My Top Tips for Thrift Shopping

Does going thrifting for clothes leave you feeling frustrated or disappointed? Maybe you avoid it all together because it seems overwhelming? I am writing this post during the COVID-19 Stay at Home order, and I must say, I miss thrift shopping so much right now!

Thrift shopping for clothes can be overwhelming for a lot of people. It can be difficult to see past the crowded racks and see things that you like. Here are some tips that I have found helpful when I am thrifting for clothes.

1- Figure out how the store is organized. Each thrift store is organized differently. Typically, Goodwill stores organize their clothes by gender, clothing item (shirts, jeans, dresses, etc.), size, and then color. Salvation Army will organize by gender, clothing item, and color, but sizes are scattered and are not grouped together. Once you figure out how the store organizes its clothes, it will be easier to create a strategy for finding what you are looking for.

2- Go into thrift shopping feeling willing to walk away empty handed. Thrift shopping is a lot of fun. You get the joy of the hunt, but sometimes that joy can turn into disappointment if you don’t find anything you like, especially after working through all of the racks of clothes. Ready yourself to try on lots of clothes and still leave with nothing.

3- Walk in knowing what colors you like to wear. This might sound silly, but if you know you feel your best in neutrals, why waste your time digging through the sections of red and green tops? If you are like me, and have a little green and blue in your wardrobe, you can find things much more easily that will fit into your wardrobe by focusing on those colors rather than riffling through the pink and orange. However, if you have a colorful wardrobe, it may take longer as you look through all of the colors, unless you pick one to focus on (i.e. I am looking for a pink top) specifically.

4- Walk in knowing what style of clothes you like. Thrifting can be a great way to explore different styles, and is more sustainable than buying things from fast fashion stores. However, it is easier to find items that will stay in your closet for a long time when you know your personal style. Do you like flowy, patterned pieces? Do you like structured, classic pieces? Knowing your style will help you find items you like more efficiently.

5- Walk in with your wish list written down or in mind. I don’t often go shopping without knowing what I am looking for. In my fast fashion shopping days, I would go shopping with the mission of just finding something cute and new. I would end up with lots of impulse buys that usually didn’t get worn as often as I had hoped. Now, I have an ongoing “wish list” of things I want to add to my wardrobe. For example, I used to have ‘black midi skirt’ on my wish list. When I went thrifting, I was able to go to the skirt section and find several black skirts to try on. I ended up finding a pleated midi skirt that was the vintage version of the ones that are in boutique shops now.

6- Look at quality of the garments. What brand is the item made by? Is it a brand known for high quality, lasting clothes? Is it a vintage piece (often times you can tell by the tag)?Is it a fast fashion piece? I am able to find lots of high quality pieces at thrift stores. Usually, I won’t wast my time trying on clothes with a fast fashion label because I know those clothes will not be built to last.

Also, look at the labels inside the garment, usually on the side seam. What is the garment made of? Feel the fabric. Is it a natural fabric or a blend of polyester? Natural materials like cotton, linen, wool, and silk are going to feel better, last longer, and look higher quality than ones made of polyester, rayon, or acrylic yarn. By looking at the labels, I can tell if an item is going to last in my wardrobe. It’s true, brand names are not what matters, but quality does.

I know all of these tips can seem overwhelming. It’s a lot to think about at the same time. My biggest tip is to keep trying. The more that you go thrift shopping, the easier it will get to look through the racks. I am not saying you will find something worth buying every time. I still walk out empty handed all the time, but now, my eye is better trained to spot the “diamonds in the rough”.

Do you need help answering some of the questions in this post? What colors do I like? What is my style? If you aren’t sure, go on over to my Resources page and download my free workbook, “Creating a Closet that Reflects your Personal Style”. I hope it will help you discover your true style and create a closet you love for a long time.

After writing this, I can’t wait to get back out and thrift shop for some summer items. I’ve got a linen midi dress on my list that I would love to go hunt for!

Do you have any other ‘thrift tips’? Leave a comment or send an message! I would love to know what helps you thrift better!

5 thoughts on “My Top Tips for Thrift Shopping

  1. Hannah

    These are awesome tips! I love thrift shopping, you honestly never know what you can find! The best finds are the brand new, really nice name brand items-you can get the “nice, trendy” stuff at a fraction of the price!


  2. Pingback: How I found my wish list pieces secondhand | Alli E Koch's Closet

  3. Pingback: How to get your dream closet on a budget! | Alli E Koch's Closet

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