The first time I went to look for clothing at a thrift store, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. What do I look for? How do I find stuff my size? How does the pricing work? There’s a lot that goes into thrift shopping – especially if you’re looking to flip clothing and make it your own. Here are a few tips and tricks to thrifting that I’ve figured out along the way!
1. Color Check
Many thrift stores have a tag color system to make sure their inventory changes frequently. Goodwill changes their color sales weekly – and every item in the store with the chosen color tag will be 50% off. Recently, they’ve even added a way you can check ahead of time to see which color will be on sale – check it out here! These huge discounts will allow you to get more clothing and decor for less, and it’s definitely something you need to pay attention to.
2. Spread the Love
In order to keep your closet fresh without becoming overcrowded, try to bring in a few items to donate when you go thrift shopping! This will give you some good karma and a closet clean-out will remind you of what you need (and don’t need) to thrift for.
3. Quick Picks
The number of items on the racks can be very overwhelming when thrifting. It’s important to scan the racks in order to save time and help you find the best pieces – if you touched/picked up every item at a thrift store you’d be there forever! I usually try to scan over the racks as I walk through the aisle for items that stand out to me – which could be based on color, material, pattern, or texture. Scanning the racks will help you cover the most ground while finding the items that will work for you.
4. Shop Often
Even if you checked in a few days ago and nothing caught your eye, thrift stores change constantly. Within a week, a thrift store’s stock can be completely refreshed. Don’t give up if you can’t find something you love the first time, keep checking back! You never know what might’ve just come through the door.
5. Size Matters
One of the biggest problems that I’ve run into is that very few thrift stores have changing rooms. Oftentimes, it’s hard for me to imagine if something will fit me just by holding it up. In order to find the right size for you while in the store, wear tight clothing you can slip something over to try on in the aisle! This saves you the hassle of purchasing the item before finding out it doesn’t fit you. Thrift stores carry all sizes, so be sure you’re finding pieces that fit your body.
6. Off-Season Shopping
The best time to thrift for clothing is actually two seasons before you plan to wear it! People tend to go through their closets at the end of a season – which means that springtime will bring lots of winter coats and heavy sweaters, while fall will bring in pre-loved summer-wear. While you may not always be able to thrift for something you wear the next day, this will allow you to get your wardrobe set up ahead of time – and will give you plenty of time to sew and flip your finds!
7. Buy from the Bins
Some Goodwill locations are actually outlets, which regularly sell clothing and housewares in huge blue bins. These can be super overwhelming, but can also score you the best deals – many (if not all) of these outlets sell by the pound instead of by individual pieces. This can allow you to buy a ton of stuff for an extremely low price. For this kind of shopping, it’s more effective to grab whatever catches your eye at first, and then go through and put things back when you’re done – bin shopping is higher intensity and people grab things much quicker than on-rack clothing. However, an important tip to bin shopping is to bring a pair of gloves – things may spill in the bins and it’s impossible for the employees to clean them.
8. What Not to Buy
Yes, everything in thrift stores is extremely discounted. However, this does not mean that you should buy everything just because it’s on sale. Kasey and I often find ourselves asking each other “Do you really like it? Or do you just like it because it’s $3?”. Some things will never be a deal – no matter how cheap they actually are. It’s important to think about if you’ll actually wear it, if you have a use for the materials, or if you have space for it in your closet/house.
9. Yes, No, Maybe So
When you have an armful or a cartful of clothing, it’s important to go through and make piles of your finds. Sorting pieces into yes, no, and maybe piles will allow you to make decisions based on gut reactions of what you really want. Put all of the “nos” back and sort carefully through the “maybes” to decide which items are worth the buy!
10. Look Closely
The excitement of purchasing an item of clothing from a thrift store can be quickly diminished if you get home and realize there’s an unforgivable stain or hole you missed in the store. Since the return policy of thrift stores can be strict, be sure to double-check your goods before you check out! For clothing, check especially close to seams and sleeves, as these are places that often get holes through wear. It’s also smart to look at the clothing in different lighting if available – some stains may hide in warmer light.
There you have it, my top 10 tips for thrifting. Now get out there and thrift – send your favorite pieces you find to [email protected] and you could be featured on our Instagram!