I’m in college and don’t have a lot of money to go shopping, but I still manage to keep up with every season’s trends by thrift shopping.
Thrifting is a great way to save money, and as an added bonus, you’re guaranteed no one else will have the same piece you buy. Thrifting is also green: it’s pretty much recycling old clothing, and a sustainable way to feed your shopping habit. The first time you walk into a thrift store might be a little scary; the smell alone is a pretty intimidating.
Don’t worry – there are easy tips to get the most out of your thrifting experience.
1. Wear comfortable clothes and travel light. Wear something you can easily pull on and off. One of the keys of thrift shopping is to try everything on. Don’t bring your heaviest purse, either: instead tote your favorite cross-body bag with just the essentials.
2. Use a cart. You need to keep your hands free!
3. Look through EVERYTHING. You heard me, everything. Pick a rack (skirts, dresses, etc.) and flip through every item of clothing. Be thorough. If something catches your eye, throw it in your cart.
4. Ignore sizes (kind of). Thrift stores obviously carry lots of different brands, so you’re probably going to run into clothing from stores that runs big or small. Vintage clothing has different sizing as well. If a store organizes their clothing by size, I usually also look through the clothing both a size up and a size down from my usual size. If a store doesn’t organize their clothing by sizes, still keep this in mind if you decide to throw something in your cart to try on.
5. Head into sections you don’t usually shop in. The men’s section always has fun t-shirts to discover, and if you’re more petite the kid’s section is full of treasures, too. Thrifting is all about thinking outside the box and keeping an open mind.
6. TRY EVERYTHING ON. If I had to pick only one thrifting tip to share, this is it. If you find something that you think is cute but you’re unsure: try it on. If you find something you love but it’s not quite your size: try it on. If you find something you love and it’s your size: still try it on. You never know when it comes to thrifting.
7. Go for quality. I have a rule for my personal thrifting: I don’t buy cheap brands. Forever21, Target, and Old Navy are already cheap when you buy them brand new in the store. When I’m thrifting I look for well-made garments, brands that I already know are good quality, or vintage pieces that have stood the test of time.
8. Don’t be scared by the shoe rack. There are treasures waiting on it, I promise. Shoes can be cleaned!
9. Go to lots of different stores and read reviews online. Not all thrift stores are created equal. Not even all Goodwills are created equal. Some organize their racks more or less specifically, like I’ve mentioned before. Others have special sale days. Some just always have great stuff, while others are consistently mediocre. Experience is the best way to obtain information, or you can visit thethriftshopper.com to read reviews about stores in your area.
10. Don’t just go to Goodwill. Goodwill is great, but there are major pros in going to independently-owned thrift stores as well. They have different sales specials, are frequented by less people than Goodwill, and their organization is usually better. Again, checking thethriftshopper.com is a great way to find these places. The pricing is different at these stores, so depending on the store you may pay higher prices, but have more quality merchandise.
11. Clean everything you buy as soon as you get it! This is a no-brainer, but an important one that is worth a mention. Throw all your clothes in the wash as soon as you get home. For accessories, I am obsessed with Clorox disinfectant wipes.
Do you go thrifting? What tips do you have for other thrifters?