Thrift Stores can be tricky and overwhelming specially if you are new to it. That is definitely how I felt when I first started thrifting: I could never find anything good for my taste because there is always a huge variety of items all over the place and it gets difficult to focus on what you actually need and fits in your style.
If you are not careful in the beginning, you end up buying a lot of things that you will not wear, or that doesn’t fit you properly but you bought it because it looks cool, or you can even end up frustrated and giving up shopping. We obviously want to avoid all of these situations above and create a smooth plan so you are able to think about it as a good opportunity to upgrade your wardrobe wisely and budget friendly.
The good news is that I already went through all the trouble for you, and with all the experience I got, I was able to put together a full guide of how to find the best clothes in a thrift store so you can take the biggest advantage of a shopping day!
It all starts at home with preparation, and the first two steps are also useful for who wants to build a wardrobe from scratch or wants to recycle their style and don’t want to spend a lot of money on regular retail. So let’s get it started!
1. Define your style:
This step is essential because it helps to narrow down your options for when you go shopping. Take your time making research, figuring out the colors you like, shapes, fabrics… I would suggest to create a board on Pinterest with all of your inspiration photos so you can envision your dream wardrobe better. Also take a look at your actual clothes and select the pieces you really like and the ones that you don’t like that much anymore. Maybe it is time to let the ones that you don’t like go so you can create space for the new items.
2. Make a list of what you need:
After defining your style (or styles), it is time to go through your wardrobe and figure out what you need to make your board come to life. Add the list on your phone so you can bring it with you. Maybe this is also a good opportunity for you to select the pieces you really love and the ones that you don’t love anymore. Maybe it is time to let them go so you can create space for the new clothes!
3. Shop on a week day (if possible):
You want to avoid a crowded shops and have bigger chances of finding good pieces. Simple as that!
4. Check the clothing composition:
One of my biggest goals when I go to a thrift store, is to find the best quality pieces possible for the lowest price point. So, the first thing I would recommend after you find something that you like, is to check the fabric composition. I almost never buy something that is 100% Polyester or Viscose, my priorities are always to buy Cotton, Silk, Wool… natural fibers in general. They last longer, looks better and has a lot of other advantages I can talk about in another post.
5. Check the regular price before buying:
Something that I always do before purchasing anything is to check the regular price online first. So for example, if I found a good leather bag that I want to buy, I go online and try to find the retail price for the same item or at least similar item, but always the same brand. This is the easiest way to know if you are taking a good deal or if it is better to keep searching or buy it brand new somewhere else. You can always try and negotiate too, it is important for the store to get ride of their items quickly and you can take advantage of it.
6. Consider tailoring a very good item:
If you found a very rare vintage Dior jacket that fits perfectly in your 50’s inspired style but it is one size bigger than yours, consider tailoring it. I don’t always recommend that but in some cases, it is more about the perfect match for your style, or your dream piece of clothing than solely the price tag, so paying extra to make that piece work perfectly on you is totally worth it and will make you happy!
7. Ask about the best day to buy:
There is always that day where new items come to the shop and you want to be the first one to check them out, so it is always good to ask about it to the workers and it to your shopping calendar. Of course we don’t always have time to go at the exact day, but it is good to have it as an extra information.
8. Visit as many thrift stores as you can:
I started this fun journey by going to the closest shops near me, but nowadays everywhere I go (and if I have some extra time), I will take a couple of hours to check the shops around just because you can learn so much about that place by just knowing what they usually wear, or what it is considered vintage to them. Also, you can always find something fantastic that will remind you of that cool trip that you made every time you wear it. After a while you will have tracked down your favorite thrift stores, best days to buy and what you like the most about them!
Thrifting requires time, patience and practice. This guide was built much more to help you to create your own plan than to tell you exactly what to do. Always remember that thrifting is supposed to be fun and not frustrating, so if you feel like you are not finding what you want, call it a day and relax. You can always go back another time!
I would love to hear from you your tips and tricks in the comments below!