10 tips for shopping at a thrift store

Hawaiian shirt and Seattle poster || brand new Madewell flats and bucket bag || my favorite tapestry sweater
I'm sure you guys have been shopping at thrift stores ever since vintage Dooney & Bourke became the new Dooney & Bourke. But for our friends that are a little on the novice side, I'm here to help! Since we are heading into Spring, my local thrift stores have stocked a lot of new inventory, and I have scored some majorly cool stuff. I go to the ones near my university, so there's a wide selection from contemporary stores like F21, J. Crew, and Ann Taylor Loft, to some really vintage brands. The charm of the thrift store is that you can find unique items that are very high-quality for the fraction of the price. Read on for my best tips!

  1. Go in with an open mind. If you are not familiar with the natural habitat of thrifters, it can assault your senses. First you will be hit by the musty smell of clothes that have been sitting at the bottom of someone's closet, attic, or basement. Then you will feel immediately overwhelmed by the racks and racks of crazy clothes. Take a deep breath (through your nose only!) and just dive in. It's hard to find specific things on any given day, but you can experiment with what you like. Pick up what you are immediately drawn to, even if it is weird...it might just grow on you. Caveat: it is helpful to have some general sense of your own style and aesthetic before you go in, so you can make easier executive decisions.
  2. Go on a 'sale' day. Most chain thrift stores have sale days. For Unique Thrift and Value Village around these parts, there is a 25% discount on Monday, and there is a 25% discount on Tuesdays at Goodwill. Holidays, like President's Day or Memorial Day, are also good times to shop for an even greater discount. How can you say no?!
  3. Go with your friends. It is always fun to go thrifting with friends, because you will probably want a second opinion on that floor-length emerald velvet dress. Plus, it's fun to just try on ridiculous stuff and laugh about it until other people start looking at you. 
  4. Try everything, regardless of what size it says it is. I've found many of my most treasured thrifted items while shopping out of my size range. Most the time, older clothing items may be listed as a 12, but they can fit today's size 4-6. When browsing, disregard size unless it is obvious that you will be swimming in it. Also, if you like to dress androgenously like I sometimes do, check the little boys' or men's section. 
  5. Wear fitted clothes, easy to slip off shoes, and a cross-body bag. These are outfit essentials for easy access while trying on clothes. Let's be honest: you don't know where these clothes have been, so it's better if you just try them on top of your clothes. An ideal outfit would be leggings and a tunic shirt. A hands-free bag is important for optimal mobility. Also the shoes are important for when you try on pants.
  6. Bags, scarves, belts, costume jewelry are the best items to thrift, while basic tees and suits should be purchased new. Accessories at thrift stores always seem to be made of higher quality than the stuff you find at mall stores, and they are totally unique! Out of all my thrifted items, I always gravitate to the accessories year-round. However, you should buy your basic tees new, since you will probably be wearing them alot. As for suits, they are usually the big-shoulder-pad ones, so they are really difficult to make modern. Now, I'm not saying I don't/won't buy such things from the thrift store, but these are not what I usually gravitate toward. 
  7. Thrift trend items or items for DIY. Since fashion is recycled from season to season, you can always find items that are on trend. You'll always be able to find clothing items with prints or high-waisted silhouettes, guaranteed. As for experimental projects like DIY, you might feel less guilty cutting up someone else's tee.
  8. Don't forget to check out the book and home sections. You can find some cool coffee table books or some cute brass plates for your jewelry in the non-clothing sections. 
  9. If the price is right, just buy it! It is likely that you will never see it ever, ever again if you don't buy it. It's the sad truth. But no pressure. 
  10. Bring hand sanitizer! I don't want to seem uppity, but I'm one of those people who feels the need to wash their hands multiple times a day. Especially after thrifting, my hands feel dirty from all the dust and the soot from the hangers. Hand sanitizer makes me feel instantly better :)

Happy thrifting!

No comments:

Post a Comment