While we all love our designer pieces and high-end outfits from famous clothing brands, being fashionable doesn’t necessarily equate to wearing pricey clothes. Styling is a form of art, so putting together an amazing ensemble should be the point in fashion without burning a hole through your pocket. Additionally, not all trendy clothes are only found in boutiques and department stores – thrift stores also have hidden gems in them. You just have to be diligent in sorting through the dusty piles of clothing.
To help you with your thrift-shopping experience, we have compiled some tips on how to be a super thrift shopper in no time.
Brush up on the latest fashion trends. Before you start thrift store-shopping and go full-on vintage with your shopping cart, it’s best to know the latest fashion trends first – through fashion websites, magazines, and store displays (check out our 13 Ways to Keep Up with New Fashion Trends article). This will give you an idea on what to look for before shopping. It also helps you decide whether a piece of ‘vintage’ clothing is wearable today or not (you’ve got to admit, some pieces might be vintage but are too tacky to be worn again).
Know what you want to purchase beforehand. In other words, make a mental shopping list of pieces that you want to buy. After scouring the latest runway trends, knowing what you want to look for – whether it’s the trending jean skirt, tattered boyfriend jeans, or a Twiggie-inspired dress – will make thrift store-shopping easier and less time-consuming for you.
Don’t get carried away by the cheap tags. We know, the prices are unbelievable. A well-fitting, Forever 21-ish blazer for only $4?! You can’t get that anywhere else! While the urge to just grab every clothing item you see is extremely difficult to suppress, don’t fall into the trap of compulsive buying. Just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean you should purchase it.
Prep yourself before thrift store-shopping. Unlike malls and boutiques where it is airconditioned and you can sit on comfortable couches, thrift stores aren’t (mostly). So before going thrift store-shopping, prepare yourself for rummaging through dusty piles and shelves of clothes. If you are allergic to dust, take an antihistamine prescribed by your physician to avoid allergy attacks during shopping. Bring hand sanitizer and use a face mask to keep yourself from inhaling the dust.
Shop during the 15th and 30th days of the month. The mid and end dates of the month have one thing in common between them: it’s payday! Most thrift shops drop their prices before these dates and offer really unbelievable bargains, so if you want to go thrift store shopping, do it between these dates.
Pick your best bets for eliminating. You won’t be the only person rummaging around thrift shops, trying to score the best bargains on clothing. There will be plenty of other people who will want the same items that you see, so to avoid a potential tug-of-war with another shopper, try this tip: if you see something that you like, get it immediately. Take your time looking for other pieces first, then when you think you’ve got enough options to choose from, that’s when you will want to start eliminating clothes that you don’t want to buy (such as those with stains, missing buttons, or rips).
Have extra patience and diligence. Just like treasure-hunting, thrift store-shopping requires effort, patience, and diligence. You will have to dig through old, unwearable clothes before you can find hidden gems and one-of-a-kind pieces. But despite the dust and sweat, shopping for surplus items is a unique experience than going to the mall – and the cheap price tags will always make your heart happy at the end of the day.
Try on everything before buying. Or at least try almost all of the items in your shopping basket. These clothes don’t have the same sizes with boutiques and malls, so guesstimating your size won’t be enough. It would be a shame to buy something amazing, then realize that the item is too big or small for you. Just remember to use rubbing alcohol or sanitizer after trying it on.
Bring an alcohol or a sanitizer at all times. You don’t know what and where those piles of clothes have gone through, so always bring a rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer after thrift-store shopping. Wash the clothes that you bought thoroughly, too. If possible use color-safe bleach and wash them in lukewarm water – you don’t want to get skin infections from wearing dirty clothes.