I don’t know about you but I LOVE clothes and shopping but my bank account usually gives me the side eye whenever I try to go on a big shopping spree.
I also tend to fall out of love with my clothes really easily. If I’ve worn something three or four times I often get bored with it and want to move on to new clothes which can create a problem when I’m spending lots of money at full-retail stores.
Do you have this problem?
In my mind, there is an obvious solution to this problem but many people are afraid to try it. That solution is thrift shopping. Thrifting allows me to save money on clothes and since I’m spending so little on the clothes (think $4 tops and $8 dresses) I don’t feel as guilty when I wear them a couple of times and get rid of them.
I find that when I tell people I get my clothes from thrift shops though, I’m often met with a reply along the lines of, “Oh I don’t know how to do that” or “I’m afraid to try that, I don’t want to get junk”. If you’re one of those people, then this article is for you.
Tips To Go Thrift Shopping Like A Pro
First things first, know that this is going to take a lot of time. Full disclosure, I have spent upwards of four hours in a single Goodwill before. Granted I was shopping for a wardrobe for a six-week trip to Europe—but still, it takes time.
I think that was fairly representative of the kind of time it may take to find those perfect pieces, especially if your thrift shop is well-sized. So, take your time, bring a friend, make a day of it but try not to get frustrated after a couple of hours in the store.
One of the reasons thrift shopping takes a long time is because you really have to go through every single thing. Literally, every piece in the store is different and there is no such thing as “you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all” when it comes to thrifting.
My suggestion is to go through the store by clothing category.
Start with, say, dresses; go through all of the dresses, pick the ones you think you’ll like, try them on to make your decision and then move on to the next category. This may also allow you a built-in break.
If you get through one or two categories and then decide you don’t want to keep shopping then you can just make your way to the registers. You really should try everything on.
It’s a non-negotiable when it comes to thrifting. Sizes change so much with brands, years, and styles that you cannot expect everything you pick in “your size” to fit the way you think it should. For example, I’m a pretty solid size 8 in almost every modern clothing store I shop in but when I go to a thrift store, I find myself trying on and fitting into clothes with size labels ranging anywhere from 4 to 12.
This can be frustrating and a major turn off to the thrift shopping thing for some people but I also think it’s a great reminder that the size sewn into the label on your jeans means absolutely nothing. Now that you’re free from that misconception, you can move on to bigger and better things. Like wearing amazing, cheap vintage clothes that happen to be labeled four sizes larger than you’re used to.
Finally, there are a few pointers that I wouldn’t consider necessary for successful thrift shopping but I find them to be helpful when sorting through the potentially thousands of options in a thrift store.
- Check the labels. If it started its life as cheap clothing, it will end its life as cheap clothing. By this I mean don’t buy clothes from stores like Charlotte Russe or Forever 21 from a thrift store. They are usually in poor condition and they don’t really hold up. I almost exclusively buy brand-name or truly vintage clothing from thrift stores. It is totally possible.
- If you have to alter it you probably shouldn’t get it. Unless that’s what you are shopping for, I find that a piece that has to be altered before it can be worn is a piece that will never get worn.
- Just because it’s vintage doesn’t mean it’s cute. If you really don’t like it on you, no matter howmany bloggers you’ve seen wearing the same style, then you really shouldn’t get it. Things like that will probably never get worn and even though you’re not spending a lot of money, why waste?
- Be open-minded. I know this sort of contradicts the last tip but hear me out. Sometimes there are pieces that I see on the rack and I’m like “no way” but I know after years of doing this that I should try it on anyway because some of those things have become my favorite pieces that have made it through several rounds of spring cleaning. A secondary tip for this is that if you try something on that would be a no unless you had the right outfit, try to find the right outfit right there in the store.
It takes practice to recognize pieces that have potential and you’ll have to try a lot of things on that simply do not work until you can get the hang of it but the benefits to all of this are great.
I get compliments all the time on things I’ve only paid a few dollars for and the ability to keep my wardrobe rotating without dropping a literal fortune on clothes gets me so excited. Use these tips to bring some fun new style into your life or to get over that fear of thrift shopping because I promise it’s so worth it at the end of the day.
Do you like thrift shopping?