Shopping at thrift stores can be either incredibly tedious or the most fun you’ve ever had.
On a good thrift day, you might find several pieces you love and buy them all for little more than a handful of change. On a bad thrift day, you might sift through racks and racks of over-stretched gym wear and frilly polyester blouses and leave with nothing.
To help make all your thrift days good days, we’ve sought the advice of a few savvy thrift shoppers who know exactly how to reinvigorate your wardrobe without spending too much money or too much of your time.
Buy fabric and have something made
To truly embrace thrift you need to have a good imagination. Some garments draw you in from afar. A specific color or pattern stands out but when you get closer you realize the garment itself is ugly, out-dated or the wrong fit. If you love the fabric and its good quality, buy it anyway. If you know a seamstress or want to upskill yourself, you could have a new shift dress in no time.
Research designer sunglasses
The best way to bag yourself an amazing thrift find is to know exactly what you’re looking for. Research the most iconic and collectible designer frames so you can spot the treasure amongst all the target trash. If you find designer sunglasses you love but notice the lenses are damaged, don’t put them back. Buy them and send them off to a lens replacement site like this can repair them. They’ll put new lenses in old frames for a small cost and can even do prescription!
Shop out of season
As the seasons turn most of us are forced to go through our wardrobes and purge. As soon as the cold winter is behind us, we want to get rid of a few sweaters and make way for summer dresses and denim shorts. What we throw away inevitably ends up in a thrift store. Shop at least two seasons ahead to get the best of what’s available. No one else is looking at the cardigans in July which gives you the best chance of bagging the good cashmere.
Check out all departments
You never know what you might find in a thrift store, especially in departments you may not normally look. Wander over to the men’s section and you might find a vintage denim jacket that fits you perfectly or a great retro shift. If you’re small, the kid’s section might have dresses and other garments that fit you just right. And that homewares department is always worth a look. Leather belts, cute jewelry, and even handbags can sometimes be found nestled among the knick-knacks.
Don’t give up after one store
Thrifting is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t be put off by not finding anything in one store. There are lots of different kinds of thrift stores. One-off independents, church-run thrift stores and large chains like Goodwill will all have different stock. Independents might have more vintage than thrift with price tags to match, whereas Goodwill will have a lot of Target but it will be super cheap. Scout out your area for the best thrift stores and if you live in an area with a large population, it can pay to wander farther afield.
Learn to spot designer brands and well-made items
If you’re new to the game and aren’t sure how to spot “good” thrift from “bad” that’s okay. It’s easy to learn. Simply take yourself along to the most expensive and fancy department store you can think of. Spend some time learning the big designer brand names. Touch the clothes and feel the different fabrics. Notice how well-made the most expensive clothes are, the way the fabrics hang a little heavier and small details, like delicate stitching or immaculate lining. Now, educated, you can go forth and thrift!