Tips For Thrift Store Shopping
And Still Looking Like A Million Bucks
by Amy C Martin
One of the biggest reasons people have for not buying
ethically made clothing is price. And that is a very good reason. When the
electric bill is due, junior needs new shoes, and you need to pay for another
month of Netflix to catch up on the past 7 seasons of Desperate Housewives, the
last thing you want to do is spend $50 on an organic cotton t-shirt. No problem
- that is why thrift stores were invented!
Why is thrift store shopping considered conscientious shopping? Well, the items
at a thrift store have already lived their life. They are one step away from the
landfill. By purchasing used, you're giving it another go-round and reducing the
demand of cheaply-made, mass-produced stuff. I say "stuff" rather than
"clothing" because you really can find a little bit of everything at a thrift
store! However, for this post, I'll reel it in and focus on clothing. An added
bonus to thrift store shopping is that the proceeds typically support a good
cause. Now that feels a lot better than giving your hard earned money to a
greedy corporation, doesn't it!?
One of the benefits of thrift store shopping is that the items are unique, are
basically one of a kind, and you won't have the embarrassment of showing up at
bridge club with the same blouse as Mary Lou Henderson. But this uniqueness can
also be a downfall, since you never know if you'll find what you're looking for
when you go. So, here are some tips to help make your thrifting efforts worth
1. Head to affluent areas to find quality designer pieces with little wear and
tear. Many people in these areas clear out last year's pieces to make room for
next season, so there's a good chance of finding quality almost new or
never-worn pieces. Another place to go is rural areas that are off the beaten
path for really great vintage clothing that you won't find in the city or
2. Sizes aren't going to tell you much when thrift shopping. Sizes have changed
so much over the years that you really can't judge if it will fit by the number
on the tag. It's a good idea to wear something lightweight when thrifting, so
you can easily try things on over top. Some stores will have dressing rooms, but
not all. If you aren't sure if something fits, but you love it, go ahead and buy
it. Tailoring is very inexpensive and totally worth it if you find a quality
piece that you love. I emphasize "love", because if you don't love it and aren't
overly excited to wear it, it will sit in a pile at home, un-tailored, never to
3. Examine the clothing closely. Make sure there are no stains, holes, broken
zippers, missing buttons, etc, etc. If you find something you love that has a
flaw that is easily fixable, go ahead and get it. Again, only do this with
pieces you love, because otherwise there is a good chance it will sit in a pile,
unfixed and forgotten about.
4. Look at the fabric and check out the brand. A vintage piece made of durable
material will be a better buy than a cheaply-made piece from the discount
5. Most thrift stores have sale days and specials, so when you find a thrift
store you like and plan to frequent, make a note of when these days are for even
6. While shopping, if you see something you might want, carry it with you. There
is only one of it, and someone else might get it, or you may forget where it was
if you plan to go back for it. When you're done shopping, you can then assess
what you definitely want and what you want to put back.
7. Don't let the prices get the best of you. Yes, it's only $2. Yes, there is
only one. But, you're not saving money if you have a pile of $2 shirts that you
never wear or that make you feel completely uninspired when wearing them. It's
easy to get carried away, so that is why I stick to the "only if you love it"
rule. Even though your clothes are inexpensive, you should still feel like a
million bucks when you wear them.
8. Plan ahead. Thrift store shopping is not as quick and easy as purchasing new,
especially if you need something specific. When heading to the thrift store,
think about upcoming events, and make a list of pieces to keep an eye out for.
Since the merchandise can be unpredictable, it's a good idea to go often... you
may want to start several months ahead to find that perfect frock for the Sadie
9. Don't be in a hurry. This isn't the type of store you can just run in and get
something and be done. Many people prefer to go alone so they don't have the
pressure of another person who may want to leave after 10 minutes. Although, if
you have a friend who is as into it as you, it can be fun shopping together to
get opinions and laugh at the 1980s prom dresses.
10. Make sure to head over to the little boy's and men's sections. No, I don't
want you to look like a hobo, but you may find some surprise treasures over
11. If you're visiting another town or city, make a point to go to their thrift
stores. You'll find pieces that have a little of the local flavor... such as a
cool western button down and cowboy boots when visiting the wild west.
12. Wash everything you bring home.
So, scope out your local and nearby city's thrift stores and have fun with it!
Creating a wardrobe out of great thrift store finds and stellar ethically made
new pieces will have people wondering how you always manage to look so fab!