Contrary to popular belief, thrifting isn’t merely for the down-and-out. In fact, when done properly, it’s one of the best ways to supplement an otherwise non-thrifted wardrobe. Ever hear someone talk about a fashion plate and say something like, “they’re so good at mixing high and low” (referring to designer and non-designer threads)? Well kids, you can’t get much “lower” than $3 polka dotted trousers*! Alas, many of us are intimidated by the sheer scope of a thrift store’s inventory, and rightfully so; to put it bluntly, there’s a lot of crap to sift through before you get to those beautiful gems. So for all you thrifting-challenged out there, I thought I’d offer a few tricks of the trade:
- For what you won’t be spending in money, you’ll be spending in time. If you’re new to the thrifting game, don’t expect to be in-and-out. If you arrive at 5 and are meeting friends for drinks at 6, you’ll get frustrated and the experience will be ruined. Instead, carve out a couple of hours on a day when you don’t have a ton going on; that way, meandering around Salvation Army won’t seem like squandered time.
- Look for trendy, modern-looking items. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I find that people seem to tailor their expectations for what they THINK a thrift store has to offer. Rather, you should look for items you’d be interested in regardless of the store—i.e. Nordstrom OR the Village Discount Outlet (may she rest in peace). For example, over the summer I found not one but TWO pairs of old Levi’s shorts at Goodwill. They fit perfectly, but I altered them a bit by shredding the bottom hem and making a few holes in the pockets. So while my friends were spending $60 on cutoffs from Urban Outfitters, I had my own $3 identical versions.
- You can always alter it. Building on my last point, it’s super easy to edit your thrift purchases. For the love of God, you should almost never turn down a piece you like that’s a few sizes too big—what you’re not spending on the initial purchase you can put towards alterations or simply alter it yourself. I’ve taken in waists on blouses and blazers, hemmed pants and removed 80’s-style shoulder pads all on my own (and I’m no seamstress)!
- Know what you like. This point goes for any type of shopping and is quite honestly the most difficult to achieve, but ultimately it’ll save you time and buyer’s remorse (yes, even if it’s only $5) if you go in with an idea of certain looks or items you’d like to find. Pieces I consistently wear and find a lot of in my thrifting are billowy, semi-sheer blouses*. Since this is something I know I like to wear and get a lot of use out of, I spend the majority of my time looking at blouses, and it usually pays off.
Some of this will come with time and getting used to the idea of another person’s trash being your treasure, but don’t be surprised if your thrifted clothes become some of your favorites.
*See crappy iphone picture. Sorryyyyyyy [but I’m not].