Thrift store accessories are a college student’s best friend when you’re trying to look great on a budget. This is especially true if you’re going for a punk style that costs an arm and a leg in stores like Spencer’s and Hot Topic. Fortunately, punk accessories are easy to find in thrift stores when you know what to look for.
You’d be surprised at the gems you can find in thrift stores sometimes. A pair of combat boots or Mary Janes cost anywhere from thirty to sixty dollars in high profile retail stores, but most thrift shops sell these accessories at twenty dollars or below.
If you can’t find your size in either of these, don’t worry—no one’s going to notice or care if you use work boots or off-brand shoes that look like combat boots or Mary Janes. You can always add extra leather straps and chains later.
2. Old Jackets
Thrift stores are a treasure trove of old jackets in any style you could possibly hope for: blazers, faux leather, plaid, vests, formal, denim—you name it. One of the joys of punk is the style variety it offers, so find a jacket you fancy and pair it with your other punk accessories to complete the look. The more worn or tattered the jacket is, the better!
A few tips to punk out an otherwise plain jacket? Find a base style and color you like, add some safety pins to the collar and/or new buttons down the front, and iron on any patches of your choice (most can be found online for only a few dollars).
3. Old-Fashioned Jewelry
Luckily, punk styles don’t require the most up-to-date bling stores have to offer; it thrives on the old-fashioned, forgotten, and worn-out—all things thrift stores specialize in. Those old watches that don’t work anymore, giant pendants people think only Grandma would wear, or bracelets too frayed for the average person to consider are all fair game for punk enthusiasts. Feel free to take apart the parts of the jewelry you like and assemble them on your clothing as desired.
Remember: nothing is too colorful or gaudy if you have the outfit to match (and what doesn’t go with black?).
4. Pins and Badges
Ah, glorious pins. If you’ve already got the jacket mentioned above, the next step you can take is to deck that sucker out in all the pins and badges you can find. Broaches are particularly easy to come across in thrift stores, and they make excellent alternatives to the pins you can get at Hot Topic. In addition, thrift store accessories like broaches look genuine and aged enough to pass for family heirlooms—so grab a few and start pinning!
What’s a punk wardrobe without the always-versatile skirt? Like jackets, this is one of those accessories that can look like or be paired with just about anything, and it doesn’t matter one bit if it’s worn out or ripped in places. Bonus: plenty of school uniform skirts get tossed to thrift stores when they’re no longer needed, and every fan of punk knows that uniform-style skirts go perfectly with tights and combat boots.
Don’t worry if you can’t find that perfect plaid you always see punks wear; a plain skirt, like a plain jacket, can be accessorized to the point of being punk.
Fingerless gloves are all the rage in the punk fashion industry, but it’s tough to find these beauties just sitting around in a thrift store. Regular gloves, however, are easy to come by, and a pair of scissors is all you’ll need to transform your gloves into a fingerless pair of your own. From there, it’s only a matter of adding whatever odds and ends you want to customize them with—or you can stick to that classic black look punks love so well.
7. Ripped Jeans
This is a must-have staple for any punk look, but the price tags on artfully ripped jeans are outrageous. The distinction between “artfully ripped” and “worn and frayed” is a fine line that anyone can easily hop over, though. Thrift stores are chock full of perfectly broken-in jeans that have that weathered or ripped look on top of feeling soft in all the right places. Trust me, no one will care where you got them, and you’ll be able to afford more than one pair.
This one might seem a little strange, but when you consider all the leather straps on high-dollar punk clothing, it makes sense. The belt doesn’t even have to fit since you’ll either need one to loosely decorate that cute skirt or jeans you bought or to cut up and use strips of on other accessories. This versatile strip of leather can become a sash, a bracelet, or your next DIY project for something a little more complicated.
Bandanas are cute and simple to apply to any outfit. They add a splash of color to all that black and can be used as a headband, a wrist tie, or a punk ascot. There’s no need to spend a ton of money on a scrap of fabric when you can find bandanas in thrift stores for little more than a dollar or buy an actual length of fabric to re-purpose into a bandana.
When it comes to punk, a necktie is one of the go-to accessories (besides maybe your boots or Converse). Outside of formal and business settings, a tie is something that inherently screams “punk,” and it can be worn in any color and pattern with every ensemble (Don’t believe me? Add a loose necktie to whatever you’re wearing and tell me you don’t feel edgier).
Neckties are usually available in such a large quantity at thrift stores that they can be found in their own section—which means you can spend a whole shopping session stocking up on cheap but classy ties.