Thrift School, Part 1: How Experts Score Those Hidden Gems (Plus, So Many More Thrifting Tips!)
When we asked a few of our favorite bloggers to give up their best thrift shopping tips, we had NO idea just how many we would get. (We got a lot.) So we’re splitting this post up into three-parts (because attention spans). Want to know how to thrift shop for clothes from the experts themselves? Read on!
Value Minded Mama, Amanda Rollison
I like to thrift shop because you can usually find the same items, or at least basic wardrobe staples, for a fraction of the cost as you would find in retail stores. It’s like a treasure hunt when you find something you’ve either been looking for, or you find something completely unique you didn’t know you wanted. I shop for everything secondhand! Our home is filled with thrifted furniture, housewares, kids’ toys and clothing, and of course our own personal wardrobes.
– Know what items are generally worth and when you’re getting a steal! Can relate to furniture, kids’ toys and clothing.
– Stock up when you can. It’s a thrift store, if you don’t buy it— someone else will.
– Any BRAND-NEW item you find secondhand can be saved and used as a last-minute gift later. A great idea if you can’t think of an immediate/future use for it for yourself.
– When shopping for clothing, look for durable, quality fabrics like cotton, denim, linen and leather. Skip pieces with sequins, embellishments, and appliqués—there is a higher chance chances are they are being passed on because they are missing pieces.
-If you’re thrifting at a physical store, know which thrift shops have the best items. Areas that have a lot of families, kids, and schools will most likely have high-quality kids’ items at their stores. The wealthier neighborhoods might have a bigger selection of high-end clothing and accessories.
Amanda Rollison documents her adventures in style, thrifting, saving money, and travel on her addicting lifestyle blog. She loves a good thrift/retail fashion mix and snatches up designer labels secondhand any chance she gets. We love her honest voice and positive attitude about living life on a budget.
ProperStyle, Wendy Wynne
The thrill of the hunt, the anticipation of what could be, my favorite designer labels at prices I can actually afford, and the opportunity to allow my creative fashion juices to flow freely—thrifting can be the most exhilarating roller coaster ride of emotions!
-Do a closet audit. It’s important to know exactly what’s in that beautiful abyss of space in which your fave threads live! Otherwise, you will continue to buy the same comfy tee, but in 11 different versions. I keep an ongoing list of items I want and items I need. This helps to keep your impulse buys at bay. The natural response to those amazing prices is to fill up your cart with items you may not need. Just because it’s a great deal does not mean it’s a great deal for YOU. Be on a mission to save money, upgrade, and diversify your wardrobe.
-Hunt for quality brands and fabrics. Keep a mental list of your favorite designers and keep a lookout for those labels. For example, if I am shopping on my thredUP app I will search for items from my must-have designers and cross every possible body part that I will find the perfect items. When thrifting, higher-end labels and fabrics will stand the test of time. Natural fabrics will look and wear better over time. Seek out cotton, cotton blends, linens, and leather. I always prefer quality over quantity.
-Shop according to trends. Check out the runways for seasonal trends and inspiration.
-DIY. If an item you have your sights set on is a must-have but needs a little work, determine if you can repair it or give it new life. I love a good DIY challenge. If clothing has pilling, there is a simple fix. Use a clean razor and with a gentle hand draw the razor down in the direction of the fabric’s weave for easy removal. Holes are an easy fix with a needle and thread. If embellishments look worn you may either remove them completely or use your creative ideas to add to them! The key is to think outside of the box!
-Get a great tailor! Whether clothes are new or pre-loved, the fit of the item is everything. Chances are secondhand clothes are not going to fit like a glove. Sometimes, it’s hard to pass up a designer deal because the hem is a little long. No biggie! Snag that amazing find and use some of the money you saved on the item to have it tailor made to fit your body. If you’re really adventurous, grab a needle and thread, watch a YouTube video on how to hem a dress and learn some valuable new tricks. Collars can be removed, pants can become shorts, and a waist can be cinched with a belt.
-Challenge yourself. If you see a pattern or texture that catches your attention, don’t prejudge it. Let your creativity take flight and imagine all of the possibilities within. Maybe you really love a dress but would rather it be a skirt. Not a problem! Add a tee over the dress, tie a little knot on the side and bam! Your dress/skirt challenge is solved with a little imagination and a comfy tee.
-Stock up on jewelry and accessories. These items have been gently loved but usually have so much life left to live. Jewelry usually shows very little wear. It’s also the easiest way to take an outfit from day to night or from casual to fancy. Never underestimate the power of a pre-loved strand of pearls. I mean, have you seen what an amazing set of pearls can do for a silky top and pajama pants? Two words….Carrie Bradshaw!
-Location, location, location. Cruising online makes thrifting easy but if you’re out and about make sure you are hitting up the best spots. Affluent areas of town always make for great finds. When traveling you definitely need to find thrift and antique stores as you cruise through those quaint little towns.
-Put on your detective hat. Check to see if you are indeed getting a deal. If possible, search for the item in question online to see what others are paying. It’s easy for our feelings to take the thrifting wheel and steer us in the wrong directions.
-Leave with what you LOVE! You know what I’m talking about. The can’t wait to get to the register with your find so you power walk like an ‘80s workout video…kind of LOVE. The change in the car while at a red light because you can’t live through another moment without it on your body….kind of LOVE. The same LOVE that has you walking down the street as if you are in slow motion with a wind machine blowing your hair and breezing through the layers of your perfectly drape-y, gently pre-loved floral dress.
Wendy Wynne bills herself as Martha Stewart’s sweeter, younger, Southern niece, interesting in just about everything. We’re so glad she’s interested in thrifting because she has SO many amazing things to say on the subject.
The Outfit Repeater, Hannah Rupp
My main reason for thrifting is to find unique items at great prices. My style mantra is quirky secondhand finds mixed with modern trends.
– Take advantage of sale and promotional days to save even more money while shopping secondhand.
-Go in with a wish list so you don’t get overwhelmed by the selection. It will help you focus on what you’re really looking for!
-When in doubt, just buy it! Most things are one of a kind and if you don’t buy it now, you’ll probably never see it again.
Focusing on thrifted, vintage, and affordable fashion, Hannah Rupp’s blog is chock full of real-life style advice on how to repeat your closet, rewear a decade, and rework your secondhand finds. We love her recent post on fast ways to personalize your fast fashion for less than the price of a pumpkin spice latte. Fall…here we come. Hannah says, “Life is sweeter as an outfit repeater!” We couldn’t agree more.
The Autism Café, Eileen Lamb
I always get asked where I find my nice clothes. More often than not, it’s thrift shopping! Buying clothes can be so expensive but it doesn’t have to be. I like to thrift in person but being a busy working at home mom, I also like the convenience of shopping online. My favorite place to do so is thredUP!
– You need to have an idea of what you’re looking for in advance. Browse your favorite brands’ websites and learn about the trends. Also, take a look at your closet, and even take a picture of it so you can match your new pieces to the ones you already own.
-Since used clothes have already been loved, hunt for high quality brands.
-Search for fabrics that will last a long time like cotton. Avoid polyester and any clothes that are already faded.
Born and raised in France and currently residing in Texas, Eileen Lamb lives with her husband and two little boys. She started The Autism Café as a destination for special-needs issues, parenting tips, and healthy-living articles. As a woman with Asperger’s syndrome and a mom to an Autistic son, she is on a mission to teach acceptance, spread awareness, and assist parents with resources.
Just Bee, Hannah Olson
As a teen, I used to shy away from purchasing secondhand items. I wondered about quality and if the pieces would look too worn, and there was even the strange psychological battle where my mind told me that if I paid more, I would be getting “the best.” But all my misconceptions about thrifting have been shattered, I’m glad to say!
– Utilize filters when you shop online! thredUP’s site has some of the best search filters I’ve seen. You can narrow your search significantly (and easily find what you’re looking for) by filtering by size, color, type of clothing, store brand, or price.
– Thrift for items you know will be “workhorses” for your wardrobe. You’ll feel so pleased getting your money’s worth out of pieces that you wear again and again!
– At the same time, thrift for more trendy items or a more daring style or pop of color. When you’re not paying full retail price for something, you can feel a bit more settled in trying something new!
– Use the leftover money you have saved by thrifting to plan ahead! By thrifting, you’ll save hundreds of dollars over time, and this is money that you can then invest back into your budget, or money you can use to plan ahead for new seasons of life, like maternity clothing, a new professional wardrobe, or a fun outfit for a vacation.
A lifestyle blogger who lives in rural Minnesota, Hannah Olson used to shy away from purchasing secondhand items as a teen. But after discovering that she could continue to shop her favorite brands but at a fraction of the retail price, she became hooked. Check out her blog for home décor, housekeeping tips, life hacks, maternity style, and so much more.
This is our first post in a three-part series on how to thrift like a pro. Tell us YOUR favorite thrifting tips in the comments below and we’ll include them in a future post!