In an effort to help you learn more about thrifting fashion, we have assembled the ultimate guide on how to thrift shop, with tips on how to navigate the process, looking for items, and what to avoid. It is not as easy as it would appear to know how to thrift shop; it takes a decent amount of time to ensure you are good at it and not just flying on luck. Here are some key points on what you need to know!
1. Know Before You Go
Research is an essential part of thrifting fashion and the very first step before you even go to a thrift store. A lot of thrift stores are packed together so it is important to make a list or have an idea of which ones you want to shop at. Having a list can also help a story clerk help YOU find what you want.
Map out any directions you might need so you don’t miss any. Once you are done thrifting, you will get an idea for which stores you might want to go back to later so keep that list handy!
Pro tip: Grab some of your friends and go together for some retail therapy! The more people you go with, the more ideas you will get and who doesn’t like shopping with friends? You need someone to make that yay or nay judgement!
2. Take Your Time
It can feel overwhelming when you walk into a thrift store because there are a lot of clothes and accessories. Sometimes things can be placed in an arbitrary manner. Take your time scanning through the items and go from one rack or bin to the other. Focus on one area at a time and make your way through the store. If you already have a color palette or specific item you want, have at it and shop away!
It took me time to get the hang and vibe of a thrift store my first few visits. Don’t worry though, you will become a pro before you know it.
3. Going Digital
Don’t know where to get started or are in need some inspiration for some thrifting fashion? There are several apps that have the thrifting fashion trends for sale at a low cost. Check out DePop, Poshmark, TheRealReal, ThredUp, and a lot more! Get some inspiration before you go so you have an idea of what you want when you get there.
Additionally, you can use your phone while in the thrift store to comparison shop and check for vintage labels/brands. You can look up models of items that you want and compare those prices with other stores nearby. This is a useful tip that has helped me discover so many amazing brands.
4. Check Your Clothes
So you’ve found something to purchase something from a thrift store! Before you put together that bomb outfit, make sure to check for any damage in the clothes. Some specific things to look for are loose threading, missing buttons, stains, etc.
Also be sure to turn the clothes inside out and check in there too! You want to be thorough and detailed so you don’t miss anything. Scan EVERYTHING for damage and take note of all the issues before purchasing. Ask yourself, is it fixable? If it is something small that can be tailored or fixed, go for it. Just make sure you’re comfortable with what you’re buying and knowing that you’ll wear it.
5. Special Discounts
This might seem a little difficult for the bigger thrift stores but do not be afraid to use those shopping and couponing techniques! Remember that these stores want to sell their items for newer inventory so point out any kind of deal you may come across and see if it works.
Some stores offer discounts for students or seniors and some may offer a discount for paying with cash. Others offer discounts seasonally or just on a random basis. Follow your favorite ones on social media to keep up with incoming deals!
6. Give Back
Although it can be fun to go shopping and getting stylish clothing at a low cost, it is equally as important to give back to people who need it! Raid that closet of yours that you have been avoiding and see if there is anything you want to donate or sell to a thrift store. Just do research on what things the store of your choice will accept and go through those requirements. Whether you want to make a little cash or clear the wardrobe, you’ll be making a difference.
The best part? You can shop while the store clerks look through the clothes you gave them. When you are finished, they will ring you up at the register with a price offer. It’s easy as that! This is perfect for trading in things you would no longer wear and are tired of seeing every time you walk into your closet.
Seriously, I got to a point where I could not stuff my closet anymore and had to take some clothes to trade in. Get moving!
7. Making Friends
Lastly, don’t be scared to ask questions and converse with the store clerks. I know I have made a few friends at the thrift stores I go to and honestly, they are there to help you! So don’t be shy and ask if you can’t find something or need help with a specific item. (They’re pretty good in judgement of an item if you need help deciding if you should impulse buy something). Sometimes the employees will give you insight on specific vintage items, when new inventory is going to come in, and other valuable information.
Friendly faces are always going to be around thrift stores and who knows maybe you’ll make a friend out on your next trip!