How To Navigate The Thrift Store Like A #Boss
Thrift stores are hotter than ever. In 2021, thrifting had grown 21 times faster than retail over the previous three years, according to UD Review. There are plenty of stores in cities across the country that make thrifting more accessible, not to mention all the ways you can buy and sell clothes online, but thrifting can still seem intimidating. Instead of planning out what you're looking for and finding pieces over a long period of time, a good deal of thrifting is seeing something for the first time and buying it right then and there. We'll admit that we've bought some sweaters thinking they were going to be cute and then never wore them, but there are a few ways that you can make sure you're setting yourself up for success when it comes to thrifting.
Because of the rise in thrifting, there are probably a good number of local thrift stores in your area as well as chain locations, like Goodwill. Check out social media, ask your friends, or put your zip code into TheThriftShopper to get an idea of what kinds of shops are around you. If you're interested in vintage finds, check out a store that specializes in period pieces. Prefer designer duds? Hit up an upscale consignment shop.
In addition to taking the kinds of stores you're looking at into account, you also want to consider their location. Because secondhand stores are full of donated items, the area it's in will play a role in what kinds of clothes you'll find inside, like if it's near a college campus or a neighborhood with older couples.
And if you're a big fan of online shopping, you can check out apps like Poshmark, ThredUP, or Depop to find trendy pieces without leaving your couch. They're easy to navigate and have lots of options to customize your preferred sizes, favorite brands, and more.
Price Expectations At The Thrift Store
Of course a vintage diamond ring is going to be more expensive than a vintage tee, but an item's price will depend on a few other things. Something that's high quality or name brand will be pricier than a generic version of the same item, even if the lower-priced item may be in better condition. And if you're looking for good-quality vintage pieces, they're not going to come cheap.
The kind of store that you go in will also determine what the prices inside look like. There are stores like Goodwill, where almost everything is around or under $15, while more high-end stores might have a single scarf for hundreds of dollars. You'll get an idea of which stores are in your price range pretty quickly!
How To Tell If Something Is Worth Buying
If you're trying to decide whether you should buy a piece, there are a few things in addition to the price tag that you should consider.
First, give some thought to whether your purchase is a trendy item, or an investment piece. Shopping at thrift stores can be great way to save money on trends that will probably go out of style quickly. Try to save the pricier items for your favorite brand labels or for looks that will never go out of style — like a white blouse or a pair of black boots. If you want to try out a trend you might not love in three years, find a budget-friendly piece you can take for a spin.
Another thing to think about is the quality of the item. Make sure to inspect everything carefully, because it's easy to leave the store before spotting a hole in the armpit or a scuff on a shoe. We don't recommend buying if the item is ripped, stained, or discolored beyond repair, unless you're using it for a Halloween costume (and even then, there are probably better options).
Going Into The Thrift Store With A Plan
Before you head out for the thrift store, come up with a plan of what you're looking for. When trying to figure out what you want to buy, search for outfit ideas on Pinterest. A surefire way to find inspo is to search for outfit ideas revolving around a piece you wear all the time — "red midi skirt outfit ideas" or "white sweater outfit ideas." Save to a board called "Things I Actually Own" and you'll never be bored with your closet again!
Another way to get ideas is to look at the kinds of outfits you wear on a regular basis. If you love the classic tee + jeans + jacket combo, then maybe the jacket section is the first place you visit when checking out a new thrift store. If you can always be found rocking a monochromatic look, only fill your cart with things that are the same color. Going in with a plan will make the thrift store feel less overwhelming.
Do You Need One Particular Style To Thrift?
It might seem like you can only thrift if you have one particular kind of style, but that is definitely not the case. Thrifting can become whatever you want it to! Secondhand shops don't just have turtlenecks and cargo pants; you can find blazers, dresses and even hair accessories (just maybe disinfect first). There are tons of thrift flip videos that can give you inspiration on how to upcycle or change clothes that don't fit your style, but if you have the time and the patience to look through everything (and come somewhat frequently), you're sure to find something that you love!
Images via Brit + Co.
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B+C Editorial Assistant, Swiftie | Chloe is from the Outer Banks (yes, like the Netflix show!). When she isn't writing or updating her blog Pastels and Pop Culture, Chloe enjoys watching Marvel movies or texting her sister about the latest celebrity news. Say hi at @thechloewilliams on Insta and @popculturechlo on Twitter!