How To Thrift Shop For Clothes

By Laura
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    I’m not cheap or super frugal, I just love the thrill of thrifting. It all about the hunt. It’s finding that designer top for 7 bucks or getting a compliment on an outfit that cost under $30 (accessories and all).

    I love the selection of different styles and finding hidden treasures or finding a dress with a Bloomingdales tag for $169 and getting it for $12. True story. I’m kind of obsessed with thrift stores. It has gotten to the point where my friends don’t even bother asking where I get things anymore. Let me teach you how to thrift shop for clothes.

    Looking Great Doesn’t Cost A Lot

    I’m so glad that in the last few years shopping in thrift shops has become more socially accepted. Thank you Macklemore. You have spread the good word.

    I’ve had a few awesome friends in my life that introduced me to shopping in second hand stores and I am so glad that they did. I get bored with my clothes and after one season I’m usually over it. When I’m only spending 5 bucks on a shirt, I don’t feel compelled to hoard it in my closet for years to come.

    After lots of practice and many stupid purchases, I consider myself a second hand fashion professional aka thrift store whore.

    Can You Handle It?

    I really want to help people find great deals but this is not for everyone. Thrift store shopping requires a lot of rummaging, which can be super time-consuming and exhausting. You need patience and determination. The stores are sometimes crowded and the professional thrifters can be brutal.

    Things are not organized by size or color. It’s just rack and racks of unorganized clothes. If you’re a sale rack shopper you will probably be fine. Yes, sometimes things will smell a little musty or weird.

    Thrift stores could be dirty but most of them are not. You just have to do your homework and find the good ones. For example, I used to go to the thrift stores on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

    I would find quality items that were barely worn.The stores were well organized and had a ton of designer stuff. In conclusion, if you’re a germaphobe with no patience thrift store shopping is not for you.

    Where To Start

    Most of the time, I just go into a store to browse and see if I can find anything I like. However, if you’re a beginner, I would suggest starting by looking for a specific item. It will be less overwhelming.

    If you want jeans, head straight to that section and that’s it. Keep an eye out for sales. Many thrift stores have different colored tags and each day a certain color will be half price. You can find some amazing deals. Once, I purchased a pair J Brand pants for under 6 bucks on sale!

    Before you head to the dressing room, check to see what the item limit is. Most places aren’t too strict on this but on a busy day they will be. Wear clothes that you can easily try clothes on top of and use the mirrors around the store if there is a long dressing room line.

    My New Technique

    I have found myself starting to buy things that were a good deal and fit well but after bringing them home I realized I had nothing to go with them. They either never got worn or I would have to buy something else to wear with it.

    To make my visits more successful, I have been finding outfits on Pinterest and trying to recreate them. Here is an example. I will continue posting my finds on the site for inspiration!

    Check, Double Check and Check Again

    First and for most, just because it’s a good deal doesn’t mean you need to buy it. Try on everything. These are second hand so even if a dress says grande on the tag the previous owner my have shrunk it or altered it so now its more of a medium.

    Besides a good fit, make sure it’s in good condition. Check for stains, tears, broken zippers or missing pieces. I can’t tell you how many times I grabbed something off the rack and brought it home to find out there was something wrong with it.

    Most places have no return policies. You walk out with it, it’s yours forever. I personally hate having to hand wash or dry clean things so I usually will avoid dry clean only items. If your like me, check the washing instructions. Of course wash the clothes before you wear them.

    I heard that if you put them in the freezer for a few hours it kills bed bugs. I don’t know how true it is but it makes me feel better.

    It Will Get Easier

    As you visit the thrift store more, you will find it much easier to spot things that you like without having to do too much digging. I can spot fabrics and textures I like just by glancing at a rack.

    I have even gotten better with trying things on. Within 30 seconds of having it on, I can decide if it’s worth it for me to buy. This prevents people from huffing and puffing outside the dressing room door because I’m taking too long. People have yelled at me before. Oops! I’m telling you some of those professionals are intense.

    You will eventually know what days and times are best to shop and what kind of clothes they have. Depending on the neighborhood the clothing selection will be different. Give thrifting a shot and have fun! Send me all your deals and steals! I would love to see them.