I have the terrible problem of not having a ton of money to always spend, but often quickly falling out of love with the clothes in my closet. The answer here? Thrift shopping. You can get lots of cute, new pieces to amp up your wardrobe without dropping absolute bank. Anyone can go thrift shopping and find something they love, but a few thrift shopping tips will turn that occasional treasure find into a constantly reliable source for cheap clothing you’ll get plenty of use out of.
1. Look There First
Every once in awhile it suddenly occurs to you that your closet is missing some key piece of clothing: a denim skirt, a floppy sun hat, a cute romper, maybe even just some button down shirts. Whatever it may be, when the urge to shop strikes, set your sites for the thrift store first. A lot of times when you’re looking for something to just fill a small hole in your shopping heart, the thrift store will have what you need and for less than at other places you might normally see as your immediate go-to. Simply checking at thrift places first before you go on to Target or Forever 21 will often yield good results and save you money.
2. Hunt for Basics
Thrift stores are a great place to look for basics because they’re simple items you don’t usually have strict requirements for and people easily let them go. So when it comes to stocking up on things like black t-shirts, tank tops, or casual jean shorts, check out your local thrift store. Everyone wears those things, so they’ll be easy to find in a ton of different options you can load your closet with for cheap.
3. Go in with Energy
If you’re wanting to really scrounge through and entirely survey a thrift store, as sometimes one must do to nab those really great finds, you’ve got a lot of ground to cover. Thrift stores pack their racks to the brim, making clothing difficult to look at and getting exhausted or overwhelmed much too easy. Pick a day when you’ve got nothing else to do. Get up early. Grab your iced coffee for an extra boost of energy and hit that shopping hard. You can lie down after. This is one of the important thrift shopping tips because if you don’t have the energy to search, you won’t find that special piece.
4. Have a Mission
Since looking over the whole store does take a whole lot of energy, you’ll do better if you go into the thrift shop with a mission. Say to yourself: today I am looking for ____. Of course, you can still get distracted by other things when they catch your eye, but you’ve then got something to keep you on track and once you’ve looked through all the clothes in relation to your mission, you can stop without having to just get exhausted and give up. This is one of the really important thrift shopping tips because if you do not have a purpose, it can get very overwhelming!
5. Imagine the Possibilities
This is the true spirit of thrift shopping: the endless amounts of possibilities that comes with shopping through a bunch of different, random people’s old discarded clothes. And you’re only going to access the full potential of those clothes if you’re willing to use your imagination. Pick up things you think of as weird: bedazzled cardigans, printed button downs, fringed shawls, patterned jackets, and try them on because who knows what you could end up loving. That’s how really fashionable people work anyway. They pick up out of the ordinary things and make them work in unexpected situations. Having a good imagination is one of the key thrift shopping tips!
6. Ignore Sizing
We all know that sizes change between stores. You may be a 10 at American Eagle, but you could be an 8 at J. Crew. And sometimes it even changes between clothing articles in the same store. It’s all kind of a crap shoot, which means if you’re going into a store that’s a huge combination of clothing from all over, tons of different stores, you’re not going to be able to just walk in and say well, I’m a 4. But even more than that, just because a piece of clothing isn’t your “size,” doesn’t mean it can’t work in your wardrobe. Smaller dresses may fit in a way you like. Oversized shirts are a totally normal piece of clothing. It won’t hurt you to kind of throw sizing out the window and pick up anything that catches your eye.
7. Shop by Season
Thrift shopping isn’t too different from normal shopping. You’ll do better with your finds if you go to look for certain pieces of clothing when they’re not at peak wearing time, when people will most likely be getting rid of them in closet purges, making room for a new season. Buy your winter clothes when it’s starting to get warmer and buy your summer clothes when fall is rolling around. Then you can just save them for next season.
8. Don’t be Afraid to Make Cuts
My junior year of high school a friend opened me up to the world of cutting your own clothing. It was an amazing world. It had just never occurred to me that you could buy a piece of clothing and then cut it if you didn’t like how it was fitting you, but she did it willy nilly. I’m still afraid to cut an expensive piece of clothing, but things I buy from the thrift store I’ll cut at will. It makes all those possibilities expand even further. A shirt I wear often these days started off as a ankle length dress from Goodwill. I cut it into a shorter dress and then I eventually cut it into a shirt. One piece of clothing: three different possibilities. It’s something useful to keep in mind when you’re thrift shopping and buying fairly cheap clothing. Wish it was just a little different? You could always cut it. This is one of the really helpful thrift shopping tips because cutting something old and ragged can make into something super trendy and new!
9. Try on Everything
I mean it: whatever. Anything that you even think “hm” about, pick it up and try it on. You just really can’t know what you like until you put it on. Clothing looks way different on hangers than it does on your body. Obviously, you can’t try on everything, but keep an open mind and don’t not try something on just because of immediate judgements about it that put you off. And if you’re looking for something more specific like say casual dresses, you can probably try on nearly every casual dress they have in stock at the time. Thrift shops aren’t that big. You’ll broaden your style horizons and discover cool finds you wouldn’t expect.
10. Check Often
Any good thrift shopper knows you’ll only have your greatest success if you check often. You never know when a huge load will come in or the perfect find will appear out of nowhere. And you’re not the only person looking, so you’ve gotta stay on your toes and check at least a couple times a month. And the more you check, the more familiar you’ll become with the contents of your local thrift store, making it a more efficient and successful shopping experience every time.
Thrift shopping is just for fun. You can do it however you want to, try on whatever you want to, but if you’re looking to really make your time worthwhile when you go, these thrift shopping tips can help. Next time you head out, keep your energy up and your mind open and you’ll be sure to find some cool, unexpected articles of clothing you really end up loving.