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How to Become a Pro-Thrifter: Thrifting Tips

Thrift shopping can seem both thrilling and daunting, but it is always a treasure hunt for an item that you didn’t know existed yet. From the multiple environmental benefits of thrifting and the pride that comes out of finding a special item, it’s no surprise that this shopping method is quickly gaining popularity. With these fifteen tips, you’ll master the art of thrifting and find yourself in a whole new world of shopping.

  1. Wear comfortable clothes: Wear a simple t-shirt and jeans that are easy to slip on and off in the dressing room. By wearing basic pieces, it allows you to see the true potential of a clothing item and decide whether or not it’s a hit or a miss. Sneakers or shoes that are easy to slip on and off are always the best option, as it means you won’t have to fiddle with complicated straps and zippers. If you choose to wear a purse, make sure it has a strap that you can wear on your shoulder or wear a backpack so that you can have both hands free.
  2. Be in the right mood: Having the right mindset and being ready to sift through dozens of clothes in search for that perfect piece is a must for thrifting.
  3. Go in with an open mind: Don’t go into the thrift store with a specific piece in mind; chances are you will not find it. Instead, have a vague idea of what interests you (long skirts, polo shirts, oversized sweaters) and focus on styles and types of clothing rather than specific prints and patterns.
  4. Set a budget for yourself: While thrift stores in big cities tend to err on the more expensive side, most shops offer amazing pieces for under $10. Some outlet thrift stores and chain locations have different prices for different days ($0.25 on Mondays and $1 on Wednesdays, for example), so it could be beneficial to see if they have any information online. Regardless of what thrift location you visit, set a budget for yourself to avoid overspending. This also makes you truly think about whether or not the item is worth purchasing.
  5. Look in other sections: While many people stick to shopping in their own gender clothing section, unique pieces can be found in other sections as well, such as the opposite gender, youth, or nightwear. The women’s section often has good basic t-shirts, long sleeve shirts, and scarves, and the men’s section is notorious for amazing denim shirts and sweaters. The youth section requires a lot of digging, but some fun graphic tees and maybe even a rocket ship onesie can be found. If you’re looking for more lacy and delicate pieces, the nightwear section is the best place to look.
  6. Check the fabric section: The fabric section is often overlooked, as most thrifters only shop for clothing and home decor, but dozens of curtains, fabric rolls, and bed sheets can be perfect candidates for up-cycling into patches or tapestries.
  7. Go with a friend: While thrifting by yourself can be therapeutic, sometimes it can get boring. Plus, it’s always better when you can hold up a funny shirt to your friend and you two can laugh about it.
  8. Look through every item: You never know what gem could be hiding within the racks, so it’s important to sift through every piece. But if you aren’t up for looking through every piece, focus on colors, patterns, and fabrics that catch your eye. Seemingly solid colored t-shirts are often the hidden beauties in the thrift store, as some of them have funny saying or cool patterns on the front that you wouldn’t know of from just looking at a sliver of the sleeve.
  9. Keep your finds close: If you choose to push a cart around with your purchases, keep your eye on it because some people will stealthily grab that cute jacket out of your cart and purchase it themselves.
  10. Try on the clothes before you buy them: It is vital to try on each piece that peaks your interest, because oftentimes, how an item looks on a hanger is not how it will look on you. The dressing room will become your second home. Pants are the trickiest to gauge the fit of without trying them on, even if the label says it is in your size. A little trick if there is no dressing room: wrap the waistband of the jeans around your neck, if the two ends connect comfortably, it should fit your waist.
  11. Don’t buy it unless you love it: Remember not to buy something just because it’s cheap; only buy the items you really love and know will be a piece that you’ll wear.
  12. Give yourself plenty of time: Sifting through countless racks and scouring the shelves takes time; lots of time. Make sure you block out at least two hours for this shopping excursion, and bring water and a granola bar (or two).
  13. Check the quality of your clothing: The last thing anybody wants is to discover that the amazing pair of jeans they found has a broken zipper or hole in the pocket. While holes can be stitched up, some stains don’t wash out, so it is important to carefully inspect the quality of your clothes before purchasing them. White shirts often have sweat stains on the armpit, and small holes are common in this area as well.
  14. Visit different thrift stores in your area: It’s a fact, some thrift store locations just have better items than others do depending on the demographics of the area and the popularity of the shop. Areas that house more elderly people, such as near nursing homes, will have more vintage items such as bomber jackets and oversized flannels, while stores near the city or college towns usually have more trendy pieces due to the younger population.
  15. Quick essentials: Make sure your phone is charged, carry around disinfectant wipes (you never know what could be on that clothing item you touched), bring snacks and water, carry an extra pair of socks if you choose not to wear socks that day, and bring a hairbrush to brush out the extra dust and clothing fibers from trying everything on.

Leave your thrifting tips below and share what your favorite thrifted item is! Happy thrifting!


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