Thrifting is lovely, isn’t it? Finding all sorts of treasures for a pittance, stumbling onto a copy of your favorite book from Elementary school, imagining the former lives of all these things.
However, there’s a big difference between thrifting for fun and thrifting as your primary mode of shopping. Though it can be a bit trying, but I highly recommend it. My wardrobe contains the likes of BCBG, Banana Republic, and Anne Klein … and let me assure you, that has very little to do with my salary of $2.
8 ways to thrift the best clothes
Wear your best Thrifting Outfit
Some thrift stores don’t have fitting rooms. Some only have one fitting room for a jillion customers and if you’re shopping on a holiday or a discount day, you might have to wait 20 minutes to access a changing space.
Make it easier by dressing for thrifting. I like to wear knit leggings, slip on boots, and a camisole under a big, belted cardigan. That way I can take off my cardigan and try on clothes in some quiet corner of the store.
Know that size labels are a suggestion, not a rule
Learn to eyeball sizes and don’t get too hung up on what the tag says. I have second-hand pants sizes 4 – 13!
But I’d also add that – unless you’re an extremely experienced and productive tailor – you should stay away from cute things that don’t fit. Every thrifter I know has a pile of “this will be cute once I take it in” and “this will be cute once I lose 10 pounds” clothes. You deserve to have a closet full of clothes that look and feel good today.
Learn how to spot stuff worth buying
Sure, you can buy a Target dress for $8 at Goodwill but it probably cost $25 new and someone else has already worn it. Fast fashion clothes pill, stretch, and wear out quickly. If you like them and they look good on you, by all means buy them! Give them a new lease on life and keep them out of the landfill! (Here’s how to make cheap clothes look fancier and nicer.)
It’s a personal preference, but I prefer to thrift items that will last forever.
Here’s what I’m always on the look out for
* Wool and cashmere anything
* Real leather anything
* Furniture made before 1965 (so much sturdier and longer lasting!)
* Almost anything that’s lined. It’s warmer and more flattering!
Keep an on-going list of things you are looking for
It’s easy to get caught up in the spirit of cheap clothes and buy a bunch of stuff you already have or don’t need. I find that shopping at thrift stores can actually be easier than shopping in normal stores because they are often organized by color and type of clothing (sweaters, and then divided by color) so you can pretty quickly see if they have the pink, long sleeved button-up that you’re coveting.
Keep a list in your phone of what you’re looking for and in which size. This will also prevent you from buying yet another cute thing that doesn’t really fit or go with anything in your closet.
Know what you can change/alter/repair
Can you hem things? Do you know how to dye things with RIT? And – more importantly – are you really interested in doing those things?
These days, the only ‘alteration’ I’m willing to make is removing pills from an otherwise PHENOMENAL item. I literally shave off the pills with a disposable razor!
Shop in the fancy neighborhoods
Or shop in the very non-rich neighborhoods. Stay away from the hip neighborhoods! I do almost all of my thrifting in the neighborhood where I work – a neighborhood which is almost patently un-hip.
But! This means that all the cute vintage dresses, 1960 purses, and vegetarian cookbooks are still there, because it’s not overrun with hipsters. Rich neighborhoods are good for fancy ‘work clothes’ and nice furniture.
Don’t limit yourself to the women’s section
The men’s section is full of cutely over-sized sweaters and the kid’s section has large boys’ blazers that will fit a petite woman. I’ve also found tons of amazing things in the Halloween section. One woman’s Halloween costume is another woman’s Date Night outfit.
Think about how you can re-purpose things
Love the print on that tiny skirt? Make it into a throw pillow. Mismatched cups become vases or votives, vintage records or books can go on your wall, an old children’s school desk can be your new end table, and that pretty patterned sheet could be your new curtains … or pillow cases … or dish towels!
When something’s cheap it’s very, very easy to convince ourselves we need it. It’s very easy to consider something a bargain when it costs less than $15. But if you never use it, it’s a waste of $15! There are many times when I’ve thought “$7” and turned over a price tag that read “$35.” But occasionally you’ll find things you’d pay hundreds of dollars for that only cost twenty bucks!