be surprised by how a masculine shirt can change an outfit and add something new to your wardrobe.
ALWAYS, ALWAYS TRY IT ON
This step is crucial to make sure you take home a thrifted piece that you love. Try on your item and examine it in the mirror from all angles. Try styling the piece a few different ways, and if you have a friend with you ask his/her opinion. Don’t be afraid to take some time to look at the piece and make sure that you love the item and you will wear it.
WEAR SOMETHING EASY TO GET IN AND OUT OF
In high school I was the kind of girl that would make anything work. A XXXL top? I just need a belt. Now that I can afford to be a little more picky in my clothing, this attitude doesn’t work for me. If you’re shopping for both pants and a top, you should wear a dress that’s easy to get in and out of. Or if you’re looking for a top, wear your favorite jeans and a loose sweater so that your try-on time will be even less.
SET A TIME LIMIT FOR YOURSELF
We all go into thrift stores with the best intentions, but sometimes we need extra accountability to make sure we don’t stray. Set a time limit that will keep you focused and make sure you don’t spend all day at the store. If you need extra accountability, go before another appointment you have so that you have a hard stop when it’s time to leave.
DON’T GO ON SATURDAY
Everyone goes shopping on Saturday, and thrift stores are no exception. The difference is that once an item is gone from a thrift store, there usually isn’t another like it. Try instead going on Wednesday or Thursday to find the item you’re looking for, and ask an employee when they typically see new items coming in.
I really love thrifting, and by following these tips my trips are more lucrative than ever! I think the best wardrobes are a mixed bag of new, classic, and vintage pieces, and thrifting helps me achieve that. What are some thrifting tips you live by?
Thanks for stopping by!