Thrifting 101: Start poppin’ tags with only $20 in your pocket

clothingThrifting is the process of finding unique, pre-owned items at a discounted price. It’s friendly on your wallet and the environment! What started as a way of life/need has turned into a hobby for me. 

I usually go to a thrift store one time a week & shop mainly for clothing. In fact, my wardrobe is about 90% thrifted and of that 90%, at least 25% of it is brand name/department store clothing. Here are a few tips and tricks that I have found useful in becoming a successful thrifter:

  1. I do not recommend thrifting when:
    • You need a very specific item. In my experience, if I go to a thrift store looking for American Eagle Artist jeans in size 6, you’ll find everything but. You will have better success on Ebay or other online platforms when you have a narrow search.
    • You are on a deadlineAgain, thrifting is somewhat of a mystical journey. If I am looking for piece for an upcoming event, I start looking regularly *at least* a month beforehand. If you walk into a thrift store the day before, you will likely leave disappointed, frustrated, and several hours behind.
    • You are hungry or thirsty. You could have been one row away from the score of your life but you left early because you needed a five layer burrito. Burritos are great, but eat them before you go shopping. 
  2. Wear clothes that are easy to change in and out of. Thrift stores have limits to how many items you can try on at once so think a dress or stretchy pants/comfortable top and slip on shoes. That way when you have to pop out of the dressing room to grab 5 more items, you don’t have to wiggle into your jeans for the umpteenth time.
  3. When you’re first starting out, give yourself time. I can rush into a thrift store and walk out with several winning pieces during a 30-minute lunch break (#humblebrag). If you have never stepped foot in a thrift store, you’re going to be overwhelmed. Let the dust settle and then dig in. I recommend at least 1-2 hours at a store.
  4. Try before you buy.  This is not Dilliard’s and most thrift stores do not accept returns. Keep in mind that some clothing is there because it fits weird or has a defect. Some clothing looks great hanging up, but won’t fit your body. Some things look great on your body but might look weird hanging up. Bottom line: you won’t know unless you try, so why not spend a few extra minutes making sure your new item is going to work for you? (p.s. stores usually test electronics before they are shelved OR they will have a test center where you can check them)
  5. If you like it (and you’ve followed tip #4), buy it! Each item is usually the only one in stock! You cannot trust that if you come back in an hour or the next day that it will be there. Trust me, if it’s an awesome item, somebody else will recognize that and pick it up.
  6. Do not trust sizing. Tags are stupid and while they can be a starting point, they are not definitive! The way that clothing companies size their items baffles me. I have clothing size XS-XL in my closet and I wouldn’t have found them unless I tried them on and ventured out of the “medium” section. When you are first starting out, it will probably be best to start with your size, but once you get the hang of it start to venture out!
  7. Look for brands that you know & love. In addition to starting with your size, start with brands that you are familiar with. This helps give you focus, and also gives you a “win.” For example, I always keep my eye out for J. Crew items. One can never have enough boyfriend shirts IMO.
  8. Shop on discount days. What’s better than discounted clothing??….DOUBLE DISCOUNTED CLOTHING! Some stores have days of the week that are discounted such as 99 cent Monday, or Senior Tuesday.
  9. Have a Thriftspiration board. I have a Pinterest board of looks that I like and want to keep my eye out for. It makes it fun to try to put together outfits from popular pins with thrifted clothes.


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