Are you a fan of thrifting? I have always enjoyed shopping at thrift stores but have never considered purchasing my clothes there until now. My good friend and former neighbor Michelle started a blog last month called Kentucky Thrifter. In support I went over to take a look. I couldn’t believe the deals she is finding! I kept reading and I won’t lie I am one of her biggest fans. In fact I have given her blogging advice and I am love with her content. She recently wrote 10 Thrifting Tips and I asked her if I could share it with you and she said yes.
In case you aren’t familiar with the term “thrifting” – When one visits several different thrift shops, second-hand shops, and vintage clothing stores in the hopes of buying several items of cheap and unusual clothing and other items. Often times this is done with friends. My cousin Mary loves to go thrifting. She will literally stop at any store that looks good to her while she is traveling or locally. As a result she has picked up some amazing deals and items throughout the years. She also loves to shop at consignment stores, TJ Max and other discount retailers.
I wrote this article Savvy Saving at Goodwill but I needed Michelle to provide me with the pictures and details that she does in her posts to really motivate me. I can’t believe she was able to find this Anne Taylor Animal Print Dress at Goodwill or this JCrew Sequin Polka Dot Top that was only $6 and were NEW with the tag still on!
When I have tried to go thrifting in the past I often get overwhelmed and discouraged but hopefully with Michelle’s motivation and these tips I (think) I am ready to go thrifting!
10 Steps to Successful Thrifting
1. Develop a wish list. Determine before you go what you would like to bring home (what you need, want, or would like to have). When thrifting, it is easy to become excited by the great finds and awesome prices and purchase items that you end up regretting. At Goodwill, you are able to return clothing within a certain time period, but other items once you purchase, it is yours to keep! Other thrift stores may not have any return policy so it is always best to love what you bring home.
2. Set a budget. It is important to set a budget on how much you are willing to spend and to stick to it. As I mentioned earlier, it is easy to get caught up with the great finds and low prices, but they quickly add up. My budget is usually between $20-$30 in cash. I always, always go on a sale day so I can get more for my money. Waiting on sale days does restrict your calendar but the savings are tremendous! My favorite is when they have 50% clothing or 50% off store-wide. I’ve attended their 40% off sale and I’m satisfied with that as well.
3. Dress appropriately. What does this mean? It does not mean going to the thrift store in your Sunday best. Dress in attire that is comfortable, that you can sweat in, and can get dirty (yes dirty). Dress in clothing that you can change out of quickly or better yet, clothing that would not force you to use a dressing room. You will find me in yoga pants, a tank top, and a lightweight zip-up jacket. This type of thrifting uniform is ideal as some thrift stores do not have changing rooms and you need to be able to try clothing on in the aisles. If you are looking for pants, wear a thick pair of tights and a skirt so you can slip them on. Problem solved!! Wearing the appropriate shoes and wearing socks is important! Slip on shoes are the easiest. I always wear my Sketchers Go Walks. Socks are a must for trying on shoes (if you are wearing sandals bring a pair with you). If you are wondering why you would bring socks, think about when you go to any shoe department. You would never try shoes on there without a nylon footie. The same premise applies! The next attire suggestion is a personal preference and one I learned after a couple of times at the thrift store. Wear a baseball hat or something to tame your tresses. After shopping you will sweat and get hot! You will be trying on several articles of clothing and by the time you are finished you will look a hot mess. A hat keeps hair under control!
4. Leave your purse at home. When thrifting, you have to move quickly as you will be looking at everything (yes, you need to look at EVERY ITEM) and lugging around a heavy handbag will just slow you down. It also helps to keep your wallet locked in your car (hidden) and to just stick your cash, credit cards, keys, cell phone etc. in your pockets. If you do not have pockets use a small cross body bag so you are hands free.
5. Go hydrated. If you are carrying a cross body bag, you may want to have available a small bottle of water and a snack. I will drink something on my way into the thrift store and leave it in the car. I personally do not take in any fluids since that will only make me use the restroom and for 1. I do not want to waste the time using the restroom and 2. I’ve honestly never seen a restroom in any of the thrift stores available for customers. So, my goal besides scoring good deals is to keep my bladder empty!
6. Formulate a game plan. There is too much to see at the thrift store and it really isn’t a place that you can leisurely stroll around and look at everything like you would do at a department store. Especially on sale days, competition is fierce!! Decide what you want to hit first, second, etc. For example, My first stop is dresses, then blazers/jackets, pants, skirts, shoes and if I have time sweaters and shirts. I will look at the designer racks at the front of the store last before I go into the dressing room (quickly) but I always have more luck finding items on the regular racks.
7. Now you are reading to go shopping. You have a budget, you feel great, are hydrated and you have a game plan. The very first thing you need to do when you enter the store is to get a buggy! Do not skip this as you do not want to carry around items as they get heavy. Even if you think you will not find anything, get one anyway! You will instantly see aisles and aisles of clothing racks.
This is where your game plan kicks in. Skip for the new designer duds at the front of the store and save for last. I have always found more gems on the regular racks. Head for the more expensive items found in department stores such as dresses, which is always my first stop. Some thrift stores will separate by size or color, or both. Regardless, it is important to look through all items as this does not always mean sizes are where they should be. Dresses are always my first stop. Second, are the jackets/blazers. Thrift stores always have these available. Even though they have plenty of these, they are expensive and that is why I head to this area.
My third stop is shoes. Trying on shoes is a must. Try them on and walk around to determine fit and feel. I’m pretty picky so I will not buy anything that is not leather. I also will look for shoes that look new or only gently worn. I do always keep in mind that a good cobbler can make shoes look like new so that is an option I keep in consideration when looking at shoes. After I have looked through the shoes, I move on to pants, skirts and depending on how I feel and the time I have I will look at sweaters and shirts. Looking at pants, sweaters and shirts takes up the most time as there is so much and as stated previously, you need to look at everything.
8. Making a decision. When deciding if an article of clothing is going to make it into my buggy I give it a good once over. I look for tears, stains, pulled hems, frays, pills, and missing buttons. Even if the repair is minor it is a deal breaker as I know I’m not going to repair it (be honest with yourself!). I also only look for brands I’ve heard of or like. I try to only buy name brand clothing. I see a TON of Target, Walmart, Kmart, etc. brands. While there is nothing wrong with these brands and I do have these brands in my own closet, they are not that expensive full price. Pieces I continually score are from JCrew, JJill, White House/Black Market, INC from Macy’s, Cabi, Ann Taylor, and Loft. For the first time I found a pair of Armani trousers in my size but they did not fit.
9. Now you have a buggy full of items and it is a must that you try on everything. This is an important part of the thrifting process because not all pieces are not created equal. Even brands that I am loyal to and I can always count on wearing the same size in, do not always fit when finding them at the thrift store. Not to mention you do not want to waste your money, right? Trying on your items is also a great way to investigate further if the item has any defects that you may have missed. I’ve found rips while trying on that I missed in seams, over looked buttons, etc. just from trying on. Don’t forget my tips above that you don’t always have to go into the dressing room to try on. This is the point where I decide what I am going to keep and what I am going to purchase. I also get out my trusty iPhone calculator to see if I am within my budget.
10. It’s checkout time! Sometimes the lines are long so be patient. I use this time to take items off the hangers (or I do this in the dressing room). Just by doing this scored me an additional $5 off my purchase when I missed the promotion by $.30! Being considerate and friendly to employees pays off! At checkout, ask for a sales calendar if available.
Head over and get some inspiration from Michelle at Kentucky Thrifter. You won’t be sad you did because if you are like me you are going to get motivated to start thrifting too!
I am an educator who loves to look stylish but I do not want to pay the heavy price tag. Thrifting is the perfect way to achieve the wardrobe you desire!