Some people love the thrill of flipping clothes from frumpy and old to stylish and chic. Others are trying to look fly on a minimal price tag. Whether you’re brand new to the thrifting lifestyle or a seasoned professional, here are thrifting tips to upgrade your wardrobe. Next time you need to stress shop without murdering your bank account, take these five tips with you to your nearest thrift store and you will come out ready to revive your mind and closet!
1. Grandpa Sweaters
The potential of the grandpa sweater is endless. I know you may look at the hanger and think wow, the bulk, the print, who could ever wear that? Now, look at it again and think, how can I make this cute?
Grab that oversized bundle of wool or thread and pair it with some knee-high boots for a sexy, pant-free extravaganza! Of course, we recommend throwing some shorts on under that jumper to move free and easy, but the bare leg will make that sweater pop.
Another option requires a little bit of alteration. Grab a pair of scissors and crop that chunky knit into a cute cropped sweater to pair with some high waisted levis for a laid back cozy look. We suggest getting a more fitted grandpa sweater to make the crop look a little more urban and a little less massive on you.
If you’re feeling really crafty, grab a long, oversized cardigan and crop the sweater in a straight line where the cardigan hits your waist. Next, you’re going to cut both side seams on the bottom half of the sweater and stitch them tighter together to make a fitted knit tub top. Pair the knitted tube top with the cropped cardigan for a super fun matching set that will not only be one of a kind, but something you would’ve never thought would make an old sweater so on-trend. Remember these sweater thrifting tips next time you’re wanting to upgrade your knitwear!
2. Classic Tees
If you’re looking to play around with graphics but not willing to risk it on a hefty price, here are some thrifting tips for taking a 3 dollar tee from boring to trendy. A pro tip: invest in a fire pair of scissors because they will have your back again and again post-thrifting!
A fantastic way to take a plain, thrifted tee from drab to fab is all about cutting, folding, and tying. First assess the type of vibe you want the tee to be. For example, if you thrift a dark-colored band tee from the men’s section, try cutting the neck into a three-inch v at the top. This adds a hot and casual spin to the shirt. Tie the center into a knot or tuck in just the center section to some light wash denim pants to complete your rocker energy. You can also do a lot with just cropping the bottom of a tee and rolling the sleeves if a v sounds too complicated.
For a more woodsy, bohemian look, cut the front of a graphic tee into a long rectangle. Grab an old flannel you have laying around and stitch the tee fabric along the entire length of the flannel’s back panel. This will upgrade your boring flannel into a funky new item. If you’re not sure about the back, but like the idea of mixing plaid with tees, pull out your sewing machine and try one of these thrifting tips! Cut off the sleeves of your tee and replace them by sewing on the sleeves of your flannel. Add a few random holes to the tee and a couple of safety pins for a punk aesthetic. If when you’re done, it feels too out there to pull off, just cut off the flannel sleeves and make the tee shirt a classic muscle tee!
3. Matching Sets
Nothing says on-trend right now like a matching set. If you don’t want to spend your paycheck on this look but are way too inspired by celebrities to let it go, we have a solution! This portion of thrifting tips requires a bit of sewing experience.
Start by scoping out the coat section of your local thrift store. In this case, the longer the coat, the better. I picked out a bright purple fitted coat to start my fashion experience. The most important thing is making sure you’ll have enough fabric for the coat and skirt portion.
First, start by cutting the top part of the jacket a couple of inches below your waist when it’s on. Next, fold the bottom seam under twice and stitch to finish the seam and avoid any fraying. If you want the coat to be a little funkier, try also cropping the sleeves to create a three-quarter effect!
When you’ve finished the jacket, you’re going to move onto making the skirt with the remaining fabric. First, make the skirt fit in a box shape by bringing in an equal amount of each side seam. After, fold in the top seam and stitch along the top so it looks more finished. Finally, you’re going to want to make the top side of each skirt taper in by creating a diagonal dart seam on each side so the seaming goes in at the waist. Make sure to not sew the buttons together, so you can use the front coat buttons as your way of taking on and off the skirt. Wear with the cropped coat and bam! You have a fire, new set.
Of all thrifting tips, upgrading denim with the help of a second-hand store is my favorite. There are so many fun ways to take a pair of jeans from boring to phenomenal, and when you’re dealing with thrift store prices, there’s more freedom to play around and less pressure to execute your vision.
An easy entry into adjusting your denim is by cutting off the legs of a thrifted pair of pants to make a fresh, cut off pair of shorts. If the edges come out a little uneven, just cuff the bottom of the shorts and no one will ever know. If you want to add some natural-looking holes to denim, grab a cheese grater and go to town on them.
If you’re more artsy, grab some fabric paint or bleach. You can create amazing unique designs on your jeans with paint to upgrade a boring pair of jeans into a Michelangelo worthy masterpiece. One of my favorite looks is painting Van Gogh-style yellow flowers on the back pockets of jeans. If you’re like me and unfortunately untalented when it comes to painting and drawing, try playing around with bleaching your jeans to make them more modern!
An easily accessible and staple item to have in your closet, and great addition of thrifting tips, is a silky scarf. It can upgrade any outfit you want in a variety of ways. Plus there’s no stitching or trimming necessary to use these scarf thrifting tips!
For smaller scarfs, try tying it around your ponytail to give an extra oomph to a plain tee and jeans look. If you’re wanting to make your style more Parisian, tie around your neck and keep the knot on the side, and pair with an oversized blazer and plain tank. Or if you just want to draw more attention to your handbag, tie the scarf on the side of the bag to add some girly flair.
If you encounter a large square scarf, you can still use all the tips above, but it will give you a more dramatized version. Instead of tying a knot to your handbag, you can tie a bow. The same goes for your hair and neck. The bonus of a large scarf is you can tie it into a stylish tube top to pair with some high waisted jeans.