For those of us who can’t afford a designer wardrobe, there’s a simple solution. Thrift stores — particularly those that are unaffiliated with charity organizations such as Goodwill or The Salvation Army — often have practically new clothes in fabulous condition and incredible bargains.
Instead of throwing away clothes, a lot of people simply donate them to their local thrift store, and that is where the real bargain hunting begins. I consider myself a sale-connoisseur. I always head directly for the clearance section in my favorite stores before looking at the regularly priced merchandise. But thrift shopping is the marathon of sale shopping. It makes Black Friday look like a normal Tuesday afternoon.
Because of the nature of donation-based stores, clothes are not always arranged by size, color, or season and stores are often packed to the brim with bargain hunters. You have to commit to spending hours combing through every hidden crevice. But I promise you, if you can carve out the time, it’s more than worth it. Some of my favorite wardrobe staples are thrift store finds. Not only have I purchased name brand items at severely reduced prices, but I often find unique pieces that allow me wardrobe versatility.
Here are four items to look out for that can add a pop to your everyday style:
1. Combat Boots
Although this isn’t technically a thrift store, I bought my combat boots from Plato’s Closet for $10. Plato’s Closet is cool because it’s a consignment store that only accepts name brand clothing. Unlike thrift stores, it pays its donors for their clothing, which means that the prices are a little higher. But if you’re looking for specific brands at lower prices, it’s a great place to consider. These boots have been great for the “Ke$ha look”, e.g. wearing boots with a dress or skirt to look a little grungier.
2. Trench Coat
Usually, a decent trench coat can run you anywhere from $100 – $300 depending on the brand. My Misty Harbor Trench Coat usually runs about $89 and I bought it for $25.
Jeans are the most difficult thing to find in a thrift store. There are often hundreds if not thousands of pairs of jeans, not sorted by size or wash. I usually bring a friend or my mom and pull every pair in my size. I start out with about 30 pairs and narrow it down to five or six.
My most recent find was a pair of Ann Taylor Loft Boyfriend fit jeans, which usually sells for about $60, for $7.99. I’ve even seen Seven For All Mankind jeans for $20.
It takes a lot of work, but in the end you’ll save a ton of money on jeans and have a variety of pairs for the price of one bought retail.
4. Leather Jacket
Lastly, my favorite thrift store find of all time is my leather jacket.
Usually, a genuine leather jacket would cost at least $60-$70. I bought mine for $5. It was already broken in when I got it and the boyish fit makes it perfect to wear for a night out with the girls or to add edge to anything.
Generally speaking, there’s still a taboo about shopping secondhand. Even with the state of the economy, it seems that people would rather cut almost any expense but their designer wardrobes. But as a broke college student, I have no such qualms. I get ten times as many compliments on my unique thrift store clothing than I do on things bought off the rack and no one is ever the wiser.
The trick is to find a thrift store that has a wide variety (and maybe even sales!), and be willing to spend the time looking for the good finds. It’s a great way to spend a day with a friend and pick up some really cool stuff for dirt cheap. Spend thrifty and keep shopping!
Have you ever shopped at a thrift store? Which thrift store is your favorite, and what’s your best ever thrift store find?
The Let’s Thrift poster can be found on Flickr.