top ten thrifting tips

Thanks to an awesome aunt who supported my shopping habits from a young age, I am a pro-thrifter. She has accompanied me on many a thrifting adventure around Austin and tiny towns across Texas in search of thrifty treasures. Since friends ask me all the time how to be better thrift store shoppers, here are my top ten thrifting tips. Use them wisely and often!

1. Ask if there are any specials going on.
 Lots of thrift stores have a color or sticker system where certain items go on super sale depending on the day. On one particularly lucky blue sticker day, I scored my favorite leather jacket for $3 from an initial $19.

2.  Map it out. My aunt always starts on the right side of a store, makes her way to the sale section in the back, finds a fitting room if necessary, travels back up the left side of the store, and checks out. Rather than zig-zagging through sections and missing things, she makes sure to see it all. I usually prefer to start on the left side myself, but sometimes, if the store is really big, I’ll pick a few sections I want to hit up and make a beeline between them.

3. Make a list. Because I’m a shopping addict, I always have a running list (or several) on my phone or computer of pieces I want to eventually add to my wardrobe. Having a list available when I’m thrifting can help me feel less overwhelmed and keep me on track to buy things I need. Impulse buying isn’t as hurtful to your bank account when it occurs in a thrift store, but you still may end up with something that hangs in the back of your closet rather than an item you can wear all the time.

4. Use the 3 outfit rule. Trying to decide if the black backless lace dress is worth the price? Fell in love with a polka dot maxi skirt, but can’t picture it in your closet? Before buying something that isn’t a staple piece in your wardrobe, decide whether or not you can wear it at least three different ways. Again, no one wants to waste money (even thrift store prices) on something that’s going to hang in the back of their closet forever. Think about both basics and accessories that can be paired with the item to make it a little different and wearable for every occasion.

5. Think ahead. Just because it’s swimsuit season now doesn’t mean you won’t need that furry vest in a few months. Most thrift stores try to stock up on clothes for the present or upcoming season, but finding  out-of-season pieces can often result in a price drop. While I love to be able to wear things I buy as soon as possible, it’s also exciting to have something to look forward to wearing when the next season hits. 

6. Donate often. Not only does this clear room in your closet for more items, but I absolutely believe in thrifting karma. If I don’t make some awesome pieces available to someone who will truly cherish them, how can I expect to find my own treasure? Also, this can help you build a relationship with the store owners or sales people who can keep you in mind when sorting through new stock or knock off a few cents at the register.

7. Shop outside your section. Being the small-busted girl that I am, finding fitted blazers has always been a disaster for me. Coincidentally, little boys’ blazers fit me like a dream. Granted, my shopping in the little boys’ section usually leads to some awkward questions from other shoppers about the age of my “little one,” but I’d say it’s totally worth it for a perfectly fitted navy blazer any day. Shopping for flannel? Check out the men’s shirt section. Are your feet on the small side? It doesn’t hurt to browse through girls’ shoes for a pair you would have missed otherwise.

8. Try it on anyway. I have passed up some really cool clothes because I didn’t bother to try them on. Not your size? Not necessarily. Just like sizes vary between brands now, sizes definitely vary between decade. Plus, buying something at a thrift store price leaves you a little extra cash to have items tailored to fit you better. It is missing a button or the zipper is broken? Show it to the cashier and they will most likely discount it for you. You will never know until you try.

9. Don’t forget to accessorize! I am notoriously terrible at remembering to look at accessories when I shop, no matter where I am. Retail stores often overprice their jewelry, handbags, scarves, etc., so I’ve grown accustomed to ignoring those items until I really need them. Thrift stores, on the other hand, tend to under-price accessories. When I remember to check out the scarves or earrings before I head to the checkout, I’m able to find a handful of neat items for the same price as one statement necklace at a regular store.

10. Bring hand sanitizer. Let’s be honest, thrift stores have a certain…smell that lingers after you’ve moved on with your day. Whether you’re going out to lunch or to the next thrift store, no one likes to have dirty hands. Just keep a little bottle in your bag and wash up before you continue on your thrifting adventure.

*Images via Pinterest

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